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Orion cruise part 2

Thursday, November 9, 2006

This is the second part of the cruise Getaway joined aboard the Australian-owned expedition ship Orion. Its voyages encourage guests to become a part of the region they are discovering. Expeditions run year-round with destinations varying with the seasons.

Orion is a purpose-built five-star craft giving access to the inaccessible. From its ice-strengthened hull to the latest in marine and environmental technology, it offers cruising at its finest.

All staterooms feature ocean views, twin or queen beds, sitting area and marble bathroom. There is also a spa with gymnasium, sauna, sun deck, Jacuzzi and a stern marina platform.

From May to September it heads to the Kimberley, the Top End, East Timor, Arnhem Land and Komodo. In December, January and February it heads to cooler parts of the Tasman Sea, Tasmania and Antarctica. In October and November, and again in March and April, it goes to remote and unspoilt parts of the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Orion carries 10 zodiacs which take passengers ashore — on to beaches, up rivers — very easily, so exploring is a breeze.

This part of the journey is along the mighty Sepik River. (Both the Sepik and the Fly Rivers claim to be the longest in Papua New Guinea). The Sepik originates in the Central Ranges between Papua and Papua New Guinea and flows 1126 kilometres to the sea. It is a serpentine river, winding its way through lowlands and unlike most large rivers, it has no delta.

Tribes living along the river are known for their magnificent carvings and elaborate manhood initiation ceremonies involving the painful carving of flesh on the backs of young men. They rely heavily on the river for transportation, water and food. Marks left by crocodiles lie on the river banks.

Most of the river is navigable and largely undisturbed as there are no large mining or forestry activities. There are thick rainforests, grasslands and villages along the entire length of the river. Once villagers get word of visitors, they all turn out to look and offer warm but shy welcomes. Drums are used to communicate and families have their own distinctive sounds.

Sepik history reflects the influence of missionaries, traders, labour recruiters and administrators, but it is a place where water, crocodiles, nature and man have learned to live in mutual respect.

Last port of call was Madang, Papua New Guinea's most popular dive location. Madang province has reef-fringed lowlands backed by the country's most rugged mountains and offshore volcanic islands. Coral reefs and good visibility make for good, year-round diving. There is a variety of easily accessible sites and an abundance of reef and pelagic fish. There are dramatic drop offs, shells, soft and hard corals to delight any diver. They also spot wrecks of ships and aircraft. If you've never dived before, but have the urge, instruction is available from most hotels.

Madang has been called the prettiest town in the South Pacific. Its peninsula has parks, waterways, wonderful shade trees and islands. The small town has modern facilities, hotels, department stores, markets and artefact shops.

The people there can be broken into four groups — islanders, coastal people, river people and mountain people. They are similar in appearance, except for the smaller Simbai mountain tribesmen from the foothills.

Madang hosts the Mabarosa Festival each year, a colourful display of dancing, singsings and bamboo bands.


Cruising around the islands of Papua New Guinea.


Orion Expedition Cruises has an 11-night Papua New Guinea Highland Cultures Cruise from Rabaul. Prices start at $7290 per person twin share. Accommodation, meals, use of facilities and activities with an Expedition Team are included. Cruises depart in March and November, 2007.

Air Niugini has flights to Rabaul.

Fares from;
  • Brisbane, $1297
  • Sydney, $1432
  • Adelaide, $1617
  • Melbourne, $1627
  • Darwin, $1763
  • Perth, $1947

Prices quoted are correct on November 9, 2006.

More information

Orion Expedition Cruises Pty Ltd
26 Alfred Street
Milsons Point 2061
Ph: (02) 9033 8777; 1300 361 012
Fax: (02) 9033 8799

Papua New Guinea Tourism
Pacific MMI Building, Level 5
Champion Parade
Port Moresby
Ph: (675) 320 0211
Fax: (675) 320 0223
Email: or

Ph: 02 9414 9020

Air Niugini
Ph: 02 9290 1544

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