Cruising Through Melanesia aboard the Caledonian Sky

Overview

The island-nation of Papua New Guinea, where more than 800 tribal languages are spoken, is a land of magic and spirits, of steaming volcanoes and coral atolls, and of fascinating cultural traditions. Aboard the Caledonian Sky, we visit the intriguing Trobriand Islands, the rarely visited Tufi fjords, and call at the beautiful ports of Rabaul, surrounded by six volcanoes. Along the way, we snorkel, swim, explore by sea kayak, visit remote artisan markets, and enjoy presentations by our on-board team of experts who share their insight and expertise on Papua New Guinea’s intriguing Pacific cultures.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Days 1-2, Sep 20-21, 2019
Depart USA

Board your independent flight to Papua New Guinea. Lose a day crossing the International Date Line.

Day 3, Sep 22, 2019
Brisbane, Australia / Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Arrive in Brisbane and board your flight to Port Moresby. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure, with dinner and overnight at Airways Hotel.

Day 4, Sep 23, 2019
Port Moresby / Embark Caledonian Sky

Today join a tour of Port Moresby, visiting the National Museum and Art Center. You may also view, and purchase, high-quality carvings and handicrafts at a local shop. This afternoon, embark the Caledonian Sky.

Day 5, Sep 24, 2019
Bonarua Island

Be on deck as the ship traces the coast of Papua New Guinea, to observe the peaks of the dramatic Stanley Owens Range that soar to 13,000 feet. This afternoon visit the island of Bonarua, where a local choir welcomes you ashore. Observe fishing and weaving demonstrations, and stroll through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies made from sweet potatoes, taro, and yams. Birders venture into the thicket to search for island endemics, and the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a perfect introduction to the undersea wonders on your first snorkel or dive excursion of many to come.

Day 6, Sep 25, 2019
Fergusson, D'Entrecasteaux Islands

Today visit Fergusson Island, the largest island of the group, notable for its hot springs, bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers, and extinct volcanoes. Spend the afternoon snorkeling or diving.

Day 7, Sep 26, 2019
Kuyawa, Trobriand Islands

This morning, visit with the traditional Trobriand islanders of Kuyawa and view energetic, time-honored dances that celebrate fishing and the seasonal yam harvest. Learn about the history of the Kula Ring, a circular pattern of ceremonial trade relationships that binds the islands of Milne Bay and eastern Papua New Guinea together in a long-established network of friendship. These islanders are also renowned for the exquisite quality of their ebony wood carvings, often decorated with mother-of-pearl shell inlays. Enjoy a walk among the villages of Kuyawa before returning to the ship for lunch.

In the afternoon we anchor at a nearby island. Snorkel or dive amid kaleidoscopic coral reefs populated by parrotfish, neon damsels, and other brilliantly-hued species. Join naturalists on a walk around the island in search of flying foxes (fruit bats), sulphur-crested cockatoos, and helmeted friarbirds.

Day 8, Sep 27, 2019
Tufi

Discover the dramatic beauty of the rarely-visited Tufi Fjords. Though similar in appearance to Nordic fjords, these fjords were formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. Soak up spectacular views of the sheer basalt cliffs draped with lush vegetation on a Zodiac cruise, then step ashore to meet with friendly locals. Learn about their way of life, and watch the village elders perform a traditional sing-sing wearing elaborate feather head-dresses. This afternoon, snorkel or dive along the fringing reef where you will find technicolor coral fans, plump barrel sponges, and stacked hard corals, populated by schools of barracudas, parrotfish, and triggerfish.

Day 9, Sep 28, 2019
Lababia Island

Today, visit the picturesque village of Lababia, gateway to one of the most important conservation areas in Papua New Guinea, the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area. Meet with locals, who welcome you with traditional songs, and learn about projects to develop a self-sustaining cycle of environmental conservation. In the afternoon, explore some of the region’s most pristine marine areas, where you may spy giant tridacna clams, vibrant anemones, and shoals of fish darting between coral branches.

Day 10, Sep 29, 2019
Tami Island

The people of Tami Island are renowned for their elaborated carved bowls, religious figures, and ceremonial masks. Meet with villagers and perhaps take a ride in a hand-carved outrigger canoe. The large, protected lagoon is perfect for underwater exploration where you may find such specialties as the flamboyant Spanish dancer nudibranch and curious clownfish.

Day 11, Sep 30, 2019
Madang

Madang is famed for its beautiful waterfront setting, perched on a fertile peninsula, backdropped by steep mountains and surrounded by a number of picturesque islands. Visit the colorful market where you will have opportunity to peruse a large selection of artifacts from the Sepik region. This area is also famed for exceptional water clarity and numerous World War II wrecks that sit in relatively shallow offshore waters.

Day 12, Oct 1, 2019
Kopar River

Kopar is situated on the mouth of the Sepik River, a 700-mile-long river whose tribes are famous for their traditional carvings linked to spiritual beliefs. Depending on tides, you may have the opportunity to visit the village, where a women’s chorus welcomes you ashore. The 300 residents of this typical Lower Sepik village subsist on fish and sago, cultivated in nearby swamp.

Day 13, Oct 2, 2019
Alim Island

Alim Island is a small, uninhabited island that is home to a large colony of red-footed boobies. Observe the birds nesting in the mangrove trees, and search for black and brown noddies, white and black-naped terns, and other tropical seabirds. Sea turtles have also been known to lay their eggs on the sandy beach.

Day 14, Oct 3, 2019
Tingwon Island

Completely encircled by an oblong reef, few passenger vessels are able to visit this small group of islands. Land on a sandy beach and meet the 350 inhabitants of charming Tingwon, and enjoy their hospitality, local delicacies, and dances. After your visit, snorkel or dive along the islets’ surrounding reef.

Day 15, Oct 4, 2019
Rabaul Island, East New Britain Islands

Six cone-shaped volcanoes, some of which are still active, ring Rabaul’s dramatic flooded-caldera harbor. Visit the bubbling hot springs and take in magnificent views from Observatory Ridge. And, learn about the island’s WWII history—Rabaul was a Japanese stronghold under Admiral Yamamoto. Tonight attend an astonishing performance of the Baining tribe’s fire dance. Tribe members in huge, magnificently crafted masks, leap and dance over crackling, red-hot coals in a centuries-old ritual to honor the local deity-spirits.

Days 16-17, Oct 5- 6, 2019
Rabaul / Disembark / Cairns, Australia / USA

Disembark this morning and board your flight to Cairns. Check in to the Shangri-La Cairns for dinner and overnight. Board your independent flight on Sunday, arriving in the USA the same day.

Highlights

Highlights

Witness the spectacular fire dances of the Baining tribe, where men don huge symbolic masks and leap over flames to the hypnotic beat of a bamboo band.
Snorkel or dive among dazzling tropical fish and colorful corals—these waters are some of the most biodiverse in the world.
Step ashore on the legendary Trobriand Islands, dubbed “The Islands of Love,” and witness the islanders’ unique dances and uninhibited friendliness.
Enjoy nature walks and Zodiac cruises that reveal stunning scenery, pristine beaches, and luxuriant tropical landscapes.

Details

Length: 17 days
Cost From: $13,980  
Arrive: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Depart: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Lodging: 12 nights aboard 100-passenger expedition vessel, 2 nights hotel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Diving, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

13-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
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