The Coral Sea – New Zealand to the Solomon Islands

South Pacific Cruise

  • Silver Discoverer
  • Expedition Ship
  • 120 Capacity
  • 14 Days
  • 2015 View Departure>
    • 2015
    • Feb 8 Sun
  • Price from
  • $9,250

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.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Diving, Hiking, Snorkeling

PRICING

Prices from
$9,250 to $22,750

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Itinerary
Day 1
Auckland, New Zealand

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
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 (Maori 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. Maori Waka (canoe) on the tidal estuaries of the Waitangi River to Haruru Falls.

Day 3
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 4
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 5
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 6
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 7
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 8
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 9
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 10
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 11
Tikopia Island, Solomon Islands

Life is but a dream in the remote island of Tikopia, located in the southeast of the Solomon Islands. A remnant of an extinct volcano, this small and high island covers only 2 sq. miles. It is very common here to share one’s dreams, and considerable attention is paid to them. They are believed to be designed from a supernatural force, and considered indicators of events to come in waking life. In addition to hearing dreams retold, be treated to some of the best dance performances on the entire trip.

Day 12
Utupua Island, Solomon Islands

Utupua is a high island surrounded by coral reef. Nembao, one of its main villages, will be the day’s host. In pure island tradition, be welcomed by young local warriors and treated to a dance performance. Enjoy the opportunity to walk around the village and explore, discovering the lifestyle of Utupua. Keep watch for mudskippers and birdlife on a zodiac tour through the mangroves.

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

Day 14
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Following breakfast, disembark the vessel.

Notes

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

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.