Caribbean, Cuba & the South Pacific
This cruise has now set sail.
Discover paradise islands, captivating cities and an abundance of simply unforgettable experiences as you sail halfway around the world via the Caribbean, Central America and the South Pacific archipelagos on a holiday of a lifetime. Authentic cultures, amazing wildlife, iconic landmarks, out-of-this-world landscapes and beaches, and much more awaits – what a way to start the New Year.
After boarding Black Watch in Southampton and visiting Leixoes for tours to picturesque Oporto, you’ll embark on a memorable glide across the Atlantic, stopping at the gorgeous islands of Madeira, Tenerife and La Palma for fragrant gardens and stunning volcanic landscapes, en route to the Americas. [ReadMoreMob]In the Caribbean, you can sample the laidback lifestyle of Barbados; take your pick of Antigua’s 365 sun-soaked beaches; explore Tortola’s fascinating pirate history and try authentic Caribbean rum in Road Town; and indulge in pure relaxation at Grand Turk, before visiting Cuba. Don’t miss the chance to explore Havana via an iconic classic car. You will also visit Colón and experience a memorable journey through the locks, dams and Panamanian jungle of the magnificent Panama Canal, dubbed the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’; and call at the Costa Rican port of Puerto Caldera, gateway to lush nature reserves and rainforests such. Carara National Park – a short distance from Puerto Caldera – is a beautiful natural habitat for crocodiles and over 400 bird species. [ReadMoreDesk]
You will then head for the ‘Land Down Under’, stopping at a string of spectacular South Pacific islands en route. The long list of astonishing destinations includes Nuku Hiva, where you’ll be beckoned ashore to explore by unspoilt volcanic landscapes; and Fakarava, a UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserve and breathtaking natural habitat for rare species of land and water-based fauna. Paradise awaits on the idyllic islands of Tahiti, Raiatea and Bora-Bora, renowned for their postcard-perfect beaches, soaring mountains and tumbling waterfalls, while you’ll also visit the ‘island where time begins’, Tonga. An intoxicating mix of uncanny tranquillity and unmolested beauty is yours to experience at uninhabited Mystery Island and Savusavu, Fiji’s ‘best kept secret’, found well off the beaten track. Finally, after a visit to Noumea – the picturesque capital of the South Pacific archipelago – you once-in-a-lifetime holiday concludes in Sydney. You’ll be afforded time to take in Sydney’s world-famous attractions, including the instantly recognisable Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the revered Royal Botanic Garden; and even tour to Bondi Beach, to capture one of Australia’s most photographed scenes.
- Begin 2021 with a holiday of a lifetime and discover authentic cultures, amazing wildlife, iconic landmarks and out-of-this-world landscapes as you sail halfway around the world via spectacular islands and cities.
- Your enthralling journey includes time in the Caribbean, to indulge in pure relaxation and laidback island exploration; a chance to explore Havana via an iconic classic car; and a memorable navigation of the Panama Canal.
- The unspoilt, sun-splashed scenes of South Pacific islands such as Nuku Hiva, Bora-Bora and Tahiti will bring dreams of paradise to life, before Sydney presents its world-famous attractions, such as Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
Southampton, EnglandJan 08 | Depart - late evening
Considered the 'Cruise Capital of the UK', Southampton is the departure port for hundreds for cruise holidays every year, including a number of Fred. Olsen sailings on our smaller sized ships. But beyond being the starting poing for many cruise adventures, you can be assure that this historic city on England's sunny south coast has much to offer as a destination in its own right.
Whether you enjoy a call at Southampton as part of your cruise itinerary, or choose to spend time exploring either before of after your cruise from the city, you'll find there are plenty of attractions, highlights and sights to discover, showcasing fascinating history and local culture. Perhaps see the timber-framed treasures of the Old Town, including the beautiful Tudor House and Gardens, and visit the Sea City Museum to learn of Southampton's links to the Titanic's ill-fated voyage. Other Titanic-related sights include war memorials, the former White Star Line HQ and the Grapes Pub - wander the 'Titanic Trail' to take them in.
There are art galleries and museums aplenty too, as well as an abundance of places to shop, and a number of trendy bars, restaurants and cafés where you can always stop for something delicious. Alternatively, you might opt to explore nature trails and wetlands near to the city, or simply stroll through one of the green spaces or pretty parks.
Leixões (for Oporto), PortugalJan 11 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early afternoon
A short journey from Leixões takes you into the heart of Oporto, with its fortress-like Cathedral and the Baroque Church of Clérigos. Head to the historic Ribeira District, where the narrow, cobbled lanes wind their way down to the Douro River. Don’t forget to visit one of the many wine cellars for a taste of the tipple named after the city, Port. On the ground floor of the Museu Romantico is the Port Wine Institute, where port is served with great ceremony.
Oporto sits deep in the gorge of the River Douro and on the riverside – dominated by the two-level Luis I bridge – it’s possible to look up at the narrow old town streets climbing out of the valley. Pastel-fronted houses with red-tiled roofs line the streets, mixed with neo-classical buildings and wonderful baroque churches. Dominating the centre of the city is the fortress-like Cathedral, which is worth visiting for the views alone.
Funchal, Madeira, PortugalJan 13 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early evening
Funchal, the capital of Portugal's Madeiran archipelago, has a timeless old-world charm. Enhanced by a subtropical climate that fills this 'floating garden' with the year-round colours and perfumes of flowers and fruit, Funchal was a favourite of Sir Winston Churchill. His praise of the city has ensured British visitors always receive a warm welcome from locals.
Backed by rolling hills, the town is famous for its harbour, the 17th century São Tiago Fortress (now the Contemporary Art Museum) and world renowned Madeiran wine cellars. Funchal’s parks and gardens are a delight, and a hike through the Laurel Forest nearby is highly recommended. The ancient Funchal Cathedral mixes Gothic and Romanesque architecture, and is noted for its impressive carved wooden ceiling.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife, SpainJan 14 | Arrive - early afternoon | Depart - late night
Sophisticated Santa Cruz - Tenerife's capital - is built around boulevards and wide avenues that link elegant squares and parks.
Well-preserved buildings feature in the old town, including the colonial Church of the Immaculate Conception and the 18th century Palacio de Carta, which has impressive Baroque and neoclassical features. Recently redesigned by the architects Herzog & de Meuron, the city’s largest square, Plaza de España, is a pleasant spot to lose a few hours. Lively beaches such as Playa de Las Americas are within easy reach of Santa Cruz too.
Away from the capital, many of Tenerife's highlights await on tours, including the exotic Botanical Gardens or the mystical lava stone Pyramids of Guimar. Exploring the volcanic El Teide National Park to marvel at majestic Mount Teide, or even climb Spain's highest peak, is an unmissable experience.
Santa Cruz de La Palma, SpainJan 15 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early afternoon
La Palma’s small, yet pretty capital city - is one of the Canary Island’s true gems. Boasting colonial-style architecture, a swathe of charming beaches, restaurants and bars, Santa Cruz is typically Canarian and has something for everyone.
Conquered by the King of Castile in the 15th century, Santa Cruz de La Palma was a key trading post between Spain and the Americas, and the city’s fascinating history can be explored in the historic quarter – one of Spain’s Historic-Artistic sites. The Naval Museum is a replica of Christopher Columbus's 15th-century Santa Maria sailing ship.
Stunning palaces and sumptuous merchants’ houses butt up against the grand town hall, built during the reign of Phillip II. Religious buildings include the Renaissance-style Church of El Salvador, with a tower of volcanic stone, and the Church of Santo Domingo, which houses a superb collection of Flemish paintings.
The compact city centre is incredibly picturesque, and the newly redeveloped beach and promenade have boosted the city's resort credentials. Calle Real, the city’s main street, is famous for being both a Property of Cultural Interest and a Historic-Artistic Site. Santa Cruz’s finest restaurants, shops and prettiest squares are found here, and sampling the delicious local cuisine and local culture is highly recommended.
Bridgetown, BarbadosJan 22 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
With its balmy climate, buzzing atmosphere, glorious azure waters and incredible beaches, Bridgetown is a tropical city that epitomises paradise. There is rarely a dull day in the capital and largest city of Barbados.
This very British Caribbean island is a favourite with tourists; the city’s streets are lined with shops, boutiques, street vendors, bars and places to eat – there is always something to do. Broad Street, the main street of Bridgetown is often packed with welcoming locals. It's easy to see why Barbados is known as Little England given Bridgetown’s Georgian houses, the horse-racing track, Parliament Square, and a statue of Nelson.
The entire downtown area of Bridgetown and the 17th century Garrison were named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012 in recognition of their historical significance. Near the central National Heroes Square, which fringes Constitution River, the Nidhe Israel Synagogue and museum explore Barbados' Jewish history.
For a change of pace, the shore and the glorious sands offer a haven from the bustling centre. Carlisle Bay is home to six shipwreck dive sites, while a catamaran ride on the Caribbean Sea may offer the chance to swim with the once endangered Hawksbill and Green Turtles. The wonder of the impressive stalactites and stalagmites in Harrison’s Cave is another experience that will linger in the memory.
St John's, Antigua and BarbudaJan 23 | Arrive - early afternoon | Depart - early evening
A sunbather’s haven, St John’s is the capital city of Antigua and Barbuda, an island often referred to as the crown jewels of the Caribbean. With its large selection of beaches, typically hot climate and an array of cool seaside bars, the city of St John’s is a sun worshipper’s paradise.
In the city itself, the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda has exhibits on island history and St. John’s Cathedral, a 19th-century Anglican Church, sits sweetly on a hill near the 17th century Government House. The city’s vibrant red and yellow colonial buildings reflect the personality and warm welcome from locals, while a monument to the nation’s founder, V.C. Bird, is next to the colourful street market which sells flowers, fruit and handicrafts.
St. George’s fascinating history is brought to life on the stunning English Harbour and celebrated Nelson's Dockyard. Also known as Britain's West Indies naval base, it has now been restored to its 18th century glory.
There is shopping and speciality restaurants to be found in Heritage Quay and, of course, no visit would be complete without a spell on one of the island’s 365 stunning beaches – one for each day of the year say the Antiguans.
Road Town, Tortola, Virgin IslandsJan 24 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early evening
Tortola Island is a famous pirate haunt of old, and Road Town is typically old-world Caribbean and still retains a surreal charm. Capital of the British Virgin Islands, this picturesque town sat between rolling hills and white sandy bays, has a history to match its beguiling beauty.
Situated on the horseshoe-shaped Road Harbour, Road Town is home to the Sunday Morning Well, the site where the Emancipation Proclamation was read in 1834. Among the old buildings of Main Street – some still complete with their original red tin roofs, shops stacked with local produce and an abundance of restaurants can be found. The oldest building on the street, HM Prison, was built in 1774.
Away from the town along the waterfront, the town’s craftsmen and women sell their own textiles, paintings, rugs and ornaments. The legendary Pussers Bar is the perfect place to try some authentic Caribbean rum, while nearby Cane Garden Bay offers an expanse of gorgeous, sugar-white sands.
Exploring further will reveal the popular JR O'Neal Botanic Gardens – home to various exotic plant species, and the 'baths' – an unmissable natural rock formation accessible via a short boat trip.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos IslandJan 26 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late evening
Grand Turk Island is the capital island of the Turks and Caicos archipelago, and a sun-drenched paradise. With pristine beaches and clear, turquoise sea, Grand Turk is a haven for diving, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, boat cruises or simply relaxing in the sun. The island is dotted with the remains of salt ponds and windmills from the island’s sea salt industry, active from the 17th to 20th century.
Cockburn Town, the historic centre of the island, is a sleepy place that is still home to wild horses and donkeys. Along the waterfront, the town has buildings that are two centuries old, with bleached wood and limestone facades and gardens filled with fragrant bougainvillea.
The 19th century Grand Turk Lighthouse can be found on a rocky bluff to the north, while the Turks & Caicos National Museum, housed in Guinep House, was built with timbers salvaged from ships wrecked on the coral reefs. It displays the remains of a Spanish sailing ship that sank offshore in the early 16th century. Excavated in the 1980s, the exhibits include sailing artefacts.
Grand Turk is also home to some breath-taking natural wonders, and the Columbus Landfall National Park - which stretches along the western side of the island - offers some of the island's finest beaches, largest corals and diverse fauna and flora.
Havana, CubaJan 29 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late night
Havana, the capital city, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba, is famed for its colonial history and vibrant culture.The city is home to exquisite Spanish colonial architecture, classic American cars, irresistible rhythms of mambo and a confusing jigsaw of grand avenues and cobbled streets.
A stroll around Habana Vieja, Old Havana, quickly reveals the audacious Latin atmosphere within the imposing coastal fortifications and intimate, traffic-free squares. At its centre, the buildings reflect the city’s vivacious architectural mix: the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, the iconic National Capitol Building, the Baroque Catedral de San Cristóbal, and the Plaza Vieja are all worth the effort to uncover.
The art culture is one of the city's biggest revelations, and Cuban creativity is accessible through the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Fusterlandia public art project and the Fábrica de Arte Cubano, which champions the movement of Havana's more contemporary art scene. The city is awash with experimentation, exemplified by the explosion of uber cool cafes and Bohemian bars.
Columbus believed this was the most beautiful land he'd ever seen, and it’s hard not to agree given Cuba's 2,000 miles of tropical coastline, lush mountains and some 300 beaches that melt into azure seas.
Colon, PanamaFeb 01 | Arrive - early afternoon | Depart - late night
At the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal on the Caribbean Sea, lies the country’s second city, Colón. Initially established as the terminus of the Panama Railroad, the town was originally called Aspinwall, after Railroad’s promoter, William Aspinwall. It was built to provide a fast overland route to California and the gold rush, but the local Hispanic population soon renamed it in honour of Christopher Columbus.
Outside the city port are several reminders of Panama’s rich history, including the Canal’s impressive Gatún Locks and Gatún Dam. Fort San Lorenzo, built by the Spanish to guard the strategically important Chagres River, is a well-preserved colonial military structure.The vast Colón Free Trade Zone offers tax-free shopping.
Puerto Caldera, Costa RicaFeb 04 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late night
The Pacific port and tiny town of Puerto Caldera is well-situated for many of Costa Rica's top attractions and most popular cities, including San Jose, Jaco and Puntarenas. This tropical city is located off of the Gulf of Nicoya and its unspoilt, natural beauty is a true spectacle.
The vast rainforest around Puerto Caldera spreads from the coastline up into breath-taking mountain ranges where rivers, waterfalls, parks and wildlife preserves are all waiting to be discovered.
Nuku Hiva, French PolynesiaFeb 14 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early evening
The beautiful French Polynesian Island of Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands, and is dominated by two dormant volcanoes which have eroded to leave a 1,200m peak, surrounded by lush, green fertile valleys.
The hidden Taipivai valley is where Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, set his other great novel, Typee. The island is resolutely unspoilt. In its farms, pastureland and fishing villages, life carries on pretty much as it has for generations. The islanders are very welcoming of visitors, although there’s little concession to the tourist trade apart from a couple of souvenir shops.
Fakarava, French PolynesiaFeb 16 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
Part of a National Wildlife Reserve, with especially rare flora and fauna, it has a dream-like mood that will bring out Robinson Crusoe yearnings in most visitors! Fakarava’s immense lagoon offers superb snorkelling and diving as well as a chance to visit a black pearl farm.
Papeete, French PolynesiaFeb 17 | Arrive - late morning | Depart - late evening
Papeete, on Tahiti, is the capital of French Polynesia, a group of islands in the South Pacific. Its very name conjures up images of Gauguin paintings, palm trees, golden beaches and blue seas, and this near-perfect Polynesian island does not disappoint.
The bustling city of Papeete is home to the world’s only Pearl Museum, which traces the history and mythology of pearls, and has many examples of black, white and pink pearls on view. The town’s fine buildings include a number of interesting religious buildings: the red spire-topped, 19th century Notre Dame Cathedral plays an important part in Tahitian society.
Beside the port, the busy Place Vai’ete fills with food carts (roulottes) in the evenings, while the large Le Marché de Papeete is a favourite daily market. Le Marché, at the heart of the city, is packed with stalls selling fruit and vegetables, oils and scented soaps, jams and pickles, clothing, hats, bags and shell necklaces. Spread out over two floors, the sumptuous displays of flowers – Tahitian homes are considered incomplete without flowers everywhere – simply have to be seen to be believed.
French Polynesia is comprised of over 100 islands and atolls, with Tahiti possibly being the most famous thanks to its soaring peaks, lush valleys, cascading waterfalls and stunning vistas. The array of natural treasures includes the Faarumai Waterfalls and spring garden of Vaipahi.
Raiatea, French PolynesiaFeb 18 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late night
Raiatea, which translates to ‘faraway heaven’, certainly lives up to its name. The island boasts breathtaking scenes of lush jungle interiors, volcanic peaks – including 3337ft-high Mount Tafatua and Mount Olympus, where rare and scared Tiare Apetati flowers grow – and extensive coastal lagoons offering stunning seascapes of azure blue waters and coral reefs teeming with colourful flora and fauna.
Beyond the island’s abundant beauty, Raiatea is also rich with cultural and historical importance. It’s believed to be the original birthplace of Polynesia, and where the great Polynesian migration to Hawaii and New Zealand began many centuries ago. Today the island is a pilgrimage for those who wish to retrace the historic steps of their ancestors.
Amongst the awe-inspiring landscapes, many fascinating historical and archaeological treasures await discovery, including Marae Taputapuatea – the largest outdoor temple in French Polynesia – and Hauviri Marae, home of the famous Te-papa-tea-ia-ruea sacred stone.
Bora-Bora, French PolynesiaFeb 19 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
The small South Pacific island of Bora Bora to the northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia, is a special kind of paradise. This popular resort destination is surrounded by sand-fringed motu (islets) and a warm lagoon protected by a coral reef. With incredible sandy beaches that stretch on forever, grand palm trees swaying gently in the breeze, and turquoise waters filled with turtles, sharks, rays and tropical fish, many visitors find it hard to describe the magic that emanates from this island.
A haven for scuba divers, one of Bora Bora’s more unusual sites are the ‘bungalows’ perched over the water on stilts. Since water is a way of life here, popular lagoon excursions include snorkelling, diving, cruising, fishing, paddle boarding, kitesurfing and jet skiing.
At the island's centre the extinct volcanoes of Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu tower over the whole island, the latter rising to a height of 727m.
Crossing International Date Line, SamoaFeb 23 | Arrive - late night | Depart - late night
The International Date Line runs from the North Pole to the South Pole and distinguishes the change of one calendar day to the next, passing through the middle of the Pacific Ocean, roughly following the 180° line of longitude, and is exactly halfway round the planet from Greenwich, London.
So, for guests sailing West on their World Cruise, it will result in a 'Lost Day', due to location of this imaginary line, and so it follows that for guests sailing East, it results in a day gained.
Nuku' Alofa, TongaFeb 24 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - early evening
Located on the north coast of the island of Tongatapu, Nukuʻalofa, the capital of Tonga, lies just west of the International Date Line. Nukuʻalofa has a hidden charm that includes a vibrant main street, a broad waterfront, and impressive views across the bay to neighbouring coral islands.
Tonga is a collection of 171 islands that are truly unique given they’re the first place on earth to greet each new day. Nuku’alofa - one of only 45 inhabited Tongan islands - is the capital of Tonga and home to the Talamahu Market and the Royal Palace - the historical residence of the King.
Talamahu Market is a buzzing, fresh-produce hub where bananas and other coloured fruits are piled into handmade woven-frond baskets. It has a few cooked-food stalls, plus some excellent (and affordable) Tongan arts and crafts on sale.
Savusavu, FijiFeb 26 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
Although situated on the beautiful south coast of Vanua Levu, the second largest of Fiji’s 333 magnificent islands, Savusavu is a remote, hidden away paradise. Unlike some well-trodden Fijian destinations, this wonderfully picturesque town isn’t on the regular tourist trail, so its natural treasures and forested, mountainous landscapes remain largely untouched, and its sleepy streets retain their authentic charms.
Most visitors to Savusavu come to escape the crowds and the bustle of Fiji’s busier holiday resorts. Time here affords opportunities to relax and enjoy the glorious sunshine at the breathtaking beach; experience some of the world’s best snorkelling and scuba diving in warm, teal waters teeming with exotic fish and coral reefs; while away a few hours at the volcanic hot springs; explore tropical gardens overlooking the spectacular bay; and much more.
A wander into town is rewarding too however, with a collection of cosmopolitan restaurants serving an eclectic mix of Fijian and Asian-influenced cuisine, welcoming bars, shops run by friendly locals, and a busy market – each offering an authentic taste of life here – to discover too.
Mystery Island, VanuatuFeb 28 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
Barely a kilometre long, only 200 metres wide, and sitting within the Vanuatu archipelago of over 80 Islands, Mystery Island is a untouched tropical paradise in the South Pacific. A naturally-crafted marine sanctuary, the island is surrounded by deep blue, calm seas and coral reefs alive with colourful flora and tropical fish. Throw golden, palm-lined beaches into the mix too, and this is a wondrous place to experience.
Formerly used by the Allied forces as a landing strip during World War II, the island still receives a few commercial flights too. However, no one actually lives on this fascinating deserted land, due in part to the belief that it is haunted by ghosts after dark.
Noumea, New CaledoniaMar 01 | Arrive - early morning | Depart - late afternoon
Often described as the ‘St Tropez of the Pacific’, the French controlled territory of New Caledonia combines a wonderful Pacific climate with European inspired culture and heritage.
An easy-going city spread out over a large peninsula, Noumea – New Caledonia's capital – is surrounded by pretty bays and lagoons, and offers something to please every visitor. There are some excellent museums, including the City Museum, the National Museum of New Caledonia – which has a fine collection of Melanesian and Kanak artefacts – the Geological Museum and the Maritime History Museum. The latter celebrates three millennia of seafaring, and includes displays of finds from ships wrecked on the coral reefs. Also of interest is the National Aquarium, with stunning displays of tropical fish, as well as live coral.
Sydney, AustraliaMar 04 - 06 | Arrive - late afternoon
Sydney, Australia is one of the world's most exciting, must-see modern cities. Home to the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House – two of the most iconic cityscapes on Earth – the capital of New South Wales has a visual wow factor that most other cities can only dream of.
Defined by the rugged Pacific coastline that surrounds it, Sydney is a timeless, cosmopolitan metropolis that is easy to fall in love with. The imposing Darling Harbour, plus the smaller Circular Quay Port are the hubs of waterside life, with the revered Royal Botanic Garden nearby. For the more adventurous, Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs.
Compared with its Australian counterparts, Sydney is loud and brash. It has glamour and casualness in equal measure: there is a balance between the beach culture found on Bondi Beach and the fine dining and vibrant nightlife found in Kings Cross and Oxford Street.
Museums and memorials abound and include The Australian Museum, which opened in 1857 with the purpose of displaying the natural wealth of the colony, and the modern Museum of Sydney, which details the city's development. The Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park is a public memorial dedicated to the achievement of Australia's armed forces in World War I.
The neoclassical Greek frontage of the NSW Art Gallery underlines the prominent and gregarious role art has in Sydney society. Major international exhibitions regularly arrive here and there's an outstanding permanent collection of indigenous art. And everything that’s best in contemporary Australian cuisine can be found at Circular Quay and The Rocks.
For those wanting to escape the city and go off the beaten path, the spectacular Blue Mountain or the Australian Bush offer spectacular sights and experiences. Sydney Harbour National Park protects large swathes of bushland, while Botany Bay’s history and connection to Britain is a big draw.