Monday, 30 March 2009

Cruise Melanesia with Coral Princess Cruises in 2009 – ‘The Timeless Paradise’


Coral Princess Cruises' newest brochure lassos some of the farthest-flung islands of one of its most remote and exotic cruise destinations: Melanesia. The 13 or 14-night expedition-style voyages aboard the luxurious small ship Oceanic Discoverer thread their way along the necklace of islands and nations between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The sparkling collection of islands making up Melanesia still retains the romance and adventure of the fabled South Pacific. Life is lived at a slower pace, and traditions and customs remain intact. Village artisans create tribal artefacts in the slow, careful way their forebears taught them. Coffee workers sing as they walk in the flower-fragrant mornings to family plantations.

Following in the exploratory footsteps of history's greatest adventurers, the voyage visits remote tribal villages of New Guinea and historic WWII sites of the Solomons, including Kennedy Island (where John F Kennedy swam ashore from a sinking patrol boat in WWII) and the Arnavon Islands, the Solomon Islands' only marine reserve and home to the Hawksbill turtle.

Santa Ana is one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific, with a pellucid lagoon and pristine rainforest, where Oceanic Discoverer's naturalist guides lead walks to spot exotic orchids, tropical plants and rare birds. Vanuatu's highlights include sailing into the volcanic caldera of Ureparapara, where cruise ships rarely venture, and strolling along the exquisite Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo.

Ambryn Island, with its towering active volcanos, is known as Black Island for its volcanic sands and 'black magic'. It also has some of the best artefacts and carvings in Melanesia and, by special invitation from the local people, passengers will have the rare opportunity to witness a Rom Spirit dance. The penultimate stop is Tanna Island, where it's possible to stand on the crater rim of an active volcano. The cruise ends in Port Vila.

Throughout the voyage, Oceanic Discoverer's purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer, glass bottom coral viewer and fleet of inflatable Zodiacs allow passengers to intimately explore the reefs and remote islands. Excursions are guided by naturalists and experts who interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region.

Oceanic Discoverer is designed to provide all the comfort and facilities of larger cruise ships, yet is small enough to access remote and pristine sites inaccessible to other ships.

The 14-night Port Moresby to Noumea cruise starts at $10 850 per person, twin share, in a Main Deck B stateroom and departs November 26, 2009 and November 25, 2010. The 13-night Noumea to Rabaul voyage, which costs from $10 500, departs March 8, 2010. Cruise costs include all excursions, port taxes and meals on board.

For further information and reservations contact 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.