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Setting sail from Papeete
If you are in search of paradise, don't expect it to be easy to get there! It's a long old haul to get to Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. And once you are there, Papeete itself is by no means the most magical spot - you need to venture forth to see the other islands, and luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, rugged mountain peaks and coral reefs. Expensive and remote, these islands have maintained their uncommercial magic, with excellent hotels and a warm Polynesian welcome everywhere you go.
Don’t bother with local currency – all the local shops and markets will take US dollars. And take aqua shoes, impossible to walk in the sea otherwise.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fiji: Suva, Dravuni
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.
Arriving in 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.
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
Extend your stay in French Polynesia
For the ultimate eco-hotel experience, go for the Brando! Eye wateringly expensive, but a bit special.
Explore the islands
If you are visiting Bora Bora tour the island by open bus - Le Truck.
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.