Experience Our Fiji & Australia Itineraries Aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin


Experience Our Fiji & Australia Itineraries Aboard the m/s Paul Gauguin

April 9, 2014

The m/s Paul Gauguin is charting a course to new destinations this year, venturing across wider seas. Our Fiji & Australia sailings highlight marine life, culture, natural wonders, and World War II history. These distinctive voyages aboard The Gauguin include remote islands with colorful and rich histories as colonial trading hubs and World War II sites, rarely explored Papua New Guinea, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and exotic Fiji.  

On the 11-night Fiji to Australia voyage, The Gauguin departs June 14, 2014, from Lautoka, Fiji. Port calls include  Port Vila, Vanuatu; Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu; Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands; Kieta, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea; Samarai Island, Papua New Guinea; Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; and Cairns, Australia.

The 12-night Australia to Fiji voyage departing August 18, 2014, from Cairns, Australia, visits these same ports, in reverse order, and adds a call on Malolo Island, Fiji.

Port Vila, the capital and administrative center of Vanuatu, is set on a magnificent natural harbor and features a charming potpourri of cultures, blending elements of Melanesian, English, French, and Chinese heritage.  Optional shore excursions include:

•    Cascade Falls: Get close to the natural wonders of Vanuatu on a guided hike to Cascade Falls, a 150-foot tumbling waterfall that boasts crystal-clear water and naturally eroded rock pools, set deep within a lush rainforest.  Take a dip in the sparkling water, and enjoy the music of an island band.

•    Circle Island Safari Tour: Discover Efate, the most populous of the 82 islands that make up Vanuatu, on a guided tour of its history, customs, and traditions, and attend the preparation of a fire-walking ritual. Then, stop at a natural swimming hole at Eden on the River for a refreshing dip, or wander through tropical gardens before passing by reminders of American forces’ involvement in Vanuatu during World War II.
•    Ekasup Cultural Village: See the traditions and customs of the Melanesian people on a guided tour of Ekasup Village in Erakor rainforest. The Chief in his native costume and warriors in full regalia welcome guests and showcase their lifestyles.  See villagers prepare native products, demonstrate hunting and trapping, cook a traditional dish, show the ancient art of sand drawing, and tell tales of the tribe’s history.
•    Port Vila By Helicopter: Embark on a guided helicopter tour of beautiful Vanuatu with views of the rainforest, coves, local villages, beaches, and resort areas.

•    Tranquility Eco Island & Turtle Sanctuary Experience: See the Tranquility Eco Lodge and Turtle Sanctuary, where baby hawksbill turtles are raised, tagged, and released into the wild, on a narrated tour of the facilities.

•    Vila Highlights Tour: Visit the New Parliament House, the French Quarter, the National Museum, Nicholai Michoutouchkine & Aloi Pilioko Foundation with its stunning array of original artwork, the magical Secret Garden, and the waterfront Mama’s market for handicrafts.
•    Rainforest Walk & Cascade Falls: Enjoy Mele Bay, Kamm’s Hill, Cascade Falls, and Vanuatu’s rainforest.
•    Ultimate Vila Discovery: Begin with a scenic ride through Port Vila, past the New Parliament House built by the Chinese Government. Then, peruse Vanuatu’s history galleries at the National Museum, considered one of the South Pacific’s finest museums. Afterward, continue on to the Secret Garden, where Mother Nature’s artistic prowess is on display.

The pristine beaches and crystal clear waters of Vanuatu are renowned throughout the world and so is the SCUBA diving. In fact, just off shore lies the largest intact shipwreck accessible to divers in the world. During World War II, the 30,000-ton ocean liner President Coolidge sank in Santo Harbour after striking a "friendly" mine and still lies there virtually untouched in 60-180 feet of water. From Espiritu Santo, optional shore excursions include:

•    Blue Lagoon Tour: See the sights of Espiritu Santo’s scenic countryside, swim in a pristine blue lagoon, and learn about the many uses of copra, a coconut product.

•    Canoe the Riri River: View the stunning natural formation of Vanuatu’s famous blue holes and lush tropical foliage on a unique journey by traditional wooden dugout canoe on the Riri River.
•    Santo Village & Fire Walking Tour: Experience traditional life in Vanuatu by visiting Runsuc Village.  At the village, experience a welcome performance, discover customs and traditions, see warriors demonstrate traditional dance and share fascinating legends, view the ancient art of sand painting and the preparation of dyed mats, and learn the secrets of preparing traditional lap lap, a snake-based dish cooked on hot stones. Guests also witness the rite of passage into manhood – fire walking, demonstrated by the men of the village.
•    Relics of World War II: Examine the remnants of World War II wreckage up close on the beach, swim or snorkel in a calm bay with views of Elephant Island, and enjoy a refreshing dip in the island’s renowned blue holes.
•    Water Music Experience: Discover the unique culture of a village inhabited by residents who hail from the Banks and Torres islands.  Be greeted by fierce-looking warriors and see a cultural demonstration that includes the preparation of the ceremonial drink kava, dances, and sacred rites. Enjoy mystical water music of the remote island of Gaua by the women who are traditionally adorned with crowns and armbands of flowers and leaves, who wade into the water up to their waists and splash and clap their hands to make percussion-based music, accompanied by singing. 

The capital of the Solomons is Honiara located on Guadalcanal island. This destination boasts an idyllic tropical climate and unique historic sites both on land and beneath the water, along with handicraft shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars. As the site of the first allied offensive in the South Pacific during World War II, Honiara holds a significant place in history. Allied forces landed on Guadalcanal, largest of the Solomon Islands, and seized a Japanese airstrip under construction. Today this airstrip is Honiara's International Airport. The World War II American Memorial is in Guadalcanal. Optional shore excursions in Guadalcanal include:

•    Honiara City Highlights: Embark on a guided tour of scenic, cultural, and historic interest including the Parliament House, U.S. War Memorial marking the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Guadalcanal, and local flora and fauna of the islands at the Botanical Gardens.
•    Kakabona Village Cultural Tour: Visit Kakabona Village, which is built in a traditional setting; learn how meals are prepared over hot stones; and enjoy demonstrations of coconut husking, fire building, and home building.
•    World War II Historical Highlights: Boasting more war sites and relics than any other islands in the Pacific, Guadalcanal has monuments and museums that are of great significance. Accompanied by a guide, walk in the footsteps of the Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who fought, visiting sites such as the U.S. Memorial, the Bloody Ridge, Henderson Field and Memorial Garden, and the Coast Watchers Memorial Lighthouse.
•    Bonegi Beach & Snorkel Tour: Snorkel at one of Guadalcanal’s top sites—Bonegi Beach—which is known as a popular dive spot due to many military relics, sunken battleships, and the more recent famous wreck of the Discoverer cruise ship, which ran aground in 2001.  The clear, warm waters are home to a variety of marine life including trevally, lion fish, giant clams, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, and barracudas.

An autonomous island region within Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is very off the beaten track and far from easy to get to. It is an island with vast untapped potential for tourism with magnificently rugged, jungle terrain and amazing coral reefs offshore.  Much of the island is difficult to penetrate and very little explored. An optional guided tour of Arawa is offered:

•    Arawa Tour: Once a bustling town, Arawa was destroyed during a 1989 campaign for independence from Papua New Guinea by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. The town has been largely restored, but it remains a symbol of the locals’ resolve never to turn to civil war again.

Located off the southeastern tip of Papua New Guinea, Samarai Island was at one time an important stopover between Australia and East Asia. Samarai town was the second largest in Papua New Guinea after Port Moresby, but little is left of the town, which was destroyed during World War II. Today, the island is renowned for its beautiful coral reefs, excellent diving, and fascinating culture. It was declared a National Historical Heritage Island by the government in 2006. One optional walking tour is offered:

•    Walking Tour: Discover this charming island community on a guided walking tour, and experience local life from the traditional Melanesian way of singing and dancing to arts and crafts displays and demonstrations.

Port Moresby is the most populous city in Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific. Located on the shores of the Gulf of Papua, the city was named for his father by Captain John Moresby, the British Naval Officer who first explored the harbor in 1873. Port Moresby became the capital city of Papua New Guinea when the country gained its independence in 1975. The city features a National Parliament House, Port Moresby Nature Park, and National Museum and Art Gallery. Optional shore excursions include:

•    Half-Day or Full-Day City Tour: This tour provides a guided overview of the city’s famous landmarks. Visit the Parliament Haus, National Museum, National Capital Botanical Gardens, Burns Peak lookout, Fairfax harbor, stilt village of Hanuabada, Airvos Avenue, Ela Beach, PNG art artifacts warehouse, Holiday Inn handicraft market, and Waigani fresh food market, and see a traditional dance performance. The Full-Day Tour also includes visits to Bomana War Cemetery and Varirata National Park, which is renowned for its abundant bird life.

Cairns is one of the most delightful cities in Australia and the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.  The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world.  To access the amazing wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, we offer an optional shore excursion:

•    Great Barrier Reef: Enjoy an underwater view of the marine life of the Great Barrier Reef from the view chamber of an offshore reef pontoon, or take the semi-submersible or glass-bottom boat tour to view matchless panoramas of colorful tropical fish and intricate coral gardens.  A tropical buffet lunch and time to swim or snorkel are also included.

On board the ship, a variety of special guests will lecture, perform, or provide demonstrations on Fiji & Australia voyages, which are included in Paul Gauguin Cruises’ all-inclusive fares.  Environmentalist & Oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau, champion freediver Herbert Nitsch, “extreme artist” Jean Francois Detaille, and Paul Gauguin expert Caroline Boyle-Turner will be aboard the June 14, 2014, voyage.  Joining the August 18, 2014, sailing are Nobel Peace Prize winner John E. Hay, islands expert Helen Henry, destination specialist Mick Fogg, rock violinist Aaron Meyer, and musicians Seth Taylor and Monica Ripamonti. On both voyages, renowned archaeologist and scholar Mark Eddowes and a World War II expert will provide a series of lectures.