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Considered the heart of Polynesia, Samoa is beautiful with lush jungles peppered with thundering waterfalls and golden beaches fronting emerald water. The island is also a magnet for scuba divers and surfers. But it’s the people that really make Samoa what it is. Most ships call at the capital Apia, on the island of Upolu which offers small villages, lively markets, hidden beaches and swimming holes. Famed author Robert Louis Stevenson lived in Samoa for the last years of his life and his home is now a museum. Only a handful of major cruise ships call into Samoa, although adventurers can choose smaller ships that visit more remote islands or offshore scuba diving sites.

Who goes there: Cunard, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, P&O World Cruises and Princess Cruises.

Cruisers like: Samoans have worked hard to preserve Fa’a Samoa, the traditional way of life. The people will happily invite you to be part of their singing, dancing and feasting, giving you an authentic experience of Samoan life. Attend a local church service and you’ll be wowed by the incredible passion and concert-worthy singing. Highlights on Upolu include the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, the beautifully restored home of the Scottish writer, the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, Piula Cave Pool and the Samoa Cultural Village. Located near the tourism information centre the village offers displays of weaving, cloth making and woodworking, plus music and dance performances and kava drinking ceremonies.

Best for: Couples, families with small children, adventurous travellers, beach goers and those interested in Samoan culture.

Getting around: Taxis are plentiful in Apia and fairly cheap. You can also hop on one of the colourful local buses if venturing further afield – timetables are pretty fluid, so be prepared to wait.

Port Authority of New South Wales