Making the most of your time & interest in the South Pacific

Our French Polynesian holiday expedition seeks to reveal as many wonders as possible during your week with us. Our hallmark is flexibility—allowing us to take advantage of events, like wildlife sightings, as they occur to give you the richest, most dimensional experience. Here is a representation of the activities you’ll engage in:   




Select departures travel in a different direction


  • DAY 1: Depart U.S.

    Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti.

  • DAY 2: Papeete, French Polynesia/Embark

    Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Tahiti and arrive in Papeete early the following morning. Check into dayrooms and take a brief tour of the city before embarking the National Geographic Orion. (L,D)

  • DAY 3: Moorea, French Polynesia

    Approach the verdant island of Moorea this morning, and anchor for the day in Opunohu Bay on the north shore. Spend the day hiking tropical forest trails or exploring ancient Polynesian sacred sites with an archaeologist. Take in sweeping views of the island from Belvedere Lookout, then stop at the Lycée Agricole d’Opunohu agricultural school to sample locally produced juice, jam, and sorbet. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 4-6: At Sea/Southern Line Islands, Kiribati

    A day at sea brings us to the far-flung southern Line Islands, where we’ll snorkel or dive some of the most remote and pristine coral reefs on Earth. Marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in Residence Enric Sala explored these islands as part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project and identified them as one of the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. Spend two full days exploring seldom-visited Caroline Island, also known as Millennium Atoll after the realignment of the international date line made it one of the first places on Earth to welcome the year 2000. Navigate the turquoise waters by Zodiac or kayak, spot nesting seabirds, and swim among colorful reefs.  (B,L,D daily)

  • DAY 7-9: At Sea, Southern Hemisphere

    Settle into life aboard National Geographic Orion, and enjoy the daily rhythms at sea as we navigate the Pacific—the largest body of water on the planet. Spend time with your fellow travelers, stop by the bridge to meet the Captain and his officers, or join our naturalists on deck to scan for marine mammals and seabirds. Attend a wide range of engaging talks: hear about Polynesian way finding from master navigator Tua Pittman, learn the science of marine protected areas, and get insights into vanishing cultures from Keolu Fox and Randy Olson. (B,L,D daily)

  • DAY 10-11: Exploring The Northern Line Islands

    The Line Islands are one of the longest island chains in the world, stretching across some 1,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean. Stop at Kiritimati (Christmas Island), the largest of this group and one of the few inhabited islands in this part of the Pacific. Continue north to Tabuaeran, also known as Fanning Island, and beyond. These far northern Line Islands are the closest landfall to the Hawaiian Islands, thought to have been a stopover for the ancient Polynesians that eventually settled Hawai’i. Opportunities for remote island exploration abound here. (B,L,D daily)

  • DAY 12-14: At Sea, Northern Hemisphere

    Spend three days at sea enjoying the amenities on board. Unwind with a book in the library, enjoy a workout in the fitness center, or treat yourself to a massage. Learn photo tips from our National Geographic photographer and photo instructor, and head out on deck to take advantage of the opportunity to capture stunning images of wildlife like flying fish. Spend evenings discovering the equatorial constellations under starry skies. (B,L,D daily)

  • DAY 15: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA

    Arrive at the Big Island of Hawai’i and spend the day exploring its flora and fauna. Hike part of the scenic Nā Ala Hele trail system and explore its kipuka—protected forested areas surrounded by lava flows. Alternatively, ascend Mauna Kea volcano to 9,200 feet and learn about the famous Keck, Subaru, and Gemini observatories, or choose a birdwatching hike to see the native habitat of the endangered palila. This evening, join the Captain for a farewell dinner aboard the ship. (B,L,D)

  • DAY 16: Kailua-Kona

    Disembark the National Geographic Orion this morning and venture into Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park—a geologic wonderland centered on the smoldering crater of Kīlauea. Hike, walk, or explore the visitor’s center to learn about the 70 million years of volcanic activity that has formed the park’s otherworldly landscapes. Have lunch before continuing to our hotel. This evening, join us for a thrilling night snorkel among some of the largest manta rays in the world. (B,L)

  • DAY 17: Kailua-Kona

    Begin the day with a visit to the fragrant and colorful Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, home to over 2,000 species of plants. Or embark on a hike along a winding trail to the Captain Cook monument, which overlooks the sparkling waters of the Kona Coast. Spend an afternoon at leisure enjoying the hotel’s amenities, before celebrating our journey at a final farewell dinner. (B,D)

Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.

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