Monday, 22 May 2017

New boutique small ship cruises in Norwegian Fjords


Fjord Adventures has been offering small boat charters in and around the spectacular Hjorundfjord and Romsdal Mountain range of Norway for more than four years.  Due to demand, the specialist operator has launched a programme of summer itineraries suitable for families, couples, singles and small groups who wish to explore areas that large cruise ships do not access.

From August 2017, Fjord Adventures will operate regular cruises between Molde and Ålesund around a glorious archipelago of islands, stopping off en route to enjoy pretty villages and scenic locations where amazing wildlife such as orca, minke whales and porpoises are often spotted.

Owner and Skipper, Sven Stewart, has long been aware of the limitations of large cruise liners so he established Fjord Adventures with his favourite boat, HMS Gåssten, an ex-naval minesweeper and one of the last wooden warships ever built, offering accommodation for just 10 guests.

Sven has lovingly converted her to sleep up to 10 guests comfortably.  He comments:  "Our trips allow guests to visit and explore fjords and areas where the bigger ships do not have permission or the ability to access.  We offer unique and memorable holidays in one of the most unspoiled and breathtakingly beautiful areas on the planet.  We cannot wait to welcome guests aboard for our unrivalled summer cruises."

Highlights of the organized six-night itineraries include eating freshly-caught seafood bought from local fishing boats that day, spotting sea eagles nesting near the ship's anchorage with the stunning panorama of the Romsdal Mountain range in the background, and taking a ride on a small landing craft to explore local communities, including picturesque Hjertoya, a traditional fishing village that has remained unchanged for centuries.

Fellow skipper Tash Wright has worked at sea for 20 years and recently sailed solo across the Atlantic.  "As a skipper I have travelled the world and seen some incredible places, but I have to say that the Hjorundfjord is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring places I have experienced."

Activities abound during the voyage for those who wish to participate and range from stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, wakeboarding, snorkelling and swimming, to road/mountain biking on rugged terrain, sea kayaking, hiking in birch and pine forests, rock climbing, abseiling and canyoning.  The choice is almost endless but they will all definitely work up an appetite!

Luckily, the private chef serves up a veritable feast three times each day, beginning with a plentiful buffet breakfast comprising everything from yoghurt and local berries to bacon, sausages, eggs, cereals, breads and juices.

Packed lunches are available for guests going on shore excursions, while those staying on board may enjoy the likes of locally caught fish chowder and soda bread, or freshly baked asparagus and gruyere tart.

Dinner is a hearty three-course affair which, depending on the season, may feature anything from local monkfish stuffed with anchovies, wrapped in pancetta and served with crushed new potatoes, to elk casserole with Nordic chanterelles, seasonal vegetables and creamed potatoes.   Wine and beer are all included in the cost of the holiday (a definite bonus in 'expensive Norway').

Prices for the six-night Molde to Ålesund or Ålesund to Molde itineraries cost £2700 per adult and £1900 per child for an all-inclusive package including meals, refreshments, wine and beer and airport transfers on arrival and departure days.  This is based on departures in August and September 2017 and May through to September in 2018. Flights are available to both Molde and Ålesund airports.

Alternatively, HMS Gåssten may be chartered privately by those who prefer to be masters of their own destiny and wish to have a hand in plotting the details of their holiday itinerary.  Charter prices are available on request.

For further information www.fjordadventures.co

Did you know? The opening sequence to the BBC's Wonders of the Universe is filmed solely in the Hjorundfjord.



Alaskan Dream Cruises celebrates its eighth cruise season

#expeditioncruising .




Small ship cruise line Alaskan Dream Cruises will celebrate its eighth cruise season in 2018 with the launch of the new "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest" itinerary.

The 2018 season runs May 11 through mid-September with 58 sailings on six different itineraries. Many of those cruises, including a new 10-night "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest," will sail aboard the 74-passenger Chicagof Dream, which sailed its inaugural Alaskan Dream Cruises voyage in 2016. The itinerary explores the regions of Alaska's Inside Passage, including two full days in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and a day in Skagway. Guests travel from Sitka to Juneau, spending time in small communities such as Kake, Wrangell and Petersburg. The "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest" itinerary is offered on June 3 and June 13, 2018 and starts at $6,290 per person.

Additionally, special pricing is available for those booking early or traveling solo. All 2018 sailings can be purchased at 2017 rates when booked before August 1. Multiple departures of the seven-night "Alaska's Glacier Bay & Island Adventure" Itinerary on Chicagof Dream will be discounted for solo travelers. The single supplement fee will be waived for any A or AA category cabins on May 13, 20, 27 and September 2 and 9 departures.

Alaskan Dream Cruises will also bring back its seven-night "Alaska's Islands, Whales & Glaciers," "Alaska's Glacier Bay & Island Adventure" and "True Alaskan Family" cruises; the eight-night "Alaska's Inside Passage Sojourn" itinerary and the 10-night "Alaska's Southeast Explorer" sailing.

The full 2018 cruise schedule and rates can be found online at www.AlaskanDreamCruises.com.


Explore with Ponant: where polar bears outnumber the locals

#expeditioncruising .

PONANT’s ‘Discovery of the King of the Arctic’ Spitsbergen voyage


Polar bear mother and cubs (iStock)

There is little doubt that the dream of seeing polar bears in their natural habitat is a powerful incentive to travel, however timing and location of such travel is important to maximise the opportunity of sightings.

Ponant’s12 night luxury Spitsbergen/Svalbard voyage, Discovery of the King of the Arctic, takes place in prime polar bear viewing time, July, that period when the Midnight Sun doesn’t set below the horizon, and the Arctic ice slowly melts. Then there is less ice than in winter, and the polar bears tend to be in more concentrated areas, on drifting pack ice, from which they can hunt their favourite prey, the ring seal. And be observed.

More than 3,000 polar bears live around Svalbard, outnumbering the human population, so the chances of seeing one or more polar bears is high but nature being nature such things are likely although cannot be guaranteed.

Fortunately there is plenty of other wildlife to look out for and photograph. Arctic foxes, Arctic terns, walruses, whales, puffins. Svalbard reindeer have no natural predators, so don’t be surprised to see one wandering around, unperturbed, even in colourful downtown Longyearbyen. At 78 deg north Longyearbyen is the northernmost town on Earth, and the extraordinary start and finishing point for this memorable voyage.

Less ice also makes it possible to navigate the beautiful Norwegian Svalbard archipelago: magical landscapes, a blend of ancient glaciers, jagged mountains and spectacular fjords, seen from the decks of the compact 264 guest Le Boreal or closer still during Zodiac outings, the summer sun showcasing the grand vastness of this icy realm. Exploration with the specialist team of Naturalists will enhance interaction with nature.

In Norway, conservation is an age-old tradition based on sustainable principles established long before anybody had ever heard the term - since set down in law, reflecting a long-term respect for nature and wilderness. Nearly two-thirds of the surface of Svalbard is protected consisting of several nature reserves, national parks, bird sanctuaries and a geotopical protected areas.

So too polar expedition specialist PONANT respects the environment. With over 20 years of polar experience PONANT is the world leader in polar voyage expeditions. A member of both IIATO* and AECO* its fleet of ships - the most modern in the world - are all ‘ice certified’, featuring the very latest in maritime technologies and safety. Environmental respect is at the core of PONANT philosophy, with carefully chosen itineraries, the use of coatings that minimise air and water pollution, respect for the local populations, and raising awareness among crew and passengers both on board and prior to landing.

Flexibility is key to getting the most from an adventure like this and the ship’s Captain and Naturalists will maximise the daily opportunities afloat and ashore to ensure guests have every opportunity to experience the very best of this 13 day polar voyage.

With PONANT there will be no hardship encountered being a modern polar explorer. Instead enjoy French luxury and ambiance on Le Boreal and experience the difference small ship cruising offers. Intimate cruises venturing where large ships simply cannot.

Voyage overview / pricing example

PONANT 12 night luxury Discovery of the King of the Arctic voyage, 16-28 July 2018, Longyearbyen/Longyearbyen / Le Boreal

Pricing currently from A$14,250 per person, twin share, in a Deluxe Stateroom with private balcony. Please note: all fares are yield managed and PONANT Bonus savings will decrease as space is sold.

Price includes Paris/Longyearbyen/Paris flights pre/post voyage.

Fare also includes accommodation, all meals on board, Open Bar, 24 hour room service, expedition parka, free boot hire, outings in Zodiacs with the expedition team, onboard presentations.


Voyage features

• The most complete PONANT cruise to Spitsbergen. 13 days/12 nights for a comprehensive discovery of the kingdom of the polar bear

• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with your naturalist guides;

• Hiking opportunity

• Landscapes: ice floes, jagged mountains, icebergs, plains covered with moss and lichens, lakes and rivers

• Wildlife: polar bears, Arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer, Arctic terns, walruses, whales, puffins


Set sail from the cosmopolitan village of Longyearbyen, - the journey will begin with an exploration of the wild and unspoiled east coast of Spitsbergen before reaching the lush green valleys of Bellsund fjord, followed by a visit to Ny Alesund, the former mining town and the most northerly post office in the world.

Further north, the majestic Monaco glacier, an impenetrable wall with blue-tinged highlights.

This expedition voyage has been designed for those to whom the essence of travel means being rewarded with rare experiences far from mainstream tourism, sharing the day’s adventures with family, friends or like-minded travellers and the stimulation of mixing with informed, passionate speakers and knowledgeable Naturalists ….. all the while travelling in luxury.

* PONANT is a voting Member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), an organisation founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica - www.iaato.org

As a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), PONANT continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting and promoting the Arctic zone and to operating cruises to the area which are respectful of the environment and native populations.

INFORMATION & RESERVATIONS

Details of all PONANT voyages including itineraries, pricing and shore excursion highlights are available at www.ponant.com

Contact your travel agent, or PONANT on Australia: 1300 737 178 or + 612 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62, or email reservations.aus@ponant.com to request more information or assistance.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

New ships for Katarina Line

#expeditioncruising .

Katarina Line announced that it will be introducing new, “more luxurious and modern” vessels for 2018 as part of a fleet-wide rebranding program that raises its category of ships to six from its current four-category designations of Deluxe, A+, A and B.

Beginning with the 2018 cruise season, the new categories will be Deluxe Superior, newer and larger ships that are a minimum of 154 feet long, built or updated within the past year; Deluxe, state-of-the-art ships between 137 to 154 feet long; Premium Superior, newer category A+ ships similar to the current Deluxe ships but a bit smaller in length; Premium, the smaller of Katarina’s spacious, steel-hulled ships.

The company said it is Croatia’s premier small ship company, operating over 50 ships seasonally from Croatian ports and carrying over 26,000 passengers.

Katarina Line’s more traditional wooden ships will be classified in two additional categories: Traditional Ensuite, featuring cabins with private shower/toilets; and Traditional, a smaller line of wooden ships with shared showers and toilets. Both categories will also feature air-conditioned salon.

“The popularity of small ship cruising in the Mediterranean has increased the demand for larger, more luxurious vessels that cater to the new generation of travelers. These travelers are seeking soft adventures ‘on the high seas’ with more lavish accommodation, gourmet dining and superior, personalized service,” said Daniel Hauptfeld, marketing director for Katarina Line.

He continued: “Katarina’s new, top-of-the-line Deluxe Superior vessels is in response to this demand. They are the most spacious in our fleet, constructed with the best material that includes solid wood, glass, marble, and stainless steel, with gourmet dining, onboard entertainment, and high service standards, as well as lavishly and thoughtfully designed en suite accommodation.”

Source: Cruise Industry News

Expedition cruise company to homeport in Sydney, Canada

#expeditioncruising .


With the opening of a second berth at the port of Sydney, it will become the home port for an expedition cruise company, its managing director says.

Sydney is situated perfectly to be a gateway for the business, Andrew Prossin of One Ocean Expeditions said in an interview Friday.

Read full report at Cape Breton Post


True North Wins Best Australian Adventure Experience and Best Luxury Expedition Cruise

#expeditioncruising .

True North Adventure Cruises wins multiple categories at Luxury Travel Magazine’s annual Gold List Awards.

The Broome-based adventure cruise operator scored significant wins as Best Australian Adventure Experience and Best Luxury Expedition Cruise.

The company has now won multiple Gold List awards since 2013 including five consecutive wins as Best Australian Adventure Experience. The total number of Gold List Awards won during the same period has reached 13.

Commenting on the company’s Gold List success, brand director Peter Trembath said “The high number of wins demonstrates the outstanding levels of customer satisfaction associated with an adventure cruise on the TRUE NORTH.

“Our guests don’t just disembark happy, they get off saying that their time on board was the best holiday they have ever had!”

When asked to explain the TRUE NORTH difference Mr Trembath responded “We have always focussed on providing unparalleled access to stunning coastal environments and unequalled opportunity to truly experience the destination. An adventure cruise on the TRUE NORTH is definitely not just another expedition cruise.”



Mr Trembath added that the wins were also an acknowledgement of the outstanding service culture that exists aboard TRUE NORTH “Nothing is too hard for our crew members.”

The latest accolades come as True North Adventure Cruises prepares to celebrate 30 years of successful operations.

On May 26 more than 300 guests will attend a gala celebration at Broome’s historic outdoor picture theatre, Sun Pictures. The event will include a feature length screening of the company’s anniversary movie 30 Years of Adventure.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Antarctica aboard Silversea Silver Cloud - singles offer

#expeditioncruising




Discover the heart-stopping landscape of Antarctica aboard Silver Cloud's newly transformed expedition vessel, which will depart Ushuaia, Argentina on 8th February 2018 on an unforgettable 10 day return voyage. Fares start from AUD$15,390 per person based on double occupancy in a Vista Suite, including Early Booking Bonus.  The ultra-luxury cruise line is now also offering a special 25% single supplement for solo travellers.

Silver Cloud, which is due to set sail for the first time as an expedition vessel in November 2017, will take guests on a journey from one discovery to another, passing through stunning landscapes made up of frigid waters and huge rivers of ice where guests will encounter icebergs, glaciers and wildlife, with walks and hikes ashore to see huge penguin colonies and seals.

Once on board, guests will be invited to attend a warm and inviting welcoming reception, the perfect opportunity for solo travellers to meet and socialise with other like-minded guests. For those travelling alone, Silversea's Gentlemen Hosts are available throughout the cruise, to join guests as dance partners or dinner companions. 

Setting sail from Ushuaia, the thrilling voyage will follow Drake Passage, transporting guests through an area where cold polar water and warmer equatorial water come together, attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales for guests to admire.

From here, Silver Cloud will sail into Antarctica's vast white wilderness, where a flexible itinerary will take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on weather, ice conditions and possible wildlife encounters. Possible destinations include: Brown Bluff, Tabrin Peninsula; Paulet Island; Cuverille Island, Errera Channel; Paradise Bay; Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago; Port Foster, Whalers Bay and; Port Lockroy, Goudier Island, before returning back along Drake Passage to Ushuaia.

Joined on board by a team of passionate and expert professionals, guests will be able to attend wildlife, geography and history discussions hosted by expert naturalists and guest lecturers to learn more about their exciting surroundings and get the most out of this truly fantastic expedition.

Silversea's fares include: all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary onboard champagne, wines and spirits; and one hour of complimentary WiFi per day for each guest and unlimited WiFi for the ship's top suites (Medallion and higher categories) and all gratuities.

FEATURED EXCLUSIVE OFFERS:

Antarctica All-Inclusive Package: Now including charter flights, hotels and more + AUD $899 Economy Class Air Round Trip to Buenos Aires on Silver Explorer Expeditions, or Santiago de Chile on Silver Cloud Expeditions*

Early Booking Bonus: Save 10% if you book and pay in full by 30 June*

Alluring Single Fares: Single supplements starting at only 25%

*This voyage is subject to change and may be withdrawn at any time. Terms and conditions apply. For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com