What It's Like/What You'll Do

Idyllic islands, superb snorkeling & diving, history, anthropology & more


Part research vessel, part grand hotel, the expedition ship National Geographic Orion will be your base for this unforgettable South Pacific adventure travel to the other side of the world, immersing you in a movable feast: the natural and human history of this tropical paradise. The ship was purpose-built to explore the most remote places while providing maximum comfort and safety, and in no time it will feel like home as you discover all the nooks and crannies and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere it so readily fosters. Equipped with plenty of cool tools from Zodiacs to kayaks, Orion also allows you to experience the South Pacific and its diverse island nations up-close through genuinely personal encounters and in-depth exploration.

Actively explore every day
Hike tropical trails to some of the most Insta-worthy waterfalls on Earth, or venture inland on a lazy bike ride. Join a glass-bottom Zodiac cruise, glide along verdant shorelines on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, then cool off with a dip in a crystal-clear lagoon. If you prefer to stay aboard to read in the stillness of the library or indulge in a massage at the Health Spa, that is equally encouraged. There’s no one-size-fits-all scheduling ever: you choose your activities, activity levels, and staff members to join daily.

Revel in the remarkable undersea experience
From the Southern Line and the Pitcairn Islands, both identified as Pristine Seas sites, to fantastic Fakarava, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the South Pacific offers an unparalleled opportunity: to witness intact, vibrantly healthy marine habitats unlike anywhere else on the planet. All of our itineraries take full advantage of this underwater bounty and you’ll have numerous chances to dive, snorkel, and swim among brilliantly-hued coral, playful clownfish, gentle mantas, blacktip reef sharks and much more. 

Orion carries complete snorkeling gear (yours for the duration of the voyage) for every guest and scuba gear for 24 divers, plus divemasters to oversee every excursion. And, we travel with an onboard undersea specialist and an ROV which takes video images up to 1,000 feet below the surface, far beyond the range of divers. So you’ll get incomparable, up-close access to the dazzling marine environments and their inhabitants. For those who prefer to stay dry, the addition of a glass-bottom craft to our fleet of Zodiacs provides perfect undersea viewing opportunities without the need to dive or snorkel.

Connect with the Polynesian culture and people
Thanks to the nimbleness of Orion, and the commitment, logistic skills and connections of our staff, we’ll have the peerless opportunity to meet and interact with the friendly and hospitable people who inhabit these remote islands and learn much about their traditional lifestyles. As we sail into a new port we will often be greeted with festive ceremonies native to that particular island. Throughout our itineraries we’ve arranged to visit ancient archeological sites like the many maraes (sacred meeting grounds), explore intricately carved tikis, witness traditional dances, and delve into the distinctive cultures for which this part of the world is so well-known.

Savor time aboard ship
The languid pace of South Pacific island life is mirrored aboard the Orion. When you’re back on ship choose from a number of relaxing and highly gratifying options:

  • Read a book or journal the details of your day
  • Organize photos on your laptop
  • Utilize the Fitness Room or the sauna in the Health Spa
  • Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and engaging presentations at our daily evening Recap
  • Take in the jaw-dropping scenery from the bow
  • Soak in the whirlpool hot tub on the sundeck
  • Socialize with like-minded shipmates—whether fellow guests, members of the expedition team, or a National Geographic photographer you’re sure to find engaging company to keep.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.