The Capital of New South Wales is home to arguably the most beautiful port in the world. Hosting over a million cruise passengers each year, we are honoured to call it our arrival and departure destination for Cruisin Country 2019. Once you get on board the Serenade of the Seas, you will be treated to 360 degree views of the Sydney CBD and harbour depending on where you are standing on the ship. From the historic neighbourhood of The Rocks, to the towering city skyscrapers or unparalleled views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge & Luna Park; departing Sydney makes for a memorable experience to kick off your cruise holiday.
There is plenty to do while in Sydney, so for first timers or lovers of travel, we recommend extending your holiday either before or after your cruise to take advantage of what this beautiful city has to offer – there really is something for everyone!
Things to do
On the other side of the Harbour where the Serenade of the Seas will depart, lies a historic Australian landmark, and we aren't talking about the Bridge! Luna Park first opened it's doors in 1935 and is situated at Milson's Point overlooking the Harbour and is a great destination for cruisers travelling with kids, or kids at heart where you can get your dose of attraction and sideshow games without having to travel too far from the ship. It is also beautiful by night for anyone staying a night before or after the cruise and great photo op of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Calling all thrill seekers! To discover the best views of the harbour with 360 degree views of the Sydney Skyline, take the 1,332 steps with your Climb Leader as your guide as you ascend the arches of the Bridge and enjoy the iconic views of Sydney, situated in one of the most beautiful harbours on earth. Throughout your Climb, your Climb Leader will entertain you with stories about the history of the Bridge. From its construction, to its opening in 1932, right through to its place in day to day local celebrations.
The sweeping white-sand crescent of Bondi is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches. It has probably featured on more postcards and more television shows and films than any other in Australia. Reliable waves draw surfers while, nearby, hardy locals swim in the Icebergs ocean pool year-round. Trendy, health-conscious Sydneysiders head to laid-back cafes around Hall Street, while backpackers frequent the area's casual pubs. Only 30 minutes from the Sydney CBD, it will make a beautiful day out for passengers looking to have a day in the sun before or after their cruise experience.
Nouméa, the capital city of New Caledonia sits right by the ocean. Several bays extend along the city, providing magnificent beaches and points of view. Nouméa is an annual attraction to Cruisin’ Country passengers who can enjoy the quaint French Caledonian township and live a day in the life of a Nouméa native enjoying seaside living.
The Serenade of the Seas will dock in an industrial port when visiting Nouméa, so you will be provided a free of charge shuttle bus which will deliver you straight to the Noumea Tourist Centre to start your day on the island. At the centre, you will find local delights at the marketplace upstairs, and various tours and day trip options from local vendors. A cafe at the centre offers french baguettes and cheese, great coffee and free WI-FI to touch base with your loved ones at home. Nouméa predominately accepts $AUD from travellers at the tourist centre, however the local currency is Pacific Franc (XPF). This is the official currency of all New Caledonian islands and destinations on Cruisin’ Country 2020.
Besides its natural features, Nouméa also has very attractive cultural offerings for tourists who choose to visit there. The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre showcases Kanak heritage, and the Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie has exhibits from across the Pacific region. The Aquarium of Nouméa introduces local marine life to a mass of cruise visitors each year.
The city is blessed with several parks and gardens when you can enjoy a pleasant stroll. Start with the Zoological Forest Park, located in the heights of the city and offering an enjoyable day of discovery as well as local flora and fauna. Other ‘green lungs’: Coconut Tree Square in the downtown area hosts events and fairs throughout the year, Ouen Toro facing the sea, or even the Nouville Trail to Fort Tereka. The sea pediment was also built to accommodate a beautiful stroll between Orphanage Bay and the Pierre Vernier promenade.
Things to do
Lemon bay (Plage de la Baie des Citrons)
Soak away your cares in this beautiful sheltered bay. A beautiful, uninterrupted view out to the pale blue waters of Lemon Bay offer a look into the carefree life of local Caledonians. Various beach-side cafe's and restaurants can ignite your senses from fresh seafood, delicious steaks or summer salads to enjoy with a cocktail or local beer in the sun. We recommend taking the hop-on hop-off bus to travel there which you can purchase tickets to at the tourism centre (Approx AUD$15 per person) which are valid all day and stop frequently.
Noumea Tchou Tchou Train
Do not pass by without a ride in Noumea Tchou Tchou train! Throughout the year, the Tchou Tchou Train lets you discover the most beautiful views of Noumea for 2 hours. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Caledonian capital and come get your fill of scenery and local atmosphere! Ideal for a family outing, this excursion will delight young and old!
Amedee Island & Lighthouse Tour
Enjoy an exciting private water taxi excursion to the world's largest lagoon and second largest great barrier reef, with a personal skipper. Amedee tropical island is a must-see around Noumea where you can enjoy its pristine white sands beaches and great snorkeling. The Barrier Reef is just few minutes from the Island and you will have the opportunity to view its turquoise water and local sea life. Finish your half-day adventure by soaking up the sights on your high speed water-taxi ride back to Noumea.
The recently renovated Aquarium of the Lagoon houses a stunning collection of living underwater species. Its treasures include the pygmy seahorse and the famous nautilus, which is one of the emblems of New Caledonia. Other notable species found in New Caledonian waters are housed here – including sea snakes, stone fish, turtles, sharks and stingrays. Only a few minutes walk from Lemon Bay, this is a must for any new visitor to the Island.
Local Markets and Tourist Centre
As Noumea docks in an industrial port, you will be provided a free of charge shuttle bus which will deliver you straight to the Noumea Tourist Centre to start your day on the island. At the centre, you will find local delights at the marketplace upstairs, and various tours and day trip options from local vendors. A cafe at the centre offers french baguettes and cheese, great coffee and free wi-fi to touch base with your loved ones at home.
Isle of Pines
About Isle of Pines
New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines is located 50 kilometres south-east of Grand Terre; a 20-minute flight from Noumea. Measuring just 18 kilometres by 14 kilometres, the Isle of Pines features pristine beaches and unspoiled bays to take your breath away. Known to the locals as ‘Kuni,’ the Isle of Pines is a little bit of paradise in the South Pacific.
Here are the top activities for travellers exploring New Caledonia’s Isle of Pines.
Things to do
Maurice Bay is the perfect place to swim or snorkel in crystal clear, calm waters. Beginner snorkelers may prefer the shallow waters of the Oro natural pool near Oro Bay, located just a short walk from La Meridien Resort. Also near Oro Bay is a traditional fish reserve popular with snorkelers due to its protected waters and abundance of brightly coloured fish. Wear protective footwear and keep an eye out for submerged rays hiding in shallow water. There are locals on the island who can provide you with snorkel hire sets from AUD$25-30 per person for approximately 4 hours, however we would personally recommend purchasing your own snorkel sets and bringing them with you from home.
New Caledonia boasts the world’s second largest coral reef. Dive enthusiasts will be delighted with the calm, clear conditions and the colourful dive sites surrounding the Isle of Pines. At the northern end of the Isle of Pines is Gadji Pass, an ideal dive site, where you’ll discover a sheer wall in the Gogonia Valley, which drops from 10 metres to 35 metres and boasts colourful underwater scenery. The Devil’s Grotto or Satan’s Cave, accessible via a narrow corridor underwater, will amaze even the most experienced divers.
Walking & Cycling
The Isle of Pines offers spectacular self-guided walks and cycling tours. Visit the small village of Vao and see the statue of Saint Maurice in St Maurice Bay, where the island’s first Catholic service was held when missionaries made their presence felt in 1848 and the local Kanaks added their own protective totems of serpents, turtles and eagles carved from tree trunks. Hike to the highest point of the island, at 262 metres, Pic Nga. Explore limestone caves, including Paradise Cave that features a beautiful lake.
On the southern tip of the Isle of Pines in the South Pacific, outside the Barrier Reef, lies a tiny atoll known as Nokanhui. In this idyllic spot, with only the sea birds and an occasional butterfly for company, you can spend an entire day, fishing or reading or simply lazing around.
Once you arrive in Lifou, you can leave every worry daily life brings behind. Featured as one of the three beautiful ports of call for Cruisin’ Country 2020, Lifou is not only the largest of the Loyalty Islands, but has endless personality and character waiting to be discovered. At 1,207 kilometres squared, it is the largest coral atoll in the world and provides a tropical paradise you can only dream about.
Being such a small island in size (but not in personality!) will require a short tender ride from the ship to the islands dock. Once you arrive on shore, you will be greeted by the sights and sounds of resident natives who will have local gifts and culinary delights for you to enjoy. Lifou predominately accepts $AUD from travellers, however the local currency is Pacific Franc (XPF). This is the official currency of all New Caledonian islands and destinations on Cruisin’ Country 2020.
Between the Kanak culture of the natives, where they are known for their warm hospitality, and the crystal blue waters, limestone cliffs and white-sandy beaches surrounding the island, you will get lost in the serenity the island has on offer.
The virtually untouched island originally formed from fossil coral in the French territory of New Caledonia is so relaxing you will find yourselves in awe of the natural beauty of the island. Previous guests have found snorkelling and deep sea diving to be one of the most popular activities to enjoy in Lifou; you can discover the vast array of coral and marine life the Emerald Sea surrounding the island provides.
For all the adventurists out there – take a plunge into the unknown, as one might say. Behind the Catholic Church lies what can only be described as exhilarating fun; welcome to the caves! Starting off by venturing down a windy path into a forest-like trail (bring sturdy shoes, it gets slippery) until you reach the very bottom where you come across the illustrious dark caves. From here, you can stand on the edge of the rocks in your swim gear and take the leap of faith. Jumping straight into a freshwater waterhole, your leap of faith will be in pitch black surroundings! The cave has a glimmer of sunlight seeping in, but the jump itself into the pitch-black hole provides a thrill like no other. This is the kind of adventure that needs to be added to your bucket list and more importantly, ticked off after visiting Lifou.
For those who are slightly less willing to plunge into total darkness, or snorkel their way to fill their daily excitement quota, Lifou provides the perfect scenic walk to a spot that provides breathtaking views of the island. Take the 800m walk to the top of the hill and it will take your breath away (literally too!). Providing a 360 degree view of the island and your ship in dock, it is certainly not a sight to be missed.
Things to do
Lifou Fresh Water Caves
A personal favourite from Cruisin' Country passengers and staff alike, we can't recommend this enough! A short walk to the Catholic Church lies a hidden gateway that is one for your bucket list! For a small fee (Approx AUD$10 per person), you enter a small path which leads you through a limestone cave which will open up to a serene forest where you venture down into the fresh water caves. We won't give too much away, but you won't regret it. Bathers, a towel and sturdy walking shoes are recommended for this activity.
Local Village Delights
For those who are slightly less willing to plunge into total darkness, or snorkel their way to fill their daily excitement quota, Lifou has quaint local open air markets run by villagers who select varying souvenirs, clothing and local food & drink for you to enjoy minutes from the pier where you will enter the island. You can sit back, relax and enjoy a seaside massage to the faint sounds of local musicians in the beautiful tropic surroundings.
Lifou provides the perfect scenic walk to a spot that provides breathtaking views of the island. Be sure to take the scenic 800m track on newly renovated stairs with railings to the top of the island for a perfect view of the coast, where you can visit a local church and have the perfect photo opportunity at the top. We recommend bringing a camera, bottle of water for the trek, a hat, and sunscreen & sunglasses are a must!