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A komodo dragon rests on the shore

Seabirds, Cetaceans and Spices

Example 12 Day Cruise aboard Katharina
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The diversity of the Indonesian islands is vast; on some islands, tropical forests climb from mangrove encrusted coastlines to mountain slopes. On others, parched savannah thrives, coral reefs line tranquil atolls filled with fish and marine life, volcanoes and seamounts rise dramatically out of the sea, remnants of colonial history crumble and fade, and countless small communities of many cultures spread far and wide across the various archipelagos. Indonesia’s remote and uninhabited islands support regionally and globally important breeding colonies of at least 15 seabird species.

Day-by-Day Summary

Day 1 : Labuan Bajo | Embark
Day 2 : Bonerate
Day 3 : Kakabia
Day 4 : Tukang Besi | Wakatobi National Reserve
Day 5 : Moromaho
Days 6-7 : Gunung Api
Day 8 : Lucipari Archipelago
Day 9 : Banda Archipelago
Days 10-11 : Ai Island | Hatta Island | Bandaneira | Gunung Api
Day 12 : Bay of Ambon | Disembark


  • Set off on a ranger-led nature trek in search of Komodo dragons
  • Spot monkeys, wild buffaloes, deer and some endemic birds in Rinca
  • Swim, snorkel and enjoy the beautiful beaches and reefs in Bonerate
  • Explore, swim and snorkel looking out for sea turtles and dugongs



Places Visited

  • Asia
  • Indonesia
  • Ai Islands
  • Ambon Island
  • Banda Api
  • Banda Islands
  • Banda Neira
  • Bonerate Island
  • Buru Island
  • Hatta Island
  • Kakabia Island
  • Labuan Bajo
  • Moromaho
  • Tukangbesi Islands
  • Wakatobi National Park


Trip Type

  • Small Ship

Activity Level


Trip Snapshots

A komodo dragon rests on the shore Cruising Adventures! Sea turtle Fruit on display at a Indonesian market Dugong swimming with fish Breathtaking aerial sunset in Komodo National Park in Indonesia

Day 1 Labuan Bajo | Embark

When you arrive in Labuan Bajo, transfer to the harbour, where you will be welcomed aboard the Katharina. You will have plenty of time to settle in and get acquainted with the crew and fellow passengers over lunch as you cruise to the island of Rinca in the heart of the Komodo National Park. From the ranger station of Loh Buaya, you will set off on a ranger-led nature trek in search of Komodo dragons, which are indigenous to this small group of islands. Rinca is well known for its diverse wildlife, so you may spot monkeys, wild buffaloes, deer and some endemic birds as well. From the top of the hills, the scenery is breathtaking, and after your trek, you will find a quiet spot for a swim and a snorkel, before heading northeast to Bonerate.

Day 2 Bonerate

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up at Bonerate in the middle of the Flores Sea. Here, you will visit the main village with its sandy streets and houses built on stilts in typical Makasserese style, and on the beach you may be able to observe the construction of the elegant Lambo boats. Afterwards you can swim, snorkel and enjoy the beautiful beaches and reefs at the northwest side of the island. Later we’ll continue cruising in a northeasterly direction for Kakabia.

Day 3 Kakabia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Today you will drop anchor off the little island of Kakabia for a day of bird counting, exploring, swimming and snorkelling looking out for sea turtles and dugongs. You will take the tenders and go ashore, and you can expect to see frigate birds and red-footed boobies.

Day 4 Tukang Besi | Wakatobi National Reserve

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Day four heralds your arrival in the Tukang Besi archipelago, also known as Wakatobi, which is world famous for its pristine coral reefs. You will have two days to wander around this uniquely diverse ecologic area inhabited by a tribe of daring seafarers, shipbuilders and maritime traders. Look for small coves and inlets and the best soft corals; you will meet fishermen, watch the local blacksmiths (tukang besi) at work high up on steep rock plateaus, and visit local markets. As always you will be on the lookout for the perfect spot for a beach barbecue. While you are in the Wakatobi National Reserve, you should see pods of dolphins – both spinner dolphins and spotted dolphins inhabit these waters, and you may even be lucky enough to see pilot whales, sperm whales or even the rare beaked whales. In the evening you will depart for Moromaho Island.

Day 5 Moromaho

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up to the view of Moromaho. This coral island is surrounded by an expansive flat reef that can only be crossed at high tide on a small boat or kayak. On and around the island, there is a large, old coconut plantation, great reefs and mangroves to explore. Swim, snorkel, bird watch and bird count (you should see parakeets), and there is a stable colony of breeding red-footed boobies and roosting great frigate birds on the island. Situated in the mangroves, the colonies have to deal with a certain amount of disturbance and exploitation by plantation workers who live and work on the island for a few months each year. They use the mangroves for wood, and also collect eggs and birds. Several species of migrating shore birds from both Asia and Australia winter here; the island is a breeding ground for green turtles, and there are also megapodes breeding here and small fruit bats. In the afternoon, you will embark on your longest leg of the cruise, your journey to Gunung Api in the middle of the Banda Sea.

Day 6-7 Gunung Api

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Gunung Api sits alone in the middle of the Banda Sea, and has a large, noisy colony of seabirds – predominantly frigate birds and tropical gannets, and the curious young birds will circle and swoop down and around the boat. There are many volcanoes in Indonesia named Gunung Api, which quite simply means ‘fire mountain.’ This Gunung Api is a huge, four-kilometre-high seamount, but almost all of it is submerged, and you will only see the top 300 metres above the surface. The volcano is active, with smoking vents around the crater. Most striking is the increase of breeding birds on Gunung Api; the vegetation here has been increasing since the beginning of the 20th century as have the number of suliform seabirds. Renewed vegetation creates a breeding habitat that results in an increased population of boobies and frigate birds. The volcano is also home to red-footed boobies, brown boobies, masked boobies, shearwaters, terns, frigates, brown noddies and red-tailed tropic birds, and for some reason the surrounding are home to a multitude of banded and olive sea snakes. The red-footed boobies and frigate birds nest in the trees, while the brown boobies and red-tailed tropicbirds breed under trees and in the crevices of rocks.

Gunung Api remains very inaccessible; it still has no introduced rats, and as a result it is pristine and unspoiled, with a biodiversity that is unique in Southeast Asia, so it has to be strictly protected. There is no beach or suitable landing spot, so we will only be able to circumnavigate the island in the tenders. The two days that we spend here will be very relaxing, a time for swimming, snorkelling and enjoying the tropical sun. And, of course, bird watching and bird counting. Towards the end of the second day we will depart towards to the Lucipari archipelago.

Day 8 Lucipari Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The Lucipari Archipelago consists of a group of four wooded islands, which are uninhabited, but occasionally visited by fishermen from Buru and Ambon. These volcanic outcroppings in the northeastern part of the Banda Sea are populated by terns and spoonbills and several other bird species including the orange-footed scrub fowl, the Nicobar pigeon and the pink-headed imperial pigeon, as well as salamanders, crabs and butterflies, all living in perfect harmony and an apparent absence of fear, reminiscent of the Galapagos. Spend some time wandering and pondering this secluded space. 

Day 9 Banda Archipelago

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your arrival in the renowned Banda Archipelago generates a true sense of historical excitement. These islands, which were once the world’s only source of nutmeg and mace, are among the highlights of Indonesia; famous for their beauty and cultural heritage from the time of the Dutch and English colonisation. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the demand for the aromatic nutmeg, which was believed to be a cure for the bubonic plague, spurred exploration and shaped colonial empires with European traders selling it at a 6,000 percent markup, making it worth more than its weight in gold. The natural splendour of these islands contradicts the brutality that engulfed them during the 17th century when the Dutch sought a total monopoly on the nutmeg trade and the local people resisted. Despite their illustrious and well-documented history, the Banda Islands are a place that time seems to have forgotten. Today they retain an aura of mystery, allure and astonishing remoteness, with a quiet colonial ambience and an exceptional biodiversity that makes this destination truly special. You will anchor in a sheltered bay off Gunung Api and then go by tender to visit Banda Neira, the major village in the Bandas, and stroll through the old town visiting old fortresses and admiring plantation mansions from the past.

Day 10-11 Ai Island | Hatta Island | Bandaneira | Gunung Api

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
These days will be filled with visits to a few of the other islands in the group, perhaps the very small island of Run – which the English traded with the Dutch for Manhattan – as well as the islands of Ai and Hatta, where you will see what remains of the Dutch colonial houses and land parcels known as ‘perken’ that were handed to Dutch planters – ‘perkeniers’ – to manage. See more forts, as well as churches, cemeteries and nutmeg plantations. Here, the evergreen nutmeg trees – identifiable by the hundreds of ripening yellow fruits that hang from their branches – grow randomly in the shade of the magnificent kenari trees, which themselves yield an almond-like nut locally used in confectionary and sauces. In these rocky backwaters, you will feel on a par with the pioneering adventurers; nutmeg and mace can be seen drying in the sun outside nearly every village home. Being in the middle of the Coral Triangle you will also have several opportunities to explore the pristine waters and bountiful reefs of the islands. Make an early morning ascent of Banda’s Gunung Api volcano. This is perhaps the most famous of the Banda Sea ‘Ring of Fire’ volcanos. First recorded in the 14th century, it last erupted in 1988. While this is a challenging climb up a narrow track to an elevation of about 640 metres, the reward when reaching the top of the ‘Fire Mountain’ is well worth the effort and you can revel in a stunning and unforgettable view. When it is time to depart for Ambon, you will navigate through the ‘Sonnegat’ (sun’s gap) between Bandaneira and Gunung Api, perhaps under the escort of a ‘Kora-Kora’ sea canoe, rowed by over a dozen muscled men and used in ancient times to attack the invading colonists.

Day 12 Bay of Ambon | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
After an early morning arrival in the Bay of Ambon, you will have a short sightseeing tour of the city and you will visit Fort Victoria, another fort dating back to colonial days. You will then say farewell to the captain and crew of the Katharina before being transferred to the airport for your onward journey.


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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 airfares
  • Personal insurance
  • Social alcoholic beverages
  • Crew gratuities
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