Day 1 — Port Vila, Vanuatu
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this stunning Silversea Expedition – Pearls of the Coral Sea. This afternoon, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Tonight we invite you to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travellers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Day 2 — Pentecost and Ambrym, Vanuatu
In the early morning Silver Discoverer will be in front of Pentecost Island. We will go ashore via Zodiac to witness one of the most unusual socio-religious events in Vanuatu and the South Pacific. You will be astounded by the daring of the young men of Pentecost as they dive head first from a specially constructed 30 metre tower onto the bare earth at the base. This ceremony takes place only during the months of April to June when the vines to which the men have tied themselves have the right moisture content to be flexible enough to take the impact of the fall.
This ceremony welcomes in the yam harvest and is a celebration for the whole village which turns out in traditional costume to dance and chant, whipping the atmosphere into an excited frenzy of dance, activity and noise. Depending on the age and daring of the participants the height from which they jump will increase and it really is a leap of faith –which ends with the head of the jumper touching the softened ground.
After the dance we can tour the local village and meet the children who may sing for us and show us around their school and village.
During lunch Silver Discoverer sails south to Ambrym, another very special island. Ambrym is a volcanic and active (!) island with dark beaches.
Ambrym is known as the island of magic and of the 113 local language of Vanuatu 5 alone are spoken on Ambrym –apart from Bislama, one of the three official languages of the country.
We will go ashore near Ranon to have a look at the local community and see the very unique Rom dance. Normally these dances are only shown during grade-taking ceremonies or men’s secret society meetings and on those occasions the participants actually prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy.
Apart from the mesmerizing Rom dance we will be entertained by one of the local string bands and hope to see some of Vanuatu’s sand drawings. Although some might simply see them as aesthetically pleasing drawings, UNESCO has recognised them as a local “writing” system and inscribed them on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Day 3 — Makura Island, Vanuatu
Makura in the Shepherds is not only a small island with steep slopes on the east and south side and sandy beaches on the north and northwestern shore, but it is actually the peak of a primeval volcano. The other existing ramparts of the volcanic rim are believed to be the neighbouring islands of Emae and Mataso. Roughly 3,000 people call the Shepherds Islands home and Makura Island has a rather small population mainly living on the northwestern side, close to the beach. We hope to visit this village with its rugged volcanic backdrop and apart from a viewing a cultural presentation might hike towards the top of the island.
Day 4 — Aniwa and Waisisi, Tanna, Vanuatu
During the morning Silver Discoverer will be in front of Aniwa Island, a small uplifted coral platform in the southernmost province of Vanuatu. A vivid coral reef has formed here in recent times and grows now where tongues of lava once overran the volcanic slopes and flowed into the ocean. As the corals, sponges and anemones overgrow the dark lava rock, schools of vivid reef fish cruise above. Apart from snorkelling and swimming over this young reef, we might also get to visit the village ashore –although this is very much tide-dependent.
During lunch Silver Discoverer will continue to sail south to reach Tanna and Waisisi. Tanna’s local community welcomes visitors but is still very much connected to their tradition and custom.
Going ashore onto the black sandy beach –an indication of the volcanic activity of the island- we will be welcomed on the beach by the inhabitants of the nearby village. There will be an activity by the John Frum Cargo Cult singers. The men and women will present some traditional dances and will later take you on a tour of their village and demonstrate daily living skills in a subsistence economy.
At 4pm we will embark 4WD vehicles to reach an area close to the summit of Mount Yasur -the most accessible explosive volcano in the world. Locals believe their spirit god dwells in there so it is a sacred place to the local tribes. Be amazed by the power beneath your feet and stand in awe of the fireworks display at sunset. Local guides will instruct you on safe viewing areas depending on the wind and levels of activity.
Day 5 — Aneghowhat, Aneityum Island, and Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Aneityum is a little tropical island paradise and is Vanuatu's southernmost inhabited island. The interior is mountainous and covered with forest. Along the coast, pine plantations contrast with coconut palms, white sand beaches and coral reefs. Aneghowhat is the main settlement on its southwestern side Aneityum is a good island for walking with a slightly cooler climate. After a visit to Aneityum we will transfer to Inyeug Island, better known as Mystery Island. This small island southwest of Aneityum holds the airstrip –used only twice a week- but otherwise is all beaches and reefs. We want to make the most of the afternoon relaxing on the beach or swimming and snorkelling in the tranquil waters looking for the many tropical fishes hiding between the corals.
Day 6 — Noumea, New Caledonia
Noumea started as a penal colony but since the country is very rich in resources, especially Nickel and other minerals, and Noumea has a large natural harbour, the city has attracted many settlers and today prides itself to have almost two thirds of the country’s population living in Greater Noumea.
While New Caledonia has a large percentage of the Kanak –the indigenous inhabitants- living in tribal areas across the country, Noumea is predominantly European (French) influenced.
The city’s centre and Place de Cocotiers, the main park, are located close to the harbour and several churches date back to the late 19th century and the creation of Noumea’s business district through landfills into the lagoon.
Apart from many marinas and several long beaches to the south, with an excellent aquarium at Anse Vata, Noumea has an outstanding collection of Kanak and South Pacific objects at the Museum of New Caledonia. An architectural highlight is the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. The structure resembles sails or the roofs of Kanak houses hidden behind mangroves and is one of the most stunning man-made views the Pacific has to offer.
Day 7 — Île des Pins, New Caledonia
Île des Pins most prominent features are the New Caledonia pines –after which the island was named when seen by Captain Cook. Silver Discoverer will anchor in front of Kuto Bay and we will take our Zodiacs to land at Kuto’s little pier. Vao is the main settlement close to Kuto and Kanumera and has interesting local carvings next to a Catholic monument and the village’s chefferie, the residence of the main chief.
The beaches at Kuto and close-by Kanumera are some of the finest beaches in the South Pacific and while Kuto is for swimming, Kanumera and the giant rock in its bay are for snorkelling. At low tide a sandbar extends to the rock –but since the local Kanak consider it sacred, it is forbidden to climb onto it. For those who still would like to do a bit of climbing, a hike to Pic Nga, at 262 metres the island’s highest elevation, can be arranged.
The island was used in the 19th century as a prison for political exiles from France and remains can still be seen at Kuto, near the landing site and at nearby Ouro.
Days 8-9 — Days at Sea, crossing the Coral Sea
Silver Discoverer will be crossing the Coral Sea for the following two days. This will give you time to relax, to make use of the Gym and Spa, to enjoy views of the open ocean from the outer decks and meet with fellow travellers for a drink in the Explorer Lounge or next to the Pool Bar.
On the other hand, our team of lecturers would like to entertain you with information and stories about the area we are travelling through and the various highlights Australia’s east coast has in store for us. Attend a lecture or seminar and sample the culinary specialties prepared by our Executive Chef and his galley team.
Day 10 — Bundaberg, Australia
Today Silver Discoverer will enter Australia. Bundaberg is the provincial hub of a vibrant, unique region, and is centred on the picturesque Burnett River at the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The area around Bundaberg was used for logging and milling in the mid-19th century, but eventually sugarcane was planted and raw sugar still is one of the main export articles. One of the by-products has made Bundaberg quite famous: the rum made from molasses. Since the rum and distillery are not only famous but important to Bundaberg, we would like to offer a Rum Distillery Experience. Explore the museum housed within one of the retired bond stores, where you’ll move through a series of converted 75,000 litre oak vats which have matured hundreds of thousands of litres of Bundaberg Rum. You will also see the world’s largest collection of Bundaberg Rum bottles since the very first bottle was produced in 1888. This is a fully immersive rum experience, where you will get the same sense of scale and awe that the distillery team gets to experience every day.
Bundaberg has the most significant mainland turtle-nesting beach at Mon repos, and can count many heritage-listed buildings. Other interesting features of Bundaberg are the Hinkler Hall of Aviation, honouring a local aviator, and the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens –apart from several national parks in the region.
Day 11 — Fraser Island, Australia
Discover the beauty of World Heritage Listed Fraser Island aboard a purpose built, air-conditioned 4WD coach. Learn about the natural and cultural history of Fraser Island, at 1840 square kilometres the largest sand island in the world. You will visit and swim the crystal clear waters of the islands most famous and most spectacular lake, Lake McKenzie. At the historic central station in the heart of the island you can walk along the banks of the Wanggoolba Creek and immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the rainforest.
Another way to discover some of Fraser Island's native birdlife and marine life is to join an experienced ranger on a guided canoe paddle in the waters of the Great Sandy Strait. Canoes are suitable for either 2 or 3 guests. Paddle for one hour just offshore in the beautiful coastal waters to try and spot the fish, rays and birds. Keep a sharp lookout, as you may even get a chance viewing of a turtle, dolphin or dugong that also call the waters of Fraser Island home.
The Butchulla people are the traditional owners of K'gari (Fraser Island). They lived in harmony with the seasons, the land and sea whilst maintaining a perfect balance between spiritual, social and family connections. Today the Butchulla people continue to walk the cultural pathway of their ancestors. You can discover how the Butchulla people survived and thrived on the island during an interesting and informative walking tour. Learn which bush foods are in season and how to use snake vine for a headache and the tea tree for a cold. You will uncover all sorts of native bush tucker in the natural environment and discover how to heal yourself in the bush on this guided stroll.
Despite the island being a sand island, it has over 100 lakes and the landscape changes constantly as dunes are being moved across the island by the wind. Although the speed of 1 to 2 metres a year seems to be slow, this certainly changes the island’s appearance. With over 350 bird species recorded, Fraser Island is part of an Important Bird Area and on the Australian National Heritage list.
Day 12 — Great Keppel Island, Australia
Great Keppel Island is slightly north of the Tropic of Capricorn and enjoys an ideal sub-tropical climate. Seen and named by Captain Cook in 1770, the island with its close to 1500 hectares is a sanctuary to extensive native flora and fauna. Seventeen white sand beaches ring the island, inviting swimming and snorkelling. Dolphins can be seen close to the main beaches, while humpback whales visits to Keppel Bay have increased in the last couple of years.
Island bush walking affords chances to see brushtail possums, blue-tongued lizards and goannas, while bird-watchers will be looking for White-breasted Sea Eagles, Brahminy Kites, and Ospreys, Pied Oystercatchers, Beach Stone Curlews, as well as Rainbow Bee-eaters, Peaceful Doves, Varied Honeyeaters, friarbirds and kookaburras.
Silver Discoverer will be anchored in front of Great Keppel Island until late in the evening, permitting the use of the island’s crystal clear waters and the island itself for a full day.
Day 13 — Wistari Reef, Australia
Next to Heron Island, Wistari Reef is a special place: a natural coral reef some 60 kms off the coast of Queensland on the Great Barrier Reef. This is one of the best places to experience the underwater wonder of the world. The reef, with a myriad of colourful coral and reef fish, is at your fingertips. Although the breeding season is from October to March, neighbouring Heron Island has a resident population of around 4,000 turtles. Since they live around Wistari Reef and Heron Reef all year, one can expect to see turtles in the water anytime. Throughout most of the year Heron Island is a breeding and nesting sanctuary for a huge variety of birds. The biggest populations are the Black Noddies, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters and Eastern Reef Egrets. In certain months, up to 100,000 birds flock to the island. Other birds found breeding and living on the island are Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrikes, Buff-banded Rails, Capricorn Silvereyes, Sacred Kingfishers, Silver Gulls and White-bellied Sea Eagles. The University of Queensland has a world class marine research facility on the island, not only researching and monitoring but also teaching.
We will make the most of bird-watching, swimming, and snorkelling.
Day 14 — Hardy Reef, Australia
Today Silver Discoverer will visit Hardy Reef –part of the Great Barrier Reef, off the Whitsundays coast of Australia. Hardy Reef is one of the many thousand small reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef. Its coral wall is home to an ecosystem of magnificent corals and marine life. Hundreds of fish species at Hardy will surprise and delight. The reef has been chosen to place pontoons so that visitors have specific protected areas where they can swim and snorkel and marvel at the many underwater wonders, amongst them the giant gropers. There are many other reef options in the area and we will choose our swimming and snorkelling spots based on sea conditions.
Day 15 — Townsville, Australia
This morning Silver Discoverer will go alongside in Townsville.
Enjoy en encounter with locals, hear about the regions history and discover first hand unique insights into what makes Townsville in North Queensland such a special place to live. You will be transferred to Mrs. Smith’s Parlour, a historic venue is only opened for special occasions. Here you will be introduced to a group of passionate locals and you will be enjoying a morning tea created with local produce followed by a unique look at Townsville’s Central Business District area.
If you would like to visit Magnetic Island, a 30 minute ferry ride will get you to the home to Northern Australia's largest colony of koalas living in the wild. You could stay on land and discover the geology, history and wildlife during a bus tour. Two thirds of the island is a national park and the eucalypt forests and rugged landscape provide the ideal home for koalas and many other Australian animals. On the other hand, if you would like to help the Reef Recovery project, you could join scientists in removing Macro Algae from research quadrants. This second option has a limited capacity and you need to have snorkel experience.
If you would like to see the Cape Cleveland Lighthouse you will cross Cleveland Bay by local boat, taking in the views of Townsville along the way. On arrival to Cape Cleveland you will be taken ashore by barge. Then you can walk up to the lighthouse and enjoy historical displays with regional lighthouse guides. Cape Cleveland Lighthouse was the first lighthouse to be built in Townsville in 1879 and is one of the region’s most sought after destinations. Spend your time taking in the natural beauty that Cape Cleveland has to offer. The isolation and beauty of this part of North Queensland is striking.
For those bent on independent exploration and keen on the Bounty history, the Museum of Tropical Queensland has an exhibition about HMS Pandora, Captain Edward Edwards’ ship sent to find the Bounty mutineers and eventually wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef.
During the afternoon the onboard Videographer will present the final version of our Voyage-DVD.
Day 16 — Cairns, Australia
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
360 DEGREES OF GIVING
They say it’s better to give than to receive, luckily we have the opportunity to do both. The friendly villagers we visit throughout our expedition welcome us with such warm hearts, and we receive so much from them, that we want to make sure we’re giving right back.
In the spirit of goodwill, we greatly encourage you to help us support the local communities we will be visiting. Gifts may consist of second-hand children’s clothing, school supplies (pencils, pens, and writing tablets), and medical supplies (Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, and first aid items). Supplies received will be collected on board by the Expedition Team and evenly distributed throughout the villages as we visit.
Not sure what to wear while onboard? Visit our shop and gear up. We've got layers to keep you dry and warm, breezy wear to keep you covered and cool, and accessories to keep everything packed up and ready to go. So, no matter the weather, you'll be better prepared for your expedition.
Our Gear Shop has an expert outfitting staff and features all the essentials:
Make sure you get all your essentials today. We offer packages or individual items, for your convenience, and recommend you place orders at least 30 days before your embarkation date.