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Best Vanuatu island cruises

Underwater delights, dramatic volcanoes and stunning waterfalls — Vanuatu is all about extreme beauty.

Updated

Aerial view of Erakor island in Port Vila, Vanuatu

Get ready to get lost in a land that still embraces its ancient culture and treasures its natural beauty. Vanuatu is the ideal place to take in the fresh, clean air as you lounge on one of its uncrowded beaches or dive into the clear waters to see what underwater gems you can uncover.

Best Vanuatu cruises

Make your tropical island dreams a reality with our detailed outline of the best cruise lines to choose no matter what kind of holiday you’re craving. Most of these cruises to Vanuatu will depart from Australia or New Zealand which is the perfect excuse to add a few nights down under to your cruise holiday.

Best for a breezy budget getaway: Carnival

You can easily nab a cruise with Carnival for much less than you might think and as Cruise Critic’s Best Value for Money winner, you’ll get more bang for your buck. Sailings start from $500 per person and include your accommodation, meals, entertainment and onboard activities as well as the opportunity to explore some new destinations along the way.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Paypal, Carnival EasyPay, Gift Card, Discover Card, Debit, Western Union, Cheque
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for families: P&O Cruises

P&O is all about creating opportunities for families to spend quality time together along with lots of options for when everyone wants their own space. Comfy, family-sized accommodation, kid-friendly dining, pools with waterslides and entertaining stage shows are all on the itinerary.

When you’re ready to split, the kids clubs have activities like themed dance parties and hosted dinners. The adults can indulge at a specialty restaurant, a spa treatment or the adults-only havens.

  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for onboard entertainment: Royal Caribbean

Looking for all the bells and whistles of those megaships you’ve heard so much about? Look no further because Royal Caribbean is all about big experiences, big entertainment and big adventure.

Think live music all day, deck parties at night, grand theaters showing a mix of production shows and guest performances plus adventure activities such as rock climbing, ice skating and laser tag with some of the grandest water parks at sea. We dare you to get bored on one of these ships.

  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • Price matches
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for small ship adventures: Windstar

Feel like a VIP as you take to the sea on your own private yacht. Okay, maybe you’ll have to share with a few other people — 147 to be exact — but the Wind Spirit is roomy enough that you won’t feel too crowded.

You’ll probably be surprised by the onboard facilities, including the large sun deck, pool, spa, lounge, library, gym and two dining venues. Even better, adventure junkies will love the watersports platform complete with paddleboards, kayaks and water trampoline.

  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for solo travelers: Seabourn

Seabourn’s social atmosphere naturally lends itself to solo travel. Regular solo traveler meetups are held throughout the journey, and crew are available to join guests in port if you’re looking for some company.

At dinner, one of Seabourn’s traditions is to invite single travelers to a hosted dinner table so you won’t have to dine alone if you don’t want to. Plus, solo travelers get a reduced single supplement — often only 25% more than a twin share.

  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for sailing from the islands: Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin cruises are based out of the South Pacific and that’s where its experience lies. The line has only one specially designed ship that sails around the region year-round, and onboard activities are tailored to making the most of your time in Vanuatu. Enjoy entertainment by local performers, knowledgeable guest lecturers, a kids program centered around South Pacific discovery and all oceanview rooms.

Our favorite part? Its fares include return flights and transfers from Los Angeles.

  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for all-inclusive luxury: Regent

Awarded Best Luxury Cruise Line at the Travvy Awards, Regent knows how to deliver white-gloved service that’s set to impress. Think low staff-to-passenger ratio, rousing cabaret shows and thoughtful onboard enrichment programs to start. Sophisticated dining venues serve exquisitely prepared cuisine and in-room dining is also a 5-star affair as you can have your meal served course-by-course 24 hours a day.
  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for off-the-beaten-track Vanuatu: Ponant

Vanuatu has many ports for keen travelers to explore but most cruise lines seem to target the same two or three on each itinerary. If you’ve been there and done that or are interested in seeing a different side of Vanuatu, Ponant’s 11-night Treasures of the Pacific Expedition will show you a unique blend of picture-perfect beaches, ancient traditional villages and colorful coral reefs teeming with sea life.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for first-timers: Norwegian

Whether it’s your first time in Vanuatu or first time on a cruise altogether, Norwegian makes it easy to slip into life at sea with plenty on offer for every type of traveler. Foodies will enjoy the multiple dining options from casual to exclusive and upscale, and entertainment enthusiasts will have a full itinerary of comedy, musical revues, guest performers and improv shows. If you’re looking to relax, make a beeline for the spa or grab a drink and lounge poolside for the day — night owls can party with live music and dancing on offer every night.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for seniors: Celebrity

Celebrity is all about modern luxury for a sophisticated world traveler combined with accessibility features to accommodate cruisers of all abilities. You’ll enjoy thoughtful enrichment programs led by celebrity lecturers, menus crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, elegantly designed public spaces and captivating evening performances. Accessible staterooms include wider doors, roll-in showers, multiple grab bars and a lower sink and vanity.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
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Best for foodies: Oceania

Treat yourself to a culinary experience complete with upscale dining venues, casual al fresco options, foodie excursions while in port, wine-pairing dinners and lavish afternoon teas. Meals are prepared with fresh, local produce alongside premium artisanal ingredients and curated by legendary Master Chef Jacques Pépin.

But don’t take our word for it. Oceania has won numerous culinary awards including Best Onboard Dining by TravelAge.

  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Cheque
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for couples: Princess

As if being in Vanuatu wasn’t romantic enough, imagine sailing with the company that brought you The Love Boat. The line has certainly still got the magic as Cruise Critic has named it the Best Cruise Line for Romance, Couples and Honeymooners. Onboard you can relax with a couples massage in the spa, indulge in a slow dance over live music, savor dinner for two and enjoy watching the sunset over the ocean with a glass of champagne.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for all-suite ships: Silversea

Get truly pampered with Silversea’s fleet of luxury all-suite ships that all feature ocean views or a private teak veranda. The best part is each suite comes with the personalized service of an attentive butler. You’ll be able to customize your suite with an abundance of amenities including your preference of toiletries, personalized stationery, a bar stocked with your favorite wines and spirits and even a choice of nine different pillow types.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for a nostalgic cruise experience: Cunard

Featuring old-world British cruising right down to the traditional 3:30 p.m. afternoon tea, a sail with Cunard transports you back to the 1840s. You’ll spend your days learning to fence, watching an insightful lecture or playing quoits and evenings indulging in elegant dining followed by entertaining production shows. Get all dolled up in something glamorous and relive the romantic era during regular gala balls with people from all over the world.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

How we picked our best cruises.

When choosing cruises for this list, we look at the quality of routes available from each cruise line, prioritizing well-paced itineraries with port stops at key destinations around Vanuatu.

We also consider onboard dining options, weighing the number, variety and overall quality of restaurants against passenger reviews. Finally, we weigh cabin amenities against each price point, looking for cruise lines that are known to deliver the highest value.

We also seek out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation.

When is the best time to cruise to Vanuatu?

Vanuatu is a year-round destination so you could fit in a cruise whenever it works best for you. Here are some factors to consider to help you decide when to plan for.

  • Best weather. April to October is when the islands experience the sunniest weather and driest months. If you’re chasing waterfalls, though, aim for the months during the wet season for the most dramatic views.
  • Peak seasons. From mid-December to late January is when Australian and New Zealand kids are enjoying their school holidays, and July to August is the busiest time for European visitors.
  • Rainy season. From November to April you can expect heavy rains, high humidity and the possibility of cyclones. Fortunately, cruise lines are getting more adept at avoiding the worst of the weather so if the wet conditions don’t scare you off and you’re interested in saving a few dollars, this could be the season for you. Consider cruise travel insurance to avoid any disappointments.
  • Key festivals and events. Nagol — land diving — season, the Toka Festival and Independence Day are all big events to look out for.

What are the must-do cruise excursions in Vanuatu?

  • Blue Lagoon (Port Vila). Head out of the bustling capital city and spend the day swimming in this natural pool surrounded by lush gardens. Bring along some gear to snorkel, hire a kayak or make like Tarzan and swing into the lagoon from up high.
  • Get out into the water (Mystery Island). Once you’ve spent some time exploring this uninhabited island, it’s time to get wet. Take your pick from a snorkeling tour, stand-up paddleboarding or an adventurous cave safari.
  • Land diving (Pentecost Island). Purely a spectator sport, this rite-of-passage for local men happens only from April to June every year. Young men leap from up to 100ft above the ground off bamboo towers with vines tied to their ankles.
  • Champagne Beach (Espíritu Santo). You’ve probably already seen pictures of this beach known for its electric-blue effervescent water on anything referencing Vanuatu. Thanks to the underwater volcanic activity, not only is the water bubbly but it’s also delightfully warm.
  • Mount Yasur (Tanna Island). Known as the lighthouse of the Pacific, this active volcano is quite easy to access. You can take a short hike up or go by 4WD up to within 500ft of the crater rim.

Bottom line

Vanuatu is a true paradise in every sense of the word and you’re sure to uncover more surprises at each port. Let your island getaway happen sooner rather than later with our top cruise deals.

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