Adventurers with a taste for luxury and a spontaneous spirit are well-rewarded this season with exceptional values on unforgettable voyages by Orion Expedition Cruises to Melanesia and Papua New Guinea. For those who plan to indulge in just one major travel experience in 2009, these unprecedented savings, combined with a favorable exchange rate, make an Orion voyage the trip of choice. Special savings -including a two-for-one offer - are available to travelers who book departure dates in late February and March aboard the MV Orion, Australia’s only true international-standard, five-star expedition vessel. An Orion voyage combines world-class adventure excursions led by expert guides with luxurious amenities that range from chilled champagne under the stars to spa treatments. The experience is made all the more exclusive by the ship’s intimate size, which pairs 53 ocean-view staterooms and suites with the highest staff-to-guest ratio of any Australian ship.
Melanesia: 2 for the Price of 1
Stretching between New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are the idyllic Melanesian Islands, where active volcanoes rise above a tropical landscape steeped in ancient tribal cultures and the history of World War II battles. This season, Orion guests can explore all of Melanesia’s wonders at a two-for-one value with a choice of nine- and 10-night expeditions to this exotic archipelago.
Departing February 27, 2009, is a 10-night Bay of Islands and Norfolk Island Discovery. Beginning in Auckland, the expedition includes stops at Te Rawhiti Inlet and Russell in the Bay of Islands, home to New Zealand’s first European settlers; Norfolk Island, where the Bounty mutineers established their colony; Isles of Pines (New Caledonia), with its fine white-sand beaches and indigenous tribal culture; idyllic Anatom, ringed by beaches and coral reef; and Tanna Island, where guests can hike to the rim of an active volcano for spectacular crater views. The expedition ends in Port Villa, Vanuatu’s capital and largest town. The price starts at US$5,505 per person, second person free, and US dollar rates are based on prevailing exchange rates.
The nine-night Melanesian Island Discovery departs March 9, 2009, from Port Vila and ends in the picturesque town of Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, a harbor side village surrounded by six volcanoes. In between, guests can explore the wonders of Malukula - the most culturally diverse island in Vanuatu; Espiritu Santo, where James Michener found inspiration for South Pacific; Santa Ana Island in the Solomons, known for its excellent snorkeling and traditional craftworks; Ngella with its abundant underwater life and spectacular white sand (complete with a beached cruise ship whose wreckage snorkelers can explore). Marovo Lagoon, where villages built over the water on stilts are home to expert carvers, is the world’s largest double-barrier enclosed lagoon and the penultimate stop on this memorable journey. Upon disembarking at Rabaul, Orion guests are greeted boisterously by traditional musicians and dancers. Here, optional excursions include a visit to the Volcano Observatory and a helicopter tour, and the voyage draws to an unforgettable close with an evening performance by the Baining Fire Dancers. This expedition starts at US$4,960 per person, with the second person free. US dollar rates are based on prevailing exchange rates.
Papua New Guinea: 2nd Passenger 50% Off
Also available in March is an enticing 2nd Passenger 50% Off deal valid on two 11-night expeditions to exotic Papua New Guinea. With prices starting at US$6,600 for the first person, this special offer results in a substantial savings of at least US$3,332 per couple.