To the Islands of Melanesia for Christmas, From Cairns to Auckland

To the Islands of Melanesia for Christmas, From Cairns to Auckland

From AUD $17,590


Join us onboard expedition vessel Coral Adventurer for a 21-night expedition voyage through Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. This voyage uncovers the diverse wildlife, fascinating cultures, remote coral atolls, and beaches of the idyllic Melanesian region. Visit remote island villages, admire welcoming dances, and stroll through local markets. In Vanuatu, cruise into Ureparapara’s volcanic cone for one of the South Pacific’s special experiences – a performance of ‘water music’ by the local women. Continue on to the volcanic islands of Ambrym and learn about the region’s fascinating way of life.

Dive and snorkel to come face to face with vivid coral gardens and marine life, including the opportunity to swim with dugongs at Epi Island. Arrive at famous Tanna on New Year’s Eve and watch nature’s fireworks – the volcanic activity at Mt Yasur. The journey closes with a visit to Norfolk Island where you can discover penal colony ruins, Polynesian and HMAS Bounty history and the abundant natural beauty of the island.

Departing from Cairns, this unique expedition takes you to a different world – of volcanoes, tribal villages and maritime legends – in 21 days, each guaranteed to be different from the other.

Trip Name
To the Islands of Melanesia for Christmas, From Cairns to Auckland
Vessel Type: Expedition Ship Length: 93.4 meters Passenger Capacity: 120 (60 staterooms) Built: 2019 Designed and built to be the most modern tropical expedition ship afloat, Coral Adventurer debuted in April 2019. She features comfortable Australian interiors, Xplorer tender mechanism, intimate guest experience, and personalized service. EXPEDITION CAPABILITIES > Two trademark Xplorer tenders seat all passengers for shore excursions > Six zodiacs for more intrepid exploration > Lecture lounge with multimedia for daily expedition briefings and presentations > Small on-board Library > Shallow draft and advanced navigation and propulsion systems MARINE IMMERSION > Navigator lounge in the bridge giving a vantage point of ship operations > Over 1000 sq m of open deck space including a wrap-around promenade deck with panoramic views > Engine room tours and high level of crew interaction with guests > Barralong Room for hosting scientific research or exhibitions FOOD AND WINE FEATURES > Communal ‘wine table’ > Galley viewing window > Multiple indoor and outdoor bars, including our Explorer bar on the Vista Deck > Curated wine cellar featuring boutique wines and exceptional vintage Australian reds. GUEST COMFORT > All outside-facing guest cabins with en-suite bathrooms; majority have private balcony > Active stabilisers > Gym > Passenger elevator > Wi-Fi available in all guest areas


After a pre-cruise SailSAFE check-in, make your way to Cairns Cruise Liner Terminal to board Coral Adventurer at 8:00am. Depart at 9:00am and cruise across the Coral Sea towards Papua New Guinea while you settle into your stateroom and relax. Take the time to become acquainted with all the facilities onboard before meeting your fellow travellers, the Captain and crew for the Captain’s Welcome Drinks.
Day 2 - AT SEA
A couple enjoying time at sea from the Xplorer DeckSpend the day at leisure as we cross the Coral Sea and join our Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers in the lounge for presentations and briefings on Papua New Guinea ahead of our clearance at Samarai.
Today we enter Papua New Guinea at the small island of Samarai, located at the southern tip of Milne Bay. This morning we will spend the afternoon at Ebuma Island, where we visit a traditional village and be welcomed with song and dance at the local school, or snorkel over the myriad of coral reefs kept incredibly healthy by active and irregular water currents. This afternoon, you have the opportunity to join an exciting, guided walk to explore the skull caves that date back to the island’s headhunting past.
Join our Expedition Crew on a walk to Dei Dei Hot Springs on Fergusson Island, where the people share the mythical and spiritual tales of these hot water and mud springs located at the base of an extinct volcano. Locals still use the hot springs to cook food in palm frond baskets. In the afternoon, we visit Dobu Island to learn the history of the Kula Ring trade and meet the local primary school children, who will welcome us with a traditional dance performance. Later, enjoy a snorkel over the bubbling Springs Reef.
Laughlan Islanders specialise in canoe building and in this very remote corner of eastern Papua New Guinea we find seagoing canoes under construction. The friendly villagers of Bodaluna welcome us and share their lifestyle of subsistence gardening, fishing, and participation in the Kula Ring of trading. Enjoy an afternoon snorkel or an adventurous dive on the outer reef, where we may see turtles, wrasse, and spinner dolphins in the warm, clear waters.
This morning we enter the Solomon Islands at the town of Gizo. Wander through the open-air markets which showcase a bounty of tropical fruits and fresh fish, as well as crafts by the legendary wood and stone carvers of the region. You may choose to scuba dive over Japanese shipwrecks as an optional extra instead of exploring the town of Gizo. In the afternoon, we cruise past Kennedy Island before enjoying water activities at Njari Reef. Njari Reef is a merge point for oceanic currents and is said to have one of the highest fish counts in the world.
Today, we visit the marine reserve of the Arnavon Islands, home to the largest rookery of endangered Hawksbill Turtles in the South Pacific Region and supporting some of the healthiest and most diverse coral reefs in the world. In 1995 the US-based Nature Conservancy helped three local communities come together to create the Arnavon Community Marine Conservation area – it was the first protected area to be established within the Solomons and covers over 40,000 acres of land and sea. Go ashore at Kerehikapa Island to learn about the conservation efforts and have the chance to see turtle hatchlings emerging from their nests.Later, cruise up picturesque Dart Sound to the remote village of Kia and be welcomed with traditional dance and singing. Many of the rangers that work in the Arnavons are from this area.
Marovo Lagoon has been described as one of the world’s natural wonders. One of the world’s largest double barrier enclosed lagoons, this isolated spot in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands has been proposed for World Heritage listing. Marovo is world-famous for its intensive coral reef ecosystems, the waters teem with tropical fish and boast exceptional dive and snorkelling sites. Spend time discovering this underwater marvel, before sitting with the locals to learn about village life. Expert Marovo carvers are justifiably famous for the intricate pieces they create from king ebony with inlays of rosewood and mother-of-pearl, and you may have the opportunity to purchase some of their creations.
Located at the Eastern tip of Guadalcanal Island, this area of verdant tropical islands is a geographical crossroad, separating Guadalcanal’s calm northern waters from its Tasi Mauri or ‘weather coast’. Most of the Marau people depend on their natural environment, practising subsistent farming and fishing. Five marine protected reserves have been established here to protect the special environment. Here we will visit the local village with an opportunity to purchase handmade local craft, hear the panpipes played and watch the women perform water music, before spending the afternoon snorkelling, diving, and kayaking the turquoise waters teeming with colourful fish and coral.
Go ashore at friendly Star Harbour this morning. Enjoy a colourful warrior welcome before exploring the village and meeting the children at the local school. Our expert guides will share the harbour’s WWII history. Following our warm community experience this morning, spend time this afternoon snorkelling and birdwatching at nearby Frigate Island.
Day 11 - NDENDO
Our last stop in the Solomon Islands, Ndendo Island is the largest of the Santa Cruz group, and the location of an unsuccessful colonisation attempt by the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana. This is an excellent location to view and purchase quality artefacts created by the skilled craftsmen of the region. Enjoy a cultural performance at Luowa Village, and an opportunity to snorkel over the fringing reef.
One of the most spectacular islands in the South Pacific, Ureparapara is an extinct volcano rising 764m above sea level. The only way to experience this island is by sea and visits from cruise ships are rare. Cruising into the cone of the volcano, surrounded on three sides by towering ridges, is an unforgettable experience. Be welcomed by cultural performances, including ‘water music’ a percussive, hypnotic music created by slapping and moving the water, accompanied by the women’s vocal harmonies. Meet the friendly locals and explore the village.
Day 13 - AMBRYM
Near the center of the Vanuatuan archipelago lies the triangular island of Ambrym. The fifth-largest island in the country, Ambrym is also dominated by the 12km wide caldera of the active Ambrym volcano.Despite the volcanic activity, Ambrym is home to around 7,000 inhabitants, most of which live in the ‘safe zone’ corners of the island. The rest of the island is covered by jungle. Today, we’ll disembark while marvelling at the astonishing geography of the island. Be welcomed ashore at Craig Cove with the unique costumed dancing of Ambrym and enjoy tours through the village by the local people. Learn about their way of life with demonstrations of local crafts and hear the stories of living in the shadow of a volcano.
An adventurer’s paradise, Epi Island has a volcanic history, and its rugged terrain, lush rainforest, and black sand beaches create a mood of mystery and magic. Dugongs frequent the shallow lagoon, and there are vibrant coral gardens in the shallow water which are a delight to explore. Go ashore at Lamen Bay, one of the finest beaches on the island, to marvel at the contrast of white and black sand. Enjoy water activities, and you may have the opportunity to spot or swim alongside a sedate dugong.
Day 15 - NGUNA
Nguna Island has white sand beaches, and the surrounding waters are marked as the Nguna-Pele Marine Protected area – home to numerous reefs, sea grass beds, mangrove forests and intertidal lagoons. The island’s coral gardens provide a stunning environment for snorkelling and diving. The Island also contains two extinct volcano craters, Mount Tapuora and Mount Marow. Excursion options include volcano treks, snorkelling & diving, and village explorations.
This morning we approach Tanna Island, keeping our eyes open for signs of volcanic activity – including hot springs bubbling beneath the surface of the ocean. Today, you will participate in a real once-in-a-lifetime experience! We are met by the villagers, who drive us local style in the back of their trucks up through the forest of the lower reaches of Mt Yasur’s volcano. Continue on foot to the rim of the caldera, and peer into the heart of the volcano and its lava pools. Return to the village to spend time with the locals and learn about their interesting customs.Tonight, enjoy New Year’s Eve celebrations onboard.
Day 17 - AT SEA
Spend the day at leisure and join our Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers in the lounge for presentations and briefings before entering Norfolk Island.
After time at sea, Norfolk Island will appear rising out of the Pacific Ocean. Cruise into Slaughter Bay and admire the stunning landscape that is unveiled. Going ashore, there will be opportunities for swimming from the beach, visiting the town and walking through the Kingston UNESCO World Heritage site to learn the fascinating history of the island. There may be the opportunity for longer hikes to see some of the island’s natural landmarks.
Day 19 - AT SEA
Spend two days at leisure and join our Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers in the lounge for presentations and briefings before arriving into Auckland.
Sail into the Hauraki Gulf as dawn breaks and arrive at Auckland’s Queens Wharf to disembark at 8:00am.
Day 21 - Please Note:
This itinerary is an indication of the destinations we visit and activities on offer. Throughout the expedition we may make changes to the itinerary as necessary to maximise your expeditionary experience. Allowances may be made for seasonal variations, weather, tidal conditions, and any other event that may affect the operation of the vessel. Coral Expeditions suggests that you do not arrive on the day of embarkation or depart on the day of disembarkation due to any changes that may occur in scheduling.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $17,590CORAL DECK STATEROOM
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $21,120PROMENADE DECK STATEROOM
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $26,385CORAL DECK STATEROOM SOLE
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $28,190EXPLORER DECK BALCONY STATEROOM
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $30,790BRIDGE DECK BALCONY STATEROOM
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $31,680PROMENADE DECK STATEROOM SOLE
16-12-202206-01-2023AUD $39,590BRIDGE DECK BALCONY SUITE


    • Visit the natural wonder of Dei Dei Hot Springs with its bubbling geysers and mud pools at Fergusson Island
    • Explore the natural wonder of the Marovo Lagoon, and see the famous ebony carvings produced here
    • See the water music and listen to the panpipes at Marau Sound
    • Spot numerous species of birds and marine life at the important conservation areas of Arnavon Island
    • Learn about local ‘kastom’ and kula ring trading during village visits
    • Learn about the boat building tradition at the Laughlan Islands
    • Snorkel and dive almost every day over vivid coral gardens and relax on white-sand beaches
    • Enjoy enriching local culture at the remote island villages of Star Harbour and Ndendo, and visit local markets
    • Sail into Ureparapara’s spectacular volcanic cone, and be warmly welcomed with dances and a performance of the extraordinary ‘water music’
    • Spend New Year’s Eve at Tanna Island, and journey up the slopes of Mt Yasur on Tanna Island, guided by the locals to gaze into the heart of the active volcano
    • Spend an extraordinary day at Norfolk Island to discover the beauty and remarkable stories of this island outpost