Pacific Islands of Myth & Legend

Pacific Islands: From French Polynesia to Easter Island and Valparaiso 23 Day Expedition Cruise

M2123092222
Dates
09/22/23 to 10/14/23
Ship
SH Minerva
Duration
23 Days
Guests
2 Guest
Price From
$ 15,714
Per Person
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Trip Details

Fall for the charms of some of the remotest islands on earth in the southeastern corner of the Polynesian Triangle. Sail with us on an extraordinary 22-night Pacific Islands: From French Polynesia to Easter Island and Valparaiso cruise crossing the South Pacific to Chile. Under the shimmering aquamarine waters, these astonishing islands harbour exquisite coral reefs, home to diverse ecosystems and an incredible array of marine life. Between volcanic islands and low-lying atolls, many of these island nations each reveal an astonishing past, where people, cultures and landscapes have entranced explorers, writers and artists from the welcoming French Polynesians to mysterious giant heads on Easter Island and the remote Robinson Crusoe island, where castaway Alexander Selkirk spent four years marooned. Take in these island paradises on board our boutique expedition ship and be mesmerised by the beauty of this rarely visited corner of earth.

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Trip Highlights
Snorkel or dive in some of the most biodiverse waters and be mesmerised by the colourful marine life among the coral
Discover remarkable and endangered birds among the remote French Polynesian and Pitcairn islands
Come face-to-face with Easter Island’s famous giant carvings (moai)
Follow in the wake of castaway sailor Alexander Selkirk on a visit to Robinson Crusoe Island
Cross the famous Humboldt Current, one of the most productive ecosystems in the world
Itinerary Map
Itinerary
Pape'Ete Day 1

The largest island in French Polynesia, Tahiti was first labelled a ‘utopia’ in 1768 by Philibert Commerson, a naturalist on the voyage of the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, the island famously entranced artist Paul Gauguin and author Robert Louis Stevenson. Since then, many others have fallen for Tahiti’s charms. Now too urban to be called utopic, the compact, colourful and sometimes chaotic capital of Pape’ete has a vibrant market is a must-experience. Enjoy an ice-cold coconut, fresh juice or some takeaway ma’a Tahiti (traditional food) while shopping for souvenirs – anything from pearls to pareu (sarongs).

At Sea Day 2

You can spend your day at sea enjoying the many facilities available. Head to the sauna, get in a workout in the state-of-the-art gym or relax in the jacuzzi whilst taking in incredible views along the way. If you prefer to learn a little more about your surroundings, listen to an informative talk or have a chat with one of our knowledgeable on-board experts.

Rurutu Island Day 3

Just under 600 km south of the capital in the Austral archipelago, Rurutu is a mountainous island featuring soaring coral cliffs and caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites. Plunge into the clear waters beyond the island’s reef to look for shoals of parrot fish in ocean dive sites, and look for breaching humpback whales who breed here between August and October. You can also hike to coffee and lychee plantations, or browse traditional crafts like patchwork blankets and woven hats.

Raivavae Island Day 4

Surrounded by a coral reef comprising 28 motu, or tiny islets, Raivavae is an Austral Islands jewel. It’s sure to enchant you, whether you’re snorkelling in the sapphire waters of its lagoon, spotting seabirds, or hiking the island’s craggy spine to Mont Hiro for phenomenal views. Search for laughing tiki, sacred stone idols tucked into the tropical jungle, and watch sewn outriggers being made. Remember to taste juicy, locally grown mangoes and bananas before you leave.

Rapa, Austral Islands Day 5

Spend two days exploring Rapa, which is also known as Rapa Iti (Little Rapa) to distinguish it from Rapa Nui (Big Rapa). The most southerly of the Bass Islands in French Polynesia, it’s also the largest and only inhabited island in the archipelago. Roughly shaped like the letter c with a cedilla, the island’s central bay is well protected by encircling mountain peaks. The island appears to be a collapsed volcanic crater. The first inhabitants were Polynesians, who settled here in the 13th century. Due to a rapid depletion of natural resources, war ensued, and islanders were forced to retreat into 14 hilltop forts – the most notable of which is Morongo Uta, thought to be the first of these defensive structures. Nowadays most of the population (approximately) live in Ahurei town, on the southern shore of the bay. There’s another much smaller town on the northern coast called Area. The islanders are renowned for their unique dialect and traditional singing.

Marotiri Day 6

Some 75 kilometres southeast of Rapa are the Bass Rocks, four desolate outcrops that are known as Marotiri to the Polynesians. According to Rapan legends, these rocks were a place of banishment for criminals and dissidents from Rapa. Birds are the only present-day inhabitants – the stoney islets are an important breeding site for seabirds. Cruise the crystal-clear waters that surround Marotiri and look for the seabird colonies. It’s undeniably wild but undoubtedly wonderful too.

At Sea Day 7

Days at sea are the perfect chance to relax, unwind and do whatever takes your fancy. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, trying to spot a whale from the deck, reading a chapter or two, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the green days spent exploring on land.

Mangareva Island Day 8

Dominated by a mountainous ridge enveloped in thick tropical foliage, Mangareva is the largest of the Gambier Islands, a remote archipelago lying within a mesmerising aquamarine lagoon. While snorkelling in the clear waters or relaxing on the white sand, you can watch oyster farmers culturing Tahitian black pearls. Hike to Mount Duff, the highest point on the island, for sweeping vistas, or explore numerous 19th-century religious buildings, including the meticulously restored Cathedral Saint-Michel, whose altar is inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

At Sea Day 9

Days at sea are the perfect chance to relax, unwind and do whatever takes your fancy. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, trying to spot a whale from the deck, reading a chapter or two, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the green days spent exploring on land.

Henderson Day 10

A remote and uninhabited large elevated coral atoll, Henderson Island is located 193 kilometres northeast of Pitcairn. There is evidence of Polynesian occupation on the island sometime between the 12th and 15th centuries. However, when Europeans rediscovered the island, it was uninhabited. In 1820, a sperm whale rammed and sank the whaler, Essex, shipwrecking the crew on Henderson. Sound familiar? This story inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick. In 1988, this ‘gem’ was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is particularly notable for its ten endemic plants, its fruit doves, lorikeets, reed warblers and flightless crakes, and large colonies of seabirds. With swaying coconut trees, pink-tinged sand and turquoise waters breaking over a coral reef, Henderson is idyllic in one respect, however, in recent years, wave upon wave of plastic has been washing ashore, carried there by the mighty South Pacific Gyre current. It’s galling to see but will change your attitude to single-use plastic forever.

Ducie Day 11

Ducie is an uninhabited atoll at the edge of the Pitcairns. It was first discovered by a European in 1606 by Pedro Fernandes de Queiros and rediscovered 184 years later by the crew of the HMS Pandora on their hunt for the Bounty mutineers. While Pitcairn became a British colony in 1838, the other islands in the group (Ducie, Henderson and Oeno) were annexed in 1902 and together they now form the last remaining British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. In 2015, they became part of the then-largest marine conservation area – established to preserve one of the planet’s most pristine natural environments. So while Ducie’s waters are plentiful, birders are in for a rare treat. It’s another Important Bird Area and is lauded for its Murphy’s petrel and Christmas shearwater populations. If the conditions are right, enjoy diving or snorkelling in the central lagoon or around the 1881 wreck of the Acadia.

At Sea Day 12-13

Days at sea are the perfect chance to relax, unwind and do whatever takes your fancy. So whether that is going to the gym, visiting the spa, trying to spot a whale from the deck, reading a chapter or two, or simply topping up your tan, these blue sea days are the perfect balance to the green days spent exploring on land.

Hanga Roa, Easter Island Day 14-15

Our arrival port on Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is Hanga Roa, the main village and gateway to extraordinary archaeological sites, including hundreds of giant stone statues. Head to Anakena, where seven hulking moai - monolithic figures carved from volcanic rock - stand behind a white-sand beach. Rano Raraku, dotted with unfinished statues, is the crater once used as a quarry to supply the stones for the moai. Also fascinating is the stone ceremonial village of Orongo, perched between a caldera and the sea.

At Sea Day 16-19

Sea days are rarely dull. Take the time to sit back and let the world go by. The ship’s observation decks provide stunning views of the passing ocean. A day at sea gives you the opportunity to mingle with other passengers and share your experiences of this incredible trip or head to our library which is stocked full of reference books. Get an expert’s view in one of our on-board lectures or perhaps perfect your photography skills with invaluable advice from our onboard professional photographers.

Alexander Selkirk Island Day 20

Remote Alejandro Selkirk Island has a rugged landscape of verdant mountains, plunging ravines and towering coastal cliffs. Also part of the Juan Fernández archipelago, lying 180 km west of Robinson Crusoe Island, it’s home to rare plants including native orchids. Look too for the endemic Masafuera rayadito, an endangered bird typically found foraging at high elevation in the fern forest. For eight months of the year, lobster fishermen and their families live in the island’s tiny village.

Robinson Crusoe Island Day 21

In 1708 Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was rescued from a remote Pacific Island, formerly known as Más a Tierra, after being marooned there for over four years. This remarkable event was the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s classic novel Robinson Crusoe. In 1966 the Chilean Government renamed the island in honour of this literary association. The sole settlement on the island, San Juan Daurisa, is home to fewer than 900 residents. The economy here is fuelled mainly by the spiny lobster trade, and more recently tourism activities. The island is part of the Juan Fernandez archipelago, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. We’ll explore the shores of the islands looking out for the incredible local wildlife including the Juan Fernandez firecrown hummingbird and the Magellanic penguin.

At Sea Day 22

You can spend your day at sea enjoying the many facilities available. Head to the sauna, get in a workout in the state-of-the-art gym or relax in the jacuzzi whilst taking in incredible views along the way. If you prefer to learn a little more about your surroundings, listen to an informative talk or have a chat with one of our knowledgeable on-board experts.

Valparaiso Day 23

One of Chile’s oldest cities, Valparaíso is known for its steep hillsides overlooking the ocean as well as its historical but perfectly functional funicular. The UNESCO-listed city is a maze of monuments, wonderful architecture, churches, cobblestone alleys, colourful houses and bustling plazas. Spend some time following in the footsteps of Chile’s most famous poet, Pablo Neruda, by visiting his former home. Or perhaps enjoy a wine tasting on a trip to the Casablanca Wine Valley. There are also plenty of wonderful cafes, restaurants, art galleries, museums and shopping opportunities. This city is truly unique and fascinating in equal measure, and definitely worth taking some time getting to know a little better.

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Rates Include
Return regional flights to the port of embarkation and/or disembarkation (where specified)
Group return transfers from the airport to the cruise port (via our included accommodation where applicable)
One night pre-cruise accommodation with breakfast in a 4/5-star hotel or onboard
All meals onboard
Onboard accommodation in a stateroom selected category
24-hour room service
Coffee, tea, soft drinks and selected alcoholic beverages available 24-hours per day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
One selected shore excursion/expedition activities per port of call
Branded Swan Hellenic expedition parka and use of rubber boots in Polar Regions
Standard WiFi
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
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Itinerary Map
Itinerary changes and surprising experiences are part of expedition cruise life. The world has a habit of amazing us with incredible things when we yield to the unexpected. Join us with an open mind and a sense of adventure and you’ll find that this can pay off in the most rewarding ways.

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777
ARRANGE A CALLBACK
Stateroom
Number of Guests
Oceanview D4
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview staterooms features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
Price From
$ 0
Oceanview M4
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview staterooms features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
Price From
$ 0
Balcony D5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the forward and aft of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
Price From
$ 0
Balcony M5
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located at the centre of the ship, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
Price From
$ 0
Balcony D6
28 m2 Sleeps 2
Located on deck six, these balcony staterooms feature 2 single beds or double bed bedroom with living room area, a luxurious bathroom and your own private 6m2 balcony
Price From
$ 0
Suite
44 m2 Sleeps 2
Our Suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom and a 12 sq.m. private balcony.
Price From
$ 0
Premium Suite
49 m2 Sleeps 2
Our grandest suites features a superking bed and separate living room with and a soothing flame-effect fireplace a luxurious ensuite bathroom, spacious walk in wardrobe and a 12 sq.m private balcony.
Price From
$ 0
Itinerary changes and surprising experiences are part of expedition cruise life. The world has a habit of amazing us with incredible things when we yield to the unexpected. Join us with an open mind and a sense of adventure and you’ll find that this can pay off in the most rewarding ways.

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777
ARRANGE A CALLBACK