Unlocking The Mysteries Of The Coral Sea

South Pacific Cruise

  • Silver Discoverer
  • Expedition Ship
  • 128 Capacity
  • 19 Days
  • 2014 View Departure>
    • 2014
    • Nov 3 Mon Offer
  • Price from
  • $12,750

Summary : Discover the beautiful and remote islands of the Coral Sea with their unique customs of craft, song and dance. Witness stunning and diverse terrain—from lagoons and mountains to coral reefs and mangroves. Sail alongside dolphins, see near-extinct birds and visit prehistoric reptiles, such as the Crested Gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus. Enjoy a rare opportunity to discover diverse cultures, see varied wildlife, and learn storied histories. Explore a number of World War II wreckages and memorials. Capture it all in vivid photos to share when you return home from this trip of a lifetime.

**Price includes Scuba Diving. Conditions apply.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling

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Itinerary
Day 1
Cairns, Australia

Embark the ship in the afternoon 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
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. Hear fascinating tales of adventure and learn more about the region’s endemic wildlife and remarkable nature. Knowledgeable Lecture Staff members are experts in a variety of scientific fields.

Day 3
Alotau, Papua New Guinea

Nestled in the hillsides of the north shore of Milne Bay, Alotau became the province’s capital in 1968 when it was moved from overcrowded Samarai Island. Alotau played a pivotal role in the WWII Battle of Milne Bay—it was here that the Japanese suffered their first defeat. As a consequence, there are several memorials and relics to commemorate the town’s significance, and you are invited to explore them.

Day 4
Punawan Island, Papua New Guinea

Punawan is an uninhabited island, used by residents of neighboring islands for its bountiful fishing opportunities. White sandy beaches and warm coastal waters will welcome you to this island paradise, which is a haven for divers and snorkelers alike.

Day 5
Kitava, Trobriand Islands

A lot has been written about the Trobriand Islanders—a proud and fascinating group of people who live in settlements that honor ancestral customs and traditions, which include a matrilineal line of descent. Vibrant dances and resonating chants are primarily performed to attract and lure the opposite sex. 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. In the afternoon, relax on Nuratu beach and swim or snorkel in the inviting warm water.

Day 6
Iwa Island, Papua New Guinea

The islands in the Trobriands and Woodlark are mostly rocky and secluded, and Iwa is no exception. Villagers build food-gardens that line the stone paths and carve out steps from the beach to their homes. Seldom visited by outsiders, the native tribes like to welcome visitors with a unique display of traditional songs and dance.

Day 7
Kennedy Island, Solomon Islands

Kasolo Island is more popularly known as Kennedy Island because it is the historically famous landmark where JFK was marooned during World War II. Amid great publicity, the remains of the sunken PT-109 warship on which he was stationed, were discovered in nearby Blackett Strait. Today, Kennedy Island is a popular dive site for wreck seekers.

Day 8
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 9
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 looking for a truly unique memento, Santa Ana is renowned for its small, ornately crafted ceremonial food bowls, dance sticks and fishing floats.

Day 10
At Sea

Enjoy a leisurely day at sea to exchange notes with fellow travelers and take advantage of the luxurious onboard amenities. Birders can spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds. Listen to a lecture or relax into an interesting book. Or enjoy the comfort of your suite and watch a movie.

Day 11
Luganville / Champagne Beach, Vanuatu

Luganville is the second largest city in the archipelago of Vanuatu (formerly known as New Hebrides). Witness firsthand the South Pacific’s rich island heritage, which spans over 3,000 years of Pacific region immigration. On Luganville's main street, visitors will find interesting general stores, commercial shops and tourist boutiques. Take a tour of Luganville, highlighting the city’s main sites, visit with island women and watch a display of their unique water music rhythms. Alternatively, divers are invited to explore the WWII wrecks that lie at the ocean’s floor.

In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to go to Champagne Beach, so-named for the freshwater springs that bubble up through the white sand. This is undoubtedly a unique place to swim, cool off and watch the bright spectrum of fish that dart over the sand and amongst the rocks.

Day 12
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. 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 13
Lifou, New Caledonia

Lifou, a French commune, not only has one of the most diverse landscapes in the Pacific Islands but is also the largest coral atoll in the Loyalty archipelago. As a consequence, divers will be awestruck by the incredible coral reefs, teeming with brightly colored marine life. Indeed, Jinek Bay, located just a short stroll from where the ship docks, is considered to be one of the Pacific’s highest quality reefs. Meanwhile, the above-water terrain does not disappoint either. Explore surroundings that include limestone caves, white-sand beaches and lush green forests. Enjoy Lifou’s breathtakingly beautiful views—the northern coast of the island is made up of high, steep cliffs, while the southern side boasts pristine beaches that cradle stunning, turquoise waters. Life on Lifou offers visitors a glimpse of island charm—time seems to be measured by the positions of the sun and the tide, while residents preserve their traditional Kanak culture, which encompasses a tight clan structure with a close affinity for the land they have inhabited for thousands of years.

Day 14
Ile des Pins, New Caledonia

Welcome to Ile des Pins—an island that is teeming with animal life and home to unusual creatures such as the prehistoric Crested Gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliates. Nicknamed “the closest island to paradise", divers and snorkelers will enjoy touring the lagoon where incredible species of fish and corals can be seen in the pristine water. Alternatively, explorers on foot will enjoy a fascinating journey to penal colony ruins, which feature a water tower that was built by prisoners in 1874; renovated in 2005, it is still used by islanders today.

Day 15
At Sea

Enjoy time at your leisure aboard the ship. Partake in informative lectures, martini tastings, cooking demonstrations or photography tutorials for lasting lessons to take home. Alternatively, relax and enjoy luxury amenities including your in-suite bar that’s stocked to your preference.

Day 16
Norfolk Island, Norfolk

Norfolk Island has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area because it supports the entire populations of White-Chested and Slender-Billed Norfolk Parakeets and Norfolk Gerygones; as well as over 1% of the world’s populations of Wedge-Tailed Shearwaters and Red-Tailed Tropicbirds. Norfolk Island also has a botanical garden, which is home to an impressive variety of plant species.

Day 17
At Sea

Enjoy an opportunity to truly relax. Share memories with fellow passengers in the piano bar; review your abundance of amazing photographs and reflect on this trip of a lifetime.

Day 18
Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Famous for spectacular beaches, breathtaking bays and an abundance of water activities, the Bay of Islands, commonly regarded as New Zealand’s “birthplace,” is a dynamic, sub-tropical region that is rich in tourism, agriculture, winemaking and crafts. Northland boasts sandy beaches, beautiful bays, crystal-clear waters and an abundance of islands—there are 144 of them in the aptly named Bay of Islands. Meanwhile, harbors cut deep into the coast, which is fringed by bush land and punctuated by the occasional village. Upon arrival at the Waitangi wharf, a Maori Guide will escort the group to historical Waitangi Treaty grounds where tribesmen will perform a traditional Maori welcome. Learn about New Zealand’s history, discovering the stories, personalities and events that shaped this magnificent and culturally rich country. View the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe, stand on the spot where the Waitangi Treaty was signed, visit the historical Treaty House, and view carvings in the Meeting House. Partake in a workshop to learn local skills and crafts, such as flax weaving, woodcarving and kapa haka (M?ori song and dance, including the famous Haka).

At midday, share in an authentic hangi feast, which is cooked in an underground pit oven. Undertake a Waka activity that provides a rare and unique insight into ancient Nga Puhi tribal customs, rituals and traditions. Finish your visit by paddling a 50 ft. M?ori Waka (canoe) on the tidal estuaries of the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls.

Day 19
Auckland, New Zealand

Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.

Notes

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

Scuba Diving Program: Dives are dependent upon the conditions and included in the cruise price. Divers must be advanced with full certification which will need to be provided before embarking the vessel. Dive medical travel insurance is required. Divers must bring their own gear such as BCD and regulator.  Weight belts and tanks will be provided. Please contact ExpeditionTrips for further details.

Included:
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; butler service; snorkeling gear; diving; 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.