SILVER EXPLORER : SOUTH PACIFIC LUXURY CRUISE FROM LAUTOKA TO CAIRNS - 24 APR - 11MAY 2020

Explore beautiful Melanesia, where the history and culture are as exotic as the landscape. Sailing north of the Tropic of Capricorn, revel in Silversea luxury while marvelling at the dare devil land divers of Vanuatu and the markets of Papua New Guinea. Dive under the surface of the limpid waters to explore a variegated marine universe, all the while being kept informed by our team of Expedition Leaders.

FRIDAY 24 APR     LAUTOKA

Departure 6:00 PM

North of Nadi through sugarcane plantations and past the Sabeto Mountains is Lautoka, nicknamed the Sugar City for the local agriculture and its big processing mill. With a population of around 50,000, it's the only city besides Suva and, like the capital, has a pleasant waterfront. It's the sailing point for Blue Lagoon and Beachcomber Cruises but is otherwise unremarkable for tourists, itself having few hotels and fewer good restaurants. Locals recommend the city as a less-expensive place to shop for clothing, but note that it can take as long as 45 minutes to drive here. Legend has it that Lautoka acquired its name when two chiefs engaged in combat and one hit the other with a spear. He proclaimed "lau toka" (spear hit) and thus the future town was named.

SATURDAY 25 APR   YASAWA / FIJI

7:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Nabukeru is the largest village located within the grouping of the 20 volcanic islands that make up the Yasawa Islands in Fiji. Until 1987 these islands were closed to land-based tourism and could only be viewed from aboard a vessel. With their clear, aquamarine waters and ecologically diverse tropical, mountainous landscapes, these islands were the location for the filming of the romantic adventure film The Blue Lagoon (both the 1949 and 1980 versions). The islands are famous for the limestone Sawa-i-lau caves, which must be accessed by swimming at low tide through an underwater tunnel. Nabukeru villagers assert that the cave is the heart of the Yasawas.

SUNDAY 26 APR   DAY AT SEA

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

MONDAY 27 APR   PENTECOST ISLAND  / VANUATU

8:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Pentecost Island is a lush mountainous, tropical island stretching over 37 miles from north to south. It was named after the day on which the first European, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, sighted it on 22 May 1768. There are no towns on Pentecost - most of the islanders live in small villages and grow their own food in small gardens. Local traditions are strong, including the age-old ritual of land diving. This unique ritual was first given international exposure by David Attenborough in the 1950’s. Later, in the 1980’s, New Zealander AJ Hackett used the idea to invent bungee jumping. Every harvest season, the people of Pentecost construct the tower using saplings and branches held together with forest vines. It can take more five weeks to complete. Each young man who jumps must carefully select his own liana vine. Men and boys as young as seven jump from 60 -90 feet with only those vines attached to their ankles. This ceremony is believed to ensure a good yam harvest. It is also a fertility rite for men.

MONDAY 27 APR    AMBRYM ISLAND  / VANUATU

2:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Unlike Espiritu Santo with its raised coral reefs and white sand, Ambrym is a volcanically active island with dark sand beaches. Ambrym is known as the island of magic and is the source of five local languages that all evolved on Ambrym. This handful of languages contributes to the well over 100 languages of Vanuatu. Some of Ambrym’s magic takes place in the lush greenery of the local community of Ranon. Here the people perform a very special and traditional ‘Rom’ dance. Participants prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy and the dance is reserved for special occasions.

TUESDAY 28 APR   CHAMPAGNE BEACH  / VANUATU

5:30 AM - 12:30 PM

Champagne Beach is found in Hog Harbor on Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu. The island got its European name in the early 17th century when Pedro de Quiroz believed he had reached the famous unknown southern land or the “Tierra Australis Incognita.” He called Vanuatu’s largest island, “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.” Huge fish poison trees and Alexandrian laurel give cooling shade to the picture-perfect beach and crystal-clear water. The name “Champagne Beach” comes from effervescent bubbles of volcanic origin that are occasionally found in the waters of this stunning spot.

WEDNESDAY 29 APR   VANIKORO / SOLOMON ISLANDS

8:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Vanikoro is part of the Solomon Islands’ Temotu Province. Although Vanikoro is usually considered as one entity, there are two major inhabited and several smaller uninhabited islands almost entirely surrounded by a reef. Vanikoro’s population has two distinct origins: the majority is Melanesian and lives mainly on Teanu and Banie’s northern shore, the Polynesian inhabitants live along Banie’s south coast. One of the most famous French expeditions in the Pacific saw its two ships wrecked on the southwestern reef of Vanikoro in 1788 and a cenotaph has been erected in Manevai Bay to honour La Perouse and his team of officers, sailors and scientists.

THURSDAY 30 APR   SANTA ANA  / SOLOMONS  ISLANDS

1:30 PM - 6:00 PM

Port Mary is the name of the bay adjacent to Ghupuna, the main village in Santa Ana. A bright white sand beach with huge shade-giving trees runs along the shoreline in front of the tidy village. The houses here are made with local materials and most are built on stilts. Islanders generally welcome visitors with traditional songs and dances performed by members of the three different villages on Santa Ana. Some local people will also set up stands offering souvenirs for purchase. The Solomons are best known for strings of traditional shell money and elegant carvings based on local stories and legends.

FRIDAY 01 MAY   DAY AT SEA

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

SATURDAY 02 MAY   NJARI ISLAND / SOLOMON ISLANDS

7:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Njari is a small island almost entirely covered in trees with just a small sand spit at its eastern end. A labyrinth of reefs and coral heads make an approach only feasible from the north. The small beach invites one to relax, but swimming from the beach is almost impossible as the corals are too close. To enjoy the underwater world one has to enter the water from a small boat, a little distance from the shore, where an amazing array of fish and coral will be visible. Two hundred and seventy nine different fish species have been seen during a single dive; the fourth-highest fish count ever recorded. An indication of why this island is considered a top spot for snorkeling in the Solomon Islands.

SUNDAY 03 MAY   RABAUL / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Arrive 6:00 PM -

Rabaul, the former provincial capital, has quite a remarkable location. The town is inside the flooded caldera of a giant volcano and several sub-vents are still quite active today! The fumes of the volcano Tavurvur can be seen continually and the town suffered greatly during the last major eruption of 1994 when some 80% of the houses collapsed due to the ash raining down onto their roofs. Rabaul has a Volcano Observatory sitting atop the town’s center, monitoring the 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. A small museum opposite the bunker used by Yamamoto during World War II shows exhibits relating to Rabaul’s local, German, Australian and Japanese past from the 19th century to Papua New Guinea’s independence in the 1970s.

MONDAY 04 MAY    RABAUL  / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Departure 5:00 PM

Rabaul, the former provincial capital, has quite a remarkable location. The town is inside the flooded caldera of a giant volcano and several sub-vents are still quite active today! The fumes of the volcano Tavurvur can be seen continually and the town suffered greatly during the last major eruption of 1994 when some 80% of the houses collapsed due to the ash raining down onto their roofs. Rabaul has a Volcano Observatory sitting atop the town’s center, monitoring the 14 active and 23 dormant volcanoes in Papua New Guinea. A small museum opposite the bunker used by Yamamoto during World War II shows exhibits relating to Rabaul’s local, German, Australian and Japanese past from the 19th century to Papua New Guinea’s independence in the 1970s.

TUESDAY 05 MAY    JACQUINOT BAY / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Jacquinot Bay is a large open bay on the eastern coast of the island of New Britain. It is a tranquil place with white sandy beaches and tropical palm trees all around. There is also a well-known beautiful waterfall that flows out of the mountainside with freezing cold water right onto the beach. But during WWII, however, it was not a quiet place. It was, in fact, an important base for the Australian Army who liberated it in November 1944. This base was used to support Australian operations near Rabaul which were conducted in early 1945 in conjunction with advances on the northern side of New BritaIN

WEDNESDAY 06 MAY    TAMI ISLAND / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

11:30 AM - 4:00 PM

The Tami Islands are a small archipelago of just four islands located south of Finschhafen in the Huon Gulf. Collectively, they are part of Morobe Province. Tami Island is the main island and is one of just two islands in the enclave to be inhabited. The people here are known for their elaborately carved, oblong-shaped “Tami bowls”. The small community of islanders live simply. Tami has just a single primary school and a small medical aid post. Coconut and areca palm trees, Alexandrian laurel and frangipani make for a lush and colourful appearance of the island. South of Kalal Village is a small sandbar that permits snorkelling.

THURSDAY 07 MAY   TUFI / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Tufi is located on the south-eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson in the Oro Province of Papua New Guinea. It is situated on a tropical fjord, which is the work of ancient volcanic activities and was not shaped by ice as the descriptive name might lead you to believe. Surrounded by uncharted coral reefs, the underwater world has attracted many divers wanting to see for themselves how the area earned the description of having more fish than water. Although Tufi has been the administrative centre of the region, traditional ceremonies are still very important with natives wearing tapa cloth made from the bark of mulberry trees found in the local forest. Dance is predominant in the culture and performers sport fanciful headdresses decked with bird-of-paradise plumes and a rainbow of iridescent feathers. Tufi’s wide range of colourful birds and butterflies is well-known throughout Papua New Guinea, boasting several ‘largest’, ‘biggest’ and ‘smallest’ records.

FRIDAY 08 MAY    DEI DEI HOT SPRINGS  / FERGUSSON ISLANDS

5:30 AM - 11:30 AM

Fergusson is one of the three biggest and mountainous islands in the Milne Bay Province, and part of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. On Fergusson’s south side are the famous Dei Dei geysers — natural hot springs that periodically erupt with vapour steam next to mud pools and a warm stream. The hot springs are still used by locals to cook food in palm frond and pandanus leaf baskets placed into the boiling hot water. Birds in the area include Eclectus Parrots, Yellow-bellied Sunbirds and the endemic Curl-crested Manucode – a bird-of-paradise.

FRIDAY 08 MAY   DOBU ISLAND / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

1:00 PM - 8:00 PM

SATURDAY 09 MAY   SAMARAI / PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Samarai is a tiny island south of Papua New Guinea’s southeastern peninsula dwarfed by neighbouring islands. Once a famous trading port and the second-largest settlement in the Territory of Papua (the Australian-administered southern part of what today is Papua New Guinea), Samarai used to be Milne Bay Province’s capital until 1968 when administrators were moved to mainland and the town of Alotau. The relocation was necessary as the 29-hectare (72-acre) island was simply overcrowded. With only about 450 residents remaining today, it still is one of the most densely settled islands in Papua New Guinea.

7:00 AM - 1:00 PM

SUNDAY 10 MAY    DAY AT SEA

Days at sea are the perfect opportunity to relax, unwind and catch up with what you’ve been meaning to do. So whether that is whale watching from the Observatory Lounge, writing home to your loved ones or simply topping up your tan by the pool, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to busy days spent exploring shore side.

MONDAY 11 MAY    CAIRNS / AUSTRALIA

Arrive 6:30 AM

Tourism is the lifeblood of Cairns (pronounced Caans). The city makes a good base for exploring the wild top half of Queensland, and tens of thousands of international travelers use it as a jumping-off point for activities such as scuba diving and snorkeling trips to the Barrier Reef, as well as boating, fishing, parasailing, scenic flights, and rain-forest treks.It's a tough environment, with intense heat and fierce wildlife. Along with wallabies and grey kangaroos in the savannah and tree kangaroos in the rain forest, you'll find stealthy saltwater crocodiles, venomous snakes, and jellyfish so deadly they put the region’s stunning beaches off- limits to swimmers for nearly half the year. Yet despite this formidable setting, Cairns and tropical North Queensland are far from intimidating places. The people are warm and friendly, the sights spectacular, and—at the right time of year—the beachside lounging is world-class.