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Melanesian Odyssey

If you were the owner of a large yacht based in the Pacific, this is exactly the type of itinerary you would plan. A fascinating island hopping adventure from Australia through Melanesia to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and finally to Fiji. All the islands we will encounter are beautiful in their different ways and all have unique features and cultures. They are certainly not on the mass tourism circuit and their beauty and customs are relatively unscathed by the modern world. The region is ideal for exploring by small ship and particularly one as suitable as the MS Island Sky. Her fleet of Zodiac landing craft provides us with the freedom of spontaneity to explore and land in places where relatively few travellers have been before us.

We begin our journey in Cairns before sailing to Papua New Guinea which is a revelation of exquisite wild beauty and exotic cultural wealth. With its incomparable biodiversity, both on land and in the surrounding waters, it also remains one of the most mysterious places on earth. Afloat and ashore, our exploration will be filled with unforgettable images, remote idyllic islets, tribal villages unchanged for centuries, astonishing ceremonial dances, kaleidoscopic reefs and soaring white-tailed tropic birds. Leaving Papua New Guinea we sail to the Solomon Islands and explore the majestic Morovo Lagoon, the world’s largest double barrier lagoon and a truly awe-inspiring place. From here, as we island hop in an easterly direction we sail through one of the most culturally complex regions in the world with hundreds of languages spoken across the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and a vast spectrum of spiritual beliefs, traditions and artistic craftsmanship.

This voyage has something for everyone, whether your interest lies in natural history, military history, bird watching, photography, the undersea world or simply just being one of the privileged few who are able to set foot on islands of astonishing richness and beauty. We hope you can join us in this faraway haven, for an unparalleled opportunity to explore one of the most intriguing places on the map.

11 September, 2019 to 28 September, 2019 Make a booking request for Melanesian Odyssey, departing on 11 September, 2019

Prices quoted here are often dependent on currency fluctuations. Please check with (01432 507450 or info@small-cruise-ships.com) for the very latest price, which may well be cheaper than the one advertised here.

Columbus Deck Superior £ 11295 GBP pp
Suites measure approximately 22 m2. Beds can be configured as twin or double and there is a divider between the seating and bed area. Suites feature a walk-in wardrobe, sofa, coffee table, arm-chair, vanity table with large mirror and stool, bedside lamps, full length dressing mirror, hairdryer, television, electronic safe, air-conditioning and refrigerator.
view cabin photo
Columbus Deck Superior Sole £ 15195 GBP pp

Melanesian Odyssey itinerary:

show reverse itinerary
Day 1 - Cairns
Arrive this morning and transfer directly to the MS Island Sky. We have a leisurely day before we enjoy Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - At Sea.
Today we have a relaxing day at sea. Our lecture programme will start and we will have our snorkel and Zodiac briefings to prepare us for the days ahead.
Day 3 - Bonarua Island, Papua New Guinea.
This morning we arrive at the coastline of Papua New Guinea. Here the peaks of the dramatic Stanley Owens Range come into view as we reach the island of Bonarua in Milne Bay. We will go ashore to view fishing and weaving demonstrations, and wander through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies. Birders have the chance to trek into the thicket whilst the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a first opportunity to explore the underwater world.
Day 4 - Fergusson & Dobu Islands, D’Entrecasteaux Islands.
Our Papua New Guinea adventure continues in the D’Entrecasteaux islands. We will use our Zodiacs to land on Fergusson Island, the largest of the chain, in a small fishing village. From here we will walk to the local hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation; birders can keep a lookout for parrots and cockatoos. A welcome dance will be accompanied by local foods cooked in the hot pools. This afternoon we will cruise through the spectacular Dobu passage and use our Zodiacs to explore and snorkel or alternatively land to meet the villagers and visit the local church.
Day 5 - At Sea.
Spend a day at sea as we cross to the Solomon Islands.
Day 6 - Marovo Lagoon, Solomon Islands.
Marovo Lagoon is the largest double barrier lagoon in the world. Thousands of islands scatter the lagoon, from tiny coral islets on the fringing reef to massive 1600 metre volcanic islands. Inside the lagoon, the islands are surrounded by spectacular coral formations and white sand beaches, the lagoon waters shimmering in every shade of blue, turquoise and jade green. We have a full day here to explore the villages which produce some of the finest wood carvings in the region. We will also find a suitable spot to snorkel and swim from the beaches as well as enjoying nature walks in the local forests.
Day 7 - Tetepare Island.
Tetepare is the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and home to one of the Solomon Islands leading conservation projects. Managed by the Tetepare Descendants Association, they have ensured the island was saved from the threat of loggers and many areas remain untouched. A wide variety of plants and animals live in the 120 square kilometres of lowland rainforest that blankets the island. A total of 76 bird species, 25 reptile and 13 mammal species have been recorded here including skinks, dugongs and the endemic Tetepare white eye whilst the beaches support three species of turtle including the endangered leatherback. Today we will enjoy guided walks in the rainforest with the local conservationists who will educate us on the work they are doing on the island.
Day 8 - Honiara.
During World War II the British founded Honiara as a military base. The town and Mataniko River, which runs through it, were the front for many months during the battle of Guadalcanal. Today, this is a bustling town with lovely hibiscus and palm tree lined avenues. After breakfast we will join a city tour of Honiara including the central market, parliament building and National Museum where we get an insight into the history of the Solomon Islands. Enjoy lunch before continuing to the World War II sites including Henderson Field, the Japanese Peace Park and the US Memorial at Skyline Ridge. This evening we will cruise through Iron Bottom Sound, the site of intense naval battles during World War II and so named for the large numbers of Japanese and American ships and aircraft that sank beneath the sea.
Day 9 - Santa Ana.
Spend the morning in Port Mary on Santa Ana Island. We will be welcomed with a stunning dance by the villagers with spears and mud face masks. After the performance we have the opportunity to explore the village further with its plethora of local handicrafts, join a nature walk through the forests or swim from the local beach. Return to the ship for lunch and maybe join a lecture this afternoon as we spend the afternoon at sea.
Day 10 - Vanikoro.
Over lunch we arrive at the island of Vanikoro. Situated in the Temotu Province, Vanikoro was where French explorer Jean-Francois de la Perouse became stranded after both his vessels, La Boussole and the Astrolabe, hit the then unknown reefs of the island in 1788. Learn more about the island’s history and the mystery of the lost La Perouse expedition that captured the imagination of the European public. We will be welcomed ashore by the local villagers before choosing to explore the village further, join a nature walk where we can look out for the endemic birds, the Vanikoro monarch and Vanikoro white-eye, or enjoy a swim or snorkel from the beach.
Day 11 - Mota Lava & Rah Island, Vanuatu.
Our first call in Vanuatu will be the island of Mota Lava and Rah Island in the Banks Island group. These tiny island communities are still off the main tourist routes but the locals are happy to share their culture, stories and ways of life with the visitors that make the journey to their islands. From our anchorage point we will Zodiac ashore and see a traditional snake dance, where the men paint themselves black and white as sea snakes, before being welcomed into the village. We also hope to have the chance to snorkel on the reef.
Day 12 - Espiritu Santo Island.
Espiritu Santo is the largest of Vanuatu’s islands with some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, amazing blue holes, caves and renowned snorkelling. It was also a huge military base during World War II. This morning join an island tour including the Nekar Custom Village where we will learn about local traditions and customs, including their unique water music and kava making, before enjoying time to swim in the nearby Riri Blue Hole. Return to the ship for lunch and in the afternoon snorkel amongst the corals and fish of the region at Million Dollar Point, named after the value of the military equipment dumped into the sea.
Day 13 - Malekula Island.
The second largest of the island group, Malekula is also the most culturally diverse with a small population that speaks over 30 distinct languages. Here we will learn about the ancient tribes the Big Nambas who lived in the north and Small Nambas from the central and southern provinces. Tribal warfare was once very common but today the island The Itinerary Soft corals, Marovo Lagoon Traditional dance, Solomon Islands 6 www.noble-caledonia.co.uk is peaceful. We plan to visit one of the tribal groups, learn about their culture including cannibalism, with many ancient sites hidden in the forests, and see some of their important traditions of dance and song. In the afternoon we will relocate and find a suitable spot to enjoy some of the excellent snorkelling found on the coral reefs off the island or to enjoy a nature walk.
Day 14 - Port Havannah.
Awake this morning off Port Havannah, situated on the north coast of Efate Island and our base for today’s activities. There are a number of outer islands that we may be able to explore depending on weather and sea conditions. Lelepa Island is 160 acres of unspoilt tropical rainforest and palm fringed beaches. On a nature walk we will see the herbs used in local medicines before exploring Feles cave thought to be the resting place of the legendary Polynesian Chief, Roi Mata. Meanwhile on Moso Island we meet the volunteers at the Tasiriki Turtle Sanctuary who will teach us about the rehabilitation of the Hawksbill turtles and the attempts to increase their numbers. If time and weather permit, we will also set up a snorkelling platform or offer a chance to swim from the beach.
Day 15 - Tanna.
Our final call in Vanuatu is the island of Tanna, meaning earth in the local Kwamera language. Captain Cook was the first European to visit the island in 1774, landing at Port Resolution, having been attracted by the glowing light of Mount Yasur. This 361 metre active volcano is situated in the south east of the island and dominates the landscape. The more adventurous amongst us may wish to join a journey to the crater taking local trucks through the rainforest that covers the mountain before walking to the rim. Alternatively, we hope to have the chance to visit local villages where traditional lifestyles are maintained and the local culture has been largely unaffected by western influences. We will learn of the customs, traditional medicines, crafts and cooking styles.
Day 16 - At Sea.
Find a spot on deck or relax with a book in the library as we cruise towards Fiji.
Day 17 - Yasawa Islands.
This morning we will drop anchor amongst the twenty islands of the Yassawa group during lunch. In 1789 when Captain Bligh was set adrift from the HMS Bounty he passed by the Yassawa Islands from where two war canoes were sent to pursue them. They escaped and the waters are still known as Bligh Water. Today we can expect a friendlier welcome as we find a spot on a secluded beach to relax or enjoy a final opportunity to snorkel and swim.
Day 18 - Fiji.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

Melanesian Odyssey reverse itinerary:

show main itinerary
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight back home.
This morning we will drop anchor amongst the twenty islands of the Yassawa group during lunch. In 1789 when Captain Bligh was set adrift from the HMS Bounty he passed by the Yassawa Islands from where two war canoes were sent to pursue them. They escaped and the waters are still known as Bligh Water. Today we can expect a friendlier welcome as we find a spot on a secluded beach to relax or enjoy a final opportunity to snorkel and swim.
Find a spot on deck or relax with a book in the library as we cruise towards Fiji.
Our final call in Vanuatu is the island of Tanna, meaning earth in the local Kwamera language. Captain Cook was the first European to visit the island in 1774, landing at Port Resolution, having been attracted by the glowing light of Mount Yasur. This 361 metre active volcano is situated in the south east of the island and dominates the landscape. The more adventurous amongst us may wish to join a journey to the crater taking local trucks through the rainforest that covers the mountain before walking to the rim. Alternatively, we hope to have the chance to visit local villages where traditional lifestyles are maintained and the local culture has been largely unaffected by western influences. We will learn of the customs, traditional medicines, crafts and cooking styles.
Awake this morning off Port Havannah, situated on the north coast of Efate Island and our base for today’s activities. There are a number of outer islands that we may be able to explore depending on weather and sea conditions. Lelepa Island is 160 acres of unspoilt tropical rainforest and palm fringed beaches. On a nature walk we will see the herbs used in local medicines before exploring Feles cave thought to be the resting place of the legendary Polynesian Chief, Roi Mata. Meanwhile on Moso Island we meet the volunteers at the Tasiriki Turtle Sanctuary who will teach us about the rehabilitation of the Hawksbill turtles and the attempts to increase their numbers. If time and weather permit, we will also set up a snorkelling platform or offer a chance to swim from the beach.
The second largest of the island group, Malekula is also the most culturally diverse with a small population that speaks over 30 distinct languages. Here we will learn about the ancient tribes the Big Nambas who lived in the north and Small Nambas from the central and southern provinces. Tribal warfare was once very common but today the island The Itinerary Soft corals, Marovo Lagoon Traditional dance, Solomon Islands 6 www.noble-caledonia.co.uk is peaceful. We plan to visit one of the tribal groups, learn about their culture including cannibalism, with many ancient sites hidden in the forests, and see some of their important traditions of dance and song. In the afternoon we will relocate and find a suitable spot to enjoy some of the excellent snorkelling found on the coral reefs off the island or to enjoy a nature walk.
Espiritu Santo is the largest of Vanuatu’s islands with some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, amazing blue holes, caves and renowned snorkelling. It was also a huge military base during World War II. This morning join an island tour including the Nekar Custom Village where we will learn about local traditions and customs, including their unique water music and kava making, before enjoying time to swim in the nearby Riri Blue Hole. Return to the ship for lunch and in the afternoon snorkel amongst the corals and fish of the region at Million Dollar Point, named after the value of the military equipment dumped into the sea.
Our first call in Vanuatu will be the island of Mota Lava and Rah Island in the Banks Island group. These tiny island communities are still off the main tourist routes but the locals are happy to share their culture, stories and ways of life with the visitors that make the journey to their islands. From our anchorage point we will Zodiac ashore and see a traditional snake dance, where the men paint themselves black and white as sea snakes, before being welcomed into the village. We also hope to have the chance to snorkel on the reef.
Over lunch we arrive at the island of Vanikoro. Situated in the Temotu Province, Vanikoro was where French explorer Jean-Francois de la Perouse became stranded after both his vessels, La Boussole and the Astrolabe, hit the then unknown reefs of the island in 1788. Learn more about the island’s history and the mystery of the lost La Perouse expedition that captured the imagination of the European public. We will be welcomed ashore by the local villagers before choosing to explore the village further, join a nature walk where we can look out for the endemic birds, the Vanikoro monarch and Vanikoro white-eye, or enjoy a swim or snorkel from the beach.
Spend the morning in Port Mary on Santa Ana Island. We will be welcomed with a stunning dance by the villagers with spears and mud face masks. After the performance we have the opportunity to explore the village further with its plethora of local handicrafts, join a nature walk through the forests or swim from the local beach. Return to the ship for lunch and maybe join a lecture this afternoon as we spend the afternoon at sea.
During World War II the British founded Honiara as a military base. The town and Mataniko River, which runs through it, were the front for many months during the battle of Guadalcanal. Today, this is a bustling town with lovely hibiscus and palm tree lined avenues. After breakfast we will join a city tour of Honiara including the central market, parliament building and National Museum where we get an insight into the history of the Solomon Islands. Enjoy lunch before continuing to the World War II sites including Henderson Field, the Japanese Peace Park and the US Memorial at Skyline Ridge. This evening we will cruise through Iron Bottom Sound, the site of intense naval battles during World War II and so named for the large numbers of Japanese and American ships and aircraft that sank beneath the sea.
Tetepare is the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and home to one of the Solomon Islands leading conservation projects. Managed by the Tetepare Descendants Association, they have ensured the island was saved from the threat of loggers and many areas remain untouched. A wide variety of plants and animals live in the 120 square kilometres of lowland rainforest that blankets the island. A total of 76 bird species, 25 reptile and 13 mammal species have been recorded here including skinks, dugongs and the endemic Tetepare white eye whilst the beaches support three species of turtle including the endangered leatherback. Today we will enjoy guided walks in the rainforest with the local conservationists who will educate us on the work they are doing on the island.
Marovo Lagoon is the largest double barrier lagoon in the world. Thousands of islands scatter the lagoon, from tiny coral islets on the fringing reef to massive 1600 metre volcanic islands. Inside the lagoon, the islands are surrounded by spectacular coral formations and white sand beaches, the lagoon waters shimmering in every shade of blue, turquoise and jade green. We have a full day here to explore the villages which produce some of the finest wood carvings in the region. We will also find a suitable spot to snorkel and swim from the beaches as well as enjoying nature walks in the local forests.
Spend a day at sea as we cross to the Solomon Islands.
Our Papua New Guinea adventure continues in the D’Entrecasteaux islands. We will use our Zodiacs to land on Fergusson Island, the largest of the chain, in a small fishing village. From here we will walk to the local hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation; birders can keep a lookout for parrots and cockatoos. A welcome dance will be accompanied by local foods cooked in the hot pools. This afternoon we will cruise through the spectacular Dobu passage and use our Zodiacs to explore and snorkel or alternatively land to meet the villagers and visit the local church.
This morning we arrive at the coastline of Papua New Guinea. Here the peaks of the dramatic Stanley Owens Range come into view as we reach the island of Bonarua in Milne Bay. We will go ashore to view fishing and weaving demonstrations, and wander through the enchanting village, sampling local delicacies. Birders have the chance to trek into the thicket whilst the warm inviting waters of the Coral Sea offer a first opportunity to explore the underwater world.
Today we have a relaxing day at sea. Our lecture programme will start and we will have our snorkel and Zodiac briefings to prepare us for the days ahead.
Arrive this morning and transfer directly to the MS Island Sky. We have a leisurely day before we enjoy Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we sail this evening.
* = Indicative
Map for Melanesian Odyssey
Island Sky, the ship servicing Melanesian Odyssey

Island Sky

Vessel Type:  Luxury Small Ship

Length:  90 metres

Passenger Capacity:  116 

Built:  1992 / refurbished 2010

With a maximum passenger capacity of only 116, a vessel of her size is capable of carrying many more but instead the MS Island Sky has the benefit of unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks.

On board there is a high ratio of crew to passengers. Our friendly crew of 75 are mainly Filipino and Eastern European and our Scandinavian captains are experienced mariners, having been in service aboard large 2000 plus passenger vessels and who now prefer a less frantic life aboard a small ship.   If, like them and us, you prefer a more peaceful life at sea, you will find the MS Island Sky the perfect ship. When choosing the vessel for your next voyage of discovery, you can select a ship with endless entertainment and impersonal service or come with us where peace, high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. We promise there will be no organised entertainment, fancy dress, deck games or any of the usual big ship experiences. The atmosphere on board is more akin to a private yacht or country hotel. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, guest speakers, informative port briefings from our cruise director and of course good food which may be enjoyed leisurely in the attractive dining room. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of a well run and exceedingly comfortable ship.

Your Suite
Onboard there are 57 exceptionally spacious and well designed suites. All feature a sitting room area and some have private balconies. The feeling of luxury is enhanced by the wood panelling and brass, which predominates throughout the vessel conveying the atmosphere of a private yacht. The passenger accommodation is arranged over five decks and all suites have outside views. Each affords considerable comfort with en-suite bathroom featuring marble-topped vanity unit with sink and walk-in shower, large wardrobes, dressing table with large mirror and stool and excellent storage. There is a mini-fridge, flat screen television with inbuilt DVD player which can also play CDs and a telephone in each suite. Bottled water, towelling dressing gowns and slippers are also provided for your comfort. Other facilities include a programmable electronic safe, hairdryer, assorted toiletries and individually controlled air-conditioning and heating. The suites on each deck have their own colour theme. Soft hues and blended tones enhance the traditional maritime style making the passenger accommodation an inviting and relaxing place to be.

Your Space
The spacious and finely decorated public rooms include a large lounge where daily briefings and talks will be provided throughout the voyage and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The bar also features a 24-hour tea and coffee station. The onboard library is the perfect place to relax with a book and is stocked with reference books pertaining to the places the vessel is visiting along with a selection of games and two computers with internet access. Daily newspapers and magazines are also placed in the library depending on local availability. There is also WI-FI access throughout the vessel. Outside there is a rear sun deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade, a bar and comfortable deck furniture for sun bathing or relaxing with a book. On the top deck there is a Jacuzzi and further observation and sun deck. There is also a small hairdressers on board with appointments made on request.

Your Dining
Another benefit of a small ship is the quality of the cuisine. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the galley is able to provide delicious meals. Where possible and when it meets his high standards, the chef will obtain local produce in markets or buy the catch of the day from a passing fishing boat. Such purchases enhance the well stocked larders and bring a local touch to the varied menus.

Standard cabin                                                       Balcony suite, Erikson Deck

 

Cabin layout for Island Sky
• Use Zodiacs to land on Fergusson Island. From here walk to the local hot springs and bubbling mud pools surrounded by lush vegetation; birders can keep a lookout for parrots and cockatoos

• See Marovo Lagoon - the largest double barrier lagoon in the world

• Visit Tetepare - the largest uninhabited tropical island in the Southern Hemisphere and home to one of the Solomon Islands leading conservation projects

• Spend one of the mornings in Port Mary on Santa Ana Island. We will be welcomed with a stunning dance by the villagers with spears and mud face masks

• Explore Espiritu Santo - the largest of Vanuatu’s islands with some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, amazing blue holes, caves and renowned snorkelling
Enquire now about Melanesian Odyssey

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