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Indonesian Immersive & the Great Barrier Reef
As fall weather begins to settle across North America, it’s a perfect time to escape to some sunny islands. Crystal Endeavor’s sailing from October 15 to 31, 2020 through eastern Indonesia and down to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef includes some of the world’s most legendary islands. You’ll start in Bali, visit Komodo with its famous dragons, call at some of the Spice Islands, and end your trip at Lizard Island, on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It’s an odyssey through an astounding variety of cultures which have survived the centuries, their island homes protecting them from outside homogenizing influences. From glimpses of Aboriginal life to the spectacle of colorful marine life beneath the sea, this is an itinerary that will leave you dazzled.
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    Photo By Tiomax80
    Day 1
    You’ll start your odyssey through Indonesia and to the Great Barrier Reef on one of the world’s most famous islands, Bali. You will embark early in the morning so you will want to arrive in Bali at least one night before your departure, though the island truly deserves a longer pre-cruise extension. A unique outpost of Hindu culture in a predominantly Muslim country, its temples and rice terraces look like they have been lifted from an imagined tropical paradise. Whether you choose to explore the artists’ workshops of Ubud or the beaches along the coast, you’ll likely soon fall for Bali’s charms.
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    Day 2
    Sumbawa Island
    As you sail east aboard Crystal Endeavor, your first stop is Sumbawa Island. Snorkelers and divers travel to island for its clear waters teeming with a diversity of marine life, though surfers come here too, drawn to the breaks along its west coast. Head into the interior and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Tambora, a still active volcano. Sumbawa has largely escaped mass development, and with its rice terraces and quiet villages, you’ll experience life in rural Indonesia as it has unfolded for centuries.
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    Day 3
    Komodo Island
    Komodo Island is most famous for its so-called dragons, which are actually enormous lizards—the world’s largest, measuring up to 10 feet (three meters) in length and weighing up to 150 pounds (70 kilograms). They are not the only residents of the island, which is also a national park: wild boars, deer, water buffalo, cockatoos, and macaques can be spotted here too, and the naturalist leading your excursion will point them out. The topography of Komodo is stunning as well, with hills in a variety of hues from jade green to rust red and beaches with a pink hue thanks to the coral mixed in with the sand.
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    Day 4
    Indonesia was, for centuries, a crossroads of maritime trade with a number of European and Asian countries sending merchants and missionaries to the archipelago, in search of spices and souls. This helps explain how some 95 percent of the residents of Larantuka, on Flores Island, are Roman Catholic and the Portuguese influence remains strong even more than 150 years after they transferred the island to the Dutch. Whether you want to explore the historic sites of the town, like the Cathedral Reinha Rosari, or venture into the interior to the 5,000-foot-tall Gunung Ili Mandiri volcano, you’ll find a laidback and welcoming island.
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    Day 5
    The port of Kalabahi on Alor Island is a quiet, low-key town. It seems happy to defer to Maimol Beach when it comes to capturing the attention of travelers. Every possible shade of blue can be seen in its waters, while smooth pieces of beach glass and coral can be found on the shore. While spending the day by the seashore may be tempting, consider leaving time for some culture too. The Seribu Moku Museum has displays of traditional ikats (still worn to this day by many residents of Alor) and centuries-old bronze drums.
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    Day 6
    The five small Lucipara Islands, in the middle of the Banda Sea, are actually the peaks of underwater mountains rising a mile from the ocean floor. The residents of this nature preserve include sea turtles, crested terns, and a variety of seabirds. Crystal Endeavor’s fleet of Zodiacs will be put to good use on the visit to the Lucipara Islands, allowing guests to get closer views of the coast and the preserve’s animals as well as land on shore for hikes through the islands’ interiors. There are also opportunities to snorkel through the crystalline turquoise waters here.
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    Day 7
    Banda Neira
    Banda Neira is the only significant settlement in Indonesia’s Banda Islands. The town was founded by the Dutch East India Company drawn to the island of the same name because it was the only source of nutmeg and mace until the mid-19th century. A 17th-century fort and some crumbling colonial era houses are reminders of the period of Dutch rule, though most visitors to the island are enchanted by its natural beauty, with white-sand beaches lapped by sapphire seas—with plenty of opportunities for snorkeling—and an interior dense with tropical evergreen forests.
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    Days 8 to 10
    Raja Ampat Islands
    You’ll have the next three days to explore the incredible Raja Ampat islands. With some 1500 of them in the archipelago, you are unlikely to see them all however, Raja Ampat sits in the Coral Triangle which straddles the equator. It’s an area of remarkable biodiversity, both above and below the sea—an estimated 1500 different fish species are found here as well as more than 500 different coral species. Certified divers will want to take a plunge at one of the many dive sites in the area, while there are also spots suited to snorkelers who want a glimpse of the area’s colorful marine life.
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    Days 11 and 12
    West Papua
    Triton Bay has emerged in recent years as a must-see destination for snorkelers and divers, though so far, its remote location on the west coast of the island of Papua has slowed the pace of development. While other travelers have to board multiple flights to reach Triton Bay, you’ll simply pull up aboard Crystal Endeavor. The bay is surrounded by a green wall of foliage, part of the world’s second largest rain forest. In the water, divers and snorkelers of all abilities can swim among marine life big and small, from whale sharks to pygmy seahorses. Crystal Endeavor’s submersible provide opportunities to truly go deeper while exploring the bay.
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    Day 13
    Cruising the Arafura Sea
    As one of only 200 guests on Crystal Endeavor, you have an opportunity today to explore one of the most anticipated new cruise ships in the world as you make your way across the Arafura Sea towards Australia. The largest and most spacious expedition yacht ever constructed brings contemporary elegance to the high seas. You may want to book a treatment at the serene Crystal Life Spa & Salon, work out at the state-of-the-art fitness center, or learn about the cultures and wildlife of the destinations you’ll visit with the engaging enrichment programs. Or you can simply lounge poolside or in the solarium while the attentive crew caters to your every whim. As evening arrives, order a cocktail in one of the luxurious lounges, indulge in the renowned culinary creations of Nobu Matsuhisa, or enjoy special wine-makers dinners.
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    Day 14
    Thursday Island and Cape York
    Your first port of call in Australia will be on Thursday Island, one of the 100 or so islands in the Torres Strait off the tip of the Cape York Peninsula. The island is a quiet, low-key tropical paradise, home to only some 4,000 residents. There are some World War II defenses that visitors can explore, though you may simply want to slide into island time and spend a morning by the sea, exploring nearby coastal reefs, or enjoying an alfresco lunch in town.

    In the afternoon, you’ll continue on to the northernmost point of the Australian mainland—the Cape York Peninsula in the state of Queensland. Framed by the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Coral Sea, the peninsula is a vast area of untamed wilderness with tropical rain forests, spectacular beaches, savannah woodlands, and eucalyptus forests. In this haven for wildlife enthusiasts, you might spot wallabies, kangaroos, crocodiles, and a number of rare bird species.
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    Day 15
    Great Barrier Reef
    Among the world’s bucket-list destinations, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef ranks high. The world’s longest coral reef runs for some 1,430 miles and includes 2,900 individual reefs and some 900 islands. Other numbers to remember: the reef is home to 30 different whale, dolphin, and porpoise species; 17 different sea snakes; and 1,500 different fish species. Birders will want to bring their binoculars to the deck—215 different bird species also call the reef home.
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    Day 16
    Lizard Island and Ribbon Reef
    You’ll start your last full day aboard Crystal Endeavor on Lizard Island, located on the reef. The granite island has powdery beaches, reefs just off its coast, and trails through grasslands, acacia woodlands, and mangroves. Keep your eye open for the island’s most famous resident, and its namesake, the yellow-spotted monitor lizard as you hike through its interior. In the ocean off the island, coral gardens teem with colorful fish.

    In the afternoon, you’ll continue on to Ribbon Reef, which is actually a “ribbon” of ten individual coral reefs strung along the continental shelf and running for approximately 125 miles. A variety of colorful fish reside in the warm, gentle currents and turquoise waters. The area’s dive sites include caves, coves, and canyons populated with curious creatures from the docile potato cod to the flame-red scorpion fish.
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    Day 17
    Your cruise comes to end today when you arrive in Cairns, one of Australia’s most appealing beach towns. While you will have to say goodbye to Crystal Endeavor, you may want to extend your stay here to explore the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or further explore the Great Barrier Reef with excursions from Cairns.