Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Blue Lagoon Cruises to retire MV Nanuya Princess

Boutique island cruise specialist to consolidate cruise program from 01 May 2010

Lautoka, Fiji, 27 January 2010 - Fiji's iconic Blue Lagoon Cruises has announced it will officially retire its MV Nanuya Princess on 01 May 2010 after more than 24 years of service.

MV Nanuya Princess
Announcing the move Blue Lagoon Cruises' CEO Tim Stonhill said the decision to retire the vessel is part of a bigger picture plan which will also see the boutique cruise specialist consolidate its 'Club' and 'Gold Club' product line to offer just one generic cruise product from May of this year.

As a part of the plan Blue Lagoon Cruises' flag ship MV Fiji Princess will be taking over MV Nanuya Princess's existing three-day/two night and four/day/three-night 'Club' cruises in Fiji's picturesque Yasawa Islands.

Effective 01 May the company will offer the following cruise schedule from its home port of Lautoka on the northern side of the big island of Viti Levu:

A three-day/two-night cruise departing on Saturday at 10.00 am and returning on Monday at 4.00 pm.

A four-day/three-night cruise departing on Tuesday at 3.00 pm and returning on Friday at 12.00 pm.

A seven-day/six-night cruise departing on Monday at 3.00 pm and returning on Sunday at 12.00 pm.

Mr Stonhill said the 36-berth MV Mystique Princess will now operate all seven-day itineraries, including the 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruise' scheduled on 16 August.

The 34-berth MV Fiji Princess meanwhile will operate all three and four day itineraries.

"This consolidation represents one of our biggest changes in almost 60 years of service in Fijian waters," Mr Stonhill said.

"But I am confident these changes in our product line and schedule will be beneficial to all."

Mr Stonhill said the retirement of the MV Nanuya Princess after so many years of service was regrettable but the move would assist the company to manage its overall operation more efficiently at it looks to the future.

In its 24 years of service the MV Nanuya Princess has carried close on 85,000 passengers, most of them Australians and New Zealanders, on more than 2,400 cruise departures.

Mr Stonhill said the 48-metre vessel would now be offered for sale.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Labrador tops traveller’s to-do list for 2010


The strikingly beautiful and rugged region of Northern Labrador is now getting the attention it deserves. Last week’s release of the jaw-dropping television commercial featuring Canada’s newest National Park in the Torngat Mountains, and the Canadian Tourism Commission's designation of Labrador as 2010’s hotspot, has already increased bookings to this exotic destination.

The Inuit-homeland and culturally, historically and wildlife-rich region has long been a favourite of Inuit-owned and operated Cruise North Expeditions.

“Everyone who visits this region comes back inspired,” says Jason Annahatak, Cruise North’s Expedition Leader. “I am very happy the secret is out and more people will get to experience Labrador’s breathtaking beauty and culture.”

Cruise North offers the 11-night Journey to the Spirit Mountains cruise starting in St. John’s July 2 and venturing up the coast through Iceberg Alley, into the Torngat Mountains National Park, ending in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. On other Arctic departures, Cruise North offers exclusive 3-night pre and post tours in the Torngats, in partnership with Parks Canada. Activities include polar bear and whale watching, hiking and fishing, and Inuit cultural experiences. Beginning Sept. 15, Cruise North will conduct the first-ever Clean-Up Cruise into Labrador, touring alongside the northern coast picking up debris and waste from abandoned exploration camps, to ensure the region is kept pristine.

About Cruise North Expeditions

Cruise North is an Inuit owned and operated company. We travel exclusively to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, beginning the season in Labrador and finishing with a tour of the Northwest Passage.

Our ice-class rated 122-passsenger ship, the Lyubov Orlova, provides a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere for Arctic cruising. Each expedition offers exceptional opportunities for wildlife encounters, traditional Inuit village visits, and up-close experiences with the Arctic landscape.

Launched in 2005, we have rapidly established ourselves as the leader in Arctic expeditions, by capturing the true spirit of the North with Inuit ownership and Inuit guiding. We have earned a place on Conde Nast Traveller’s prestigious “Green List” for our environmental efforts and commitment to helping preserve Inuit culture through tourism.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Australian: Signed on for adventure


It's what lies beneath that enthrals when cruising the islands of Indonesia's West Papua province

ALTHOUGH he is in full possession of his faculties and all of his limbs, Mark Erdmann is about to flush a shark from its hidey hole.

"Watch this," he says, and his rubber fins arc into the sky as he duck-dives and swims to a ledge about 4m down while I hover on the surface. Erdmann's hand disappears into darkness and a mottled, moth-coloured 2m shark darts out and stops on the bottom, about 10m away. It's a wobbegong, a carpet shark: not especially fearsome, certainly not aggressive, but a shark all the same.

Read full story

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Out Of This World - Aurora Expeditions Plan Antarctic Meteorite Collection

Aurora Expeditions is offering adventurers the opportunity to travel back in time and assist in the collection of an incredibly rare 5 kilogram meteorite on its upcoming Weddell Sea voyage to Antarctica this month.

Aurora Expeditions expert palaeontologist, Paul Willis, will be returning to the site where he miraculously discovered the meteorite on his last voyage to Seymour Island in 2008. On this occasion the expedition will bring the precious meteorite back to Australia.

Seymour Island is recognised as the best place in the world to observe what’s known as the K/T Boundary, the geological ‘line in the ground’ where the dinosaurs died some 65 million years ago. Parts of the island are carpeted with fossils from the floors of ancient seas showing a land where dinosaurs ruled and forests connected continents.

Paul Willis, renowned palaeontologist, geologist and ABC science presenter, made the incredible discovery on an Aurora Expeditions voyage in 2008. “We were looking for fossils on Seymour when I spied a grapefruit-size rock that was completely different to everything around it. I knew almost straight away what it was because it looked so unusual and because meteorites are relatively easy to find in Antarctica (there is no soil or vegetation covering them up). It was a fascinating specimen and, to my mind, one that ought to be collected and preserved for prosperity.”

Paul did not have the permits required to collect the meteorite, so he carefully photographed it and recorded its exact position. On his return to Australia, a meteorite expert at the Western Australian Museum confirmed that it was potentially of huge scientific interest and the long-awaited collection of this phenomenal meteorite will be taking place this month.

Aurora Expedition’s passengers will be treated to a truly remarkable experience as they join Paul in the retrieval of this fallen star. As with all Aurora Expeditions voyages, daily shore excursions and explorations using inflatable Zodiacs provide access to the best wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities. A team of expert naturalists and staff will guide passengers through the dramatic landscapes and abundant wildlife that embody the Antarctic Peninsula.

Limited to a small group of 54 passengers, the 12 day Weddell Sea voyage departs on 25th January 2010 from Ushuaia in Argentina. Voyage prices start from US$6090, excluding flights.

What All Visitors Should Know When Considering a Trip to the Galapagos



Land-based vacation or a cruise? A Q&A from Santiago Dunn, President of Ecoventura, Leader in Sustainable & Responsible Travel in the Galapagos


The Galapagos, known for its wealth of highly visible living creatures, is also one of the most fragile and endangered ecosystems in the world. Following are questions many potential visitors ask, with answers from a leader in creating sustainable tourism programs for the region, Santiago Dunn, owner of Ecoventura, a private company that maintains a fleet of small, superior-class, expedition touring yachts.

Should I stay in a lodge or hotel and take day tours or select a multiple-night cruise?

Dunn: It’s less expensive to stay at a hotel and take coastal or inland day trips or hop between two or more island lodges; but your touring options will be limited to the central islands: Santa Fe, Daphne, Bachas, Floreana, Bartolome, San Cristobal and some nearby islands from Santa Cruz. It is difficult for a land tour to visit Isabela and impossible to visit Fernandina or Genovesa. Ironically, people will book a “land based” tour believing they will minimize sea sickness. Lodge-based guests, however, are more vulnerable to sea sickness as they are traveling between islands via a light fiberglass speed boat. On a week-long cruise you visit more islands. Plus, you usually have one morning activity and one afternoon activity – each day, usually at different locations, cruising at night so you wake up at a new island each sunrise.

Does the size of the ship matter?

Dunn: Boats in the Galapagos range in carrying capacity from 16-20 on the small range to a mid-large range of 48-100 passengers. There are over 80 registered tour boats transporting visitors throughout the islands. Large vessels that must anchor in deeper waters require more time getting passengers to and from shore excursions and back to their vessels. Guests on smaller ships have more time to be active on shore. Overall passenger capacity factors into the guide to guest ratio on land excursions. With a 16 passenger vessel you will usually have one guide for 16 passengers. On larger boats you will have several groups of 16 passengers per guide. A 20-passenger yacht has an advantage in offering a 1:10 guide to guest ratio. If prone to motion sickness, some people think a larger vessel is more secure; but the difference is marginal between a 90-foot boat and a 200-foot boat.

Do itineraries vary by vessel?

Dunn: Of course. But another consideration is that the companies licensed with the newest vessels such as the two-hull catamarans may also have the less desirable itineraries. Companies with vessels that have been around for 20+ years are grandfathered in with the most comprehensive itineraries available. This leads to an overall better quality experience.

How many days should a visitor spend in Galapagos?

Dunn: Perhaps the question should be rephrased to ask: How does a traveler get best value for the vacation dollar? Many companies offer traditional seven-night cruises with the option of three- or four-night cruise. The downside is that passengers on the full week itinerary must return to port in the middle of the cruise to pick-up and drop-off the shorter-stay passengers. This ultimately breaks up the continuity and spirit of camaraderie between the passengers on board. Of course if you are on a tight budget or limited in time a shorter trip can be a viable option.

Does a higher price tag on a cruise mean a better experience?

Dunn: Like the old song, isn’t it truly “a gift to be simple?” how important is luxury in a fragile ecosystem? You’ll probably spend most of the week in t-shirts, bathing suit and sandals. How sustainable are the Jacuzzis and monogrammed bathrobes? Galapagos is the type of place where nature and simplicity rule and less is often more. The high-end, ultra-soft, 16-passenger yachts and a handful of the larger luxury vessels charge $5,000 or more per person for a one week cruise. The budget-minded, larger capacity ships, half that. For 2010, Ecoventura’s rates are $3,225 to $3,925 per person with discounts for children age 7-17 on designated family departures, early bird booking discounts and other promotions.

Are there ecological considerations to staying on land or taking a cruise?

Dunn: A cruise actually leaves a smaller ecological footprint because you are not contributing to the construction of hotels, bars, roads and restaurants on these fragile islands. The United Nations and the government of Ecuador have both recognized that growing land-based tourism is a threat to the islands and their delicate eco-systems. In the fall of 2008 Ecoventura launched the first hybrid-energy vessel in the Galapagos, the M/Y Eric. The installation of 40 solar panels and two wind turbines now provide enough power to replace approximately 18 percent of the energy previously produced by two diesel generators. We look for more of this “greening” to take place within the cruise industry.

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the Galápagos cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard a fleet of three expedition vessels; identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts with 10 double cabins. The company also operates the Sky Dancer, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. All of its vessels have been purposefully retrofitted to meet or exceed the highest possible environmental standards.

In 2009 Ecoventura was the recipient of Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Award for Green Cruising and Conde Nast Traveler’s 15th Annual World Savers Award in the category of Cruise Lines.

To reserve a cabin or private charter, or to receive a copy of Ecoventura’s 2010 catalog please call 1.800.644.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access current rates, schedules and itineraries you can log onto www.ecoventura.com

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

SERIOUSLY SOUTH PACIFIC -- CRUISE WEST OFFERS FIVE NEW VOYAGES


Early Booking Savings; Extraordinary Excursions Included

From Pitcairn Island, the final destination of the mutineers aboard the HMS Bounty, to the cosmopolitan sophistication of Sydney, Australia, warm water adventurers can sail the pristine blue waters of the South Pacific, visiting numerous remote tropical islands on five new memorable voyages offered by Cruise West for the 2010 season.

Starting in November, 2010, the five voyages explore from Easter Island to Tahiti (Voyage 19); the Tahitian Islands to Fiji (Voyage 20); the Fijian Islands to New Zealand (Voyage 21); The Maori Coast (Voyage 22); and a thrilling New Year's Eve discovery of Australia (Voyage 23).  Shore excursions are included at every port and each voyage will be enhanced by an extraordinary 'Ultimate Explorers Experience' (UEE), designed to bring guests into direct personal contact with fascinating people, cultures and natural wonders.

Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, offers the South Pacific voyages of discovery sailing aboard the 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus – recently named by Frommer's as the Top Small Ship for 2010. Guests will save up to $2,900 per cabin when booking and paying in full by March 26, 2010.

An exploration of the rich Pacific begins on Easter Island

Described as a "string of island pearls," the South Pacific islands beckon travelers bent on warm water exploration.  Voyage 19: Easter Island to Papeete, Tahiti travels to such uninhabited locales as Henderson and Ducie Islands, renowned for their rare birds and indigenous flora, pristine coral atolls, and remote beaches; and Fakarava, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. A highlight of the tour is a visit to Pitcairn Island, where Fletcher Christian brought the HMS Bounty following a mutiny against Captain Bligh.

Accompanied by anthropology expert Dr. Charlie Urbanowicz -- a Life Member of the Polynesian Society, and the Association for Social Anthropology of Oceania, who will offer his keen insights into the islands' peoples and cultures throughout the voyage -- this 17-night voyage departs Nov. 1, 2010; prices start at $11,895 per person before savings.

Sailing further into the heart of the Polynesian island chains, Voyage 20: Papeete, Tahiti to Lautoka, Fiji offers visits to atolls and villages not accessible by larger cruise lines including Maupiti, Atiu, Palmerston and Vava'u.  Highlights of this serene exploration include an exclusive cultural performance, visits to inland villages, and the living coral gardens of Aitutaki (UEE).  Zodiac visits to private islands, snorkeling safaris, cave swimming, a Fiji firewalking ceremony and a traditional kava ceremony fulfill the promise of an unforgettable experience.

Joining Urbanowicz on this voyage as co-lecturer is Dr. Aldona Jonaitis, noted expert on arts and culture of aboriginal people and a much sought after speaker on the arts of the South Pacific.  This 15-night voyage departs Nov. 17, 2010; prices start at $7,895 per person before savings.

Voyage 21: Lautoka, Fiji to Auckland, New Zealand –- Delivering a true explorer experience, this voyage visits the most remote islands of the South Pacific to view elaborate dances on Ambrym and indulge in pristine snorkeling and wildlife viewing accessible only via Zodiac boat. Guests will learn about the centuries old Maori culture and early New Zealand history in the historic areas of Waitangi and Kerikeri before concluding the voyage in Auckland, one of New Zealand's great scenic cities. Highlighting this voyage is ascending the slopes of Mt. Yasur on Tanna Island (UEE), one of the world's most active volcanoes that often spews molten rocks in thrilling pyrotechnic displays.

With Jonaitis continuing as guest lecturer, this 14-night voyage departs Dec. 2, 2010; prices start at $7,195 before savings.

Known as "The Land of the Long White Cloud," New Zealand is the focus of Voyage 22: Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia. Guests will immerse themselves deep into Maori culture, explore the famous geothermal region of Rotorua with bubbling hot springs and the country's most active volcanic landscape (UEE).  Napier offers Art Deco architecture and wine tasting, while British culture abounds in Christchurch, ripe with art galleries and museums.  After celebrating Christmas at Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park – a stunning natural paradise with rare trees and vegetation, and native birds -- the voyage visits Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a series of dramatic fiords and inlets.  After a visit to beautiful Milford Sound, the voyage concludes in Sydney Harbor just in time to see the firecracker lavish spectacle on New Year's Eve.

Accompanied by special guest speaker Dr. Kirt Kempter, an expert in plate tectonics and related volcanism, this 17-night voyage departs Dec. 15, 2010; prices start at $14,395 before savings.

The Land Down Under is the final star in this five-voyage constellation that begins with the New Year. Voyage 23: Sydney to Darwin, Australia brings guests up close and personal to a country and continent that boasts unique flora and fauna blended with sophisticated metropolitan culture.  With no less then three UNESCO World Heritage Sites featured in the 19-night itinerary, highlights of this Australian adventure include cruising up the Brisbane River, visiting a koala sanctuary, exploring the Kuranda rainforest, and delving into Aboriginal culture through art, music, and dance.  Heritage site, Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island, features the natural marvel of tall rainforests growing on sand dunes over 700 feet high. Heritage sites Hamilton and Whitsunday Islands offer exploration of the Great Barrier Reef (UEE) via a glass-hulled, semi-submersible coral viewer or through numerous world-class snorkeling opportunities. Traversing the northern coast of Australia, the voyage concludes in modern Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory and situated on a gulf of the Timor Sea.

Special guest speaker Clyde Roper, a senior emeritus zoologist in the Smithsonian's Department of Invertebrate Zoology, will lend his insights and research in marine biology and bioluminescence. A popular tour lecturer, Roper's field studies have taken him on extensive explorations of the South Pacific.

This 19-night voyage departs Dec. 31, 2010; prices start at $10,695 before savings.

Book by Individual Voyage or Multiple Segments

The five voyages mark the fifth chapter of the Voyages of the Great Explorers – a series of 24 separate and unique cruises 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.

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 5 percent. To book a Cruise West voyage for your client or for more information call 1-800-689-1783.

Cruise Weekly: Make the Kimberley your Quest



Astute cruise watchers have had a bumper season with many new vessels appearing in Sydney Harbour, not the least of them being P&O’s new superliner, Pacific Jewel.

But the really eagle-eyed will have noticed the diminutive Kimberley Quest II touring about the harbour. Mistaken perhaps for some playboy billionaire’s superyacht, the Kimberley Quest II is actually a busy adventure vessel working Australia’s favourite cruise region, the Kimberley. Owner’s Jeff and Lynne Ralston have brought her to Sydney for the Christmas/NY period to do private charters, agent tours and media appearances.

KQII was built by Austal in Fremantle who also built the multi-award-winning True North and the two Bora Bora Cruises’ vessels Tu Moana and Ti’a Moana. KQII accommodates just 18 passengers and six crew offering a truly intimate cruise experience.

When I say busy, KQII will do 26 expeditions is a typical season spanning mid-March to October. Most are 7-night ‘quests’, although three 13-night ‘ultimate quests’ at the beginning of the season between Broome, Mitchell Plateau and Wyndham are offered.

KQ’s media file is relatively slim compared to her competitors, but I called on colleague John Borthwick to describe the experience from when he reported for the SMH in 2008.

The Kimberley coast is a world of red rocks, big crocs and cave art of extraordinary antiquity. To cruise the Kimberley¹s rivers and fjords is to take part in one of Australia¹s greatest remaining adventures. And to do so in the purpose-built vessel Kimberley Quest II is to see this magical realm at is finest.

Cataract waterfalls, vast harbours (that dwarf Sydney¹s many times over), boabs and rare birds, plus barramundi for the taking, are all part of the Kimberley Quest experience. Add the luxury of the vessel itself, with a just 18 privileged passengers, plus specialist guides and an expert chef, and this becomes the cruise of a lifetime in a timeless realm.

While the Kimberley may be our favourite cruise region (according to Cruise Passenger Magazine’s reader survey) it will never become our busiest in terms of passenger numbers. The largest vessel currently offering dedicated Kimberley adventures is Orion at 100 passengers and the typical starting price for any vessel is around $1000 per person per day.

For details on Kimberley Quest, see www.kimberleyquest.com.au. To compare all Kimberley cruise products and find occasional specials, visit www.kimberleycruises.com

Explore Galápagos Islands with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions


Lindblad Expeditions, in partnership with National Geographic, offers an expedition to the Galápagos Islands that is a Readers' Choice Nominee for Best Luxury Family Winter Vacation.

Lindblad Expeditions offers this educational 10 day expedition to the Galápagos Islands, also known as the "Land of Darwin", which are located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The islands are a natural habitat for some of the world's most interesting and unusual animals. Only in the Galápagos can you come face to face with wildlife up close that has never developed a fear of people, from the diverse bird life to the giant Galápagos tortoise. The Galápagos are one of the most fascinating travel destinations in the world both from a geographical and a wildlife perspective.

The itinerary includes visits to seven or more islands, including Floreana where guests can snorkel and observe a large colony of sea lions. At Fernandina, guests will see flamingos, visit a tortoise breeding center, caves and beaches. On the excursion to Fernandina Island, the youngest island in Galápagos, guests will observe marine iguanas and see dramatic volcanoes.

Activities include Zodiacs and kayaks that take guests to the volcanic shores and pristine beaches. There's also an undersea program that utilizes underwater video, glass-bottom boat and hydrophone that bring seldom seen or heard worlds to life.

Lindblad Expeditions keeps two ships permanently in the islands: the National Geographic Endeavour, which is a 96-passenger ship and the National Geographic Islander, a 164-foot twin-hulled vessel that can accommodate 48 guests (and reach places inaccessible to larger ships due to its small size). Both ships makes 48 expeditions to the Galápagos each year.

Lindblad Expeditions also offers a 16 day long cruise to Galápagos that includes a visit by land to Peru. Guests will be taken to Lima, the ancient Incan capital of Cusco and Machu Picchu.

The cruises are known for excellent service and knowledgeable staff. Every expedition to the Galápagos is led by a team of five English-speaking naturalists (including an underwater specialist), a videographer, and an expedition leader. Together, they provide a multitude of resources for a rich and unmatched understanding of all that you'll see.

While the cruise is priced as a luxury vacation, don't expect the kind of nightly entertainment you might expect aboard a luxury Caribbean cruise. One guest summed it up this way: "People might wear their wealth with jewels on another luxury vacation, but on a National Geographic/Lindblad cruise, guests are more apt to show off their intellect."

Rates for a double occupancy cabin on the National Geographic Endeavour range from $4,980 (for a standard cabin with two single beds) to $8,040 (for a suite with separate sleeping and sitting areas, including a sofa to accommodate a third person). Included in the cost of the cruise are all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship and on land, service charges, taxes, shore excursions, sightseeing, entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment, use of kayaks and shorty wet suits. The ships are fully air-conditioned and has a spa, sauna, fitness center, a small swimming pool, library and full-service bar. There's also a ship physician on most voyages. The prime months to vacation at the equator are January through May.

Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed for each of the Winter Travel categories. Readers' Choice Awards for the Best in Winter Travel will be announced on January 31st.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Artists, Musicians, Chefs and Specialist Guides - an Impressive Array of Special Guests Join True North Kimberley Cruises in 2010


North Star Cruises has unveiled a busy calendar of events aimed at giving guests a unique experience on board the ultra-luxury True North adventure cruise ship.

Guests can learn about landscape painting, enjoy classical guitar performances, gain a deeper understanding of ancient rock art, and learn more about Kimberley geology.

North Star General Manager Peter Trembath said 2010 was the "Year of the Special Guest".

"We are providing some excellent value-add bonuses for guests who book a Kimberley Wilderness cruise," said Mr Trembath.

"Interacting with some unique characters and specialists guides within the stunning Kimberley environment provides guests with an experience they will never forget."

So far, events and special guests scheduled for 2010 include:

Guitarist Phil Cebrano provides classical accompaniment on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruises 2A Wyndham to Hunter River (27 March – 3 April) and 2B Hunter River to Broome (3 April – 9 April)

Kimberley Indigenous Artists Mark Noval & Donny Woolagoodja introduce the oldest paintings known to man on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruises 4A Wyndham to Hunter River (24 April – 1 May) and 4B Hunter River to Broome (1 May – 7 May)

Renowned artist Douglas Kirsop unlocks the secrets of landscape painting on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 5 Broome to Wyndman (8 – 21 May)

New artistic talent Andrew Tischler will astound with his life-like paintings on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 6 Wyndham to Broome (22 May – 4 June)

Geologist Phil Playford presents his theories on global warming and more on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 7 Broome to Wyndham (5-18 June)

Celebrity Chef Ryan Carey cooks up a storm on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 8 Wyndham to Broome (19 June – 2 July)

Other Kimberley Wilderness Cruise highlights include:

The Horizontal Waterfalls
Montgomery Reef
Fishing for barramundi and mud crabs
Ancient rock art
Bush walking and swimming in billabongs
Crocodile spotting
Bird watching - of every imaginable colour
Heli-picnics and heli-fishing
The mighty rivers of the Prince Regent, the Hunter and the Mitchell

For full itineraries, departure dates and prices visit www.northstarcruises.com.au

True North Background

The multi award winning adventure cruise ship, True North, allows discerning guests to experience wilderness in surroundings more akin to one of the world's most exclusive hotels. Lavish features include:

A sundeck, forward observation lounge, ship's lounge, alfresco bar, internet café, plasma screens with interpretive information, lower deck dining room with large panoramic windows, and fine dining.

·         All cabins feature enhanced décor, en-suite facilities, in-house entertainment and satellite telephones.

·         Multiple expedition boats allow passengers to do "what they want, when they want".

·         The True North is the only Kimberley adventure-cruise ship that sails with its own helicopter.

·         The purpose built True North is able to explore the upper reaches of shallow river systems.

·         Adventure cruises and expeditions operate along the magnificent coastlines of Australia and the South Pacific.

For more information visit http://www.northstarcruises.com.au

Coastal exploration with Orion


Australia's coastal explorations on Orion – three 7 night voyages

Australia's 5 star expedition cruise ship Orion will be exploring Australia's East and South East coastline during November 2010. From the Great Barrier Reef to Melbourne and on to South Australia Orion provides three 7 night coast and island-hopping voyages to choose from.

Orion's Great Barrier Reef exploration of the islands of North Queensland reveals the beauty of Australia's World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, with ample opportunity for basking on white sandy beaches and snorkelling over vibrant corals teeming with tropical marine life.

Whereas Hayman Island and Hardy Reef are justly famous the world over, Orion also reveals hidden secrets of the reef – Percy Island, which explorer Matthew Flinders visited in 1802, describing one of the coves as "one of the prettiest little places imaginable" and Coonanglebah Island with its golden sands, palm-lined beaches, tranquil waters and thriving rainforest.

Australia's Wild South East voyage provides a different perspective. Departing from Sydney and heading south Orion visits beautiful Jervis Bay with excellent scuba diving, fishing and swimming opportunities. Montague Island is a recognised Nature Reserve teeming with wildlife, including over 1000 Little Penguins. A visit to the coastal town of Eden still evokes memories of whaling days when, uniquely, man and killer whales (Orcas) teamed up to herd other whales for slaughter.

Join Orion's specialist Expedition Team ashore at Sealers Cove, with its long white beach, for a walk through groves of giant tree ferns; and a visit to Phillip Island would not be complete without seeing dozens of Fairy Penguins returning from the sea in the evening, parading across the sand to nest.

Orion's inaugural arrival in the great southern city of Melbourne is sure to be an event in itself.

Prepare to be inspired. The Southern Australia Culinary Delights voyage is Orion's first voyage to South Australia and with a fine food and wine theme promises to provide plenty of culinary inspiration for the Christmas season.

With visits to the Limestone Coast, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula and Fleurieu Peninsula this Voyage of Discovery will combine scenes of stunning natural beauty and prolific indigenous wildlife with food and wine experiences both onboard and ashore.

The Limestone Coast is one of Australia's premium wine regions and Orion's guests will find the cellar doors open and the people welcoming.

The clear waters surrounding Kangaroo Island have an abundance of marine life and you will find yourself feasting on local oysters and lobsters as well as sampling the local wine and cheeses.

More food and wine experiences to enjoy when Orion visits Port Lincoln and the Fleurieu Peninsular – and then there is the degustation menu to look forward to back onboard Orion. Carefully crafted by Serge Dansereau of The Bathers' Pavilion (Sydney), Orion's menu reflects seasonal availability and tempting regional specialties, with a wine list that provides a familiar favourite or exciting new variety or label to try.

All voyages offer the convenience of easy air connections with departures from Cairns, Sydney or Melbourne


Great Barrier Reef:

Cairns / Sydney - 2 November 2010 - 7 nights
Cairns, Coonanglebah, Hayman Island, Hardy Reef, Percy Island, Sydney

Australia's Wild South-East:

Sydney / Melbourne – 9 November 2010 - 7 nights
Sydney, Jervis Bay, Montague Island, Eden, Sealers Cove, Phillip Island, Melbourne

Southern Australia Culinary Delights:

Melbourne / Melbourne – 16 November 2010 - 7 nights
Melbourne, Limestone Coast, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, Melbourne

Fares:

All 7 night fares begin from A$5,200 per person for an ocean view category B stateroom; Junior Suites from A$7,175 per person and spacious Owners' Suites with French Balcony are A$10,890 per person.

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

Friday, 15 January 2010

Captain Cook's Reef Endeavour to Fiji’s Rescue


File pic of Reef Endeavour


Passengers already booked on 3, 4 and 7 night Captain Cook Cruises in Fiji are in for a rare treat with their cruise to take place on the MV Reef Endeavour. With the MV Reef Escape undergoing extensive refurbishment the MV Reef Endeavour set sail for Fiji on Sunday morning as part of the plan by Captain Cook Cruises to exceed passenger's expectations.

The Reef Endeavour departed White Bay, Port Jackson, Sydney on Sunday 10 January and is expected to reach Fiji on Monday 18 January. The Reef Endeavour has an extensive crew of Australians, Fijians and an English Captain.

Captain Cook Cruises made the decision to deploy the Reef Endeavour to Fiji after the MV Reef Escape sustained damage during Cyclone Mick in December and wanted to continue servicing its passengers.

"The Reef Endeavour will take over our normal Fiji cruise schedule from Saturday 6th February 2010." Explains Nick Hortle, Captain Cook Cruises, CEO.

"We wanted to bring the Reef Endeavour to Fiji so we could meet customer's expectations, continue offering our popular Fiji cruise itinerary and most importantly ensure passengers did not have to cancel any Fiji cruises booked with us throughout 2010."Continues Mr Hortle.

The Reef Endeavour will operate until the Reef Escape's refurbishment is completed.

The MV Reef Endeavour was previously in service on the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. It is a larger vessel than the Reef Escape, accommodating 150 passengers but like the Reef Escape was purposely built and originally designed to navigate shallow waters making her the ideal ship to provide the same 'up close and intimate' cruise and cultural experience of Fiji's Yasawa Islands.

The Reef Endeavour also offers similar cruise facilities including Tabua Stateroom, stateroom and cabin accommodation, swimming pool, two spas, sports deck, mini gym, sauna, glass bottom boat, cocktail bar, dining saloon, lounge area, library and a gift shop.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: fiji@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.au.

FLY, COACH, CRUISE, RAIL & STAY SOUTH AMERICA AND GALAPAGOS

A truly rare 19-night fly, coach, cruise, rail and stay package to South America and the Galapagos Islands in April of next year has an almost regal touch to it – the just-40 Australians who'll participate in this tour will have the personal services during a private 5-star yacht visit to Galapagos of the guide chosen to escort a British royal there several years ago.

Created by founder and chairman of ecruising.travel, Brett Dudley and his wife Philippa who will jointly lead the tour, it features 12-nights fully-escorted private-coach touring in Chile, Peru and Ecuador with an English-speaking guide, 7-nights private-charter on the yacht La Pinta to Galapagos with all onboard meals, drinks with dinner, daily lectures and briefings, plus sea kay-aking, Zodiacs, glass bottom boats, snorkelling, a stargazing program – and  that British royal's one-time personal guide, Francisco "Pancho" Dousdebes.

And the visit to Galapagos will coincide with the annual frenetic breeding season of one of the world's greatest single gatherings of bird- and sea-life.

The package also includes a full-day's wine-tasting tour on Chile's Cachapoal Wine Route, and a 2-day visit to Machu Picchu aboard the luxury Hiram Bingham Deluxe Train with private English-speaking guides; there is also a day trip to Valparaiso and luxury hotels are used throughout.

The whole 19-nights is priced from $13,399pp twin-share from Sydney on March 31 next year*; for a fully-detailed 11-page itinerary and inclusions phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel  *An optional 4-nights to Easter Island is available at extra cost on the way home.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Hurtigruten Offers Polar Dips at Both Poles

You don't have to be a member of a polar bear club - those hardy groups of cold water plungers - to take advantage of Hurtigruten's offers to enjoy a dip in the world's coldest waters, whether in Antarctica, the Arctic's Spitsbergen, Greenland, or Norway's Vardø on the Barents Sea. “As far as sea conditions allow, our expedition team will ensure that the bravest of our guests are able to satisfy their thirst for adventure in the water," states Hurtigruten product coordinator Jørn Henriksen. Ideal for those travelers who prefer to bring home more than t-shirts and tans, the dip in the polar waters is something that truly stands out when it comes to bragging - and the Polar Dip Certificate awarded to each participant provides needed verification.

During Antarctica's summer months, guests aboard Hurtigruten's deluxe expedition ship, MV Fram, can enjoy the remarkably refreshing icy waters of one of the largest natural harbours in the world -- off the volcanic Deception Island. The average temperature of this natural ocean pool is a bracing zero degrees Celsius. However, geothermic activity does mean that bathers can occasionally feel a 'comfortable' current of water above freezing. During the North Pole's summer, guests aboard the same ship can entertain a quick jump into the waters of Spitsbergen's Magdelenefjord, avoiding the icebergs, of course; or for those spending 8 to 15 days exploring Greenland, a brief splash in the sea around Uummannaq, a small town 360 miles north of the polar circle and site of the annual Ice Golf World Championship. If a swim in ice-free waters is preferred (due solely to the Gulf Stream), Hurtigruten offers a Norwegian Coastal Voyage cruise extension that makes its way to Norway's Vardø on the Barents Sea, where guests can float in a survival suit while their team leader dives for the evening's meal of King Crab - a wonderful way to combine a sea frolic with the need to catch dinner.

As a leader in Expedition Cruising, Hurtigruten's portfolio of adventure expeditions take guests to both ends of the world -- where pristine environments, unique wildlife and stunning vistas are combined with the opportunity to learn from experts in numerous disciplines including geology, marine life, environment, history and culture.

 
Hurtigruten is represented by Discover the World Marketing in Australia
Phone: (02) 9959 3696
Toll Free: 1800 OCEANS
Fax: (02) 9929 8438

Please visit Hurtigruten's UK website at- www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Blue Lagoon releases 2010 ‘Historical & Cultural Dateline’ cruise early bird


Schoolchildren on Rabi perform for visitors
Fiji's iconic Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 30 per cent 'early bird' discount to all passengers booking on its 16 August 2010 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruise' before 31 March.

This unique cruise offers a rare opportunity to visit Fiji's remote north-eastern reaches, an area that rarely receives attention from the outside world.

Highlights include a stop in Fiji's original capital of Levuka, the seldom visited islands of Kioa and Rabi, crossing the international date line at Taveuni, the Yadua Passage, the Drudrua and Kavewa Islands and Macuata on the north-eastern part of Vanua Levu.

New for 2010 is a picnic lunch in a coconut grove en route to Taveuni's Bouma Falls and a traditional Fijian afternoon tea before heading back to ship.

A high spot of the overall cruise is the greeting by Kioa islanders, resplendent in traditional war dress, paddling out to greet passengers in outrigger canoes as part of their traditional welcome ceremonies.

Day six of the program is spent onshore at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai in the pristine Yasawa island group.

Cruise activities include daily shore excursions and water-based activities ranging from bush walks, snorkeling safaris, fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast on Nanuya Lailai, visits to remote villages and Kava ceremonies.

The boutique cruise specialist has positioned its newest vessel, the 60-metre MV Fiji Princess on the route.

Standard prices for the Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruise' seven-day/six-night program start from AUD1860 per person twin share which includes all meals, all accommodation and cruise/cultural activities while on the seven-day/six-night program.

A full Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruises' itinerary can be viewed at www.bluelagooncruises.com

For cruise reservations telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on +679 666 1622, facsimile +679 666 4098 or via email on reservations@blc.com.fj.

*Conditions apply. Please note prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea or coffee).

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Hurtigruten's new summer specials: Norwegian Fjords for up to 20% off!



Hurtigruten Presents New Summer Specials: Explore the Norwegian fjords for up to 20% off.

Hurtigruten is offering prospective travellers the chance to save up 20% on selected sailings and categories for our spectacular Classic Round Voyage.  The special is available for bookings made from 01JAN10 up until 31MAR10 for departures from May through to September 2010. Prices start from £1,244.

The Classic Round Voyage begins in Bergen, the cultural gateway to the fjords, and travels along the captivating Norwegian coastline, making its way to Kirkenes before returning to Bergen once again.

Lit by the transcendent Midnight Sun, Norway is brought new life and colour in the spring and summer months. Throughout the voyage, passengers will witness such sights as the renowned Lofoten Islands and UNESCO site of Geirangerfjord; two of the most stunning spectacles of the Norwegian coast. Travellers will also visit the historically rich town of Trondheim, where individuals can observe the exceptionally handsome architecture. Here, passengers are given the option to take an excursion into the beautiful, Gothic-style, Nidaros Cathedral.

Hurtigruten is also introducing no single supplement for select sailings and categories on both our half and round trip Coastal Voyages. The ‘no single supplement’ deal excludes dates between 15APR and 14SEP.

Please contact your preferred cruise wholesaler or Discover the World Marketing for more information.

Terms and conditions apply.

Courtesy of Discover the World Marketing  1800 OCEANS

Expedition ship damaged in Antarctica accident


Source: Cruise Log with Gene Sloan / USA Today

One of the most elegant expedition ships operating in Antarctica, the Clelia II, has been withdrawn from service this month for repairs following an accident that occurred over Christmas week but is only now coming to light.

[ed: This ship will become Orion II from May 2011. See related story]

New York-based Travel Dynamics International, which operates the 100-passenger vessel, has canceled the ship's voyages through Jan. 18 following the incident, which left one of the ship's propellers damaged.

In a statement released this week, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators says the five-deck ship had arrived at Antarctica's famed Petermann Island on Dec. 26 for a passenger landing when a stronger-than-anticipated current pushed it toward the rocky shoreline.

"Efforts by the officer of the watch to correct the situation failed, and the starboard propeller struck some rocks," the statement says. "The impact ... resulted in the shutdown of the starboard engine and the loss of electrical power aboard ship."

The association says the Clelia II's port engine never lost power and was used to drive Clelia II off the rocks to a safe position about one mile from shore. Another expedition ship sailing just eight miles away, the Corinthian II, arrived on the scene within an hour to assist as the Clelia II's crew examined the vessel for further damage. The Corinthian II, also operated by Travel Dynamics, then escorted the damaged ship on the multi-day journey across the Drake Passage back to its home port of Ushuaia, Argentina.

The ships arrived in Ushuaia on Dec. 30.

It's not uncommon for news of incidents on ships in Antarctica to take several days to reach the outside world due to the remote location.

"At no time during this incident was there a threat to human life," the association says in its statement. A trace amount of oil leaked into the water but dissipated quickly, it adds.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Sea Shepherd anti-whaling vessel sunk after collision



Japanese whalers claim:

New Zealand watercraft collides with the Shonan Maru No. 2

At about 12:30JST today the New Zealand-registered watercraft Ady Gil collided with the Japanese Antarctic whale research (JARPA II) vessel Shonan Maru No. 2. The collision resulted in damage to the Ady Gil disabling it for navigation.
While scale of damage is currently being checked, the collision resulted in no injuries to the Shonan Maru No. 2 crew and, reportedly, no injuries to the Ady Gil crew.

The Ady Gil crew were rescued by the Sea Shepherd vessel Bob Barker which was close to the collision scene. The Japanese vessels Shonan Maru No. 2 and Yushin Maru No. 3 remain in the area for possible rescue support and further monitoring.
The research-base vessel Nisshin Maru, currently engaged in the Japanese whale research program in the Antarctic (JARPA II) had been subject to continuous attack since the early morning today by the New Zealand-registered watercraft Ady Gil following and the Bob Barker, a vessel sent to the Antarctic by the antiwhaling group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

http://www.icrwhale.org/

Sea Shepherd Claims:

Japanese Whalers Ram Sea Shepherd Ship Ady Gil

Famed Catamaran is sinking in the Southern Ocean

Six crewmembers Rescued by the Sea Shepherd Ship Bob Barker

In an unprovoked attack captured on film, the Japanese security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 deliberately rammed and caused catastrophic damage to the Sea Shepherd catamaran Ady Gil.

Six crew crewmembers, four from New Zealand, one from Australia, and one from the Netherlands were immediately rescued by the crew of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker. None of the crew Ady Gil crew were injured.

The Ady Gil is believed to be sinking and chances of salvage are very grim.

According to eyewitness Captain Chuck Swift on the Bob Barker, the attack happened while the vessels were dead in the water. The Shonan Maru No. 2 suddenly started up and deliberately rammed the Ady Gil ripping eight feet of the bow of the vessel completely off. According to Captain Swift, the vessel does not look like it will be saved.

“The Japanese whalers have now escalated this conflict very violently,” said Captain Paul Watson. “If they think that our remaining two ships will retreat from the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in the face of their extremism, they will be mistaken. We now have a real whale war on our hands now and we have no intention of retreating.”

Captain Paul Watson onboard the Steve Irwin is racing towards the area at 16 knots but still remains some five hundred miles to the north. The Bob Barker has temporarily stopped the pursuit of the Nisshin Maru to rescue the crew of the Ady Gil. The Japanese ships initially refused to acknowledge the May Day distress of the Ady Gil, but ultimately did acknowledge the call. Despite acknowledging the call, they did not offer to assist the Ady Gil or the Bob Barker in any way.

The incident took place at 64 Degrees and 03 Minutes South and 143 Degrees and 09 Minutes East

Until this morning the Japanese were completely unaware of the existence of the Bob Barker. This newest addition to the Sea Shepherd fleet left Mauritius off the coast of Africa on December 18th and was able to advance along the ice edge from the West as the Japanese were busy worrying about the advance of the Steve Irwin from the North.

“This is a substantial loss for our organization,” said Captain Watson. “The Ady Gil, the former Earthrace, represents a loss of almost two million dollars. However the loss of a single whale is of more importance to us and we will not lose the Ady Gil in vain. This blow simply strengthens our resolve, it does not weaken our spirit.”

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is requesting that the Australian government send a naval vessel to restore the peace in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territory. We have 77 crew from 16 nations on three vessels, six of them were on the Ady Gil. Of these, 21 are Australian citizens: 16 Australians on the Steve Irwin and five on the Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd believes that the Australian government has a responsibility to protect the lives of Australian citizens working to defend whales from illegal Japanese whaling activities.

“Australia needs to send a naval vessel down here as soon as possible to protect both the whales and the Australian citizens working to defend these whales,” said Steve Irwin Chief Cook Laura Dakin of Canberra. “This is Australian Antarctic Territorial waters and I see the Japanese whalers doing whatever they want with impunity down here without a single Australian government vessel anywhere to be found. Peter Garrett, I have one question for you: Where the bloody hell are you?”

Kimberley Early Bird Special - Save 15%



Join Australian's premier small-ship cruise line Coral Princess Cruises to discover the remarkable Kimberley coast, one of Australia's most remote and spectacular wilderness areas. Cruise in unrivalled style and total comfort aboard the award-winning 'Coral Princess' or the state of the art flagship 'Oceanic Discoverer'. Both small-ships feature the facilities and amenities you have come to expect from much larger vessels, yet allow access to spectacular landscapes inaccessible to bigger ships. Experience the friendly and attentive service of our all-Australian crew and enjoy the finest of local dining as you explore the many natural highlights, stunning landscapes and ancient cultures of this seldom visited part of Australia. This truly is the cruise experience of a lifetime!

Our 10 night Kimberley expeditions cruise between Darwin and Broome and depart regularly between April and October 2010. Join us to explore the remote river gorges, rarely seen Aboriginal art, towering waterfalls and natural rugged beauty of this ancient coastline and our expert, all-Australian team of experienced guides and naturalists will acquaint you with the region's stunning natural scenery unique marine, bird and wildlife.

[More Info]

Remnants of Douglas Mawson's mono-plane found in Antarctica


Historic remnants of Douglas Mawson's mono-plane uncovered in Antarctica

Mawson's Huts, Cape Denison, Antarctica: While looking for suitable shore-side landing spots for guests travelling on board the visiting expedition ship Orion, Mawson's Huts Foundation team member Mark Farrell has uncovered remnant metal piping from Douglas Mawson's single-propeller mono-plane, taken with Mawson almost a century ago on his 1911 Antarctic expedition.

Built just eight years after the Wright brothers' first flight, this aircraft was the first produced by the Vickers factory in Britain, and the first taken to either polar region.

Transported to Antarctica without its wings, (removed in Australia following an accident during a demonstration flight prior to departure) the plane was used for a time as a motorised sledge. The "air tractor" was eventually abandoned because its Vickers engine succumbed to the extreme temperatures, described by Mawson as having "developed an internal disorder".

The plane was last seen in the mid-1970s when Antarctic researchers photographed the ice-encrusted fuselage. Unusually low tides, (assisted by a blue moon*), in combination with unprecedented melting of ice had exposed the rusty remnants, found on New Year's Day 2010.

It is understood that remains of the larger segments of the plane, which have been immersed in sea water possibly as long as 30 years, are still visible and clearly identifiable from archival photos as part of the aircraft.

Don McIntyre, Antarctic Expedition Team Leader on board Orion, has reported that the items found have been transferred to the Conservation Laboratory – which was transported as deck cargo onboard Orion to Cape Denison two years ago. In order to help conserve the parts of the plane found, Caustic Soda (provided from the ship's supplies) has allowed the Conservation Team to stabilize the corrosion.

Orion Expedition Cruises' involvement with the Mawson's Huts Foundation is part of an ongoing corporate commitment to assist and support the Foundation in their important conservation activities.

Taking advantage of excellent weather, Orion's guests were ashore at Cape Denison at 1600 to take a rare look inside the historic Mawson's Huts and surrounding environs, including seeing the tail plane/rudder of Mawson's plane, left in the hut by Mawson when he departed in 1913.

Guests on board the last Zodiacs returned to Orion at 23.30 to enjoy celebratory drinks and a warm meal, accompanied by Orion's Expedition Team and 10 members of Mawson's Huts Conservation Team (who took advantage of warm showers and dinner on board in the dining room – a welcome contrast to their life in tents while working on site).

The Australian Antarctic Division will decide whether to return the remains of the aircraft to Australia for specialist treatment or leave them at Cape Denison. Orion Expedition Cruises Managing Director, Sarina Bratton, has offered to transport the items back to Australia on board Orion.

[* Traditionally a blue moon is the second full moon within a calendar month, usually accompanied by unusually low tides.]

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Kapitan Khlebnikov's End of an Era

Icebreaker Travelers Generate Bittersweet Success for Quark Expeditions

In October 2009, Quark Expeditions announced that the polar adventure company's flagship, Kapitan Khlebnikov, will retire in March 2012. Four months later, Quark announced that the 13-itinerary End of an Era program is an unqualified success. One of the voyages to remote locales in Antarctica has sold out, and others in the Arctic and Antarctica are well on their way.

Despite the fact that the ship's retirement is two years away, travelers who hesitate to reserve a cabin may find they have missed the boat – or in this case – the icebreaker. There are cabins left on Quark's first End of an Era sailing, Northwest Passage: West to East (July 18 to August 5, 2010). On that voyage, special guest Andrew Lambert, author of The Gates of Hell: Sir John Franklin's Tragic Quest for the Northwest Passage, will return to Khlebnikov to deliver presentations about Franklin, and why a pursuit of scientific discovery had disastrous results. Also, the Laughton Professor of Naval History, will be present when the documentary, Franklin's Lost Expedition, in which he and Khlebnikov appear, is shown.

"We are very pleased that Professor Lambert accepted our invitation. His reinterpretation of the Franklin story has changed completely the way the world understands the event," said Quark's president, Patrick Shaw.

Shaw continued, "The success of our End of an Era program is bittersweet. We are disappointed that the icebreaker will no longer be a part of our fleet, yet, we are delighted at the response of polar travelers, who have embraced the program so enthusiastically."

A free information kit about the Northwest Passage voyage can be downloaded from the Quark Expeditions website. Per person prices start at $16,490. The 19-day expedition embarks in Anadyr, Russia and disembarks in Resolute, Canada.

About Quark Expeditions


Quark Expeditions was the first polar adventure company to transit the Northeast Passage with commercial passengers; the first to take travelers to the "far side" of Antarctica and the first to circumnavigate the Antarctic continent with guests, twice. In 2006 and 2007, Quark was named a recipient of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" for "Emperor Penguin Safari" and the "Far Side" respectively. In 2006, Outside magazine named Quark's "Emperor Penguin Safari" as one of the New Trips of a Lifetime.

Captain Cook's 40th Birthday Sale


Captain Cook Cruises is celebrating its 40th Birthday in 2010 with a massive sale offering up to 40% off Sydney Harbour, Murray River and Fiji Islands discovery cruises. The sale is valid to 28 February 2010 and valid for travel to 31 March 2011.

Cruising is the fastest growing form of travel in Australia and the 2 night Sydney Weekender Cruise is a great way for passengers to try out their sea legs and experience a side of Sydney they've never seen before.  The Captain Cook's Explorer sails every Friday night, for a leisurely weekend packed full of fine food and wine, spectacular views, sightseeing, excellent service, exciting shore excursions, music, dancing and relaxation.

The 2 night Sydney Weekender Cruise starts from only $399 per person, normally $470 and includes $40 onboard bar credit per adult. The cruise departs every Friday at 6.00pm from Wharf 1, King Street Wharf and returns on Sunday at 3.00pm.

Discover the secrets of the South Australian outback aboard the Murray River's only paddlewheeler, the PS Murray Princess with special 4, 5 and 8 night cruise and accommodation packages.

Passengers will cruises past towering limestone cliffs, through picturesque gorges, go on guided nature walks and eco-tours, learn about the ecology of the river and visit historic ports, sacred Aboriginal sites, a sheep station and woolshed and a native wildlife shelter, while enjoying all the delicious food and wine the region has to offer.

The 4 night package starts from $699 per person, normally $855, the 5 night package from $899 per person, normally from $1113 and the 8 night package from $1359, normally $1676 per person. All prices include one night's accommodation in Adelaide before or after your cruise.

Visit the remote villages of the 'real' Fiji, secluded tropical islands and pristine beaches on Captain Cook Cruises 4, 5 and 8 night Fiji cruise and accommodation packages.

Offering a truly cultural experience passenger will visit unspoilt Fijian villages, churches, schools and handicraft markets, take part in a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast, discover secluded islands, snorkel over amazing coral reefs, laze on warm white sandy beaches and swim in crystal clear waters.

The 4 night package starts from $769 per person, normally $1270, the 5-night package from $969 per person, normally from $1670 and the 8-night package from $1569 per person, normally $2730. All prices include one night's accommodation in Nadi pre or post cruise.

The seven night Northern Fijian Dateline Cruise is an amazing cruise that reveals the unique history, art and culture of the Northern Fiji Islands and allows passengers the ultimate experience of standing' on the International Dateline.

2010 departure dates are: 4th May, 1st June, 3rd August, 7th September, 5th October and 2nd November.

The 8-night Northern Fijian Dateline Cruise package including one night's accommodation in Nadi pre or post cruise is priced from $1569 per person, normally $2730.

All cruises include meals, accommodation, most tours and all onboard facilities and entertainment.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: cruise@captaincook.com.au or visit www.captaincook.com.au