Ancient Cultures and Landscapes of Vanuatu

12 days / 11 nights
    Outbound domestic flight included
    Ancient Cultures and Landscapes of Vanuatu
    Flight Brisbane / Honiara + transfer

    Cruise Pacific and Oceania

    from 13 September 2018 to 24 September 2018
    12 days / 11 nights

    Departure Port : Honiara, Guadalcanal Island
    Arrival Port : Lautoka

    Ship : L'AUSTRAL

    • Ref : HL014 - A130918

    Discover why Vanuatu is often referred to as the “happiest country on earth” during your 12-day expedition voyage on board L’Austral. Vanuatu is home to a unique blend of ancient traditional villages, picture perfect beaches, accessible active volcanoes and coral reefs teeming with life. It offers an idyllic setting for anyone seeking adventure or wanting to relax on a tropical beach fringed with palm trees. The largest Island, Espiritu Santo, is the highly fictionalized locale of James Michener's Tales of the South Pacific and the subsequent Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific. Join your expert expedition team, selected for their knowledge and experience, along with local guides to explore these unique destinations by foot, zodiac or local transport.

    This bespoke experience will showcase the astonishing diversity of cultures, landscapes, flora and fauna across the archipelago. Experience Vanuatu on board the luxurious L’Austral and discover one of the world’s great adventures in waiting.

    • Naturalists Naturalists
    • Diving Diving
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    • 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.

    Flight Brisbane / Honiara + transfer

    Outbound domestic flight included

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    Staterooms & Suites

    • Superior Stateroom
      Not Available
    • Deluxe Stateroom
      Not Available
    • Prestige Deck 4
      Not Available
    • Prestige Deck 5
    • Prestige Deck 6
      Not Available
    • Deluxe Suite
      Not Available
    • Prestige Deck 5 Suite
      Not Available
    • Prestige Deck 6 Suite
      Not Available
    • Owner's Suite
      Not Available

    Choose your fare basis* :


    Prestige Deck 5

    • Area : 18 m²
    • Capacity : up to 2 guests per stateroom
    • Private balcony
    •  Individually-controlled air-conditioning
    • King-size bed or twin beds
    • Shower
    • Minibar
    • Flat screen
    • Satellite TV
    • Desk with stationery
    • Ipod™ players
    • Video on demand
    • Safe
    • Hairdryer
    • Bath robes
    • Satellite direct line telephone
    • 110/220 volts outlet
    • French bath products
    • 24hr room service
    • Internet acces wifi.
    Reference rate, per person  based on  double occupancy.




    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

    13 September 2018 – At sea

    Honiara, Guadalcanal Island

    Embarkation 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. During your stop, 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. Alternatively, you can discover a traditional village, its culture and way of life.

    14 September 2018 – At sea

    14 September 2018 – At sea

    Arrival 14/09/2018 . Departure 14/09/2018 .

    During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

    15 September 2018 – Vanikoro Island

    15 September 2018 – Vanikoro Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    16 September 2018 – Ureparapara Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    16 September 2018 – Sana Island

    Arrival 16/09/2018 . Departure 16/09/2018 .

    The Reef Islands, also called Rowa, are a cluster of uninhabited coral cays between Mota Lave 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 – Moto Lava Island

    17 September 2018 – Moto Lava Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    18 September 2018 – Paradise Island

    Arrival 18/09/2018 . Departure 18/09/2018 .

    19 September 2018 – South West Bay, Malekula

    19 September 2018 – South West Bay, Malekula

    Arrival 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 Island

    20 September 2018 – Ambrym Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    21 September 2018 – Lamen Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    21 September 2018 – Lopevi Island

    Arrival 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 Island

    22 September 2018 – Tanna Island

    Arrival 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 sea

    23 September 2018 – At sea

    Arrival 23/09/2018 . Departure 23/09/2018 .

    During your day at sea, make the most of the many services and activities on board. Treat yourself to a moment of relaxation in the spa or stay in shape in the fitness centre. Depending on the season, let yourself be tempted by the swimming pool or a spot of sunbathing. This day without a port of call will also be an opportunity to enjoy the conferences or shows proposed on board, to do some shopping in the boutique or to meet the PONANT photographers in their dedicated space. As for lovers of the open sea, they will be able to visit the ship’s upper deck to admire the spectacle of the waves and perhaps be lucky enough to observer marine species. A truly enchanted interlude, combining comfort, rest and entertainment.

    24 September 2018▸23 September 2018 – Lautoka


    Disembarkation 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 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 recommand you consult this website for further details :


    • 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.

    Diving in Oceania

    Diving in Oceania

    Scuba diving

    Your dives will be led by Patrick Brissac your 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.

    Thanks to check below.



    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


    The minimum level required for scuba diving on this cruise is 1 stars CMA or the Open Water Diver Padi.


    What is a confirmed diver?

    A confirmed diver is 1 star CMAS certified diver, or the Open Water Diver (PADI).

    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 diving instructor Patrick BRISSAC.


    How does it work?

    The instructor can dive with 4 confirmed divers at a time, according to their certification. The instructor reserves the right to check divers’ ability for maximum safety.

    The depth that can be reached will depend of the certification of the divers:

    • For the 1 stars CMAS, or Open Water Divers, the maximum depth will be 25 meters.
    • If 2 divers with the above certifications want to dive together, they will have a briefing before the dive. They will have to dive with a diving computer. The maximum depth will be 20 meters.


    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 is given as an indication and 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. As we will dive in remote place, the dives will be done without decompression stop. A safety stop of 3 minutes at 5 meters will be mandatory.


    Supplied equipment

    • Diving wetsuit
    • Stabilizing jacket      
    • Fins
    • Mask
    • Snorkel
    • Regulator with octopus and pressure gauge
    • Diving computer



    Price per person

    • Certified dive:
      • Exploration (1 dive): €80
      • Excellence Package (3 dives): €225
      • Passion Package (6 dives): €420


    Fauna of the Oceania

    The fauna of Oceania is very varied. During the various dives, divers can be observed various species of benthic fauna such as emperor angel fish, Meyer butterfly fish, raccoon butterfly fish, and pelagic fauna such as manta rays, Gray reef sharks, as well as endemic wildlife such as spiny orange sponges and fried egg anemone.




    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

    For your serenity, PONANT selects a flight and organizes the transfers between the airport and the port. This package is included in your cruise fare.


    Embarkation day - Brisbane/Honiara

    Flight from Brisbane to Honiara. Flight duration: approx. 3 h.

    Meet and greet at the airport by our local representative. Group transfer from the International airport of Honiara to the port.


    Please note: 

    • Flight Brisbane/Honiara included is in economy class.
    • Detailed programme will be communicated in your travel documentation.
    • Package is subject to availability.
    • Local English-speaking assistance will be provided.
    • We recommend you spend one night in Brisbane before the PONANT selected flight.


    To know your PONANT flight schedule, please contact your travel advisor; 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.

    Important information

    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
    • Binoculars
    • 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:

    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

    1. Before your cruise

      Night at the Sofitel Brisbane Central Hotel (1 night)

      490.00 AU$
      Per person, based on double occupancy

      More information

    2. After your cruise

      A glimpse of Nadi

      210.00 AU$
      Per person, based on double occupancy

      More information

      Relax on Malolo Island (2 nights)

      2230.00 AU$
      Per person, based on double occupancy

      More information

    Attention: the prices listed at the time of your reservation can be different from those listed in the brochure. These prices can evolve based on availability and the real time rates of the airline companies selected.
    Travellers are advised to check all the information with the authorities concerned prior to the departure date. Ponant advises Travellers to consult the country factsheets relating to the chosen destinations. Ponant specifically draws Travellers' attention to the fact that the information provided may change up until the departure date, and they are advised to consult that information up until the time of departure. CDP invites Travellers to adjust their behavior to the visited country, to exercise vigilance and to avoid carrying valuable objects during their travel.

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