Explore with the South Pacific Experts
Step aboard the inaugural voyage of the National Geographic Orion with top staff and special guests: Valerie Taylor–dive legend, shark chronicler, pioneering undersea photographer and filmmaker, and National Geographic cover subject; Tim Soper–dive expert, naturalist guide with nearly 20 years of experience, and one of the finest Expedition Leaders in expedition travel; Dr. Stuart Bedford–National Geographic Grantee, published author and researcher, and archaeologist studying in Vanuatu; and Amy Toensing and Matt Moyer–international photography award winners, passionate teachers, and National Geographic photographers.
No other style of travel takes you farther or brings you closer to our planet’s most awe-inspiring destinations than expedition travel: encounter the hospitable people and amazing cultures of rarely visited islands, snorkel with huge manta rays in an undersea paradise, understand the legendary history of remote islands, and experience the spectacular landscape of the South Pacific aboard the National Geographic Orion. Expedition travel will take your breath away, captivate, and forever change you–and the expert guides and naturalists who accompany you can make an adventure go from ‘great’ to ‘phenomenal’. The exceptional quality of the veteran staff is the reason the National Geographic fleet of ships is world renowned for spectacular expedition experiences. The National Geographic Orion’s expedition team includes a complement of veteran naturalists well-versed in the cultures and natural history of the South Pacific—from the numerous tribes of Papua New Guinea to the native flora and fauna of Micronesia. Traveling aboard the National Geographic Orion allows you the opportunity to experience exotic destinations, fascinating cultures, and incredible wildlife with a team that is an unprecedented fusion of expertise, time in the field, first-hand knowledge, and years of experience.
Valerie Taylor, the Global Perspectives Guest Speaker aboard this inaugural expedition, is a dive legend, gaining fame with her husband Ron in the early days of scuba diving for capturing breathtaking live footage of sharks, particularly Great Whites. In 1969, the Taylors formed their own production company. In the same year, Valerie was catapulted to international stardom in Peter Gimbel’s classic film, Blue Water, White Death. During the 1970s, Valerie and Ron’s live shark sequences appeared in the movies Jaws, Orca and The Blue Lagoon. In 1973, Valerie’s photo was on the cover of National Geographic catching the attention of expedition travel pioneer Lars-Eric Lindblad, and Valerie and Ron spent a decade traveling the world on the little red and white ship called the Lindblad Explorer. Both she and Ron have won numerous awards in underwater photography and videography. In 2000, she became an inaugural member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
Tim Soper–no stranger to the sea–grew up on the Southwest coast of England surrounded by boats and mariners, and became a qualified scuba diver at the age of nine. He was soon an accomplished dinghy and yacht sailor. His passion for the sea led him to study at the University of Wales’ marine laboratories on the Isle of Anglesey, where he combined oceanography and marine biology to earn an honors degree in ocean sciences. Qualified by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and the Royal Yachting Association, he has worked both above and below the waves teaching scuba diving, sailing, and power boating. For nearly two decades, Tim has led expeditions to all corners of the Earth. Always keen to explore, he has pioneered many new landings and in 2004 discovered a previously unknown emperor penguin rookery. His voyages have taken him to every continent and across every ocean. His skills as an Expedition Leader are unparalleled–when Tim is onboard, amazing experiences are in store.
Dr. Stuart Bedford, an archaeologist with the Australian National University, has been involved in research in Vanuatu since 1995 when he began his PhD there. His research was focused on establishing the timing of the first arrival of people in Vanuatu and the subsequent cultural and environmental changes that occurred across the archipelago. His PhD was completed in 2000 and published in 2006, the first major archaeological publication on Vanuatu for 35 years. Bedford is an expert in the Lapita colonization of the Pacific. Along with his colleague, Matthew Spriggs, Stuart’s work has focused on the inhabitants of the islands of Vanuatu, one of the first places the Lapita colonized when they began to sail long distances into the open ocean. Just a few years ago local construction workers discovered a Lapita cemetery on an island called Éfaté. National Geographic funded Spriggs’ and Bedford’s excavations at the site, and they have found a wealth of data that sheds light on life and death in a Lapita community. Stuart will spend time aboard, giving a first-hand report on his project.
National Geographic photographers Amy Toensing and Matt Moyer have traveled the globe photographing many of the world’s most amazing cultures and places; and have taught numerous photo workshops for the Geographic. Passionate teachers, Amy and Matt are devoted to passing on their insights and knowledge to photographers of all skill levels. Their shared interests drew them together during a chance meeting at National Geographic headquarters in 2004. They are now married and live in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains north of New York City. Collectively, they have worked on more than 20 stories for National Geographic magazine, and they have each won multiple international photography awards for their work. Amy and Matt join you on the National Geographic Orion to capture spectacular images of this unique destination – providing pointers and feedback for capturing your trip of a lifetime.
These experts represent just a few of the amazing skilled staff and expert guests on the National Geographic Orion. Every National Geographic Orion expedition sails with a veteran expedition leader, an assistant expedition leader, and a team of 5-6 naturalists/historians of a variety of specialties: zoology, biology, ornithology, geology, anthropology, and more. Other members of the team include an undersea specialist, a National Geographic photographer, plus a National Geographic certified photo instructor, a video chronicler, and a wellness specialist. Together they provide a greater understanding and appreciation for the extraordinary and diverse geography of the South Pacific. A 10-to-1 guest-to-staff ratio ensures the benefits of diverse backgrounds, and the freedom to head out on activities with the naturalist whose interests mirror your own. With a team that can custom-tailor activities to match your activity level, each day of your expedition is uniquely yours, and deeply rewarding. Traveling aboard the National Geographic Orion, guests enjoy the richest, most in-depth experience of this magical destination – the makings for the trip of a lifetime.
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View All South Pacific Itineraries