When Mary Heebner traveled to Papua New Guinea ("Papua New Guinea Up Close," p. 78 - April/May Issue, 2008), she got on board for a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- literally. The itinerary was a one-time event for Tauck World Discovery, made possible by all the right circumstances at just the right time. But even without a cruise from Tauck, you can still see the authentic side of PNG.
BEFORE YOU GO
EXCHANGE your bills for local currency, kina (PKG). BOOK your flight through Air Niugini, which operates flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns, Australia, to selected locations within PNG (airniugini.com.pg). PLAN your visit for June through September, when the cool, dry weather reaches its peak. PREPARE for a nearly undeveloped environment with limited accommodations. FAMILIARIZE yourself with the local landscape: Leafy vegetation and colorful faces on the island have inspired a number of photographic collections, including New Guinea Ceremonies (Abrams, $49.95), which offers a detailed account of a fertilit
WHILE YOU'RE THERE
SPEAK English, which is used here, but expect to hear more than 800 tribal languages spoken throughout the islands. STAY in Port Morseby, where you'll find the best selection of resorts and hotels. BOARD a cruise ship to make the most of your visit to this chain of 600-plus islands. Orion Expedition Cruises sails from Rabaul through the Sepik River and makes stops at Madang, Tami Island, Tufi Harbour, Fergusson Island, Samarai and Kwato islands and Milne Bay. Rates start at $7,920, with 2008 departures on April 5 and Oct. 3. orioncruises.com.au WALK through villages when you're on island; the limited road network won't get you far if you travel by car. LOOK for relics from World War II battles scattered across the island chain, such as the remains of the wharf used by U.S. troops for refueling at Giligili in Milne Bay Province. LEARN MORE at pngonline.gov.pg.
3 MORE WAYS TO CRUISE WITH TAUCK
TREASURES OF THE AEGEAN
Start in Istanbul aboard one of Tauk's 148-passenger motoryachts, the Wind Star or Wind Spirit. This 14-day itinerary takes you through the Greek Isles, stopping on Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Peloponnese. Rates start at $6,990.
CRUISING DOWN UNDER
From the seaside city of Sydney, sail on the ocean liner Sapphire Princess to Tasmania and New Zealand's North and South Islands. In Tasmania, enjoy a private luncheon at the Junior Officer's home at the Port Arthur Historic Site. Rates start at $8,490.
From Guayaquil, fly to Baltra Island to board the 40-passenger Isabela II. Make your way through the Galapagos Islands -- North Seymour, Santa Cruz, Santiago, Fernandina, Isabela, Florena, Espanola and Genovesa -- while an onboard naturalist guides your journey. Rates start at $4,890. tauck.com