Just 5 ways to make your first family trip to the South Pacific the best holiday ever.

Carnival Cruise Line
Thanks to our brand partner, Carnival Cruise Line

"I just want to book a holiday where I don't have to do everything," I repeated to myself as I researched our South Pacific trip. Surely this is the goal of parents everywhere? 

A family escape where the daily organising – like where to eat and what to do, and being the actual entertainment for our kids – is taken out of our hands. Where we can make precious family memories but also sip a cocktail, read a book or just sit in silence. And sunshine. We all want sunshine.

I needed a tropical holiday where I could switch off my mum-brain and have a little time to myself. My daughter's goal was to have fun on water slides, swim in the ocean and meet other kids to hang out with.

While you're here, watch Mamamia's hot tips for your next vacation. Post continues after video.

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Happily, we both got what we wanted when we set off on a 10-night holiday on a Carnival cruise with our first stop at the beautiful Maré Island in New Caledonia.

If you're planning a trip away, here are my tips for having the best family holiday in the South Pacific, and how to make it so that you'll actually get a break too. 

Decide what kind of holiday you want to have

Working out what everyone wants from the holiday and choosing one that fits is the simplest – yet often most overlooked – step when planning a family trip. Convenience was key for me. I wanted everything organised for us, but it also had to be fun, and the more I looked into cruising, the more appealing it became. 


We didn't have to fly anywhere, we only had to unpack once, and there was so much for us to do, whether together or apart. And with so many fun family activities – I count being forced to ride a huge water slide as family fun even though I was sent down by myself, terrified – and alone time options (hello cocktails), I was able to balance family time and a little me-time on our holiday.

Every morning they delivered an activity timetable to our room, and we worked out a loose schedule. A bit of dancing, a trivia quiz, karaoke, and water slides then lunch and a few hours in Kids Club for my daughter, Emmie, and some alone time in the Serenity Adults Only Retreat area for me. In the evenings we had dinner in the main dining room and watched a performance in the theatre before grabbing late night pizza on the way back to our cabin.

If you're like me and you want to kick back and relax, be secure knowing your family is nearby (even if not right on top of you as usual) and have time to yourself, then cruising is a great fit. Plus, you don't have to cook! Meals are included (and you can add on an alcohol package). Entertainment for kids is taken care of with mini golf, a swimming pool, movie nights, a splash zone and the Green Lightning Water slide on Carnival Splendor.

Image: Supplied. 


Best of all, if you want a little time alone children are looked after by accredited carers at Camp Ocean Kids Club and if you want to watch a show in the evening, kids aged from two to 11 years old can hang out at the Night Owls Club in their PJs until midnight (for an additional cost). 

Ultimately, decide what you want from your holiday – water slides? Cocktails? Not having to fly or move hotels? – and set your expectations before you book your trip.

Pick the right time of year to visit

The South Pacific Islands are gorgeous all year round, but the best time to visit is during the dry season between April and November – which fits perfectly into Australia’s cooler months when we're craving sunshine. 


With the temperature ranging from 21 to 27 degrees, exploring those white sand, palm fringed islands and swimming in the stunning blue water has never felt so good.

Image: Supplied. 

Packing for your holiday (and unpacking once)

Imagine visiting multiple tropical islands but only unpacking your bags once. This happens when your cabin comes along with you and it makes life so easy. Waking up to blue water and a new island to explore just outside your window each morning is a pretty spectacular way to start the day. 


Make sure to bring your cossies and shoulder covers for the beach, plus hats, sunscreen and any water support the kids need, like floaties. From 5.30pm the dress code onboard the ship is smart casual, and many cruisers like to dress up for dinner – it’s a great opportunity to enjoy restaurant dining with the kids. Bring your running or gym gear if you’re planning to keep to your fitness schedule, as there are lots of options on board.

My advice? Check the onboard entertainment schedule before you bring any formal, party or themed dinner outfits with you. 

Image: Supplied.


Book your tours before you go

One of the great things about cruising is that it’s a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure when the ship is in port. You can decide to do things your way and explore, lay on the beach all day or pick a tour offered by Carnival Cruise Lines. We did a mixture of both, laying on the beach at Maré and joining an island culture tour where we saw traditional dance, ate a fabulous local meal and were able to support the local community. 

Tours are very popular and can book out quickly, so make sure to check them out as soon as you book your cruise. 

We also did some research into each island so we could create a list of things we wanted to do and see on each. That meant we didn't miss out on any of our must-do experiences.

Image: Supplied.


Plan before you go...

When you're cruising just about everything is taken care of for you but there are a few things to organise in advance that will make life even easier, like dining and drinks packages and dining times.

Listen to This Glorious Mess where we've put together a whole heap of hacks to make your next trip just that little bit smoother. Post continues below.

Sit down with the family and go through all the onboard activities so you know what you want to do when you’re on board, then once you’re on you can start your adventure straight away.

Ask the kids to make a list of the things they most want to do on your cruise. It will help familiarise them with the ship before they go. 

The South Pacific is an incredible family holiday destination – have a great time!

Carnival is the world's most popular cruise line, thanks to the 5 million people who choose fun onboard every year! See what all the fun is about by checking out the Carnival cruise itineraries for 2022 and beyond.

Feature Image: Supplied.

Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line is the World’s Most Popular Cruise Line®. Carnival Splendor and Carnival Luminosa arrive in Australia later this year, sailing from Sydney and Brisbane. Designed with fun in mind and featuring over 45 activities to enjoy each day, Carnival offers families and couples fun, memorable holidays at great value.