Arrive in Palau and overnight in a hotel.
The Palau Archipelago is a well kept idyllic secret, rich in natural beauty and steeped in ancient culture. Relax at your hotel or set off for a day exploring the islands before boarding the National Geographic Orion in the afternoon.
Dive or snorkel in the lagoon to get a first taste of the vibrant coral reefs, or pay a visit to Jellyfish Lake. After centuries of biological isolation, the huge jellyfish in the lake have lost their ability to sting, making them safe to swim with.
Spend the day in the Rock Islands' Southern Lagoon, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the area by zodiac and discover the rich flora and fauna which await onshore. Alternatively, relax on the whitest beaches you will ever see and snorkel or dive among the gardens of coral.
Spend a day at sea as you sail south towards the Raja Ampat archipelago. Settle in to life on board by stopping at the bridge or attending presentations from the expedition team.
Arrive in the Raja Ampat Archipelago, which has been found to have the richest coral reef biodiversity for its size in the world. The Coral Triangle features 75% of all known coral species and more than 1,220 types of reef fish. Zodiac to the shore to receive a big Papuan welcome and attend several cultural events, such as a mock wedding ceremony, cooking displays, and a visit to the school. The Misool Islands, one of the famed ‘Four Kings’ of the Raja Ampat region, are a mecca for snorkelers, divers, and kayakers.
Visit Kokas and Arguni to view the soaring mountains, pristine rain forest, and dozens of the most ancient, primal tribes on the planet. Use zodiacs to get up close to 20,000-year-old rock art near the fishing village of Kokas and explore the fascinating skull caves and rock art of the Macassan culture. See the remains of the secret underground Japanese bunkers which were built on the island during World War II. Witness the traditional gabagaba and learn about the myriad cultures which have passed through the region.
Sail into the Molucca archipelago, also known as the Spice Islands. Aa kora kora, or traditional war canoe, escorts you to the enchanting island of Banda Naira, which once the center of the Spice Island trade and a hub of the Dutch East India Company. Stroll past Dutch architecture, and visit Fort Belgica, which was built to protect the spice trade.
In the morning, arrive on the island of Run, best known for being traded for New Amsterdam (later renamed New York) in the 17th century. Stroll among the nutmeg trees on the island, thought to be over 400 years old, as you explore and learn about the island's fascinating history.
Sail for Indonesia’s 'Forgotten Islands,' the Southeast Moluccas. This series of archipelagos spans over 200,000 square miles of ocean and features hundreds of islands. The undersea world of the Banda Sea is extraordinary, while the remote islands offer interesting opportunities for encounters with local cultures and endemic flora and fauna. Your schedule in the area is flexible, allowing you to take advantage of the unexpected. Explore by zodiac and kayak on the water and use the ship's full arsenal of tools for inland exploration.
Enjoy the views as you sail back towards port.
Disembark in Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory. Relax in a dayroom or explore the city, before transferring to the airport for your connecting flight home.