Melanesian Discovery

  • Orion
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 106 Capacity
  • 11 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : This South Pacific voyage will explore islands untouched by tourism. This unique itinerary will balance authentic cultural experiences with sheer relaxation and sights no other cruise provides. This unique cultural program gives you a fascinating inside look at the traditions and customs of the Polynesian people living on the remote islands of Utupua and Santa Ana and the opportunity to purchase fine carvings and original artworks. Enjoy the gentle sea breezes of Marovo Lagoon and snorkel extensive coral reefs. Enjoy a warm welcome at every destination, with plenty of music, uninhibited rhythmic dancing and singing. A paradise in every sense.

Activities : Culture, Snorkeling

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Itinerary
Day 1
Port Vila, Vanuatu

Begin your journey at Port Vila, the capital and largest town of the republic of Vanuatu, in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Located on Mele Bay on the southwest coast of Efate, Vila is a port and the commercial center of the island group.

In the 19th century, French settlers established the municipality of Franceville, which declared independence in 1889 and became the first self-governing nation to practice universal suffrage without distinction of sex or race.

Day 2
Malakula

Malakula is the second largest island in the Vanuatu group, once known as The Cannibal Islands due to the fierce reputation of the predominant tribal groups known as the big and small Nambas. The island is also the most diverse, culturally and linguistically, with over thirty distinct languages spoken.

Sandalwood does not grow on the island and so it attracted little interest from the ruthless sea traders of the 1800s, leaving the culture virtually intact and the inhabitants unscathed by the slaving and introduction of Western diseases prevalent elsewhere in the South Pacific.

Your landing today is planned for South West Bay. Here you will be greeted by the local people who will share their culture with you throughout the day.

Day 3
Paradise Lagoon

Explore Paradise Lagoon, the inspiration for the legendary "Tales of the South Pacific". During WWII, James A. Michener, then a lieutenant in the American Army, was stationed in Santo along with 100,000 other army personnel. Such was the effect of this place on him that he wrote this Pulitzer Prize winning book. From Espiritu Santo, Michener would gaze across the sea to the volcanic island of Ambae, often with its summit shrouded in cloud. Relics and reminders of the war remain everywhere today.

Day 4
Day 5
Utupua Island

Part of the volcanic Santa Cruz Island group, the remote and rarely visited Utupua has been described as a small Bora Bora with its lagoon and barrier reef surrounding the high island. Once ashore, you'll find the island is densely forested, the island's 750 inhabitants cultivating lush vegetable gardens in the rich volcanic soil.

Day 6 – 7
Santa Ana Island

Navigate through the picturesque channel separating Santa Ana and Santa Catalina Islands before dropping anchor on the west coast of Santa Ana, just outside shallow Mary Bay. The islanders are well known for preserving ancient traditions – as you step ashore from the Zodiacs, you may greeted by songs and elaborately costumed dancers. Once ashore, explore the local woodwork and artifacts on display and available as souvenirs.

You will have the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the azure waters surrounding this remote island.

Day 8
Marovo Lagoon

Continue on to Marovo Lagoon in the heart of the New Georgia Islands. James A. Michener once described this place as the eighth wonder of the world.

Day 9
Day 10
Rabaul (overnight onboard)

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 Harbour, the township is surrounded by six volcanoes, one of which, Mt Tavurvur, is still active today. During more than 100 years of settlement, Rabaul has been rocked by massive volcanic eruptions and war, a testament to the resilience of the townsfolk who have rebuilt after each event.

The most recent major volcanic eruption was in September 1994 when Tavurvur and Vulcan covered much of Rabaul and surrounding villages with volcanic ash. This eruption saw the growth of the nearby coastal town of Kokopo, which has now become the administrative and tourism center for East New Britain, replacing Rabaul in that role. 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 one of two included tours: the Rabaul History and Highlights Tour or the Rabaul Volcano Adventure. The Volcano Adventure requires a greater degree of physical ability and a sense of adventure, where as the History and Highlights Tour is suitable for just about anybody, with a focus of visiting local features by bus.

RABAUL HISTORY & HIGHLIGHTS TOUR
Jump aboard a mini-bus to explore the eerie ghost town of old Rabaul sitting metres under tonnes of ash dumped primarily by the twin eruptions of Mt Tavurvur and Mt Vulcan in 1994. You will explore the old town and visit the old airport, which actually had aircraft and helicopters buried under ash in 1994 although they have since been recovered. Visit the sight of a Japanese WWII Bomber wreck and also the command bunker of Admiral Yamamoto, the Japanese commander during WWII. 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. No visit would be complete without stopping at the Volcanic Observatory that is keeping a close eye on the active Mt Tavurvur.

RABAUL VOLCANO ADVENTURE
This is a unique experience, tailor made just for you and highlighting the best that Rabaul has to offer. Start your Rabaul Volcano Adventure by taking a Banana boat across to the base of the volcano. Local legend Susie Alexander, whose family has operated hotels in the town for generations, is your guide for the adventure around the volcano. A reasonable level of fitness is required. You will not be climbing to the rim of the volcano as the volcano is still active. Your tour will take place around 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) to refresh you after your efforts. There is a chance to see Megapodes (wild fowl) who make this area their home.

Day 11
Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

An optional charter flight between Rabaul and Cairns is available.

Notes

Included:
accommodations as booked, cruise transportation, all meals onboard, 24-hour room service, entertainment and educational programmes, use of ship's sporting equipment and facilities, port & handling charges, Zodiac excursions and tender transfers, access to the ship's library, Government Fees & Taxes. Fares also include the services of 70 experienced crew.

Not Included:
Airfare; 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; gratuities for individual staff members (optional).