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Thursday, 30 July 2009

Experience the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix from on board Orion

Orion Expedition Cruises, in association with Events Worldwide, is showcasing the Singapore Formula 1 Singtel Grand Prix with options of 3 or 4 night packages that include Grand Prix tickets.

Stay in Singapore harbour on board the luxuriously appointed Orion, enjoy the adrenalin packed experience of the world’s only night time Grand Prix and see Australia’s Mark Webber in action in his Red Bull F1 car as he chases another podium position and championship points.

Reserve your accommodation on Orion including Singapore F1 ticket packages: 25 – 27 September 2009. Twin share from A$2149 per person on sale now. Staterooms and suites available for individuals, corporate hospitality or other group bookings.

Call Events Worldwide on 1300 788 666 or email sports@events.com.au for complete details and options.

Additional information: At time of release, following the Hungarian Grand Prix (26 July 2009), Mark Webber is currently placed second in the Formula 1 Driver’s Championship for 2009.

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest 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.

Information on all Orion Expedition Cruises to Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Asia, New Zealand, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land can be obtained by visiting the website www.orionexpeditions.com

For reservations or to obtain a brochure 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

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Pirates Strike Amazon River Cruiser


When New Zealand's revered Sir Peter Blake was killed by pirates in 2001 on the Amazon River, it was thought to be a one-off experience, but yachts thinking of venturing up the Amazon River should be aware that a tourist vessel has been raided by pirates and the passengers robbed this week on the Amazon River.

Aqua Expeditions, river boat expedition operators, who run luxury tours on the Amazon, have announced that the MV Aqua (pictured below right), its Amazon river cruise ship, was boarded this week by six armed bandits who robbed passengers of money and valuables.

There were 24 passengers and 21 crew members onboard at the time of the incident. The incident lasted less than an hour and nobody was hurt.

Aqua Expeditions is a Peruvian company, and the Peru Minister of Tourism Martin Perez has since said the government has launched an investigation into the incident. 'My first priority is to ensure that safety measures are immediately set in place to ensure this cannot ever happen again,' Perez said in a statement.

The remoteness of the Amazon means that other attacks may have been under-reported, if they were on local vessels.

Other reports have indicated that there are armed pirates operating on the river, who are better equipped than the police and sometimes pose as police to dupe their victims.


The Sir Peter Blake Incident:

Sir Peter Blake was a New Zealander who won the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000. He was killed in December, 2001 by pirates during a holdup aboard 'Seamaster,' his 36-metre yacht, which was anchored off the town of Macapa on the Amazon River.

Sir Peter, who shot first, died at the scene from a gunshot wound by one of a group of pirates who had boarded their yacht as they were enjoying a sundowner in the cockpit.

Federal Police in Macapa later arrested seven men after police launched a manhunt.

Source: sail-world.com / BW Media

CRUISE WEST OFFERS TEMPTING 2009/2010 HOLIDAY VOYAGES

CRUISE WEST OFFERS TEMPTING 2009/2010 HOLIDAY VOYAGES

~Mexico, Panama & Costa Rica, Vietnam and Australia~


Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), one of the world's leading providers of small-ship explorations will offer four holiday itineraries in 2009 and 2010. Sailing into the firecracker lavish spectacle of Sydney's Harbor on New Year's Eve; bidding farewell to 2009 in the wilds of Costa Rica; savoring a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast in Mexico's Sea of Cortes; or satisfying all the senses in Vietnam on Thanksgiving.

Exotic, culturally fascinating and stunning scenery describes the 11-night Vietnam voyage that commences in Hanoi aboard the all-suite Spirit of Oceanus (pic above) on November 21, 2009, and ends in Ho Chi Minh City. Spend the Thanksgiving holiday discovering Hue, the Imperial City on the Perfume River including the Forbidden Purple City and the Imperial Citadel, followed by a traditional thanksgiving feast prepared by the onboard chef. The itinerary will give travelers the chance to explore Vietnam's architecture, art, and ancient shrines in Hoi An; bustling Hanoi; the Gulf of Tonkin; the temples and picturesque fishing boats of Nha Trang; the Cham Museum and a special private performance of traditional martial arts in Qui Nhon; and UNESCO World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay. Prices start at $5,649 on this last chance to explore Vietnam aboard the Oceanus before it departs on the Voyages of the Great Explorers in March 2010.

Sun, sea, sand, wildlife and rich Latin culture are featured on the December 18, 2009 Holiday, and December 27, 2009 New Year's Eve cruises of the nine-night Between Two Seas itinerary traveling between Panama City and San Jose, Costa Rica. Festivities include a special Costa Rican and Panamanian dinner featuring delicious traditional cuisine; and a New Year's Captain's Dinner, followed by "Carnival," a lively evening of music and drinks. The warmth of the people of the Emberá Village is highlighted on December 25 when the guests will deliver gifts to the local children; and on December 31 when they board the ship to perform a special dance presentation. The 100-guest Pacific Explorer offers a casual environment and robust Naturalist program. Additional highlights include Portobelo; traversing the entire Panama Canal; UNESCO World Heritage Site Coiba National Park; Golfo Dulce; Caletas Beach; and Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its prolific wildlife and bird viewing. Prices start at $4,399 ($4199 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).

Serenity-seekers will enjoy the seven-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife cruise, round trip Cabo San Lucas, on board the 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour. The December 19, 2009, Feliz Navidad Holiday sailing will offer a traditional Nochebuena Christmas Eve feast as well as Mexican holiday activities on a lovely remote beach. Or celebrate Feliz Año Nuevo on the December 26, 2009 departure complete with a midnight toast and late night buffet. Port calls include the picturesque seaside village and mission town Loreto; La Paz; and Isla Espiritú Santo, home to several plant and animal species only found on this island. Active guests will enjoy kayaking, snorkeling and nature walks at the serene islands Los Islotes and Isla Partida. Add on a spectacular four-night Copper Canyon post-cruise land tour. Prices start at $2,599 ($2399 when you book and pay in full by September 11, 2009).

Planning ahead, the 17-night Discovering the Maori Coast, traveling from Auckland to Sydney, departing December 15, 2010 – the 24th itinerary of the Voyages of the Great Explorers epic world cruise – offers noteworthy extravaganzas for both Christmas and New Years' Eve. Spend Christmas day in the undisturbed wilderness of Stewart Island, the most southern island of New Zealand, discovering penguins and other marvelous creatures including wekas, kākās, albatross, tokoekas and silvereyes. A dinner feast welcomes guests back onboard the 120-guest Spirit of Oceanus. The ship makes a grand entry into Sydney Harbor on News Year's Eve in time to enjoy the annual celebratory fireworks display. Prices start at $14,395. Save up to 20 percent by booking and paying in full by October 15, 2009.

To book a cruise or for more information about these voyages visit www.cruisewest.com, call 1- 800-296-8307 or a travel professional. All prices are person, based on double occupancy.


~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful. Small-ship exploration cruising allows up-close and personal experiences unmatched by the traditional larger cruise lines. For more than 63 years Cruise West has provided authentic travel experiences where the destination is the focus. Nine small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-138 explore remote and distinctive destinations throughout the globe. A robust onboard enrichment program further enhances the guest experience through topical guest lecturers, additional exploration by Zodiac and included excursions at every port. Cruise West is the recipient of Porthole Magazine 2008 Readers Choice Award for Best Expedition Cruise Line.

Quark Offers Free Air and Iguazu Falls Tour


Book an Antarctic Expedition and Fly Free to Ushuaia

For a limited time, when you book Classic Antarctica aboard Clipper Adventurer on either the January 24, 2010 or February 11, 2010 departure, you fly to Ushuaia for free.

AND

You will receive a bonus tour of Argentina's natural wonder - Iguazu Falls, at no additional cost.

To book call 1.866.961.2961 or +1.203.883.2888

and ask for the Free Air and Iguazu Falls Offer.

Please note: This offer is available for new bookings only; is non-tranferable and cannot be applied to tour dates other than those mentioned. Free air transportation is from your nearest international gateway. You must book your expedition by September 15, 2009. The expedition, free air transportation and tour of Iguazu Falls are subject to availability.

QUARK EXPEDITIONS

47 Water Street, Norwalk, CT, USA, 06854
1.866.961.2961 or 1.203.883.2888

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Amanresorts Debuts 105-Foot Cruiser Amanikan


Custom-Built Phinisi Sailing Vessel Brings Rustic Elegance to the High Seas

Amanresorts has announced the debut of Amanikan, a custom-built 105-foot coastal cruiser that fuses the romance of spice trading vessels with luxurious modern amenities. Based out of Amanwana, a luxury tented hideaway on Moyo Island in Indonesia, Amanikan hosts the 2009 Komodo Expedition, a seven-night adventure through the pristine wilderness and waters of Indonesia's Komodo National Park.

Amanikan, built in the style of traditional Indonesian vessels of wood known as Phinisi, features three above-deck cabins, a foredeck with an outdoor dining and bar area, as well as extensive dive facilities. A large master cabin with king-sized bed sits at the stern of the upper deck and offers sweeping 270 degree views from wraparound windows and a private sun deck. The second spacious double cabin on the main deck features a queen bed and spectacular views from both inside the cabin and a private balcony with built-in daybed. Both air-conditioned cabins feature oversized en-suite bathrooms with double vanities, double wardrobes, showers and separate toilets. A third smaller cabin on the main deck has a semi-private sun deck in front of the wheelhouse and offers a queen-sized bed that can be converted to two single beds. Amanikan's principal lounge is built into the bow and serves as the main gathering spot for sunbathing, drinks, or even a night sleeping under the stars.

The Komodo Expedition highlights a five-night excursion on Amanikan capped by a two-night stay at Amanwana where guests enjoy wall dives from the beach and treks to jungle waterfalls, as well as spa treatments and a range of water- and nature-based activities. During the cruise, guests encounter antediluvian creatures unchanged since prehistoric times on a visit to the only two islands in the world where the infamous Komodo dragon can still be found. The journey cruises through the Nusa Tenggara island chain to some of the world's most biologically diverse and acclaimed snorkel and dive sites.

The Komodo National Park is a World Heritage Site where park rangers escort guests to view Komodo dragons in their natural habitat. Other wildlife on Rinca and Komodo Islands includes buffalo, deer, monkeys and wild horses. From the colorful reefs of Tatawa Island to the seductive setting and colors of Komodo's Pink Beach, Amanikan's island-hopping itinerary takes guests to some of the world's most pristine marine environments.

Rates for the Komodo Expedition start at $22,300 for two in a double cabin/tent and include full crew, all meals and non-alcoholic beverages, two dives per person per day on Amanikan, one dive per person per day at Amanwana and ranger's fees at Komodo National Park.

About Amanwana and Amanresorts

Amanwana is a haven for hikers, divers and naturalists. The resort features 20 air-conditioned hardwood floor tents set in a cove on the western edge of Moyo Island. Nine miles northeast of Sumbawa at the western end of Indonesia's secluded Nusa Tenggara Islands, Moyo's 89 acres are home to a variety of bird and animal life, including deer, wild boar, macaque monkeys, wild ox, sea eagles and osprey. The property is surrounded by tropical rainforest and overlooks Amanwana Bay and the Flores Sea. Facilities include an open-air Dining Room, Bar, Library, Gift Shop and Jungle Cove Massage area.

Amanwana is one of the 23 Amanresorts founded by Adrian Zecha who envisioned a collection of intimate retreats in beautiful surroundings with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private residence. Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand introduced the concept, and since its launch two decades ago, Amanresorts has opened unparalleled resorts in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, French Polynesia, Indonesia, India, Laos, Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, the Turks & Caicos Islands and the USA.

TUI Travel Buys Zegrahm Expeditions

source: Travel Pulse

TUI Travel PLC has acquired adventure cruise and tour company Zegrahm Expeditions and its sister company, Eco-Expeditions, an adventure travel company specializing in small-ship cruises, tours, and safaris to remote areas. No transaction price was announced. TUI Travel, based in Europe, is a company including leading international travel companies operating as independent brands. Some of these specialty brands include Travcoa, The Moorings, TCS Expeditions and Country Walkers. Zegrahm will continue escorted small ship adventures as it has for 20 years. The company’s founders and directors will stay fully engaged in the day-to-day direction and operation of the company. Zegrahm and Eco Expeditions will remain headquartered in Seattle.

Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents. TUI Travel PLC is a leading international leisure travel group which operates in approximately 180 countries worldwide and serves more than 30 million customers in over 25 source markets. For more information, visit www.tuitravelplc.com or www.zeco.com. Pictured: Clipper Adventurer

A Legendary Yacht Arrives In The Galapagos


On the 50th Anniversary of the Galapagos National Park & Darwin’s Bicentennial

Yacht’s History Includes WW II Action, Onassis Ownership & Grace Kelly’s Honeymoon

JULY, 2009 (QUITO, ECUADOR) Quasar Expeditions today announced that the official launch of its much anticipated vintage luxury yacht, M/Y Grace, will takes place this month, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. Not since HMS Beagle sailed into the Galapagos Islands carrying young Charles Darwin in 1835 has a vessel of such historic significance entered the archipelago. Like the Beagle, M/Y Grace was built in Britain, and served in the Royal Navy. But you won’t find hardtack being served aboard Grace. The yacht is selling well despite hard economic times, indicating continued demand for high end value in 16 passenger yachts in the Galapagos National Park, which limits daily visitors by vessel to fewer than 2,000.

The Grace was originally commissioned one year before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, during the Great Gatsby era, and built by Camper & Nicholson in Southampton, England. Monica, as she was originally named, features a stellar past. After serving as the personal yacht of high powered industrialists, including Sir George Tilley, chairman of the Prudential Insurance Co., she was conscripted into the British Navy during WWII. Commissioned as Rion, she took part in Dunkirk, captured a German torpedo E-boat and had an unconfirmed sinking of a U-boat to her credit. Winston Churchill is purported to have cruised the Mediterranean aboard her after the war. In 1951 she was acquired by a company owned by Aristotle Onassis, who renamed her Arion. Onassis gave the yacht as a wedding gift to Prince Rainier III of Monaco and his bride, Hollywood film legend Grace Kelly, who rechristened her Deo Juvante II in time to honeymoon aboard her. Quasar has renamed the yacht Grace to recapture this magical time when she delivered the royal couple to Monaco and took them on their honeymoon, which is documented in a newsreel available on Youtube™.

When Quasar pioneered its small group cruises 23 years ago, the typical visitor simply wanted to have an up-close, in-depth and personal experience of the unique, exotic and friendly Galapagos creatures in their natural habitat. Thankfully that has not changed but the importance of choosing the right yacht to compliment the cruise has, as travelers have sought a better boat with more amenities. While other yachts like Quasar’s Alta and Evolution have made a name for themselves in the Galapagos, Grace is the first vessel to arrive with such impressive credentials. Grace raises the bar higher with its notoriety, spaciousness and service levels. The company plans to promote the yacht through its wholesalers, and direct to the public at www.quasarexpeditions.com and via a new URL www.gracegalapagos.com.

The official launch of the yacht in the Galapagos this month coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Galapagos National Park. 2009 also marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin, whose field work in the islands led to his writing of On the Origin of Species and his theory of evolution.

Monday, 27 July 2009

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Aurora Expeditions Launches New Kimberley Coast Program for 2010


Aurora Expeditions offers travellers the chance to experience Australia's hidden Kimberley Coast with their unrivaled team of experts in 2010.

The three voyages, led by legendary Kimberley expeditioner Mike Cusack of Australian Geographic's first 'wilderness couple' fame, will explore the hidden bays, estuaries and spectacular sandstone gorges of this pristine wilderness. Mike offers a special insight into one of Australia's least visited areas, where his intimate knowledge reveals the secrets of this ancient and forgotten land.

Joining the expedition staff for the 2010 season will be Rosanna Angus, a local Aboriginal guide who has delighted guests with her vibrant personality and abundant knowledge of indigenous history, bush tucker and bush medicine. Rosanna's fresh, insightful approach to interpreting the cultural aspects of the helps to cast a new light on some of the Kimberley's lesser-known treasures.

Aurora will also be joined again by eminent indigenous art historian Garry Darby and the inimitable Chris Done whose years of research as a naturalist bring the wonders of the Kimberley Coast to life.

As with all Aurora cruises, emphasis is placed on a combination of interactive experiences with the environment and a strong educational element. Aurora's onboard team of lecturers and naturalists are Kimberley experts who interpret history, plants and animals from Aboriginal and European perspectives.

Aurora's first two 11-day voyages will travel from Broome to Bigge Island off the Kimberley's north-west coast and back again, and include the Lacede Islands, a prime breeding ground for green turtles and tens of thousands of breeding birds; the tidal pools of Montgomery reef; and the secrets of the Wandjina spirit paintings.

A third 11-day voyage from Broome to Darwin, will explore one end of the Kimberley Coast to the other, crossing Joseph Bonaparte Gulf and visiting the spectacular King George River on the north coast. Passengers will be able to explore the renowned horizontal waterfalls of Montgomery Reef, Prince Regent National Park and the spectacular 90 metre plunge of the King George Falls.

The voyages depart on 31 May 2010; 11 June and 21 June respectively.

Prices start at AU$6,850 per person twin-share, including all meals, Zodiac excursions and lectures by onboard naturalists and experts.

For more details or to obtain a copy of Aurora's new Kimberley Coast 2010 brochure, contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688; visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or email auroraex@auroraexpeditions.com.au

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Sailing Season in the Whitsundays


Australia's aquatic playground is gearing up for its annual 'Sailing Season', where sails and spinnakers dominate the horizon by day, and champagne corks and good times dominate by night.

Nestled in the heart of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast is the Whitsundays. Blessed with great, protected stretches of sparkling azure water dotted with 74 tropical islands, sandy beaches, coral gardens and a mainland coastline full of life, the Whitsundays is the quintessential definition of a 'sailor's paradise'.

The Whitsundays offers the best choice for a sailing or cruising holiday for two simple reasons - the islands provide protection from the elements and each of islands offers an array of secluded anchorages from which to experience the true serenity that only a sailing holiday can bring.

With the largest range of fully catered and crewed or sail yourself holiday options in the Southern Hemisphere, there is a holiday experience to meet everyone's sailing ability.

A must do in any novice or expert sailor's book, the Whitsundays is suitable for sailing year round. But if the locals are anything to go by, it seems August through October is the peak time for sailing, as multiple racing events dawn on the Whitsundays.

Volunteer as crew, jump on a spectator boat, or just enjoy the atmosphere as Meridien Marina's Airlie Beach Race Week kicks off the racing (13th – 20th August 2009), closely followed by the region's premier event, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (21st – 29th August 2009) showcasing some of Australia's finest racing yachts.

Airlie Beach again takes over as host to the Multihull Solutions Multihull Rendezvous (29th August – 4th September) and then the celebrations culminate with the Great Whitsunday Fun Race (12th September) also held off Airlie Beach.

The Whitsundays sailing and racing showcase is a must for any would-be or experienced sailor or party animal with a range of options for joining racing crews, spectating on water or land, or just attending the social events, The racing also coincides with whale season, so the spectating could really get exciting!

Humpback Whales making their annual migration up the Queensland Coast stop off in the Whitsundays to give birth to their calves between May to September. Those out on the water, the islands, or even just sitting in a café by the beach are regularly indulged by excited young calves and their mothers breaching out of the water, playing around boats and with each other, and majestically gliding through the waters of the Whitsundays.

Each of the sailing regattas have varied, rich histories, so the days are sure to be full of entertainment, competition and fun in the Whitsundays throughout Sailing Season.

For more information on sailing holidays to the Whitsundays, go to www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au For more information on the various sailing regattas, go to:

Meridien Marina's Airlie Beach Race Week – www.airliebeachraceweek.com.au Audi Hamilton Island Race Week – www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au Multihull Solutions Multihull Rendezvous – www.apyc.yachting.org.au Great Whitsunday Fun Race – www.whitsundaysailingclub.com.au/content/fun-race


The Whitsundays region consists of 74 islands located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland mainland from Bowen in the north, to Laguna Quays in the south, and inland to Proserpine.

By air the region is 1.5hrs from Cairns or Brisbane and 2 hours from Sydney. Visitors can enjoy a diverse range of activities including water sports, bushwalking and golf.

A range of accommodation from budget backpacker, to B&Bs, through to luxury resorts exists for visitors to the destination, as well as the largest range of fully catered and crewed or sail yourself holiday options in the Southern Hemisphere.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

One giant leap - on the ice

by John Honeywell, Captain Greybeard

source: mirror.co.uk

explorer.jpg
Not many people can claim they flew to the Moon with Neil Armstrong. Just two, in fact - Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. And only one of those got dust on his boots.

But intrepid cruise passengers now have the opportunity to sail to Antarctica with Armstrong on board Lindblad Expeditions' vessel, the National Geographic Explorer

The three-week voyage leaves Santiago, Chile, and after five days on the White Continent, also calls at South Georgia and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands before returning to Ushuaia in Argentina.

The journey, which was announced as Armstrong celebrated the 40th anniversary of his moon landing, will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Treaty. Cruise-only fares are from $18,450 for a porthole cabin to $34,270 for a balcony suite.

Lindblad says passengers who sign up for the trip will have the unusual opportunity of spending time with Armstrong as they are "following in the footsteps of heroic Antarctic explorers and reflecting on the future of exploration."

They will also be on hand to record his first words as he sets foot on the Antarctic ice for the first time - something about "one giant leap for a penguin," perhaps.

The Explorer, an ice-strengthened expedition ship, carries 148 passengers in 81 outside cabins, and is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft and a flotilla of kayaks.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

‘2 for the price of 1’ in Greenland



MYPLANET is now offering a ‘two for the price of one’ deal on its Disko Bay Greenland cruises, departing until September 2009 and visiting the amazing fjords of West Greenland.

The nine-day voyage aboard the MS Fram is now priced from $7120 for two people, including all meals, return flights from Copenhagen to Greenland, two optional shore excursions and more.

Highlights of the trip include walking through Inuit towns and visiting UNESCO World Heritage-listed Illulissat. The deal is valid until sold out.

According to MyPlanet managing director Glenyce Johnson, “the cruise gives you a unique experience to see the largest, and one of the most pristine, islands in the world; a land of awe-inspiring fjords, lush green valleys, rugged mountains, massive glaciers and icebergs the size of cathedrals.“

Info at www.myplanetaustralia.com.au.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Don’t Cry Me a River

I’m ashamed of myself; I’ve been an adventure cruise snob thinking that an adventure or expedition voyage had to be at least coastal or even oceanic in nature to qualify. I was wrong and now I’m admitting it.

I had this idea that river cruising was some cushy lark for timid softies with delicate tummies and an inhibited sense of adventure. Well, several recent river cruises have helped me dispel those prejudices and I’m finding myself developing a liking for the inland variety.

First it was Cruise West on USA’s Columbia River, then Pandaw on the Rajang of Sarawak and now I’m signed up for the Brahmaputra in India with Active Travel. Yes, I had to look it up.

Oceanic Discoverer on the Sepik
I really should not have been so surprised because two years ago, I was with Coral Princess when they made one of their initial explorations of the Sepik. This river is one of the largest in PNG and twists and turns for over 1100 kilometres into the wild backcountry inland from the northern coast. It was here that I had one of my most other worldly expedition experiences when the women of Tambanum worked themselves into a black magic frenzy, yelping and flailing around like possessed banshees. The men knew their place, meekly banging their drums and chanting back-ups, careful not to get a beat out of place. These girls were way out there!

Although I’ve never been on the Amazon proper, I did venture up one of the lesser known tributaries, the Rio Negro, into eastern Ecuador, on the other side of the Andes. Our jungle hideout, Sacha Lodge, was secreted deep in the tidal floodplain and completely at the mercy of tiny marauding primates like marmosets and squirrel monkeys. Giant prehistoric birds called Hoatzins would lurk about while Toucans kept their distance and called loudly from the canopy. You could even fish for piranha off the veranda.

While aboard RV Orient Pandaw, I did get a run down from Australian rep, John Boyd, about future plans for the SE Asian river specialists. Well known for their signature voyages along the Mekong from Saigon to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, they’ve also been busy on the Chindwin and Irrawaddy in Burma since 1995 and are soon to embark on the Ganges and Hugli rivers in India starting this September. The other stuff is secret, but look out for exciting new itineraries from this go-ahead line.


Here in Australia, Captain Cook’s Murray River itineraries are a popular, evergreen product, while some of the more locally-focussed Kimberley operators like North Star or Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises spend time upriver on the Roe, Prince Regent or Hunter chasing Barramundi and ancient Gwion Gwion rock art. Then there’s the Volga in Russia, the Danube Delta in Romania, the Dnieper in the Ukraine and the Nile and Congo in Africa. Yes, they all have cruises.

So don’t think that expedition cruising has to mean icebergs, penguins or polar bears. Nor does it have to involve crossing seas in search of remote islands, some of the world’s great inland waterways hold great adventure possibilities.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Cruise Passenger Subscription

CRUISES.COM.AU Launch Special

To celebrate the launch of Cruises.com.au we are offering subscribers 50% OFF the normal subscription price. Take advantage of this offer and subscribe now for only $19.95.

Cruise Passenger is Australasia's Number One cruise publication, providing the latest cruise news and definitive ship reviews. With its exhaustive coverage of ships, ports and destinations, Cruise Passenger magazine provides you with everything you need to make an informed decision about your next ocean voyage, expedition cruise or river journey.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Pandaw Cruises: Rajang River Rapids


This was the hairy bit. River level was down, rocks poking out everywhere, but the local skipper just kept the boot in and a huge 1000hp twin turbo MTU marine diesel just screamed. The boats are easily 30m long, so they're not dinghies. The guy hanging on for all crap in front of me is a retired Rear Admiral!

This is a typical vessel, built on an old Soviet design and common on the Mekong too.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Cruise Weekly: An empire experience along Borneo's Rajang River

A neatly arranged set of wicker chairs under a sprawling awning on the top deck is peopled by a selection of the Empire's finest citizens. Urbane conversation on the arts, literature and geography can be heard above the clink of ice in glasses of gin and tonic.

A timeless vessel
This scene could be either one of the original 1920s Irrawaddy Flotilla Company vessels making its leisurely way up the Mekong through Burma or indeed our own vessel, the brand new RV Orient Pandaw, here on a ground-breaking 10-night itinerary on Borneo's Rajang River, the longest in Malaysia.

Such is the authenticity of this vessel, she was built according to original blueprints obtained by fastidious fleet owner and patriotic Scotsman, Paul Strachan. After restoring an original Clyde-built vessel, the Pandaw, Strachan went on to build a further six faithful replicas, all finished in copious teak and brass and dripping in colonial history.

The Rajang River
Today the Rajang is a busy commercial waterway around the Chinese-founded port city of Sibu. Shipbuilding, timber and various marine commerce dominate the lower reaches, while upstream is wild Dayak territory, populated by an assortment of indigenous ethnic groups, the largest being the fabled Iban headhunters. The tradition of the longhouse is maintained, but the signature buildings are now mainly ironroofed structures resembling vast barracks.

The itinerary
This itinerary is best described as a work-in-progress, but the excitement of seeking out new destinations is irresistible and hordes of curious, waving locals line the riverbank as we motor serenely past. Children cautiously cling to their mothers before managing a delicate wave in response to our own greetings.

Onboard living
Onboard living is an unrepentant throwback to the glory days of Empire, when England was the world. Doting Burmese staff tend to your every whim with such reverence, it's almost comical, but their sincerity is genuine and heartfelt.

Meals are served in a bright, airy dining room, ventilated by enormous picture windows that open out across the expanse of river. Gentle breezes waft through the room making air-conditioning both intrusive and redundant.

Lemongrass-scented baked fish fillet, ginger roast duck or Cambodian dried beef with black pepper emerge from the kitchen along with chicken, steak or ostrich fillet to be crowned with local sweets such a onde-onde, a rice flour, palm sugar and coconut delicacy.

Coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer and local spirits are included. Wines are typically US$25 per bottle and US$8 per glass.

There is also a library and video theatre with wi-fi connection on the top deck.

Passengers and excursions
Passengers are certainly of a more refined ilk and few cite experiences aboard traditional large cruise ships. Repeat expeditioners and Pandaw frequent cruisers are in the main with retired, but active couples filling most places. Our contingent is Australians, British, a few Americans and a Swiss couple.

Shore excursions are mainly village visits and naturalist treks, but those wanting more intimate wildlife encounters can book optional pre- and post-tours from the website. The vessel is currently without its own tenders, which places undue reliance on local operators to ferry passengers on excursions, but two ten-passenger tenders are planned.


Read more at Yahoo!'s Adventure Cruising section.


For further information on this Pandaw river cruise, visit:
www.pandaw.com

Fly to Borneo with Malaysian Airlines:
www.malaysiaairlines.com

For further information about visiting Sarawak:
www.sarawaktourism.com

Monday, 13 July 2009

Hurtigruten sees Antarctic sales soar thanks to TV programme

source: www.travelweekly.co.uk

Hurtigruten is urging agents to capitalise on increased interest in its Antarctic tours which has been driven by the popularity of a TV programme.

Sales and marketing director Kathryn Beadle said the cruise operator's 30% increase in call volumes for its Antarctic cruises programmes had been fuelled by BBC 2's On Thin Ice, which sees former Olympic rower James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle train and compete in the Amundsen Omega 3 South Pole Race.

Beadle said: "In our experience, programmes like this always spark an increase in interest to the destination.

"Obviously, passengers on our voyages will not be subjected to the expedition conditions these celebrities undertook, but it still helps to showcase the destination and plants seeds in the minds of potential customers who may have a desire to head to the end of the world.

"We want agents to ride on the back of this show and we've put a new offer in place to assist."

She added the cruise operator is offering agents discounts on trips booked before August 31.

The cruise operator is also aiming to take advantage of the 100th anniversary of the return of explorer Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition to the South Pole, which lasted from 1907 to 1909. Shackleton's team reached within 100 miles of the South Pole, the furthest south humans had ever ventured.

The two offers include savings of £670 on the nine-day Antarctic Discovery cruise, which now leads in at £2,681 per person, while a saving of £822 means Shackleton's Antarctica tour also leads in at £3,529 although both packages exclude international flights.

Picture courtesy of the BBC

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Aurora Expeditions Appoints New CEO


Adventure Travel Company, Aurora Expeditions, has announced the appointment of Lisa Bolton as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

The appointment follows the retirement of founder, Greg Mortimer, who sold the business at the end of last year.

Mortimer, the first Australian to climb Mount Everest and a veteran of more than 100 voyages to Antarctica, will continue to lead expeditions for the company.

“I look forward to continuing the legacy that Greg Mortimer created, pushing the boundaries of adventure and expeditionary travel and making it possible for travellers to experience the wildest and remotest corners of the planet,” said Bolton.

“It is a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of one of the pioneers of expedition travel, and I am pleased to be involved in the next development stage of one of Australia’s most successful adventure companies,” she said.

Bolton previously held roles with Carnival Australia (P&O Cruises) and Qantas Airways.

Aurora Expeditions is an Australian adventure company specialising in small group expedition-style travel to Polar Regions and other wild and remote places such as The Russian Far East, Papua New Guinea and The Kimberley Coast. 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 founders, Greg Mortimer and Margaret Werner are veterans of almost three decades of Antarctic research, private Antarctic mountaineering expeditions and polar travel. For more information about Aurora visit http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au/

Monday, 6 July 2009

Orion OPERA UNDER THE STARS® Kimberley voyage 2009


Opera With The Stars Under The Stars

A grand night of operatic proportions awaits guests from the five star expedition cruise ship Orion at the conclusion of its Kimberley Expedition voyage in late August 2009.

Having absorbed the visual drama of the spectacular Kimberley coast with its vast tidal changes, emerging reefs, swirling waters, dramatic waterfalls and prolific marine life, Orion’s guests will be invited to enjoy Broome’s iconic OPERA UNDER THE STARS®, a highlight of Broome's cultural events calendar.

Overlooking Cable Beach, famed for its fiery sunsets, this ‘one night only’ evening provides a delightful contrast of informality countered by uplifting voices of opera singers who have received critical acclaim for performances both at home and overseas.

The musical programme includes the sublime aria “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s Norma, excerpts from Carmen by Bizet as well as duets by Verdi and Delibes.

Be it an impromptu glass of champagne on some remote sand bar, a seafood beach barbeque or an invitation to the opera, these are typical unexpected experiences Orion strives to provide guests on all Orion voyages.

Special offer – save 15% on these prices

10 nights Kimberley Expedition OPERA UNDER THE STARS® voyage

21 August 2009 Darwin/Broome departure only.

Fares begin from $8,790 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom.

Suites begin from $12,125 per person for a Junior Suite and Owners Suites with French Balcony are $18,410 per person

Expedition fares are per person twin occupancy include accommodation, all meals, landings and selected activities ashore plus invitation to OPERA UNDER THE STARS® in Broome on Saturday 29th August.

Limited availability.

Further information on Orion Expedition Cruises can be obtained by visiting the website www.orionexpeditions.com

For reservations or to obtain a brochure 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

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Arctic Cruising



Been South? Then, the Arctic is a perfect complement to any southerly expedition and can be as simple as a cruise to Iceland or Greenland or as heroic as a nuclear icebreaker to the North Pole itself.

Generally speaking, there is more of the Arctic accessible to cruising than the Antarctic and, for better or worse, much less regulation.

Any student of geography will know the northern polar icecap is not the huge, deep frozen landmass of its southerly equivalent. The entire Arctic Ocean is the world’s largest slushy, varying in size depending on the season.

The rim of this ocean is the entire northern coast of Russia, the melee of islands and waterways of northern Canada, and the uppermost reaches of Scandinavia. All of this, yes all, hosts ocean cruises of one sort or another.

50 Years of Victory en route
to the North Pole
Without doubt, the Holy Grail for polar adventurers are the Poles themselves. If money were no object, you could do both and still have change from US$50k. The North Pole can also be accessed by aircraft, but the signature product of Quark Expeditions is the mighty 50 Years of Victory, a 25,000 tonne, 75,000 horsepower nuclear icebreaker. The journey takes place each July and is 16 days Murmansk to Murmansk.

The other iconic journey, and a regular sellout, is the Northwest Passage from Alaska to Resolute, a regular journey that was impossible until late last century.

Recent scientific reports about retreating glaciers and the thinning ice pack have created some urgency for visitors to this region as they attempt to see the great polar bear in its diminishing natural environment.

Most specialised polar bear cruises take place around the islands of Svalbard, the largest of which is Spitsbergen, just 600 miles from the North Pole itself. Much history also surrounds these islands, being the launching point for many polar expeditions such as the famous airship flights of the 1920s.

Cruise ships in these waters vary enormously. From the 85,000 tonne, 2000 passenger Costa Atlantica to the minnow of the fleet, the M/S Stockholm (pictured) which carries just 12, passengers with all expectations are catered for.

Just like Antarctica, access is only during the brief summer window and most cruises take place between June and September, with July and August the preferred time.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Cruise Lines to Sue Alaska over Tax

Source: Travel Pulse

More than two years after Alaskan voters narrowly approved a measure that would levy a variety of taxes on the cruise industry, including a $50-per-passenger head tax, the cruise industry has adopted a much tougher stance to counter the move. A number of lines have dropped cruises and pulled out ships from the Alaskan market over the past few months. During a press conference yesterday onboard the new Seabourn Odyssey in Venice, Carnival Corp. Chairman Micky Arison (pictured) said his company and the rest of the cruise industry intended to pursue a legal remedy to reverse the head tax. He said Carnival and other lines had actively lobbied against the head tax but had not succeeded in getting Alaskan legislators to eliminate it, so he would soon turn to the courts.

Calling the head tax illegal and unconstitutional, Arison said it was not in the interests of Alaska or its neighbors, citing the harm done to such ports as Vancouver and Seattle. He also said that cruise lines had gotten nowhere with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “Sarah Palin should stop running for president and focus on Alaskan issues,” Arison said. The head tax proposal was originally championed by activists who felt the cruise industry did not pay enough in taxes to Alaska for environmental protection, emergency services and waterfront infrastructure.

Pearl of a deal for Kimberley cruises

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises is offering a $500 gift voucher per person at pearl specialist Linneys in Broome as well as a 15 percent discount on 2009 and 2010 Kimberley coast cruises.

This discount price on the seven-day cruises between Broome and Mitchell Plateau is from A$7093 a person (normally $8,345), from $10,280 (normally from $12,095) for the 13-day Broome-Wyndham cruises and from $4250 (normally from $5000) for the five-day Broome-Broome cruises.

Prices include a light aircraft and helicopter flight between Broome and the Mitchell Plateau (on 7-day cruises), private cabin with ensuite bathroom, full use of the vessel, guided land and water excursions and all chef-prepared meals served on the shady stern deck or in the air-conditioned lounge.

Rates for 2010 are the same as 2009.

Cruises operate during March to October.

Cruising is on board the 25-metre Kimberley Quest II, equipped with a spa on the deck and helipad for scenic flights.

The Kimberley Quest II has only nine double cabins, with a choice of four styles.

Cruise highlights are the Horizontal Waterfalls, the spectacular islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, King Cascades, Montgomery Reef and the King George Falls, guided scenic tender rides gorges, a myriad of inlets, estuaries and unnamed creek systems, ancient art sites and colonial settlement ruins.

Email cruise@kimberleyquest.com.au or see www.kimberleyquest.com.au

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Top 5 reasons why you both should experience magical Greenland cruise this season


MyPlanet has introduced a '2 passengers for the price of 1' offer on their Disco Bay Greenland Cruise. The tour takes you into the very heart of the magnificent wilderness cruising through the enormous fjord systems of West Greenland visiting the small communities that call this natural wonderland home. MyPlanet's Managing Director Glenyce Johnson gives Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Travelling to Greenland this season.

1. "The special "2 passengers for the price of 1" is now valid until sold out and you also receive two optional shore excursions free."

2."The Cruise gives you a unique experience to see the largest, and one of the most pristine, islands in the world; a land of awe inspiring fjords, lush green valleys, rugged mountains, massive glaciers and icebergs the size of cathedrals. "

3. "Greenland is loaded with wildlife – polar bears, seals, walrus, reindeer, musk oxen; a destination where nature has gone wild to create a land of incredible beauty."

4." You will walk through Inuit towns and flower covered hills, look to the skies filled with migrating birds - this is western Greenland at its best. Pause on a hike in Greenland and enjoy the sound of silence."

5. "You will visit the town of Ilulissat (literally meaning iceberg in Greenlandic). Icebergs are on its doorstep, running aground at the entrance of the fjord. This ice fjord, home to the Inuit people for over 3000 years, was UNESCO World Heritage listed in 2004."

MyPlanet's nine day Disko Bay Cruise on board MS Fram is priced from $7,120 for two people, twin share in an I2 cabin grade. The package includes all meals and return flights from Copenhagen to Greenland. Cruise departures between June and September 2009.

For bookings and more information please call MyPlanet 1800 221 712 or email: enquiry@myplanetaustralia.com or visit www.myplanetaustralia.com.au

MyPlanet Australia, the leading travel company for Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic's have an extensive cruise and tour program for 2009-2010 seasons. The program is a smorgasbord of independent and escorted tours and cruises, activity tours and sightseeing for the region all year round. Tour programs also feature Finland, Iceland, Ukraine and as a new destination, Poland. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd operates as a retail arm for MyBentours; a wholesaler and cruise specialist for the Australian and New Zealand travel industry. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd (trading as MyBentours and MyPlanet) is the Preferred Sales Agent (PSA) for Hurtigruten Group, and General Sales Agent (GSA) for Icelandair and Gota Canal in Australia and New Zealand. MyPlanet is part of TUI Travel PLC.