Monday, 29 December 2008

Coral Princess Abolishes Fuel Surcharge


Coral Princess Cruises has announced that fuel surcharges for all its voyages will be abolished for departures on or after February 1, 2009. Coral Princess was one of the last cruise operators, world-wide, to impose a surcharge in August, 2008 and has moved quickly – in light of reductions in diesel fuel costs - to be one of the first cruise operators to lift it.

“We’d like to thank our industry partners for their understanding with regard to the necessity of implementing the surcharge back in August. We’re of course extremely pleased that fuel prices have returned to some sort of normality and, in appreciation of our partners’ loyalty, we have removed the surcharge at the first opportunity,” said Tony Briggs, Founder and Managing Director of Coral Princess Cruises.

The removal of the surcharge is effective for all existing and new bookings for cruises departing on or after February 1, 2009. The surcharge will remain in place for departures up to and including January 31, 2009.

With regard to all existing bookings due to depart on or after February 1 2009, in coming days the company will issue revised invoices reflecting the abolition of the surcharge.

For further information and reservations visit www.coralprincess.com.au

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

CRUISE UK TO “ICE AND FIRE” OF ICELAND

An unusual 14-night cruise opportunity from England to Ireland, Scotland and Iceland and back to England in June of next year, features travel aboard the luxury small ship Spirit of Adventure – with organised shore excursions included at most ports of call.

Just 350 guests will share this unique experience on Spirit of Adventure that sails from Liverpool on June 18 for Dublin, Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Ullapool in Scotland, Iceland’s Seydisfjord, Akureyri, Isafjord, Reykjavik and Heimaey, Cobh for Cork in Ireland, Falmouth (England) and Portsmouth.

With full- or half-day excursions led by local guides at most ports visited, this cruise provides an ideal opportunity to explore many fascinating towns inaccessible to larger liners, and to take-in the legendary “Ice and Fire” of Iceland’s glaciers, snow-capped peaks, steaming mud-pools and geysers.

Cruiseco – a consortium of 150 cruise-specialist travel agencies Australia-wide – is selling this fortnight-long cruise from $6940pp twin-share… but if you are a quick-decision maker you can save over one-third on this and pay from $4170pp if you book before January 31; the price includes all onboard gourmet dining, entertainment (including late-release movies on deck under the stars,) guest lecturers, guided excursions, and onboard gratuities.

For full details including best-possible air prices to join this cruise, phone 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist, or visit www.cruising.com.au.

Cruise Weekly Comment: Marina Svetaeva

If Orion, True North and Oceanic Discoverer are the flirtatious, glamour girls of the expedition cruise fleet, then Aurora's Marina Svetaeva is the motherly, buxom babushka. What she lacks in marble bathrooms and brass banisters is more than compensated for in sheer sea-going confidence.

Purpose-built in Poland's famous Gdynia shipyards for polar work twenty years ago, she has undergone several refits and modernisations, including the addition of a twin-hangar helideck for airborne operations.

Despite her modest appointments and utilitarian fit-out, Marina Svetaeva is the sort of vessel you know will deliver when the going gets tough. Cross off boutique, salon and Jacuzzi and tick enclosed lifeboats, stabilisers and heavy ice rating. Don't choose Marina Svetaeva for "cruising", her no-nonsense demeanour is not about luxury, pampering or degustation menus. Instead you can be assured of a seriously robust vessel built with the rigours of polar work in mind and the likelihood of a full, well-planned and comprehensive itinerary backed by Greg Mortimer's world-famous team at Aurora.

Next to benchmark operators, Quark Expeditons, Aurora's Ross Sea and Commonwealth Bay Antarctic itineraries should be on your shortlist for deep south adventures.

Blue Lagoon extends 15 per cent discount plus free cabin upgrade offer


Fiji's Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 15 per cent discount plus a free cabin upgrade on all 'Club' and 'Gold Club' Yasawa Island cruises booked from now until 28 February 2009.

With travel validity extended to 31 August 2009, the discount applies to all three and four-day 'Club Cruises' and all four and seven-day 'Gold Club' cruises.

The discount means pricing for a three-day/two-night 'Club' cruise now starts from AUD479* per person twin share.

Prices on 'Club and 'Gold Club' cruises include all meals and cruise activities. These range from daily shore excursions and snorkeling safaris to fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast, visits to remote villages, Kava ceremonies and a day spent at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai.

*Conditions apply. Please note cruise prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea and coffee). A daily fuel surcharge of FJD25 per person also applies.

See www.bluelagooncruises.com for full itineraries.

For cruise reservations telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on + 679 666 1622, facsimile + 679 666 4098 or via email on reservations@blc.com.fj.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Ice Rating: What does it mean?


For ships to navigate polar regions, they must have what is called an "Ice Rating". As you'd expect, there are several standards: American, Russian, Swedish, German etc. So be careful to compare like classes when assessing a ship's ability.

One must also bear in mind that an "icebreaker" is a special ship design altogether. As the name suggests, icebreakers are designed to smash through solid sea ice while other (conventional) ships are simply "ice strengthened" and it is their rating in this regard that is most important.

For serious ice work, ships need to be rated 1A or 1A Super. This means they can work with an icebreaker in the heaviest conditions. Then progressively down to 1B, 1C and Class II, the lightest rating.

Some examples of familiar ships:
  • MV Orion - Class 1A (Germanischer Lloyd E3)
  • Marina Svetaeva - Class 1A
  • Lyubov Orlova - Class 1C
  • MS Hanseatic - Class 1A Super (Germanischer Lloyd E4)
  • Le Diamant - Class 1D

For the marine engineers among us, here is a heavy technical document to explain it. Here is the easier Wikipedia page.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Renowned West Australian Photographer to join TRUE NORTH cruise


Roebuck Bay, Broome (c) Christian Fletcher

North Star Cruises Australia is delighted to confirm that Christian Fletcher will be joining Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 13a & b in 2009.

You are probably aware of Christian's enviable reputation as a landscape photographer and you probably also appreciate that the Kimberley presents as the ultimate panorama. Accordingly, we are sure that you will be interested to note that Christian will not only be providing instruction on how to capture that perfect image – he will also be conducting tutorials in software refinement and, printing techniques.

A one-stop opportunity to work with a revered professional; with nothing but stunning material to work with and, relaxed how-to instruction on everything from shot selection to the ultimate in presentation.

If you've got the shutter-bug – don't miss this one!

The cruise will depart Broome on the 29th of August and the 'split cruise' format offers complete flexibility. Guests can embark in Broome and remain onboard for the entire 2 week cruise disembarking in Wyndham and taking advantage of our courtesy coach transfer to Kununurra. Alternatively, guests can embark/disembark mid-cruise in the Hunter River taking advantage of our light aircraft/helicopter transfers from/to Kununurra (included).

Don't miss out – early indication is that this will be a very popular departure – contact our adventure partners now to secure your cabin!

For more information on Christian visit: www.christianfletcher.com.au

Email: cruise@northstarcruises.com.au URL: www.northstarcruises.com.au

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Kayak in the Realm of the Polar Bear with Aurora Expeditions


Additional voyage announced for 2009

Life explodes in the High Arctic in mid-summer, and sea kayaks are a superb way for an in-depth exploration of this pristine wilderness - one of the most ruggedly spectacular places on Earth.

Paddling on glassy seas around icebergs, against a backdrop of towering mountains and glaciers, provides an unrivalled opportunity to get up close and personal with the abundant wildlife that inhabits this region. Spitsbergen is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears, as well as walrus, reindeer and millions of migratory birds.

Aurora Expeditions has announced a fifth departure to this land of the midnight sun in 2009, which includes a kayaking option.

The 11-day ‘Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen’ voyage will depart from Longyearbyen on 3 July 2009 travelling aboard the ice-strengthened expedition vessel Polar Pioneer. Limited to a group of just 56 people, each cruise has a team of experienced naturalists and historians that will guide passengers through the dramatic landscapes, unique cultures and abundant wildlife that capture the essence of the High Arctic.

Aurora’s unrivalled knowledge of weather and ice conditions helps chart the best possible course and in true expedition style, their flexible approach to each day is designed to take maximum advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Prices start from A$5,790 per person triple-share, including all meals on board, Zodiac excursion ashore and a complete team naturalists, historians and expedition staff. The all-inclusive price for the sea kayaking option costs an additional A$990.

For further information contact Aurora Expeditions on (02) 9252-1033 (1800-637-688 within Australia) or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

“Make Us an Offer” on Galapagos Islands


Adventure tour operator Boundless Journeys is getting into the online auction game again. The company’s popular Galapagos Islands nature cruise, scheduled for February 19-28, 2009 has a few spaces available and the company is allowing bidders to “Make Us an Offer”.

Says company President Matt Holmes, “our travelers have been thrilled in the past by the opportunity to make a bid on a dream trip that may previously have been out of their reach price-wise. It really is a win-win situation; we get to fill a couple of vacant slots, and our guests get to take advantage of an amazing deal.”

Just how amazing? Competition for the few spots is typically fierce, but winning bids are often between 25-40% below the listed price of the trip. “It wouldn’t be a viable policy to do it for every trip, but now and then there is a perfect opportunity to share a really good deal with our guests,” adds Holmes.

To bid on the February 19-28, 2009 departure, simply e-mail your offer to info@boundlessjourneys.com, or call 1-800-941-8010. Detailed itineraries are available online at www.boundlessjourneys.com.

To be in the loop on future “Make Us an Offer” opportunities, subscribe to Boundless Journeys’ e-news list. You’ll receive one or two e-mails per month, containing auction offers and general travel news. To join the list, simply visit http://www.boundlessjourneys.com/moreinfo/newsletter.html and request to be added.

Friday, 5 December 2008

MV Ushuaia runs aground in Antarctica

file image of MV Ushuaia
The 84-passenger Ushuaia, an ice-strengthened vessel that spends five months a year in the region, was near the entrance to Antarctica's famed Wilhelmina Bay when the accident occurred, a spokesman for the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators tells USA TODAY.

No one was injured in the grounding but the ship's officers plan to move passengers to another vessel before they try to "refloat" the Ushuaia.

"An initial assessment of damage indicated that while there was no imminent danger and no threat to life, it would be precautionary to transfer passengers to another vessel," the Association says in a situation report sent to USA TODAY. Still, they added, the ship is stable.

Another expedition ship, the Antarctic Dream, was seven miles away when the incident occurred and already has arrived on the scene. Several other ice-strengthed expedition ships including the National Geographic Explorer, Professor Multanovskiy and Polar Star also are nearby and have offered assistance should it be needed.

Several Chilean Naval vessels also are en route, and the Association, which has been in contact with the Ushuaia's crew, says they plan to transfer passengers to the Chilean Naval vessel Achiles on Friday.

The Association says the Ushuaia leaked a small amount of light oil when it ran aground, but the leak has since been sealed and oil barriers have been deployed to contain further spills.

Originally built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, the 2,923-ton Ushuaia is one of several dozen small expedition ships that operate adventure cruises to Antarctica each year during the brief Antarctic summer -- the period from late November until March when the ice around the continent melts back enough to allow visits.

The often-spartan voyages, which appeal to well-heeled adventurers from around the globe who pay $4,000 per person or more for the chance to see one of the most remote and untrammeled regions on Earth, have grown in popularity in recent years. But several recent incidents also have raised concerns about the trips, which offer the chance to see everything from giant icebergs to penguins and whales.

Just last year two expedition vessels, G.A.P. Adventures' Explorer and Hurtigruten's Fram, were damaged by icebergs. The Explorer eventually sank.

The IAATO statement on the incident says the Ushuaia was sailing nearly full with 82 passengers on board, including 12 Americans, 2 Canadians, 11 Australians and 7 residents of the United Kingdom. Passengers from nearly a dozen other countries including The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and China also are on board.

Captain Trevor Haworth Retires


Today, Captain Cook Cruises founder Trevor Haworth announced that he will be retiring as Executive Chairman after 38 years.

“After thirty eight years building the business and delivering reliable, quality products, I have made the decision to retire as Executive Chairman of the company. I will, however, be taking on the role of non-executive Chairman.” Says Captain Trevor Haworth.

With Captain Haworth as non-executive Chairman and his children Anthony Haworth and Jackie Charlton retaining their positions as Joint Managing Directors, Captain Cook Cruises will remain a family owned company.

In a decision to further grow the business, Mr. Nick Hortle has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company. Nick has many years of business experience including general management roles at some of Australia’s largest NFP service providers and as a partner at KPMG Chartered Accountants.

“It has been a real privilege to have been a part of the development and growth of inbound tourism into Australia over the past 38 years,” says Captain Trevor Haworth.

“I am confident Captain Cook Cruises, under Nick’s command and supported by Jackie and Anthony, will continue to prosper and grow”.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

MYPLANET LAUNCH 2009 CRUISES TO TWO OF NATURE’S RICHEST HAVENS

They are two of the world’s revered cruise destinations – the vast, stunning beauty of Antarctica, and the warm waters of the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador – and both are two of nature’s richest havens.

“When you talk of the Antarctic, and of the Galapagos Islands, you are speaking of the two destinations in the world where the true wonder of nature can be experienced right before your eyes – they are fascinating places that leave such a strong impact on visitors,” MyPlanet general manager Sandy Greenwood said.

In its latest brochure ‘Antarctica & South America 2009’ MyPlanet has highlighted these two specific regions which are both in strong demand from the Australian market, and introduced three styles of travel to suit individual budgets – comfortable expedition, superior expedition and luxury expedition.

New for 2009 is the luxury Orion Expedition Cruises which will operate ‘luxury expeditions’ from Hobart to New Zealand and the Sub-Antarctic Islands and deep into the Antarctic. The luxury ship, with a choice Staterooms and Suites spread over six decks, includes 24 hour room service, all meals, landings by zodiac boats, lectures, and complimentary expedition parkas.

Its 14 day ‘New Zealand & Sub Antarctic Islands’, priced from $10,160, visits Macquarie Island renowned for its Royal, King, Gentoo and Rock Hopper penguins, the volcanic Campbell Island with its crested penguins, albatross and black browed mollyhawks, the Auckland Islands with their Hooker seal lion colonies and rare yellow eyed penguins, then on to Stewart Island and the stunning Fjordland of New Zealand.

New also is Orion’s 21 day ‘Scott & Shackleton’s Ross Sea Antarctic’, priced from $20, 795, which crosses the Antarctic Circle to journey deep into the vast Antarctic waters. From Hobart its crosses the Ross Sea with landings at such remote locations as Cape Hallett with its giant glaciers and mountains, Cape Terra Nova Bay discovered by the Scott Expedition, the massive David Glacier and the bleak Inexpressable Island visiting Scott’s Hut built in 1911, and Shackleton’s Hut - both still preserved by their freezing environment. It is then onto the remote Possession Islands where the 1899 British Expedition’s Borchgrevink hut still, remarkably, stands. From there it is back to Invercargill in New Zealand via Snares Island.

Then there is the popular ‘Superior Expedition’ cruises aboard the Hurtigruten ship MS Fram with accommodation ranging from ‘Inside Cabin’ through to ‘Outside Cabin’, ‘Mini Suites’, ‘Suites’ and ‘Grand Suites’. “This is a very comfortable eight deck cruise ship,” Greenwood said. All rooms have private facilities, all meals are included, landings are by Polar Cirkel boats, there is a complimentary expedition parka, specialist lectures onboard plus a tour of Buenos Aires. Flights from BA to Ushuaia are included.

Cruises include the 12 day ‘Antarctic Peninsula’ priced from $7650, ‘An Emperor’s Antarctica’ priced from $10,150 for 16 days and ‘Shackleton’s Antarctica’ -21 days from $9860.

The ‘Comfortable Expeditions’ are aboard the Quark ships Akademik Shokalskiy and the Ocean Nova.

These expedition style ships have shared, private, superior and suite accommodation all with private facilities, all meals, Zodiac boat landings, an expedition parka and lectures.

New in this category for 2009 is the 20 day ‘Antarctic Quest via The Falklands & South Georgia. Priced from $17,389 it explores all the extremes of the south – the icebergs, waterways, glaciers, mountains and rich wildlife in what is an incredible journey.

Also memorable is the 12 day ‘Antarctic Voyage’ through the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula - visually stunning with icebergs, pods of whales, glaciers and remote icy bays and inlets. It is priced from $9756.

And then there are the famed Galapagos! These are the 74 islands 1000km off the Ecuadorian mainland that inspired Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ and helped map the world’s evolution.

The 6 day ‘Quito & the Galapagos Islands’ cruise, priced from $3680, is aboard a superior class ship with all meals and sightseeing plus return flights ex Quito included. Aboard the yacht MV Galapagos Legend visitors explore the second largest marine land in the world come into contact with a melting pot of unique species including marine iguanas, giant tortoises and seals.

‘Galapagos in Depth’ is a six day adventure/scientific expedition that is described as “the ultimate” Galapagos experience. The cruise, priced from $4595, visits Rabida Island with its sea lions, flamingos, marine iguanas, birds and fur seals, the lunar landscape of Bartomele Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station, the wildlife of Punta Suarez, the volcanic sands of Floriana and renowned Black Turtle Cove with its green turtles and golden rays.

“In the Galapagos you really commune with nature; it is all around you –the wildlife, and the beauty of the islands, is unforgettable,” Greenwood said.

For further information contact MyPlanet, phone1800 221 712 www.myplanetaustralia.com.au

MyPlanet Australia the leading travel company for Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic’s, the Arctic, Antarctica and South America celebrating 30th Anniversary in 2009 has launched its cruise and tour program for 2009-2010 season. The program is a smorgasbord of independent and escorted travel, comfortable expedition, superior expedition and luxury expedition cruises, rail and sightseeing tours all year around. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd operates as a retail arm for MyBentours; a wholesaler and cruise specialist for Australian and New Zealand travel industry. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd (trading as MyBentours and MyPlanet) is the General Sales Agent (GSA) for Hurtigruten Group, Icelandair and Gota Canal in Australia and New Zealand. MyPlanet is locally operated and globally connected as part of TUI Travel PLC

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Tahiti

From Expedition and Adventure Cruising

How could you possibly dismiss Tahiti as an adventure cruise destination?

Drenched in popular folklore thanks to the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, Tahiti has associated itself with almost everything romantic and adventurous. Heartthrobs Mel Gibson, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando and Clark Gable all played the lovable rogue seaman, Fletcher Christian, a real-life character who threw away his life as a Royal Navy officer to elope with a beautiful Polynesian woman.

Instead of hard-edged exploration and discovery, Tahiti earns its adventure status for its emotive allure and pure hedonistic escapism. Just as the crew of the Bounty discovered in 1787, life on this pristine tropical island was infinitely more preferable than one of harsh servitude in the English Navy.

Today, luxury cruise operators such as Haumana, Nomade Yachting (formerly Bora Bora Cruises) and Aranui 3 offer a range of sun-soaked itineraries to transport you back to the time of the goggle-eyed limeys, smitten by the warm weather and affectionate locals.

While Haumana and Nomade offer boutique relaxation and escapism, Aranui embraces the true adventurer as it takes passengers on its dual-purpose 14-night journey to the remote and exotic Marquesas where artists like Paul Gaugin and writer Herman Melville found inspiration for their works.

You can explore all these possibilities at the one-stop-shop: www.ultimatecruising.com.au

Sunday, 30 November 2008

G.A.P outlines new ship’s itineraries

With its new ship, Expedition, entering service in April, G.A.P Adventures outlined itineraries including the Azores, the Arctic, the British Isles and Norwegian Fjords.

Toronto-based G.A.P is offering $400 off new bookings made by Dec. 15 on departures from April to September.

The 10-day Azores journey will explore Graciosa, Floral and Faial islands, and give a chance to taste Verdelho wine on Pico Island. An ‘Arctic Highlights’ journey, from Spitsbergen to Iceland, will explore Greenland and visit Scoresbysund, one of the world’s largest fjord systems.

‘Wild Scotland’ is a 13-day adventure taking in the Hebrides, uninhabited Treshnish and the natural beauty of North Rona, where bird colonies abound. Orkney and the Shetland archipelago are also visited, and the trip ends in the Scottish Highlands.

‘Britain and Ireland in Bloom,’ 13 days, takes passengers to gardens and historic mansions. ‘Norwegian Fjords and Polar Bears’ is a two-week journey that sails from Edinburgh with a visit to Orkney, the Shetlands and Svalbard, in addition to destinations on the Norwegian coast.

Expedition replaces Explorer, which sank a year ago in Antarctica. The new ship (ex Ålandsfärjan) is being converted for G.A.P at STX Europe’s Rauma yard.

It will carry up to 120 passengers, all in ocean-view rooms, with amenities such as a pub, a fitness center/sauna and multiple wildlife-viewing areas including a 360-degree observation deck.

Orion’s return to Hayman Island

Source: Seatrade Insider

Orion Expedition Cruises’ 4,000gt Orion will return to Hayman next year during a six-night Great Barrier Reef cruise departing Cairns on November 10.

In its 2009 Complete Expedition Calendar, the company that was launched by md Sarina Bratton in 2005 and acquired by KSL Capital Partners in May this year, describes Hayman as ‘Australia’s most celebrated private island destination.’

‘Orion’s 106 passengers will be invited to use all of our facilities, including the pools and restaurants and they can pre-book reef and bush tours and treatments at our spa,’ gm Roger Wright told Seatrade Insider at Hayman Island’s ninth annual media lunch at Sydney’s landmark Aria Restaurant.

Wright said he is also looking forward to welcoming the 382 passengers aboard Silversea’s 28,258gt Silver Shadow, which returns to Hayman on April 15 next year.

P&O Cruises Australia’s archivist Rob Henderson said Hayman Island has been a favourite port of call since Orient Line’s Oronsay 11 called there in 1958. Other Orient Line and P&O ships followed, including Orontes 11, Strathnaver, Oriana 1 and Himalaya.

Hayman has also been on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ itineraries. Seven Seas Mariner called there in 2005 on her Grand Circle Pacific voyage and the multi-award-winning island was a highlight of Seven Seas Voyager’s world cruise this year.

Over today’s lunch of seared scallops, roasted scampi, braised duck and strawberry salad and ice-cream which was accompanied by a selection of wines from the Hunter Valley’s Bimbadgen Estate and prepared by Aria’s Matthew Moran and Hayman’s executive chef Glenn Bacon, Wright said there is no way of knowing how many passengers have returned for land-based holidays.

‘However, there is no doubt that a visiting cruise ship gives us a wonderful opportunity to showcase Hayman and all its attractions to discerning travellers,’ he said.

www.orionexpeditions.com

Friday, 28 November 2008

CRUISECO’S BIG SAVING ON AMAZING AMAZON CRUISE IN 2009

Cruiseco has one of the most unusual opportunities in adventure cruising in 2009 with a 21-night South America cruise aboard the small ship Spirit of Adventure, that includes 11-nights exploring the Amazon.

And adding to its uniqueness is the fact that organised shore excursions are included in the price in most of the dozen ports of call on this cruise that begins and ends in Bridgetown, Barbados – with complimentary wines at lunch and dinner another feature.

The 9500 tonne Spirit of Adventure carries just 350-guests and will sail from Bridgetown on March 24 2009 for Belem in Brazil, then cruise the Rio Para River before entering the Amazon for calls at Curua, Santerem for an overnight, Boca De Valeria, Manaus, Parantins, Alter do Chao and Macapa.

After leaving the Amazon's fascinating riverside communities and its unique plant, water- and wild-life, Spirit of Adventure will visit legendary Devil's Island in French Guiana, Paramaribo in Surinam, Georgetown (Guyana,) Scarborough in Tobago and Bridgetown.

Cruiseco has prices from $6880pp twin-share – a saving of around $2000pp – including all meals on board, shore excursions in most ports, onboard entertainment, and wines with lunch and dinner; air fares are additional.

For full details phone 1800 225 656 for the name of the nearest of Cruiseco's 150-cruise specialist travel agencies to you, or visit www.cruising.com.au

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Explore French Polynesia's Wild & Exotic Marquesas Islands On Aranui 3 - The Freighter To Paradise

Once every three weeks (including a voyage that spans Christmas Day) the freighter/passenger vessel Aranui 3 sails out of Papeete harbour on a 14-day journey to deliver vital suppliers to residents of the Marquesas - a cluster of wildly beautiful islands in French Polynesia. Guests onboard the Aranui 3 will enjoy 14-adventure filled days exploring the islands' unspoilt nature by foot and in four-wheel drive vehicles driven by locals while the ship unloads and loads at each destination.

Once every three weeks the freighter/passenger vessel Aranui 3 sails out of Papeete harbour on a 14-day journey to deliver vital supplies to residents of the Marquesas - a cluster of wildly beautiful islands in French Polynesia, around 900 miles northeast of Tahiti and the remotest archipelago in the world.

Of the 15 islands in the Marquesas, six are inhabited and only four of these have airstrips; two islands are only accessible by boat and do not even have a dock! The Aranui 3 – a cargo filled ship complete with cruise ship comforts – is a lifeline to the residents of these six isolated islands. The vessel delivers everything from four wheel drive cars and cement to schoolbooks and livestock. They ship back copra (dried coconut kernel) and noni, a yellowish fruit that has become the basis of a fashionable health drink marketed in the US.

Guests onboard the Aranui 3 will enjoy 14 adventure-filled days experiencing the islands’ strong local culture and exploring the unspoilt nature: the black sand beaches and steep volcanic peaks blanketed with thick forests are a stark contrast to the traditional French Polynesian fringed atolls. While the ship loads and unloads at each destination, passengers are taken ashore onboard a fleet of whaleboats for land-based sightseeing excursions in four-wheel drive vehicles driven by locals - all included in the price.

The Marquesas Islands have been an inspiration to many writers and artists. Gaugin painted his masterpieces on Hiva Oa and is buried under a gardenia tree on the slopes of the local cemetery. His grave is only a few feet from the Belgian musician and songwriter, Jacques Brel. On nearby Nuku Hiva, Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, jumped ship and was trapped by a tribe of cannibals before escaping to write Typee, the best-selling novel based on his capture.

Aranui 3

Purpose built in 2003 Aranui 3 is uniquely designed for its dual role as a freighter and passenger ship, carrying up to 2000 tons of cargo and 200 passengers. There are 85 fully air conditioned cabins ranging from top of the range suites with balconies to deluxe and twin-bedded cabins, with well-priced dormitory style accommodation on a lower deck. There are two comfortable lounges, a swimming pool and gym and a full program of lectures on Marquesan history, culture and art.
A 14-day adventure cruise starting and ending in Tahiti costs Euros 3445 per person sharing a standard twin-bedded outside cabin with private facilities, including fuel surcharge and taxes. Dormitory style accommodation with upper and lower berths and shared facilities is Euros 2000 per person. Flights to/from Tahiti are not included in these prices.

Departures are approximately every three weeks from 10 February to 19 December 2009.

For bookings and further details, contact Ultimate Cruising on (Australia) 1300 662 943

Tenders out for new Polar Cruise ship

Source: offradar.info

Norway’s Polar Cruise Enterprises is expected to go out to tender for the construction of a dedicated expedition-type cruise vessel for Polar operations in the early part of 2009. The concept design for the 202 passenger capacity vessel has been carried out by Finland’s Aker Arctic Technology.

Polar Cruise Enterprises* currently operates the former Swedish icebreaker Njord (pic left), now sailing as the Polar Star, but this 40 year old vessel is becoming more and more expensive to operate and maintain.

The outline specification for the newbuilding calls for a vessel with a lower berth capacity of 202, plus the addition of 40 passengers on Pullman berths, and accommodation for a crew of 75. The Polar cruise ship will have a length o.a. of 135.5m and a beam of 17.8m. Service speed will be 17 knots.

The newbuilding will be double-acting with a bow design optimised for operations in open water as well as in ice floes, with an ice-breaking stern for operation in reverse mode, She will have two independent main engine rooms, providing for full redundancy and a ‘get me home’ capability in line with the latest IMO ‘Safe Return to Port’ requirements.

* Update: according to company records, Polar Cruise Enterprises was dissolved in November 2013, presumably after the damage sustained by Polar Star in a grounding accident in 2011.  [more]

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Blue Lagoon to offer four 'Historical & Cultural Dateline' cruises in 2009


Cruise specialist offering 'early bird' rates on February departure

24 November 2008 - Blue Lagoon Cruises has announced it will again operate just four of its highly popular 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruises' in 2009.

The cruises, scheduled for 16 February, 18 May, 17 August and 09 November, offer a unique and very limited opportunity to visit the largely uncharted reaches comprising Fiji's remote north-eastern tip.

While lying in the shadow of one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, the area rarely receives attention from the outside world.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' 60-metre flagship MV Fiji Princess is one of the very few commercial vessels to have visited the region in recent years.

Operated to the cruise company's highly regarded 'Gold Club' standard, the seven-day itinerary includes Kioa Island, home to some 300 Polynesian Elice Islanders who migrated into the region in the 1940s.

The cruise will also visit the 4,000 Micronesian Banabans who have inhabited Rabi Island since 1946.

Rabi remains virtually the same since the Banabans first arrived from Kiribati to escape the ravages phosphate mining had dealt to their home islands.

The cruise schedule also includes visits to Fiji's original capital city, Levuka, on Ovalau Island and Nananu-I-Ra Island, the home of the Fijian Serpent God Degei who according to local legend created the Fijian archipelago.

Hands-on cruise activities include the opportunity to visit these islanders in their villages and participate in several of their ancient ceremonies.

These include 'Yaqona root' (Kava) drinking, lashings of traditional entertainment and a trip to the 180th Meridian and International Dateline at Taveuni where passengers can stand with one foot in each of two different days.

The cruise also includes a walking tour of Levuka and a guided tour of Taveuni, including the Bouma Eco Park and waterfall.

A high spot of the overall cruise is the greeting by Kioa islanders, resplendent in traditional war dress, paddling out to the MV Fiji Princess in outrigger canoes to ferry passengers ashore for a traditional welcome.

Prices for the 19 February cruise start from AUD3348* per person twin share inclusive of all meals, all onboard entertainment, cultural activities and shore excursions.

However all bookings made by 31 January will receive a 30 per cent 'early bird' discount, a saving of AUD1009* per person.

For cruise reservations telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on +679 666 1622, facsimile +679 666 4098 or via email on reservations@blc.com.fj.

For more information please visit www.bluelagooncruises.com.

*Conditions apply. Please note prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea or coffee).

Friday, 21 November 2008

HONEYMOON LIKE THE STARS, UNDER THE STARS

From Expedition and Adventure Cruising

A honeymoon idea that dreams are made of – aboard a boutique motor-cruiser that with just ten other couples and which has you feeling you're almost aboard your own private motor yacht – can be had in one of the world's most romantic setting, the unspoiled Tuamotu Archipelago in the South Pacific's most romantic location, French Polynesia.

And if a few close friends or family go along to share this experience with you, it will make it seem all the more that you truly are honeymooning under balmy tropical skies by day and starry skies by night – the way the stars do it.

The 24-passenger Haumana cruises 3- and 4-night itineraries on the spectacular Rangiroa Lagoon, with many couples opting to combine the two cruises for a week-long honeymoon that dreams truly are made of.

Lavish French-Polynesian dining includes a unique luncheon at tables set in the actual waters of the spectacular Rangiroa Lagoon, and there are opportunities to escape by yourselves on bush- and beach-walks, to go swimming, snorkelling, coral viewing, shark feeding, kayaking, and to visit little island villages with only a handful of residents, or to go beach, line or game fishing…

Or to just laze around on unique pink or white sand beaches, or in Haumana's outdoor lounge.

For full details see travel agents or check-out www.tahiti-haumana-cruises.com

Thursday, 20 November 2008

50% Off a True North Cruise!

North Star Cruises Australia has unveiled an unprecedented offer – 50% off its new Southern Safari Cruise on board the revered adventure-cruise ship, True North.

North Star's General Manager Peter Trembath said the company had taken the unusual step of offering a discount in support of the new Southern Safari cruise which explores the stunning South Australian coastline.

"The maiden 2008 Southern Safari cruise was an outstanding success and to assist with establishing the cruise as an annual adventure option, all cabins on the 2009 departure are being offered at an amazing 50% off," said Mr Trembath.

The offer includes 8 nights from just $3,748 - with all activities and fine dining included PLUS, a return airfare to Adelaide*.

"Never before has there been a more appealing opportunity to experience the unique True North," said Mr Trembath.

"This is an excellent chance to indulge in the complete luxury of a True North adventure cruise while experiencing the magic of the South Australian coast," he said.

The cruise includes a day touring the McLaren Vale's best wineries, a visit to Kangaroo Island, seeing great white sharks, exploring beautiful Coffin Bay, experiencing a 'tuna rodeo', and fishing at Pearson and Franklin islands.

"We have complete confidence in this cruise – it's a ripper," said Mr Trembath.

"All we need to do is give our guests an incentive to try it out. Once people have experienced what the South Australian coast has to offer – they will rave about it and thereafter, it will be first in, best dressed."

True North Background

The multi award winning adventure cruise ship, True North, allows discerning guests to experience wilderness in surroundings more akin to one of the world's most exclusive hotels. Lavish features include:

  • A sundeck, forward observation lounge, ship's lounge, alfresco bar, internet café, plasma screens with interpretive information, lower deck dining room with large panoramic windows, and fine dining.

· All cabins feature enhanced décor, en-suite facilities, in-house entertainment and satellite telephones.

· Multiple expedition boats allow passengers to do "what they want, when they want".

· The True North is the only Kimberley adventure-cruise ship that sails with its own helicopter.

· The purpose built True North is able to explore the upper reaches of shallow river systems

· Adventure cruises and expeditions operate along the magnificent coastlines of Australia and the South Pacific.

The True North – one of the finest adventure-cruise ships in the world!

*Conditions apply. Contact North Star Cruises for full terms and conditions.

For more information visit http://www.northstarcruises.com.au/ss.asp

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Environmental Pat on Back for Small Ship Company

International Panel Singles Out Small Ship Company Ecoventura To Receive Virgin Holidays Award for Responsible Tourism

MIAMI, FL, Nov. 19, 2008 – The small ship, visionary travel company, Ecoventura, got a pat on the back at World Travel Market in London earlier this month.

Ecoventura received the "Best in Marine Environment" accolade, among 13 overall award categories on responsible tourism presented by Virgin Holidays. Judges noted that Ecoventura contributes scholarships for education and helps local women develop micro-businesses. It recently converted a fishing boat into a restaurant and boutique providing alternative livelihoods for the wives of fishermen. Ecoventura was also recognized to be among the first cruise operators to be independently environmentally audited.

"We, as a company, are both humbled and energized by this prestigious award," said Ecoventura president Santiago Dunn who was present to receive the award. "It's wonderful to be recognized for our past efforts but our groundbreaking work on setting the bar for responsible tourism in the Galapagos has just begun."

In 2000 Ecoventura became one of the first recipients of SmartVoyager, a voluntary environmental certification developed by New York-based The Rainforest Alliance and Corporacion y Desarollo from Ecuador. The program gives a "green seal of approval" to tour boats that comply with requirements to tread lightly on the area's fragile eco-system.

In 2005 Santiago Dunn received the prestigious Individual Sustainable Standard-Setter award for making a significant contribution to environmental conservation and sustainability.

In 2006 Ecoventura, in partnership with NativeEnergy, became the first Carbon Neutral operation in the Galapagos (and Ecuador).

In 2007 Ecoventura partnered with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to create the Galapagos Marine Biodiversity Fund which targets environmental education and marine conservation by strengthening the local communities' ability to manage natural resources.

At the 2008 Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards, the country of New Zealand won the grand prize. A total of 13 awards were presented across a range of categories including best for poverty reduction (Gambia), best volunteering organization (Camps International), best personal contribution (Jane Ashton, head of sustainable development, TUI Travel PLC), best large hotel (Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island, Australia) and best cruise or ferry operator (Holland America Line).

The distinguished panel of judges included Professor Harold Goodwin, co-director of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University, Justin Francis, managing director of responsibletravel.com and Graham Boynton, group travel editor of Telegraph Media Group.

"In this, the fifth year of the Awards, the bar has been raised for responsible tourism yet again," said Justin Francis. "What inspires me are the efforts that businesses and destinations are making to ensure that responsible tourism lies at the heart of their strategies and plans. Without a doubt, this is the only way to plan for the future – responsible travel is not a passing fad or a niche travel trend for marketing purposes. It is an entire, holistic approach to tourism operations."

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard a fleet of three expedition vessels; identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts with 10 double cabins. The company also operates the Sky Dancer, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. All of its vessels have been purposefully retrofitted to meet or exceed the highest possible environmental standards.
To reserve a cabin or to receive a copy of Ecoventura's 2009 catalog please call toll-free 1.800.644.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access current rates, schedules and itineraries you can log onto http://www.ecoventura.com/.

About The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards: The Awards are the most prestigious and competitive of their kind in the world and are a collaboration between online travel directory responsibletravel.com, UK media partners The Daily Telegraph, Geographical Magazine and BBC World News, and World Travel Market who host the event. Now in their fifth year, the central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism - from niche to mainstream - can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people. This year a record 1,976 nominations were received from travelers around the world voting for tourism ventures that provide outstanding holidays that also benefit local people and destinations. See http://www.responsibletourismawards.com for further information.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Take the Kids to PNG for Free!


Aurora Expeditions offers travellers the chance to experience the rich cultural heritage and unspoilt nature of Papua New Guinea with a special offer for families on their two voyages departing April 2009.

For each full paying adult, one child between 10 – 18 years of age Travels for FREE*.

These distinct 11-day voyages go in search of the unexpected. On board the 100-passenger expedition ship Marina Svetaeva, spacious viewing decks and a fleet of Zodiacs make her an excellent vessel for an in-depth exploration of PNG’s hidden bays and striking coral reefs. Next year Aurora has added options for their guests to kayak and scuba dive in PNG’s azure waters or taking exhilarating helicopter rides to explore inland.

Voyage 1 – Alotau to Rabaul (Lost in Paradise)
Departs – 10th April 2009 (11 days) – Easter School Holidays!
‘Lost is Paradise’ is a broad exploration of the eastern New Guinea coastline and islands of the Bismarck Archipelago including Admiralty and New Hanover Islands. From walking in the vast tropical jungle to cruising along the tropical fjords of Tufi, this voyage will take in a staggering variety of pristine environments.

Voyage 2 – Rabaul to Alotau (Islands of Smiles)
Departs – 20th April 2009 (11 days)
‘Islands of Smiles’ begins with an in-depth look at the southern coast of New Britain where you will experience expedition cruising at its best as we go in search of adventure. We then explore the tranquil isles of Milne Bay province, a group of dramatic volcanoes and coral atolls where ancient traditions flourish.

Prices: Starting from AU$5,290per person, includes all meals on board and Zodiac excursions.

* Offer is inclusive of the cruise component only and does not include; airfares, transfers, tours or accommodation, other than onboard the ship.

For more details on this special offer, or to obtain a copy of the new Papua New Guinea 2009 brochure, contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688, visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or email auroraex@auroraexpeditions.com.au

Peruvian Amazon Luxury


The new M/V Aqua, Aqua Expedition’s flagship, will be the first true luxury vessel ever to cruise the northern Amazon. Its 12 oversized guest suites, including four 180° panoramic master suites, feature en suite sitting areas and generous outward-facing panoramic windows. Each of the handsomely decorated, air-conditioned suites measures between 230 to 240 square feet and is designed by noted Peruvian architect Jordi Puig. Four suites can be interconnected to cater to families. You can socialize in the dining room, indoor lounge, on the observation deck, and in the outdoor lounge. The ship also has a small boutique.
www.aquaexpeditions.com

“Heritage Cruise” MS Ocean Odyssey sets Sail in Mauritius


-- Promises Exotic, unique and out of world experiences to discover the new facets of the Indian Ocean

-- First journey towards pristine islands begins in early December 2008, from Port Louis as the home port

-- An all year round programme offering a unique proposition for travelers on a heritage and historical journey through the Indian Ocean

MS Ocean Odyssey, the 4 star heritage cruise lines, from Indian Ocean Cruises, is all set to begin its journey in the pristine, virgin land of Mauritius, beginning this December.

Announcing this at the World Travel Mart, London, Mr. Sanjeev Goswami, Joint Managing Director of Foresight Smart Ventures said, “MS Ocean Odyssey refurbished on the theme of colonial heritage undoubtedly will take our passengers through a journey of heritage and mix of culture on the islands of Indian Ocean”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Karl Motoosamy, Director, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority, said “We are glad that the launch of MS Ocean Odyssey will bind the islands of Indian Ocean on the theme of their historical evolution. Mauritius known as the “star and the key of the Indian Ocean” will now become the starting point of this wonderful journey adding value to the customer offerings.”

Mr. Utsav Seth, Managing Director, Foresight Smart Ventures said “We have invested over US$30 million to develop our Cruise offering in the Indian Ocean and have aggressive plans for next 5 years to establish world class cruises in the Indian Ocean”

The heritage cruise liner with maximum of 200 passengers on board will offer a highly personalized service and ultimate comfort at affordable prices, and will help discover the new facets of the Indian Ocean.

Onboard facilities include a four-star restaurant offering a range of local and international cuisine, observation lounge and bar, coffee bar, gymnasium and fitness centre, sauna and spa, sun-deck, casino, library and medical clinic, along with a wide variety of international entertainment.

A range of itineraries, all based from Port Louis will be offered, focused on exciting journey in the pristine waters of Indian Ocean to Réunion, Rodrigues, and Madagascar. With this range of programs, the vanilla itinerary will bring in a magical appeal to the island and add value to the offerings of Mauritius products in the Indian Ocean.

Foresight Smart Ventures

Foresight Smart Ventures is part of US$500 mln London based Foresight Group a global conglomerate.

With a skilled and highly professional team of more than 1,000 people, Foresight Smart Ventures is spearheaded by Managing Director Utsav Seth, based at their London office in the City.

The company’s activities spread across Europe, India, China, Mauritius with offices in London, Venice, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, New Delhi and Chennai.

Foresight Smart Ventures is backed by the Foresight Group and is leading aggressive plans and diversified growth initiatives across a range of manufacturing and service industries.

www.indianoceancruises.net

Into the heart of Borneo - a journey on the mighty Rajang River


Pandaw Cruises are excited to announce that they will inaugurate a new expedition cruise on the Rajang River in Sarawak from July 2009.

Following in the footsteps of the British explorer and travel writer Redmon O'Hanlon, the brand new ORIENT PANDAW will make an eight-night cruise three times a month from Sibu to the Pelagus Rapids and beyond, up the Baleh River.

The Rajang River is rarely visited by travelers on account of its inaccessibility and lack of tourist facilities. It is, though, the longest river in Malaysia. Cruising in the extreme comfort of a Pandaw, passengers will be able to visit Iban longhouses, make boat trips up tributary rivers, and see the vestiges of the colonial Brooke Raja.

But above all, passengers can view from the Pandaw's observation decks the rich tropical rain forest close at hand. Jungle treks, for all levels of walkers, are a must - this is, after all, one of the most diverse and exotic eco-paradise's on the planet.

Main deck cabins start at $2,250 per person. An add-on, two-night stop in the captial Kuching is highly recommended. Kuching is easily reached from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Brunei.

For an itinerary and schedules, click here

Borneo photo gallery
www.pandaw.com

Background to Pandaw Cruises
With SIX luxury ships, we are the largest river cruise company in South-East Asia. In 1995, we were the first to pioneer and explore the region’s great rivers and their tributaries: the Irrawaddy and Chindwin in Burma, the Mekong and Tonle Rivers in Cambodia, and the backwaters of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

These small ships can penetrate remote and otherwise inaccessible areas. While we offer a real adventure experience, travelers are cushioned with incredible comfort, fine dining, great cocktails, and choice wines, not to mention extraordinary levels of service.

Our SIX boutique ships were built new and designed and finished as replicas of colonial river steamers. These small ships have the highest passenger-to-space ratio of any ships afloat.

MR. ANDREA MASSARI Exeecutive Director Pandaw Cruises Pte Ltd Email: andreamassari@pandaw.com www.pandaw.com

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Kimberley: Awesome Wonder



Michael Gebicki - Sydney Morning Herald - November 13, 2008

Whether you tour it, four-wheel-drive it, cruise it, or fly over it, the Kimberley will leave you lost for words.

In the Kimberley, words run out of puff. Faced with the dimensions of the country, full-flavoured adjectives turn pale and limp. How to describe this wild, arid plateau at the northern end of Western Australia, a place half the size of NSW with a population of barely 31,000 that is crossed by only two roads, where the coastline is almost totally inaccessible except from the sea, where the cattle stations are measured by the million hectares, and where the trees come from Africa and the climate from the furnace?

Read Full Story

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Galápagos


Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

You've heard me say it before; expedition cruising is about exploring our vanishing planet.

Apart from the well-publicised melting of the polar ice cap, wildlife, cultures and landscapes elsewhere are also threatened by changing climate, globalisation and mismanagement.

Recent news from the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador indicates they are a long way from winning their conservation battle. One LA-based travel writer even urges tourists not to go in order to preserve this and other similarly fragile regions.

Certainly, uncontrolled and unrestricted tourism will damage these delicate ecosystems, but instead of banning visits, maybe we need a functional mechanism for managing tourism in such places? Easily said, I know, especially in countries not known for their fully-functioning governments.

To their credit, marauding wild pigs, goats and dogs are being removed to allow recovery of some islands and for many years the Charles Darwin Research Station has conducted a successful captive breeding program. However, these efforts are mainly due to NGOs and volunteers while the Ecuadorian government have been notoriously lax in policing illegal fishing and development.

The International Galápagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) are vocal in calling for protection, management and control of tourism on the islands. Just like their Antarctic cousins at IAATO, member operators recognise the precarious nature of the islands and adhere to strict guidelines – a good reason to travel with an accredited business.

Check them out at www.igtoa.org

Friday, 31 October 2008

Coral Princess Explores the Kimberley Wilderness by Cruise & 4WD in 2009

Coral Princess Cruises has released its new Kimberley & Across the Top of Australia brochure, with 2009 and 2010 dates and rates for Coral Princess's most popular cruise: a voyage exploring the remote Kimberley coast between Broome and Darwin.

The 10-night Kimberley cruise visits Kuri Bay, home of the South Pacific pearl industry, and ventures ashore to view the world-famous Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings, - the world's oldest known indigenous art – and the towering, 80-metre King George Falls, the tallest waterfalls in Western Australia. There is an optional helicopter flight over the Mitchell Plateau for views of the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls, as well as excursions into secluded gorges and to rock pools perfect for swimming. The cruise explores the Buccaneer Archipelago – made up of 800 islands – and includes an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the 'Horizontal Waterfall', where the tide floods between rocky cliffs.

Next year, Coral Princess is venturing into the Kimberley by both land and sea, with a new, 24-night Kimberley Cruise & 4WD Expedition, combining the 10-night cruise and a 4WD tour through the Kimberley's rugged and beautiful interior.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000. The combination cruise/drive reaches areas that are largely inaccessible by other means.

The 4WD journey travels the length of the legendary Gibb River Road,stopping at million-acre El Questro station to hike into Emma Gorge and soak in the hot pools of Zebedee Springs. Further along the road, Lake Argyle is the largest man-made lake in the Southern Hemisphere, with 18 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. A highlight of the road trip is World Heritage-listed Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park, and 'camping out' in style overnight at the award-winning Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge.

Coral Princess operates two ships in the Kimberley. The Oceanic Discoverer accommodates a maximum of just 72 guests and travels with a purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer and inflatable Zodiacs. Coral Princess accommodates a maximum of just 48 guests. In true expedition
style, the itinerary may vary to take maximum advantage of opportunities to venture ashore or to explore the many waterfalls, river systems, reefs and other natural attractions.

Prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise start at $6450 aboard the Coral Princess and $7750 aboard Oceanic Discoverer. The 24-night Cruise & 4WD Expedition starts at $12 610 aboard the Coral Princess and $13 910 aboard Oceanic Discoverer. Prices are per person, twin share. This includes the cruise and 4WD transport; all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board and group transfers. There are regular departures from both Darwin and Broome between April and September 2009.

At the beginning and end of the season, the Kimberley cruise can be combined with an 11-night voyage, Across The Top of Australia, between Cairns and Darwin. Prices for this cruise start at $6450 per person. There is a 10 per cent discount for booking the two cruises together.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises on 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Yangtze River


Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

It's difficult to know whether Victoria Cruises' Yangtze River product rates as true expedition and adventure or whether it follows a model developed by the great European river cruise companies.

Travelling aboard Victoria's MV Queen, as I am right now, clearly it must fulfill both roles. The 90m, 4600 ton, 200 passenger vessel is designed purely for river travel along the busy waterway between Shanghai and Chongqing. Most itineraries spend their time among the famous Three Gorges and the city of Wushan. We gaze continuosly upward at the features and the dizzying precipes of the Qutang, Wu and Xiling gorges with occaional shore excursions into regions of the Lesser Gorges, the famous “Ghost City” at Fengdu as well as the great dam itself.

When Victoria Cruises began in 1994, the landscapes were distinctly different. Thanks to the gradual rise of the river level since the controversial, mind-boggling Three Gorges Dam project, the old traditional villages along both banks have been replaced by unremarkable concrete apartments placed above the new waterline.

The gorges themselves have largely escaped transformation except for the consistently higher river level, leaving their quite stunning geographic features for the guests aboard the small fleet of tourist boats plying the waters. Fishermen and farmers have turned tour guides and construction workers and there are many arguments for and against.

Before setting out for this China cruise, consider your clients' preferences carefully. Food, cabins, facilities and service is superior to any other Yangtze Cruise company and compares favourably to Western standards.

More information at: www.helenwongstours.com

Monday, 27 October 2008

Orion's Ring of Fire expeditions


Opportunity still exists to join one of two voyages Orion is undertaking in February and early March 2009. Select from the 10 night Auckland to Port Vila expedition or the 9 night Port Vila to Rabaul voyage – or join them together for a memorable 19 night Voyage of Discovery along the Ring of Fire.

Commence by exploring the picturesque New Zealand Bay of Islands before heading to the historic penal settlement of Norfolk Island and then on to the beautiful Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Experience the true meaning of Melanesia's "Ring of Fire" with visits to the volcanic islands of Anatom and Tanna, highlighted by an exciting evening excursion to the rim of the crater of the spectacularly active volcano, Mt Yasur.

The first voyage concludes in Port Vila, Vanuatu, providing convenient air access and accommodation for those leaving or joining the ship.

Stay onboard for Espiritu Santo, where scuba divers will be able to experience an unforgettable dive on the world's largest accessible ship, the 22,000 ton President Coolidge, inadvertently sunk after hitting a US minefield during World War II.

Enjoy the gentle sea breezes of Marovo Lagoon, snorkel the extensive coral reefs or feed the sharks at Uepi. More spectacular than any film set, Ngella Island features the unforgettable hulking remains of the doomed expedition ship World Discoverer, beached in 2001 after hitting a coral reef.

Culturally fascinating, Orion's guests will enjoy a warm welcome at every destination, with plenty of music, uninhibited rhythmic dancing and singing and an invitation to join the locals in their beautiful villages. Intricate wooden and stone carvings, shell necklaces and woven baskets are all hard to resist - and buying locally means bargains abound.

The second voyage concludes in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, with a fittingly dramatic entrance to Simpson Harbour dominated by the massive Mt Tavurvur, a volcano still erupting today, long after it helped turn old Rabaul into a modern day Pompeii in 1994.

Bay of Islands and Norfolk Island Discovery

Departs Auckland 27th February, 2009. 10 nights Auckland, Te Rawhiti Inlet, Russell (Bay of Islands), Norfolk Island (overnight), Isle of Pines, Anatom, Tanna, Port Vila (Vanuatu).

Fares begin from $7,070 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom through to Owners’ Suites with French Balcony at $14,805 per person.

Melanesian Island Discovery

Departs Port Vila 9th March, 2009. 9 nights Port Vila, Malakula, Espiritu Santo, Santa Ana, Ngella, Marovo Lagoon, Rabaul (PNG).

Fares begin from $6,365 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom through to Owners’ Suites with French Balcony at $13,325 per person

An additional fuel charge of $50 per person per night currently applies

Orion background:

Rabaul was known as the Pearl of the Pacific before being half buried in ash following cataclysmic eruptions by Mt Tavurvur and Vulcan in 1994 resulting in much of the town (and airport) subsequently being relocated to Kokopo.

The residents of Rabaul are a hardy lot. There was another significant eruption in 1937 and if that was not enough to unsettle one that was followed by the Japanese invasion and occupation in WWII. The most recent significant eruption was in October 2006. Tavurvur remains active today with consistently spectacular and dramatic displays of power.

When entering Simpson Harbour you will notice pinnacles rising from the waters – the remnants of the original volcanic plug of the flooded caldera that is now the magnificent harbour. Consider the enormity of the original volcanic activity that created this caldera compared to the (relatively) diminutive size of Mt Tavurvur.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Heritage Cruise Line releases '09 routes


Heritage Cruise Line has released itineraries and fares for its first ship, the 58m Jayavarman, which will make her maiden voyage on the Mekong River next September.

As previously reported, Heritage’s parent company, Saigon-based Trails of Indochina, is building the luxurious boutique cruise ship, which will have 27 staterooms with private facilities and balconies, at a cost of around US$4m.

The eight-day cruise between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, called ‘The Lost Civilisation,’ costs from US$2,675 for a twin-share cabin.

The three-day ‘Deep in the Delta’ cruise from Ho Chi Minh City to Chau Doc, which is situated in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam close to the Cambodian border, costs from US$743 per cabin.

There is also a five-day ‘Serenity Cruise’ linking Phnom Penh with Siem Reap and a four-day ‘Pearl of the Orient’ itinerary between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh.

Shore excursions include visits to floating markets, bicycle rides to remote villages and a Vietnamese cooking class.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Front Row to Australia Day Celebrations

Captain Cook Cruises has released a two night Sydney Harbour Australia Day Cruise ensuring passengers have front row seats to all the action and celebrations of Australia Day. The cruise departs Sunday January 25 and returns Tuesday January 27.

The two night cruise, onboard small ship MV Captain Cook's Explorer, offers passengers a rare opportunity to be in the middle of the harbour for Australia Day and actually be part of all the festivities and action.

The cruise begins on Sunday night with the ship anchoring in Farm Cove. Passengers will be treated to a welcome dinner with the spectacular city lights of Sydney and the Sydney Opera House as the picturesque backdrop.

Monday passengers will enjoy a host of events and celebrations on Australia Day. Festivities include Australia Day Breakfast & Botanic Gardens walk, the annual Ferrython, Australia Day Harbour Parade featuring the magnificent tall ships, historic craft, working vessels, domestic boats and charter vessels, Australia Day Regatta and the Australia Defence Force Aerial Display. In the evening passengers will enjoy a special Australia Day gala dinner.

Tuesday offers the ultimate wind down with an early morning walk to Bradley's Head which offers spectacular views of the city, headlands and islands. MV Captain Cook's Explorer then cruises past the exclusive Eastern suburbs, home to Sydney's rich and famous, to get reach the beachside destination of Watson's Bay. As one of Sydney's most picturesque bays, passengers can relax at the beach or beachside outdoor pub or join a walk to the Southern headlands of `The Gap' before an al fresco luncheon on the boats top deck.

The special Australia Day Cruise starts from only $645 per person twin share and includes all accommodation, meals and most activities.

The cruise departs Sunday 25 January 2009 at 6.00pm from No.1 King St Wharf Darling Harbour with boarding from 5.00pm and disembarks at 3.00pm on Tuesday 27 January 2009.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: harbour@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.au

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Burma


Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

I reckon it would be tough selling anything to do with Burma, yet the tenacity and optimism of Pandaw Cruises is inspirational. Resurrected in 1995 from the original Irrawaddy Flotilla Company of the 1860s, the gorgeously recreated vessels typically carry around 60 pax in nostalgic, teak-and-brass luxury.

Traditional river cruising, European style, is normally far-removed from the adventure product, but with Pandaw there is a definite crossover. Itineraries include shore excursions, village visits, historic sites and cultural encounters in sufficient quantity to easily qualify as an adventure product.

With luxury accommodation as a basis, passengers enjoy an extensive selection of cruises encompassing Myanmar, the Mekong (Cambodia and Vietnam) and now Borneo aboard a growing fleet currently comprising six vessels.

The vision of the far-sighted and heritage-minded Scotsman, Paul Strachan, he regrets once being seen as an apologist for the Burmese regime but, according to fellow Scot Colin Donald, stoutly defends one of the few foreign owned businesses that puts money in the pocket of the ordinary Burmese.

As if Burma needed another setback, Cyclone Nargis tore the Delta region apart in May. Instead of throwing his hands up in despair, Strachan activated his fleet as floating hospitals and supply vessels and was one of the few aid providers to make a measurable impact on the suffering of the God-forsaken Burmese. His humanitarian work continues.

Website: www.pandaw.com

Cruise West Returns to Vietnam in 2009


Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), the global leader in small-ship exploration voyages and the largest American-owned cruise line, is reintroducing its Vietnam itinerary in 2009. Back by popular demand, Cruise West's Vietnam voyage will take place upon the company's flagship and most luxurious vessel, the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to experience Asian destinations such as Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Hue while discovering Vietnam's architecture, art, and ancient shrines. Along the way, guests will sample traditional Vietnamese cuisine, enjoy beautiful dance, martial arts and colorful puppet theater.

The 12-day journey commencing in Hanoi and ending in Ho Chi Minh City will depart on November 21, 2009, and includes tours along the Gulf of Tonkin - some 1,600 mostly uninhabited islands and islets; Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang and more. Other highlights include the Cham Museum, a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay.

"Cruse West's Asian itineraries are an important component of our goal to be an international cruise line," stated Dietmar R. Wertanzl, newly appointed president and CEO of Cruise West. "The decision to reintroduce our Vietnam itinerary was an obvious one given the interest in the destination our guests continue to express."

While onboard the SOO, Exploration Leaders and guest speakers will share information about the people and places visited throughout the itinerary. Cruise West's Single Share Program is available on the Vietnam itinerary, allowing single travelers who are willing to share a room with another single traveler of the same gender to pay the double occupancy fare on the cruise. Prices start at $5,649 for double occupancy rooms.

An optional five-day Angkor Wat/Cambodia add-on includes tours of the Temples at Angkor Wat including the spiritual center of Ta Prohm, Tonle Sap Lake, a floating fishing village of homes, shops and deepwater rice paddies, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

For additional information, a complete itinerary or to book the Cruise West Vietnam Cruise, call 1-800-296-8307 or visit (http://www.cruisewest.com/destinations/vietnam).

~ Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

Cruise West offers the opportunity to explore remote and distinctive destinations throughout North and Central America, Asia, South Pacific and Europe. Small-ship cruising allows for personalized experiences not offered by larger cruise lines. Guest capacities aboard Cruise West's nine ships range from 78-138. Guests may expect personal enrichment through insightful shore programs, onboard narrative and presentations by local experts from a wide variety of backgrounds. In addition, destination specific materials and an array of books are provided in the onboard library on every vessel. Cruise West considers it a privilege to access some of the world's most pristine wilderness areas and culturally rich countries. With this in mind, Cruise West views itself as good stewards and encourages crew and guests to act responsibly with respect to the environment and diverse cultures visited. For more information, call 1-800-296-8307 or visit www.cruisewest.com.

HURTIGRUTEN'S MS NORDNORGE CAPTAIN AND CREW HONORED


HURTIGRUTEN'S MS NORDNORGE CAPTAIN AND CREW HONORED WITH AFRAS AWARD FOR THEIR EFFORTS IN RESCUING 154 PASSENGERS FROM SINKING EXPEDITION SHIP

Captain Arnvid Hansen and the crew of Hurtigruten's MS Nordnorge were honored by the Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc. (AFRAS) at the association's annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. for their efforts in the rescue of the crew and passengers of a sinking expedition ship. On November 23, 2007, MS Nordnorge's captain and crew came to the aid of 154 passengers and crew sailing aboard the Explorer, an expedition cruise ship that hit ice and eventually sank off the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula.

"Thanks to the willingness of the captain and crew of MS Nordnorge to divert from course and expertly come to the rescue of the passengers from the sinking cruise ship Explorer, 154 lives were saved," AFRAS said in a prepared statement.

Answering an Amver distress call, Captain Hansen and his crew diverted the MS Nordnorge, an ice-rated ship made to travel in these types of waters, from its itinerary and sailed approximately five hours to reach the area where the Explorer's passengers and crew had taken to the rough and frigid seas in lifeboats. Hansen and his crew focused their efforts on bringing those passengers and crew safely aboard the 350-passenger MS Nordnorge where the ship's on-board medical staff examined each of them. No injuries were reported beyond being cold and tired. MS Nordnorge passengers were also involved, offering comforting words and much needed clothing to the evacuees, while ship ferried their new guests and crew to King George Island for flights to the South American mainland.

AFRAS is a non-profit foundation, supporting services concerned with saving lives at sea. The AFRAS Amver award was created in 1996 to recognize the contributions of seamen in ships at sea to the safety of all their fellow mariners. Nominations for all awards are made by the United States Coast Guard's Search and Rescue Division.

Built in 1997, the MS Nordnorge was custom crafted to cruise Norway's narrow fjords and icy polar waters. Its interiors feature Art Nouveau and Art Deco embellishments, a variety of staterooms and suites, restaurant, panoramic lounges, library, Internet cafe and conference rooms.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in exploration cruising sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen. For more information about the cruise line, contact Hurtigruten at (800) 323-7436 or (212) 319-1300; fax (212) 319-1390; for brochures, (800) 666-2374, 24 hours a day; www.hurtigruten.us

Thursday, 16 October 2008

PORT EXCURSIONS INCLUDED WITH ADVENTURE CRUISES

Spirit of Adventure is giving cruise-goers extra value with its discovery cruise packages to some of the world's more unusual destinations in 2009, by including guided excursions to main attractions and landmarks in the majority of ports to be visited by its ships, Spirit of Adventure and Quest for Adventure that has just come out of a multi-million (British) pound refurbishment.

As well onboard guest speakers who specialise in subjects from archaeology and history to local traditions and food and fine, will join these half- and full-day excursions led by local professional guides.

Cruiseco, a consortium of cruise-specialist travel agencies Australia-wide that represents Spirit of Adventure exclusively in Australia, has just released a 48-page brochure that details a near-50 seven to 21-night cruises in 2009.

They will embrace destinations as diverse as the Canary Islands, the Antarctic, Brazil, the Caribbean, Africa, Iceland, the Norwegian Fjords, the Mediterranean, Far East, Indonesia, Borneo and vineyards regions of France.

All meals, nightly entertainment, onboard gratuities and excursions in most ports are included; both ships feature casual dress most evenings with a choice of main Dining Room or indoor/outdoor buffets with open seating.

Cruiseco has big Early Bird savings with prices from just $1970pp from a 7-night Canary Islands cruise aboard Spirit of Adventure from Funchal in Portugal's Madeira Islands through five ports to Santa Cruz on Tenerife – including wine with lunch and dinner on this cruise; air is additional.

For a free brochure detailing cruises on both ships phone 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco agency, or visit http://www.cruising.com.au/

Prices are subject to currency fluctuations.

Coral Princess Cruises Awarded “Top Gong” at Tourism Awards

Coral Princess Cruises was recognised at the Tropical North Queensland (TNQ) Tourism Awards on Saturday night, taking out the top tourism award category of Major Tour and Transport Operator for the company’s three, four and seven-night Great Barrier Reef cruises.

In Coral Princess Cruises’ 25th anniversary year, the tourism award is welcome acknowledgement of the company’s commitment to the local industry and eco-sensitive cruising on the Great Barrier Reef.

Coral Princess Cruises’ Founder and Managing Director, Tony Briggs, pioneered small ship, expedition-style cruising in Australia, beginning in North Queensland 25 years ago and still based in Cairns. In the years since, the company has grown to become Australia’s premier small ship cruise line and has expanded operations to include itineraries in the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Melanesia and New Zealand.

“Being recognised by our industry peers in such a vibrant and competitive market is a great honour – especially in our anniversary year. We are very proud to have played a founding role in the development of environmentally-sensitive tourism in North Queensland and – along with our dedicated and highly-skilled staff - we’ll continue to promote the Reef as one of the world’s greatest natural wonders,” said Mr Briggs.

Coral Princess is a family-owned, eco-accredited and multi-award-winning company that operates two vessels – the Coral Princess and Coral Princess II – on the Great Barrier Reef, taking up to 48 passengers on each ship. The third ship in the company’s fleet is the luxury 72-passenger Oceanic Discoverer which operates in the Kimberley, PNG, New Zealand and the Pacific. For further information, call 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.

Nearly 500 tourism representatives and supporters attended the Tourism North Queensland Awards, held at the Cairns Convention Centre on Saturday, October 11, where winners who had excelled in their field over the past 12 months were announced in 23 award categories.