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A local man of the South Pacific

Corals, Carvings, and Cloves

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard Silver Discoverer
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On this voyage from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Papua, the Banda Islands, and the Lesser Sunda Islands, see a variety of corals and fish and have an outstanding cultural experience. Each village or island visited has a different approach to culture and traditions and you can see exceptional artistic expressions, be it as paintings, carvings, or weavings. This voyage is sure to be an interesting kaleidoscope of culture and nature. With each of the villages visited embracing a different culture, immerse yourself in an educational rollercoaster. Marvel at the rich past of the Asmat people during an accompanied canoe ride. Expect first class diving at the Great Barrier Reef, dozens of species of bird — including the elusive bird of paradise — and enriching historical lectures.
Stop at majestic islands on your  Asian Pacific cruiseYoung locals of the  Asian PacificSnorkel the tropical reef as you sail the Asian PacificGreet the locals as you sail the  Asian PacificA local man of the South Pacific
  • Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
  • Be accompanied by a canoe flotilla in the Asmat Region
  • Immerse yourself in the ancient Asmat culture & see famous woodcarvings
  • See the traditional Pasola, a ceremonial fight on horseback in Kodi
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Cairns, Australia | Embark

Embark for your adventure along the Australian coast into the Asmat Region and to the Banda Islands, the original home of nutmeg. Once you have settled in, a mandatory safety drill is conducted before leaving port. During the afternoon you have several briefings and important members of the crew are introduced to you. In the evening enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.

Day 2: Lizard Island, Australia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A World Heritage Site since 1981, the Great Barrier Reef has more than 1500 fish species, 400 coral species, and 215 bird species. Found some 250 km northeast of Cairns, and as part of a group of six high islands, Lizard Island is located right in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The island belongs to the Dingaal people, the traditional Aboriginal owners, and you not only have to adhere to the rules of the National Park, but also consider that the island has a special meaning to them.

Go ashore on the western side and explore the island on foot or swim and snorkel. Mangroves and sandy beaches are found along the shore and there is a track to Cooks Look (some 2 km). Lizard Island’s location promises some great snorkel and dive opportunities.

Day 3: Little Boydong Reef, Australia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Off the coast of northern Queensland, just 100 kilometers short of Australia’s northernmost point, Little Boydong Island is located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Next to this secluded island is Little Boydong Reef where the sea teems with life. A perfect spot for snorkeling or diving, you can also walk across the sandbanks at low tide with the Marine Biologist. Let them introduce you to some of the many inhabitants of the Great Barrier Reef in an interesting lecture during the morning. Apart from life under water, the area is also an important nesting site for pied imperial pigeons.

Day 4: Thursday Island, Australia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Your ship arrives very early in the morning to have a look at this former pearling center at the top of Australia. Just 39 kilometrers north of Cape York, Thursday Island has an area of about 3.5 square kilometers. Populated for thousands of years by the Melanesian Torres Strait Islanders, Thursday Island has a population of slightly more than 2600.

World War II arrived in Australia at the top end and for your tour today take a private ferry to Horn Island and walk in the forgotten footsteps of the indigenous and non-indigenous soldiers who served in the area; experience an unmatched personal interaction with your specialist guides. On your journey you visit the original gun emplacements, an underground command post, slit trenches, a WWII aircraft wreck with an unbelievable story, WWII airstrip, dispersal bays and taxiways, and you can listen to the eerie sound effects the airstrip provides today. The tour travels on actual WWII roads and tracks laid down by the military.

Apart from WWII impressions another aspect of Australia’s northernmost islands are of interest: local artists discuss their art and stories with you as morning tea is served and you visit the Torres Strait Museum before your ferry returns you to Thursday Island. During the afternoon head north for Papua.

Day 5: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
You can use your time at sea to relax, unwind on the open decks looking for seabirds or marine mammals, attend a lecture about Papua, or perhaps taste one of the local delicacies prepared by the Executive Chef and the Galley Team. If you have not had enough exercise ashore or in the water, the Gym would be a good choice. Team Trivia in the Explorer Lounge and a cool drink at the Pool Bar whiles your time away before a briefing prepares you for the adventure waiting in the Asmat.

Day 6-7: Asmat Region, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
The Asmat region, an area of lowland swamp and rainforest, has long sheltered the Asmat tribes from outsiders, and your visit is an expedition highlight. Be escorted to the village of Agats, the capital of the Asmat region, where an enthusiastic welcome awaits. Once ashore, walk along elevated wooden boardwalks to a men’s longhouse. You are invited to witness a local meeting and ceremony. From the men’s house walk to the Catholic Cathedral with its superb carvings. Opposite the cathedral is the Asmat Museum - the Asmat have one of the most renowned and vibrant woodcarving traditions in the Pacific. Elaborate displays of ancestor poles, drums, body masks, shields, daggers, and skulls remind you that headhunting and cannibalism were practiced here until the early 1970’s.

You might also visit Ewer, its 1,000 hospitable residents inviting you ceremoniously to a colorful active market, and to view their homes and prolific gardens. During your visit Zodiacs take you through this remote riverine, cruising along narrow waterways lined with the entwined branches of thick mangrove forests, home to dozens of species of parrots, lorikeets and other birds including the spectacular bird of paradise. As you make your way upstream, Asmat villagers—whooping and chanting in elaborate warrior gear and war paint—paddle vigorously toward you in dozens of intricately carved canoes.

Asmat culture has remarkable ritual objects based on an intriguing interpretation of life and death. Asmat woodcarvings are known for their powerful lines and coarse, expressive motifs, and are widely considered to be among the world’s finest. You have the opportunity to purchase carvings directly from village artisans or at one of the galleries in Agats.

Day 8: Triton Bay, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
In 2008 the Kaimana Regency declared a 6000 km² Marine Protected Area around the waters of Triton Bay. Conservation International maintains an office in Kaimana and a field station out in Triton Bay where visiting scientists can do their work. The marine biodiversity is second to none and the area offers everything from the tiniest pygmy seahorses to large and graceful whale sharks.

Triton Bay is one of three regions in Indonesia’s West Papua province that comprise the Bird’s Head Seascape. This is considered to be the epicenter of the Coral Triangle, containing more fish and coral species than anywhere else on the planet. Triton Bay is best known for its beautiful soft coral gardens as well as having nesting grounds for green turtles, a population of coastal Bryde’s whales, and whale sharks. Look for a nice beach to relax and you can hope to be able to swim and snorkel with whale sharks.

Day 9: Watubela Island

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
The ship is in the Watubela Group and during the morning you can look for good swimming and snorkeling sites. Some of the islands have small communities and you might visit one of the small villages. The raised coral islands have interesting cliffs and picturesque limestone islets located offshore. During the afternoon cruise the Banda Sea and the lecturers have interesting topics to prepare you for the island of nutmeg.

Day 10: Banda Neira and Pulau Ai, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
When coming close to the channel separating Banda Neira and its neighboring island Gunung Api, have a look at the lava flows on the northern side of Gunung Api –they are signs of a recent volcanic eruption and the volcano might still be steaming! Depart the ship for a morning walking tour of the historical and formerly quite rich city of Banda, the main town and administrative center of the Banda Islands – a group of ten small volcanic islands. See several colonial buildings, the protestant church, and the remains of two impressive forts built by the Dutch, one of which found near the harbor. One of the forts has been restored and is on UNESCO’s “Tentative List” to become a World Heritage Site, as are the Banda Islands themselves. Stops include a visit to the local market and a tour of the clove and nutmeg plantation – until the mid-19th century the Banda Islands were the world’s only source of nutmeg. Also visit the two forts before returning to your ship.

During lunch the ship repositions a few miles to Pulau Ai, an isolated low lying island to the west of Banda Neira. It has some small limestone cliffs on its southern coastline and some pretty beaches on its northern shores. Due to its isolation, walls and deep waters, when the current is running, Pulau Ai is one of the top dive sites in the Banda Islands for shark encounters. Hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and silvertip sharks are occasionally sighted, while wahoo, giant trevally, Bluefin trevally, and chevron barracuda appear in good numbers. Sometimes groups of up to 25 rays are seen.

Day 11: At Sea

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
A day at sea always gives good opportunities to assess the things seen so far and to prepare one for the different islands still to be visited. Enjoy a lecture about culture and natural history, or perhaps about the more modern influences on this remote part of the world. Help  birders spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds. A refreshing drink, a visit to the Spa, and the participation of a seminar are other choices. There are many ways to enjoy the day while you cruise the Banda Sea.

Day 12: Kalabahi (for Takpala), Alor, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This morning arrive at Kalabahi, the capital and port for Alor Island. Set inside a peaceful bay of white sandy beaches, and overlooked by two old volcanoes, Kalabahi is the starting point for an excursion into the rugged interior and to meet the indigenous Abui. Have a look at a local market and Kalabahi’s museum, which houses interesting textile exhibits and drums, before you visit the traditional hilltop village of Takpala where you are welcomed by the Chief and enjoy a cultural performance of dancing and chanting. Afterwards you are able to have a look at how the Abui live, get to see their homes, and how food is prepared. You might want to taste some of the manioc or the freshly brewed local coffee. Handicrafts and textiles are on sale before you return to the ship around noon.

Day 13: Seba, Savu, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Savu, a small island about halfway between Timor and Sumba, is one of the most interesting destinations in Nusa Tenggara. The Savunese derive their staple nutrition from the lontar palm, and the nutritious juice of this drought-resistant tree makes possible a relatively high population concentration on Savu’s 461 square kilometers. Although 80% of the Savunese claim to be Christian, animistic beliefs are still present. The tradition of textile weaving remains an important part of their culture, with the women still growing the cotton, hand dyeing, and weaving on back-strap looms.

You are welcomed ashore by Savunese horsemen and then take local buses into the interior where you have a traditional village welcome, dances, and singing. Afterwards see a lontar tapping demonstration - when the tapping is done in the higher parts the men seem to float on palm fan leaves. Today is another good opportunity to not only see how the textiles are made, but also to buy some high-quality ikat.

During the afternoon be on deck to watch the Lesser Sunda Islands passing by. Perhaps you would like to know more about Sumba and its inhabitants. Attend a lecture and the briefing for tomorrow’s activities in Kodi.

Day 14: Kodi, Sumba, Indonesia

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Known for its intricate ikat fabric, distinctive architecture, and sculptured stone tombs, Sumba has resisted the advances of the modern age. It is therefore a fascinating island to explore, especially West Sumba where ancient tribal rites are best preserved. The local culture revolves around fortified villages where ancestors are worshipped by extended families living in enormous clan houses with high-pitched thatched roofs. The Sumbanese honor the dead by dragging massive stones a great distance to construct mausoleums for the departed. On your visit to a traditional village, witness a welcome ceremony, as well as a “pasola”, a fierce martial arts performance on horseback. Also observe the process of making Indonesia’s famous ikat textiles, including the opportunity to purchase ikat directly from the weavers.

During the afternoon have a chance to watch your Photographer/Videographer’s presentation of the Voyage DVD, hopefully bringing back fond memories of different cultures, customs, and peoples seen during this spectacular voyage from the Great Barrier Reef across Indonesia.

Day 15: Benoa, Bali, Indonesia | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
After breakfast, disembark.


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  • 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 14 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Personalized Service with a Butler for all Suites
  • One hour free WIFI per day for all guests. Unlimited free WIFI for guests sailing on select suite categories.
  • In-suite dining and room service
  • Guided Zodiac, land and sea tours, and shoreside activities led by the Expeditions Team
  • Gratuities always included in your fare.
  • Beverages in-suite and throughout the ship, including champagne, select wines and spirits
  • All gratuities
  • World-class lecture and expedition team
  • Daily activity options including cultural tours, nature walks, and Zodiac cruises
  • Beer, wine & soft drinks with onboard lunch & dinner
  • Port Surcharges, Permits, and Landing Fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars are not included in your fare.
  • Transfers and baggage handling between airport/vessel on embark/disembark day
  • Airport Departure Tax - Airport arrival or departure taxes
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