Summary : Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most remote countries. You will discover landscapes of wild beauty, including jagged mountains and white-sand beaches. Located on the island of New Britain, the port town of Rabaul has always been famous for its spectacular setting. From there, you will set off to observe Mount Tavurvur, the region’s most active volcano. Further on, the ship will make several stops in the Solomon Islands. This archipelago composed of 900 mainly volcanic islands is a tropical Eden. You will sail in the clear waters of Roderick Bay, home to a myriad of multicolored coral. Before heading to New Caledonia, L’Austral will set sail for the Vanuatu archipelago, its long mountain chains, vast tranquil bays and lagoons in a thousand shades of blue. This is an idyllic environment for anyone seeking adventure and a change of scenery.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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Washed by the Coral Sea, the harbor town of Cairns is located on Australia's northeast coast.
Alotau became the provincial capital of Milne Bay in 1969 and today has a population of approximately 16,000. It serves as a port of entry into Papua New Guinea. Missionaries, miners, pearlers, Japanese and American warships have all contributed to the History of Milne Bay. Perhaps the most significant history surrounds the Battle of Milne Bay. It was here that the invading Japanese army suffered their first land defeat in the Pacific War in 1942. A memorial park at the battle site commemorates the event. The local people are warm and welcoming. Join your expedition team for a tour taking in the town markets and WWII memorials.
Often described as the “Scandinavia of the tropics”. The spectacular Tufi “fiords” make for a spectacular backdrop. The traditional way of life plays an important role among the villagers with many living in isolated areas along the coast of Cape Nelson and on the slopes of Mount Trafalgar. The area is known for its production of tapa cloth, made from the bark of the paper mulberry tree and skillfully decorated. Guests will travel into the ancient mangrove forests of the Fiords to witness one of the most colorful traditional performances in all of Papua New Guinea. There is also the opportunity to swim and snorkel in the clear waters of Kamoa Beach.
The Trobriand Islands remain one of the most culturally intact places in the Pacific. Their unique social system is dominated by hereditary chiefs who wield tremendous power, although inheritances and lines of power are matrilineal. The Trobriands are often referred to as the ‘islands of love’. A reference to the customs and sexual practices of the islanders during the Yam harvesting festival of Milamala. Dance and celebration continue to play an important role in society with the rhythm of the dances retaining their sensuality, despite the best efforts of missionaries.You will be welcomed ashore to watch an energetic cultural performance, after which you can walk to the village or swim and snorkel in the clear warm waters.
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. 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 Rabaul. Join your expedition team for a tour by local transport to see Mt Tavurvur, the Volcano Observatory and various significant sites from World War II.
Part of the Florida Islands, Roderick Bay is surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches and fringing coral reefs. These clear warm tropical waters give rise to a myriad of colorful corals near the shore. Venture ashore for a welcome ceremony, take a walk through the village or snorkel to witness the incredible marine environment.
Owaraha (formerly Santa Ana) is located at the eastern end of Makira (San Cristobal) and just north of the smaller Owariki (Santa Catalina). The ship will navigate through the picturesque channel separating the Islands before dropping anchor just outside Port Mary. The islanders are well known for preserving ancient traditions and producing intricate wooden carvings. Their artifacts include magnificently carved fishing floats and ceremonial bowls intricately inlayed with shells. After a short Zodiac ride ashore you will be guided through the village to an open area to witness a number of traditional performances. Afterwards experience life in a traditional Solomon Island village or take a swim in the warm tropical waters of Port Mary.
The French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was stranded on Vanikoro after both his vessels, struck the reefs of the island in 1788. The complete disappearance of La Pérouse caught the imagination of the European public. Songs, stories and plays were written about the possible fate of the expedition. It is believed that some of the men were killed by the local inhabitants, while the surviving sailors built a smaller vessel and left the island, but were never seen again. Those that remained on the island died before search parties arrived in 1826. Today guests have the opportunity to head ashore to the infamous location of this historical event. Enjoy a welcome and cultural performance whilst pondering the fate of the expeditioners.
Ureparapara, also known as Parapara for short, is the third largest island in the Banks group of Northern Vanuatu and formed by an extinct volcano cone that has been breached by the sea on its east coast, forming a spectacular long harbor. During your voyage, your ship will sail into the natural harbor, affording guests terrific views from the outer decks. You will also have the opportunity to go ashore for a welcome and custom dances. An opportunity to witness life in one of the remotest parts of Vanuatu. Very few vessels visit this part of Vanuatu and the local residents are eager to welcome visitors.
The Reef Islands, also called Rowa, are a cluster of uninhabited coral cays between Mota Lave and Ureparapara, in northern Vanuatu, and enclosed by a large, horseshoe-shaped reef that protects an expansive lagoon with sandy shallows. The five small islands, including Sana, are mostly sand and coral cays built up over reefs. During your stop, you will be transferred ashore by Zodiac to a wet landing onto a sand and rubble beach to enjoy swimming and snorkeling from the beach.
The majestic beauty of Espiritu Santo is what inspired James A. Michener to write his classic "Tales of the South Pacific." Michener would gaze across the sea and dream of "Bali Hai". Santo, as the island is colloquially known, abounds with natural beauty that remains largely unspoiled. From palm fringed beaches with powdery white sand, freshwater Blue Holes surrounded by natural rain forest, to idyllic islands surrounded by azure seas. Today guests will have the opportunity to take a tour by bus to visit one of the famous blue holes, enjoy a traditional performance and learn about the important role the island played in WWII. There will also be ample time to swim and snorkel in the clear waters of Paradise Lagoon.
A visit to Vanuatu cannot be complete without viewing the erupting Mount Yasur Volcano on the Island of Tanna. It is regarded as the world’s most accessible active volcano. Known for its spectacular persistent strombolian activity consisting of regular small to violent explosions, it has been in more-or-less continuous activity since Captain James Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. Often referred to as “the lighthouse of the Pacific”, the glow of the volcano apparently led Captain Cook to Tanna during the first European journey to the island. Today the volcano is considered a sacred area by members of the John Frum cargo cult, who believe their deity resides in the heart of the volcano.
Perched on a peninsula between bays and hills, on the southwest coast of Grande Terre, Noumea enjoys a magnificent natural setting. The town shelters some exceptional biodiversity, thanks especially to the coastal mangroves. Disembark the vessel on 12/23/2017.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions - and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition. ExpeditionTrips.com is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Bilingual Departures: All departures are French/English.
Meals on board the ship; use of snorkeling gear; Captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; coffee, juice, soft drinks and open bar (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands); gratuities; luggage transfer from pier to the ship and vice versa; 24-hour room service (special selection); butler service is included for guests staying on Deck 6. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones included; passport and visa fees; travel and medical insurances; personal expenses such as onboard medical consultations and drug prescriptions, spa, internet, laundry and hair salon; other drinks not included in open bar; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Lorraine Turci, © Lori Gifford