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Marvels of Melanesia with Papua New Guinea

South Pacific Melanesia Cruise

Summary : As world-wide destinations go, nothing can top the remote islands of Papua New Guinea. A colorful patchwork of tropical landscapes, rich with culture and character, these magical islands are a trip of a lifetime for any traveler. From village-wide welcomes and fire dances, to sandy lagoons and historic missions, this adventure laced with new destinations will change your life forever.

Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Koror, Palau

Embark Silver Discoverer, be introduced to your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travelers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.

Day 2
Koror, Palau

This morning you can go into town for some self-exploration and visit the National Museum of Palau or the private Etpison Museum with its outstanding exhibition on “traditional money,” or have a look at Palau’s underwater creatures in the Aquarium.

Conversely, join an excursion to see the famous “Rock Islands.” This UNESCO World heritage Site is a must-see if you have not been to Palau before. Arrive in local speed boats to see the labyrinth of channels and islands and to snorkel in Palauan waters.

In the afternoon, Silver Discoverer will steam out of Koror’s inner harbor. Be out on deck to see Babeldaob Island with its mangrove coast and terraced hills offset by countless hues of lagoon blues and greens. The ship will cruise through these shallows to exit the lagoon and head into open waters.

Day 3 – 4
At Sea

Relax aboard Silver Discoverer after your time ashore in Palau. A Zodiac briefing will likely start your program, followed by a snorkel briefing and snorkel equipment, should you need some, will be distributed. Let your team of lecturers and naturalists prepare you for the different aspects of Papua New Guinea. Join them in the Explorer Lounge for presentations on local and European history of the area, and find out what makes New Guinea so special.

Help bird-watchers spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds, or enjoy a lecture about the natural history of northern Papua New Guinea. An interesting book can be good company, too. Alternatively, just relax in the comfort of your suite and watch a movie on the in-suite interactive television.

Day 5
Vanimo, Papua New Guinea

This morning arrive in Papua New Guinea. After completing the immigration formalities set out to explore one of Papua New Guinea’s most remote regions. The Sandaun Province is relatively undeveloped, with lovely beaches, crystal clear lagoons and picturesque villages.

After a short welcome ceremony, set off in local minivans to explore further afield. Since Vanimo does not receive many visitors, the main attraction in many places will actually be your visit. Don’t forget your bathing suit as you will have the opportunity to cool down at one of the beautiful beach locations outside of town.

Day 6
Ali Island, Papua New Guinea

Ali Island is one of the four islands located close to Aitape, off the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. The eastern shore of Ali Island has a beautiful white sandy beach and offers swimming and snorkeling. The five villages on the island are all set up in string and well-maintained trails lead to the school and Catholic church closer to the northern end of the island. Guest will be welcomed with songs and dances and a village walk will take you past the clean local homes, their gardens and wells to the Catholic church with its interesting paintings regarding the via crucis. Chat with the islanders, relax on the beach, or take one of the local canoes to exercise your paddling skills.

Day 7
Kopar Village, Sepik River, Papua New Guinea

The lower East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea has lagoons, mangrove swamps and sandbanks between the Sepik to the south and the Bismarck Sea to the north. This morning be in front of the Sepik River where, depending on the tides, either navigate upriver for a scenic Zodiac tour that will include a stop at Kopar or will be able to anchor in the Sepik, close to this small village inhabited by no more than 200 people. Your arrival here will also be heralded with a welcoming performance of song and dance.

At Kopar locals from different villages will have gathered to show and sell their artifacts. The masks, baskets, bone carvings, drums, and paddles will all be different from the artifacts and souvenirs you will see at other stops and islands of your voyage. For the keen birders, a Zodiac cruise will offer sights of flood plain birds, parrots and the odd kite.

During the night, Silver Discoverer will pass by active volcanoes and will be on the lookout for the hot lava of volcanic activity set against the night sky.

Day 8
Alim Island, Papua New Guinea

Alim Island is one of a small group of uninhabited islands south of Manus. This triangular-shaped island with long sandy beaches, coconut palm trees and coral reef offers a relaxing day in the Bismarck Archipelago. Make use of the beaches and snorkel either from the beach or from anchored Zodiacs to see the multi-colored fish and coral. Sea turtles lay their eggs on the islands and with luck you might even see some of these ancient mariners.

In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will head south for your next set of adventures on the ‘mainland.’

Day 9
Madang, Papua New Guinea

Madang has one of the South Pacific’s most beautiful harbors, with a backdrop of steep mountains and lush tropical vegetation. The town of Madang was the center of heavy fighting during World War II and there are 34 sunken ships at Hansa Bay. The small town began its “modern life” as a result of the lucrative copra (coconut) trade. The wide avenues go back to the German administration of the late 19th century, and there is even a small European cemetery next to the local market.

During today’s tour, see the Coastwatcher’s Memorial Lighthouse, which was dedicated in 1959 to the Allied Forces and local civilians who served against the Japanese in WWII. Visit Bilbil Village, famous for its pottery. Keep an eye out for the flying foxes that hang from trees during the day as there are many of them in town.

The many islands and channels north of Madang’s center invite to be explored by Zodiac. Conditions permitting, set out in the afternoon for a Zodiac cruise passing local homes and mangroves, weaving your way through the channels and islands, for a taste of local life along the shoreline.

Day 10
Garove Island, Papua New Guinea

Garove is part of the Witu Islands and once had a 5-kilometer-wide caldera. The island was, and in fact still is, used to produce copra and most of the villages are located around the exterior of the volcano. Around lunchtime, the hope is to enter the now flooded caldera through its narrow entrance.
Steep cliffs explain why there is only one settled area on the inside. Going ashore near a little promontory be greeted by singing and lead to the open ground in front of the school and church for some traditional dances. Hikers might want to reach the higher levels of the village.

If you choose to swim at the small beach close to the landing site, you may well find yourself outnumbered by local kids enjoying the water.

Day 11
Tsoi Island, Papua New Guinea

Tsoi Island is a small island west of New Hannover and east of New Ireland. White sandy beaches, a turquoise lagoon, palm trees and lush vegetation make this a small South Pacific paradise. Go ashore to see the local life and look for the perfect spot for snorkeling and swimming. Relax under the swaying palm trees and enjoy a refreshing coconut.

Day 12
Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Silver Discoverer has journeyed along the coast of New Ireland to reach the northern tip of New Britain – Papua New Guinea’s largest island – to eventually come to Rabaul from the south.

If the conditions are right, see rising fumes of the volcano Tavurvur while you enter Blanche Bay and head into Simpson Harbour. Rabaul, the former provincial capital, has quite a remarkable location as the town is located inside the flooded caldera of a giant volcano. Several sub-vents are still quite active today! Certainly, this is an approach, island, bay and harbor not to be missed. Join the expedition team on the outer decks as Silver Discoverer approaches Rabaul and take in the scenery, with volcanoes left and right.

The town has suffered greatly from the last major eruption of 1994 when some 80% of the houses collapsed due to the ash raining down onto their roofs. On your tour you will have a look at Rabaul and the Volcano Observatory, which monitors 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. See some of the Japanese tunnels and barges used during WWII and visit Kokopo with its market and museum. Panoramic views are on hand of Blanche Bay and the Duke of York Islands across Kokopo’s golf course, the former estate of Emma Forsyth, better known as “Queen Emma.”

In the evening, witness a nocturnal dance performance by the Baining, one of Melanesia’s exceptional traditional groups and their elaborate “costumes.” When the men with their giant tapa masks jump through the fire, they seem to come from another world all together.

Day 13
Cruising the Solomon Sea

While Silver Discoverer crosses the Solomon Sea, members of your Expedition Team prepare you for the Gizo Area and the Solomon Islands. Talks may well focus on the special underwater riches that Njari holds.

Day 14
Njari Island, Solomon Islands

Today, visit one of the smallest of the islands of the Solomons. As soon as the local authorities have cleared you into the country, enjoy water sport activities in front of uninhabited Njari. The island’s reef teems with brilliantly coral species and in terms of fish the waters hold one of the highest species counts ever recorded in one dive. This is an absolute highlight for snorkeling!

Day 15
Pavuvu Island, Solomon Islands

The Russel Islands, of which Pavuvu is largest, produce dried coconut meat, also known as copra. Coconut palm plantations carpet the island and small-scale operations are favored by the locals.

Close to Guadalcanal, the Russel Islands were chosen by American Marines during World War II to prepare for battles further east, but little remains of their time here. In addition to workers in the copra plantations who come from different Solomon Islands, Pavuvu permits relocated settlers from Tikopia to find a new home on the island. Therefore local artistic expressions are both Melanesian and Polynesian. Enjoy cultural presentations and use the day to leisurely stroll through the area, or relax on the beach.

Day 16
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Following breakfast, disembark the Silver Discoverer.

Notes

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

Included:
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and View Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Vista, Veranda, and Medallion Suites. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa 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.

Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini (reef), © Richard Sidey (fire dance)

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