On the Pacific Ring of Fire
13 days with Silversea Rating:
Day 1 — Koror, Palau
Day 2 — Ngekerbesang, Palau
Head out to see the famous “Rock Islands” — a must, if you have not been to Palau before. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. The beauty of these islands is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species. The area sustains a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least thirteen shark species. The world’s highest concentration of marine lakes (isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers) is found here. Although scientists can only access most of them, one of them, the so-called Jellyfish Lake, is sure to be a highlight for any snorkeler, as you can swim among thousands of harmless jellyfish.
Around noon Silver Discoverer will lift the anchor and head north. Be on the outer decks as the views towards Babeldaop Island with its mangrove coast and terraced hills compete with the different hues of blue of the lagoon while we cruise to reach the western entrance (to us the exit) of the lagoon.
Day 3 — Colonia, Yap
Outside of Colonia we can find three types of traditional buildings: the family houses or ‘tabnuw’ with roofs made of woven thatch (dried palm fronds) and consisting of one open room. The ‘faluw’ is the “men’s house“, where only one woman — usually a young woman from another village as entertainer for the men- was permitted. Even today women are not generally allowed into men’s houses — permission must be obtained beforehand. Largest of the three types is the ‘pebay’, a place for the community to come together for school, dances or meetings.
Most every Yapese now lives in a modern structure, but during our excursion we will visit an area where meetinghouses and men’s houses can be seen. We will also see several sites where the famous stone money ‘rai’ is exhibited. Although the circular-shaped aragonite pieces were/are used on Yap, most of them actually came from Palau. Yapese men went there to obtain permission to quarry them and then had to transport them on rafts or out-rigger canoes over a distance of some 240 nautical miles.
At one of the sites young women and men will perform local stick dances and will show us how they’re colourful dresses and adornments are made.
During the German administration a channel was dug through the main island to speed delivery of produce from the north to the south side and this narrow channel is still used today — especially by divers who want to relocate from one coast to the other. With close to 100 miles of barrier reef, several channels and many blacktip, whitetip and grey sharks, manta rays are Yap’s main underwater attraction. Found in Yapese waters all year round, the State of Yap declared the world’s first manta ray sanctuary in 2008. Our divers will head out to see some of the famous underwater residents.
Day 4 — Cruising the Philippine Sea
Day 5 — Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands
During the morning lectures will prepare you for Saipan’s (and the Northern Mariana’s) importance during World War II, as well as the importance of flora and fauna, both above and in the ocean.
Some guests may choose to see World War II sites including the Last Command Post where Japanese troops made their final stand against the invading US forces, Banzai Cliff and Suicide Cliff with its beautiful view and grim history, where hundreds of Japanese soldiers and civilians jumped to their deaths rather than surrender.
In walking distance of the harbour is the American Memorial Park. There you will not only be able to learn more about the island’s military history, but the park also offers an excellent opportunity for birding! Endemics like the Bridled and Golden White-eye, White-throated Ground Dove and Mariana Fruit Dove, as well as the endangered Mariana Moorhen, Mariana Swiftlet and Nightingale Reed-warbler have been recorded there.
Guests can also opt to spend the afternoon on their own in “town” or perhaps heading out by local ferry to Mañagaha Island for snorkelling and birding. You can walk around this little island in 15 minutes, but apart from snorkelling in the clear water (much loved by many locals and Asian visitors) you can also see remains of World War II artefacts. White Terns, as well as Cardinal Honeyeaters and Collared Kingfisher can be seen here -and this little island is the only known nesting site for Wedge-tailed Shearwater in all of the Mariana Islands.It is also the burial site of Carolinian Chief Aghurubw who established the first Carolinian settlement on Saipan during the Spanish colonial period, with a statue representing him.
Day 6 — Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands
Be out on deck as Silver Discoverer cruises past the western side of the southern volcano and we approach our anchorage close to South Bay. Recently a few residents have returned and the only settlement will be seen very close to the landing site.
Pagan, the northern volcano, is still active, and today we plan to observe one of the more recent lava-flows. To get there, we will follow an old runway used by the Japanese during the 1940s, where the remains of several bunkers, pillboxes and planes can still be seen. Our walk through the forest to the edge of the most recent lava flow is less than a mile, while another hike up the ridge will reveal a scenic view of two lakes. Be on the lookout for the rare animal species found on Pagan, such as the Marianas Fruit Bat, the Micronesian Megapode, and the impressive Coconut Crab — this species can weigh up to 9lbs (4kg) with a leg span of more than 3ft (0.91m)!
Day 7 — Maug, Northern Mariana Islands
Be on deck as Silver Discoverer enters the caldera in the early morning. Dolphins are commonly seen near the southern entrance. The truncated inner walls of the caldera on all three islands expose lava flows and pyroclastic deposits that are cut by radial dikes; bedded ash deposits overlie most of the outer flanks of the islands. East Island has been used to grow coconut palms and even the interior has extensive plant growth. This is where different bird species nest. 11 seabirds, 2 shore birds and 3 land birds (the Marianas Megapode, Micronesian Starling and White-collared Kingfisher) are known from Maug.
A Japanese weather station and fish processing plant existed between 1939 and 1945, but today nobody lives on the island(s). No eruptions are known since the discovery of the islands by Espinosa in 1522 and the presence of coral reefs and coral on the central lava dome suggests a long period of general quiescence. Pending permission we might snorkel inside the caldera next to West Island and will explore the caldera by Zodiac.
In the afternoon we will leave Maug behind and head for the Ogasawara Islands.
Day 8 — At Sea
Peruse an array of titles and topics of the Silver Discoverer’s library, or enjoy any of the other special amenities offered aboard ship.
Day 9 — Chichijima, Japan
We explore the “father island” — the largest in the Ogasawara family of islands and yet another fantastic avian destination. Birding enthusiasts will hope to spot as many species as possible, and the possibilities are many! They include: Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, Red-tailed Tropicbird and Lesser Frigatebird, Bulwer’s and Bonin Petrels, Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel, and possibly the White-necked Petrel, Laysan Albatross, Black-footed Albatross and perhaps even the rare Short-tailed Albatross. Shearwaters may include Streaked, Short-tailed, Wedge-tailed, Sooty, and the endemic Bannerman’s Shearwater.
Weather permitting; there will also be opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and sunbathing on one of the island’s pristine beaches. If possible, we hope to visit Minamijima to see its much photographed natural stone arch reflected in the small turquoise blue lagoon and, of course, to capture our own images of this beautiful scene.
Next to the harbour is a humpback whale monument –although these mammals leave by April, we will be on the lookout for sperm whales that come here between May and November. Green turtles, spinner dolphins, and dogtooth tuna are some of the other major marine creatures seen in June.
Shima sushi (served with mustard instead of wasabi), Akaba miso soup, and turtle are some of the island’s special dishes, and the Ogasawaras also produce passion fruit liqueur.
Day 10 — Torishima, Japan
Located in the Izu Islands chain about 370 miles due south of Tokyo, Torishima is home to about 1500 mature Short-tailed Albatrosses. This rare species is known to breed on only four islands in the North Pacific, with close to 80% nesting on the volcanic ash slopes of Torishima. As the island is an active volcano (last eruption in 2002) we will not make a landing here. In fact, only scientists are granted permission to land on Torishima, and only by helicopter.
Instead, we will circumnavigate the island’s entire coastline while listening to our expert Ornithologist describe all about the endangered Short-tailed Albatross and the story of their successful conservation. Although successful breeders will leave in May and June, we still should be able to see some of these rare albatrosses. Birders will surely spend every moment out on deck trying to photograph this beautiful species with its lovely yellow head and neck. Our on-board Geologist might describe current threats to the Short-tailed Albatross including soil instability and the potential impact of another volcanic eruption.
Day 11 — Hachijojima, Japan
For guests ready to take on a more challenging activity, join members of the Expedition Team and our Japan Specialists for a nature trek at Mt. Hachijo-Fuji. To reach the top one has to climb 1,280 steps.
During the afternoon Silver Discoverer will head north along Japan’s East coast, permitting our lecturers to give you more insight into Japan’s culture and natural history.
In the evening the Captain would like to invite you to the Captain’s Farewell cocktail party. The Executive Chef and Restaurant Manager will have prepared another gastronomic highlight with the Farewell Dinner in The Restaurant.
Day 12 — At Sea
Our on-board Photographer/Videographer will present his/her voyage-DVD — a good time to remember all those special moments and encounters on this voyage.
Day 13 — Hakodate, Japan
After breakfast, disembark Silver Discovererand transfer to the airport for your flight home.
All This Included
With lectures to inform you and Zodiac® trips to inspire you, explore the exotic islands of the Pacific Rim. Will you want to swim among the harmless jellyfish of Palau, or circumnavigate Torishima to observe Short-tailed albatross? Will you spot a Humpback whale? With unstructured itineraries, let your curiosity dictate your exploratory desires.
Cruising: Suite onboard Silver Discoverer
Terms and Conditions
For Silversea terms and conditions, please click here.
* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.