As you’ve been reading about in our “Field Notes” posts, EXC In-Depth Voyages aboard Maasdam offer guests up-close Zodiac encounters in ports throughout the South Pacific, Australia and Indonesia. Led by a team of onboard experts and guides, these incredible expeditions allow guests to have an intimate view at locales that are little-known and often untouched.
Developed by Dr. Peter Carey, Holland America Line’s director of explorations, Zodiac shore excursions expose guests to memorable experiences such as exploring a maze of mangroves, searching for an elusive bird, seeing a city from the waterline and much more.
Currently, Zodiac tours are available at several ports, including Dravuni Island, Fiji; Tauranga (Rotorua), New Zealand; Cairns, Darwin and Melbourne, Australia; Vava’u Islands; Komodo Island, Indonesia; and Conflict Islands (Panawai Group), Papua New Guinea.
Maasdam holds eight Zodiacs, and each vessel can carry 10 guests plus the driver. Select ports have morning and afternoon departures so more guests can embark on a Zodiac adventure.
Dravuni Island offers the “Fiji Island Paradise by Zodiac” tour that visits one of the secluded islands as the day’s destination where guests can relax on the beach or swim in tranquil Fijian waters. In Tauranga, the “Scenic Estuary and Birdwatching by Zodiac” tour takes guests in search of local birdlife along the pohutukawa-forested shores of Motuhoa Island. The tour also is offered with a photography focus, and a photographer-guide joins the expedition.
At Cairns, “Trinity Inlet by Zodiac” explores the waterways that wind through a 115-square-mile maze of mangroves. “Darwin’s Mangroves by Zodiac” takes a closer look at Northern Australia’s wildlife-packed estuaries, while “Melbourne City Sights by Zodiac” offers a unique cruise on the Yarra River and Melbourne’s waterways to learn about the city’s history and landmarks.
At Vava’u Islands, the “Vava’u Islands & Beach By Zodiac” tour takes guests for a cruise along the convoluted coastline of the Vava’u island group. In the shadow of green hillsides, they’ll pass tiny villages and wild forests, making way to a small island with a picturesque beach. Komodo Island offers the “Pink Beach Paradise by Zodiac” tour that explores this bucket-list locale from a unique vantage point.
At Conflict Islands, the “Island Zodiac Adventure” tour explores the an archipelago rarely seen by western travelers. The seldom-visited area is abundant in natural lagoons, coral reefs and fine white-sand beaches.
Guests who want to participate in non-Zodiac Shore Excursions have a wide selection of options in each port, including swimming with sea lions, kayaking, city tours, catamaran cruising, quad biking, winery tours and a cooking masterclass.