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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