Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ponant expedition to the remote Sub Antarctic Islands


An expedition beyond the boundaries of traditional cruising

"The Sub Antarctic Islands are among the last unspoilt environments on Earth. Almost half of the world's albatross and penguin species reside here and Snares Island alone boasts more nesting seabirds than the entire realm of the British Isles," enthuses Expedition Leader Mick Fogg while discussing the upcoming PONANT expedition voyage to the Sub Antarctic. 

"For nature lovers, birders, photographers, and travellers wishing to venture where few have gone before, these UNESCO World Heritage sites provide a truly privileged glimpse into an amazing world."
"These Sub Antarctic islands represent the best of the world's natural heritage, rating alongside the Great Barrier Reef, Grand Canyon, Galapagos and Mount Everest."

Guests on this PONANT voyage, departing Christchurch late December 2015, will feel a sense of rare privilege, as access to these islands is restricted, by permit only. In 2013/14 just 700 people visited the Snares, 1,100 Auckland and Campbell Islands and 950 Macquarie Island. By comparison 170,000 people visited the Galapagos Islands while 35,000 managed to climb to Everest Base Camp. The Sub Antarctic Islands remain pristine, a region where tourism does not exist.

Referring to the early part of the expedition, New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, Mick Fogg continued: "Fringing the south-west corner of the South Island of New Zealand, is a region of dramatic beauty. A place where mountains and valleys compete with each other for room, where scale is almost beyond comprehension and scenery encompasses the broadest width of emotions." 

This voyage is an opportunity to observe endangered wildlife, including the world's rarest penguin, the Fiordland Crested, and the second rarest, the Yellow Eyed penguin. Some species are endangered, others prolific, exampled by the vast colonies of Royal Penguins, endemic to Macquarie Island, King Penguins and Rock-hopper Penguins. An abundance of wildlife with no fear of man, where photographers will use a wide-angle lens more than a telephoto lens.

It is not just about the wildlife and remarkable photo opportunities. To make the most of Le Soleal's 12 Zodiacs and specialist Expedition Team, a generous three days are scheduled to allow time ashore to explore Australia's UNESCO-listed Macquarie Island. Geologically unique, it is the only place on earth where rocks from the earth's mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. On shore, signs remain of rampant commercial exploitation of penguins and seals during the 1800's, but now the island is home to scientists, researchers and prolific wildlife.

Voyage overview: 15 night voyage departing Christchurch 29 December 2015. Spend New Year's Eve in New Zealand's famed fiordland surrounded by the spectacular scenery of Dusky, Doubtful, and Milford Sounds before heading to the Sub Antarctic islands of the Snares, Auckland Islands and Campbell Islands. Macquarie Island is a three day stop-over to allow for exploration, then head north to Melbourne for disembarkation.

Example Pricing:

- Prestige Stateroom with balcony, deck 5, $12,940.00 AUD per person twin share

• Please note that all pricing is per person, twin share, inclusive of Safety and Port taxes. Pricing is yield managed, reflecting current advance purchase Ponant Bonus, some at 30% savings, currently available.


Australia:1300 737 178 or + 61 2 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62                               

Wild Iceland and Scotland aboard Sea Spirit


Friday, 27 February 2015

Silversea Expeditions offering scuba on Malay Peninsula voyage


Explore the far-flung Malay Archipelago and wonders of the world on this exotic 14 day expedition voyage from Darwin to Malaysia onboard Silversea's Silver Discoverer.

Setting sail on 29 May 2015 from Darwin, Silver Discoverer crosses to Indonesia, sailing through the islands of Savu, Pulau Suanggi, Lomblem, Alor and Palopo.  Guests, who are welcomed by traditional village ceremonies and performances, can also observe locals weaving and dyeing Ikat textiles, experience local cuisines, such as the lontar palm, and uncover ancient villages.  This part of the world is also renowned for its crystal clear waters and pure beaches.  Guests have the opportunity to go scuba diving and snorkelling to experience the incredible marine life that inhabit the stunning, vibrant reefs.

On this voyage, Silver Discoverer also sails through Malaysia, stopping for an overnight stay in Sandakan.  A paradise for animal lovers, Sandakan is located on the edge of the Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve, one of the few remaining virgin jungles in Sabah, where guests will visit Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, founded in 1964 to rescue orphaned and injured orang-utans.  Continuing her journey through Malaysia, Silver Discoverer also stops in Pulau Tiga, a beautiful beach haven surrounded by dense rainforests, before voyaging to Kota Kinabalu, where guests disembark on 12 June 2015.

This voyage is one of Silversea's select scuba diving itineraries, where guests that meet the scuba diving requirements* are able to explore a world beneath the surface.  Aboard Silver Discoverer, a team of experts including Marine Biologists, Dive Masters, Environmentalists, Ecologists and Naturalists are on hand to share their extensive knowledge of the region.

On this journey through incredible villages, Silversea Expeditions encourages guests to give back to the communities visited in the spirit of goodwill.  The Expedition Team will be on hand to collect gifts such as second-hand children's clothing, school supplies and medical supplies, for example Band-Aids or first aid items, to evenly distribute throughout the villages.

Prices are per person starting from AU$14,450 in an Explorer Suite based on double occupancy.  Silversea Expeditions' fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability.  Terms and conditions apply.  For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

*Silver Discoverer scuba diving requirements:

·         All guests must hold an Advanced Open Water Dive License or equivalent;

·         Guests must obtain Medical Dive Travel Insurance;

·         Certification must be active and logbooks must show evidence that each guest has been diving within 12 months prior to the cruise;

·         All guests must pre-register with Silversea prior to the cruise; and

·         Guests must bring their own SCUBA BCDs, regulators and dive equipment. The ship will provide weight belts and tanks.


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ponant expedition cruise to Indonesia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

A PONANT expedition featuring cultures unchanged by today's world

"From the tumultuous 400 year history of the Spice Islands to the traditional 40,000 year old cultures of Melanesia, this voyage of discovery will inspire even the most discerning of travellers" comments PONANT Expedition Team leader Mick Fogg.

Departing Manado (Indonesia) late November 2015 onboard the modern luxury expedition ship Le Soleal, this inaugural 14 night itinerary features destinations and cultural experiences specially selected to reveal the uniqueness of this fascinating and varied region.

Explore the Moluccas and Raja Ampat in the centre of the marine bio-epicentre known as the Coral Triangle. Here Le Soleal's fleet of Zodiacs will transport you to swim and snorkel in pristine waters that 550 coral reef species and 3000 species of fish call home. Farther on, the northern coast of Papua and PNG, with a rare glimpse into a Sepik River village where life continues unchanged much as it has for decades, if not centuries. Unhurried, undeveloped and unspoilt.

Tufi, with its deep water passages, soaring volcanic cliffs and rich jungle, provides another rare cultural opportunity to mix with villagers, where you may ask yourself "what century is this?". Be prepared for the sight of colourful costumes featuring feathers and shells and rhythmic traditional dancing as you are escorted to meet the local tribes.

And then on to Kennedy Island, one of more than 900 Solomon Islands, and the story of PT109 (as in Lieutenant J F Kennedy), followed by the islands of Nggela, located in a setting akin to a film set, where vast trees overhang an idyllic sandy beach and beautiful village. Locals wear white face paint, grass skirts and big smiles. Here the music will stop you in your tracks. Vibrant, energetic. The mood is upbeat. A surprise awaits on the beach ….

This voyage is designated a 'Green Expedition', highly recommended by the Expedition Team for its range of remote and rarely visited destinations, where guests gain an insight into their history, culture and biology making for a greater understanding and appreciation of their unique nature.

Voyage overview: 14 night voyage departing Manado, Indonesia, 25 November 2015 onboard the 240 guest luxury expedition cruise ship Le Soleal - one of PONANT's ships comprising the youngest fleet of expedition ships in the world. Explore remote island locations across Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Itinerary includes Ternate, Raja Ampat, Mapia and Jayapura in Indonesia/Papua; the Sepik River, Tufi and Samarai Island in Papua New Guinea; Kennedy and Nggela islands in the Solomons. Disembark in Guadalcanal.

Example Pricing: Prestige Stateroom with balcony, deck 5, $8692.00 AUD per person (includes flight from Singapore - Manado)

Pre and post voyage programmes are available:

• Singapore discovery (3 days / 2 nights) Price per person from AUD 818
• Transfer and night in Singapore (1 night) Price per person from AUD 338
• Singapore, day at leisure at Swisshotel Stamford (1 day) Price per person from AUD 599

• Please note that all pricing is per person, twin share, inclusive of Safety and Port taxes. Pricing is yield managed, reflecting current advance purchase Ponant Bonus, some at 30% savings, currently available.


Australia:1300 737 178 or + 61 2 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62                               

'New' NG Orion reviewed on Cruise Critic Australia

#expeditioncruising editor, Roderick Eime, was aboard the 'new' National Geographic Orion last year. He reports for the newly launched Cruise Critic Australia. Comments welcome.

click to read on CCA site

Pandaw Burma River Cruise - Voyage to Nagaland, September 2015


Pandaw announces new river adventure on Burma's Chindwin River 'A Voyage to Nagaland'

Luxury river cruise adventures company, Pandaw, is delighted to announce a new 7-night itinerary on Burma's Chindwin River exploring the remote region of Nagaland, beyond Homalin and close to the Indian border. This journey is only possible on Pandaw's tiny ultra-low draught Kalay Pandaw in September 2015 when the water levels are high enough to sail in this area.

Nagaland Warrior
Hugh Clayson, Pandaw's Commercial Director, said: "Once again, Pandaw is pioneering with a new voyage on the Upper Chindwin River to truly 'off the beaten track' Nagaland, an area in Burma famous for the colorful Naga Warrior. Our short series of cruises this September are a one-off opportunity for travelers to discover this remote region from the comfort and style of the beautiful 5-stateroom Kalay Pandaw."

Highlights on the voyage include:

Explore Mawlaik with its magnificent colonial history and architecture, such as the 'Dak Bungalows' set around an old golf course!

Visit Sitthaung where the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company steamers were scuppered in 1942 in an 'act of denial' from the advancing Japanese who were a matter of hours behind.

Visit Homalin's beautiful Buddha Lotus Garden with its exquisite temple and stunning views.

Enjoy scenic 'off the beaten track' river cruising and explore Nagaland stopping at local villages to meet the friendly Naga people.

Visit Khamti, known as 'the land full of gold' due to the prevalence of gold panning in the nearby tributary of the Chindwin.

7-nights - A Voyage to Nagaland, Departure dates: 12, 19 and 26 September 2015

Cruise only prices from USD 3'500.- per person sharing a twin main deck stateroom

Cruise price includes: domestic flights Yangon or Mandalay-Kalewa and Homalin-Yangon or Mandalay, entrance fees, guide services, main meals, locally made soft drinks, local beer and local spirits, jugged coffee and selection of teas, mineral water, crew gratuities, quality mountain bikes available for independent exploration.

Cruise Price excludes: international flights, port dues (if levied), laundry, all visa costs, fuels surcharges (see terms and conditions), imported beverages such as wines, premium spirits and liqueurs, fancy soft drinks and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.

Visit Pandaw at ITB Berlin! hall 26b, booth 225

For all bookings, see Active Travel

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Captain Cook Cruises Wins Second AON Award for Excellence in Fiji


Captain Cook Cruises Fiji have for a second time won the Best Fiji Experience at the AON awards for Excellence in Fiji for 2014.

According to Jackie Charlton, Managing Director, Captain Cook Cruises - Fiji’s Cruise Line, "Captain Cook Cruises is honoured to have won the AON Fiji Excellence award for the Best Fiji Experience. Our staff and crew continuously strive to provide the best product, service and Fijian experience for our passengers and to win this award is a great recognition of all the hard work by our crew and shore staff.

This award also represents recognition of the wonderful and unique product we offer. We work very hard to ensure our three, four, seven and 11 night itineraries are fresh and give passengers the 'real' Fiji experience."

Captain Cook Cruises Fiji offer 3, 4, 7 and 11 night cruises around the idyllic Fiji Islands. The three-night Southern Yasawa Cruise offers guests the chance to discover the beauty of the Southern Yasawa Island group including the islands of Waya, Naviti and Viwa and the friendly warmth of its people.

The four-night Northern Yasawa Cruise visits the private island of Tivua and cruises the spectacular passage from Yaqeta Island to the Yasawas northern reaches. It also visits the famous Blue Lagoon and limestone caves.

The seven-night Yasawa Islands Cruise combines the three and the four night cruises for the ultimate Yasawa Island experience.

Captain Cook Cruises seven nights Four Cultures Discovery cruise , is the first ever Fiji cruise to circumnavigate Vana Levu, Fiji’s second largest island and visits four distinctive Fijian cultures, Ellice Islanders (Polynesians), Banabans (Micronesia), Fijian and Indians.  It also visits the islands of Kioa, Rabi, Druadrua, Labasa Town, Manava Cay and the world’s third longest barrier reef, Kia Island.

The seven nights Colonial Fiji Discovery Cruise reveals the unique history, art and culture of the Northern Fiji Islands and allows passengers the ultimate experience of ‘standing’ on the International Dateline. The cruise also visits the islands of Ovalau, Taveuni, Savusavu and Waiyevo.

The new eleven night Lau Islands Discovery Cruise explores the lengths of the Lau Islands and Kadavu, a part of Fiji rarely seen by tourists. Invited to visit these incredible islands by locals eager to share their beauty, Captain Cook Cruises worked hard using local knowledge and advice, to put together a fantastic and unique 11 night itinerary.

Captain Cook Cruises Fiji previously won this award in 2012 and would like to acknowledge past employee, Eunice Molia, who won the best front-liner of the year.

For further information visit