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Setting sail from Auckland
Auckland offers a buzzing waterfront and a vibrant arts scene, and provides a fascinating introduction to New Zealand's proud cultural heritage. The centre is home to excellent shopping and a number of fantastic restaurants, while the north of the city has a distinctly more laid-back vibe, and to the west is the city's oldest wine region.
It’s not all about the city; there is stunning natural beauty within easy reach, including black sand beaches, islands and extinct volcanic cones.
Nuku’Alofa, the ‘Abode of Love’, is the capital of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy. The city's main attraction is the Royal Palace, an attractive wooden building dating back to 1867, while the island of Tongatapu offers wild beaches, cute villages and intriguing archaeological sites.
The Vava’u group of islands is part of the Kingdom of Tonga, the last surviving Polynesian monarchy and the only South Pacific nation never to have been colonised by Europeans. Vava’u is idyllic but also authentic, and is one of the best places in the region to see humpback whales during their annual migration between May and October.
The tiny Pacific island of Niue is the world’s smallest independent country, and sits in the centre of the triangle formed by Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Niue is surrounded by an almost unbroken coral reef, so it’s a great spot for snorkelling and diving, and it’s also a whale and dolphin watching hotspot.
Cook Islands: Rarotonga
Surrounded by kaleidoscopic reefs, white sand beaches and beautifully blue waters, Rarotonga is exactly what most of us picture when we think of the South Pacific. The lagoon is ideally suited to snorkelling and scuba diving, while the island itself is home to ancient sacred sites and pretty coral churches.
French Polynesia: Papeete
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, situated on the northwest coast of Tahiti. The port is not the most magical spot, so we advise venturing forth to luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, relax on the white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, and explore the rugged mountain peaks.
French Polynesia: Mo'orea
Mo’orea is one of the real highlights of the South Pacific, a picture perfect landscape of jagged green mountains and dazzling cobalt bays. The warm waters of the lagoon are perfect for a host of watersports, while the lush island interior can be easily explored by scooter or bicycle.
French Polynesia: Bora Bora
Bora Bora is the very definition of idyllic, a diminutive Polynesian island dominated by rainforest-clad volcanic peaks, overlooking an electric blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs. The beaches and over-water bungalows are particularly popular with honeymooners, and the clear waters of the lagoon are perfect for snorkelling.
Apia is the capital of Samoa, situated on the north coast of the island of Upolu. Highlights include the colourful markets and Robert Louis Stevenson's former house, now a museum, though you may just want to use the city as a jumping off point for the beautiful beaches located further along the coast.
Fiji: Vanua Levu
Fiji’s second largest island is a world away from the bustle of neighbouring Viti Levu, a sleepy, rural place where tourism is still relatively low key. The beautiful bay at Savusavu, on the south coast, is a popular spot with the sailing crowd, while a journey through the interior will take you past sugarcane fields, thick jungle and picturesque little villages.
Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city, known as the ‘Sugar City’ due to its important role in the local sugarcane industry. The waterfront area is pleasant enough, but we’d recommend using Lautoka as a jumping off point to visit some of the smaller surrounding islands, or the forests and waterfalls of the interior.
Arriving in Auckland
Standing 328 metres tall, the Sky Tower offers the best view of the city from the observation deck or from its two restaurants.
Your home from home
The classic Maasdam is an inviting size – spacious, but carrying just over 1,200 guests. Her stylish take on the Holland America traditions make her an excellent choice for those who enjoy a distinctive and cosy ambience.
What we love
Every Holland America ship boasts a wealth of artworks and artefacts, and on Maasdam the theme is the Dutch East and West India companies of the 17th to 19th Centuries - a great trading era. This is an excellent backdrop to the high levels of service and attention on board.
|Crew||580 International Staff|
|Style||The Holland America style is warm and welcoming, with a charming crew and attentive smiling service. A stimulating onboard programme keeps guests busy at sea, and they enjoy the sociable contrast to their time exploring ashore.|
|Cruising Speed||22 knots|
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Auckland
There are some great luxury lodges within easy reach of the city. In the city itself we like the Langham.
About 3 hours north of the city is the Bay of Islands, an area of pristine islands and turquoise water as well as small towns of historic and cultural interest.