The Federated States of Micronesia are home to a little over 600 islands and islets, while the Solomon Islands consist of close to 1000 islands (one hundred of them inhabited). Colourfully mesmerizing coral reefs, crystal-clear lagoons filled with tropical fish, and shipwrecks of a past world; the Western Pacific Islands are truly a diver’s paradise. The underwater wonders are only the beginning; this expedition is also a great history lesson at sea. From World War II sites in Palau to Japanese vessels in Papua New Guinea, and from Micronesian stone money to the Melanesian Kula ring artefacts we will see a great variety of historical sites, cultures, customs and objects.
Please note: Voyage prices are indicative and can fluctuate - please check for details.
• Get a mesmerising underwater view of indigenous tropical fish, feather stars, nudibranches, vase sponges,
• Gorgonian fans, octopus, morays and pygmy manta rays
• Learn about the indigenous cultures of Yap, the Murik Lakes and the D’Entrecasteaux Islands
• Dive into Hansa Bay, where 34 sunken ships can be explored
• Marvel at Njari Island’s underwater variety
• Birders will be on the lookout for Ospreys, Brahminy Kites and kingfishers
• Hike to hot springs and geysers on Fergusson Island
• Explore the Kwapurina ‘Fjord’ by local canoe
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this stunning expedition. 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.
Ngulu Atoll is the westernmost island of the Federated States of Micronesian and we will be welcomed by the few inhabitants of the island who rarely receive visitors. Snorkel or dive into the natural lagoon filled with tropical fish like the iridescent blue green reef chromis. Noddies and terns will be seen on the beach, while frigatebirds patrol the air, looking for unsuspecting boobies and their catch.
Although Yap has been under the control of Spanish, Germans, Japanese and US Americans, the indigenous cultures and traditions are still strong compared to other states in Micronesia.
Yap is best known for its stone money, known as Rai. These large doughnut-shaped, carved disks vary between 3.5 centimetres (.4 in) and up to 4 m (12 ft.) in diameter. Their value is based on both the stone’s size and its history, due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed. The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes as their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) can make them very difficult to move around.
We will explore Yap Island and learn more about the culture and traditions going to different villages and seeing the well-kept remains of men’s houses, pathways across the island, and stone money ‘banks’. That Yap played a part during World War II can be seen through various wrecks and remains of Japanese and American planes.
For those wanting to see mangroves close-up, the option of kayaking along part of the shoreline will be of interest (tide-depending). You can see White Terns sitting on branches as you paddle by and might even sight fruit bats. Hikers will take the option of going into the lush forest or climbing a nearby hill.
The waters around the island are well-known for the manta rays that not only frequent Yap, but live in Yap’s waters year-round. Divers will want to take the opportunity to be around these impressive filter feeders.Yap created the world’s first government-backed manta ray sanctuary. This is believed to be the reason for a booming reef shark population as well.
While we cruise through the southern part of the North Pacific, use the days at sea to learn more about the lesser known countries of the South Sea. Take advantage of the luxurious amenities aboard Silver Discoverer and help our birders spot some of the seabirds found far away from their nesting grounds. Enjoy lectures preparing you for Melanesia in general and specifically Papua New Guinea.
Be aware that King Neptune might want to pay a visit, as we will cross the Equator on our approach to Papua New Guinea.
Vanimo will be our port of entry into Papua New Guinea. Since visitors are quite rare in this part of the country we will be the main attraction in town. After being greeted ashore we will drive to a local venue for some traditional dances and to see some of the handicraft produced in Sandaun Province. Afterwards we will drive to a local beach for some refreshing swim, or a walk along the beach to the next little village. To reach the village a stream might have to be crossed -which at high tide involves balancing across a single-trunk ‘bridge’.
We will return around noon and Silver Discoverer will continue along the north coast of Papua New Guinea after lunch. Our lecturers will use the afternoon to give you more insight into this country of more than 800 languages.
During the morning Silver Discoverer will be in front of the Murik Lakes -a mangrove swamp area of the Sepik Province. The ship has to stay quite a distance offshore as the waters are very shallow. We will take our Zodiacs to reach Karau Village. Here we will be greeted with a “sing sing”, an event where several dance groups will act, sing and dance simultaneously. This is a true delight for photographers as the traditional dance costumes and body decorations are some of the most colourful of the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. Apart from the many carvings we will find here, the Murik people are weavers of the Sepik basket, popular in all parts of Papua New Guinea. The livelihood of the people here is centred on what they forage from the mangroves and we might see them harvest crabs and shells or at least see the produce offered at the impromptu market next to the dance ground. The village has two men’s houses, but access might be restricted.
Later in the day we will visit Kopar, a small village of not more than 200 people at the mouth of the Sepik River. Depending on the tide and currents Silver Discoverer might enter the Sepik River to anchor in front of this little village. Same as the Murik Lakes people, the people of the Sepik are known for their artefacts and Kopar presents another opportunity for souvenir hunters. For the keen birders, a Zodiac cruise along the shore of the Sepik or into the small canals (or ‘barets’ in pidgin) just upstream from Kopar village can be rewarded with sights of flood plain birds and parrots and the odd kite.
During our visit we will present school supplies to the local community. Your donations will be very welcome -see below under “360 DEGREES OF GIVING”.
Madang has one of the South Pacific’s most beautiful harbours, with a backdrop of steep mountains and lush tropical vegetation. The town of Madang was the centre of heavy fighting during World War II, and for our divers there are 34 sunken ships to explore at Hansa Bay.
The small town began its “modern life” as a result of the lucrative copra (dried coconut meat) trade. You will smell copra in the harbour, as it still is one of the major export articles.
During today’s tour, we will see the Coastwatcher’s Memorial Lighthouse, which was dedicated in 1959 to the Allied Forces and local civilians who served against the Japanese in WWII. We will also visit Bilbil Village, famous for its pottery, where our welcome by traditionally clad villagers performing local dances accompanied by drums is sure to delight. Keep an eye out for flying foxes that hang in the trees during the day, but fly off to feed in the evenings —there are many of them in town.
Apart from seeing Madang ashore we will also offer a Zodiac cruise along the shores of the different islands in Hansa Bay. Although most of the islands are settled the mangroves here are in excellent conditions. The water, mangroves, beaches and mountains in the background provide one of the best settings for an outstanding Zodiac cruise.
The Tami Islands are a small archipelago (just four islands) located south of Finschhafen in the Huon Gulf. Collectively, they are part of Morobe Province. The main island is eponymously named 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. The “sing-sing” here is loud and punctuated by the beating of ‘kundus’ (hand-held hollowed wooden drums with monitor lizard skin at one end).
Tufi, located on the south-eastern peninsula of Cape Nelson, in Oro Province, is situated on a tropical fjord (the work of ancient volcanic activities) and surrounded by uncharted coral reefs. During traditional ceremonies natives wear tapa cloth, which is made from the bark of mulberry trees found in the local forest. Of course, dance figures predominantly in the culture, with performers sporting headdresses decked with bird of paradise plumes and other colourful feathers.
Upon arrival, we will canoe along the smooth waters of the Kwapurina Fjord. With local villagers as our oarsmen, we will be guided under canopies of ancient mangrove forests, which are home to Tufi’s wide range of colourful birds and butterflies. Continuing on our journey, we return to the entrance of the fjord and the small settlement where the villagers will welcome us with traditional dance and song. There will also be an opportunity to observe the making of tapa cloth and to make souvenir purchases.
Fergusson is one of the three biggest and mountainous islands in the Milne Bay Province. The other two islands are Normanby and Goodenough. Together, they form the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, which are famous for the Dei Dei geysers—natural hot springs that periodically “erupt” with vapour steam. The proud villagers will welcome us and accompany us to the hot springs, where they will tell ancestral tales and legends about this natural display of power.
If conditions permit, we will also visit Dobu Island, which is one of the smaller islands of the D’Entrecasteaux archipelago. Although small in size, the island played and plays an important role in the Kula Ring. If we go ashore, we will hopefully get to see some of the objects used in the Kula trade. Neighbouring islands feared the Dobu Islanders because they were believed to be great sorcerers.
Birdwatchers are in for a treat whilst visiting the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. Look out for Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, parrots and Yellow-billed Kingfisher and—if we are very lucky—we may even spot a bird of paradise (or two!).
Although in the far east of Milne Bay Province, the nine Laughlan Islands –basically an atoll open to the west- still form part of the Kula ring.
Going ashore on Budelun (Bodaluna), the only inhabited island of this small group, we will stroll through the village of palm-thatched huts and houses. The Laughlan Islanders are known for their traditional canoes used in trading –both as vehicles to do the trade as well as trading objects themselves.
Apart from meeting the inhabitants of Budelun, and looking for White-breasted Fruit-Doves, Collared Kingfisher, Island Monarchs and Coconut Lorikeets, the beaches, sandbars and reefs invite to be explored.
Gizo is the hub around in which the Western Province revolves and we will clear into the Solomon Islands near Gizo, to be able to enjoy Njari Island and its fascinating underwater world.
Located just north of Gizo, Njari has one of the highest counts of fish and coral varieties in the Indo-Pacific –and we will snorkel and dive to make the most of this small hidden gem.
This evening our Captain will invite you to the Captain’s Farewell cocktail, while the Executive Chef and Restaurant Manager will expect you for the Captain’s Farewell dinner.
Close to Guadalcanal, the Russel Islands were used by the American forces (Marines) during World War 2 to prepare for battles much further east (Peleliu and Okinawa), but little remains of their time.
The islands, of which Pavuvu is the largest, were and are used to produce copra (the dried meat of coconuts) and extensive plantations can be seen.
In the water our snorkelers and divers will look for tropical fish in the reef.
Since there is a community of Tikopians living on Pavuvu we might see both Melanesian and Polynesian artistic expressions while we witness some folkloric activities.
Our on-board Photographer/Videographer will present his/her Voyage-DVD, permitting you to re-live the many moments of encounters with the local communities, the excursions taken and the animals and plants seen above and below the water.
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.
Overall size of 186 SQ.FT. / 17.3 M2. Enjoy a sitting area to watch brilliant scenery through a view window. With preferred midship location, Deck 4 Explorer Suites accommodate three guests. As on Deck 4, the Explorer Suites on Deck 3 offer an ample view window and relaxing sitting area, with enough room for three guests. An enchanting retreat suitable for three guests, Deck 2 suites exude cozy opulence, with porthole window views and a cushy sitting area. Features: View window or portholes, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Writing desk, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Flat screen television
Overall size of 181 SQ. FT. / 16.8 M2. Welcoming and comfortable, the View Suite provides a relaxing haven for even the utmost adventure-seeking guests. Complete a day spent exploring onshore with an evening unwinding in the comfort of your sitting area. Capture passing ocean scenes through your view window. Freshen up in your beautiful marbled bathroom before enjoying an elegant onboard dinner. Or cozy up under fine bed linens to watch an on-demand movie on the flat-screen television. Fall asleep easily, dreaming of the incredible experiences that await you the following day. Features: View window, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Writing desk, Hair dryer, Personal safe, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 269 SQ. FT. / 25 M2. A quiet sanctuary. The suite’s sitting area has plenty of room to relax while on your cruise. Large picture windows frame panoramic ocean views. The perfect backdrop for breakfast in bed. Some Vista Suites accommodate three guests. Features: Large view window(s), Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 280 SQ. FT. / 26 M2 (including a private balcony 35.5 SQ. FT. / 3.2 M2 ). Veranda Suites 601, 602, 603 and 604 can accommodate three guests. A Silversea signature, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a private balcony with patio furniture. Veranda Suites lavishly accommodate three guests. Features: Veranda or balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television
Overall size of 408 SQ. FT. / 38 M2 (including a private balcony 27 SQ. FT. / 2.5 M2). A mark of distinction. Sumptuous. Spacious. Rich textures and panoramic views surround you with distinguished luxury. The perfect summary of The Medallion Suite offered by the world’s best cruise line. Features: Large teak veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom with shower, Personal safe, Hair dryer,Writing desk, Flat screen television(s) with DVD and satellite reception
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 338 Feet/102.9 Metres
Passenger Capacity: 120 passengers
Her small size and shallow draft allow close-up access to rugged coasts well beyond the reach of ordinary vessels. And she has been newly refurbished to help guests maximize their experience and build a genuine connection with the regions they visit.
Spacious decks and panoramic public rooms mean the drama of the unexpected is never far from view. A fleet of Zodiacs allows exploration from the water or remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictate. Since many of our expeditions sail to some of the world's most pristine coral reef systems, there's a glass-bottom boat for underwater viewing along with a full complement of snorkelling equipment and a dive programme for advanced divers.
We've also taken great care to assemble a truly outstanding Expedition Team, composed of experts in the culture, history and wild life of the destinations, to present informal talks, guide Zodiac outings and lead small-group explorations ashore. While back on board, every creature comfort awaits: an ocean-view suite, in-suite bar and the head-to-toe pampering of a butler; elegant lounges and open bar where fellow travellers gather to swap tales about their day's adventures; and cuisine that meets Silversea's standards of culinary excellence — which are lofty, indeed. Imaginative menus in The Restaurant feature both regional offerings and dishes inspired by Relais & Châteaux. Additional amenities include a sun-catching pool deck, an internet cafe, a fitness centre, and a beauty and massage centre — particularly alluring after an adventurous day ashore.