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Spice Islands & West Papua

Spice Islands & Raja Ampat (Biak to Darwin), 12 Nights

Combining scenery of outstanding natural beauty, diverse wildlife and storied histories, our Raja Ampat and Spice Islands expedition is a unique journey of discovery and adventure like no other. Embark Coral Adventurer in Biak, West Papua, at the commencement of our 11-night voyage to Darwin and become one of the very first to have experienced these rarely-visited islands, where villagers have remained shielded from the outside world and communities are only now emerging into the 21st century.

The center-piece of our expedition is a five day exploration through the nature lover’s paradise that is Raja Ampat. Harbouring over 75% of the world’s total coral and fish species, Raja Ampat’s pristine and brightly coloured reef systems offer perhaps the very best snorkelling and diving in the world today. On Misool, one of the famed ‘Four Kings’ of Raja Ampat, you will have the opportunity to snorkel through Tomorol Cave and in Pulau Gam’s traditional Sawingrai village, you will join a local guide on a walk through the rainforest in search of the iconic Red Bird of Paradise.

Over many centuries, great European explorers charted the Spice Islands. Aboard Coral Adventurer, we’ll retrace their footsteps as we approach the island of Banda Neira, guided by the plume of smoke emerging over the horizon from the island’s active Gunung Api volcano. The most treasured and valued commodities of their time, the world’s entire supply of nutmeg and mace was grown in the Spice Islands between the 12th and 15th centuries, and even today a stroll through Banda’s local spice markets offers a melting pot of aromas, colourful spices and vibrant characters. In Cenderawasih Bay, a protected Marine Park home to one of the world’s largest schools of Whale Shark, we’ll seek out these amazing fish, some measuring up to 12 metres in length.

Cruising aboard Coral Adventurer, in the company of an experienced Expedition Team and all-Australian staff, you are sure to make the most of every minute discovering the very best that nature has to offer on this remarkable journey through Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands.

This voyage is included in the Coral Adventurer brochure

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Fares

January 2020

CORAL ADVENTURER TWIN SHARE PER PERSON SOLE USE*
Bridge Deck Balcony Suite $15,840 n/a
Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom $13,740 n/a
Explorer Deck $13,340 $20,010
Promenade Deck $12,240 $18,360
Coral Deck $11,290 $16,935

*Limited sole use occupancy available.

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THE ITINERARY

Embarkation: Board at Biak at 2:00pm for 3:00pm departure.
Disembarkation: Arrive and disembark at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf at 08:00am.

Day 1: Charter Flight to Biak, embark Coral Adventurer

We board our charter flight from Darwin to Biak to meet the Expedition Team for a short tour of Biak, prior to boarding Coral Adventurer. Relax as you meet your fellow travellers and join the Captain and crew at the Captain’s Welcome Drinks in anticipation of what promises to be a remarkable journey discovering Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands.

Day 2: Cenderawasih Bay

We enter the marine life haven that is Cenderawasih Marine Park and go in search of an encounter with the biggest fish in the sea – the beautiful Whale Shark. This region is one of the few places in the world where it is possible to snorkel with these majestic animals, and with some luck we may have a chance to swim among them.

Day 3: Cenderawasih Bay & Kwatisore

We will be welcomed ashore by the local Papuans at Kwatisore village. Learn about the local community and culture through traditional dances and games, then enjoy a guided walk through their gardens and vibrant market stalls.

Day 4: At Sea

Spend the day at leisure as we make our crossing towards the Wayag Islands. Join our Expedition Staff in the ship’s lounge for an interesting introduction to our journey, and the many wonderful experiences we will undertake over the coming days in Raja Ampat.

Note: Visits to Raja Ampat are subject to access approvals to protected marine parks. These access approvals may alter over time. If access to some areas is not possible, alternatives will be introduced to this itinerary.

Day 5: Raja Ampat – Wayag

This morning we make our way to the Wayag Islands.  Discover the lagoon’s white sand beaches and the maze of limestone ‘gumdrop’ islands. We will explore the lagoons and swim in the aqua blue water. For those keen on an energetic climb, after lunch we will trek up famous Pindito Peak; the reward is breathtaking views over the surrounding islands and spectacular lagoon. You may choose to relax with a swim, snorkel, enjoy a kayak paddle or cruise in the glass bottom boat.

Day 6: Raja Ampat – Weigeo and Gam Island

Crossing the equator, we enjoy the morning at beautiful Aljui Bay for an excellent snorkel or dive on one of the best reef sites in the area. Others may enjoy a zodiac cruise through this spectacular channel. We set sail for Yenwapnour Village where we will be welcomed by the local Papuan band, with cultural dances. A variety of traditionally cooked food is on offer for tasting. Meet the locals on a guided stroll through the village area.

Day 7: Raja Ampat – Gam Island, Hidden Bay & The Wallace Passage

Join us for an early morning adventure as we seek out the elusive Bird of Paradise at an exclusive local vantage point (40 min uphill hike, good fitness required). If conditions are favourable, an early morning snorkel will be on offer. Mid-morning we discover Hidden Bay. The narrow entrance to the bay is easy to overlook and visits from cruise ships are rare. Aboard Xplorer and our Zodiacs we will traverse through the famous Wallace passage, where the stunning surrounds will keep your cameras in action.

After lunch, enjoy snorkelling and diving on the nearby reef. The glass bottom boat will be available to view the reef with our naturalist, or head off on a relaxing kayak tour around the nearby limestone karst outcrops.

Day 8: Raja Ampat – Yensawah and Penemu

Awaken and enjoy the scenery as we cruise to a beautiful anchorage. Take a zodiac cruise through the mangrove system, leading to a jetty landing and an easy 300m walk through the tropical rainforest to a cascading waterfall known to the locals as “The Widows Water”. Local guides will be with us as we enjoy the rainforest. We will enter the village of Yensawai, where we will be warmly greeted by the locals. Enjoy a visit to the local school to see performances by the children, and visit the local market. This afternoon, we arrive at the Fam Islands. Enjoy the opportunity for a climb up the boardwalk for spectacular views of Penemu, or relax with a swim and a snorkel in the clear waters.

Day 9: Misool Island group – Wagmab - Mesemta

We enter the Misool archipelago and anchor at beautiful Wagmab, where excellent coral gardens and steep walls allow us to snorkel and dive to our hearts content. If conditions allow, our naturalist will have the glass bottom boat in action over the reef systems, before we depart for our afternoon destination.

Coral Adventurer will then cruise up a stunning passage and arrive into the Mesemta Bay. Enjoy snorkelling and viewing from the glass bottom boat, or paddle at your leisure through these amazing karst islands on kayaks. Finish the day with our famous BBQ on the top deck and take in the sunset looking over this spectacular backdrop.

Day 10: Bandaneira and the Spice Islands

In the middle of the Banda Sea lies an enchanted fragment of history, the centre of the Spice Island trade. Originally the world’s sole source of nutmeg and mace, these nine tiny islands have attracted traders since at least 2,000 years ago. In the 16th century, European explorers discovered entire continents in their quest for these islands. On our approach to Banda Island, witness the outline of Gunung Api volcano with its thin plume of smoke drifting from the summit. See Banda’s famous Kora Kora canoes in action as they glide across the water. Snorkel and dive over the nearby lava flow reef system, or you may like to head ashore and enjoy local tea and snacks on the waterfront.

Later in the afternoon, there is time to explore Fort Belgica, built by the first Governor General of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1611. The fort is extremely well preserved and provides an interesting insight into Dutch colonisation. Join the locals for a traditional dance and music performance before enjoying a glass of champagne as the sun sets over the fort.

Day 11: Banda Neira

This morning, enjoy the opportunity to immerse yourself in the colours and aromas of the Spice Islands with local guides and local school children. Travel through the streets of Bandaneira, past the remnants of mansions constructed during Dutch colonialism on a town tour. See the museum, the former VOC Governor’s Mansion and the old church. Explore a nutmeg plantation and learn of its importance in Banda’s historical past. Sample local treats and watch a cultural performance on the waterfront before leaving our new found friends.

Day 12: At Sea

A day onboard to relax and enjoy reminiscing over the highlights of Raja Ampat and the Spice Islands, as we set sail for our return journey to Australia.

Day 13: Arrive Darwin

Today we arrive into Darwin at Fort Hill Wharf at 8am.

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.

Note: Visits to Raja Ampat are subject to access approvals to protected marine parks. These access approvals may alter over time. If access to some areas is not possible, alternatives will be introduced to this itinerary.

January 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
02 January 2020 02 Jan 2020 14 January 2020 14 Jan 2020 $11,290 to $13,740 $11,290 to $13,740 Coral Adventurer Available Book

Your cruise price includes:

• Accommodation in selected room grade for the number of nights as listed in each itinerary
• All meals
• House beer and wine during lunch and dinner service
• 24 hour tea and barista-style coffee
• Captain’s welcome and farewell drinks
• Access to islands, marine and national parks
• Guided tours on Xplorer expedition vessel, zodiacs, glass-bottom boat and kayaks
• Touring as described in each itinerary
• Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings and knowledge-sharing sessions
• Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities

Your cruise price does not include:

• Pre and post flights, transfers and hotels
• Entry visas/travel permits
• Travel Insurance
• Items of a personal nature including but not limited to phone and internet communications and bar charges (outside of the included drinks package as highlighted), laundry charges and souvenir purchases

Tipping not required:

Other cruise lines automatically add gratuities to your account and service charges to your bar invoices. On Coral Discoverer, our crew has no other agenda than your delight.

Now that you’ve chosen your cruise, our reservations specialists are on hand to assist with all of your booking arrangements to ensure your holiday runs as smoothly as possible.

Contact our reservations specialists for advice about making the most of your time before and after your cruise.

To speak to our reservations specialists contact us during business hours on freecall 1800 079 545 (within Australia), or email cruise@coralexpeditions.com.

Don’t forget, we strongly recommend the purchase of Travel Insurance with any cruise purchase. See below for further details.

Recommended Darwin Hotels

Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade

Located in a prime position close to the waterfront, the Doubletree by Hilton Esplanade offers comfortable and well appointed rooms, a large outdoor pool and friendly, relaxed service. Just a short stroll from all of the attractions of the city, the restaurants of Mitchell Street and art galleries.

Hilton Darwin

Overlooking Darwin Harbour, Hilton Darwin offers fabulous Esplanade views and an ideal location in the heart of the city. Enjoy contemporary features, great location and a welcoming service every time you stay. The elegant rooms and suites are loaded with thoughtful amenities and many have stunning Harbour views. We also offers Mitchell’s Grill restaurant with innovative Australian cuisine, high-floor outdoor pool, gym, flexible meeting space and more.

Darwin Central Hotel

The Darwin Central Hotel is located on a prime position in the heart of Darwin’s Central Business District on the corner of Smith and Knuckey Streets, opposite the Smith Street Shopping Mall.

The hotel enjoys a very stylish theme with artwork and furnishings throughout the hotel, making every floor a walk through gallery. The hotel has been decorated with a diverse selection of lounges and artworks with each piece individually selected to create the boutique feel with contemporary class and style. The hotel is owned by a local Darwin Company and is proud to be a long standing Northern Territory Business.

Adina Apartment Hotel

Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront is located in the heart of the Darwin Waterfront precinct with close proximity to the CBD and overlooking the Darwin Waterfront Recreational Lagoon and manmade Wave Lagoon.

Adina is the perfect choice for discerning travellers with central locations across Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Offering a range of spacious accommodation for guests including: studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments.

Travel Insurance

Comprehensive Travel Insurance is strongly recommended for all travellers as protection against any unforeseen events that may necessitate the cancellation or interruption of your holiday and should be purchased at the same time as you purchase your cruise. It should also include emergency evacuation and repatriation cover.

We recommend Travel Insurance by SureSave.

SureSave, is an Australian company who specialise in travel insurance designed for travellers. SureSave provides world assistance through a customer support team, a claims team and an in-house 24/7 Emergency Assistance division. Underwritten by Lloyds of London, you get peace of mind knowing your security is guaranteed. When you need help, you’ll get it in a familiar accent from someone who understands and is there to help.