French Polynesia & South Pacific Discovery

10/24/22 to 11/09/22
SH Minerva
17 Days
2 Guest
Price From
$ 10,774
Per Person
Trip Details

The silhouette of moai statue set against a sunset, the intense blue of a languid lagoon, the night sky filled with South Seas stars, French Polynesia and South Pacific are destinations that pop up in many a travel fantasy. Everyone who visits concedes that, indeed, paradise can be found in the Pacific. It can be no surprise that the Bounty mutineers chose this spot in which to rebel, and then hide from the British Navy. On this 16-day luxury cruise, you’ll travel from Tahiti in French Polynesia to the Austral and Bass Islands. Then it’s onwards toward the beautiful Pitcairns, which benefit from their association with the Bounty. Your journey’s end is Rapa Nui, a small island that’s big on cultural mysteries.

Trip Highlights
View Rapa Iti’s mountaintop fortresses and reflect this heavenly idyll’s war-torn past.
Tour the world’s most remote museum on Pitcairn Island, Britain’s last possession in the Pacific, and see artefacts owned by the mutineers of the Bounty, who hid from the Navy here
Enjoy viewing the birdlife and avian colonies on Marotiri, Oeno and Ducie.
Explore Rapa Nui, which tops many bucket lists, and visit the island’s mystical statues.
Itinerary Map
Pape'ete Day 1

Your 16-day cruise begins today in French Polynesia’s capital city, Pape’ete. Located on Tahiti, you’ve reached the island that famously entranced Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Marlon Brando and others. It was first labelled a ‘utopia’ in 1768 by Philibert Commerson, a naturalist on the voyage of the French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville. Since then, many others have fallen for Tahiti’s charms. While it’s true that Pape’ete is too urban to be called utopic, it pulses with joyous, enjoyable energy. If time allows after you board your luxury ship and check into your cabin, set out to explore this compact, colourful and sometimes chaotic town. The 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

As you cruise towards the Austral Islands, spend the day savouring your ship’s amenities. Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment, hit the running machine or weights in the gym, listen to an enriching lecture, watch a documentary, or gaze at the passing Pacific. It’s your day to enjoy your way.

Motu Vaiamanu Day 3

White sand, palm trees swaying, bird song high in the branches, a lapping turquoise ocean – the South Seas has some of the most glorious beaches on the planet. Discover some today on Motu Vaiamanu is an uninhabited islet found on Raivavae’s southeastern side in the Austral Isles. Daniel Defoe’s celebrated 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe will spring to mind as you relax on Motu Vaiamanu’s powder-soft sand or explore this palm-fronded idyll. This kind of remoteness and solitude is precious in the 21st century.

Rapa, Austral Islands Day 4-5

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 7-8

When Ferdinand Magellan crossed the world’s largest body of water some 500 years ago, he dubbed it Mar Pacífico, meaning ‘peaceful sea’. Cruise the Pacific Ocean for the next two days as you sail from the Austral Islands towards the Pitcairns. Enjoy indulging in the amenities of your ship. You might find your inner calm practising some yoga. Listen to an informative talk. Lounge on the deck and relish a cocktail from the bar. Enjoy delicious meals, and watch some light entertainment. Look to the heavens – nights at sea are pitch black perfect for stargazing.

Oeno Day 9

Today you’ll explore Oeno. This low-lying coral atoll in the Pitcairns overseas territory is located approximately 120 kilometres northwest of Pitcairn. Although first ‘discovered’ by Captain Henderson, aboard the East India Company’s ship Hercules in 1819, it takes its name from an American whaler, the captain of which named the island after his boat in 1824. Oeno lies inside a lagoon, its sand bar, which is continually changing, was separate from the island at last report. Also known as Holiday Island, sand-lined Oeno is uninhabited, but for decades had yearly temporary visitors – the Pitcairners would row over to enjoy the islands’ beaches once a year. Birders rejoice – BirdLife International has identified the island as an Important Bird Area (IBA) for its Murphy’s petrels, which, at some 12,500 pairs, is estimated to be the second-largest colony of these birds in the world. There are also sooty terns, brown noddies, and other species.

Adamstown Day 10

Pitcairn Island – bolthole of Fletcher Christian and his band of mutineers in that compelling of true-life maritime tales, the Mutiny on the Bounty – exerts a powerful fascination over most visitors. With no natural harbour and buffered by big swells, Pitcairn is notoriously inaccessible – the precise reason it was chosen by those fugitive mutineers in their attempt to escape naval justice in 1789. Steep-sided and volcanic, there are no beaches or coconut palms. Instead, Pitcairn appeals because of its history and community, which reportedly sounds more ‘Portsmouth than Polynesian’. Meet Christian and company’s descendants in Pitcairn’s capital, Adamstown. View the Bounty’s anchor and cannon, tour the island’s little museum and visit mutineer John Adams’ grave. Adams was the last surviving mutineer alive when their refuge was eventually discovered by the American ship, Topaz, in 1808.

Henderson Day 11

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 12

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 13-14

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 counterpoint to the green days spent exploring on land.

Easter Island Day 15-17

Easter Island’s monolithic moai are sublime. Carved out of volcanic rock between the 10th and 16th centuries by Polynesian settlers, these statues are enthralling and famed all over the world. Easter Island or Rapa Nui (Big Rapa) is a special territory of Chile and located some 3,700 kilometres off the South American country’s coast. It sits at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle and is itself shaped (roughly) like a triangle, with extinct volcanoes at each corner. This treeless speck bears witness to a unique cultural phenomenon according to UNESCO, which inscribed the island’s national park to the World Heritage list in 1995. Arguably the two best sites to visit to see some of the 887 moai are the Rano Raraku quarry and Ahu Tongariki, the most picturesque of the ahu (platforms). Day 16 is the last day of your luxury expedition cruise around the islands of French Polynesia and the South Pacific. Having overnighted on your comfortable ship, disembark your ship after breakfast and transfer to the airport to begin your journey home. Suppose there is time, you could continue to explore Easter Island so that you can make the most of its mysteries. If you didn’t get a chance to yesterday, you might opt to explore the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum, Easter Island’s only museum, for close-up viewing of moai and several other cultural artefacts. Or perhaps you might like a hike to the peak of Poike or the island’s highest point, Terevaka.

Rates Include
One night pre-cruise accommodation with breakfast in a 4/5* hotel or onboard
All transfers between the hotel, port and airport
Onboard accommodation
All meals onboard including room service 24 hours a day
Coffee, tea, soft drinks & select alcoholic beverages 24 hours a day
Lecture programmes by our experienced expedition team and guest speakers
Shore excursion programme led by our expert expedition team
Standard WIFI inclusion
Onboard gratuities & port taxes
Itinerary Map

09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777
Number of Guests
19 m2 Sleeps 2
Oceanview staterooms features 2 single beds, bedroom and living room and a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
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$ 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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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Other Available Dates
If you really like this cruise but the date is not suitable for you, we are glad to offer other dates for the itinerary.
Please find below all our date offerings.
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09:00 AM – 05:30 PM (EST)

+1 (800) 537 6777