As liner voyages faded, cruising became the ‘in’ Australian holiday. In the 70s-80s and early 90s there used to be many ships based in Australia, mainly cruising the South West Pacific, Coral Sea and up to the East. A little known fact is that, pro rata to population, Australians were the world’s most prolific cruisers
In those days a usual standard cruise would last 14 nights and the ports could include.
Nuku’alofa - Tonga
Vavau - Tonga
Suva - Fiji
Lautoka - Fiji
Sava-Savu – Fiji
Pt Vila - Vanuatu
Santo - Vanuatu
Noumea – New Caledonia
Pago Pago – American Samoa
Apia – Western Samoa
Some would run the New Guinea line; -
Pt Moresby, Lae and Rabaul but these weren’t overly popular.
Then there were the ones that looped across to New Zealand then up to either Tonga or Fiji and back to Sydney.
Ships are again building a presence in Australia with base ports split between Sydney & Brisbane (Brisbane is cheaper and closer to where you want to go). Naturally, present day cruises are shorter than they used to be, which is a shame as from Oz you have to really steam for at least 2 days to get to the first port.
If Nuku’alofa were the first port you had five nights before landfall, but then you could almost island hop back to Oz. Nobody got bored as the five nights were spent in unwinding, getting to know your ship, companions and generally getting comfortable.
These days ships steam at a very reduced speed to save fuel. In South Pacific ships like the old Oriana would charge around at 23/5 knots to cram in as many ports and longer port stays as possible. Most 14 might cruises had a minimum of five ports of call, and one call would usually be an ‘overnighter’ so that you could really enjoy a night on the town.
The ships and entertainment were very different from the ships of today – but boy, did we have fun.