In the company of our guest expert, Kees Groeneboer, we will journey to almost-forgotten Banda Islands, which were once the world’s only source of nutmeg, shaping the history of colonialism in the East Indies from the 16th century onwards. Here, we can climb a volcano, marvel at the beauty of the scenery, visit the majestic Fort Belgica, wander through the shady nutmeg plantations, and barter for spice at the market. Cruising north, we will then explore the spectacular region of Raja Ampat, one of the most noteworthy ecological niches on the planet, where the below-surface world is reminiscent of a living kaleidoscope and the above-surface views are among the most stunning that you are likely to behold in a lifetime. You don’t need to be a seasoned birdwatcher to appreciate the dazzling birdlife of Raja Ampat, and hopefully we will be lucky enough to witness the curious bobbing, flapping and weaving courtship dance of the red birds of paradise in their natural habitat.
Note: The price of this cruise does not include any domestic airfares to and from our start and end points. If you are booking by yourself, please check with us first to find out the best routes to take, and to ensure that you arrive at your destination with plenty of time to spare. Except for Bali, transfers to and from local airports to the boat are also included.
• Discover Raja Ampat, Banda Islands
• Explore Seram, Misool
Upon arrival in Ambon cars will be waiting to take you to the Katharina at her mooring in Tulehu Harbour. Once settled into your cabin, our cruise director will familiarise you with the vessel’s facilities and safety procedures. Ready to start our adventure, we will depart for the island of Saparua, were we will visit the Dutch built VOC-Fort Duurstede (1691) stormed in 1817 in a revolt led by Ambonese Kapitan Pattimura, a national hero and martyr. His story is told by vivid museum dioramas. Later, we can enjoy our first snorkelling experience near the small uninhabited island of Molana. In the evening, we will begin our voyage to the Banda Islands, the original source of nutmeg; in the 15th and 16th centuries, this aromatic spice spurred exploration and shaped colonial empires.
Before breakfast we will use the tenders to explore the coastline of Pulau Suanggi, a small rocky island populated by an enormous, noisy colony of seabirds. We will then continue our journey to the Banda Archipelago, arriving first at the tiny outlying island of Run, where the English and Dutch vied bitterly for control of the nutmeg trade. In 1667, under the Treaty of Breda, Run was the subject of an unbelievable real estate deal when it was ceded by the English to the Dutch in exchange for Manhattan. Yes, THAT Manhattan! After visiting the village and the remains of the British-built Fort Swan, we can snorkel offshore. After lunch we will continue to pretty island of Pulau Ai, where we will wander through the village and visit the remains of the Dutch-built Fort Revenge, followed by some more beautiful snorkelling. In the evening we will head to Banda Neira, the main island in the Banda chain, where we will anchor in a small, protected bay in the lee of Gunung Api volcano.
In the morning we can do a walk on P. Banda Besar, also called P. Lonthor, the biggest island of the Bandas to see the clove and nutmeg cultivation that has been nurtured since the VOC times. On the way we pass Fort Hollandia, as well as some planters’ mansions from the old days. In the afternoon we can snorkel near the Gunung Api, on the side where in 1988 the lava flew into the ocean and where now all kinds of new coral is growing.
Those of us who are brave and fit enough can start the day before dawn by climbing 640-metre-high Gunung Api, following a narrow track to be rewarded by a stunning view over the Banda Archipelago. After returning to the boat, we can snorkel over the area where the lava flowed into the sea during the 1988 eruption of Gunung Api. In the afternoon we will explore the village of Banda Neira, visiting Fort Nassau (1600), Fort Belgica (1611), some restored planters’ mansions, a church, a cemetery and other remains of the Dutch colonial era, all of which will give us a feel for the rich history of this place.
We will wake up off the coast of Pulau Igar, an island in the north of the Watubela Archipelago, where we can enjoy some morning snorkelling and beach activities. At midday, we will continue north to Pulau Manawoka, and in the afternoon we can visit the friendly villagers of Amar Sekaru, who will happily guide us through their beautiful plantations. Near the village we will find the two little lakes of Sole, connected to the sea by a small tunnel. Swimming in these lakes and tunnel evokes the feeling of discovering an unknown planet. Overnight we will continue our journey to Pulau Daram in Raja Ampat.
We should arrive at the island of Daram by mid morning, allowing us the opportunity for some trekking, snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up-paddle-boarding and beach activities. At lunchtime we will continue to Pulau Farondi, northwest of Daram, where we can snorkel in the late afternoon. In the evening we will cruise to the nearby Tomolol (Tamulol) Bay on the east side of Misool (one of Raja Ampat's four main islands), where the Katharina will spend a quiet night at anchor.
In the morning we will explore the shallow waters and winding canals of Tomolol Bay in the tenders, followed by some beautiful snorkelling in the bay near Wagmag. After lunch we will visit the revered and magical Tomolol Cave, which opens to a massive, hidden lagoon, where we can swim or use the kayaks to explore the surroundings. Overnight we will cruise to the Piaynemu Island.
In the morning we enter the hidden bay of Piaynemo and climb the hills for a fabulous view of the area around. Mid-morning we snorkel at one of the islands nearby. Midday we sail in the direction of Mansuar in search of the manta rays and snorkel at one of the atolls of Manta Sandy. In the evening we cross to the south side of Waigeo.
Before dawn we depart for trekking and bird watching near the village Sapokren, looking for the spectacularly dancing Red Bird of Paradise. On the way back we see many other special birds of the area. Mid morning we go for some fantastic snorkeling in front of nearby Friwn Island. In the afternoon we have our last snorkeling session near Yanbuba Island and Kri. In the evening we have a farewell party on board with the crew. Overnight we sail to our final destination, the harbour of Sorong.
In the morning we will bid farewell to the ship and her crew, and transfer to the airport of Sorong for the return flight to Bali, Jakarta or elsewhere.
Itineraries are subject to change.
Spacious twin shared cabins with twin bunk beds or double bed (on request). Each cabin has a wardrobe, a built-in mini safe, individually controlled cooling systems and soft lightning. All cabins have their own private bathroom with (warm & cold water) shower and toilet.
Vessel Type: Yacht
Length: 40 metres
Passenger Capacity: 14
Built / Refurbished: 1995 / 2014
The Katharina is a traditional Indonesian pinisi, built in 1995 in Kalimantan using only the very best grades of ironwood. Her slim hull was originally being planned for commercial sailing carrying freight before we spotted her in the making. We bought her and fitted her out as a cruising vessel, and then again in January 2014, the Katharina was the subject of a major interior refit. Working with the unique heritage this vessel represents, her transformation is a conservation exercise back to authenticity, using only the best traditional materials, shaped by highly skilled Indonesian craftsmen. Yet, what goes on behind the scenes is the use of the most up-to-date technology and she is now equipped with a super yacht grade AC station and we are optimizing our systems to the latest safety standards.
Not only is the Katharina very elegant on the water, she is also fast becoming a classic yacht, as very few of these original designs remain. Katharina’s overall length is 40 metres, providing comfortable accommodation for up to 14 guests in six cabins located below decks. All cabins offer creature comforts and necessary amenities including double beds or twins, private en-suite bathrooms, natural light, safety boxes, individually controlled air-conditioning and storage space including a safe.
Led by Captain Iwan, the Katharina is catered to by an all-Indonesian crew of 12, with each member dedicated to making your stay aboard truly memorable.