Faces of Micronesia & Melanesia

South Pacific Cruise

  • Silver Explorer
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 132 Capacity
  • 19 Days
  • 2014 View Departure>
    • 2014
    • Sep 30 Tue
  • Price from
  • $10,050

Summary : Immerse into the fascinating island cultures of this remote Pacific region. Participate in welcome ceremonies and a traditional yam exchange. Enjoy island musicians and a unique Water Music Women performance. Admire traditional handicrafts and Vanuatu’s famous sand-drawings. Snorkel, swim and look for colorful reef-fish and enjoy cruising into a sunken caldera. Travel by canoe beneath the canopy of an ancient mangrove forest while identify a variety of bird species: lorikeet, cuckoo, cockatoo, harpy eagle, golden monarch, dwarf cassowary, osprey, kite, imperial dove and kingfisher. Search for exotic butterflies, the world’s largest grasshopper, and observe spinner and bottlenose dolphins in the wild.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling

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Prices from
$10,050 to $24,950

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Itinerary
Day 1
Apra Harbor, Guam

Embark the ship in the evening and meet your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers.

Day 2
Gaferut, Yap

A morning at sea gives you time to relax after a long travel day, and an opportunity for the Expedition Team to provide an overview of the outlying atolls of the state of Yap, one of the four “Federated States of Micronesia”. Head out on deck with naturalists and ornithologists to identify the many seabirds that nest on the tiny atoll of Gaferut. In the afternoon, if conditions are favorable and there are few nesting birds on the beach, enjoy your first landing for a close-up look at the island and its birdlife.

Day 3
Ifalik, Yap

Ifalik is one of the more traditional islands of Yap, and local chiefs will provide a welcome performance of traditional songs and dances before exploring the lush island with local guides. Visit the school, which is one of the very few buildings built with modern material; in contrast to the houses built with leaves and trees found on the island. The women tend the gardens of taro and other staple foods while the men are involved in boat-building or fishing. The canoes along the beach and in the picturesque lagoon make for fantastic photographs.

Day 4
At Sea

A leisurely day at sea is yours to enjoy. Begin perhaps with a late breakfast and another cup of coffee or tea during the first of the day’s lectures. Find out what differentiates Micronesian from Melanesian cultures and how they’re affected by modern-day influences. Listen as the onboard marine biologist presents a preview of what Papua New Guinea’s underwater-world has in store.

Day 5
Ali Island, Papua New Guinea

Ali Island was first visited by outsiders (Catholic Church Missionaries) in mid-1800s. As a result of this the Ali islanders were the first people in the Sepik region to receive education like reading and writing.
Even with earlier outside influences, their culture remains strong. The island is a beautiful place with white sandy beaches and snorkel sites close to the village.

Day 6
Murik Lakes / Kopar Village

Murik Lakes are a mangrove swamp area of the Sepik Province. Livelihood here is centered around what they can forage from the mangroves. In addition to carving, the Murik people also weave Sepik Baskets which are popular in all parts of Papua New Guinea. Enjoy colorful traditional dance costumes of the Murik and captivating rhythms. Later in the day, visit Kopar, a small village at the mouth of the Sepik River with no more than 200 people. For the keen birders, travel by zodiac into the small canals just upstream from Kopar village with rewarding sights of flood plain birds, parrots and the odd kite.

Day 7
Tuam, Papua New Guinea

Tuam Island is an uplifted coral atoll covered in palm trees. The island is banana-shaped and its eastern side, where its only village is located, is highly exposed to the trade winds. As a result, the islanders have set up protective walls made out of palm-branches, which gives the village the look of a fortified castle from a distance. Be greeted by island officials and proceed on a walk to the village. Follow a trail marked by white sand leading to neatly organized wooden huts and houses with palm frond thatched roofs. Although Tuam is a small island, there will be about 4 or 5 dance groups performing local Sing Sings. The Siassi people are experts at choreographing dances that depict the world as they see it. Afterwards, take some time to admire the local artifacts that will be displayed for purchase. Among these, the Tami bowls are unique to the Morobe Islands. Following your visit, explore the spectacular reef via Zodiac together with the onboard marine biologist and enjoy some amazing snorkeling.

Day 8
Tufi, Papua New Guinea

Very early in the morning, the ship will enter the scenic Kwapurina Fjord, gliding along the clear and smooth waters until reaching Smith Island where you transfer to traditional outrigger canoes. Locals will paddle the canoes further into the fjord, passing under canopies of ancient mangrove forests. Some of these trees are well over sixty feet in height and are home to Tufi’s wide range of colorful birds and butterflies including the world’s largest butterfly – the Queen Alexandra Bird Wing with a wingspan reaching up to 11 inches. Various species of lorikeets, cuckoos, cockatoos, pigeons, as well as the New Guinea harpy eagle, the golden monarch, the long-tailed buzzard, and the dwarf cassowary can also be found in and around Tufi. But if you are interested in extremes… Tufi is also home to the world’s largest grasshopper, the longest stick insect and the largest beetle!

Glide along by canoe and observe locals going about their daily tasks. Arrive at a small beach and proceed on foot through the rainforest to a small jungle waterfall cascading down into a rock pool. Enjoy a refreshing coconut drink and watch a demonstration of traditional canoe making. Return to Tufi and enjoy a traditional village welcome and watch spectacular dances that are unique to the area.

Day 9
Kitava, Trobriand Islands

The Trobriand Islands are known as the “Islands of Love” and you are sure to love Kitava for its remarkable natural beauty. Once anchored offshore, make a landing by Zodiac on the uplifted coral island and hike to Kitava’s primary school where you’ll observe local songs and dances by the children. Crafts, including intricately carved canes, boats and bowls, as well as some of the costumes used during the dances, will be offered for purchase. For the adventurous hikers, a circle-island walk will allow you to see more villages with traditional houses and gardens. In the afternoon, relax on the beach of Uratu, and swim or snorkel in the inviting warm water, enjoying your last day in Papua New Guinea.

Day 10
At Sea

A day at sea always gives opportunity to reflect on things seen so far and to contemplate the different islands yet to come. Enjoy a lecture on Melanesian culture and natural history, and the more modern influences on this remote part of the world. Birders can spot some of the many seabirds found miles away from their nesting grounds. Settle in with a refreshing drink or an interesting book as you cruise the Solomon Sea.

Day 11
Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands

James A. Michener once described Marovo Lagoon as the eighth wonder of the world. One of the world's largest double-barrier-reef enclosed lagoons, this isolated spot has been proposed for UNESCO World Heritage listing. Marovo is famous for its extensive coral reef ecosystems, teeming tropical fish and exceptional snorkeling sites. Feather stars and nudibranches, vase sponges and gorgonian fans, lion fish and octopus, morays and pygmy manta rays are all part of this truly remarkable marine environment. Birders can look for osprey, Brahmany kite and kingfisher, while hikers might venture into the forests on one of the many islands of the Marovo Lagoon.

Day 12
Tulagi, Solomon Islands

With a length of 3.5 miles and a width of only 0.6 miles, Tulagi is one of the smallest of the 992 Solomon Islands. Nearby, Gavutu Island is known for its history of dolphin capture and sales to aquariums. The dolphins were freed in 2010 allowing spinner and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins to return to the wild. Later there may be a chance for a Zodiac cruise near Taroaniara to observe local huts along the mangrove shores. Alternatively, explore the channel dividing Nggela Sule and Nggela Pile islands for an afternoon of watersports near Roderick Bay Yacht Club.

Day 13
Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Anchor between San Cristobal and Owa Raha and take the Zodiacs into Port Mary, the small bay in front of the main village of Ghupuna. Discover a beautiful white sand beach, large trees, and traditional houses built of leaves and local timber. Santa Ana’s leaf houses were built flush to the ground until the 70’s, and are now mostly built on stilts. Enjoy greetings by curious children and possibly a local reception with dances by the students. If you’re in the market for a truly unique memento, Santa Ana is renowned for its small, ornately crafted ceremonial food bowls, dance sticks and fishing floats.

Day 14
Loh, Vanuatu

Loh is the fourth largest of the seven Torres Islands and has barely 300 inhabitants. Pristine beaches of pure white sand on the northeastern shore contrast with mangroves and coral on the western side. A lush rainforest separates the two main villages, while the hilltops are used for agricultural. Islanders catch fish and crayfish, collect coconut crabs and Megapode eggs, and lead a secluded life away from the hustle and bustle of Vanuatu’s major islands to the south.

The two main villages will compete to bring our Zodiacs ashore by using magic to pacify the water leading to their own village, while agitating the sea in front of the other village. Once ashore, kastom dancers and a local string band will perform and everybody is invited to join in the dancing. If lucky, observe the Water Music Women who stand submerged waist-deep in a half-moon pattern using their hands to produce a wide range of musical sounds with the water. The crescent formation reflects the way the women have worked for thousands of years, standing in a semi-circle at the water’s edge, washing, bathing and collecting shellfish.

Day 15
Ambrym, Vanuatu

Ambrym, one of the larger islands in Vanuatu, is dominated by a wide caldera with two active volcanoes. The black shores stand out against the lush vegetation at the landing site. Attend a welcome ceremony – complete with a traditional yam exchange – and perhaps encounter some of Vanuatu’s famous sand-drawings. These designs, proclaimed a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO, are well recorded, but rarely duplicated as only the “owner” of the design is allowed to show it. The highlight of any visit to Ambrym is the Rom dance involving musicians and dancers lightly clad in banana leaves and wooden masks. The dances can be quite mesmerizing and if it has not rained, dancers tend to disappear in the clouds of dust raised by their stomping feet. As an alternative, embark on a full-day trek to the volcano and take in its unique landscape.

Day 16
Rano Island, Vanuatu

Rano is a small island located off the northeastern side of Malakula, Vanuatu’s most culturally diverse island. The people of Rano are keen to introduce visitors to their culture. Upon arrival, enjoy a performance of the famous Rano Mask Dance. Masks are typically carved from tree ferns, and the ceremonial headdresses are made of clay and decorated with tall feathers. Men and women have different dances that can even include magic. Watch women weave traditional mats and bags, and sample some of their time-honored food made of yam and coconuts. In addition to these and various other demonstrations of local culture, enjoy time to swim and snorkel.

Day 17
Tanna, Vanuatu

With 20,000 inhabitants, Tanna is one of the more populous islands of Vanuatu, yet it is also one of the most traditional. Several kastom villages are found on Tanna, but the most famous is the Jon Frum cult, which completely rejected western objects and material wealth… until World War II. Learn more about this fascinating “cargo cult” and how its members believe that by building mock landing strips, as the early followers had observed during the war, they will attract planes that will bring them their rightful goods.

In the morning, listen to a performance by the John Frum Singers and be entertained by traditional dances. If time, enjoy a swim or visit to the island’s hot mud pools. In the afternoon, visit Mount Yasur – the island’s active volcano. In the company of a local guide, travel along a rugged road that encircles the volcano and pass several small villages before arriving at a trail that leads to the rim of the caldera. Being an active volcano, a walk to the caldera’s edge will depend on the level of volcanic activity that day.

Day 18
At Sea

As you sail, Expedition Team lecturers will reflect on the many cultural experiences enjoyed together throughout your journey and will introduce you to the wonders of Fiji. Be sure to join the resident photographer and videographer for a visual presentation highlighting the sights and sounds of the entire voyage to this far flung corner of the Pacific.

Day 19
Lautoka, Fiji

Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.

Notes

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

Included:
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee).

Not Included:
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; park entrance fees; government fees and taxes; passport expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.