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Monday, 29 September 2014

Australians love Expedition Cruising with APT


Eight Reasons Why Australians are Sailing off the Beaten Track

Ever imagine what it's like to be one of the few visitors to set foot on a remote Island? Or wonder how it might feel to visit somewhere so picturesque that even Sir David Attenborough deems it 'one of the wonders of the world'?

These are the types of dreams that are becoming a reality, thanks to the rising popularity of luxury small ship expedition cruising – a cruise style that brings together an average of 100 like-minded guests with a team of expert lecturers, sailing aboard luxury boutique-style expedition ships to far-flung and unusual destinations, inaccessible to larger cruise liners.

According to luxury small ship specialist APT, an increasing number of Australians are hopping onboard with this newer cruise format, making it the next big travel style for 2015 and beyond.

Destinations driving its popularity include:

1. Pulau Kakaban, Indonesia: Edged with steep limestone cliffs and covered in dense jungle, the beautiful Kakaban Island is part of the Derawan Islands of East Kalimantan.

Get up close: Snorkel the Island's freshwater lake to see a variety of fascinating strange jellyfish that have lost their sting.

2. Torajaland, Central Sulawesi: Buried deep in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, Torajaland is a rarely visited gem with a friendly culture and ancient traditions.

Get up close: See fascinating boat-shaped houses built facing north in honour of the deities, or visit grave sites that house replicas of the ancestors, called Tau Taus.

3. Lacepede Islands, Kimberley, WA: A highly protected Class A nature reserve located off the Kimberley Coast, the Lacepede Islands are classified by Birdlife International as an important bird area and boast one of the world's largest breeding colonies of Brown Booby and Lesser Frigate Birds.

Get up close: See the most significant rare Green Turtle breeding ground in Western Australia as well as a spectacular platform reef.

4. Trincomalee, Sri Lanka: Situated on one of the world's finest natural harbours, Trincomalee is edged by famous, seemingly endless stretches of sensational beaches.

Get up close: Visit World Heritage-listed site of Sigiriya, or 'Lion's Rock', an ancient rock fortress and palace.

5. Tinos, Greece: A beautiful sun-drenched island in the Aegean, Tinos is one of the best kept secrets of Greece. Venetian and Ottoman architecture can be found across the island, the legacy of its varied past.

Get up close: Because most visitors to the island are pilgrims it remains relatively untouched by tourism, so a stop here will give you a true taste of Greek culture.

6. Aldabra and Alphonse, Seychelles: The world's second largest coral atoll, Aldabra is one of the most isolated places in the world. Comprising four islets around a large shallow lagoon that is encircled by fringing coral reef, Sir David Attenborough once named it 'one of the wonders of the world'. Nearby, the Alphonse Atoll consists of picturesque Bijoutier and St Francis with their coconut tree-lined perfect white-sand beaches and rare bird species.

Get up close: See abundant wildlife and spot the Aldabra Giant Tortoise.

7. Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska: Tucked away far from the path of larger ships lies Misty Fjords National Monument along Alaska's Inside Passage, offering some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth.

Get up close: See glistening glaciers, vast ice fields, enchanting wildlife and snow capped peaks.

8. Laughing Bird Cay, Belize: A beautiful Island just off the coast of Belize, a special permit limiting the number of visitors is required to visit Laughing Bird Cay.

Get up close: The Island stands on a faro that encloses a central lagoon. Visitors enjoy an abundance of bird and coral species and marine life.

To find out more about booking an unforgettable adventure aboard an APT Luxury Small Ship Expedition Cruise call 1300 196 420, visit or see your local travel agent.

Ponant Alaska and Arctic voyages 2015


Follow in the footsteps of pioneers and trappers

Explore Alaska and the Arctic Far North with Ponant. More than just journeys, the promise of exceptional destinations and encounters in other worlds that include Greenland, Iceland, Spitzbergen, the Baffin Sea, the Northwest Passage and Alaska.

Follow in the footsteps of pioneers and adventurers who tried to tame this wild land. Carefully crafted itineraries reveal secret expanses of Alaska where nature carves a world of vast glaciers, turquoise waters, lush forests and snow capped peaks. Further north, venture across the Arctic Circle to regions famous for polar bears, icy landscapes and dormant volcanoes.

Cruise on ice-rated luxury expedition ships equipped with a fleet of Zodiacs that allow Ponant to explore where large cruise ships simply cannot reach, getting close to nature, guest experiences enhanced with expeditions ashore. Join with the expedition team to meander through ice flows, wonder at vertiginous fjords and explore the vastness of this pristine polar seascape.

Itineraries during 2015 reveal 7 remote lands and the opportunity of interaction with 5 ethnic groups - ancient communities, including the Inuit and American Indian tribes such as the Tlingit.
Travel with Ponant, the polar and ice specialists, on board modern eco-friendly sister ships, L’Austral, Le Boreal and Le Soleal, part of the youngest fleet of luxury and expedition ships in the world.

A specialist expedition team, guides and lecturers including, typically, naturalists and geologists, enhance your voyage experience.

From Iceland to Baffin Bay, Siberia, the Northwest Passage and the Russian Far East, enjoy unique 5 star experiences onboard and ashore, and expeditions that include the most beautiful nature reserves in Alaska, UNESCO World Heritage sites, geysers, lava fields and volcanoes.

Adventure in the lands of the majestic polar, brown and black bears, humpback and minke whales, bald eagles, caribou, orca, Arctic Fox and Narwhal, and visit whaling stations and Russian trappers cabins ….. join the Gold Rush.

95% of all accommodation features a private balcony, perfect for observing nature at her majestic best, perhaps including the spectacular lights of aurora borealis. Enjoy polar landscapes and wildlife by day, back on board relax with a glass of champagne or a swim in the heated pool.

Experience counts. With over 15 seasons of polar experience, 12 in the Far North, Ponant has built its reputation as a true specialist, sailing in extreme environments.

An Open Bridge policy offers guests insight into the specialist workings of ice navigation in these extreme regions. Flexibility is key, with the Captain able to adapt the daily itinerary to maximise opportunities, such a adjusting course in order to allow guests to watch a nearby pod of whales or photograph a polar bear on an ice flow.

Add to the adventure by selecting from an extensive range of optional shore excursions, including flight-seeing the Misty Fjords by seaplane, or flying into the famed Valley of the Geysers in Kamchatka by helicopter. In Alaska, the Rocky Mountaineer train trip is an unforgettable pre or post voyage option not to be missed.

Ponant balances extremes of nature with warmth, comfort and exceptional service onboard - all with a dash of French panache.

Itinerary examples: (current pricing, per person twin share, inclusive of taxes)

Alaska: Vancouver to Juneau or v.v. on L’Austral (5 voyages during June/July 2015 (7 nights) are available from A$4,270. A limited number of 0% single supplements are still available.

Northwest Passage: Kangerlussuaq to Anadyr on Le Soleal / August 24 2015 (22 nights) from A$25,955. Includes connecting flights from Paris to Kangerlussuaq and Anadyr to Tokyo plus one night accommodation in Tokyo.

Russian Far East: Anadyr to Petropavlovsk on Le Soleal / 15 September 2015 (14 nights) from A$11,430. Includes connecting flights to/from Tokyo to Anadyr and Petropavlovsk plus accommodation for one night in Tokyo pre and post voyage.

Eastern Siberia and Kodiak Peninsula: Pevek to Seward on L’Austral / 19 August 2015 (11 nights) from A$8,990. Includes one way flight Tokyo - Pevek plus one night accommodation in Tokyo.

The website provides detail on the fleet, voyages, itineraries, inclusions – and the videos in particular will give an appreciation of the French style that is the

Additional information and reservations can be made by phoning (in Australia)1300 737 178 or + 61 2 8459 5000, (in New Zealand) 0800 44 32 62, email or contact your travel agent.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Northwest Passage Voyage - Following Franklin

Sailing in the Wake of Northwest Passage Explorer Sir John Franklin

2015 Arctic Voyage to Discovered Site of Missing Vessel

An Arctic voyage visiting Canada's fabled Northwest Passage where one of explorer Sir John Franklin's ships was discovered this month after a 170-year search is available through Australian tour company, Active Travel.

The discovery of the missing wreck 11m below remote Victoria Strait near King William Island has been described as one of the greatest archaeological events of the past 100 years, with the find solving one of maritime history's greatest mysteries. The British vessels, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, were last seen in ice-clad Baffin Bay in 1845, with Australians able to visit the area themselves aboard a polar expedition ship in 2015, 170 years since Sir John Franklin's expedition vanished.

Active Travel is a partner with One Ocean Expeditions, the exploration cruise operator in the Canadian Arctic which helped uncover one of Sir Franklin's ships this month. The ship used in the search, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, is a sister ship to the Russian ship that Active Travel customers can sail aboard to the same region in 2015.  

Active Travel's 13-day Northwest Passage Voyage from Greenland on August 12, 2015, aboard the Russian icebreaker, Akademik Ioffe, will take passengers deep inside the Arctic Circle, beginning with the fjords and frontier settlements of Greenland before the journey charts Sir Franklin's final path through the isolated islands of the Canadian Arctic, including King William Island.

Zodiac excursions ashore will allow passengers to meet the local Inuit people and look for wildlife including polar bears, seals and beluga whales

The voyage of a lifetime ends at Cambridge Bay from where passengers will be flown back to Edmonton. The 13-day voyage is priced from US$9995 per person, twin-share, including onboard meals, land excursions, Arctic weather gear and onboard lectures.

Charter flights from Ottawa to Greenland at the start of the voyage and back to Edmonton at the end of the cruise are an extra US$1990 per person return.  Return flights from Australia to Canada are additional and can also be booked through Active Travel.

For bookings, visit or call 1300 783 188.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Additional Mekong cruise departures in peak season


7 Feb 2015 Saigon - Siem Reap/Angkor, 7 nights

7 Feb 2015 Saigon - Phnom Penh, 3 nights

10 Feb 2015 Phnom Penh - Siem Reap/Angkor, 4 nights

21 Feb 2015 Saigon - Siem Reap/Angkor, 7 nights

21 Feb 2015 Saigon - Phnom Penh, 3 nights

24 Feb 2015 Phnom Penh - Siem Reap/Angkor, 4 nights

7 Mar 2015 Saigon - Siem Reap/Angkor, 7 nights

7 Mar 2015 Saigon - Phnom Penh, 3 nights

10 Mar 2015 Phnom Penh - Siem Reap/Angkor, 4 nights

We are delighted to offer new departures between Saigon and Siem Reap on the stunning and intimate Angkor Pandaw, a classic Pandaw vessel carrying no more than

32 passengers. It's small size enables your Mekong journey to begin in central Saigon, providing the enjoyment of this charming French colonial city from the perspective of your luxury ship and the chance to sail through the Mekong Delta on your way to Cambodia.

Your journey discovers the fascinating and varied life on the Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia. With a full day in delightful Phnom Penh we then explore remoter waterways as we progress to the great monuments of Angkor.

The sixteen cabin Angkor Pandaw has been specially designed with a shallow draft to get further up river and a low air draft to get under the many new bridges being constructed up river in Cambodia. This ship can go where other larger ships are not able to explore.

* Based on 2 people sharing a main deck stateroom on 7th Mar 2015 departure.

Availability and prices subject to change. |

Friday, 26 September 2014

South Georgia to see 64 ship visits in 2014/15 season


The number of cruise ship visits to South Georgia is set to increase by at least 10 per cent in the forthcoming 2014/15 season, according to the July edition of the South Georgia Newsletter.

Sixty-four cruise ships are currently booked to visit the island on the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) ship scheduler; six more ship visits than were booked last season.

Seabourn Quest will be the largest ship to visit South Georgia with 450 passengers

In the event, only 55 cruise ship visits were made last season, due to cancellations after breakdown, bad weather etc. Therefore the actual year on year increase in cruise ship visits this season could be up to 14 per cent.

The forecast increase builds on the steady increase in ship visits and passenger numbers over the past two seasons. However, ship visit and passengers numbers have still not returned to the record levels seen in 2008/09 when 71 ships brought circa 8000 passengers.

A total of 7,024 passengers reached South Georgia by cruise ship last season, a figure that looks set to rise a little in the coming season if bookings (occupancy levels) remain about the same. If the vessels were fully booked in excess of 8100 passengers could visit. This will be confirmed when all of the visit applications have been received.

The 40-pax Bark Europa will be the smallest vessel to visit South Georgia this season

Twenty-two different cruise ships are scheduled to visit; the smallest being the 40-passenger sailing vessel Bark Europa and the largest the 450-passenger Seabourn Quest. Two of the cruise ships will be new to South Georgia: National Geographic Orion and Le Soleal.

Two of the vessels, Bremen and Hanseatic, are set to make six visits each during the season ahead. The season starts on October 24th with Ushuaia and ends on April 3rd with Plancius, and the vessels are reasonably well spread through the six-month period, though November and December are the two busiest months with 14 cruise ship visits each month, and as usual the Christmas to New Year period is very busy with nine cruise ships due during the week.


First look at 'Horizon' - new vessel for Island Escape Cruises.


Exciting update from Island Escape Cruises (IEC) is this preview image of their new all-suite ship that is planned for delivery in August 2015.

To be named Horizon, she is 46m in length and will accommodate a maximum of just 24 guests.

IEC plan to employ the new vessel on itineraries in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia as well as existing Vanuatu and New Zealand cruising grounds.

She will carry three large landing craft for shore excursions, plus snorkel and fishing equipment, twin and single kayaks, paddle boards, a dive compressor and onboard helicopter for most cruises.

According to IEC's website, itineraries for Horizon will be released for sale at the end of November 2014

Broaden your wine and food knowledge on SeaDream in 2015

Enjoying premium wines aboard SeaDream

WINE buffs can broaden their knowledge of wine in general as well as best wine-and-food pairing, and enjoy some other tastes of the better things in life, with a sailing  next April aboard the world's highest-rated boutique passenger vessel, SeaDream I that'll offer a world-recognised wine education diploma course.

And with current bourgeoning interest in wine-and-food appreciation, eight other sailings in the Mediterranean aboard the mega-motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II in 2015 will allow guests to meet with eminent winemakers who'll be aboard. At these meetings they'll also enjoy free tastings of the maker's wines, and if they wish take part in optional visits to some of Europe's most prestigious smaller and historic wineries.

"We have been approved by the world's most-respected wine education organisation, the British Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET,) to deliver their in-depth Level 2 Course that provides the opportunity to achieve a WSET Diploma in wine education," said SeaDream Yacht Club's owner and CEO, Atle Brynestad. Mr Brynestad has just appointed one of Scandinavia's most-respected wine writers, Erica Landin as Director of Wine to develop its new onboard programs.

The WSET Course will be available as an option on a 13-day crossing of the Atlantic from San Juan in Puerto Rico to Malaga in Spain in April 2015, costing US$1500pp in addition to the Crossing price that starts from US$4045pp twin-share.*

The eight Mediterranean sailings that include the free wine tastings and optional-cost winery visits (US$150pp per winery,) will be priced from US$3704pp twin-share for 5-days from Monte Carlo back to Monte Carlo in May 2015. All sailings include award-winning cuisine, premium lunch and dinner wines, bar drinks, water-sports, port charges and taxes, and gratuities.

*The course will include two 1.5hr sessions daily focusing on key grape varieties, growing methods and factors influencing a wine's style and quality, accompanying tastings, and an overview of major wine regions from Europe to Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Argentina. There'll also be a visit to a major winery on Madeira with a vertical tasting of very old Madeira wines, a Champagne Master Class, and food-pairings with SeaDream's most-loved dishes.

For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express