Expedition cruise lines have introduced new itineraries to the South Pacific to meet growing demand for adventure voyages to the popular region.
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia figures, almost half of Australians that took a cruise last year booked their holiday to the South Pacific. This was 31 percent more than the prior year.
Aside from its conveniently close location, APT product manager Mladen Vukic said it’s growing amongst Australians because of the abundance of vibrant cultures guests want to experience firsthand .
“Getting off one of our luxury ships and being greeted by a local tribe by way of traditional song and dance is just one way that our guests can immerse themselves in these remote regions,” he explained.
“Furthermore, the unique flora and fauna experienced on these cruises is second to none.”
Lindblad Expeditions’ business development director Jeremy Lindblad told Cruise Passenger Australians love cruising to the South Pacific with the line because National Geographic Orion can take them places in the region that are inaccessible by any other form of travel.
“We get to explore places with pristine ocean system and underwater life with tools we have onboard and we give our guests the experience of the undersea world in a way they wouldn’t be able to get in any other mode of travel,” he said.
New Lindblad, APT and Oceania expeditions to the South Pacific include:
In 2015, Lindblad will send its 102-passenger National Geographic Orion on six new itineraries in the South Pacific and Indonesia.
New cruises range from 10- to 17-day itineraries and take guests across the entire region and surrounding areas including the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Fiji.
For example, the 16-day Palau to Solomon Islands: Along the Pacific Equator cruise departs from Micronesia’s Palau and takes guests to ‘the land of stone money’, Yap Island; Chuuk Atoll for snorkeling and diving; New Ireland and New Britain Islands in Papua New Guinea; Rabaul; Marovo Lagoon in the Solomon Islands; and Honiara.
There’s also the 10-day Fiji to Cook Islands: Polynesian Discovery itinerary departing from Nadi.
Travellers will spend a day enjoying water sports in Tonga; visit the island of Niue; and spend time at Palmerston Atoll – the island discovered by Captain Cook on his second voyage.
Or there’s the 11-day Solomon Islands to Fiji: Hidden South Pacific cruise, which takes off from Brisbane and cruises to Santa Ana and Vanuatu before arriving in Fiji.
During the cruise guests will be able to search endemic bird species; snokel and dive off Fiji’s reefs and see ancient petroglyphs at Fels Cave in Chief Roi Mata’s Domain.
Next year, luxury expedition cruise line, Oceania Cruises, will send its 1,250-passenger Marina to the South Pacific to sail seven new itineraries around the region.
Ranging from 10- to- 18-days, the cruises include visits to French Polynesia, Fiji, the Samoa Islands and New Zealand.
Among them is a 10-day ‘Pacific Dreams’ roundtrip from Papeete.
The itinerary has two departures in January and March next year plus one in January 2016.
Calls include Moorea for visits to sacred prehistoric temples; Raiatea; Bora Bora where guests can watch vibrant marine life; Nuku Hiva to see black sand beaches; and Rangiroa.
From January next year to 31 October 2015, APT will operate a new ‘Lost Islands of Asia’ cruise taking guests from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia.
Starting in Port Moresby, guests will walk the Kokoda Track before boarding MS Caledonian Sky.
The cruise will sail to Daru Island; the Torres Strait’s Thursday Island; and Agat, which is home to Papua New Guinea’s fierce warriors. The ship will then sail into Asia for calls in Triton Bay, Kokas, Pulau Boo, Ternate, Toli Toli and Sandakan.
There’s also a new ‘Sunsets Over the Pacific’ itinerary, which departs from Papua New Guinea and sails through to Fiji.
The 16-day also commences with a trek along the Kokoda Track before boarding the small expedition ship.
Guests will spend days at Wewak, Madang, Cape Gloucester, Rabaul, Buka, Buin, Marovo Langoon, the Red Beach in Guadalcanal, the Solomon Island’s Santa Ana, Linaua, Tikopia and Tavewa Island.
During the expedition, guests will sail on APT’s small ships and use Zodiacs to take snorkelling tours in the Solomon Islands and explore the aves in Puerto Princesa. The line also takes guests to historic areas such as Rabaul in Papua New Guinea, where the AE1 submarine from World War 1 is believed to have sunk.