Ancient Cultures and Landscapes of Vanuatu
* Subject to availability.
- Visit the last known location of the “lost voyage” of La Pérouse
- Experience seldom visited islands in the “happiest country on earth”
- Sail into the Caldera of Ureparapara.
- Swim in the famous “blue holes” of Espiritu Santo
- Discover the ‘Big Nambas’ tribes of Malekula
- Watch the famous Rom dance of the Ambrym Islanders
- Marvel at Vanuatu’s volcanic landscapes.
- Walk to the rim of an active volcano and view a fireworks spectacle like no other.
- Gain an insight into the History, culture, and incredible diversity of life from your expert expedition team.
- Possibility of diving and/or snorkeling with an experienced instructor on board.
Outbound domestic flight included
- Staterooms & Suites
- Port of call & excursions
- Scuba diving
- Cruise Package
- Important information
- Pre/Post & Overlands
Staterooms & Suites
There are no staterooms available for booking. Please contact our cruise advisors.
In May 2011, l'Austral joined PONANT's fleet. This superb mega-yacht with 132 staterooms is the result of the expertise of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. L'Austral remains faithful to our philosophy - to create a unique atmosphere, a subtle blend of luxury, intimacy and well-being.
A sleek silhouette softened by elegantly smooth contours and large, arched windows opening up to the sea and the light: so many features come together to give L’Austral her distinctive shape. Precious materials, discreet elegance and a perfect balance between chic and casual, combine to make you feel as if you are on your own private yacht. A design blending tradition and innovation, where a nautical mood has been subtly recreated. A welcoming atmosphere of relaxed sophistication revolves around shades of grey, taupe, white and ivory enlivened by touches of cinnamon, caramel and tan.. So many personal touches create the spirit of a “private yacht.”
You will encounter unique itineraries, calls inaccessible to large ships, chic and elegant yacht-like ambiance, refined and personalized service as well as gastronomic cuisine.
Port of call & excursions
Honiara, Guadalcanal IslandEmbarkation 13/09/2018 from 16H00 to 17H00 . Departure 13/09/2018 at 23H00 .
Honiara is the capital city of The Solomon Islands, administered as a provincial town on the north western coast of Guadalcanal Island. Honiara comes from the local Ghari Language “naho-ni-ara” meaning 'facing the ara', the place where the southeast winds meet the land. Discover this city, its beautiful landscape, and the significant role it played in World War II. Particularly The Battle of Henderson Field, the last of the three major land offensives conducted by the Japanese in 1942.
14 September 2018 – At seaArrival 14/09/2018. Departure 14/09/2018.
15 September 2018 – Vanikoro IslandArrival 15/09/2018. Departure 15/09/2018.
The French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was stranded on Vanikoro after both his vessels, struck the reefs of the island in 1788. The complete disappearance of La Pérouse caught the imagination of the European public. Songs, stories and plays were written about the possible fate of the expedition. It is believed that some of the men were killed by the local inhabitants, while the surviving sailors built a smaller vessel and left the island, but were never seen again. Those that remained on the island died before search parties arrived in 1826. Today guests have the opportunity to head ashore to the infamous location of this historical event. Enjoy a welcome and cultural performance whilst pondering the fate of the expeditioners.
16 September 2018 – Ureparapara IslandArrival 16/09/2018. Departure 16/09/2018.
Ureparapara, also known as Parapara for short, is the third largest island in the Banks group of Northern Vanuatu and formed by an extinct volcano cone that has been breached by the sea on its east coast, forming a spectacular 3km long harbour. During your voyage, your ship will sail into the natural harbour, affording guests spectacular views from the outer decks. You will also have the opportunity to go ashore for a welcome and custom dances. An opportunity to witness life in one of the remotest parts of Vanuatu. Very few vessels visit this part of Vanuatu and the local residents are eager to welcome visitors.
16 September 2018 – Sana IslandArrival 16/09/2018. Departure 16/09/2018.
The Reef Islands, also called Rowa, are a cluster of uninhabited coral cays between Mota Lava and Ureparapara, in northern Vanuatu, and enclosed by a large, horseshoe-shaped reef that protects an expansive lagoon with sandy shallows. The five small islands, including Sana, are mostly sand and coral cays built up over reefs. During your stop, you will be transferred ashore by Zodiac® to a wet landing onto a sand and rubble beach to enjoy swimming and snorkelling from the beach.
17 September 2018 – Mota Lava IslandArrival 17/09/2018. Departure 17/09/2018.
The Banks and Torres Islands form Vanuatu's northernmost islands where local culture is still very much alive and unblemished by the modern world. Mota Lava is a stunning island of jungle clad craggy peaks plunging to long white sandy beaches lined with coconut palms. The nearby island of Ra is classically beautiful, an ideal place for travellers looking to leave civilisation completely behind. You will have the opportunity to experience the ancient culture in this rarely visited group of islands. There will also be an opportunity for swimming and snorkelling from one of the many spectacular beaches.
18 September 2018 – Paradise IslandArrival 18/09/2018. Departure 18/09/2018.
At the end of the world, in the north of New Caledonia, lies Vanuatu, a little archipelago that subsists mainly from fishing and farming. It is composed of several islands, Espiritu Santo being the largest and one of the most beautiful. You can meet the people here who are very welcoming and who live in harmony with nature. Plus you’ll see unimaginable landscapes formed of volcanic rocks, as well as sandy beaches and lagoons beckoning you to dive into their of turquoise waters. You’ll be surprised to find, in the middle of dense vegetation, brackish water with an amazing ecosystem called “blue holes”. If paradise exists, it must be here.
19 September 2018 – South West Bay, MalekulaArrival 19/09/2018. Departure 19/09/2018.
Malekula is the second largest island in Vanuatu and the most diverse, culturally and linguistically, with over thirty distinct languages spoken. Some of the best custom dances come from the island. The very friendly villagers will be proud to share with you their cultural heritage. Guests will be transferred ashore for a welcome and cultural performance. Afterwards, you will have an opportunity to witness traditional village life in Malekula, with demonstrations of traditional village practices such as weaving and Kava, and purchase genuine artefacts.
20 September 2018 – Ambrym IslandArrival 20/09/2018. Departure 20/09/2018.
The island of Ambrym in Vanuatu is often referred to as the "black" island due to its volcanic ash and because of its 'black magic' steeped in mystery. In the villages, the ancient customs play a significant part in day to day living. The "Man blong Majik" are treated with the utmost respect and practice sorcery and magic beyond all imaginings. Ambrym prides itself on some unique characteristics, such as the magnificent tam-tams (or slit gongs) sculpted out of tree trunks, sand-drawing, black-fern masks and local dances. The most striking custom dance is the Rom (or masked) dance – where 9 foot covertly cloaked and masked 'spirits' stomp out ancient rhythms to the beat of the tam tam.
21 September 2018 – Lamen IslandArrival 21/09/2018. Departure 21/09/2018.
The remote and seldom visited Island of Epi has the distinction of having both white and black sand beaches fringed by coral reefs. The 1.5 km long beach at Lamen Bay is considered to be Epi's finest and boasts plenty of good quality coral for spectacular snorkelling. The small population of nearby Lamen Island are always delighted to welcome visitors and showcase their culture.
21 September 2018 – Lopevi IslandArrival 21/09/2018. Departure 21/09/2018.
Lopevi is one of Vanuatu's most active and spectacular volcanoes. The volcano has regularly erupted for hundreds of years. You will have the opportunity to discover the culture of the Epi Islands, enjoy swimming and snorkelling in the clear warm tropical waters of Lamen Bay as well as view the active volcano of Lopevi from the comfort of the outside decks.
22 September 2018 – Tanna IslandArrival 22/09/2018. Departure 22/09/2018.
A visit to Vanuatu cannot be complete without viewing the erupting Mount Yasur Volcano on the Island of Tanna. It is regarded as the world’s most accessible active volcano. Known for its spectacular persistent strombolian activity consisting of regular small to violent explosions, it has been in more-or-less continuous activity since Captain James Cook observed ash eruptions in 1774. Often referred to as “the lighthouse of the Pacific”, the glow of the volcano apparently led Captain Cook to Tanna during the first European journey to the island. Today the volcano is considered a sacred area by members of the John Frum cargo cult, who believe their deity resides in the heart of the volcano.
23 September 2018 – At seaArrival 23/09/2018. Departure 23/09/2018.
LautokaDisembarkation 24/09/2018 at 08H30 .
Lautoka is the second largest city of Fiji. Located on the western side of the island of Viti Levu, 24 kilometres north of Nadi. Lying in the heart of Fiji's sugar cane growing region, it is known as the Sugar City. Lautoka is the gateway to Fiji’s “Sun coast” a land of abundant sunshine, azure skies and dramatic grass-covered peaks chequered with sugar-cane fields, rural villages and quaint market towns.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Australia: An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) must be obtained before your arrival in Australia. For more information, please visit www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/immigration-and-visas. Carriers should be aware that there will not be any physical evidence in your passport.
Australian customs regulations are very strict, especially for the import of food items such as fresh food (even sealed), fruits, eggs, meat, plants, vegetables, seeds, grains. Fur and feathers are also forbidden. We highly recommend you consult this website for further details : www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/immigration-and-visas/customs-clearance
Solomon Islands: Visa delivred free of charge on arrival. Please send a copy of your passport (photo page) to PONANT at least 30 days prior to cruise date.
It is recommended that you contact your health professional for any specific medical advice relating to travel through these regions, including advice on Malaria prevention and dengue fever.
In order to participate in diving sessions, guests must have with them a medical certificate less than 1 year old and their up to date dive book.
Fauna and flora of the Pacific Sea
The fauna of the Pacific Sea is very varied. During the various dives, divers can observe various species of benthic fauna such as napoleon fish, raccoon butterfly fish, and pelagic fauna such as manta rays, gray reef sharks, dolphin fish as well as endemic wildlife such as different soft corals.
Supervision of the dives
Your dives will be led by your PONANT instructor. He will take care of your safety and that all goes smoothly. On some diving sites, as in natural reserves or if the local regulations require it, a local guide will escort the diving.
Level required for scuba diving on this cruise
The minimum level required for scuba diving on this cruise is 2 star CMAS or the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver (or equivalent). The certification card, the diving log book and a recent medical certificate (less than 12 months) must be presented at the beginning of the cruise to our main diving instructor.
Process of the dives (certified divers)
The instructor can dive with 4 certified divers at a time. The instructor reserves the right to check divers’ ability for maximum safety. As we will dive in remote places, the dives will be done without decompression stop. A safety stop of 3 minutes at 5 metres will be mandatory. The depth that can be reached will depend on the certification of the divers:
- For those with PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certificate (or equivalent), the maximum depth can be up to 25 metres.
- If two PADI Advanced Open Water Divers (or equivalent) wish to dive together independently, they must have a briefing first. They must have dive computers and are allowed to go to a maximum depth of 20 metres.
Duration of the dives
The diving activity lasts from 2 to 3 hours, which includes the journey to the diving site and the diving. This duration may vary according to the site, the level of divers, weather conditions and the number of participants. For experienced divers, the duration of dives varies between 35 and 60 minutes depending on the site, the diver’s experience and consumption.
- Diving wetsuit
- Stabilising jacket
- Fins, mask and snorkel
- Regulator with octopus and pressure gauge
- Diving computer (for divers mastering their use)
Scuba diving activities on this cruise
PORTS OF CALL
(for certified divers)
DISCOVER SCUBA DIVING
Solomons Islands – Vanikoro
Vanuatu – Ureparapara
Vanuatu – Sana Island
Vanuatu – Mota Lava
Vanuatu – Paradise Lagoon
Vanuatu – South West Bay, Malakula
Vanuatu – Ambrym Island
Vanuatu – Lamen Island
Vanuatu – Lopevi Island
Vanuatu – Tanna Island
These sites are indicative. The proposed diving excursions may be changed depending on weather and safety conditions and the number of divers.
Price per person
- Certified dive:
- Exploration (1 dive): € 80
- Excellence Package (3 dives): € 225
- Passion Package (6 dives): € 420
- Master Package (10 dives):€ 650
Discover the unique concept of PONANT tropical expedition cruises: explore the world’s extreme regions while enjoying luxurious comfort and service.
A luxury expedition voyage
Choosing a PONANT expedition cruise means choosing a state of mind: the alliance of elegance and authenticity, of exploration and comfort, of adventure and refinement… The comfort of your ship and your stateroom, personalised and attentive service, refined gastronomy: a very special atmosphere that we take great care to maintain. In the heart of the archipelagos of Oceania or the atolls of the Indian Ocean, along the wild coastlines of Central America or Australia, our luxurious services will ensure that your expedition cruise is an unforgettable experience.
PONANT, expedition cruise specialists
With almost 20 years of experience in the extreme regions, PONANT, the world’s number 1 polar cruise company, is also a real specialist in the planet’s most remote tropical regions. Our latest-generation fleet has the most modern technology to guarantee both your safety and respect for the regions visited. The size of our ships means we can get as close as possible to areas that are difficult to reach, offering a privileged access to preserved sites. Our flexibility enables us to adapt to the surprises inherent to these expedition itineraries.
Professional expedition teams, varied activities
After scouting missions in the field, our Expedition Leaders and their teams of naturalist guides design exceptional itineraries in the tropical regions. During the cruise, they organise daily outings and shore visits in Zodiac® dinghies so as to get as close to nature as possible. They can reserve local means of transport (dugout canoes, bush taxis, local buses, etc.) in order to reach essential sites for hiking (volcanoes, nature reserves, etc.) or for visiting isolated villages. Indeed, the close relationships that our teams have been able to build with the local communities will enable you to share the life and ancestral customs of these peoples for a few hours. The naturalist guides also supervise snorkelling tours to discover the coral reef fauna. On board, the naturalist guides will share their knowledge during various conferences on fauna, the history of the great explorations, geology and climatology…
Flight Brisbane / Honiara + transfer
your serenity, PONANT selects a flight for your trip and provides transfers and visits. This package is included in your cruise fare.
Embarkation Day – Brisbane/Honiara
Flight Brisbane/Honiara selected by PONANT.
Approximate flight duration: 3 hours, 15 min.
Meet and greet at airport.
Discover Honiara by a sightseeing tour. Enjoy highlights and learn more about Salomon’s Islands capital.
Transfer to the pier for embarkation.
– Cruise on board L’Austral –
Your programme includes:
- Flight Brisbane/Honiara selected by PONANT in economy class.
- Transfers as per programme.
- Local guide services.
- An inflight lunch.
Your programme does not include:
- Tips for the local guide.
- Personal expenses.
- Other services not mentioned in the programme.
Please note :
- Due to limited local transportation resources, waiting might be generated.
- The sightseeing tour includes 1 mile (1.8 km) of walking on uneven surfaces with some steps. We recommend you wear comfortable walking shoes and protect yourself from the sun.
- Flight included in the programme are in economy class.
- Program and flight schedule are subject to change.
- For passengers in transit in Brisbane, we recommend staying one night in Brisbane before your connecting flight.
To know your PONANT flight schedule, please contact your travel agent; it is also indicated on your electronic ticket included in your travel documents.
Passengers must check in at least two hours before flight departure time.
Expeditions programs include activities such as Zodiac® outings (sometimes with "wet landing"), moderate walks to more active hikes. All this accompanied by your expedition team of naturalist guides. Certain zodiac® outings will not allow for landings just cruising. Landings will depend on weather conditions, position of ice and winds and the state of the sea. These can force a change of plans at any time.
Travelling to polar/isolated regions is an exhilarating experience. The raw beauty and untouched wilderness offer an unusual chance to experience a place where there is little evidence of human presence. Inevitably, there are some consequences that come with such remoteness: please remember that you are far from modern hospitals with full medical facilities, thus evacuation is highly expensive. Without the necessary medical coverage, all expenses will have to be immediately paid from with your personal funds. We urge you to subscribe a full coverage insurance, choose your insurance company very carefully and be extremely vigilant and ensure your insurance is fully comprehensive.
Taking into consideration the unusual and exceptional character of expedition itineraries, the calls shown are an indication only. The final route will be confirmed by the Captain and Expedition Leader, who will take into account the touristic quality of the sites and above all, the safety of the passengers. Their decision will be subject to that of local authorities and/or the expert pilots present on board during the navigation in polar and /or isolated zones.
Dressing tips :
- Cotton comfrortable and light weight shorts/bermudas
- Light weight long trousers
- Long-sleeved breathable UPF50+ shirts
- Cotton short sleeves T-shirt
- Aquatic UV long-sleeve T-shirt for sun protection during snorkeling or swimming (except for the Amazon cruises where bathing is not allowed)
- Aquatic non-slip sandals (except for the Amazon cruises where bathing is not allowed)
- Windproof, waterproof and breathable outer layer
- Broad brimmed anti-UV hat with strap
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Waterproof backpack for camera
- Sunscreen and after-sun high index & insect repellent
- Note: During your visits to some local communities, all guests will be required to dress respectfully. Ladies must have their shoulders and thighs covered. Gentlemen should have their shoulders covered also.
Feel free to visit the PONANT online shop which offers a selection of equipment and accessories adapted to our destinations at the following address: https://boutique.ponant.com
Benefits of the PONANT shop:
- expert advice to gear up
- a selection of technical equipment and accessories approved by our naturalists
- Duty Free prices
- delivery directly on board
Pre/Post & Overlands
Before your cruise
After your cruise
** Prices per person, based on double occupancy