Papua New Guinea & South Pacific
|Cruise Only||Fly Cruise|
Once considered the "country cousin" among Australian cities, Brisbane is today the nation's third-largest metropolis - and one of the most desirable places to live in the country. Lying on the banks of the meandering Brisbane River, this cosmopolitan city boasts elegant 19th-century sandstone buildings, a lively cultural scene and superb parklands. Brisbane is also your gateway to uniquely Australian adventures, be it the theme parks of the Gold Coast or Queensland's dazzling beaches.
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Kawanasausau Strait & Milne Bay
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The former capital of New Britain has a history of destruction and resurrection - the city rebuilt after a massive 1937 volcanic eruption only to be destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II. In 1994, the eruption of Mt. Tavurvur dropped hot ash and rock on Rabaul, leading to its partial abandonment. Since that cataclysm, the city has slowly returned to life - hotels have resumed operating, the market continues to trade, and the harbor remains one of the most impressive in the entire Pacific basin.
During World War II, Rabaul served as a forward operating base for the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. Allied bombing forced the Japanese defenders underground, into a complex system of bunkers and tunnels on the Gazelle Peninsula.
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The second largest town in Vanuatu - the former New Hebrides - Luganville is a child of World War II. When America forces arrived on Espirito Santo in 1942, there were no facilities to unload ships, house troops or land American bombers. Engineers went to work erecting both the town and the BP Wharf. The island was soon home to the largest Pacific military base outside of Hawaii. Today, Luganville remains an important copra shipping port - but more and more seasoned travelers are drawn to Espirito Santo's promise of unspoiled beauty and relaxed island ways. Luganville is handy to superb white-sand beaches, tropical rainforest and some of the finest diving and snorkeling in the Pacific.
Divers consider the wreck of the President Coolidge one of the world's top dive sites. The 654-foot liner was serving as a troop transport when she struck two mines and went down in the Segond Channel in 1942. The ship's holds are still filled with her cargo of military supplies.
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Vila is the capital of Vanuatu, an archipelago of some 83 islands in the Coral Sea. Vanuatu is a new republic, having achieved independence from France and Britain in 1988. Before then the archipelago was better known as the New Hebrides, the name given the islands by Captain Cook. Cloaked in dense rainforest, these volcanic islands were little known until World War II, when the islands of Espiritu Santo and Efate served as Allied bases. Today increasing numbers of travelers visit Vila, drawn by its easy-going charm, superb white-sand beaches and pristine rainforest. The islands are also renowned for their excellent dive sites and for their big game fishing.
Vanuatu's visibility on the American scene increased when the CBS television series "Survivor" filmed in the archipelago. Vanuatu is also noted among anthropologist - its island of Tanna is home to the unique "John Frum" cargo cult.
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The capital of New Caledonia, Noumea is a little piece of France in the middle of the Coral Sea. Before World War II, New Caledonia was a little known and seldom-visited French possession known for its penal colony and its natural resources. (Nickel smelting still plays a major role in the island economy.) Today, travelers are drawn to New Caledonia for its scenic beauty. The island is famed for its white-sand beaches while its west coast is the site of the world's second longest barrier reef. The offshore waters also offer superb diving and snorkeling.
In 1774, James Cook thought the island's rugged hills resembled those of his native Scotland. Hence he christened the island New Caledonia. The island and its outlying groups became a French colony in 1854 and an overseas department of France in 1956.
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As your ship passes Harbour Heads, you are presented with the shimmering skyline of Sydney - hailed by many seafarers as "the most beautiful harbor in the world." Two prominent landmarks, Harbour Bridge and the sail-like curves of the Sydney Opera House, grace the backdrop of this picturesque harbor. There is a wealth of adventure waiting in Sydney - from its cosmopolitan city center to miles of beautiful beaches and the Blue Mountains.
Australia's oldest and largest city was born in 1788 with the arrival of the "First Fleet" transporting 760 British convicts. Today, Sydney is the largest port in the South Pacific and is often voted the most popular destination in the South Pacific.
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