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The ultimate in cruise views

The ultimate in cruise views

A cruise holiday is more than cocktails and pool loungers - there is a huge scenic element to this kind of travel which you might not know about if you've never tried it for yourself. With decks rising high above the water and access to harbours, bays and inlets, a cruise ship gives an amazing and unique vantage point over any new destination. Whether it's from your own cabin, out the window of a bar while enjoying a drink or from a position at the rails with other excited passengers, you can watch stunning coastlines approach - or slowly sink over the horizon - without leaving the creature comforts behind.

We must admit, there are ports which are somewhat utilitarian. Occasionally the city meets the sea with no visual flair - and you have to travel a ways from the dock to find the sights. Others however, like the ones in our list below, will take your breath away from the moment you sail in. From gorgeous cityscapes to idyllic tropical wilderness, there are plenty of such ports around the South Pacific - here are our top ten.

1. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
It's no surprise that God's Own is first on our list - everyone knows our scenery is superior! Even the biggest of vessels are dwarfed by the soaring walls or rock and greenery rising up either side of the drowned valleys which make up Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. These breathtaking waterways are enhanced by the occasional waterfall or pod of dolphins - an amazing sight. Most ships do not stop here but offer scenic cruising through the fjords so you can take it all in from onboard.

2. Sydney, Australia
There's no way we could have left this one off. Sydney is widely recognized as a visually iconic city, and for good reason. The Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the suburbs covering the jagged inlets and bays... it's unmistakeable and beautiful! Of course, the deck of a ship is the perfect place to gaze upon Sydney. Docking at Circular Quay is a particular treat - you might just wake up to this view:

A sailaway party in the beautiful harbour is a firm favourite for many cruise lovers, and there is no shortage of cruises from Sydney! Book yours today and you could be watching the bridge fade into the background in no time.

3. Bora Bora, Tahiti
This is a tropical paradise - there's really no other way to describe it! Honeymooners have long since considered Bora Bora the ultimate destination - but there's enough beauty here for everyone, cruise lovers included. Take a peek out the porthole and you'll see a craggy green volcanic island with verdant central peaks surrounded by blinding white beaches and a sparkling turquoise lagoon.

For the best in Bora Bora Cruises, try Paul Gauguin Cruises, a specialty luxury line. They deal exclusively in Tahiti cruises - but you will find Bora Bora listed as a destination for a number of bigger lines, too.

4. Wellington, New Zealand
New Zealand, you've done it again. As far as cities go, this one is particularly pretty with its natural harbour and hilly suburbs surrounded by green mountains. When the slopes around the city light up at night time, Wellington is a bit of a looker. Sailing in and out of the harbour is also quite the treat, as your ship will pass through the narrow heads between beachy suburbs on one side and wooded peaks on the other.

Most cruises to New Zealand feature Wellington, so you'll have no worries finding the right holiday visiting the scenic capital.

5. Champagne Bay, Vanuatu
A simple curve of pale sand surrounded by green forest, this lovely bay is an absolute favourite amongst cruisers heading to the South Pacific. It's a tender port, which means your ship will drop anchor offshore from where you can gaze across at the bay and down into the crystal waters to your heart's content.

Champagne Bay is quite untouched, containing nothing more than a few shelters and a small tender dock, so your views won't be spoilt. It features on a significant number of South Pacific cruises.

6. Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
You'd be hard pressed to find a Pacific island port that's any kind of eyesore, this region having more than its fair share of gorgeous beaches and palm trees. The Isle of Pines, however, is particularly memorable - it swaps the palms for pines, which combine with some interesting rock formations for a striking tropical panorama. When your ship docks offshore, you'll have a view of the tall, thin trees, the bright white Kuto and Kutema beaches and the tiny Ile de Bayonaise.

The island's popularity sees it included on many South Pacific cruises, so you won't have to hunt too long to find one that goes there - plus it's easily combined with a cruise to Champagne Bay!

7. The Whitsundays, Australia
Far to the north of Brisbane, on the tropical Queensland coast, is the Whitsundays region. It is slowly beginning to appear on more and more cruise itineraries, and P&O Cruises has started offering short cruises there from Brisbane. Filled with islands, beaches and holidaymakers, you'll find this to be one of the most scenic places in Australia.

Ships dock at Airlie Beach on the mainland, and from there you'll be able to see the offshore islands, the friendly town and the Queensland sunshine. Just offshore is the Great Barrier Reef - so keep an eye out as you sail in and out of the area!

8. Yasawa Islands, Fiji
We can't narrow this down to one island or port - the entire Yasawa chain is a bit of alright in our books. The volcanic islands are no blink-and-you'll-miss-them low-lying atolls, but rise sharply from the Pacific Ocean. Green-covered hills, steep rock faces and divine beaches are what you'll see from your porthole, along with a small amount of civilisation as you cruise from island to island.

The wild look of the Yasawas will appeal to any adventure seeker, and the white sands to any beach bum. Captain Cook Cruises Fiji offers regular trips around the chain, a small-ship boutique line with departures from Nadi/Port Denarau.

9. Picton, New Zealand
Although a little less wild and untouched than the southerly fjords, Marlborough Sounds are similarly gorgeous. A good part of what makes Picton such a highly-rated scenic port is the journey to and from, via the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound. The trip will offer glimpses of hills, valleys, coves , waterfalls and perhaps even some sea life.

As if the sounds weren't enough, you'll end up in the charming small town of Picton, where you can watch the Interislander ferries come and go from your perspective high above everything. Check out the cruises to New Zealand to find one which includes Picton.

10. Lifou, New Caledonia
There are quite a few lovely Pacific isles on this list - we trust you won't be bored! This final entry is another stunner, both above the water and below. You can look down from the ship to get an idea of the gorgeous blue depths, but you'll need to try a spot of snorkelling or diving to truly appreciate it.

Ships drop anchor within the expanse of Santal Bay, near the village of Easo where the tenders go ashore. From there you will get a sweeping view over the town, the island and the coastline. Plenty of lines sail to Lifou - including P&O, Princess and Royal Caribbean.

I have enjoyed visiting as much of the world as possible over the years. Europe and the Mediterranean are personal favourites, but there is so much to see very close to our little Australasian corner of the globe- one of my top travel experiences was snorkeling with tropical fish and turtles in New Caledonia! Cruising is a fantastic way to see it all, and we hope to make booking a cruise easier for both first-timers and old salts. From ship tips to destination news and views, we will keep you up-to-date. Happy cruising!

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