Thursday, 17 December 2009

Abercrombie & Kent Introduces World's Finest Expedition Ship and Celebrates 20 years in Antarctica


For those dreaming of genuine adventure, Antarctica has long been considered the last frontier. This pristine landscape of mountains and glaciers remains largely untouched by civilisation, however this once-remote destination has moved to the top of many travellers’ places to go next list. A&K has been taking travellers to Antarctica for over 20 years and is the expert in providing unforgettable travel experiences for its discerning guests.

A&K has chartered the spacious new MV ‘Le Boreal’ for the 2010/2011 Antarctic season. An all-balcony expedition ship, MV ‘Le Boreal’ carries just 199 guests into Antarctic waters and features innovative state-of-the-art marine technology and the cleanest environmental credentials. A fleet of Zodiacs allows passengers to explore remote shores accompanied by a team of the finest Lecturer/Guides whose knowledge and experience transform this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Captain Cook's Reef Escape aground after cyclone - all safe

Captain Cook Cruises’ Reef Escape sustained some damage after the vessel stuck a reef during the cyclone.

Reef Escape was subjected to an unexpected severe change in weather conditions during Cyclone Mick on Mon, which led the Master to beach the vessel in the interest of safety forthe ship, passengers and crew.

The cruise line says all pax are safe and uninjured and being offered necessary support.

Source: Travel Daily


Cruise West Reveals the Beauty of the Pacific Northwest in 2010

Scenic Wilderness, Quaint Artists Colonies and Bustling Cities

Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, announces 2010 departures of the popular and diverse Pacific Northwest Coastal Escape itinerary.  The voyage highlights the picturesque waterways of the San Juan and Gulf Islands, charming Victoria, bustling Vancouver, B.C., and more.  Rare beauty of temperate rainforests and solitude of the islands, combined with enlivening zodiac excursions and port calls to quaint seaports top off a perfect week of exploration.

The seven-night Pacific Northwest Coastal Escape cruise, with departure dates of April 25, May 2, September 11, 18 and 25, 2010, will sail on the nimble 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour.  Cruising round trip from Seattle, ports of call will include:  Nanaimo, which began as a trading post in the early 1800s; Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park, accessible only by small ship and considered one of the most beautiful cruising destinations in British Columbia; Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island; and historic Port Townsend known for its Victorian architecture.  Guests will also experience the local flavor of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island; and the art galleries and lively public market at Granville Island in Vancouver.

Guests are offered a variety of adventures, such as walking the meandering pathways at renowned Butchart Gardens; exploring the majestic Puget Sound in search of wildlife and sea life; visiting Vancouver's 1,000 acre Stanley Park known for its old growth forest; and optional excursions including kayaking and High Tea at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Guests will also enjoy cruising the archipelago of the San Juan Islands that boasts three resident pods of orca whales roaming the area.

Cruise West delivers a memorable travel experience where genuine encounters with nature and the local people enlighten and enrich.  Engaging topical and thought-provoking presentations from experienced Exploration Leaders covering topics such as Marine wildlife, local industry, native culture, history and more, complete this awe inspiring adventure.

Prices for the Pacific Northwest Coastal Escape begin at $2,999 per person.  Book and pay in full for a September departure by January 15, 2010, and save up to $300 per person.  For further details on Cruise West's itineraries, visit www.CruiseWest.com, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Exploration~

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful.  Small-ship explorations allow up-close, casual 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. 

Thursday, 10 December 2009

New Zealand fears tourism disaster in Antarctica

New rules are needed for tourist ships visiting Antarctica to prevent a disaster in the world's most isolated region, according to New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

"I am greatly concerned that unless we take action, there will be a serious maritime casualty involving a tourist vessel in Antarctica, and we will be faced with a humanitarian and environmental disaster," McCully said.

A three-day meeting started in Wellington Wednesday of about 80 experts from the 47 Antarctic Treaty countries, aimed at drawing up new regulations for tourist ships visiting Antarctica.

McCully told the meeting that four tourist ships had run aground in the past three years, and 154 people had to be rescued by a nearby vessel after the Canadian-owned Explorer sank after hitting an iceberg in 2007.

"We were lucky. No one was lost in that incident, but the fact that there have not been more serious consequences owes more to good luck than good management," he said in a speech.

"Clearly, we are on borrowed time."

The number of annual visitors in tourist ships has quadrupled to around 46,000 over the last 15 years, and there are concerns some of the ships are not suitable for the extreme conditions.

The meeting is expected to come up with recommendations on the types of ships that can be used in Antarctic waters, and whether they should be required to sail with another ship nearby for safety's sake.

Other recommendations will be aimed at ensuring the Antarctic environment remains pristine, including whether to ban the use of heavy fuel oil, which if leaked could have a devastating impact on wildlife.

The experts' recommendations will go to a meeting of Antarctic Treaty members in Uruguay in May next year.

Source AAP

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Orion’s triple success in the 2009 Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards


Building on its reputation as the premier expedition cruise product in Australasia Orion has received three prestigious Cruise Passenger magazine Readers' Choice Awards, announced at a ceremony at the Observatory Hotel in Sydney.

Orion was awarded top billing as

* BEST SMALL SHIP
* BEST CUISINE
* BEST ADVENTURE CRUISE SHIP

Commenting on the awards, Sarina Bratton, Founder and Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises, praised the enthusiasm, hard work and consistent attention to detail provided across all facets of the Orion operation, with particular attention to Orion's 75 onboard crew as being key factors in the success.

"The Best Small Ship award was up against other well known vessels under 500 passengers, so it was credit to us that we were successful (again) in this category.

In my opinion, the award that showcases how highly our guests regard our onboard product is the Cuisine Award. We are competing with all of the big ships and whilst they have 10s of thousands of past guests voting for their favourite ship and specific product areas, clearly our guests feel passionate about their culinary experiences onboard Orion and vote accordingly.

Congratulations to everyone onboard Orion for your continuing commitment to excellence. And congratulations to all those ashore for providing service levels commensurate to that enjoyed onboard our wonderful little ship Orion.

It's fantastic to see Orion up there for the fifth year running as winner of the Best Small Ship and Best Adventure Cruise Ship categories – a true testament to our consistency and appeal among Australasian cruisers."

Sarina commented that the Awards results reflected consumer endorsement of niche (100 guest) expedition cruising in combination with true 5 star standards of service and luxury, citing strong forward bookings as evidence of the successful establishment of Orion in Australia and the impetus to commit to a second specialist expedition ship, Orion II, due to enter operation with Orion Expedition Cruises in April 2011.

Also pleased with the results was Serge Dansereau (The Bathers' Pavilion), who is responsible for the planning of Orion's dinner menus. Serge was happy to hear the news that once again Orion's cuisine had been rated so highly and pointed to the high standards maintained by Executive Chef Lothar Greiner and his team onboard.

ABOUT ORION

Orion is Australia's only 5 star purpose-built 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 of any ship based in Australian waters.

It is, however, Orion's luxurious accommodation and facilities that distinguish it from other expedition ships in Australian waters. All 53 staterooms and suites are exterior with ocean views and include a sitting area or living room, Internet access, flat screen TV, DVD and CD player, private marble bathroom and choice of twin beds or queen-size bed.

The Five-star amenities include a spa, sauna, masseuse, hairdresser, boutique, several lounges and a well stocked library equipped with Internet access.

The dinner menu is created by Sydney's renowned chef Serge Dansereau (of The Bathers' Pavilion fame). The extensive wine list includes well known and boutique Australian and New Zealand wines.

Purpose built for the adventurous. As elegant and comfortable as Orion is, it never loses sight of its purpose as an expedition ship. There are ten, heavy-duty, Zodiac inflatable motorized boats for shore landings and a well equipped fishing boat.

The permanent onboard Expedition Team is supplemented by specialist guest lecturers and presenters selected for their areas of expertise according to the various itineraries and destinations.

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@orionexpeditions.com

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cruise Weekly - 8 Dec 09 - Australia's favourite cruise region



Cruise Weekly: Aussies Vote for Local Adventure Cruising



In an eye-opening poll, Australian cruise fans have voted for our own Kimberley as their Best Cruise Region. This remarkable turnaround may be a result of the dreaded GFC or just a growing awareness of our own enviable natural assets, but the result has dethroned the mighty Mediterranean from its once unassailable top spot.

Cruise Passenger Magazine, Australasia’s pre-eminent consumer print magazine for the cruise industry, surveyed readers as part of its annual Readers Awards.

While the Mediterranean is still close to our hearts, the Kimberley is clearly gaining a very special place in our travelling psyche.

“The Kimberley is such a beautiful area. We loved the cliffs, the changing scenery, the Aboriginal art, the waterfalls and the solitude. Every day there was something different to do.” Adrian Lutton, of Gordon, NSW, who cruised the Kimberley with his wife, Jill.

In the categories of Best Small Ship and Best Adventure Cruise Ship, there was little surprise to find Sarina Bratton’s beloved Orion leading the charge. However in the category of Best Ship Cuisine, Orion’s Serge Dansereau’s menu came up trumps, toppling the fancier international runners.

“Orion offers fabulous destinations accompanied by expert guides who ensure each experience is an adventure. We found Orion to be really well organised and it definitely visited remote places,” said Robyn Jacobs of Killarney Heights, NSW, who cruised to Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with her husband, Greg, in April 2009.

Looking for more surprises, it was refreshing to see tiny Kimberley specialist, True North, snapping at Orion’s heels in all three categories. When you consider True North carries only one third as many passengers as Orion, client satisfaction is clearly overwhelming. Having travelled on both vessels, it’s easy to see how either can develop strong loyalties with past travellers. I’d say the message to frequent cruisers of each is to check the other vessel out.

Third place in Best Adventure Cruise Ship was another favourite of mine, Oceanic Discoverer, operated by Cairns-based adventure pioneers, Coral Princess Cruises. Carrying 72 passengers to the Kimberley, NZ, PNG and Melanesia, Oceanic Discoverer should be on your list too.

Clearly the Kimberley is racing up the charts in our favourites. With media attention from the movie ‘Australia’ and the worrying oil and gas projects planned along the coast, the Kimberley has enjoyed a press deluge these last twelve months. But let’s not sit by idly congratulating ourselves, the Kimberley needs our help.

"We are watching politics dictate the terms and conditions of our homelands… places where we've always had a sense of connection and belonging. We are now being told that this homeland, this country is now going to be used for industrial development," said Aboriginal spokesperson for the Save The Kimberley organisation, Albert Wiggan.

Visit the Kimberley, soak up the ancient landscapes and all that it delivers, but remember, we are the custodians of this special place. We decide what happens there and if it is still around for future generations.

Please visit: www.savethekimberley.com

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Team hunts for Mawson's historic plane


A heavy duty metal detector is being brought into Antarctica to scan for a plane used by Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

He took the flying machine to Antarctica in 1911 and the Mawson's Huts Foundation wants to find it.

The search for Sir Douglas' plane has captured the imagination of Tony Stewart, who is leading the team of expeditioners who will spend this summer down at Commonwealth Bay.

Full Story

True North Adventure Update - Savings


SAVE 20% On All West Coast Explorer Cabins!

The 2010 West Australian cruise season is just around the corner and North Star Cruises is offering 20% off all cabins on the season opener – the West Coast Explorer! The offer can also be combined with our generous Previous Guest Bonus which means a saving of over $7500 when travelling in an Explorer Class cabin

The West Coast Explorer itinerary includes the history drenched Abrolhos Islands where guests snorkel on the wreck of the Batavia and explore the remnants of Wiebbe Hayes’ rudimentary fort – a sandstone wall against the ravages of blood-thirsty mutineers! Shark Bay is a huge marine ‘play-ground’ and there are always magical encounters with turtles, dolphin and dugong. Ningaloo Reef showcases clouds of colourful fish and the Monte Bello Islands are simply fishing paradise.

Our 2010 departure also features astronomer Greg Quicke

See http://www.northstarcruises.com.au/documents/2010CruiseHighlights_001.pdf for more information.

Don’t Miss Out On A Kimberley Waterfall Season Cabin

Each year the True North sails along the Kimberley coast in time to see the end of the spectacular monsoon! Towering waterfalls are at their thundering best, ravenous barramundi patrol swollen billabongs and the outback is never as lush! Our Australian crew introduces all from the comfort of the True North’s air-conditioned helicopter or one of the ship’s multiple expedition boats (not zodiacs!)

And there has never been a better time to see the Kimberley

Guest booking the first cruise of the year will be offered our 10% Shoulder Season Discount and, guests taking advantage of our Early Bird Discount can also save 10%!

And don’t forget – previous guests can combine their Previous Guest Bonus with either of the above discounts which means a saving of over $9000 when travelling in an Explorer Class cabin!

See http://www.northstarcruises.com.au/sailingSchedules10.asp for sailing dates

2010 One Week Kimberley Cruises Now Commence/Conclude In Broome

If you’re a bit pressed for time or, if you have already done the one week Kimberley Wilderness Cruise and, you’ve always wanted to do the ‘other half’ - here’s some more great news.

North Star’s hugely popular one week Kimberley cruise is bound to be even more popular in 2010. Guests embarking in the Hunter River will now fly to the ship from Broome and, guests disembarking in the Hunter will be returned to Broome - making sure the ‘Tourist Mecca’ is always part of our one week itinerary!

See http://www.northstarcruises.com.au/sailingSchedules10.asp for sailing dates

Friday, 4 December 2009

Orion II Inaugural Voyage Over-Subscribed!

The future Orion II, seen here in her current livery as Clelia II
News of Orion II, announced to the travel industry and media last Thursday 26th November by Sarina Bratton, Founder and Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises, has received instant support, with expressions of interest to join the inaugural voyage already exceeding the ship's capacity.

In a communication sent to Orion's pathways past passengers celebrating the announcement of the second ship, Sarina released plans for the inaugural voyage and invited guests to join the 24 night expedition from Vancouver to Kushiro, Japan, taking in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula and Kuril Islands to Japan. As Sarina put it "in typical Orion style, very much a path less travelled".

With pricing not yet finalised, pathways guests were offered the chance to place a fully refundable deposit to secure accommodation for the one-off voyage. The response was immediate and overwhelming, with expressions of interest exceeding the ship's capacity (50 suites and staterooms) within 24 hours, and a waitlist has been established.

"This support validates how highly our guests regard the Orion product, experience and family", said Sarina, "and the announcement of Orion II has already created interest from the global charter market with three separate requests already received. We are off to a flying start!"

Sarina confirmed company policy that past passengers who booked through a travel agent for a previous Orion voyage will have their agent's commission credited to the applicable travel agent.

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

About Clelia II / Orion II

Originally launched in late 1990 as Renaissance Four and re-launched in 2009 after extensive technical refurbishment, redecoration and other improvements, the all-suite Clelia II offers fine small-ship cruise travel. In May 2011, the ship will be renamed Orion II.
This private yacht-like cruise ship accommodates only 100 guests in 50 suites, each of which affords ocean views, measuring 215 to 285 square feet, and appointed with a sitting area or separate living room, twin or queen-size beds, spacious closets, and air conditioning.

• Satellite TV, DVD/CD player
• Telephone
• Mini-refrigerator
• Marble-appointed en-suite

BESPOKE SMALL-SHIP AMENITIES

Decorated with rich fabrics, handsome wood, polished brass, rare antiquities and fine works of art, the ship's public spaces are warm and inviting. These include:
• Library with Internet access
• 2 Lounges with audiovisual facilities
• State-of-the-art gym/spa
• Beauty salon
• Boutique
• Hospital
• Elevator serving all passenger decks
• Dining room
• Two sun decks
• Jacuzzi
• Swimming platform


Clelia II complies with the latest international and U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations and is outfitted with the most current navigation and communications technology as well as retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing, an ice-strengthened hull for Antarctic voyages and a fleet of Zodiacs to enable easy shore access in remote locations.
Clelia II carries a staff of 65, providing a ratio of over 1 crew member for every 2 guests. Taken together with her limited guest capacity, excellence of design, craftsmanship and material, Clelia II's spaciousness and intimate ambience combine to make her ideal for distinctive cultural and expedition voyages.

Antarctic Cruise Guide - 2nd Edition

Professor Craig Franklin from the UQ School of Biological Sciences has recently announced the release of the second edition Antarctica Cruising Guide, believed to be the most comprehensive guide for tourists to the area.

Up to 40,000 tourists visit Antarctica each year and this number is set to increase.

The guide, co-authored with Dr Peter Carey, was written to inform people about Antarctica in a way that would not only enhance their trip south but also raise awareness of threats to Antarctic conservation.

"Sales of the first edition of the book exceeded our expectations so much so that AWA Press wanted to release a second edition," Professor Franklin said.

"We took the opportunity of the second edition to expand the coverage of the highlights of Antarctica and more importantly, to update the threatened species status of key wildlife found in the Southern Ocean.

"It is alarming that more than one-third of the species described in the book are listed as threatened and endangered. In this edition we have been able to devote a chapter to 'Threats to Antarctic Conservation'."

The new edition includes chapters on the Falkland Islands and South Georgia which are now being visited more often by tourists, as well as Ross Island which is being visited by tourists travelling directly from Hobart to Antarctica by sea.

"We have covered most tourist destinations as well as those sites which are of scientific and historical importance. There is no book that gives such a thorough overview of the places that most people are able to visit in Antarctica," Professor Franklin said.

Professor Franklin and Dr Care, have spent four years carrying out scientific work or lecturing on cruise ships in the Antarctic.

"We are well qualified to help more people appreciate and have a greater understanding for the ice," he said.

Antarctica Cruising Guide is available in bookshops and online and is published by AWA Press, New Zealand.

Polar Issues Raised

The polar regions are seeing an increased push in demand for voyages and landings. With more ships and capacity appearing in these regions over the last decade, there is no shortage of issues at hands for the lines to deal with.

“All of a sudden we have a situation where there is a lot of interest in the Polar areas with the climate change hype,” said Sven Lindblad, president and founder of Lindblad Expeditions. “Companies are waking up and saying ‘hey we’re going to take some people to Antarctica today,’ without any prior knowledge. It would be like me waking up tomorrow and wanting to run tours in Vegas.”

Read More at Cruise Industry News

CRUISE WEST EXPLORES THE ATLANTIC COAST AND CENTRAL AMERICA WITH FIVE DIVERSE VOYAGES IN 2010


Free Airfare and Early Booking Savings; Extraordinary Excursions Included

Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), one of the world's leading providers of small-ship exploration cruises to the most fascinating destinations on earth, offers five new voyages of discovery along the scenic Atlantic Coast in 2010 -- including a Caribbean island hop with Dietmar Wertanzl, Cruise West president and chief executive officer, a transit through the Panama Canal and a visit to remote and mysterious Easter Island.

From St. John's to Halifax, Halifax to Palm Beach, Palm Beach to Panama, Panama to Ecuador, and Ecuador to Easter Island – all five distinct voyages offer intriguing port calls and an authentic experience.   And, all voyages include shore excursions at every port and one extraordinary 'Ultimate Explorers Experience' (UEE) per voyage, designed to bring guests into direct personal contact with fascinating peoples, cultures and natural wonders.  Engaging presentations by notable experts on the region's culture, history and current events further enhances the guests understanding.

Set sail from the Great North

Nature lovers will appreciate the Canadian coast's rugged natural beauty evident in St. John's to Halifax voyage which includes an excursion to Newfoundland's largest seabird colony; a visit to Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and Île-Saint-Pierre, part of an archipelago that is the last remnant of the former colonial French empire. 

Starting in St. John's -- the oldest English-founded settlement in North America – guests will visit the quaint village of Huntington Harbour, accessible only from the sea; Louisbourg, separated from Nova Scotia by the narrow Strait of Canso; and the Perce Rock, one of the most dramatic natural sites in Quebec.

A two-day guided tour of historic Québec City (UEE) offers such man-made wonders as Le Château Frontenac, Québec's most celebrated landmark, and Haute-Ville, declared a UNESCO Site as the only walled fortress in North America.  Among the tour highlights are sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River, Île d'Orléans and the Laurentian Mountains; the Place-Royale; Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, the oldest standing catholic church in North America; the Shrine of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré; the Memorial Chapel; and Montmorency Falls, nearly twice the size of Niagara Falls.

Concluding in the thriving port of Halifax -- noted for its idyllic waterfront, and active art galleries -- this 15-night voyage departs September 7, 2010; prices start at $9,695 per person before savings.

Halifax to Palm Beach

From New England's rugged coastline and small fishing villages to historic colonial settlements in the South to the blue waters of Palm Beach, Halifax to Palm Beach traverses nearly the entire Atlantic Coast.  Famed oceanographer Dr. Don Walsh – named one of the world's great explorers by Life magazine – will lead onboard lectures and discussions.

Among the voyage highlights: an excursion to historic Jamestown, site of the first English settlement in America where a resident archeologist will explain the history and progress of excavations; and a tour of meticulously restored Colonial Williamsburg for a step back to the days before the American Revolution (UEE). 

Other excursions include visits to the Maine villages of Bar Harbor, Portsmouth and Eastport, the seaside community of Nantucket, and Newport, site of 19th-century mansions and 400-year old taverns.  After stops at picturesque Savannah and Charleston, the journey concludes in the 21st century with a Cape Canaveral tour -- hosted by an astronaut.

This 13-night itinerary departs September 21; prices start at $7,395 per person before savings.

Palm Beach to Panama

Hosted by Cruise West President and CEO Wertanzl, the Palm Beach to Panama voyage features three UNESCO sites: Playa del Carmen on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for a tour of Mayan ruins; Belize's Lighthouse Reef for world class snorkeling, and the historic Panamanian city of Portobello, founded by Columbus in 1502.

And two Ultimate Explorer Excursions (UEE) are featured highlights including a narrated daylight transit of the Panama Canal, an amazing feat of engineering which ranks among the contemporary wonders of the world; and a visit to sun-drenched Corn Island, about 50 miles off the Nicaraguan coast, bewitches even the experienced traveler with its unspoiled beauty, offering snorkeling over a kaleidoscope of brightly-hued corals reefs.

The 13-night itinerary departs October 3; prices start at $7,995 per person before savings.  Add ons include a five-night pre- or post-cruise from Guayaquil, Ecuador to explore Machu Picchu, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, or to Quito and the Galápagos Islands.

Panama to Ecuador

With three UNESCO World Heritage sites on the itinerary, Panama to Ecuador delves into Central America's rich cultural history with stops along the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador including the village of Montecristi known for making high quality "Panama Hats."

Notable excursions to UNESCO World Heritage sites include a day in Panama's Coiba National Park –home to abundant birds and sea life, making it one of the world's top snorkeling locations.  Another world-class snorkeling destination, the Cocos Island, 300 miles off the Costa Rican coast boasts sea turtles, rays, dolphins, a dazzling array of tropical fish, and the world's largest population of hammerhead sharks.

Lastly, a true immersion experience to the remote Emberá village in the Darién Jungle (UEE), a tribe much unchanged by modern culture, marks the third UNESCO site.

The 10-night itinerary departs October 15; prices start at $4,995 per person before savings.  Add ons include a five-night pre- or post-cruise from Guayaquil, Ecuador to explore Machu Picchu, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, or to Quito and the Galápagos Islands.

Ecuador to Easter Island

The nine-night Ecuador to Easter Island voyage traveling from Guayaquil to Easter Island, features seven days at sea highlighted by sightings of migrating whales, playful dolphins, and breathtaking sunsets before landing on fabled Easter Island.  One of the most remote places in the world and a UNESCO site, Easter Island offers a fascinating study in the rise and fall of a Polynesian culture (UEE). Nearly 900 massive and mysterious moai – stylized human figures whose huge eyes gaze placidly out to sea – grace the island's grassy plains.  Smithsonian Journeys guest speaker David Aguilar -- naturalist, astronomer, author and artist -- will lead lively discussions and lectures on the region's natural history.

This nine-night itinerary departs October 15; prices start at $3,895 per person before savings.  Add ons include a five-night pre- or post-cruise from Guayaquil, Ecuador to explore Machu Picchu or to Quito and the Galápagos Islands, or a four-night Easter Island adventure.

Value-Add

Sailing on board the line's 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus: Guests will save up to $2,000 per cabin and receive FREE round trip international airfare from six select U.S. Cities: San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Washington D.C. (IAD or DCA) and New York (JFK), or an air credit of $750 per person when booking and paying in full by December 18, 2009.  All prices quoted are in US dollars.

Price per voyage includes a pre-cruise hotel night, all excursions and transfers and a tour of the embarkation city. Guests who book more than one voyage will save an additional five percent.  For further details, visit www.CruiseWest.com, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

The five voyages mark the fourth chapter of the Voyages of the Great Explorers – a series of 24 separate and unique cruises that that combine to form a 335-day circumnavigation of the world along the major routes inspired by history's great ocean explorers.  Beginning March 5, 2010, the world voyage will sail ever westward, returning to Singapore on February 3, 2011.

~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Explorations~

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful.  Small-ship explorations allow 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. The fleet of small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-148 explores 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. 

Luxury Cruise Deals on Mekong on New Luxury River Boat


Indochina Cruise Tour Packages Released for the Newest and Most Luxurious Boat on the Mekong

Australia's Indochina tour specialists, Blue Sky Holidays, has released new cruise tour packages for trips aboard the Mekong River's newest and most upmarket river boat, the ultra luxurious 'La Marguerite'.

Launched in September, 2009, La Marguerite boasts the only balcony cabins on the Mekong River and is named after and inspired by French novelist Marguerite Duras, who wrote about her life in Vietnam's French colonial era in the 1930s in her best-selling book cum Hollywood film, 'The Lover'

Offering luxury cruises along one of the world's great rivers between Saigon in Vietnam and Siem Reap in Cambodia, the 92-passenger La Marguerite boasts a pool, spa, gym, 'chill out' lounge, a 'multi sensory' fine dining restaurant and verandah suites with king-sized beds and jacuzzis.

Passengers enjoy visits to remote jungle villages and silk-weaving towns, with the cruise including a host of complimentary tours such as trishaw rides through the coungtryside, junk boat tours to busy floating markets and excursions to ancient temples and the Khmer Rouge's grim Killing Fields near Phnom Penh.

Blue Sky Holidays is offering Australians a program of La Marguerite cruise tour packages from eight to 20 days right throughout 2010 and early 2011, with free upgrades to balcony cabins and free flights to Vietnam offered on selected tours:

·     Eight day cruise on La Marguerite between Saigon and Siem Reap from $1718 per person, twin-share

·     12-day cruise tour including the eight day voyage between Saigon and Siem Reap, two days in Angkor Wat before the cruise and two days in Saigon post cruise from $2993 per person, twin-share, with free upgrades to balcony cabins on selected departures

·     15-day tour including three days in Laos, two in Angkor Wat, the eight day cruise and twodays in Saigon post cruise from $4019 per person, twin-share, with free balcony upgrades on selected departures, Fare includes domestic flights in Indochina

·     20-day tour including two days in Angkor Wat, the eight day cruise and a 10-day tour of Vietnam from Saigon to Halong Bay and Hanoi for the city's 1000th birthday celebrations in 2010. Fares from $4849 per person, twin-share, with a partner flies free offer on return flights from Australia to Vietnam on selected departures. Fare also includes domestic flights in Vietnam.

Tour fares include almost all meals, guided tours before, during and after the cruise and local beer and selected beverages on La Margueritethe. Flights to Vietnam or Cambodia are extra, with Blue Sky Holidays able to organise the latest discounted airfares.

Bookings or more information available on 1300 665 109 or visit www.blueskyholidays.com.au

Launched in Australia in 2006, Blue Sky Holidays specialises in premium, customised tours for group or independent travellers in Indochina and works with one of Vietnam's biggest tour companies, Bluesky Travel.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Sail Portugal's Douro River with Uniworld


SAIL PORTUGAL'S DOURO RIVER WITH UNIWORLD
~ DISCOVER WHY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC RANKS THE DOURO VALLEY 7th ~
~ WHY IT IS A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE ~

National Geographic Traveler recently released their sixth annual "World's Great Places: 133 Destinations" survey, and Portugal's Douro Valley rated Seventh on the list. Further, in 2001, UNESCO rated the Douro River Valley as a World Heritage Site. What makes this region so special and worthy of various honors? Perhaps it is their wine heritage - Port - that dates back over 2,000 years. Or perhaps it's a cultural landscape of exceptional beauty with rambling vineyards and charming native farms, quintas, clinging to the steep sides of the Douro River Valley, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe's most unspoiled regions and to Port country - the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.

It's both! And this is what you can expect to see and experience from your Uniworld River Cruise ship. Travel Europe's most unspoiled UNESCO World Heritage river valley through Portugal and Spain. Before your cruise explore the seven hills of cosmopolitan Lisbon, uncovering a treasure trove of old world architecture. Visit Coimbra, the "Birthplace of Kings;" Porto, the beautiful "City of Bridges" with its UNESCO World Heritage-designated Medieval city center; and Salamanca, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Taste wonderful local wines from village vineyards, including the famed Port wine. Feast on a traditional meal at the Alpendurada Monastery; enjoy an authentic Spanish-style lunch complete with a flamenco show; and dine at the Vintage House Hotel, a magnificent18th-century wine quinta overlooking the Douro River. And all along the way, uncover a land of genuine beauty and breathtaking charm, as well as meet warmhearted, friendly people.

Uniworld's Douro River Valley package with three nights in Lisbon is priced from $2,099 per person, exclusive of airfare; without Lisbon from $1,699 per person, exclusive of airfare. No matter which option you choose, you'll enjoy a seven-night cruise in a river view stateroom, many with balconies, onboard the Douro Queen; all meals with fine wine, beer, and soft drinks served during dinner; exciting excursions led by English-speaking guides; and all transfers on arrival and departure days. And, for additional savings, double Uniworld's Early Booking Discount with a savings of $600 per couple by paying in full by December 31, 2009.

About Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Los Angeles-based Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, the premier river cruise company, was named to Travel+Leisure's World's Best Top 10 Small Cruise Lines; Condé Nast Traveler's 2009 Gold List, their Readers' Poll for Top 50 Small Ships, and their Readers' Choice Awards for World's Top 10 Small Ship Cruise Lines; and Cruise Critics Editor's Pick 2009 for Best River Cruise Line, and Best New River Cruise Ship, River Beatrice. Uniworld features intimate, elegant boutique, hotel-style cruise ships with an average capacity of 134 guests, an award-winning staff with a ratio of one staff member for every three guests, world-class cuisine, and expertly planned itineraries with custom-blended shore excursions. The company offers over 500 departures on more than 30 itineraries sailing on 11 rivers in over 20 countries throughout Europe, Egypt and China.


For more information, please contact your Preferred Travel Professional. Call Uniworld at 800-733-7820 or visit www.uniworld.com.

Uniworld is a member of CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association