With over 1,000 islands in the Solomon Sea, discover a hypnotic taste of some of the sights, dances and traditions of lesser-known Melanesia. Explore stunning lagoons and hundreds of uninhabited islands by Zodiac®, witness the epic land diving ceremonies, stand on the rim of an active volcano. Warm local hospitality and thought-provoking cultures complete this wonderful trip.
• Discover Marovo Lagoon - one of the seven natural wonders of the world
• Relax on white-sand beaches or snorkel in calm waters teeming with all kinds of fish, as well as turtles and perhaps even dolphin
• In Santa Ana be entertained by traditional songs and dances performed by members of the three different villages
• In Vanatu enjoy an exceptional performance by the Banks Island women, who create ‘water music’ with their hands in the sea
Embark the Silver Discoverer for this stunning Expedition – Faces of Melanesia. This afternoon, you will be introduced to your Expedition Team and attend a safety briefing. Tonight we invite you to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, meet some of your fellow travellers and enjoy the first of many memorable meals in The Restaurant.
Marovo Lagoon is one of the world’s largest saltwater lagoons. Described as “one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” Marovo is home to a double barrier reef system, and is one of two sites in the Solomon’s currently under consideration for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Though residents of Marovo Lagoon normally do not dance due to religious beliefs, we hope to hear some of their songs. The people here are also quite famous for their woodcarvings, and we hope to see (and perhaps purchase) some of the intricately carved and adorned artefacts.
Snorkelling in the lagoon will reveal incredibly steep coral reef walls that are colonized by gorgonian fan forests, black coral gardens, giant clams, sea turtles, manta rays, eels, barracuda, octopus, morays, grey reef sharks, lionfish and shoals of pelagic fish. Meanwhile, bird-watchers can look for osprey, Brahminy Kite and kingfisher, in the trees on one of the many surrounding islands.
Kohingo and Vona Vona Islands lie on the western side of New Georgia. In between them is Vona Vona Lagoon, a veritable maze of coral reefs and little islets. This is an area that was quite feared in the 19th century, as villages left on raids against other islands and settlements. A tidally dependent visit to Skull Island may disclose the shrine of local warrior chiefs from the head hunting past of this area. A trip by Zodiac through the stunning Vona Vona Lagoon, or a ride to one of the nearby tidal rivers that run through lowland rainforest may be on offer. Twisting passages through the lagoon hold mangrove lined shores that are home to rare freshwater fish, exotic tropical birds and saltwater crocodiles. Local knowledge is highly prized for finding places to snorkel in the crystal clear waters.
The Russel Islands, of which Pavuvu is largest, produce dried coconut meat, also known as copra. Coconut palm plantations carpet the island and small-scale operations are favored by the locals.
Close to Guadalcanal, the Russel Islands were chosen by American Marines during World War II to prepare for battles further east, but little remains of their time here. In addition to workers in the copra plantations who come from different Solomon Islands, Pavuvu permits relocated settlers from Tikopia to find a new home on the island. Therefore local artistic expressions are both Melanesian and Polynesian. Enjoy cultural presentations and use the day to leisurely stroll through the area, relax on the beach, or snorkel in calm waters teeming with all kinds of fish, as well as turtles and perhaps even dolphin.
Your Expedition Leader will likely encourage you to be out on deck in the early morning as we approach the Sandfly Passage to reach Roderick Bay, on the western side of Nggela Sule in the Florida Islands.
In the bay you will see that huge trees give shade to picture-perfect little beaches. Going ashore we will witness a folkloric presentation and in one shallow bay you will find the resting place of a ‘famous’ shipwreck. It’s fascinating to see how nature is slowly covering the ship’s surface with plants from shore and corals below the water line.
The bay invites swimming and snorkelling around the ship’s hull where corals are teeming with tropical fish. The snorkelling might also reveal feather stars, colourful nudibranches, vase sponges, gorgonian fans, lionfish and octopus – all part of this truly remarkable marine environment.
Today Silver Discoverer will enter Port Mary, the bay in front of Ghupuna, Santa Ana’s main village. A short Zodiac ride will take you onto a beautiful white sand beach with huge shade-giving trees. Once ashore, you can’t help but notice the tidy village with its stilt houses built from local materials. After a welcome on the beach we will head to the sport grounds where we will be entertained by traditional songs and dances performed by members of the three different villages on Santa Ana. No doubt islanders will set up stands with souvenirs on offer ranging from traditional shell money to fishing floats, and carvings based on local stories and legends.
In the afternoon Silver Discoverer will continue eastward. Let our lecturers enhance your understanding of the region or introduce you to our next destination.
This morning Silver Discoverer will enter the deep bay on Utupua’s western side. Nembao, one of the main villages on the island, will be our host this day. After a short Zodiac ride we will land on the sandy beach next to the village’s centre. Here expect a welcome and attend a presentation of traditional dances and songs.
You may choose to observe how these Solomon Islanders live by walking along the beach to have a look at the houses, fishing canoes and small plantations. If tides and time permit, it may be an option to take the Zodiacs out to explore the mangrove-lined shores deeper in the bay on the lookout for birdlife, schools of fish, young sharks and mudskippers.
During the morning, Silver Discoverer will approach Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu’s largest island. The European name goes back to the early 17th century when Pedro de Quiroz believed he had reached the famous “Tierra Australis Incognita,” the unknown southern land, which he called “La Austrialia del Espiritu Santo.”
Once we officially clear into Vanuatu, you will have a chance to enjoy one of the finest beaches of her many islands. You can relax under stately Barringtonia trees draped in Alexandrian laurel that offer cool shade, or swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear water. Perhaps you will opt to visit the remnants of the WWII American Base field hospital and meet the locals who can introduce you to some of their customs and culture, while at the same time invoking their amazing understanding of the local environment and history. It may also be possible to take a Zodiac cruise from the beach, up the river through dense jungle, to swim in one of the famed blue holes of Espiritu Santo.
In the afternoon, enjoy an exceptional performance by the Banks Island women, who create ‘water music’ with their hands in the sea. This is surely one of the most unusual musical groups of Vanuatu. Later, find yourself a comfy spot to watch the sunset from an idyllic setting on the beach.
Morning will find the Silver Discoverer in front of Pentecost Island. Zodiacs will shuttle the ship’s company ashore to witness one of the most unusual socio-religious events in Vanuatu and in indeed in all of the South Pacific. The daring of the young men of Pentecost is impressive as they dive headfirst, connected by lengths of natural vine, from a specially constructed 30-meter tower onto the bare earth at its base. This ceremony can only take place from April to June when the vines have just the right moisture content to stretch and absorb the impact of their monumental dive.
Traditionally, the ceremony welcomes the yam harvest. It is a celebration for the whole village and many people turn out in traditional costume to dance and chant, whipping the atmosphere into an excited frenzy of dance, activity and noise. After the event, we will be invited to tour the local village and meet the children who may sing for us and show us around their school and village.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer sails south to Ambrym, another very special and highly active volcanic island. Its dark sand beaches speak of ancient lava flows.
Ambrym is known as the island of magic, and we will go ashore near Ranon to visit the local community and see the famed ‘Rom’ dance. We are fortunate to experience this ceremony as the Rom dance is normally only undertaken during significant occasions when the participants prepare their masks and costumes in secrecy. In addition to the mesmerizing Rom dance, we will be entertained by a local string band and hope to see some of Vanuatu’s sand drawings. The drawings may appear simply as aesthetically pleasing drawings, but UNESCO recognizes them as a local system of writing, and consequently inscribed them on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
During the morning, Silver Discoverer will continue to sail south, to reach Port Resolution which was named after Captain Cook’s famous ship. Tanna is largely an agricultural economy, but was decimated in 2015 by Cyclone Pam. The local community welcomes visitors but is still very much connected to their tradition and custom.
Going ashore onto the volcanically created black sand beach, we will be welcomed by the inhabitants of a nearby village. Singers from the ‘John Frum Cargo Cult’ will entertain us as local men and women present traditional dances. Following the performance, the people may offer to take you on a tour of their village and demonstrate daily living skills in a subsistence economy.
As evening approaches, we will climb into 4WD vehicles to reach an area close to the summit of Mount Yasur. This is the most accessible explosive volcano in the world. Locals believe their spirit god dwells in the mountain, and so it is a sacred place to the local tribes. Be amazed by the power beneath your feet and stand in awe of the fireworks display at sunset. Local guides will instruct you on safe viewing areas depending on the wind and levels of activity.
Following breakfast, disembark Silver Discoverer.
Expedition highlights and wildlife listed here are possible experiences only and cannot be guaranteed. Your Expedition Leader and Captain will work together to ensure opportunities for adventure and exploration are the best possible, taking into account the prevailing weather and wildlife activity. Expedition Team members scheduled for this voyage are subject to change or cancellation.
Overall size of 186 SQ.FT. / 17.3 M2. Enjoy a sitting area to watch brilliant scenery through a view window. With preferred midship location, Deck 4 Explorer Suites accommodate three guests. As on Deck 4, the Explorer Suites on Deck 3 offer an ample view window and relaxing sitting area, with enough room for three guests. An enchanting retreat suitable for three guests, Deck 2 suites exude cozy opulence, with porthole window views and a cushy sitting area. Features: View window or portholes, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Writing desk, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Flat screen television
Overall size of 181 SQ. FT. / 16.8 M2. Welcoming and comfortable, the View Suite provides a relaxing haven for even the utmost adventure-seeking guests. Complete a day spent exploring onshore with an evening unwinding in the comfort of your sitting area. Capture passing ocean scenes through your view window. Freshen up in your beautiful marbled bathroom before enjoying an elegant onboard dinner. Or cozy up under fine bed linens to watch an on-demand movie on the flat-screen television. Fall asleep easily, dreaming of the incredible experiences that await you the following day. Features: View window, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Writing desk, Hair dryer, Personal safe, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 269 SQ. FT. / 25 M2. A quiet sanctuary. The suite’s sitting area has plenty of room to relax while on your cruise. Large picture windows frame panoramic ocean views. The perfect backdrop for breakfast in bed. Some Vista Suites accommodate three guests. Features: Large view window(s), Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Choice of bathroom amenities, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television with DVD and satellite reception, Wifi available (fees apply)
Overall size of 280 SQ. FT. / 26 M2 (including a private balcony 35.5 SQ. FT. / 3.2 M2 ). Veranda Suites 601, 602, 603 and 604 can accommodate three guests. A Silversea signature, complete with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a private balcony with patio furniture. Veranda Suites lavishly accommodate three guests. Features: Veranda or balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, Sitting area, Twin beds or queen-sized bed, Marbled bathroom, Personal safe, Hair dryer, Writing desk, Flat screen television
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition
Length: 338 Feet/102.9 Metres
Passenger Capacity: 120 passengers
Her small size and shallow draft allow close-up access to rugged coasts well beyond the reach of ordinary vessels. And she has been newly refurbished to help guests maximize their experience and build a genuine connection with the regions they visit.
Spacious decks and panoramic public rooms mean the drama of the unexpected is never far from view. A fleet of Zodiacs allows exploration from the water or remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictate. Since many of our expeditions sail to some of the world's most pristine coral reef systems, there's a glass-bottom boat for underwater viewing along with a full complement of snorkelling equipment and a dive programme for advanced divers.
We've also taken great care to assemble a truly outstanding Expedition Team, composed of experts in the culture, history and wild life of the destinations, to present informal talks, guide Zodiac outings and lead small-group explorations ashore. While back on board, every creature comfort awaits: an ocean-view suite, in-suite bar and the head-to-toe pampering of a butler; elegant lounges and open bar where fellow travellers gather to swap tales about their day's adventures; and cuisine that meets Silversea's standards of culinary excellence — which are lofty, indeed. Imaginative menus in The Restaurant feature both regional offerings and dishes inspired by Relais & Châteaux. Additional amenities include a sun-catching pool deck, an internet cafe, a fitness centre, and a beauty and massage centre — particularly alluring after an adventurous day ashore.