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Exploring the Coral Sea: Papua New Guinea to Fiji

Papua New Guinea Cruise

Summary : Along the edges of the Coral Sea lie idyllic islands lush with jungle and edged with white-sand beaches that saw some of the fiercest battles of the Pacific Theater during World War II. Next to vibrant reefs, shipwrecks and discarded armaments now bristle with coral, making for exhilarating discoveries under the sea. As National Geographic Orion makes her way from Papua New Guinea to the Solomons, Vanuatu, and Fiji, snorkel and dive pristine reefs and famous wrecks, trace the history of the Battle of the Coral Sea and the legends of the ancient Melanesian people.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling


Free Chronicle: Receive a free video chronicle of your trip, compliments of ExpeditionTrips!
Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).

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$999,999,999 to $0

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Day 1 – 3
U.S. / Cairns, Australia

Depart for Australia, crossing the international date line, and embark the National Geographic Orion upon arrival.

Day 4
At Sea

Spend a day crossing the Coral Sea, with reefs and islands rich in birds and aquatic life. Join naturalists on deck with your binoculars, attend talks by the expedition team, and settle into life on board.

Day 5 – 7
Papua New Guinea

Discover the sights of Milne Bay Province, from the colorful markets of the mainland to the reef-fringed volcanic isles scattered off the coast. Visit islands like Kwato and Samarai, and explore a turbulent history of colonialists, missionaries, headhunters, and world wars. Examine World War II artifacts on land and underwater, and snorkel, dive and kayak the reefs and lagoons of the idyllic Louisiade Archipelago, where the residents of each island are skilled in different crafts, including pottery and building traditional sailing canoes.

Day 8 – 10
At Sea / Solomon Islands

A day at sea brings you to the jungle-clad peaks and vibrant reefs of the Solomon Islands—an unlikely backdrop for the fierce battles that took place here during World War II. Today the islands are some of the least visited, most dive-worthy islands in the South Pacific. Explore the haunting war relics at a U.S. supply depot on Guadalcanal Island, and discover the bird life of Kennedy Island, named after John F. Kennedy, who swam ashore here after his PT-109 boat was sunk during the war. Then, on the tiny isle of Owaraha (formerly known as Santa Ana), you're greeted with a traditional dance performed by villagers in elaborate costumes and masks.

Day 11
At Sea

The reefs and islands of this region are rich in birds and aquatic life. Join naturalists on deck with your binoculars, attend talks by your team of experts, and enjoy the ship’s amenities as you sail east.

Day 12 – 13

Captain James Cook named these islands the “New Hebrides” because they reminded him of the rugged isles off Scotland’s coast. On the main island of Espiritu Santo, snorkel, swim, and kayak in Paradise Lagoon and then set out for the Blue Hole Grotto, a jewel-blue freshwater source surrounded by jungle. Ride Zodiacs to Lelepa to explore Fels Cave, whose walls are decorated with ancient petroglyphs, and visit Vanuatu’s first and only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the final residence and burial site of 17th-century Chief Roi Mata. Snorkel Million Dollar Point, where many tons of military equipment were dumped after the war, or experience one of the best wreck dives in the world: the S.S. President Coolidge, a luxury cruise liner used as a troop carrier during World War II.

Day 14
At Sea

Enjoy the ship's amenities and exceptional ocean views as you near the picturesque islands of Fiji.

Day 15
Beqa, Fiji

In 1789, Captain William Bligh and 18 loyal crew members sailed past the islands of Fiji following the infamous mutiny aboard the HMS Bounty. Numbering more than 300, the islands are known for their pristine coral reefs and sun-drenched villages steeped in a tranquil tropical atmosphere. Your first stop is the island of Beqa (pronounced Mbengga), located just off the southern coast of Viti Levu. Dive or snorkel the surrounding coral reefs, go on walks in the jungle, and paddle sea kayaks along mangrove-lined channels. The island is also the home of the Sawau people, known for their tradition of firewalking. Witness this incredible feat first hand, and learn about the everyday life of the islanders.

Day 16
Lautoka, Fiji / U.S

Disembark in Lautoka, and transfer to the airport for your return flight home.


This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.

Photo Expeditions:

The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

Scuba Diving Requirements: Scuba divers must be certified by an internationally recognized dive association prior to the voyage, and certification cards and logbooks must be shown on board. Divers must have logged 25 dives in total and made a dive within the 12 months preceding the voyage.

Accommodations as indicated; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician and expedition staff; use of kayaks.

Not Included:
International air transportation; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, email and laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; scuba diving surcharge; fuel surcharge may apply.

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