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Island Time: South Pacific Cruising

Island Time

The story of South Pacific cruising

By Chris Frame

If you’re like many travelers, the South Pacific conjures visions of a tropical paradise: sunny weather, relaxed and vibrant communities, pristine beaches, and turquoise oceans.

Like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, the beautiful South Pacific benefits from its amazing vistas, as well as the number and variety of ports visited. The choices haven’t always been so vast, but for today’s cruisers who want to explore this region, a wide range of options awaits all types of travelers.

Looking Back

Cruising in the South Pacific can be traced to the 1930s when P&O, which mainly concentrated on line voyages and mail services, started offering cruises out of Australian ports to the South Pacific islands to augment its ocean liner services.

Instantly, these cruises proved popular, due mainly to the prevailing economic conditions of the time. During the Great Depression, a family could still enjoy a P&O cruise holiday for a relatively modest sum, allowing them to visit an exotic island paradise with meals and accommodations included.

Although P&O operated a number of cruises out of Australia each year, it was not fully focused on cruising; the market for South Pacific cruises was still comparatively small.

It wasn’t until July 1974 that the first cruise ship was permanently based year-round in the South Pacific arena, when Sitmar Cruises sent the former immigrant ship Fairsky “down under.” This move proved popular with the local market, and Fairstar joined Fairsky in December 1974.

At 21,619 tons, Fairstar became the most recognizable and loved ship in the South Pacific…

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