DAY 1-3: U.S./Auckland, New Zealand/Embark Inaugural Voyage Depart for Auckland and cross the international date line. Embark the ship for a champagne christening and inaugural festivities aboard National Geographic Orion amidst sunset cruising in the Hauraki Gulf. (D) DAY 4: Bay Of Islands Go ashore via Zodiac to Russell, rich in Maori history. See the carved Maori meeting house, ceremonial war canoes and a Maori cultural performance. (B,L,D) DAY 5: At Sea (B,L,D) DAY 6: Norfolk Island, Australia Explore Norfolk Island, a UNESCO site and former British penal colony. Explore the ruins, swim, or hike. (B,L,D) DAY 7: At Sea (B,L,D) DAY 8-12: Vanuatu Explore Vanuatu, an archipelago of more than 80 islands that was once home to fierce warriors, among them cannibals. On Tanna Island we hike to the rim of Mt. Yasur, an active volcano with an eerie red glow at its cone. Wander the sleepy capital of Vanuatu, Port Vila. Explore the massive Leles Cave, with its thousand-year-old petroglyphs. Land at ancient ceremonial grounds on Malakula and see an elaborate spirit dance. Swim, snorkel and kayak at Paradise Lagoon on Espiritu Santo. See the remnants of WWII near Luganville, and snorkel Million Dollar Point, where hundreds of tons of U.S. military equipment were dumped after the war; divers may descend on the troop carrier Calvin Coolidge one of the world’s best wreck dives. Spend a day exploring the northernmost group of islands in Vanuatu, remote and seldom visited. The South Pacific is an ever-flowing feast for the senses! (B,L,D) DAY 13: Santa Ana, Solomon Islands Settled as early as 2500 BC by skull worshiping tribes, today the friendly Solomons remain among the least visited South Pacific islands and feature some of the region’s top snorkeling sites. Villagers on Santa Ana perform a stunning dance with spears and mud covered face masks. (B,L,D) DAY 14: Honiara, Solomon Islands/Disembark/U.S. This region was a strategic WWII battleground and our expedition concludes in Honiara, a former U.S. supply depot. Disembark and transfer to the airport for flights home. (B) Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.