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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Cruise Weekly: Aboard Spirit of '98 on the Columbia River



Location: Columbia River, Oregon

Astute readers of this column will recall some months ago I introduced the US-based adventure cruise company, Cruise West. Many readers have cruised with them too, probably in Alaska, the most popular itinerary among Australians.

Now I have the chance to sample the product firsthand and have the pleasure to report from aboard Spirit of ’98 as we cruise upstream east from Portland Oregon along the mighty Columbia River, into the wild mountainous country along the Washington State border.

Only three days into an eight night voyage, this report may be somewhat premature, but I’m already getting a feel for the ethos of this company which operates under the tagline; ‘Up close, casual and personal’.

Marcy and Kate, two highly experienced nature guides, take charge of the education, filling us in on everything from migrating salmon, hydro-electric power generation, native American heritage and European exploration, most of which is centred around the intrepid pair, Lewis and Clarke.

Our passengers on this itinerary are exclusively Americans and predominantly retired folks, but that doesn’t dissuade anyone from getting out and about. Day one was confined to the lower reaches of the Columbia around Portland and the township of Vancouver (not to be confused with BC) on the other bank. Heavy industry, including the former liberty shipyards of WWII, dominates this region.

But soon mighty basalt cliffs and the distant Mt Hood herald a landscape akin to Alaska with vast tracts of pine and timber bordering the huge waterway. The Columbia is no babbling brook; oceangoing vessels including US Navy warships regularly visit Portland, 100 miles from the Pacific coast.

Spirit of ’98, recently relocated from Alaska, is our home for these seven nights. One of Cruise West’s fleet of eight vessels, she is built to an early 20th Century theme recalling the graceful coastal steamers of the pioneer era. So convincing, she landed a part in the Kevin Costner classic, Wyatt Earp. Built in 1984, her passenger capacity is 96; ideal for the expedition task. Interior fit-out is classic wood and brass with a convincing turn-of-the-(last) century feel.

Ahead lays the Wild West town of Pendleton, famed as much for its illicit underground culture as its respected wool and trade profile. Beyond that, the Tamastslikt Cultural Center is one of the few native American interpretive centres in this region and the much-anticipated jetboat ride up Hells Canyon sounds exhilarating. Like so many comparable adventure itineraries, I’m free to be as active or docile as I like. Already I’ve climbed a one mile upward trek to the top of Multnomah Falls and explored the cavernous interior of the Bonneville Dam hydro-electric plant and ingenious salmon bypass.

River cruise or interior expedition, call it what you will, I’m learning stacks about this region and its natural and human history in an intimate, uncrowded manner that truly defines adventure cruising. If this is a sampler, I hope to report on many more Cruise West itineraries from around the Pacific and beyond.

Further information on Cruise West products at your travel agent or at www.cruisewest.com

Island cruise set to explore Vanuatu's more remote islands


Vanuatu's outer islands are becoming more accessible for travelers with boutique cruise company, Island Escape Cruises, announcing a new cruise departing from Espiritu Santo for a five day exploration of remote islands including Pentecost, Ambrym and Asanvari.

The luxury 10 cabin vessel will operate in Vanuatu over the winter season between May and October. There will be two five day Vanuatu itineraries to choose from – The Secrets of Bali Hai and The Tropic of Paradise. These can be combined for a ten night cruise if preferred.

The itineraries will cover remote islands, visiting the amazing land diving on Pentecost, the mystique and live volcanoes of Ambryn and the rainforests, natural swimming pools and waterfalls of Asanvari. Along the way passengers will visit the glorious beaches of Santo and anchor on the vibrant coral reef systems of the Maskelyne Islands.

Annie Niatu, general manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office says, "We are pleased that Island Escapes is opening some of the outer islands up for travelers to discover the beauty and intrigue of these islands.

The operation also shows that Espiritu Santo is really emerging as a popular island option for Australian travelers."

Since Air Vanuatu commenced direct flights from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo last year the destination has become increasingly attractive to Australian travelers. Espiritu Santo is graduating from primarily a dive Mecca and becoming a popular island paradise. The island is attracting a new clientele with more boutique style resorts opening each year.

This month Ratua Private Island will also open offering a level of sophistication that is being dubbed 'primitive luxury'. Moyyan House by the Sea has also proved popular for those looking for an island getaway close to Australia.

After a few days experiencing Espiritu Santo travelers can hop aboard Island Escape Cruises to discover the mysteries of the surrounding island's wildlife, and discover the rituals and festivals of the unique island cultures. The vessel has an expert local guide on board as well as small boats so that passengers have the freedom to discover their surrounding paradise however they choose.

Visit www.vanuatu.travel for more information on the destination

Visit www.islandescape.co.nz for more information, prices or to make a booking.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Wild Adventure: PNG

I was fortunate enough to join our voyage to Papua New Guinea a few weeks back and my mind is still reeling from the extraordinary experiences I shared with our passengers in this wonderful country.

One of the more satisfying aspects of the trip for me personally was watching how everyone threw themselves into the expedition with such enthusiasm and bravado, no matter what age they were. Each time we snorkelled, without fail one of the oldest ladies on board would be the first one in the water and the last one out. She would then wade slowly on to the beach with a beaming smile from ear to ear, completely enthralled by the vast array of fish and coral on display. In contrast, one of our youngest passengers was a 16-year-old girl who was a complete hit everywhere we landed. Most of the places we had visited had never seen white children and they were completely enthralled by her blonde hair. She embraced the attention, grabbed the hands of the local children and was treated like royalty while being shown the villages we visited, always returning to the ship with more additions to her long list of new pen pals.

Being constantly inspired on board by people's willingness to explore and discover made me reflect on what it was we seek on journeys such as these. Meeting the overwhelmingly friendly people of PNG and learning more about their lives help put our own lives in perspective. But, there is more to it than that. In all of us there is a primal need to be at one with nature, a craving for wilderness that needs to be satisfied. At the same time there is a need to take time out from our normal every day lives, to feed our curiosity and learn about the unknown.

Visiting wild, untouched places like Papua New Guinea give us the chance to quite literally get back to nature, to turn our faces towards it and let it wash over us. With the world in such disarray, perhaps now, more than ever, it's time to pack your bags and refresh your soul in a way that only the world's wild places can.

Regards,

David Mannix
Aurora Expeditions

See a Different New Zealand - Cruising with Coral Princess for 25 Per Cent Off


Coral Princess Cruises has launched its 2009/10 program of small-ship, expedition-style cruises in New Zealand - and is offering a 25 per cent discount on its Auckland to Bay of Islands voyages for departures between December and February. The offer is available for new bookings made until July 31, 2009.

The five-night Bay of Islands cruise aboard Coral Princess's purpose-built luxury expedition vessel, Oceanic Discoverer, departs from either Auckland or Paihia, exploring the hidden coves and spectacular coastline of the far north-eastern tip of New Zealand's North Island.

Summer cruising in the Bay of Islands reveals hidden clear-water fiords and sub-tropical islets, as well as better-known sites such as the Hole in the Rock – a rock 'tunnel' etched by wind and waves; Deep Water Cove; Roberton Island and Urupukapuka – the largest of the 144 islands in the Bay of Islands.

Representing savings of up to $1,575 per couple in a Main Deck B Stateroom, prices start at $2,362 per person twin share. This includes accommodation, all meals, activities and excursions during the cruise, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers and landing fees. There are twelve departures, six each from Auckland and Paihia between December 19, 2009 and February 2, 2010.


Departing from World Heritage Milford Sound and travelling to Auckland, or vice versa, the 12-night Milford Sound cruise explores New Zealand's east coast, including the remote reaches of Milford and Doubtful Sound – described as New Zealand's most spectacular waterway. Stewart Island is renowned for its birdlife, including kiwis and penguins, and marks the southernmost point on the voyage. Heading north, the ship stops at secluded Akaroa Harbour, where it's possible to swim with dolphins, while Kaikoura is known as the best destination for whale watching.

The Tory Channel marks the entrance to the beautiful blue-green waters of Marlborough Sound, where Oceanic Discoverer's guides interpret the history and natural attractions on guided walks. The trip also takes in Art Deco Napier, historic Gisborne, the active volcano on White Island and there's time to explore the beaches and caves of the remote Mercury Islands, before ending the trip in Auckland.

The Milford Sound voyage departs on February 8 and 20, 2010 and costs from $7590 per person, twin share in a Main Deck B stateroom. Prices include all meals, accommodation, excursions, transfers and port taxes.

Carrying a maximum of just 72 guests, Oceanic Discoverer provides all the comforts and facilities of larger cruise ships. But Oceanic Discoverer is small enough to access remote bays and islands that larger vessels can't reach.

For further information, call 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Changes Among Expedition Ships

(Source: By Mark Tré - Cybercruises.com)

Changes Among the Expedition Ships

Meanwhile, there have been a number of changes among the operators of the smaller expeditions ships.

After the absorption of INTRAV and its Clipper brand and Australia's Peregrine Adventures into the Quark brand under TUI, a recent announcement has been made that Peregrine will be reinstated as an operator, responsible for marketing and operating the 104-berth Akademik Sergey Vavilov.

Basically, this will leave Quark with the 112-berth icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov and three passenger ships, the 122-berth Clipper Adventurer, 112-berth Lyubov Orlova and 68-berth Ocean Nova, and Peregrine with the adapted scientific research ship. The 48-berth Akademik Shokalskiy, meanwhile, will not return to the Antarctic in 2009/10 even though she was originally scheduled to.

Former Peregrine manager Andrew Prossin last year set up his own company, One Ocean Expeditions in Vancouver, and in 2009/10 will operate five Antarctic departures with the 108-berth Akademik Ioffe, which previously worked for Quark. Last season, One Ocean worked with Oceanwide Adventures of Flushing.

The addition of One Ocean means that five of these adventure companies now operate from Canada. GAP Adventures, with its new 116-berth ship Expedition, and Cruise North Expeditions, which operates the Lyubov Orlova in the Canadian Arctic each summer, are both located in Toronto, as is Patrick Shaw, president of Quark Expeditions, whose reservations offices are located in Stamford, Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Polar Star Expeditions, which operates the 96-berth icebreaker Polar Star is based in Halifax. Ironically, Prossin and Shaw, along with Cruise North boss Dugald Wells, all worked for the pioneering Canadian operator Marine Expeditions before that company went out of business in 2001, victim of a spike in the price of fuel that brought down the affiliated World Cruise Company.

In the United States, as well as Quark in Stamford, Lindblad National Geographic, with their 148-berth National Geographic Explorer, and Travel Dynamics, with the 100-berth Clelia II and 114-berth Corinthian II, are both located in the New York area, with Lindblad and Travel Dynamics both having offices in Manhattan.

Cruise West are also using the Corinthian II, a sister ship of their own Spirit of Oceanus, for a dedicated 18-night Antarctic, Falklands and South Georgia departure of their own on February 8, 2010. New fleetmate Clelia II has just been acquired and was upgraded to Ice Class in Piraeus this spring. She will now alternate her winters in the Antarctic with summers in the Great Lakes.

Outside of North America, operators include Hapag-Lloyd Cruises of Hamburg, with the 138-berth Bremen and 168-berth Hanseatic, Silversea Expeditions of Monaco, with the 120-berth Prince Albert II, and Oceanwide Expeditions of Flushing, with its 112-berth Plancius, 84-berth Antarctic Dream and 53-berth sister ships Professor Molchanov and Professor Multanovskiy, and in Australia, Orion Expedition Cruises, with the 106-passenger Orion and Aurora Expeditions, with its 100-berth Marina Svetaeva and 56-berth Polar Pioneer.

New Zealand's Heritage Expeditions meanwhile operates the 48-berth Spirit of Enderby. One little ship that will not return, however, is the 100-berth Andrea, now under arrest in Split.

All of these ships carry only 100 or so passengers and are equipped with zodiacs for landings to observe local wildlife, the area's spectacular scenery and to visit research stations. And while the 50-berth ships are slowly disappearing, several of these ships, such as the National Geographic Explorer, Expedition, Clelia II and Plancius, are new to the scene, while Corinthian II, Ocean Nova and Prince Albert II are also fairly recent additions, so there is still a wide choice for the consumer.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

25% off Fiji Whenever You Want to Travel!

Captain Cook Cruises has increased the discount offered on all Fijian Early Booking Saver (EBS) fares to 25% off the stated brochure price. This discount is valid on all 3, 4 and 7 night Yasawa Island Fiji cruises aboard the MV Reef Escape.

"Early Booking Saver fares are great value for money all year round. Even during the peak holiday seasons, our passengers can usually secure a fantastic fare when they book at least 2 months in advance." Said Jackie Haworth-Charlton, Joint Managing Director, Captain Cook Cruises.

All Yasawa Island Fiji cruises offer a truly cultural experience and passengers will visit unspoilt Fijian villages and handicraft markets, experience a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast, tour a village school and visit a village church and experience the beautiful sounds of the children's choir singing.

As well as being immersed in Fijian culture there is plenty of time for relaxation and appreciating the beautiful marine life while snorkelling over amazing coral reefs, lazing on warm white sandy beaches, basking in crystal clear waters or diving in spectacular blue lagoons.

Passengers can even take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji's coral reefs.

Stay on-board and be pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the spa or pool or grab a drink at the pool bar.

Dining is another vital ingredient of these amazing cruises. Whether it is an alfresco luncheon, a casual barbecue or table d'hote dinner, all food is prepared on board from fresh local and imported produce and cultural on-board entertainment adds a special flavour to the mix

The three-night Southern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Saturday at 2.00pm and guests will discover the beauty of the Southern Yasawa Island group including the islands of Waya, Naviti and Viwa and the friendly warmth of its people. Early Booking Savers (EBS) fares start from $900.00 per person twin share

The four-night Northern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Tuesday at 2.00pm. Guests will visit the private island of Tivua and cruise the spectacular passage from Yaqeta Island to the Yasawas northern reaches and EBS fare is available from $1200.00 per person twin share

The seven-night Yasawa Islands Cruise combines the three and the four night cruises for the ultimate in Fiji Yasawa Islands experiences and EBS fares start from $1995.00 per person twin share.

Prices include all meals on board, guided village and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including swimming pool, spa, pool bar, sun deck, sauna, cocktail bar and library. Diving and Day Spa services are available at an additional price.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises  +61-2-9206 1100, (Aust), +679-670 1823 (Fiji) Email: fiji@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.fj

 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Fantasea Adventure Cruising offers a range of holiday experiences as diverse as the reef itself.



The Whitsundays are a group of 74 tropical islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland Coast, approximately 1000km north of Brisbane and 250km south of Townsville. Fantasea Adventure Cruising is based on the mainland at Shute Harbour, providing the main access point to the islands and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

From the rainbow colours of the coral and marine life on the Great Barrier Reef, the soft silica sand of Whitehaven Beach and the crystal clear waters of the Whitsundays, Fantasea Adventure Cruising offers travellers the most choices of discovering the beauty of the Whitsundays. With an extensive timetable, a wide choice of cruises and regular daily departures from Shute Harbour, Daydream Island Resort and Spa and Hamilton Island Marina and Airport, visitors can see it all.

Its day trips to Reefworld, Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsunday Islands aboard a large air-conditioned catamaran provide a lasting holiday memory for the whole family.

At Reefworld, the largest Australian-owned offshore facility on the Great Barrier Reef, visitors can experience the wonderful colour and beauty of the reef from the safety of a dive platform, from a semi-submersible submarine or an underwater observatory. With change rooms, fresh water showers, large open sun-decks and extensive shaded areas. Optional extras include scuba diving (PADI) for both first time and certified divers, guided snorkel tours with reef interpreters and helicopter scenic flights over world-famous Heart Reef. Club Seahorse, a free kid’s club, provides entertainment for young children and allows parents to enjoy some time together. Reefworld at Hardy Reef is a healthy platform reef which allows for sheltered and protected snorkelling and swimming conditions year round. The Great Barrier Reef full day cruise includes morning and afternoon tea, a daily lunch selection based on local produce including seafood, carved meats and salads.

From Reefsleep, located 51 nautical miles from the coast on Hardy Reef, a fortunate few can admire the intensity of the stars, witness the vibrancy of the reef at night and marvel at the spectacle of an orange-lit sunset. Two days and one night spent aboard the Reefworld platform provide a totally unique opportunity to unwind in the solitude and peaceful tranquillity of Reefsleep.

A maximum of six guests at any one time are accommodated in either a king room for two or bunk room for four with their own personal Fantasea host catering to their needs. A Reefsleep experience includes an alfresco dinner with wine under the stars, an early morning snorkel or dive, full breakfast and two buffet lunches

Voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world and a Whitsunday icon, the four hour Whitehaven Beach cruise enables visitors to wander along seven kilometres of pure white, glistening silica sand, enjoy the unspoiled, natural beauty of the beach and go swimming in its turquoise waters.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising has an extensive ferry schedule with regular services from Shute Harbour, Hamilton Island Marina, Hamilton Island Airport and Daydream Island Resort and Spa. Our schedule is designed to transport passengers to and from all arriving and departing flights from Hamilton Island Airport. Or hop on a ferry on the mainland and spend a day exploring the island resorts.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising is an advanced eco-certified operator offering a genuine eco-tourism experience. Eco tourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. Fantasea Foundation is the marine research arm of Fantasea and is involved in monitoring reef health and the impact of Fantasea activities on the Great Barrier Reef and assists with monitoring the Marine Park for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Association (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

Based at Newstead, Brisbane on the Brisbane River the MV Fantasea Ammari is an all inclusive boutique cruising experience available for corporate or private charter.

The 60 metre cruising catamaran offers 4 decks and 32 cabins for a maximum of 64 guests overnight or 200 guests for a day or evening function. The elegant Ammari offers cruising options on the Picturesque Brisbane River or to Moreton Bay which covers over 3,400 square kilometres. Moreton Bay is an ecologically significant marine park that offers some of the largest sand islands in the world, is home to over 70 pristine beaches, numerous freshwater springs, inland lakes, and many species of native Australian wildlife.

For enquiries contact Steve Neale, Sales & Marketing Manager on 61 7 4967 5430, email sneale@fantasea.com.au or Karen Maher, Sales Executive on 61 7 3852 0983, email karen.maher@riversidemarine.com.au.
Website www.fantasea.com.au

Hurtigruten Teams With Discover the World Marketing


Discover the World Marketing has officially been appointed to handle the sales and marketing for Hurtigruten Cruises in Australia and New Zealand.

"We are very excited about working with Discover the World Marketing for the first time," said Kathryn Beadle, Sales & Marketing Director for Hurtigruten Cruises. "They have a real appreciation of the cruise industry and were an obvious choice to market our unique product."

According to Jenny Adams, CEO for Discover the World Marketing, "Our goal is to increase the visibility of this unique cruise line, that remains an integral part of the Norwegian coastal life, by targeting people who have cruised before and those who are looking for a trip of a lifetime." "The cruises are suited to people who are more adventurous, have a love of the outdoors and especially enjoy wildlife. Our team, headed by Managing Director Richard Cranmer in Australia, has extensive cruise line experience."

Hurtigruten is famous for its Norwegian coastal cruises that literally hug the coast and travel in and out of the most spectacular fjords in the world and prides itself on its specialists' knowledge about wildlife and environment. It has also expanded its coastal hugging philosophy to create cruises to such destinations as Antarctica, Greenland and Spitsbergen. The Hurtigruten fleet consists of 14 purpose-built vessels that have been specifically designed for the waters in which it operates. It also has a fascinating history that started delivering mail, cargo and passengers through Norway's fjords more than 115 years ago.

Discover the World Marketing has more than 27 years of experience operating a unique and truly global network consisting of 83 offices in 55 countries. Regardless of size, Discover offers simple, manageable and effective solutions to fit any company's needs and budget.

GAP’s Expedition enters service

Canadian polar cruise specialist G.A.P. Adventure’s latest vessel, the 105m Expedition, entered service last week following a US $15m conversion at the Rauma facility of STX Europe in Finland.

Bought as a replacement for the ill-fated Explorer, which sank in Antarctica in November 2007, Expedition, which meets the requirements of Swedish/Finnish Ice Class 1B, is the former Viking Line ferry Alandsfarjan and sailed from Portsmouth on 1 May on a 13-day ‘Britain & Ireland in Bloom’ cruise, on charter to UK operator Nobel Caledonia.

This is the vessel’s first cruise after a 10-day Azores cruises was cancelled due to main engine problems. The cruise ex-Portsmouth has calls at Alderney & Sark, Herm & Guernsey, St. Michael’s Mount and the Helford River, St. Mary’s & Tresco, Waterford, Bantry Bay, Clifden, Portrush, the Isles of Islay & Gigha, Colonsay & Iona, Siel & Craignure, and Oban where the cruise ends.

The conversion of Expedition in Finland has seen the former 1972-built ferry transformed into a modern polar expedition cruise vessel with accommodation for 120 passengers in triple and double cabins, as well as higher end doubles and suites. Singles are available in all cabin categories and all cabins are outside facing. Onboard facilities include the Polar Bear Pub, Expedition Lounge/Albatros Bar, dining room capable of accommodation all passengers in one sitting, a Barbecue deck, a 360° observation deck and a fitness centre/sauna. Toronto-based G.A.P. says that Expedition is one of the first polar vessels to be fully 2010 compliant with the new International Association of Antarctic Cruise Operators (IAATO) environmental recommendations.

Monday, 11 May 2009

CRUISE BACK IN LUXURY TO DAYS OF BORNEO’S COLONIAL RAJ

Pandaw River Cruises will begin luxury 8-night cruises into the spectacularly wild heartland of Borneo in July, a jungle region little-visited by tourists because of its remoteness.

The replica colonial-era riverboat, Orient Pandaw will carry just sixty guests in thirty staterooms, sailing the swift-flowing Rajang River from Sibu to Kapit, the wild Pelagus Rapids, Song, Sarikei, Tanjung Manis and back to Sibu.

Cruise prices will include all meals with a choice of both Western and Asian cuisine, local beers and spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee, gratuities, and daily guided shore excursions; prices will begin from US$4995 per cabin twin occupancy and from US$3255 single use. Air will be additional.

The brand-new Orient Pandaw will give guests the chance to walk remote villages of one-time Iban headhunters, trek jungle paths, travel by longboat amidst an abundance of wildlife and tropical flora, and discover historic forts, palaces and other colonial vestiges from an era of rule under Britain's white Rajas.

Or just sit back on the sundeck and take it all in from there.

For full details see travel agents, phone Pandaw Australia (02) 8080 5622, email jlbati@ozemail.com.au or visit www.pandaw.com


ADDITIONAL CRUISE INFORMATION: Prosperous Chinese shop-house communities that give a glimpse of what Singapore and Bangkok would have been like a half-century or more ago, will also be found on these cruises, often side-by-side with modern bars, café's and shops.

And traditional songkat textile and weaving workshops, tropical fruit plantations, pepper farms, logging camps, schools and river stations will be included in daily shore excursions, with of opportunities for jungle walks.

(Pandaw River Cruises, the largest river cruise company in Asia, also operates similar replica-colonial era riverboats to the Orient Pandaw on Cambodia's and Vietnam's Mekong, the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in Myanmar, and the Hugli and Ganges Rivers in India.)

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Coral Princess’s Great Barrier Reef Cruise Giveaway


Cruising with Coral Princess has just become even better value. For new bookings made by June 30, 2009 on a range of destinations and departures, Coral Princess Cruises is offering a second cruise on the Great Barrier Reef, valued at up to $4392 per couple, for free.

Book a cruise with Coral Princess to explore the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia or Across the Top of Australia on selected departures between September 2009 and March 2010 to receive a complimentary three- or four-night Great Barrier Reef cruise.

The second cruise can be taken at any time in the next year, or can be passed on to family members as a gift that will earn a lifetime of brownie points!

Coral Princess's 72-berth Oceanic Discoverer is small enough to reach remote bays, islands and villages that other inaccessible to larger ships, yet large enough to offer the comfort and facilities of bigger vessels. The ship was purpose-built by Coral Princess Cruises to offer first-class, nature-based adventure cruises to some of the world's most remote and fascinating regions including Papua New Guinea, the Kimberley coast and the isolated islands of Melanesia. Shore and boat excursions are guided by naturalists and experts who interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region.

Coral Princess Cruises pioneered the concept of small ship expedition cruising on the Great Barrier Reef over a quarter of a century ago, and has since become Australia's most awarded small ship cruise operator. It remains wholly Australian, family-owned and staffed.

Prices start at $6450 per person in a twin share cabin on the 11-night Across The Top of Australia cruise between Darwin and Cairns. The Kimberley or Papua New Guinea 10-night expeditions start from $7750 per person twin share and 13-night Melanesia cruise from $10500 per person twin share. Prices include accommodation, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers, activities and excursions during the cruise, and landing fees. The free Great Barrier Reef cruise offer is available on a select range of departures for each of these destinations.

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

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Set sail and save with Compagnie du Ponant

Set sail for the Mediterranean and Adriatic and save

Compagnie du Ponant announces savings of up to AU$739 on select itineraries booked by 30 May 2009

Sydney, 4 May 2009: Escaping to warmer climes has never been more tempting thanks to a spectacular special announced by Compagnie du Ponant and Travel the World. Savings of up to AU$739 per person on select cruises to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas are available for bookings made before 30 May 2009. Explore enchanting isles, secluded coves and ports steeped in history as you sail the turquoise waters surrounding France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia or Montenegro onboard luxury yacht Le Ponant.

Navigating the Italian 'boot' and some of Croatia and Slovenia's most charming ports, the 10-night Italian Avventura cruise sails from Nice to Venice. While-away the hours at the Italian seaside resort, wander winding streets and terraced gardens or marvel at the volcanic Aeolian Archipelago. Croatia holds the magnificent St James Cathedral - a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listed site - medieval ruins and picturesque villages. Departing Nice, France on 17 July 2009, Le Ponant will call at Giglio, Amalfi, Lipari, Brindisi and Bari (Italy), followed by Sibenik (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia) and Venice (Italy). Cruises start from AU$8,109, with savings of up to $739 per person.

Dramatic panoramas, rustic villages and Renaissance relics await on the Corsican Delights, Tuscany & Liguria itinerary. The 7-night Roundtrip from Nice sails to the beautiful island of Corsica, home to the Citadel of Calvi, and the Bonafacio marine nature reserve. On the Isle of Elba in the Tuscan Archipelago, you'll visit Napoleon's home of exile, whilst Viareggio is ideally situated for a day trip to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance. The ports of Portovenere and Portofino offer medieval architecture and magnificent views favoured by the Italian jet-set. Departing Nice on 10 July 2009, this cruise stops at Calvi-Corse, Porto-Corse, Bonifacio-Corse (France), Civitavecchia, Portoferraio, Viareggio and Portofino (Italy). Cruises start from AU$6,263, with savings of up to $435 per person.

For those with their sights on the East, the 7-night Croatia & Montenegro: Dalmation Colours cruise features some of the Dalmatian Coast's most awe-inspiring attractions. Over three thousand years old, Croatia's Zadar hosts the Adriatic's oldest Roman Forum, whilst cosmopolitan Split is fortified by ancient city walls protecting the temples and palaces within. Dubrovnik is rich in architectural heritage dating back to the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras. The medieval townscape of Kotor is best explored by foot, as you circumnavigate the city walls. Departing Venice (Italy) on 27 July and 3 August 2009, Le Ponant calls at Zadar, Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), Mljet, Korcula, Sibenik (Croatia) and Venice. Bookings start from AU$6,089, with savings of up to $608 per person.

Guests onboard Le Ponant can relax in the yacht-like atmosphere of Campagnie du Ponant's most intimate vessel.  With just 32 cabins, the elegant touches onboard include two sophisticated restaurants and lounges, a sun deck and luxuriously furnished cabins.

All cruise fares are per person, twin share and include meals, a welcome aboard cocktail party, gala dinner and entertainment. This offer is valid for new bookings made by 30 May 2009.

For further information about Compagnie du Ponant or to make a booking, please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au.