Countries don’t come much more beautiful than French Polynesia. Sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 4,000 kilometres from the nearest continent, the archipelago is made up of 118 islands, the most famous of which are Tahiti, Bora Bora and Moorea. French Polynesia is a dreamy world of lush volcanic mountains, silky white beaches and impossibly clear water. Shore excursions in this part of the world tend to revolve around lying on a perfect beach or floating through a calm lagoon, though you can push yourself to something more adventurous. Ride a bicycle around the island, snorkel with stingrays, zip along on a jetski, take to the skies in a helicopter or head inland for a 4WD tour.
Who goes there: Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Paul Gaugin, P&O World Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.
Cruisers like: French Polynesia is celebrated around the world as a destination for lovers, but the islands have many exciting things to see and do. On Tahiti make sure you spend some times in the Papeete markets which are colourful and fun. Just outside the capital is the former home of James Norman Hall, co-author of Mutiny On The Bounty. A number of scenes from the 1962 movie based on his book were filmed on nearby Moorea. The island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas was home to the French painter Paul Gaugin and the Belgian singer and actor Jacques Brel – they are both buried there.
Best for: Couples, honeymooners, older cruisers and anyone who loves exploring beneath the waves.
Getting around: Roads are limited on most of the islands (there’s often just one that hugs the coast) and public transport only exists on Tahiti. Bicycle is the preferred mode of transport on many islands, or you can hire a scooter or a car.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.