INCREASINGLY, cruise lines are taking passengers along a path less travelled. Smaller expedition ships already favour that remoter route, and now larger cruise ships also opt for greater diversity in ports of call.

Recently, the 1950-passenger Pacific Jewel became the largest cruise ship to visit the independent state of Timor-Leste (East Timor) which occupies half the island of Timor with Indonesian West Timor.

Passengers from P&O's Pacific Jewel check out the colourful local market in Timor-Leste's capital, Dili.
Passengers from P&O’s Pacific Jewel check out the colourful local market in Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili. notes that Timor-Leste’s capital, Dili, may not have a swanky arrival terminal – cruise passengers travel by tender off Pacific Jewel – but were given a warm welcome by locals who were excited to see a cruise ship in port for the first time.

The visit came on a Pacific Jewel sailing from Singapore (the P&O Cruises ship home ports in Sydney year-round), and it was a chance to test Dili’s capacity to host a superliner as Timor-Leste is considered an attractive cruise destination with a rich cultural life,

Pacific Jewel, anchored off Timor-Leste's capital Dili is the first cruise ship to visit the port.
Pacific Jewel, anchored off Timor-Leste’s capital Dili, is the first cruise ship to visit the port.

Landmarks in Dili, speak of the country’s struggles for independence from Portugal and then Indonesia.

The travel bible, Lonely Planet, describes Timor-Leste as “home to a youthful population with a diverse international presence that adds just the right amount of spice.”

The publisher says that Dili, has all the bright lights, but travellers need to venture out of the city for wild cultural experiences on a photogenic journey.  Adventurers can travel down roads beside herds of buffalo, or along white-sand beaches with aqua waters that are rich in marine life. It is an opportunity to trailblaze  through an amazing country that offers adventure with a smile.

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