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Monday, 30 March 2009

30% DISCOUNT ON AURORA'S POLAR BEAR ARCTIC VOYAGES


As we all know, times are a little tough right now. In an effort to help you (and us!) we would like to exclusively offer all e-news subscribers the opportunity to travel to the Arctic at a huge 30 per cent discount.

Without a doubt one of the most eagerly sought-after wildlife experiences in the world is the chance to see a polar bear in the wild. Unfortunately, global warming means the long-term future for the world's largest land carnivore looks grim. This year you can enjoy this 'once in a lifetime' trip and join Aurora as we enter the realm of the ice bear. We are offering a huge 30% discount on the following 2 voyages:-

Departing on 13th July 2009, our 11-day Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen trip will venture deep into the realm of the polar bear Discounted prices start at A$3999 for this voyage.

To experience all the highlights of this stunning region, our 20-day Arctic Dreams voyage departing on 24th August covers it all, including visiting remote Bear Island and the stunning Norwegian coastline. Discounted prices start at A$7195 for this voyage.

Prices are based on triple share rooms and include all shipboard accommodation, all meals on board, guided shore excursions and lectures with our expert naturalists.

Read more about our Arctic Expeditions

Download or order your free Arctic 2009 brochure here

PRINCE ALBERT II TO EXPLORE BRITAIN AND THE ARCTIC FROM MAY TO AUGUST 2009

Silversea's state-of-the-art expedition vessel, Prince Albert II, is offering a thrilling programme of voyages from May to August 2009, taking in the most remote highlights of the British Isles and the icy wilds of the Arctic.

An 11 day Around Britain sailing from Portsmouth, England departs 17 May 2009 and takes in the beautiful Channel islands of Alderney and Guernsey; Waterford and Dublin in Ireland; the Scottish isles of Gigha, Islay in the Hebrides and Stromness in the Orkney Islands, and finishes in Leith, Edinburgh. All inclusive cruise-only fares start from US$5,781* per person, double occupancy.

And between 1 June and 28 August 2009 Prince Albert II will embark on a series of expeditions of 7 to 16 days to the Arctic regions of Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. A 7 day round-trip Expedition Svalbard voyage will meander through the spectacular archipelago of Svalbard, where guests may be lucky enough to encounter seals, Arctic foxes, unusual bird species and even polar bears. All inclusive cruise-only fares start from US$3,146* per person, double occupancy.

Alternatively, guests can choose longer expeditions of up to 16 days including an Explorer's Arctic voyage from Hamburg to Longyearbyen; a Far Side of Svalbard journey from Longyearbyen to Tromso; a Frozen Worlds expedition from Tromso to Kangerlussuaq, or an Exploring the Canadian Arctic adventure from Kangerlussuaq to Halifax.

Prince Albert II's itineraries are unstructured by design, allowing the ship to stay longer on sites of particular interest, or make detours whenever weather, nature or mere curiosity dictates. Silversea's team of naturalists and special guest lecturers are on hand throughout the voyages to share the secrets of the pristine environment and a fleet of eight Zodiac boats takes guests up close to where the action is.

The 132-guest vessel is a truly luxurious base from which to explore some of the wildest and most remote destinations in the world. Silversea's all-inclusive fare includes accommodation in sumptuous ocean-view suites, complimentary wines and drinks throughout the ship (even hot rum toddies in the Arctic), gourmet dining, fascinating shipboard lectures and all gratuities.

From September 2009, Prince Albert II heads to Central America, followed by Antarctica in November.

*Port and fuel charges, government fees and taxes are additional. Subject to availability, terms and conditions.

For more information please contact Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or toll free 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com

Silversea Cruises is recognised as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, and Silver Whisper, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance.  With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II in 2008, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents. Silversea has recently entered Luxury Travel & Style Magazine's Platinum Hall of Fame, having been named Best Cruise Line by Australian readers for the past five consecutive years. For two consecutive years Silversea has been named 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' in the TravelWeekly Asia Awards and for nine consecutive years "Number One Small Ship Line" in the Readers' Choice survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the USA. In 2007 Silversea was the only cruise line named in the UK edition of Condé Nast Traveller's "Top 100 Luxury Travel Experiences", at the same time topping the Small Cruise Line award for the eighth time. Silversea has been selected as "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Line" seven times in the Travel + Leisure (USA) readers' poll and was rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index.  

 

Cruise Melanesia with Coral Princess Cruises in 2009 – ‘The Timeless Paradise’


Coral Princess Cruises' newest brochure lassos some of the farthest-flung islands of one of its most remote and exotic cruise destinations: Melanesia. The 13 or 14-night expedition-style voyages aboard the luxurious small ship Oceanic Discoverer thread their way along the necklace of islands and nations between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The sparkling collection of islands making up Melanesia still retains the romance and adventure of the fabled South Pacific. Life is lived at a slower pace, and traditions and customs remain intact. Village artisans create tribal artefacts in the slow, careful way their forebears taught them. Coffee workers sing as they walk in the flower-fragrant mornings to family plantations.

Following in the exploratory footsteps of history's greatest adventurers, the voyage visits remote tribal villages of New Guinea and historic WWII sites of the Solomons, including Kennedy Island (where John F Kennedy swam ashore from a sinking patrol boat in WWII) and the Arnavon Islands, the Solomon Islands' only marine reserve and home to the Hawksbill turtle.

Santa Ana is one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific, with a pellucid lagoon and pristine rainforest, where Oceanic Discoverer's naturalist guides lead walks to spot exotic orchids, tropical plants and rare birds. Vanuatu's highlights include sailing into the volcanic caldera of Ureparapara, where cruise ships rarely venture, and strolling along the exquisite Champagne Beach on Espiritu Santo.

Ambryn Island, with its towering active volcanos, is known as Black Island for its volcanic sands and 'black magic'. It also has some of the best artefacts and carvings in Melanesia and, by special invitation from the local people, passengers will have the rare opportunity to witness a Rom Spirit dance. The penultimate stop is Tanna Island, where it's possible to stand on the crater rim of an active volcano. The cruise ends in Port Vila.

Throughout the voyage, Oceanic Discoverer's purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer, glass bottom coral viewer and fleet of inflatable Zodiacs allow passengers to intimately explore the reefs and remote islands. Excursions are guided by naturalists and experts who interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region.

Oceanic Discoverer is designed to provide all the comfort and facilities of larger cruise ships, yet is small enough to access remote and pristine sites inaccessible to other ships.

The 14-night Port Moresby to Noumea cruise starts at $10 850 per person, twin share, in a Main Deck B stateroom and departs November 26, 2009 and November 25, 2010. The 13-night Noumea to Rabaul voyage, which costs from $10 500, departs March 8, 2010. Cruise costs include all excursions, port taxes and meals on board.

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

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cruise West joins Cruise Council

The International Cruise Council Australasia has expanded its cruise line membership, welcoming exploration cruise operator Cruise West to the industry association.

Announcing the new membership, Cruise Council's General Manager Brett Jardine said the latest industry figures indicated Australians were embracing a wide range of cruise holidays.

Cruise West falls into the small-ship expedition category, which is becoming more popular amongst travellers.

"New ships continue to be launched around the world, giving passengers more itinerary choices and prompting rising numbers of Australians to choose cruise holidays, including expedition-style cruising and river cruising," Mr Jardine said.

"Continuing solid sales in the face of an economic downturn gives travel agents yet another reason to join the Cruise Council and brush up their cruise knowledge to boost their bottom line."

Cruise West offers small-ship exploration to remote and distinctive destinations in Alaska, the United States' West Coast, Central America, Mexico, Asia, Galapagos, Antarctica and Europe's Danube River. 

The company's signature small-ship cruising allows up-close encounters not offered by larger vessels. With guest capacites ranging from only 78 to 148 like-minded individuals, the experience is intimate, casual and participatory.

Cruise West President & Chief Executive Officer Dietmar Wertanzl remarked that the company was pleased to become a member of the Council. 

"Australia has been a growth market for Cruise West so it just makes sense for us to join the International Cruise Council Australasia.  Australians have always had a keen sense of adventure and love of travel, which are certainly two attributes of the Cruise West experience."

Mr Jardine said the addition of Cruise West would take the Council's cruise line membership in Australia to 26.

Other small ship and expedition Council cruise members include Captain Cook Cruises, North Star Cruises and Orion Expedition Cruises.

The International Cruise Council Australasia is a not-for-profit organisation formed in 1996, committed to training travel consultants and raising consumer awareness of cruising.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cruise Weekly: SCUBA divers do it underwater


Expedition cruisers thrive on discovery, learning and fulfillment. What’s more, as long as you’re healthy and retain a reasonable level of fitness, you’re never too old to learn SCUBA diving.

Many of your favourite expedition cruise ships offer SCUBA diving as a rewarding and exciting onboard activity. To fully experience everything your destination offers, going underwater exploring is a natural part of enjoying your next cruise.

SCUBA diving is however, a “safety first” activity and to fully enjoy this exhilarating sport, your vessel must have a PADI® qualified instructor or you should already have your PADI® Open Water Certificate (OWC).

Local operators offering SCUBA on board include, Coral Princess Cruises, North Star Cruises, Captain Cook Cruises and Blue Lagoon Cruises. Orion and Aurora will liaise with local operators in destinations such as PNG and Solomon Islands to ensure ticketed divers are catered for.

Tufi in PNG and Gizo in Solomon Islands are some of the best wreck and reef diving in the world. Vanuatu and Fiji both have diving aplenty too. Serious divers can even dive beneath the ice in Antarctica on specialist tours through operators such as Quark Expeditions. Reef diving on our own Great Barrier Reef is hard to go past, while in WA, the famous Rowley Shoals off Broome draw divers from around the world.
PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) is the world’s leading scuba diving training organization. With more than forty years experience and 5300 dive shops and resorts worldwide, PADI® training materials and services let you experience scuba diving from nearly anywhere.

With just an Internet connection, you can complete most of your theory work in the comfort of your home, at your own pace. Then make a time with your dive shop to complete the final assessment and practical tests.

Going aboard your next expedition cruise with your OWC in hand, is assurance that you will enjoy the full adventure experience.

Exploring the kaleidoscope of colour on the coral reefs of Queensland or Fiji, observing the fascinating marine life at WA’s Rowley Shoals, discovering shipwrecks in PNG or archaeological sites underwater need not be reserved for National Geographic scientists and documentary filmmakers. You can experience it for yourself.

Contact your nearest dive shop before you book your next adventure cruise and ask them about introductory dives. Some stores offer these pool dives at no charge and you’ll know well in advance if SCUBA diving is for you.

You can locate your nearest PADI® dive centre at the web site: www.padi.com or Freecall 1800 023 705

Monday, 23 March 2009

Cruise West takes the lead in Glacier Bay

Spirit of Oceanus awarded eight entries into Alaska's Glacier Bay

Cruise West's Spirit of Oceanus has been awarded eight cruise ship entries to Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. With the two existing tour vessel permits that the cruise line already holds, Cruise West now offers more tour vessel entries than any other cruise line visiting Alaska. 

"Cruise West is unique as we hold both kinds of ship permits – a cruise ship permit for the Spirit of Oceanus (over 100 tons), and a tour vessel permit for the remainder of our fleet (ships under 100 tons)," said Chairman and Managing Director, Dick West.  "We are very proud of our 63 year heritage of operating tours in Alaska and this entry award just solidifies Cruise West's strong position and dedication to providing memorable cruises in the magnificent state of Alaska."

Seven of Cruise West's ten Alaska cruise itineraries ply the waters of Glacier Bay National Park.  Itineraries range from four day highlights to 25 day exploration journeys and operate from May through to early September. Guests with additional time can also extend their cruise with a fully guided Land Tour to Anchorage, renowned Denali National Park and Preserve and Fairbanks or stay at a rustic lodge in the heart of Denali.

Cruise West offers a 13-day Coastal Odyssey voyage onboard the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus, which explores the entire Inside Passage between British Columbia and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, as well as the spectacular Gulf of Alaska coast. The graceful, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus, takes guests to ports other cruise lines cannot reach, and brings them close to shore to find puffins in Glacier Bay, seals and sea otters in the Kenai Fjords, and bears feeding along the shoreline of Admiralty Island. Prices start at US$8,049 per person twin share, including all taxes and gratuities. Departures are available between 11 May and 9 August 2009.

Travel the World can assist with bookings for Cruise West, as well as put together combined flight/cruise packages. Please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit the website www.traveltheworld.com.au.

 

Friday, 20 March 2009

North Star Cruises - Last Minute Availability April to June 09


e  Last minute availability   f

April – June 2009

Come aboard for the start of the Kimberley Season and see the waterfalls flowing!

This is the perfect time of the year to visit the Kimberley Region with a hive of activity including the Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster in Kununurra and the Broome Racing Season kickstarting in May.

The following cabins are avilable to book now:

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 3           11 Apr – 24 Apr        2 single berths available

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 4a          05 Apr – 02 May      Explorer & Ocean Cabins available

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 5             09 May – 22 May     Ocean Class cabins available

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 6            23 May – 05 Jun        Ocean cabins available

Highlights from our Kimberley Wilderness cruise:

·         Get up close & personal with this ancient land that is over 1.8 billion years old. 

·         Knowledgeable crew onboard to interpret the history, geology, art, flora & fauna.

·         Amazing excursions daily including optional scenic heli flights up gorges, over river systems and waterfalls.

·         Excellent Fishing – guaranteed to catch one! (Barramundi, Mangrove Jack,

Fingermark Bream, Queenfish, Salmon)
 

 Go Wild in Style!

PO Box 654 Broome Western Australia 6725

Telephone: (+61 8) 9192 1829 Facsimile: (+61 8) 9192 1830

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

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Orion's Tropical Reefs & Culture - Food & Wine Experience

Join Orion and discover the Great Barrier Reef whilst you enjoy a fantastic onboard program for food lovers. You will be joined by acclaimed chef Serge Dansereau of ‘The Bathers’ Pavilion’ who will be introducing new menus items. He will be accompanied by Greg Doyle of ‘Pier Restaurant’ and fellow gourmand Simon Johnson who will be hosting a series of tastings, workshops and demonstrations.

Special Highlights
• New Menu Items introduced, dinners prepared and hosted by Serge
• Cheese, wine, olive oil & chocolate tasting & demonstration classes hosted by Serge, Greg & Simon

5 Night Itinerary - Cairns to Thursday Island Departing 20th April 2009
Visiting Lizard Island, Stanley Island, Orion Reef & Exclusive Island Retreat

Staterooms/Suites for the Food & Wine Experience start from $3,670 per person twin share. We can also offer sole occupancy from $4,315.

To make a booking call 1300 361 012 or +61 2 9033 8777 email info@orionexpeditions.com, visit www.orionexpeditions.com or see your travel agent.

Departing from Cairns on 20 April 2009, Orion will explore the islands of the Great Barrier Reef for 5 nights. The itinerary will include a beach barbeque, swimming, snorkelling, sea kayak exploration and cultural interaction with the Torres Strait Islanders in Thursday Island.

Although custom designed for expedition cruising, Orion is the epitome of elegance. Her luxurious appointments means she is more mega-yacht than cruise ship and her guests are few; just 50 couples, cared for by an experienced crew of 75. Life on board is relaxed and casually elegant. From gourmet meals to pampering at the beauty salon, you will rediscover your capacity for relaxation and indulgence.

Cruise Weekly Comment: Sail Away

"Arr! Batten down the 'atches ye sorry bilge rat!" Talk Like a Pirate Day is never enough to fully satisfy my urge to get on deck of a fully rigged schooner or ketch. A recent flurry of press material from sailing adventure companies has just rubbed the salt in.

First one across my desk was the splendid Søren Larsen, operated by Outdoor Travel of Bright, Victoria. Already a TV and media personality, the Søren Larsen was featured in that classic maritime BBC series, The Onedin Line. This magnificent tall ship operates between Sydney and Auckland with occasional detours via Noumea. This is an active adventure, so malingerers need not apply. See: www.outdoortravel.com.au

Next was the stately Maple Leaf, acclaimed by National Geographic editors as the #3 adventure cruise company on the world. The 92 foot schooner operates in the scenic waterways of British Columbia with highlights such as getting up close to Alaska's glaciers and intimate encounters with humpbacks, killer whales, dolphins, seabirds and bears. Built as a luxury pleasure craft in 1904, she fell into unappreciative hands and spent much of her life hauling halibut before a full and thorough restoration during the 1980s. See: www.mapleleafadventures.com

Another one that has always taunted me is the century-old, 46m steel-hulled schooner, Noorderlicht. Dedicated to arctic sailing, Noorderlicht can be found cruising the most northerly inhabited regions of the planet (Svalbard) in search of polar bear and walrus. Just 20 passengers travel in relative luxury, leaving the hard deck work to a dedicated, professional crew. See: www.adventureassociates.com

For those who hanker for the tropical climates, Captain Cook Cruises operate two sailing vessels out of Nadi, Fiji, on day trips and overnight safaris. While you don't actually overnight aboard, SV Ra Marama and SV Spirit of the Pacific still deliver the goods in a romantic, 'south sea' setting that will get you dreaming of mutineers and swashbuckling adventures as you soak up the sun and kava. See: www.captaincook.com.au

If rope burn and blisters don't appeal, you can always throw restraint to the wind aboard any of the opulent Windstar fleet which takes sailing holidays right off the scale. The fleet are typically four-star and carry between 150 and 300 passengers on itineraries in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. Their multi-mast design is reminiscent of the great 19th Century clippers and the huge sail area is computer controlled. See: www.traveltheworld.com.au

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Fincantieri cuts steel for Ponant newbuild


Steel-cutting has started for Le Boreal, the first 142mtr superyacht ordered by Marseille-based Compagnie du Ponant at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard.

Similar work should begin in the coming weeks for sister ship L’Austral.

The vessels have ‘the spirit of a private yacht, with a large glass bow at the front and at the back, which will give them a real personality,’ said Bertand Leblond, technical manager of Ponant.

Other features are dynamic positioning systems and sophisticated waste treatment facilities.

APT cruises Kimberley in July-August

Gently cruising up Prince Regent and King George rivers for freshwater waterfalls, finding ancient rock art, walking on the exposed Montgomery Reef and zipping over the saltwater Horizontal Falls in a Zodiac are among the highlights of APT’s 11-day small ship cruises along the Kimberley coast.

APT has exclusive departures on this Broome-Darwin trip in July and August, cruising on the 48-passenger Coral Princess.

The price is from $6450 per person twin share which includes cruising, all meals and excursions, featuring the above activities as well as the turtle nursery at Lacepede Islands, Careening Bay’s famed boab tree and Naturalist Island.

Scenic helicopter flights at Naturalist Island are extra.

Contact: call 1300 656 985, visit www.aptouring.com.au or see a travel agent.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Win a 9 day / 8 night Amazon cruise for two people


How to Enter the Competition
Simply click on this link to open a competition entry form and answer the question to be in to win one a 9 day / 8 night Amazon cruise for two people on board the M/Y Tucano, ex Manaus (Brazil), including 1 night pre cruise accommodation and land transfers. Entry is subject to certain terms and conditions.

Monday, 16 March 2009

EXPLORE REMOTE FIJI WITH AURORA EXPEDITIONS


Aurora Expeditions has launched a new voyage to the remote northeast corner of Fiji aboard the luxury schooner Tui Tai.

Departing from the island of Vanua Levu, this 11-day voyage will explore the deserted beaches, pristine reefs and isolated outer islands of this pacific paradise known as the Pacific Cultural Triangle.

Tui Tai is the only luxury-adventure ship cruising this largely undiscovered region, which is recognised as the most culturally diverse in the country.

Kioa Island is the only island in Fiji whose people are of Polynesian origin. The Kioans are masters of handicrafts and fishing, and the snorkelling and diving sites here are considered the best in Fiji.

Rabi Island, inhabited by Micronesian people, is another of northern Fiji’s hidden treasures, rich in history and natural beauty.

Other sites visited include the Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni Island, one of the country’s best conservation and ecotourism success stories; and the tiny unspoiled atolls of the Ringgold Isles.

You can do as much or as little as you want on this luxury adventure. Tui Tai is equipped with mountain bikes, snorkelling gear, kayaks and scuba diving equipment, or you can simply relax and soak up the surrounds.

In true expedition style, the itinerary may vary to take maximum advantage of opportunities to view wildlife or explore new territory. Guided excursions and onboard lectures by experts will interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region.

Prices start from AU$6690 per person twin-share for a standard expedition cabin through to $12,990 for the ultimate two-storey Grand Stateroom. All cabins are air-conditioned and have private bathroom facilities. All meals are also included.

This inaugural 11-day voyage departs on 19 October 2009, and with space for just 22 passengers, is sure to sell out quickly.

For more details call Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688 or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au


Aurora Expeditions
is an Australian adventure company specialising in small group expedition-style travel to polar regions and other wild and remote places. A world leader in polar cruising, Aurora offers their travellers the chance to have an intimate experience in these regions with their flexible, innovative itineraries. On some voyages, mountain climbing, sea kayaking, photography and scuba diving options are available and Aurora’s expert naturalists, historians, staff and crew help to unlock the wonders of these special places. Deeply committed to education and preservation of the environment, Aurora's owners, Greg Mortimer and Margaret Werner are veterans of almost three decades of Antarctic research, private Antarctic mountaineering expeditions and polar travel. For more information visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Orion releases highlights of 2009 voyages on DVD


Capturing the essence of Orion’s ‘paths less travelled’, Orion Expedition Cruises has just released a DVD covering expeditions to the Kimberley, Arnhem Land, Papua New Guinea and Antarctica, including an overview of the award-winning ship, onboard facilities, accommodation and her expedition crew.

The DVD footage examples the type of dramatic landscape vistas and cultural interaction guests can expect from an Orion expedition, plus highlights ship-board indulgences (such as Serge Dansereau-inspired degustation menus) and Orion’s approach to environmental sustainability.

A manageable ten minutes in length (with a convenient menu to let you select individual sections) this DVD leaves you with a good understanding of what to expect yet wanting to know even more.

And more there is. Backed up with a full colour brochure depicting the major regions visited by Orion and supported with a handy reference guide detailing all voyages with destination notes, calendar of sailings and pricing this combination is the perfect research tool for Orion’s expeditions.

Contact Orion Expedition Cruises on 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) to obtain copies of this high resolution DVD.

The DVD and brochure are also available as low resolution downloads by visiting the Orion website at www.orionexpeditions.com


For reservations or to obtain copies of the DVD and brochures call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email: info@orioncruises.com.au

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is Australia’s only purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship, featuring an unmatched range of onboard facilities.

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.

Blue Lagoon Cruises extends free kids cruise 'sale' date

With family holiday budgets understandably tight in today's current economic environment, Blue Lagoon Cruises has helped stretch the family holiday dollar a little further by extending sales of its popular kids cruise free offer until 30 June 2009.

Inclusive of all school holidays right across the period, the offer comes complete with all onboard meals, accommodation and activities with prices starting from AUD1118* for a three-day/two-night Yasawa Islands 'Club' cruise for a family of up to five.

Valid for travel until 31 March 2010, the offer is based on two adults and up to three children 15 years and under sharing two cabins.

Single children 15 years and under sharing with parents also cruise free.

The 'kids cruise free' two cabin family offer also applies to the boutique island cruise operator's four-day 'Club' cruise itinerary and four and seven day 'Gold Club' cruise programs.

Cruise activities include daily shore excursions and water-based activities ranging from snorkelling safaris, 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.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' crew are highly experienced with the company's younger passengers with all cruise programs offering special facilities for children including special mealtimes, cots and highchairs.

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

See www.bluelagooncruises.com for full itineraries.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Alaska and the Inside Passage Gets Wild

Maple Leaf is a classic, 92-foot schooner.

Adventure cruises by sail

For those that like their cruising off the beaten track and with a huge dose of nature, check out the adventure cruises by sailing ship offered from Maple Leaf Adventures.

Trips, aboard the 92-foot schooner Maple Leaf, explore Alaska, and B.C.’s Queen Charlotte Islands, Gulf Islands, Vancouver Island and Great Bear Rainforest.

The company was recently ranked the #3 adventure cruise company on earth by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine.

Like Galapagos cruises but in the lush rainforest islands of North America, the trips take place in peak wildlife areas accessible only by water. Highlights include getting up close to Alaska’s glaciers, and close encounters with humpback and killer whales, dolphins, seabirds and bears.

Trips take a small group of guests, who travel with expert guides, naturalist and chef among the islands and fjords of the coast. Plus cultural guides explain First Nations (native) cultural sites. Frequent shore excursions, soaks in natural hot springs and the peace of remote coves to anchor in at night are hallmarks of the trip.

2009 Schedule

· Gulf Islands in Spring, Apr 8-13, Apr 15-20, C $2050 all inclusive except air (approx AUD $2525) pp

· Inside Passage/Great Bear Rainforest, Apr 25-May 6, Sep 7-15, Sep 17-26, from C $4575 (approx AUD $5625) pp

· Queen Charlotte Islands, May 9-17, May 18-26, C $4250 all inclusive except air (approx AUD $5225) pp

· Alaska Adventure, May 29-Jun 9, Jun 9-20, C $5850 all inclusive except air (approx AUD $7200) pp

· Vancouver Island’s Wild Side & Whales & Totems, Jun 24-30, Sep 28-Oct 3, Oct 5-10, from C $2450 all inclusive except air (approx AUD $3000)

· Gulf Islands & Culinary Tour in Fall, Oct 15-20, Oct 22-27, from C $2050 all inclusive except air (approx AUD $2525)

ABOUT MAPLE LEAF ADVENTURES - Maple Leaf Adventures has been offering natural and cultural history cruises since 1986. We have a reputation as one of Canada's finest tour operators. A trip on Maple Leaf has been named by Frommer's travel guide as a "Best Travel Experience" and as one of the top 3 adventure cruise companies on earth by National Geographic Adventure magazine. Our multi-day excursions offer guests the opportunity to experience intimately the most beautiful places on the B.C. and Alaska coast and the Galapagos Islands, in the company of expert naturalists or historians, crew and chef. Info: www.MapleLeafAdventures.com, or +1-250-386-7245.

Sail a tall ship from Sydney to NZ

RARE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE LIFE ON A TALL SHIP SAILING FROM SYDNEY TO NEW ZEALAND

Join the crew and sail this authentic square-rigged sailing ship

From Sydney to Auckland - departs 9th – 23rd November 2009

Ten years ago, the tall ship Søren Larsen set sail from Sydney Harbour to cross the Tasman Sea to Auckland with a professional crew and 22 paying passengers eager to experience for themselves life on-board as a member of the ship's crew.

This journey and the romance and splendour of sailing as our forefathers did will be available again later this year as the ship sails from Sydney via the Bay of Islands to Auckland, the 'city of sails'.

Open to all ages and with no previous experience required, this special cruise will allow passenger's to discover for themselves the magic and the challenges faced by Captain James Cook, by Wallis and by Bougainville, by explorers, sailors, whalers and mariners as they sailed the waters between Sydney and New Zealand and the pacific Islands.

The Søren Larsen – which featured in the BBC TV series 'the Onedin Line' - was the Flagship of the First Fleet Re-enactment Voyage that sailed into Sydney Harbour with the fleet of Tall ships for Australia's 200th birthday in 1988.

On-board facilities include 2 or 4-berth cabins, a well-equipped saloon and galley, shower / bathrooms, inflatable boats, fishing tackle, windsurfer and snorkelling gear.

All-inclusive cost $3630 per person - includes all meals onboard, all excursions and activities, services of professional and experienced sail crew and cook, use of ship's wet-weather gear, inflatable boats and all safety equipment.

The role as Voyage Crew - This is an adventure holiday where the emphasis is placed on your enjoyment. Participation is part of that adventure and you will be taken on as a Voyage Crew, learning 'hands on' from the professional crew about shipboard life. Allowance is made for age and abilities and as part of the ship's watch system you can handle sail, take the helm, join-in and have fun.

Ocean Sailing or Bluewater Voyages you can be expected to stand watch and participate in all the activities of sailing the ship. The objective is to undertake an authentic blue water passage under square rig. You will be introduced to the traditions of tall ship sailing, working as part of a skilled crew within the watch system.

The voyage - on arriving onboard you will be shown your berths, introduced to the crew, and signed on Ship's Articles as Voyage Crew. Much of the first morning will be spent introducing you to the ship and explaining the various routines, safety procedures and equipment and how the watch system works. For those who wish we try to give you a chance to be shown how to haul and rig the sails and climb the masts.

Sailing through Sydney Harbour, one of the world 's great harbours, is a thrilling occasion.

The trip across the Tasman will be an exciting and challenging sail for the first time novice and the experienced sailor. This voyage gives time for a good sailing passage of 1000 miles to the northern tip of New Zealand in the prevailing westerlies. This should take us about a week in reasonable conditions and during the sea passage from Australia the ship is sailing 24-hours a day and as voyage crew you will stand deck watches and work within a normal 4-hours on / 8-hours off watch system. This rotates during the course of the voyage to allow everyone to be on deck during different parts of the day.

There are 13-permanent crew who maintain and sail the ship that are there to assist and help you enjoy your time aboard. Once we drop anchor the deck watch is undertaken by the permanent crew and you the Voyage Crew are free to explore ashore. While on watch the voyage crew are under the care and instruction of the watch officer and two other permanent crew; everyone stands a turn on the helm, takes lookout on bow watch, helps fill in the ship's deck log and help handle the sails as required. The watches on deck will have to work the brigantine rig to best advantage to make the most of the changeable weather. On the longer sea passage there's time for talks about basic navigation, seamanship theory, rope work, history and development of square rigged ships. The timeless routines of the sea and unique beauty and grandeur of the ocean can only really be appreciated by those who have undertaken a blue water passage several days out from land.

Sighting Cape Reinga at the northern tip of North Island will be our first glimpse of New Zealand and soon we shall enter the beautiful Bay of Islands to clear NZ Customs at the tiny fishing village of Opua. A good ocean passage will allow us time to enjoy 'the Bay' including the historic town of Russell and the picturesque Roberton Island. Dolphins usually delight in escorting us to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock archway. Once we drop anchor at the Bay of Islands the deck watch is taken by the permanent crew and the Voyage Crew are free to explore ashore. With 4 or 5 nights in hand we make our way south through the Hauraki Gulf, visiting the marine reserve and the Poor Knights islands and perhaps Kawau or Tiri Tiri island before we arrive at our final destination and home-port, Auckland.

Other Pacific journeys are also available including New Caledonia to Sydney or to the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu

Places are limited – call 1800 331 582 for more details or to make a reservation

www.outdoortravel.com.au

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Coral Princess’s Award Winning Cruises on the Great Barrier Reef

From 2009 Adventure Cruise Guide

Coral Princess Cruises, pioneer of small-ship cruising on the Great Barrier Reef, has released its 2009 cruise schedule, with new land-and-cruise packages, including a rail-cruise option incorporating the Sunlander train. Entering its 26th year of operations on the Reef, the company's three, four and seven-night Great Barrier Reef Cruises won Coral Princess Cruises the title of Major Tour and Transport Operator for 2008 at the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Awards.

Coral Princess and her sister ship, Coral Princess II cruise weekly between Townsville and Cairns over three nights, or over four nights departing Cairns and travelling north to Lizard Island and return. The cruises show off some of the world's best snorkelling, swimming and coral viewing spots en route, such as Thetford Reef, and Sudbury Reef. The three-night voyage also visits Dunk Island and cruises through the Hinchinbrook Channel.

Accommodating a maximum of just 50 guests, Coral Princess is equipped with a glass bottom boat and inflatable zodiacs for daily reef and shore excursions. There's even an excursion to Coral Princess' own private island – Pelorus – with no one else in sight except for Coral Princess passengers and crew.

Qualified marine biologists and a SCUBA diving instructor are also on board to explain the natural history and biodiversity of the area, making a snorkel or SCUBA dive in the sparkling blue waters even more fascinating.

Prices start at $1 496 per person in a twin share cabin on the three-night cruise ex Townsville or Cairns, or $1 896 per person twin share for the four-night cruise from Cairns to Lizard Island and return, with weekly departures year round. Prices include accommodation, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers, activities and excursions during the cruise, and landing fees.

In 2009, Coral Princess passengers can combine their Great Barrier Reef cruise with a three-night stay at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, or a three-night stay at Silky Oaks Lodge. Sail and Stay package prices start at $1 596 per person, twin share, including a three-night cruise and three nights at the Novotel Cairns; or $2 266 for the three-night cruise and three nights at Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree rainforest.

For rail enthusiasts, the famous Sunlander train from Brisbane to Tropical North Queensland can be combined with a Coral Princess Great Barrier Reef cruise for a five, six or seven-night scenic journey that covers three-quarters of Queensland's coast. The new Sail and Rail packages start from $1 970, including the three-night cruise and the train from Townsville to Brisbane.

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

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

‘Kids Cruise Free’ in Fiji


For a great and affordable family holiday, Captain Cook Cruises are letting all kids aged between 8-18 years cruise free on all 3, 4 and 7 night Fiji cruises.

Not only are children free, but they get their own cabin, per accompanying adult room, so kids and parents can have their own private room. Children cabins can sleep up to three or four children, so kids can even bring their best friend along!

Aboard MV Reef Escape discovery-style cruises, adults and kids will enjoy an intimate and personal experience of the Yasawa Islands off the north-west coast of the main island of Fiji.

Special expedition cruises to the remote northern Fiji Islands also operate on selected dates during the year.

Kids will never be looking for something to do, with a new and exciting destination to explore every morning and afternoon.

Offering a true cultural experience for the whole family, the cruise visits unspoiled Fijian villages where passengers can interact with the locals, take part in a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast and even tour a village school where the school children will perform.

There is also plenty of time for fun water activities every day. Kids will love snorkeling over the amazing coral reefs, and swimming in crystal clear waters, while parents can relax on the warm white sands or go diving in spectacular blue lagoons. Families can take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji’s coral reefs.

Mum and dad can be pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the pool or at the pool bar.

Dining is another vital ingredient of these amazing cruises. Families will enjoy alfresco buffet luncheons and a mix of table d’hote and buffet dinners. All food is prepared on board from fresh local and imported produce and promises to satisfy all tastes and ages! Cultural on-board entertainment adds a special flavour to the mix.

‘Kids Cruise Free’ is available from 24 January 2009 until 16 March 2009 and valid for travel until 31 March 2010.

Adults can also save up to 45% on all 3, 4 and 7 night Fijian cruises, over this sale period, with prices starting from $897 twin share for the 3 night Southern Yasawa cruise, $1195 for the 4 night Northern Yasawa cruise and $1987 for the 7 night Yasawa Islands cruise and 7 night Northern Fiji Dateline Expedition cruise. Prices include all meals and most activities.

For reservations and enquiries please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free on 1800 804 843, Int +61-2-9206 111, Email: fiji@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.au

SEE POLAR BEARS IN THE WILD WITH AURORA EXPEDITIONS

Without a doubt one of the most eagerly sought-after wildlife experiences in the world is the chance to see a polar bear in the wild.

Unfortunately, global warming is dramatically affecting the polar regions of our planet – which means the long-term future for the world's largest land carnivore looks grim.

Aurora Expeditions has led the way in environmentally sensitive voyages to the High Arctic for more than a decade and in 2009 will operate six expeditions to the High Arctic that will seek to enter the realm of the ice bear.

The company has also launched a new voyage departing from Alaska to Bering Strait and Wrangel Island, renowned as home to the world's largest population of breeding polar bears.

Departing in June and July 2009, three 11-day Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen journeys will venture deep into the domain of the polar bear. A 14-day Jewels of the Arctic voyage will explore the icy landscapes of Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland. Two 20-day Arctic Dreams voyages combine all the classic highlights of the region as well as the rarely visited Bear Island and the Norwegian coastline.

Prices for the 11-day voyages start at A$5,790 per person triple share for a main deck cabin. Prices for the 13-day Bering Strait and Wrangel Island voyage start at US$5,490 for a quad share cabin.

Included in the price for all voyages are shipboard accommodation, all meals on board, guided shore excursions and lectures with expert naturalists.

Aurora's voyages are designed with flexible itineraries to make the most of every opportunity to seek out these charismatic creatures and spend as much time as possible viewing them. Sea kayaking options on some voyages also offer an opportunity to get up close and personal with the myriad wildlife.

One thing is for sure – if you have often dreamed of seeing one of these magnificent creatures in its natural environment, the time to go is now, for like their populations, our chances of seeing them in the wild are fast disappearing.

For more details or to obtain a copy of the new High Arctic or Russian Far East 2009 brochures contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688 or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Celebrity Adventurers

IF YOU’RE KEEN TO MEET SOME CELEBRITIES perhaps you should think about booking a Lindblad Expeditions’ Galapagos cruise.

Non-winning nominees in the five main categories of yesterday’s Academy Awards (best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, and best director) and the host, Australia’s own Hugh Jackman, were each given a voucher for a Lindblad nine night Galapagos voyage as part of their consolation gift bags.

So guests who also book a Lindblad cruise could be mingling with the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Robert Downey Jr.!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Free Air to Join Exclusive Orion Expedition in the Kimberley

Ecruising.travel is offering free return air from all Australian capitals to join expedition cruise ship Orion that it has chartered in May of this year for an exclusive-itinerary 10-nights from Broome to Darwin.

It is also including a night pre-cruise at Broome's famous Cable Beach Resort, a Welcome Aboard Cocktail Reception, and wine, beer and soft drinks nightly with dinners created by world-famous Sydney chef, Serge Danserau.

Orion will sail from Broome on May 22, carrying just fifty couples and 75-crew to experience highlights as diverse as the Horizontal Waterfalls (one of the world's greatest natural wonders,) ancient Aboriginal rock-art galleries, the wreck of an aircraft that didn't make it back to the secret WWII Truscott Air-field, dramatically wild coastlines, and star-gazing crystal-clear night skies.

And joining in leading shore excursions will be the Head of Tourism at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia and expert in Ecotourism, Geotourism and Wildlife Tourism, Professor Ross Dowling and his wife Wendy, who is a specialist in her own right in Natural Approaches to Women's Health.

As well, also giving onboard talks and mingling with guests will be former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke and his wife, the author Blanche d'Alpuget.

Prices start from AUD$8,999pp twin-share inclusive of airport/hotel and ship/airport transfers in Broome and Darwin, a personalised spray jacket, all taxes, and even onboard gratuities. Full details 1300 369 848 or www.ecruising.travel

ADDITIONAL CRUISE INFORMATION: Orion will make calls for shore expeditions at Cape Leveque, Talbot Bay (overnight,) Montgomery Reef and Raft Point (overnight,) the Hunter River, Vansittart Bay, the King George River Falls, Wyndham, the Coburg Peninsula and Darwin.

Guests will also have the option of choosing from a wide range of optional tours including sunset camel rides, helicopter and fixed-wing flights over 100-metre waterfalls and the Bungle Bungles, and tours of Broome and Darwin.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

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


Fiji's iconic 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 30 June 2009 with travel validity extended to 31 January 2010.

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 AUD567* per person twin share.

All 'Club and 'Gold Club' cruises include all meals and cruise activities which 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.