The Kingdom of Tonga is receiving a royal visitor this Christmas season - a Royal Caribbean visitor, that is! On the 12th of December, the Radiance of the Seas will make the line's inaugural call in the beautiful Polynesian country as part of a 13-night journey around the South Pacific, also visiting various ports in New Caledonia and Fiji.
The ship will dock first in Vava'u, and then the next day in Nuku'alofa as part of the 13-night South Pacific cruise which begins in Sydney and ends in Auckland. Both are established cruise ports with occasional visits by other lines like P&O cruises, but this will be the first time that Royal Caribbean has been to either - and they already have plans to return in January.
Adam Armstrong, managing director for RCI in Australia and New Zealand, commented, "We've had our eye on Tonga as a destination for our guests for some time, with its vibrant culture, diverse marine life and stunning natural beauty. Radiance of the Seas is the perfect size for us to explore new ports in our region, paving the way for a number of new, exciting destinations for our guests."
Tonga treasures: Vava'u and Nuku'alofa
Vava'u is an island chain to the north of Tonga's main isle, boasting natural beauty spots such as white sand beaches, tropical forests, sea caves, coral gardens, limestone cliffs and clear waters. It is dotted with small villages, of which the biggest is Neiafu - this is where passengers come ashore via tender boat. Onshore, the isles are a wonderful place to explore and especially to snorkel - and the line will also be offering shore tours including sea cave cruises and a cultural tour.
Nuku'alofa is Tonga's capital city, and has a pier big enough for cruise ships: the newly reconstructed Vuna Wharf. This is almost directly across from the Royal Palace in the bustling city centre, so as soon as passengers step ashore they will be amongst the sights and sounds of life in the island kingdom. Highlights here include visiting the markets, seeing the sights and exploring the city and the island of Tongatapu. Tours organised by Royal Caribbean will include cultural and historical sightseeing, trips to the spectacular Houma Blowholes, beach getaways elsewhere on the island and more.
Tonga is a fabulous cruise destination, and will be a gem on Royal Caribbean's roster of longer South Pacific journeys in the future. Cruisers wishing to visit these wonderful isles can take a look at the Royal Caribbean cruise sale page, or find a cruise with our easy homepage search function.