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New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu & the Solomon Islands

South Pacific Cruise

Summary : This 13-day expedition cruise aboard Le Laperouse showcases the jewels of New Caledonia, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands—three must-see destinations in the Coral Sea. From Auckland your ship will set sail North to New Caledonia. After a stop on Kouare Island, discover the sublime Lifou with its picture-postcard, white-sand beaches and tropical vegetation. Considered by some as “The happiest country in the world”, Vanuatu with its 83 islands, provides a palette of varied landscapes. In Tanna, home to the John Frum Cargo Cult, you will explore the imposing Mt Yasur, considered to be the most accessible active volcano in the world. You will have the opportunity to visit several traditional villages, including on the island of Ureparapara where the inhabitants will welcome you and share their customs, singing, dances, and art. Your cruise will finish with a visit to the Solomon Islands, with its mountainous and often rugged landscapes covered in lush tropical vegetation and bordered with white-sand beaches. Here you will be able to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Triple/Quad Cabins

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Itinerary
Day 1
Auckland, New Zealand

Embark the vessel in the afternoon.

Day 2
Bay of Islands, Waitangi

On the east coast of the North Island, the Bay of Islands promises an incredible journey into the origins of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Russell, the first harbor city founded in New Zealand by Europeans, is your entry-point into this corner of paradise. Among whitewashed houses and gorgeous gardens, Russell offers a gentle, romantic atmosphere. A few traces of its past remain, such as Christ Church, the oldest church in the country. Shimmering waters highly prized by local fishermen, beautiful beaches and wild nature make visiting this New Zealand town a picture postcard experience.

Optional included Maori cultural performance:
During your call, you are invited to attend a cultural performance. The resident performance group, Te Pitowhenua, gives you a special introduction to New Zealand's unique indigenous culture in Te Whare Runanga. Enjoy a fun-filled and spine-tingling performance of waiata (singing), poi, stick games, Maori weaponry, as well as the famous haka. All performances begin with a traditional Maori welcome outside the meeting house. After the show you will have the opportunity to interact with the performers, ask questions and have your photo taken with the group.

Day 3 – 4
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship's photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 5
Kouare Island

Via Zodiac you will sail along the turquoise waters of New Caledonia’s coral reef, the second largest in the world. When you land on Kouare Island, in the heart of the southern lagoon, you will discover an idyllic environment. On this small tract of uninhabited land, in a marine area listed as World Heritage by UNESCO, the animals rule supreme. From the white-sand beaches where marine turtles and sea snakes like to lay their eggs, take off with your mask and snorkel to discover an abundant underwater world that is home to multicolored fish, beautiful coral, and marine reptiles. Look up to the sky and admire the incessant ballet of terns and black noddies that appear to be jealously guarding their island.

Day 6
Lifou

Today, Lifou is the largest and highest of the Loyalty Islands. This is an outstanding natural site, waiting to be explored: to the north, the coastline ends abruptly in sheer cliffs, while to the south lie expanses of long white-sand beaches. Lovers of wild plantlife may well be tempted by a walk further inland, where the rich and authentic Kanak culture is proudly upheld by the local community.

Day 7
Tanna Island

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.

Day 8
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship's photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 9
Paradise Lagoon, Espiritu Santo Island

At the end of the world, in the north of New Caledonia, lies Vanuatu, a little archipelago that subsists mainly from fishing and farming. It is composed of several islands, Espiritu Santo being the largest and one of the most beautiful. You can meet the people here who are very welcoming and who live in harmony with nature. Plus you’ll see unimaginable landscapes formed of volcanic rocks, as well as sandy beaches and lagoons beckoning you to dive into their turquoise waters. You’ll be surprised to find, in the middle of dense vegetation, brackish water with an amazing ecosystem called “blue holes”. If paradise exists, it must be here.

Day 10
Ureparapara Island

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 long natural harbor. During your voyage, the ship will sail into the harbor, affording guests spectacular views from the outer decks. Be welcomed ashore and observe 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.

Day 11
Vanikoro Island

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.

Day 12
At Sea

During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness center. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the ship's photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observe marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

Day 13
Honiara, Guadalcanal Island / Brisbane, Australia

Disembark the ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Brisbane.

Notes

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.

Included:

One-way flight in economy class Honiara/Brisbane; transfer from ship to Honiara airport; meals onboard ship; captain’s welcome cocktail and gala dinner; luggage transfer between pier and ship; mineral water, tea, filter coffee, a selection of white, red and rosé wines offered during meals onboard ship; open bar onboard ship (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands - list available upon request); port and safety taxes; crew gratuities; 24-hour room service onboard ship; butler service for guests staying in the Owner's Suite, Grand Deluxe Suites, Privilege Suites, and Deck 6 Prestige Suites. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included:

Airfare; passport and visa expenses and/or immigration reciprocity taxes if applicable; any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned; spa charges; beverages other than those mentioned; laundry services, hair salon; personal expenses, Wi-Fi, on board medical consultations and drug prescriptions; cancellation/luggage/assistance/repatriation/medical insurance(s); fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos: © Nathalie Michel; © Lorraine Turci, © Ponant

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