The name Polynesia means ‘many islands’ and no one could argue with the suitability of this title. There are islands of low lying coral with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and contrasting volcanic mountainous structures of lush, incomparable beauty.
Join us for Christmas and New Year in paradise on a leisurely passage through the South Seas to an area long associated with Captain Cook, Captain Bligh and the Bounty, and Gauguin. We can promise you an unforgettable voyage to a corner of the world which has lured adventurers and romantics alike ever since Magellan first sailed to these waters in 1521.
Of course the real age of European exploration did not take place until the 18th century and many of the islands we will visit have changed little since that time. Their sheer isolation has been their saving grace and apart from an influx of missionaries in the late 19th century, western culture has made few inroads into most of the islands. The natural beauty of these islands is mesmerizing. From coral reefs teeming with life to powerful legends that shaped history, each island is unique, each culture distinct. On the more remote islands, villages are still composed of thatched houses, set amongst the shade of the breadfruit and coconut trees. Many islands are important nesting grounds for seabirds and sea turtles and the lagoons everywhere are breeding grounds for countless species of fish. We embark our vessel, the MS Caledonian Sky, in Easter Island. Lying some 2300 miles off the coast of Chile, it is the most remote inhabited island in the world. Easter Island, a tiny volcanic triangle was aptly named ‘Navel of the World’ by its early settlers. Surrounded by the vast Pacific, over 1,200 miles from the nearest inhabited land, the island is an archaeological treasure.
From here our island hopping adventure begins. Highlights of our cruise are numerous, but for many it will be the Pitcairn Islands, final destination of the Bounty. Here we are lucky enough to spend Christmas day on Pitcairn Island itself. We continue through the beautiful Tuamotu archipelago, the Society Islands, the islands of Tonga with their truly laid back lifestyles and finally the horseshoe of volcanic Fijian islands. This mix of islands and cultures is a fascinating journey where we can discover the range of lifestyles, traditions, people and landscapes of some of the most remote islands on earth.
With our fleet of Zodiac landing craft we can explore inlets, bird sanctuaries and land in otherwise inaccessible places and although we set sail with a set itinerary, it is often the unscheduled events that become the highlight. We will be joined by a hand-picked expedition team, consisting of naturalists, marine biologists and ecologists who will share their knowledge and enthusiasm during forays ashore and whilst onboard.
For those who would prefer a shorter voyage in the South Pacific, it is possible to sail from Easter Island to Tahiti or from Tahiti to Fiji. Nomads of the Windor In the Wake of the Bounty
Previous Adventures in the South Seas
To give you a taste of what can be expected from an expedition cruise in the South Seas, here are a couple of extracts from a similar cruise aboard the MS Clipper Odyssey which we operated in 2009.
Puka rua Atoll, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
Tuesday September 22nd, 2009
Just after lunch, the Clipper Odyssey arrived at Pukarua, surrounded by a coral reef without any pass; it is 17 kilometres long by 4˝ kilometres wide, with a long motu in its northeastern reef where the only village, Marautagaroa, is located and where most of the 190 inhabitants of the atoll live. Going ashore was a little adventure. Indeed, in the absence of a clear pass, our zodiacs had to make their way through the breakers in a narrow channel leading to a little port. The experience was enjoyed by all as we waited for the right wave and then surfed it down towards the island. The experience was also enjoyed by the local inhabitants who had gathered on the shore to welcome us. The traditional lei were distributed and then we boarded a couple of buses (or walked) across the motu towards the village. The lagoon displayed splendid colours as we arrived along its shores.
Coconuts were distributed to refresh us and then we gathered for the customary speech from the mayor of the village. This was followed by a show of traditional dances. This tidy and very beautiful little atoll made a good impression on all of us. Some went swimming in the lagoon before we headed back to the zodiacs.
Friday September 25th, 2009
The long awaited day finally arrived. At dawn, the Clipper Odyssey was going full speed toward Pitcairn Island, still beyond the horizon. Breakfast was followed by a presentation by Louis on the breadfruit voyages: the famous Bounty and its mutiny and the Pandora expedition. Just as Louis was finishing, John announced that Pitcairn Island had come in sight. The weather conditions were marvellous with glorious sunshine over flat calm sparkling waters and the rock of Pitcairn gradually revealed its many shades and 13 colours, due to both vegetation and geology. The seas were so calm that, as the ship closed in on Bounty Bay, we could see the bottom of the ocean through the crystal-clear layer of water.
The ride ashore was quite fast and soon we stood on the concrete jetty of Bounty Bay. The road to Adamstown, the settlement on Pitcairn Island, was quite steep so some of us hitched a ride on one of the quads or in little buggy-taxis. We gathered in the main square of the town - in fact in the church - for a presentation by the Pitcairners themselves, after which shopping was open with little stands selling locally-made handicrafts, honey and postcards. The post office (with its special Pitcairn-Island postal stamps), community hall and museum (containing the famous Bounty Bible) were all close by and most of us visited each of them at some stage during the day.
Our naturalists then organised walks around and across the island. Pam and Stuart led a discovery expedition to the main points of interest of the island, the school, the cemetery where the graves bear the names of Brown, Young, McCoy or Christian besides just a handful of other names, John Adams’s grave (the longest surviving mutineers), which is a little further away and next to those of his Polynesian wife and daughter, the Bounty’s cannon and its anchor (in the main square). Guy guided a longer trek around the island, calling at its summit for 360° views and visiting the valleys which produce a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including citrus, watermelon, banana, yam, sugarcane. Louis took some of us on an exploring adventure to Christian’s Cave, the place where Fletcher Christian reportedly kept a watch for possible ships passing in the area. We all enjoyed the luxuriant vegetation, the jungle trails, and all the colourful flowers that were on our paths. Geraldine organised quad-bike excursions for some of us who wanted to roam a little further afield. Back on the Clipper Odyssey in the evening, the conversations were very lively and all were thoroughly happy with our successful visit to Pitcairn Island, a highlight for many.
The Pitcairners were invited onboard for appetizers and drinks and it was great to be able to chat with them one last time. At sunset, anchor was raised and the Clipper Odyssey drifted quietly away from Pitcairn Island, leaving the island and its small community once more alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean; and we headed down the stairs towards our own lovely dinner.