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Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea

South Pacific trip information

Summary : If traveling deeper into local communities, cultures and underwater wonders is what you like, then this voyage is just what you're seeking. Visit the astonishing land divers of Pentecost Island, listen to the melodic water music of Vanuatu, study volcanoes at a Volcano Observatory, and be prepared to be impressed by the friendliness of the Pacific Islanders in Papua New Guinea.

Please Note: This voyage will have other guests that are taking part in some, or all, of the other segments of the 168-day Expedition World Cruise. Please inquire if you are interested in booking other segments to add to your trip.

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

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Itinerary
Day 1
Lautoka, Fiji

Arrive in Lautoka and transfer to the ship to embark.

Please Note: This voyage will have other guests that are taking part in some, or all, of the other segments of the 168-day Expedition World Cruise. Please inquire if you are interested in booking other segments to add to your trip.

Day 2
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 3
Pentecost Island / Ambrym Island, Vanuatu

Pentecost Island is a lush mountainous, tropical island stretching over 37 miles from north to south. It was named after the day on which the first European, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, sighted it on 22 May 1768. There are no towns on Pentecost - most of the islanders live in small villages and grow their own food in small gardens. Local traditions are strong, including the age-old ritual of land diving. This unique ritual was first given international exposure by David Attenborough in 1960. Later, in the 1980s, New Zealander AJ Hackett used the idea to invent bungee jumping. Every harvest season from April to June, the people of southern Pentecost construct the towers around a lopped tree, using saplings and branches held together with forest vines. It can take up to five weeks to complete. Each young man who jumps must carefully select his own liana vine. Men and boys as young as seven jump from platforms at different heights (between30 and 90 feet) with only those vines attached to their ankles. The intention is to touch the ground with their heads or shoulders. This ceremony is believed to ensure a good yam harvest. It is also a fertility rite for men.

Unlike Espiritu Santo with its raised coral reefs and white sand, Ambrym Island is a volcanically active with dark sand beaches. Ambrym is known as the island of magic and is the source of five local languages that all evolved on Ambrym. This handful of languages contributes to the well over 100 languages of Vanuatu. Some of Ambrym’s magic takes place in the lush greenery of the local community of Ranon. Here the people perform a very special and traditional ‘Rom’ dance. Participants prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy and the dance is reserved for special occasions.

Day 4
Champagne Beach, Vanuatu

Champagne Beach is found near the village of Hog Harbor on Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu. The island got its European name in the early 17th century when Pedro de Quirós believed he had reached the famous unknown southern land or the “Tierra Australis Incognita.” He called Vanuatu’s largest island, “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.” Huge fish poison trees and Alexandrian laurel give cooling shade to the picture-perfect beach and crystal-clear water. The name “Champagne Beach” comes from effervescent bubbles of volcanic origin that are occasionally found in the waters of this stunning spot.

Day 5
Nendo Island, Solomon Island

Stretching about 25 miles wide and 14 miles from north to south, Nendo is the largest of the Santa Cruz group of islands located in the Temotu province of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, Nendo is sometimes referred to as Santa Cruz and at other times as Ndeni, Nitendi or Ndene. The name Santa Cruz was given to in the late 16th century by a Spanish navigator who unsuccessfully started a colony there, although the island was first settled approximately 3,000 years ago. Nendo has a population of just over 5,000, most of whom speak the native language of Natugu. While the island has an inactive volcano, the region is prone to earthquakes (the most recent one a magnitude of 8.0 in 2013) which can disrupt active volcanoes, such as nearby Tinakula.

Day 6
Santa Ana, Solomon Islands

Port Mary is the name of the bay adjacent to Ghupuna, the main village in Santa Ana. A bright white sand beach with huge shade-giving trees runs along the shoreline in front of the tidy village. The houses here are made with local materials and most are built on stilts. Islanders generally welcome visitors with traditional songs and dances performed by members of the three different villages on Santa Ana. Some local people will also set up stands offering souvenirs for purchase. The Solomons are best known for strings of traditional shell money and elegant carvings based on local stories and legends.

Day 7
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 8
Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

Rabaul, the former provincial capital, has quite a remarkable location. The town is inside the flooded caldera of a giant volcano and several sub-vents are still quite active today! The fumes of the volcano Tavurvur can be seen continually and the town suffered greatly during the last major eruption of 1994 when some 80% of the houses collapsed due to the ash raining down onto their roofs. Rabaul has a Volcano Observatory sitting atop the town’s center, monitoring the 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. A small museum opposite the bunker used by Yamamoto during World War II shows exhibits relating to Rabaul’s local, German, Australian and Japanese past from the 19th century to Papua New Guinea’s independence in the 1970s.

Day 9
Garove Island, Papua New Guinea

The volcanic island of Garove is part of the Witu Islands and once had a 5-kilometer-wide (3.1 miles) caldera. The island was historically used to produce copra and cocoa, and in fact, still is today. Most of the villages are located around the exterior of the volcano. Steep cliffs explain why there is only one area settled on the inside. A promontory at the entrance’s southwestern corner is taken up by the school and the catholic church of the village of Widu, the only village inside the caldera.

Day 10
Madang, Papua New Guinea

The eastern half of the island of New Guinea - second largest in the world - was divided between Germany (north) and the United Kingdom (south) in 1885. The latter area was transferred to Australia in 1902, which occupied the northern portion during World War I and continued to administer the combined areas until independence in 1975. A nine-year secessionist revolt on the island of Bougainville ended in 1997 after claiming some 20,000 lives. On the north coast of the island, we find colorful Madang, called the “prettiest town in the South Pacific”. Its peninsula-setting is a showplace of parks, waterways, luxuriant shade trees and sparkling tropical islands. Although small, the town has modern urban facilities, including hotels, department stores, markets and art shops. The people of Madang can be broken into four distinct groups - islanders, coastal people, river people and mountain people. These groups are similar in appearance except for the smaller Simbai mountain tribesmen from the foothills. The traditional dress consists mainly of traditional dyed multi-colored grass skirts made out of either pandanas leaves or sago palm. The women from the mountain areas wear skirts that are colorless, narrow and stringy. Unlike the women, men wear meshy net aprons in front and a clutter of target leaves astern.

Day 11
Tami Islands, Papua New Guinea

The Tami Islands are a small archipelago of just four islands located south of Finschhafen in the Huon Gulf. Collectively, they are part of Morobe Province. Tami Island is the main island and is one of just two islands in the enclave to be inhabited. The people here are known for their elaborately carved, oblong-shaped “Tami bowls”. The small community of islanders live simply. Tami has just a single primary school and a small medical aid post. Coconut and areca palm trees, Alexandrian laurel and frangipani make for a lush and colorful appearance of the island. South of Kalal Village is a small sandbar that permits snorkeling.

Day 12
Dobu Island / Fergusson Island, Papua New Guinea

Dobu is a small island in the D’Entrecasteaux Group next to Fergusson Island and Normanby Island. The island was formerly feared because of black magic and the local “witch” doctors cursing the healthy or treating the sick. An anthropological study was done by Reo Fortune in the 1930s which resulted in the book “The Island of Sorcerers”. The island is also part of the famous Kula ring. Participants in the exchange system pride themselves with mwali and soulava (armbands and necklaces) that are given and received still today and it is interesting to see how the traditional objects have been adorned with modern paraphernalia. A stroll through the main village on the northwestern tip will show the school and church and trails leading along the shore passing traditionally thatched houses and gardens.

Fergusson is one of the three biggest and mountainous islands in the Milne Bay Province, and part of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. On Fergusson’s south side are the famous Dei Dei geysers — natural hot springs that periodically erupt with vapor steam next to mud pools and a warm stream. The hot springs are still used by locals to cook food in palm frond and pandanus leaf baskets placed into the boiling hot water. Birds in the area include Eclectus Parrots, Yellow-bellied Sunbirds and the endemic Curl-crested Manucode – a bird-of-paradise.

Day 13
Samarai, Papua New Guinea

Samarai is a tiny island south of Papua New Guinea’s southeastern peninsula dwarfed by neighboring islands. Once a famous trading port and the second-largest settlement in the Territory of Papua (the Australian-administered southern part of what today is Papua New Guinea), Samarai used to be Milne Bay Province’s capital until 1968 when administrators were moved to mainland and the town of Alotau. The relocation was necessary as the 29-hectare (72-acre) island was simply overcrowded. With only about 450 residents remaining today, it still is one of the most densely settled islands in Papua New Guinea.

Day 14
At Sea

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, whale watching, catching up on your reading or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

Day 15
Cairns, Australia

Disembark the ship after breakfast.

Notes

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

Please Note:
This voyage will have other guests that are taking part in some, or all, of the other segments of the 168-day Expedition World Cruise. Please inquire if you are interested in booking other segments to add to your trip.

Special Onboard Guest Experts:

Prof. Glenn Summerhayes
ARCHAEOLOGIST/ANTHROPOLOGIST
Professor Summerhayes is a leading expert in Pacific Archaeology, with particular focus on the prehistory of Papua New Guinea. He has over 35 years research experience working in Papua New Guinea, focusing on all aspects of its archaeology from first colonisation, Holocene adaptation, the Lapita phenomenon and the development of societies seen at contact. In 2004 he took up the Chair of Anthropology at Otago University, New Zealand having previously been Head of the Department of Archaeology and Natural History in the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University. He is affiliated with both the University of Papua New Guinea and the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea. In 2014 he was awarded a New Year Honour by Queen Elizabeth II of PNG becoming an Officer of the Order of Logohu (OL) for his contribution to Archaeology in Papua New Guinea.

Jo Ruxton
PRODUCER (BBC): A PLASTIC OCEAN
Jo Ruxton worked with WWF Hong Kong for 7 years where she established their marine conservation programme in 1990. She left HK to work at the BBC Natural History Unit and was part of the celebrated The Blue Planet production team. Over the past 18 years she has been involved in numerous underwater filming projects around the world, from Antarctica to the pristine reefs of the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. In 2009, after leaving the BBC, she began to raise funds to make a documentary about the problems of plastic in the worlds’ oceans and co-founded the Plastic Oceans Foundation. The documentary feature film, A Plastic Ocean, was completed in 2016 and has been distributed globally since January 2017. Together with her colleagues she is now taking the message of the film forward through education and science programmes. She has given presentations around the world to students of all ages, members of the public, businesses and corporations to raise awareness of the plastics issue and to create a legacy for the film.

Photography Studio: 
Utilize the ship's Photo Studio as a hub for the multifaceted enrichment program. With both private and group lessons, guests can learn to master the art of digital photography through the Academy, which provides an array of specialty workshops for both beginners and pros.

Included: 
Shipboard accommodations; Wi-Fi onboard ship (1x device per guest for Vista-Deluxe Veranda; 2x devices per guest for Medallion-Owner's suites); snorkeling; backpack; one voyage highlights DVD per cabin; most meals onboard ship; butler service; most beverages onboard ship; gratuities onboard ship (except spa). Royal Suite, Grand Suite, Owner’s Suite also receive two hours of worldwide telephone use from your suite, and one dinner for two at La Dame per suite. Subject to change without notice.

Not Included: 
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; meals onboard at La Dame Restaurant unless mentioned above as included; some alcoholic premium beverages; travel insurance; government fees and taxes; visa and passport expenses; gifts, items of a personal nature, and spa charges; fuel surcharge may apply.

Photos ©: Creative Services at Silversea Cruises; Richard Sidey; Pablo Bianco

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