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Raja Ampat and Spice Islands Darwin to Biak Coral Expeditions

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Spice Islands & West Papua

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

Combining scenery of outstanding natural beauty, diverse wildlife and lively histories, our Raja Ampat and Spice Islands expedition is a unique journey of discovery and adventure like no other. Embark Coral Adventurer in Darwin, Australia, at the commencement of our 12-night voyage to Biak and become one of the few to  experience these rarely-visited islands.

The center-piece of our expedition is a 3 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 visit the natural pool at Yapap. Its turquoise seawater is so clear that the sand and coral reefs on its shallow ocean floor are clearly visible from the surface. Swimming and diving here is incredible.

Over the centuries, many explorers sought 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 on the horizon from the island’s active Gunung Api volcano. The most treasured and valued commodities of their time, the world’s supply of nutmeg and mace was grown in the Spice Islands during 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 and may be able to swim with them.

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.

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Fares

21 December 2019 departure

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.

Optional Charter flight: $850 per person.  Limited seats available, call our reservations team to confirm your booking.

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Itinerary

Embark: Board at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf on 21st December 2019 at 11:30am for 1:00pm departure.
Disembark: Arrive at Biak at 6am, and disembark at 08:30am.
Charter Flight to Darwin (additional cost)

Day 1: Depart Darwin

This morning at 11:30am board Coral Adventurer at Darwin’s Fort Hill Wharf, where there is time to settle in before our 1:00pm departure. In the evening, join your fellow travellers, the Captain and his 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: Crossing the Timor Sea

Spend the day at leisure as we cross the Timor Sea towards Banda Neira. Join our Expedition Staff in the ship’s lounge for an interesting introduction to our journey, and the many experiences we will share over the coming eleven days.

Day 3: Banda Neira - Spice Islands

In the middle of the Banda Sea lies an enchanted fragment of history, the centre of the spice trade. The Banda archipelago are covered with lush tropical flora including the Myristica Tree, making them an integral part of the well known Spice Islands. These tiny islands were originally the world’s sole source of nutmeg and mace, and 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 Neira, 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 4: Hatta Island - Spice Islands

This morning enjoy the opportunity to immerse yourself with local guides in the colours and aromas of the Spice Islands. Travel through the streets of Banda Neira, past the remnants of mansions constructed during Dutch colonialism on a town tour. See the museum, the former VOC Governor’s Mansion visit the old church, enjoy water activities and finish with traditional dancing and tastings of local treats on the waterfront. There is the option to go snorkelling and diving in clear turquoise water over the nearby unique submerged lava flow.

After lunch we farewell Banda Neira and head for a neighbouring island within the Banda Archipelago – Hatta Island. Famous for exceptional snorkelling and diving at the edge of the reef just 5m off the shoreline. Admire vibrant corals and sea creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours home to turtles, dolphins, sea horses, great coral gardens and plenty of fish. Later there is the opportunity for a guided walk through the village, to visit school children, and then to explore a local plantation of Pepper Trees and Nutmeg Trees.

Day 5: Mamala Island & Saparua Island - Spice Islands

Merry Christmas! We start the day arriving early at Mamala Island (Also referred to as Molana Island). This uninhabited private island is home to 85 species of trees, Pacific Monitor Lizards (Varanus Indicus), Moluccan Scrubfowl (Megapodius Reinwardtii) and Coconut Crabs. Molana Island has been known since the Portuguese colonial era. The island still contains the ruins of a hospital built by the Dutch, whose construction was interrupted by the Japanese occupation in World War II. Residing on a large reef cluster that emerges to the surface makes for rich marine life surrounding the island. Snorkelers can take advantage of the shallow corals and clear water with easy viewing of unique corals and plentiful fishes. Experienced lucky divers keep your eyes out for the underwater cave that connected to a well in the centre of the island.

After Christmas brunch we head East to Saparua Island where we are welcomed by merrily singing school children. The area holds an important spot in history books which we learn at Fort Duurstede, a 17th-century Dutch fort with a complicated backstory that spans centuries. Here men and boys give us their war dance with shields, swords and cultural adornment. As part of our Christmas celebrations here, we might even be joined by the King of Saparua. This is a location of cultural immersion and learning.

Day 6: Sawai - Spice Islands

Sawai is a little slice of paradise located on the Central Northern side of Seram Island, Maluku. Sawai village is one of the oldest villages in Maluku, with houses that extend out over the water. We will spend the day exploring the beautiful clear waters and reefs along with grand cliffs and Manusela valleys of Manusela National Park. Not far from the location of the reef, there is a big gap and height that can be entered and a beautiful spot for bird spotting.

We then farewell the Spice Islands as we make our way to Raja Ampat.

Day 7: Folley & The Stone Gardens of Misool - Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat’s literal meaning ‘The Four Kings’ is because this archipelago comprising over 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals are surrounding four main islands: Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool. Today we visit Folley on the top East side of Misool.  Here will take in the picturesque beauty that is Balbulol, where five high cone-shaped cliffs rise from the turquoise waters in a line like emerald Christmas Trees. We enjoy swimming and kayaking water activities here.

There are more than 1000 ancient rock paintings have been discovered in Misool in over 60 sites. Red-coloured rock paintings on several cliffs a show form women’s hand with long tapering fingers. There are also paintings of marine fauna such as sharks, tuna, dolphins, several sticks, canoes, overlapping abstract images, line and symbol of fertility.

After lunch we visit Yapap, the best natural pool in the world. This huge primordial pool is adorned with impressive karst formations which look more like chess pieces than rocks. Its turquoise seawater is so clear that the sand and coral reefs on its shallow ocean floor are clearly visible from the surface. Swimming and diving here is incredible. We also visit Dafalen Love Lake.  It is an excellent place for lovers, friends and family to swim together in this symbolic lake of love. You can optionally climb up into the summit of the rock to see the heart-shaped lake from above.

Day 8: Kofiau Island - Raja Ampat

We make our way to Kofiau Island, another island of the Raja Ampat region. Be welcomed by local village dancers on a “flatform boat” as they lead us ashore to Kampung Deer. Local guides lead us through as we explore the village. A local long-boat transfer takes us to the next village Kampung Awat where we enjoy an Opening Sasi ceremony and beach BBQ. We spend the afternoon snorkelling, bird watching and exploring other villages.

Day 9: Wayag Island - Raja Ampat

Discover the lagoon’s white sand beaches and maze of limestone karst ‘gumdrop’ islands as we explore in zodiacs and aboard Xplorer. After lunch, those keen on an energetic climb up famous Pindito Peak will be rewarded by breathtaking views over the island and its spectacular lagoon. Alternatively choose to relax with a swim, snorkel, guided glass bottom boat tour or kayak paddle.

Day 10: At Sea

A relaxing day at sea, we join the Expedition Leader and Guest Lecturers in the lounge for an informative introduction to Cenderawasih Bay.

Day 11: Cenderawasih Bay & Kwatisore Village

Awake as we enter Cenderawasih Marine Park in search of 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 swim with these majestic animals and we may have the chance for an early morning snorkel amongst them.

Then head ashore with our expedition team and local guides to see the local village and learn about the interesting customs and traditional lifestyle of the West Papuan people. You will notice the difference in dancing, adornment, instruments and people of West Papua in comparison to the culture witnessed on the Islands prior. Enjoy a last swim off the nearby beach before you join your fellow travellers for the Captain’s Farewell Drinks and reminisce over what has been an unforgettable adventure exploring the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat.

Day 12: Roon Island

Just below the surface resides a Japanese plane wreck with big black corals, gorgonians, big lionfish, glassfish, shrimps and many more. Snorkellers on the surface can still clearly see the wreck when the weather cooperates and the water is still.

Afterwards, we hope to explore Yende village where the locals play bamboo flutes and locally-made drums, and perform traditional dancing. The young men and women decorate with white body and face paint, wearing grass skirts, shells and beads, with the odd cassowary feather or coconut head-dress.

Day 13: Arrive in Biak

This morning join our charter flight from Biak to Darwin (additional costs apply).

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. The itinerary includes the possibility of interaction with wild animals and this interaction is subject to the presence of this wildlife on the day.

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.

December 2019

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
21 December 2019 21 Dec 2019 02 January 2020 02 Jan 2020 $11,290 to $13,740 $11,290 to $13,740 Coral Adventurer Available Book

January 2020

Departure Departure Arrival Arrival Cost Per Person Cost PP Ship Availability  
21 December 2019 21 Dec 2019 02 January 2020 02 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 holiday 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.

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.

Please note: SureSave Travel Insurance policies may only be purchased by Australian residents. For international travellers, please discuss your policy requirements with your local insurance provider.