SEATTLE, Wash. — Like-minded Zegrahm Expeditions and Seacology have created a unique cultural cruise in Polynesia for 2010 with an itinerary that visits ecologically threatened Tuvalu. In addition to visiting the remote islands of Tuvalu, expedition highlights include the cultural and natural riches of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Fiji.
Zegrahm first joined forces with Seacology, a non-profit environmental organization devoted to preserving island biodiversity and traditional communities, in 2009 to offer travelers rare insider access to the opening of a new cultural center in Cook’s Bay on Moorea Island. During Zegrahm’s 2010 voyage, Bridging the Equator: Micronesia & Polynesia, travelers have the chance to visit Seacology’s community project on Nanumea Atoll in Tuvalu. This project is devoted to planting mangroves along the unprotected coastline that is threatened with incoming tides due to the rising sea level.
Zegrahm cruise itineraries are designed to include islands that often have little contact with the outside world. The intent is to give seasoned travelers the opportunity to visit remote communities that seldom benefit from tourism, the funds normally going to more popular tourist destinations. These efforts have been part of the Zegrahm Expeditions’ philosophy since its founding 20 years ago, and by partnering with Seacology in Tuvalu, travelers are able to witness first-hand the time-honored traditions along with the modern-day challenges of this tiny island nation that stands no higher than 16 feet above sea level.
Prior to our visit to Tuvalu, travelers will have explored warm, tropical undersea kingdoms with a highlight being the best known of the Marshall Islands—Bikini Atoll. Affording divers breathtaking views of post-war wrecks including the world’s only diveable aircraft carrier, the USS Saratoga, and the battleship HIJMS Nagato, the flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, which led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Above the waterline travelers are greeted with conch shells, the pounding of ancestral drums, and traditional games and dances. Men spin coconut fibers into sennit for lacing outrigger canoes, women weave pandanus mats, and throughout these voyages villagers invite us into their meeting houses, share local delicacies, and display their handicrafts.
Zegrahm’s accompanying leader and lecture team—many internationally renowned in their field—offer insightful introductions to both favorite and far-flung island destinations and their traditional cultures. Onboard lectures enhance the encounters with local islanders ashore, and recaps at the end of each day lend a multi-dimensional component to the experience. The executive director of Seacology, Duane Silverstein, will travel on the Bridging the Equator: Micronesia & Polynesia voyage, adding further depth to the lecture team and hosting travelers when we go ashore on Nanumea.
The 16-day Bridging the Equator: Micronesia & Polynesia cruise, September 6 – 21, 2010, begins in Pohnpei and sails to a myriad of tiny and ancient atolls that offer superb exploration opportunities. Prices start from $9,980 per person, double occupancy. The trip price includes: Deluxe accommodations, all excursions including scuba diving, all meals and gratuities. More information and a brochure is available at www.zeco.com.