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November 12, 2008

Australian Cruise Line Offers Spice Islands Expedition

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

Sydney, Australia – Orion Expedition Cruises, the Australia-based cruise line that takes discerning travelers to remote destinations, has introduced a new voyage to one of the most extraordinarily bio-diverse regions on Earth -the Moluccas. Once known as the Spice Islands, the Moluccas are a rarely visited collection of islands situated just north of Australia between New Guinea and Timor , where few outsiders have ever set foot.

The Orion “Spice Islands Voyage of Discovery,” commencing in September 2009, offers a heady blend of local culture, geology and unique flora and fauna presented in a series of beautiful islands largely lost in time.

After three days at sea, guests will arrive at the island of
Alor, a must-see destination for adventurous scuba divers. Those wishing to go ashore will be sure to hear the ceremonial sounds of the bronze kettledrums known as Moko being played by the villagers.

On the sixth day of the expedition, Orion’s guests will travel to the island of Sumba where they are welcomed by villagers wearing traditional woven ikat fabrics and taken to see imposing ancient stone carvings and megaliths that adorn the entrances to Sumba villages. Because of the island’s remote location, villagers here are able to retain a strong cultural heritage that is resistant to outside influences.

The next stop on the expedition is Komodo , Indonesia . Upon landing, Orion’s guests will be met by local park rangers who will lead in search for pre-historic Komodo dragons at the world renowned Komodo National Park . The Park was established in 1980 to help conserve the unique Komodo dragon and its habitat. These imposing lizards are among the world’s largest reptiles, growing to over nine feet long and weighing more then 150 pounds.

Orion’s last stop is Sumbawa , where guests will experience the culture and lifestyle of the Kenanga villagers in their small fishing village on the island’s coast. Guests will mix with local people and are invited to visit a small school to gain firsthand insight into the Kenanga culture and customs. Sumbawa is also home to the Tambora volcano, whose eruption in April 1815 is the largest volcanic eruption recorded and was heard over 1,200 miles away. While it is still an active volcano, it does not pose a threat to visitors.

The nine-night expedition departs Darwin , Australia on September 10, 2009. Fares begin at $4,382 per person for an Ocean View Stateroom and up to $8,997* for an Owner’s Suite with a French Balcony. An additional fuel charge of $34* per person per night applies.

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