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Traveler admiring a marine Indonesian view

Raja Ampat through the Lens - A Photographic Journey with Thijs Heslenfeld

Example 10 Day Cruise aboard Katharina
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Each morning, photographer and special guest, Thijs Heslenfeld will provide a short lecture on a specific topic. After that you can put all that into practice, both on shore and on board. You will see for yourself how the smallest changes in the background of an image can completely change its atmosphere. How extremely important it is to understand light conditions, and how to work with them. Why in most cases an image becomes much stronger by avoiding little extra's instead of adding them. Thijs' approach is down to earth and relaxed, focusing not on the technical aspect of photography but on the creative side. This approach also means that participants of any level are welcome, and you can turn up with a professional camera or an iPhone.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Sorong | Embark
Day 2 : Misool Archipelago
Day 3 : Tomolol
Day 4 : Batanta
Day 5 : Dampier Strait
Day 6 : Waigeo
Day 7 : Wayag Islands
Day 8 : Wayag Islands
Day 9 : Dampier Strait
Day 10 : Sorong | Disembark


  • Watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the scenery
  • Swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto
  • Navigate the maze of mushroom-shaped Wayag islands
  • Swim on the Equator



Places Visited


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

Cruising Adventures! Raja Ampat Snorkle the reefs of Indonesia Tide during sunset in Indonesia Sealife at Manuar Island, Raja Ampat, Indonesia Traveler admiring a marine Indonesian view

Day 1 Sorong | Embark

Your flight will arrive in the West Papuan port town of Sorong, the gateway to Raja Ampat. From the airport transfer to the harbor where the Katharina will be waiting at anchor. You may have already met Thijs on the flight, but once settled into your cabin, your cruise director will familiarize you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start your adventure, you will weigh anchor and set a southerly course for the Misool Archipelago, stopping for a refreshing swim along the way. Dine alfresco on the main deck while meeting the other passengers and crew and watching the sunset on your first day at sea.

Day 2 Misool Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning wake to see the sun rise over the picturesque chain of islands that makes up the Misool Archipelago. The topography is typical of ‘karst dissolution,’ featuring a great number of tiny islets whose bases have been eroded over time by the relentless motion of the tides. Spend the day maximizing everything that this fascinating area has to offer by marveling at both the marine wonderworld under the water and the magnificent landscape above the surface. Test out your paddling skills in the sea kayaks, watch for birds perched on the rocks, or just sit back and take in the glorious scenery. After a full day of island hopping through this archipelago, the Katharina will spend a quiet night at anchor in Misool’s Tomolol Bay.

Day 3 Tomolol

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A swim through Tomolol’s mysterious dome-topped cave is undoubtedly one of Raja Ampat’s most memorable activities. After an early breakfast, your tenders will take you into the heart of the bay to see this partially submerged cave where it is possible to swim, snorkel or simply float while gazing up at the cavernous grotto adorned with astonishing stalactites. The more adventurous can swim or paddle through the dark waters to the other mouth of the cave. Move on to the peculiar jellyfish lake and swim amongst the many thousands of stingless animals, which have living algae within their bodies that, just like plants, photosynthesise in sunlight. The algae produce what is essentially a form of sugar, which the jellyfish metabolize, and this is how they gain the energy to propel and migrate through the water, grow and reproduce. After returning to the ship, use your tenders to explore more of this impressive maze of karst islands, both above and below the surface, complete with mystifying skull cairns in sea-cave cemeteries, and prehistoric cave paintings, estimated to be anything between 3,000 to 5,000 years old and depicting various human figures and huge human palms, fish, flowers and plants, tools and vessels. Overnight, your boat will cruise north to the island of Batanta.

Day 4 Batanta

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After your days of marine exploration, the jungle-clad island of Batanta offers you a change of scenery and a chance to stretch your legs on an adventurous trek into the island’s interior. Anchor at the foot of Arefi Village, nestled on the north coast of the island, where you will find local guides to escort you through the mangrove waters to the start point of your trek. A short walk along the riverbed brings you to the first of two jungle waterfalls complete with a refreshing pool for cooling off. The fit and adventurous may choose to continue the uphill climb along the rocks to where a second, larger cascade awaits. After leaving the wilderness behind, find a nearby spot to swim and snorkel before moving north to the island of Waigeo.

Day 5 Dampier Strait

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
After waking up, before sunrise, follow in the footsteps of the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in a pre-dawn quest to spot the remarkable Red Bird of Paradise, one of the species that Wallace was most anxious to collect. Hopefully the efforts of your trek through the forest will pay off, enabling you to catch a rare and privileged sight of the bird’s elaborate courtship dance as the day breaks over the forest canopy. Whether you spot the birds or not, for sure you will experience a wonderful trek. Afterwards, turn your attention from the sky to the sea as the Katharina makes its way through the Dampier strait, home to some of Raja Ampat’s premier reefs. With a bit of luck, snorkel among some of the larger specimens of marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents. End your day by mooring off Pulau Arborek in front Arborek Village. Here, you can easily circumnavigate the tiny island by foot and gain a sense of the Asai culture, which is still kept alive by the villagers living in this isolated place.

Day 6 Waigeo

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Another full day of adventure awaits you along the convoluted western coast of Waigeo. Begin the morning by exploring Wofoh, three island gems linked together by stretches of pristine coral reef. You can use the tenders or kayaks to navigate the islands, or put your newly-acquired fish identification skills to use in exploring this vibrant reef. Or you may prefer to simply just relax on the beach. In the afternoon move northwards to Aljui Bay, home to the Cendanda Pearl Farm, one of the larger producers of high quality seawater pearls in the region. Pearling is an important industry throughout Indonesia and a number of farms can be seen in the waters of Raja Ampat, where the farmers may grant permission to visit their facilities and receive an explanation of the pearling processes that you have seen during your voyage. In the evening make your way across the Equator to the northern hemisphere on your journey to the islands of Wayag.

Day 7 Wayag Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Few areas in Indonesia can lay claim to such unsurpassed natural splendor as Raja Ampat’s Wayag islands. The beauty of these picturesque karst spires is perhaps only equaled by the brilliant colors and vibrancy of the reefs and the marine life that flourishes below. Nature has carved these islands into a series of coves and lagoons, narrow channels and inlets, caves, jagged rocks and shaded, sandy beaches. For those who dare, there are some spectacular but nearly vertical climbs that are rewarded with magnificent panoramas. Spend a quiet night here at anchor.

Day 8 Wayag Islands

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Wayag islands are Raja Ampat’s best, and you will make the most of this unique region for one more morning, navigating the maze of mushroom-shaped islands, and stopping for swimming and snorkeling. In the afternoon, set your compass to return to the southern hemisphere for a swim on the Equator.

Day 9 Dampier Strait

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The focus of your last full day at sea will be on exploring the best snorkeling spots in Raja Ampat. Start your morning in the bay of Yengeffo where a myriad of birds will welcome you in the trees above while you explore the wonders of the marine world below. After a paddle and lunch, make your way back through the Dampier Strait for a snorkel in one of the best snorkel sites in the park. With a bit of luck, swim among some of the larger specimens of marine life attracted to the strait’s nutrient-rich currents. Then enjoy a Farewell Dinner and party with the captain and crew.

Day 10 Sorong | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
After a quick stop for a last swim and refreshments on one of the nearby islands, make your way back to the harbor of Sorong. Here you will bid farewell to the ship her crew and your expert, Thijs, taking away many splendid moments in both your minds and on your memory cards. Tenders will take you ashore for your transfer to the airport for your onward travel.


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Cabin Deck
Cabin Deck. Spacious, air-conditioned twin-share cabins with twin bunks or double beds. Private bathroom with toilet, washbasin, and hot shower.


- All rates are quoted in USD and represent cost per person, based on double occupancy.
- Cabins are available for single occupancy at 1.75 times the published rate.

Rates Include:
  • Accommodation in air-conditioned cabins with private shower and toilet
  • Full board, tea and coffee, soft drinks, mineral water
  • Excursions
  • Use of towels
  • Use of snorkeling gear
  • Experienced tour leader
  • Transfer to and from the ship in all harbors with the exception of Serangan Harbor, Bali
Rates Exclude:
  • Domestic and International airfare
  • Personal insurance
  • Social alcoholic beverages
  • Crew gratuities
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