Place cranberry juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean and star anise in a large, shallow saucepan. Stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Peel pears and remove core from base with a teaspoon. Place in poaching liquid. Cover with a circle of non-stick baking paper – this helps to keep the pears submerged – and then sauce pan lid. Reduce heat to low and cook for 40-60 minutes, turning occasionally, until pears are tender.
Transfer pears to serving plates with a slotted spoon. Spoon over some of the syrup and serve with cream, if desired.