I have just returned from a seven night cruise aboard the Pacific Eden from Cairns to the Trobriand and New Guinea Islands. The beauty of cruising is that they take you to places you might not think to go, or be comfortable travelling to any other way. This was the case for me. I need the holiday and I could not see myself going to New Guinea any other way, so this cruise was perfect.
The Pacific Eden was a Holland America ship, the Statendam, which P&O bought and rebadged as a P&O ship.
Departing from Cairns and their heritage terminal we sailed for a day and our first port of call was Alotau on Milne Bay, scene of a major battle in World War II. We arrived on the final day of the Kundu and Canoe festival which brings villages and tribes from all over the Milne Bay province to compete and share traditional dance and song.
We opted to do the traditional cooking class which was great fun. All decked out in aprons and gloves we were set to chop vegetables and greens, scrap coconut and generally prepare the base of the claypot cooked traditional chicken and pork dishes. We got to eat the food for lunch. Traditional vegetable like yams and taro features strongly. Very filling, and quite starchy, but good nonetheless.
And of course the locals were very friendly, especially the kids.
I was privileged to be part of a ship inspection aboard one of P&O newest ships, the Pacific Eden on Monday. One of two ships that were originally part of the Holland America Line fleet, the Pacific Eden is a mid-size ship with 1500 guest capacity and she looks like a ship rather than a floating white hotel.
Inside of course she is a hotel – we saw a spacious inside cabin, an ocean view, a balcony cabin a suite and the Penthouse – the ultimate in space and luxury. With all the facilities one would expect from a ship, she has the Marquee Theatre, an extensive spa, thermal suite and gym area, two pools, casino, several lounge areas, and the Waterfront hotel where we were treated to lunch.
Salt, Luke Mangan’s restaurant at Sea, plus specialty Italian and Asian restaurants give you additional choice of food styles and are especially good for that special occasion. The Market Place restaurant (which replaces the old buffet style restaurant) will ensure you will not be hungry, and there is New Zealand ice cream in case you get peckish between meals!
Based out of Adelaide in March and April this year and next, the Pacific Eden cruises are a great chance for those who prefer not to have to fly to another port to sail, and for those who are new to cruising to try out something local.