If you are considering taking one of the Royal Caribbean South Pacific Cruises, this post will help provide an overview and review of our 11 Night South Pacific & Fiji Cruise we took on the Explorer of the Seas ship from Sydney, Australia.
On our 1 year trip around the world with the kids, we wanted to explore the South Pacific islands but wanted to find an economical way to see many islands in a short period of time.
So, after investigating more into the Royal Carribean Cruises, this one was the best option for us to see many islands within a reasonable price.
What You'll Find in This Post
- Royal Caribbean Cruise Itinerary – South Pacific
- Royal Carribean South Pacific 11-Night Itinerary:
- Explorer of the Seas Cruise Tips & Information
- What did we like about Cruising?
- What we didn’t like about Cruising?
Royal Caribbean Cruise Itinerary – South Pacific
Many Royal Caribbean cruises to the South Pacific islands depart from Sydney, Australia. This is a great opportunity to see the city and explore Sydney for a few days before your cruise.
We spent a week in Syndey prior to as part of our 4 weeks in Australia. We wrapped up Australia by taking this Royal Carribean cruise to go see some of the South Pacific Islands – Vanuatu, New Caledonia & Lifou.
Best Things to do in Sydney with Kids (either before or after your cruise):
- Sydney Opera House
- Walk around Cirquay area
- Royal Botanical Gardens
- Bondi Beach
- Sydney Bridge
- Darling Harbour
- Sea Life Aquarium
- Taringa Zoo
Best Areas to Stay in Sydney before Cruise
I would recommend staying at a hotel close to the ship port in Sydney Harbour. We stayed here at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel. It is a great area to stay so you can also check out the Opera House and be within walking distance with luggage to the ship. They were also really accommodating about holding our luggage for the day until our time to check-in time for the cruise.
- Check out hotel options in the Central Business District area here
- Check out hotel options in the Darling Harbour area here
You can also book a VRBO in Sydney Harbour area too if you prefer.
Sydney was the port that we started and ended our trip with for this specific cruise. So be sure to either schedule sometime before your cruise or after your cruise to enjoy some time in Sydney.
When approaching Vanuatu you will be treated with a breathtaking view of the island that will mesmerize you. The bright turquoise water, with lush tropical trees that line the beaches. Small boats and sailboats scattered along the coastline. We couldn’t wait to go explore this island!
The cruise ship will dock at the port which makes entry and exit really easy and quick. As you disembark at Port Vila you will be funnelled through a market that the locals put on.
We ended up walking a little bit further away from the dock and hiring a driving with another family that was looking to do a few of the same things as us. We arranged a price with the driver and he took us around the island.
We ended up visiting Blue Lagoon where we could swim and try a tree rope jump. A little oasis on the island that we loved just relaxing at. Be sure to bring some water shoes to make it easier for walking around!
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Luca waited all afternoon and finally got up the courage to try out the tree rope jump! We couldn’t get him off after this jump into the Blue Lagoon #bluelagoon #vanuatu #justbeakid #islandlife . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
We also check out waterfalls on our island adventure for the day. There was also an area for jumping into this one too. A lot of chances to cool off in the heat on the island. There are lots of other things to do in Vanuatu that you can preplan and consider before your arrival.
Along any of the roadside, there are fruit stand and local areas to stop and check out some of the local foods and items for sale. We always like to support the families that need our tourism dollars to help support their local businesses.
Lifou, Loyalty Islands
Lifou, Loyalty Island is part of New Caledonia and there is not a large port that the cruise ship docks at. The kids had a blast because you disembark by boat tenders and arrive at this island with very few people and a great beach to enjoy.
Lifou has a great area with extremely clear water to snorkel at. Just a little walk away from where you are dropped off to reach this amazing view and snorkelling area.
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One thing that makes this entire world journey worth it in our eyes, is the bond these two kids have made with each other. They are brother and sister, always and forever! They have become closer through these travel experiences. Nobody can take that away from them or change these memories. They will also be able to relate to one another on how crazy their parents were to take them on this adventure 😂#brothersister #familymemories #newcaledonia #lifou . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
Noumea, New Caledonia
Noumea is the capital city of New Caledonia, so when you arrive it will be at the main import/export dock and feel a bit like you have entered a bigger city (for island life-size).
There are tours and options to take from the cruise ship. We simply took the local bus transportation and checked out the area on our own. We loved seeing the lemon trees line the streets, watch the kite surfers and chill vibe of this city on the island.
You can check out more things to do in Noumea and options from the Royal Caribbean cruise and see if anything suits your needs. Catching a water taxi over to Duck Island would be something we would look into next time.
We found the city of Noumea really easy to get around and could quickly get to any of the places we wanted to go to. We enjoyed some nice walks along the beaches.
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Beach walks in Nouméa, New Caledonia. Life doesn’t get any more relaxing than this. #islandlife #noumea #newcaledonia . . . . #Passportkids #familytravel #kidstravel #ftb100 #tinytravels #familytrip #familytraveltribe #tbscommunity #havekidswilltravel #tmom #lpkids #travelwithkids #familymemories #kidswhotravel
On the Royal Carribean South Pacific cruises, there are a few days of straight cruising since the distance is further away than some other types of cruises like a Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise. Especially if your cruise includes Fiji, these cruises generally have a few days of cruising to reach those islands.
There are lots of things to do on the Explorer of the Seas ship to keep you and your family busy, entertained and fill up your days. Our kids actually wanted to stay on the ship on days ported at the islands because they were having so much fun on the Explorer of the Seas ship.
Explorer of the Seas – Things to Do on the Ship while Cruising
- Pools – Relax by the various pools and enjoy the sunshine. There are a few different pool options on the ship – some of which are adult-only and some for kids. The pools all have lots of chairs around the pool to be able to relax and enjoy.
- Kids Club – They have a great kids club that is open all day and into the evening. Our kids loved the kids club and wanted to go every day that we were cruising. This was a great opportunity for us to be able to relax without kids and enjoy the ship.
- Rock Climbing wall and basketball courts
- Mini golf for the entire family to enjoy
- Flow Rider – learn to surf on the ship
- Gym & Spa facilities – they have great facilities that are top shelf and a great way to start your day off.
- Walking track around the ship
- Scheduled and various Morning, Afternoon and Evening activities – ex. craft, show, games, big screen poolside movies, etc
- Casino – which is only open while cruising and not when at the port.
- Library & Shopping
- Various restaurants, cafes, bars, buffets or places to eat and enjoy the delicious food on the ship!
Royal Carribean South Pacific 11-Night Itinerary:
Our actual Royal Caribbean Pacific Islands itinerary (11-nights):
- Day 1: Sydney, Australia
- Day 2: Cruising
- Day 3: Cruising
- Day 4: Cruising
- Day 5: Cruising
- Day 6: Vanuatu
- Day 7: Cruising
- Day 9: Lifou, Loyalty Island
- Day 10: Noumea, New Caledonia
- Day 11: Cruising
- Day 12: Sydney, Australia
The scheduled Royal Carribean South Pacific Cruise (11-nights):
- Day 1: Sydney, Australia
- Day 2: Cruising
- Day 3: Cruising
- Day 4: Lautoka, Fiji
- Day 5: Suva, Fiji
- Day 6: Cruising
- Day 7: Lifou, Loyalty Island
- Day 9: Noumea, New Caledonia
- Day 10: Cruising
- Day 11: Cruising
- Day 12: Sydney, Australia
This Royal Caribbean south pacific and Fiji cruise was the ideal itinerary that we hoped for. But, things don’t always go as planned and safety is the number one concern on cruise ships. unfortunately, we had some terrible weather during our time on Explorer of the Seas cruise ship. A cyclone that impacted Fiji and some of the other small islands in the area impacted our ports-of-call and where we could visit on the cruise.
Cruising the south pacific can be unpredictable so understand this can happen and the captain makes those calls. Both islands in Fiji (Lautoka and Suva) were flooded from the cyclone and unable to dock at the port.
An unfortunate situation, but out of all the South Pacific cruises available this itinerary was the best South Pacific cruises because we had the option to go to Fiji. We would choose the same option again if we were to make any recommendations or go another time!
Explorer of the Seas Cruise Tips & Information
- Royal Carribean Cruises to South Pacific change every year and the best way to see the itineraries is to check out the Royal Carribean website and review their itineraries.
- Each day you will be given a Cruise Compass that goes through the day, time in port, types of activities going on and anything else you may need to know. It is basically like a daily newspaper with all the information you need to know about the next day. This Royal Caribbean cruise planner is great to review the night before when they leave it in your stateroom.
- You will have the option to book excursions on the islands with the cruise ship. We did not book any of these excursions, and we did look into booking some on our own, but many of the time we were unsure of the exact time of arrival in the port and we were are the mercy of the timing of the ship. Therefore, if you were to book or schedule an excursion I would book with the cruise. This also helps if you don’t arrive in time you get a refund from the ship.
- Royal Caribbean has drink and alcoholic drink packages, which depending on how much you enjoy alcoholic beverages this may be a cheaper way to enjoy yourself on the cruise. Otherwise, you can purchase alcoholic drinks throughout the ship.
- Royal Caribbean uses US dollars for their currency on the ship. So even though you are leaving Australia, the currency on the ship is US dollars. They have ABM on the ship to get cash or you can use your credit card for purchases and charge to your stateroom.
- We found out that the common thing for cruises that leave Australia is that they don’t automatically give the gratuity that you can pay upfront when you book the cruise. Australian tip for those who provide service to them, so you can make your choice but this is what is going on with gratuity on South Pacific cruises. If you are used to cruising from any other port gratuity is usually paid at the begging.
- Book your restaurants right away if you know what time you want to go at. With the kids, we always went with the 5:30 pm dinner, except when we were at the port we would schedule them later.
- For the Kids Club, they only allow so many kids in and on busy weeks this can be a challenge, we went up about 30 minutes before the kids club opened so the kids could be guaranteed in for the day (their choice, not ours).
- Royal Caribbean ships are large and can take a bit to figure your way around, but they are like a huge glamorous floating hotel.
- Dress Code – Bring a few nicer sets of clothing for dinners and evening entertainment. As we were travelling with a small suitcase on our world trip we didn’t have the extravagant outfits but it would have been nice to enjoy getting dressed up more. Simple dress shirts, pants, dresses or business casual was expected at the dining halls. Kids wore shorts and summer dresses. Anything goes at the buffets, but no beachwear.
- Wifi can be really unreliable at the best of time and cell phone coverage can be spotty as well. Be sure to have planned for this limited wifi in advance with your family and work.
- We always have a guidebook along with us, and sometimes the wifi being unpredictable on cruises it also helps with some poolside reading on the ship. Here are some of our suggestions for the South Pacific islands.
- Remember you are at sea and sometimes weather and safety take precedence over going to a destination. Although they have plans to see a certain island if weather conditions do not cooperate alternative plans need to happen.
- You will be able to book future Royal Carribean cruises on board for a discounted price.
- Don’t forget to have travel insurance for your cruise, we used and recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. We used this insurance for our entire 1 year trip around the world, including for this cruise. Check out our World Nomad travel insurance review here.
- We always took our passports, cash and credit cards with us when we got off the ship. We figured it was better to have them for identification and if for any reason we missed the ship we would be able to sort something out to get to the next port.
- There are toiletries and miscellaneous items for sale on the ship, which is great if you have forgotten anything but expect higher prices for the convenience. So don’t forget to pack the right things for your cruise. Here are some of the things we had in our day packs every time we ported on an island:
What did we like about Cruising?
- After travelling fulltime and constantly moving from one hotel to the next, it was a treat to be able to see new places but keep all your luggage in one spot in the cabin.
- It was more cost and time-efficient to take the cruise for our family of 4 to see all these places, versus paying for flights, ferries, accommodations and food.
- It was really easy, relaxed, no stress vacation.
- The FOOD was amazing! Some of the best food we have ever had.
- We met some great people that we still keep in touch with.
- The kids loved the murphy beds that folded down in the cabin.
- We celebrated Easter on the ship, and they had great festivities like easter egg decorating, egg hunt and other fun activities for the kids on this day. The food was also extra extravagant on Easter Day, I can’t even imagine what Christmas on the Explorer of the Seas would be like!
- The Royal Caribbean Pacific cruises took us to islands that most likely we wouldn’t have been able to see within the timeframe that we had and for the cost. Although it was a treat for us with a 1 year travel budget, the overall cost was very reasonable for what we got.
What we didn’t like about Cruising?
- There wasn’t a lot of cultures to be experienced. We tried to get our fix when on the islands, but it was very much a tourist trap as soon as you got off the ship. There was no ability to really get any ethnic type of experience on the island. There are still some amazing places to see but just set your expectations before going on a cruise.
- It would have been more fun if there were friends and other families along with us. There is a lot of downtime while cruising, and it would have been a great time to hang out with other friends during these times. Cruising would be great for a multi-generational family trip, a reunion or group of families going on vacation together.
- Since we had the misfortune of a cyclone, we cruised for more days than we expected and so we went a little stir crazy after day 3 of cruising. Even with all the things to do, we needed our feet on land and weren’t used to cruising for so long. The pools were also closed and it was extremely windy and rough as well. But, this is just nature and nothing that could have been done to avoid this. But, at least the kids were happy in the kids club, so this helped pass the time for them!
Looking for more Itineraries in South Pacific?
- 1 Month Itinerary for Australia
- 1 Month Itinerary for New Zealand (Both South Island and North Island)
- What to pack on Hot Holiday
Note: These Royal Caribbean South Pacific cruise reviews are solely based on our own opinion. We were not compensated or hosted in any form from the Royal Caribbean cruise line.