Rhiannon Taylor, editor of lifestyle website In Bed With, goes island-hopping through the South Pacific on a luxury cruise ship.
The notion of cruising the South Seas is deeply romantic, but it’s also the best way to experience a part of the world scattered with thousands of islands, most of them inaccessible by air. Today, so many ships regularly sail the South Pacific, from small schooners to megaliners. So it’s important to find a cruise that suits your style. Rhiannon Taylor — editor of In Bed With, a lifestyle website that reviews and photographs beautiful hotels around the world — experienced luxurious small ship Crystal Symphony’s
Polynesian Palette itinerary for Vogue Living, sailing from Lautoka in Fiji to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands by way of Nuku‘alofa in Tonga and Alofi, capital of the world’s smallest nation, Niue. “It’s perfect for couples,” says Taylor of the 1070-passenger ship, which is considered intimate in these days of liners that carry more than 5000 guests. “I travelled with my fiancé, Caleb Tiller, and we loved the quieter moments when we could sit on our verandah, watch the sunsets and relax.” Ensconced in one of the spacious Seabreeze penthouse suites on Deck 9, the couple felt like they’d checked in to a gorgeous boutique hotel. “It was very chic,” says Taylor. The 45-squaremetre suites aim to create private enclaves of comfort to help guests feel at home, with all the conveniences — a walk-in wardrobe, queen-size bed, luxury shower with body jets, espresso machine, ultrathin satellite TV and pull-out trays to mix cocktails and store the Riedel stemware. The pair spent their days dipping in and out of islands, such as Fiji’s beautiful Yasawa-i-Rara, the backdrop of the 1980 Brooke Shields film The Blue Lagoon — famous for its white sandy beach— and Tonga, with its rugged landscape of volcanic rock and blowholes shooting plumes of water into the air. Activities included snorkelling in pristine waters, spelunking in Niue’s coastal caves and a beach barbecue of suckling pig on a Tongan beach to the drumbeats of traditional dance. Among the factors that attracted Taylor to the Crystal Symphony are its onboard offerings, including the spa where she indulged in an indulgent hot-stone massage and scrub. The Pilates classes in the well-equipped fitness centre were also huge drawcards, as she practises Pilates at home every day. Taylor and Tiller also tried their skills at karaoke and dressed up for the black-tie evenings, complete with dancing in the foyer. The ship’s entertainment featured screenings of recent-release movies in the cinema and a glow-in-the-dark performance by New York-based dance company iLuminate, best known for competing on America’s Got Talent.
Perhaps, though, it’s the food that truly draws guests. From afternoon teas to the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream bar, there’s hardly a moment when something delicious isn’t on hand. The ship’s restaurants are destinations in themselves, such as Umi Uma, with a menu of Japanese-Peruvian dishes by celebrated chef Nobu Matsuhisa; Silk, where modern Chinese plates are served in an alfresco setting; and Churrascaria, where guests can grab Brazilian-style grills along with zingy Caipirinha cocktails. When she and Tiller wanted to spend time alone, they could order in-suite dining, served by course, with cocktails and bubbles delivered by their own butler. (The cruise is all-inclusive of alcohol.) Cosying up on their private verandah, watching the sun set over a craggy Pacific island… it couldn’t possibly get more romantic than that.
WATCHING THE SUN SET OVER A PACIFIC ISLAND... IT DOESN’T GET MORE ROMANTIC THAN THAT