Noumea cruises destination information
|Noumea itinerary and upcoming sailing dates|
|Dec 17, 2019||Christmas, 10 nights||from $2706|
|Jan 28, 2020||Pacific Islands, 9 nights||from $1732|
|Jan 8, 2020||A Taste of New Caledonia, 8 nights||from $1886|
|Dec 30, 2019||New Years Eve, 9 nights||from $3382|
|Jan 10, 2020||South Pacific, 12 nights||from $3464|
|Jan 24, 2020||South Pacific, 9 nights||from $2756|
|Dec 18, 2019||Pacific Islands, 12 nights||from $3941|
|Jan 18, 2020||Pacific Island Hopper, 7 nights||from $2017|
|Mar 11, 2020||Pacific Islands, 8 nights||from $1617|
|Jan 13, 2020||Fiji, 14 nights||from $5241|
|Jan 20, 2020||Pacific Islands, 8 nights||from $2217|
|Feb 23, 2020||Pacific Islands, 7 nights||from $1732|
|Mar 1, 2020||Pacific Islands, 10 nights||from $2164|
|Jan 5, 2020||South Pacific and New Zealand, 10 nights||from $3273|
|Dec 3, 2019||South Pacific, 9 nights||from $2711|
|Jan 25, 2020||Pacific Island Hopper, 7 nights||from $2057|
|Dec 30, 2019||Discover Vanuatu, 8 nights||from $4207|
|Feb 10, 2020||Pacific Islands, 8 nights||from $1828|
|Feb 22, 2020||South Pacific, 7 nights||from $2351|
|Dec 17, 2019||South Pacific, 10 nights||from $3842|
The Stunning Main Port of Noumea
Noumea is the capital city of the French special collectivity of New Caledonia. It is situated on a peninsula in the south of New Caledonia's main island, Grande Terre, and is home to the majority of the island's European, Polynesian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese populations, as well as many Melanesians, Ni-Vanuatu and Kanaks that work in one of the South Pacific's most industrialised cities. The city lies on a protected deepwater harbour which serves as the chief port for New Caledonia.
The city maintains much of New Caledonia's unique mix of French and old Melanesian culture. Even today the U.S. wartime military influence lingers, both in the warmth that many New Caledonian people feel towards the United States after experiencing the relative friendliness of American soldiers and also in the names of several of the quarters in Nouméa.
Noumea features a tropical wet and dry climate with hot summers and warm winters. Temperatures are warmer in the months of January, February and March with average highs hovering around 30 degrees Celsius and cooler during the months of July and August where average high temperatures are around 23 degrees Celsius.
Cruise port: What to do in Noumea
Cheerful and tropical, Noumea is a sophisticated yet relaxed city on the main island of New Caledonia. Its many sandy bays and beaches give it a Riviera feel, and the mix of French and Melanesian influences over language, culture and design make for a very unique holiday destination. The city is a regular port of call for cruise ships from Australia and offers a bit of urbanity, which is for some a welcome change from the palm trees and deserted isles making up the majority of a South Pacific cruise.
The city gets mixed reviews and many people prefer to zip out on a tour or two and enjoy amazing snorkeling near smaller islands or different sections of the main island instead of exploring the inner city. It's a matter of preference though and we will try to give you as much information as we can so you can plan your time there perfectly.
Noumea's cruise terminal is on Moselle Bay. A short walk will bring you to some of the city's hotspots, such as the Place des Cocotiers in the central city or the morning market near the marina. The terminal has a handy information booth for maps and directions. If the cruise terminal is full, ships dock at the container terminal from where free buses will bring you to the cruise terminal to start your visit.
The currency used in New Caledonia is the CFP franc, known as the Pacific franc and called franc in everyday use. Certain tourist-focused places will accept US or Australian dollars, but you may not be happy with the exchange rate. You can exchange your dollars at the cruise terminal for standard bank rates. The larger chain stores, hotels, restaurants and tourist-focused areas will accept credit cards, but it is best to have a little cash, especially if you are venturing out of the city.
New Caledonia has a notoriously high cost of living due to heavy taxation on goods and services, along with little competition in many markets. This means that food, transport and souvenirs will be expensive - think USD$15 for a casual lunch or USD$12 for a cocktail. The good news is that duty free is big in NoumÃ©a and available to cruise passengers with a passport. Many regular Pacific cruisers stock up on cheaply priced alcohol here. (Although this is strictly for home use - no personal alcohol is allowed on the ships, except for perhaps a bottle of wine or two max. Your duty free purchases will be stored with the crew for pick-up later on.)
Get your bearings as soon as you arrive with free maps available at the cruise terminal. In the Place des Cocotiers, the central square near the terminal, you will find the Tourism Office which can also assist you. Wifi is also available free at the nearby Place des Cocotiers, and you can also find it at the Port Moselle Marina or in a McDonalds outlet. There are internet cafes dotted around the city- just be wary of the french-style keyboards!
Local life and language
French is the primary language spoken in NoumÃ©a. Many people will speak English, especially those who work in tourism-related businesses, but now is the time to brush up on that high school French - the locals will appreciate the effort! The native inhabitants of the islands, the Kanak people, have a variety of languages which are not widely spoken in Noumea but may be encountered in villages and towns.
New Caledonia's multi-ethnic society means that anyone can feel right at home in Noumea. Tipping is not a common cultural practice, although tour guides graciously accept small tips. The dress code is just what you would wear in any city. Noumea is no tropical backwater, so if you are going out to eat, ditch the beachwear. Same goes for shopping around - a shirt is required to enter stores. On the beaches in the city, topless sunbathing is commonplace, but if you are in or around the traditional Melanesian villages then a little modesty is recommended, both on and off the sand. When visiting the villages, obtain permission from the chief or representative to enter, and it is good manners to offer a small gift (not alcohol!). Politically, there is some contention over the issue of independence, so be tactful and avoid displaying any symbols belonging to either side of the debate.
Eat, drink and be merry
The French influence means you will find some wonderful food during your time in NoumÃ©a. The restaurants are endless and mix Gallic classics with tropical dishes for a fascinating fusion of cuisine. European-style coffees are available in the many cafes, and you could go crazy in the boulangeries and patisseries sampling French baked goods. Snack bars serving quick meals are a great way to grab a bite, and many of these offer Vietnamese dishes. Chocolat Morand in the old Latin Quarter is the best place for something sweet.
Bars around the city offer everything from Bordeaux wine to a local â€œNumber Oneâ€ beer or a tropical cocktail.
Shop at the Noumea markets
The Morning Market at the Marche de Noumea is the place to go for shopping of all kinds, from fresh produce to seafood, arts and crafts. It is open every morning except for one Monday in the month, from 5am to 11:30am. Those seeking fashion retail therapy will find many French-style boutiques around the city centre and the Place des Cocotiers. For a local clothing brand, check out Tricot Raye.
The Place des Cocotiers is the heart of the city, a great spot to people-watch and relax on the grass in the sun. There is a petanque pitch, a giant chessboard and street performers putting on shows in the square.
The Aquarium des Lagons is a top spot, especially for families.
Near the Aquarium is the beautiful Anse Vata Beach which is very popular with windsurfers. The beach at Baie des Citrons is best for swimming and Magenta Beach near the domestic airport is very family-focused.
The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is high on the list of visitor attractions - a great way to get acquainted with the history and culture of New Caledonia.
Touring Noumea, so many options
Group or independent?
Noumea is a good spot to explore independently, if you feel that you need time away from other passengers or are trying to save money on tours. Unlike the majority of South Pacific ports, it is a real city and has a lot to offer within walking distance of the wharf. However, it is no New York - if you like to be busy, a tour is more likely to be your style. Additionally, if you are interested in seeing what New Caledonia has to offer beyond central Noumea, you will probably be better off joining a group and taking advantage of experienced guides.
The lone explorer
Wherever your ship docks, you will begin your day in Noumea at the cruise ship terminal, which is a great place to start. Pick up a map and get your bearings first.
There are tour buses that go from the main terminal to the popular beaches and you can organise them independently from the ship if you prefer that option. Taxis are expensive, but is a good way to get around if tour buses don't go where you want or you'd rather not take your chances figuring out the public bus routes. You can see a lot just by walking and like exploring on your own. Noumea also has an alternative form of transport which will inject a bit of fun into your experience. Le Petit Train is a city icon - a road-going small "train" which runs on a loop around the significant spots.
Making the most of your day
Most cruise ships arrive in Noumea early in the morning and leave in the evening- Here's our suggested itinerary for making the most of your time there if you are not joining a tour group:
After breakfast on the ship, head to the Morning Markets as these close at 11:30am.
The Place des Cocotiers is a good place to get your bearings. From there, you can figure out public transport and taxis.
The beach of Anse Vata or Baie des Citrons is a good place to spend the hottest part of the day. At either of these you can also find a nice seaside restaurant for lunch
If you want to treat yo'self, try Ã¢â‚¬Å“Le RoofÃ¢â‚¬ï¿½ which sits on stilts off the beach in Anse Vata. Beautiful views, great French food and fresh local ingredients.
In the afternoon, head out to the Cultural Centre, the Aquarium or the Parc Zoologique to learn a little something.
If you would rather have a lazy afternoon and not have to worry about getting back to the ship in time, spend the afternoon indulging in a little retail therapy at the Galerie shopping arcade which is close by the docks.
Join in: Tours available from Noumea
There are so many tours and excursions available in Noumea, it's impossible to mention them all. Anyone can find something that suits them, whether they love nature, culture, beaches, forests, animals or shopping. The different lines run varying tours, but here are a few themes and highlights:
Noumea in a Nutshell
P&O has a tour by this very name, and the other lines all offer something similar. If this is the first and possibly last time you will visit Noumea, then a highlights tour is a great idea to get an overview. There are many different styles - most are half-day events involving a bit of driving and walking. Most lines also offer tours, involving the Petit Train, and P&O have a segway adventure to add something a little out of the box to your average city tour.
These excursions are ideal for getting to know a little about Noumea and seeing as much as possible, and they generally leave you with half a day to explore in-depth the things that took your fancy.
This tour is offered by all lines as it's a major favourite! Amedee Island lies not far offshore and is a stunning isle of crystal-clear waters, white sand, palm trees and sunshine. The underwater vistas are just as fabulous as those above, and it is a great place to try your hand at snorkelling or diving. Lunch buffets and traditional dance performances are included for an amazing day in paradise. Those who don't like to get wet may prefer to see the reef via a glass-bottomed boat, or climb the phare (lighthouse) to be rewarded with beautiful vistas.
Flora, fauna and adventure
Nature lovers will enjoy a variety of excursions which focus on New Caledonia's native plants and animals. P&O Feathers and Fauna tour heads to the Parc Zoologique for a guided tour through the 85-acre sanctuary, and Princess can take you on a scenic drive which includes time at the Aquarium des Lagons with amazing tropical sealife. Holland America offers a tranquil half-day excursion to the Botanic Gardens and Bird Sanctuary.
Get a little more adventurous on tours leaving the city to explore some more of New Caledonia. Several lines take kayaking groups in the Dumbea River, and other options include 4WD-adventures, cycling tours, paddle-boarding, lagoon snorkelling and various types of fishing charters.
Soak up some culture
The Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a major attraction in Noumea, where visitors go to learn about the native Kanak culture through exhibits and performances. The carefully-planned architecture of the Centre is a sight to behold, complementing and working with the surrounding nature. Most lines will organise groups to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre and there are regular buses there from the city centre should you choose to visit independently.
Whatever you choose to do in Noumea, we hope you enjoy your time in the tropical city. Have you been there yet? What did you think?
Cruises visiting Noumea
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