Summary : On this 11-night expedition, you'll be enchanted by the rich culture and friendly welcomes of these exotic islands, from traditional handicrafts, pristine beaches and amazing diving to active volcanoes, ancient tropical fjords and the iconic Sepik River. Each day of this expedition will reveal yet another aspect to the wonderful cultural diversity of Papua New Guinea and the breathtaking scenery unique to this remote land. This is still a land of magic and spirits despite the best efforts of colonial missionaries over the centuries. A land of 800 languages, the cultural diversity will take your breath away.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Snorkeling
$999,999,999 to $0
The Cairns region is internationally recognized for world-class attractions, such as superb natural features and friendly north Queensland hospitality. It is the focal point for the magnificent World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and is surrounded by tropical rainforests. Visitors enjoy browsing at indigenous art galleries, shopping at the night markets and dining out on multicultural cuisine in the many restaurants along the esplanade.
Enjoy the time at sea to take advantage of onboard amenities, including a gym with sweeping ocean views, state-of-the-art lecture theater and Jacuzzi on the Sun Deck.
Alotau, the capital of Milne Bay Province, is located at the eastern tip of mainland Papua New Guinea. Much of the population relies on the sea for their livelihood and the busy harbor and nearby market are focal points for the town. Cargo movements drive harbor activity, and there's an array of colorful vessels to be seen, ranging from tiny canoes to well-equipped dive and charter boats.
Alotau township and the colorful markets are only a short walk from the wharf, past a significant war memorial and the busy harbor. A complimentary shuttle bus is available, or, as another option, Alotau is one of the few places in Papua New Guinea to have a taxi service. There are three different tours that you can choose from today as your inclusive activity: An Alotau WWII History Tour, which focuses on the WWII history of the region, the Alotau Highlight’s Tour is more general in scope covering both historical and cultural aspects, and finally the Alotau Bat Cave Adventure which requires a little more physical dexterity and an adventurous spirit.
In the early 1900's, tiny Samarai Island was the thriving colonial capital of the territory of Papua and the town's streetscape carries reminders of those bygone, halcyon days. Back then it was described as one of the most beautiful places in the South Pacific. You will be transferred ashore by Zodiacs to Samarai where you will be guided in an exploration of the historically-significant areas.
Just three kilometers west of Samarai is Kwato Island, where European traders broke their journey en route to the South Pacific in search of gold and to trade in mother of pearl, sandalwood and sea cucumbers (beche de mer). In 1891, the Reverend Charles Abel founded a church and mission here. He is best remembered for his theory that the game of cricket would have a civilizing influence over the tribes. The sweeping view from the impressive stone church at the top of the hill is well worth the climb. Also, you will visit the uninhabited island of Deka Deka, which will be a base for swimming and snorkeling.
The Trobriand Islands are famed for beautiful beaches, and today, you’ll have the chance to visit a village and see examples of the distinctive yam houses. The people rely on subsistence farming and fishing, and the yam plays a very important role in their diet. More than just the staple diet, yams are revered by all, being proudly displayed after harvesting and then kept in elaborate storehouses. The unique Trobriand culture was studied by the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the early 1900’s and resulted in the islands being dubbed (perhaps erroneously) “The Island of Love.” You will be able to admire and purchase carvings which are renowned throughout Papua New Guinea for their high quality and workmanship.
Your visit today will be to Kitava Island and the lagoon formed by the tiny coral cay of Nuratu Island just off the main beach of Kitava. Here locals will perform some of the Trobriands famous dances including the Tapioca Dance. Swimming, snorkeling, and sea kayaking will be available in the lagoon all day as well.
The magnificent scenery around Cape Nelson on the north coast of the mainland is a well-kept secret. More than 30 fjords are carved into the shoreline with each fjord being surrounded by dense rainforest above sheer basalt walls, many with waterfalls plunging into the sea. Sandy beaches meet coral reefs and the crystal clear waters abound with diverse marine life making a perfect combination for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Local villages are set in isolated areas along the coast and on the imposing slopes of Mount Trafalgar. The cultural heritage of the area is based on subsistence farming and fishing. The Oro pottery and Tapa cloth-making is also renowned throughout Papua New Guinea.
Orion will anchor outside the spectacular fjords and Zodiacs will take you ashore to a white sandy beach, for swimming, snorkeling and sea kayaking today. You may also choose to participate in a local village tour, which includes being paddled in local outrigger canoes, a walk through the rainforest, a demonstration of traditional canoe making, and a demonstration on the making of the Tapa cloth.
The beautiful Tami Islands are a quiet, simple, island idyll. Tami Islands comprises four atolls, including one that's barely more than a white sandy beach. There are two main villages on the two large islands that face each other across the cove, which is filled with reef and deepens to a volcanic pit at its center. Drumming and dancing herald a day ashore where you may explore the village for intricate carvings and souvenirs or walk with a botanist to inspect native produce gardens. You won't want to leave after swimming and snorkeling above the myriad corals that form the extensive reef.
It's well worth getting up early this morning for the approach to Madang through the spectacular Dallman Passage. Madang itself is a lovely town set on a peninsula characterized by lush gardens and magnificent vistas of tropical seascapes, islands and inlets.
Explore Madang and the markets today by complimentary shuttle bus. The market has masses of colorful produce, shell jewelry, woven bags (bilums) from the highlands, carvings and bilbil clay pots, which are a local specialty. Weathered headstones in the cemetery are reminders of colonial times and you have the chance to visit nearby villages and attend a "sing sing." Scuba divers enjoy easy access to dive sites just off-shore, which encompass wartime wrecks, pelagic marine life, reef-filled shallow lagoons and drift-diving off deep drops.
The meandering Sepik River is the longest river in Papua New Guinea and for years has been a major trading artery linking the coast and the interior. Orion takes position today at the mile-wide river mouth nearby the small village of Watam. The dense vegetation and swampland to be seen along the river's edge is home to many species of birds.
The visit to the village will give you an insight into a way of life that very few outsiders have witnessed. With no roads, phones, electricity or luxuries to be had, the open and happy outlook of the villagers will touch you. A "dragon" dance welcomes you ashore, punctuated by singing and lots of laughter, as you are marked with a red ceremonial mark on your cheek. You will be shown how to make Sago, the staple food of the Sepik coastline, and the local teacher will open the school to you. Unique carvings and woven baskets will be available to buy.
Continue exploring at sea as you journey toward Rabaul, Papua New Guinea.
Set at the eastern end of the island of New Britain, the tropical port town of Rabaul has always been famous for its spectacular setting. Nestled beside Simpson Harbor, the township is surrounded by six volcanoes, one of which, Mt Tavurvur, is still active today. The area played a significant role in WWII and it’s almost hard to miss the rusting relics left over by the retreating forces. The rebuilt town area of Rabaul is just a short walk from the wharf. A courtesy shuttle running to the edge of the ash area where the Rabaul Hotel, Yamamoto’s Bunker, and the Historical Society are situated will be available.
During your day in Rabaul, you can also choose between a Rabaul History and Highlights Tour or a Rabaul Volcano Adventure. The Volcano Adventure requires a greater degree of physical ability and begins with taking a Banana boat across to the base of the volcano. You will walk around the old lava flow and let the local Matupit villagers treat you to a “Kulau” (fresh green coconut). Also, see Megapodes (wild fowl) who make this area their home. The Rabaul History and Highlights Tour is suitable for just about anybody and includes visits to the old town, the old airport, the sight of a Japanese WWII Bomber wreck, and the command bunker of Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese commander during WWII. Also, see the tunnels used to hide Japanese barges from Allied planes carved into the sides of the mountains. Some of the tunnels still have barges in them.
Overnight on your ship, then disembark in the morning.
Ports of call may be subject to weather and tidal conditions, and are subject to change.
Reverse Itinerary: 3/16/2013 (Rabaul to Cairns)
Optional Excursions: Please contact ExpeditionTrips for details on optional excursions including, but not limited to: Tufi scuba dive, Outer Reef snorkeling tour, and Madang scuba dive.
Accommodations as booked; cruise transportation; all meals onboard; 24-hour room service; entertainment and educational programs; use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities; port and handling charges; Zodiac excursions and tender transfers; access to the ship's library; government fees and taxes; services of 75 experienced crew.
International airfare; optional one-way charter flight between Cairns and Rabaul ($600 per person); items of a personal nature, including but not limited to: travel and medical insurance, laundry charges, shopping onboard, bar expenses, hair dressing and massage treatments, optional shore experiences, medical treatment, telephone and internet charges.