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Setting sail from Cairns
Cairns is a buzzing tourist hub, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. A snorkelling trip out to the reef is the most obvious excursion to take here, but other options include riding the Skyrail cableway over the rainforest canopy or swimming in the croc-free saltwater lagoon.
Papua New Guinea: Alotau
Alotau is the capital of Milne Bay province, on the remote eastern tip of mainland Papua New Guinea. Milne Bay was the scene of heavy fighting during the Second World War, and today you can dive amongst the wreckage left behind. Alotau also serves as a base for visiting the nearby islands, including the fascinating Trobriand archipelago.
Papua New Guinea: Fergusson Island
Fergusson Island is the largest of the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, with a landscape of volcanoes, mud pools, hot springs and geysers. The Dei Dei hot springs are particularly impressive, and you may spot locals cooking food in the boiling hot water using baskets made from palm and pandanus leaves.
Papua New Guinea: Dobu
Dobu is a small island that belongs to the D’Entrecasteaux group, and was once feared by outsiders as a hotbed for black magic. The island is also part of the Kula ring, a fascinating and unique ceremonial practice in which the inhabitants of 18 different islands exchange armbands and necklaces.
Papua New Guinea: Tufi
The laid back town of Tufi enjoys a beautiful setting, on a fjord-like inlet that was shaped by volcanic activity rather than ice. The coral-rich waters off the coast make this a diver’s paradise, and there are also many traditional villages in the area where the locals dress in clothes made of tapa, a cloth produced from the bark of the mulberry tree.
Papua New Guinea: Tami Islands
This small archipelago consists of four atolls around a central lagoon, where the vibrant coral reefs attract plenty of divers and snorkellers. The islanders lead a simple village life and are renowned for their intricately carved ‘Tami bowls’, traditionally used for dowry payments.
Papua New Guinea: Madang
Madang, first settled by Germans during the 19th century, was once known as the ‘prettiest town in the Pacific’, and retains its charm despite significant damage during the Second World War. There is some great snorkelling and diving just offshore, while the city’s towering casuarina trees support a noisy population of flying foxes.
Solomon Islands: Njari Island
Papua New Guinea: Lusancay Islands, Trobriand Islands, Samarai Island
Arriving in Cairns
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Sleek and stylish, Ponant's wonderful Explorer yachts blend luxury and intimacy with a discreet elegance and tasteful décor.
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Named after six of France's most famous explorers, Le Champlain, Le Lapérouse, Le Bougainville, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier offer exciting and adventurous itineraries in the utmost comfort. Technologically advanced, with the latest in environmentally friendly hardware, the new ships embody Ponant's trademark élan and flair, with just 92 spacious rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and an intimate, refined onboard ambience.
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