Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises today revealed details of its 2009 schedule of expeditions for the Prince Albert II, calling for the ship's deployment in Papeete from mid-March to late October 2009.
An exciting collection of new itineraries will feature the less-traveled regions of Polynesia ranging from the southernmost Austral Islands to the sprawling Tuamotu Archipelago and the northernmost Marquesas Islands. For the balance of the year, the 132-guest luxury expedition ship will offer a series of Antarctic explorations with convenient roundtrip departures from Ushuaia.
The ship's positioning in Tahiti is the result of numerous efforts and successful meetings between Silversea and the French Polynesian government.
"We are delighted to base the Prince Albert II in beautiful Tahiti for a series of explorations next year," said Amerigo Perasso, Silversea's president and CEO. "The South Pacific is home to magnificent natural vistas and some of the world's most intriguing cultures, offering our guests the perfect setting for mind-enriching, authentic adventures."
"We are pleased to welcome the prestigious Prince Albert II to French Polynesia," said the President of French Polynesia, Gaston Tong Sang. "Since taking office, it has been my goal and intention to take all necessary steps to enable Silversea to visit the region. The Prince Albert II is a true luxury vessel with a privileged clientele that is attracted by cultural and authentic travel experiences."
Mr. Tong Sang added, "The itineraries and land programs designed by Silversea are in sync with our tourism positioning as well as our aims for the islands and remote archipelagoes development. The unique voyages developed by Silversea will enable travelers to discover the unknown beauties and treasures of our five archipelagoes in exceptional luxury."
In the spirit of true adventure, all itineraries are unstructured by design. Following only a tentative schedule that allows for moment-by-moment flexibility, expeditions stay longer at sites of particular interest, or make slight detours whenever weather, nature or mere curiosity dictate.
Highlights of the 2009 French Polynesia program include:
AUSTRAL ISLAND ADVENTURES
Nestled in the Tropic of Capricorn, the remote Austral Islands lie hundreds of miles south of Tahiti and enjoy a slightly cooler climate. Tubuai, largest of these volcanic islands, is probably best known for the failed landing attempts of the H.M.S. Bounty. (The island's villagers assaulted the unwelcome ship with a barrage of stones, and ultimately the mutineers sailed off to Pitcairn.) Prince Albert II and her fleet of 8 Zodiac boats will explore the unique culture, flora and fauna of Rapa, Raivavae, Tubuai, Rurutu and Rimatara on five 11-day, roundtrip journeys from Papeete. Silver Sailing fares start at $3,897 per person, based on double occupancy.
JOURNEYS TO THE MARQUESAS
The mountainous islands of the Marquesas are located nearly 900 miles northeast of Tahiti and just south of the equator. With a lush, vibrant terrain bursting with myriad exotic flowers and fruit trees, it's easy to understand how this tropical paradise captivated the artist Paul Gauguin, who made the Marquesas his adopted home. On four roundtrip journeys of 14 days from Papeete, Prince Albert II's expedition team will lead in-depth explorations of Fatu Hiva, Pua Mau, Hiva Oa, Atuona, Ua Pou, Nuku Hiva and Tahuata, as well as Manihi and Fakarava Island in the Tuamotu Archipelago and the Society Islands of Bora Bora and Tahaa. Silver Sailing fares start at $4,917 per person, based on double occupancy.
The isolated Tuamotu Islands, northeast of Tahiti, comprise the world's largest chain of atolls. Its 78 sparsely populated coral islands span over 900 miles of aquamarine waters. Dotted with quaint villages, coral churches and an abundance of wildlife -- from bottlenose dolphins and coconut crabs to the rarest of birds, this remote archipelago offers endless possibilities for real Robinson Crusoe-style adventures. Departing from Papeete, Prince Albert II will embark on five 10-day expeditions to the Tuamotu islands of Tikihau, Rangiroa, Apataki, Arutua and Fakarava, as well as Raiatea, Maupihaa and Huahine in the Society Islands. Silver Sailing fares start at $3,597 per person, based on double occupancy.
The Prince Albert II offers full-scale exploring from an ultra-luxury base at sea, in true Silversea style. With the largest average size accommodations of any expedition ship, guests will enjoy spacious, ocean-view accommodations (many with French balconies or large private verandas), sumptuous gourmet cuisine, warm hospitality and personalized service (with a crew-to-guest ratio of nearly 1 to 1), and Silversea's generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, bottled water, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, 24-hour room service, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet and all gratuities. Plus, complimentary Butler Service is provided in the Grand and Owner's Suites.
Detailed information and complete itineraries for Prince Albert II's 2009 expeditions are available at www.silversea.com.