June 18, 2024

Cruising to Paradise – Part Two

The lush islands of Polynesia are the stuff of legend. They hold a seductive sway over anyone who has visited their shores. They have lured sailors to commit mutiny, inspired artists to create great works, and prompted mainland city dwellers to abandon lucrative careers in favor of barefoot days at the beach.

Is it any wonder we dream of visiting these storied islands to see for ourselves their bewitching beauty?

Travelling by cruise ship is the best way to visit the far flung islands of Polynesia, which lie scattered across a vast area of the Pacific Ocean. The Hawaiian Islands are the northernmost group and are the easiest to reach from North America, either on round-trip or one-way cruises from the port cities of Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. Another option is to fly to Honolulu and embark on an NCL round-trip cruise of the islands.

Reaching Tahiti entails a longer journey, prompting many a traveller to book a flight to Pape‘ete, and from there embark on a round-trip cruise of the islands of French Polynesia.

There is, however, a third option – and one that appeals to the wanderlust in all of us. That option is to travel throughout Polynesia by ship, cruising from a West Coast port to the Hawaiian Islands and from there proceeding south across the Equator to make landfall at various islands stretching across the South Pacific. Relaxing days at sea are punctuated by days when the ship is docked at a tropical island or anchored off an atoll while passengers are tendered ashore.

Polynesia means ‘many islands’ and they range from the American state of Hawai‘i to the Kingdom of Tonga to the nation of New Zealand. Isolated from one another by hundreds of miles of ocean, the inhabitants of Polynesia nonetheless share cultural traits. Their languages are similar and their traditional mode of transit is the outrigger canoe.

When the Polynesian people of ancient times were migrating across the open waters of the Pacific, they travelled in double-hulled ocean-going canoes carved from large logs that were lashed together with massive crossbeams. Skilled navigators, these ancient mariners steered by the Sun, Moon and stars, and rode the prevailing winds and currents to their next landfall. Over time, the isolated archipelagoes of the South Pacific were discovered, one by one, and a vibrant culture took root in palm-treed villages overlooking fish-filled lagoons. Song and dance were the favored form of storytelling, and performers adorned themselves with shell jewelry and flower headdresses.

The natural beauty of these tropical islands is undisputed but it’s the Polynesians’ joyful approach to life that charms many a visitor.

Avatar photo About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.