Monday, 31 May 2010

Orion Expedition Cruises voted Best Cruise Line in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards 2010

The winners of the annual Australian Gourmet Traveller travel awards were announced recently at the Sydney Opera House. The results represent 34,000 public votes from Gourmet Traveller readers and viewers of the travel show Getaway, in addition to an expert panel of writers, editors, authors and independent experts.

In the single category for cruising, Orion Expedition Cruises again scooped the Best Cruise Line (Global) accolade ahead of other finalists Cunard, Silversea and The Yachts of Seabourn.

Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas hosted the event and presentation of trophies for the 12 reader-voted awards and six expert-judged categories. The innovators, pioneers and legends of Australian tourism were feted at the Sydney Opera House as singer Katie Noonan entertained and host and Getaway presenter Catriona Rowntree revealed the 2010 winner's circle.

"These awards have become an annual highlight of the Australian tourism industry calendar," said Anthea Loucas. "In the space of just four years they have garnered huge public support to become awards of record and a tribute to the innovation, vision and dedication of Australia's most impressive tourism operators."

Orion also received the Best Cruise Line and Best Adventure Tourism awards in the 2009 Australian Gourmet Traveller awards.

New True North Cruise Explores Pristine Solomon Islands

North Star Cruises has announced a brand new opportunity for adventure with the new Solomon Sojourn itinerary on board the magnificent True North ship.

The inaugural eight-day Solomon Sojourn cruise will depart Brisbane in November 2010, with a second cruise running back-to-back.

North Star General Manager Peter Trembath said the stunning Pacific Island Solomon Island region was virtually untouched by tourism.

"We're offering a truly unique opportunity to experience the beauty of this place and its people," said Mr Trembath.

The Solomon Sojourn features an exciting mix of culture, vibrant coral reef, history and the stunning South Pacific – as well as True North's revered line-up of snorkelling, diving, fishing and helicopter exploration.

Highlights of the eight day itinerary include:

• Exploring the volcanic Savo Island
• Fishing, diving and snorkelling at Russell, Uepi, and Kennedy Islands
• Discovering fascinating US war time history
• Soaking up the culture and vibrant atmosphere of local markets and villages
• Swimming in pristine lagoons
• Commercial return flights from Brisbane to Honiara

Mr Trembath urged anyone interested to book early.

"Our maiden adventures on board True North always sell out fast and cabins must be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis," he said.

Prices for the Solomon Sojourn start at $10,995 per person.

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

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


Sunday, 30 May 2010

Blue Lagoon Cruises releases 30% discount on all seven-day cruises

Fiji's iconic Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 30 per cent discount off all seven-day Yasawa Island cruises booked before 31 August 2010 for travel until 31 March 2011.

The special offer means pricing for a seven-day cruise now starts from just AUD1300 per person twin share in a Hibiscus class cabin - a saving of AUD600 per person.

This includes all onboard accommodation, all main meals, morning and afternoon tea, cruise and cultural activities.

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

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast, visits to remote villages, Kava ceremonies and a day spent at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai. 

The seven-day cruise departs Blue Lagoon Cruises' home port of Lautoka every Monday, returning the following Sunday.

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

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

 

Watch Whales while Cruising the Kimberley with Coral Princess

The world's largest humpback whale migration sees up to 6000 whales heading up the 'superhighway' along Western Australia's coast to calve in the warm waters off the Kimberley between August and November. Coral Princess extended its Kimberley cruise program last year – and discovered that late season whale watching is 'simply incredible'.

"We lost count of how many whales we saw on the voyage. We had daily sightings, and several came within metres of the ship, with mothers appearing to 'show' their calves to the human onlookers," said Vicki Briggs, Director of Coral Princess Cruises.

"We're used to seeing whales on our voyages, but the late season departures were incredible in terms of the frequency of sightings, and for the experience of seeing mothers and calves interacting."

Coral Princess Cruises has added extra departures for its most popular cruise - a voyage exploring the remote Kimberley coast between Broome and Darwin – extending the season from its usual start in April through to October.

The 10-night Kimberley cruise visits Kuri Bay, home of the South Pacific pearl industry, and ventures ashore to view the world-famous Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings, - the world's oldest known indigenous art – and the towering, 80-metre King George Falls, the tallest waterfalls in Western Australia. There is an optional helicopter flight over the Mitchell Plateau for views of the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls, as well as excursions into secluded gorges and to rock pools perfect for swimming. The cruise explores the Buccaneer Archipelago – made up of 800 islands – and includes an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the 'Horizontal Waterfall', where the tide floods between rocky cliffs.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000.

Coral Princess operates two ships in the Kimberley. The Oceanic Discoverer accommodates a maximum of just 72 guests and travels with a purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer and inflatable Zodiacs. Coral Princess accommodates a maximum of just 48 guests. In true expedition style, the itinerary may vary to take maximum advantage of opportunities to venture ashore, to explore the many waterfalls, river systems and reefs  - or to stop and watch the whales!

Prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise start at A$6850 (A$6950 in 2011) aboard Coral Princess and A$8250 (A$8450 in 2011) aboard Oceanic Discoverer. Prices are per person, twin share and include the cruise, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board and group transfers. There are regular departures from both Darwin and Broome between April and October.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises at www.coralprincess.com.au.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Aqua Expeditions to Launch Second Amazon Ship

Upscale Peruvian Amazon river cruise operator Aqua Expeditions will launch its second vessel, Aria, in April 2011, CEO Francesco Galli-Zugaro announced. The luxury river cruise ship will accommodate 32 guests, in suite and mini-suite accommodations featuring floor-to-ceiling windows.

Aria will also feature a fully air-conditioned top deck Observation Lounge, an exercise room, an outdoor Jacuzzi and Sun Deck, an Amazon Wildlife reference library and air-conditioned multimedia room, and cuisine created by award-winning Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.

Aria will offer three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to remote and pristine areas of the Amazon River, including the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. The ship, with 24 crew members, will also feature a staff of four world-class naturalist guides. The Aria will join Aqua Expeditions’ first ship, the 130-foot Aqua, which was built in 2007 and can accommodate a maximum of 24 guests plus crew. The Aqua features 12 suites, including four master suites. For more information, visit www.aquaexpeditions.com.

“L’AUSTRAL” LAUNCHED IN ANCONA SUPER LUXURY SHIP FOR COMPAGNIE DU PONANT

Today at Ancona shipyard there was the launch of “L’Austral”, the first of two super luxury cruise ships ordered from Fincantieri by the French Owner Compagnie du Ponant. Due to take up service in autumn 2010, in terms of size and sophisticated décor in many respects the ship is very similar to a mega yacht.
“L’Austral” is the sister ship of “Le Boreal”, which will be presented soon always at Ancona shipyard. The two ships are destined to became the fleet’s new flagships.

Present at the ceremony were: Jean-Emmanuel Sauvee, Director General of Compagnie du Ponant, Véronique Saade, Deputy Managing Director, and, representing Fincantieri, Antonio Quintano, Director of Ancona shipyard. Godmother to the ship was Florence Rousset.

The new ship, which will fly the French flag, is approximately 10,700 gross tonnes, 142 metres long and 20 wide. Passenger capacity is over 260 guests, accommodated in 132 cabins and suites, all with a sea view, of which 94% with a private balcony.
Equipped with cutting edge technologies to reduce environmental impact, “L’Austral” will be able to reach ports and destinations which are inaccessible to larger vessels.

Compagnie du Ponant, whose head office is in Marseilles, is ranked # 1 in French-flag cruise-lines. Currently has a fleet of three cruise ships serving a super-luxury customer target. Founded in 1988, the company is a member of CMA-CGM Group, the world’s third ship owning group in the container sector.

Since 1990 Fincantieri, world leader in the sector, has delivered 53 cruise ships. A further 10 vessels, including “Le Boreal” and “L’Austral”, are under construction or due to be built within 2012 at the group’s shipyards.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Offers Once-In-A-Lifetime Voyages to the Northwest Passage and Kamchatka

The only 5-star (according to the 2010 Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships) expedition vessel in the world, the MS HANSEATIC will be offering two of the last great unexplored routes in the world, the Northwest Passage and Kamchatka this year. Both routes, rarely traveled by cruise ships, offer a luxury cruise experience and a once in a lifetime adventure.

THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE In August 2010, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will be offering their Northwest Passage itinerary with MS HANSEATIC, departing Kangerlussaq, Greenland on August 16, 2010 for a 24-day voyage along Greenland and near the Arctic Circle, and ending in Nome, Alaska on September 9th. It is the most famous sea route in the world, and has been both a myth and challenge for centuries.

The legendary passage for the HANSEATIC starts in Greenland and crosses Disko Bay. Guests will be thrilled to encounter caribou, polar bears, musk oxen, bald eagles, and whales, while taking full advantage of the many Zodiac landings to explore the impressive glacial coasts along the route. Planned highlights (weather permitting): a visit to a former whaling base in Herschel Island; a landing in Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island, including a visit to the wreck of the "Maud," in which Roald Amundsen conquered the Northwest Passage; zodiac landings in Peel Sound, the Franklin Strait and Larsen Sound; and a stop in Barrow, Alaska, the most northern city in the world. Shore excursions at an additional charge.

The itinerary starts at $21,000 per person, based on double occupancy for an outside cabin. Charter flights from Hanover/Germany to Kangerlussuaq/Greenland and from Nome/Alaska to Vancouver/Canada are included in the cruise price. UNIQUE EXPEDITION THROUGH KAMCHATKA The remote reaches of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, and the distant and isolated Kuril Islands have mesmerized explorers and traders for centuries. This exploration takes guests along the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, cruising to Japan’s northern islands, through the Kuril Islands and along the Kamchatka coast.

The wildlife is some of the richest in the world and the scenery of snow-capped volcanoes, dense forest, tundra and meadow is spectacular. Geysers, hot springs and active volcanoes set amidst towering mountains and fast flowing rivers make this area unique. This itinerary will be fully bilingual, departing Nome, on September 9, 2010 for a 19-day expedition voyage to the Chukchi Peninsula, Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, the Japanese islands of Hokkaido and Sakhalin, and ending in Yokohama, Japan on, September 29th.

Highlights of this cruise include the following shore excursions (weather permitting): a helicopter flight over the Kamchatka Volcanoes, a visit to the remote fishing village of Meynipilgino, a drive up to the Avacha Volcano in Kamchatka, and a walk around Atlasova, an uninhibited island with the biggest active volcano of the Kuril Islands.

Shore excursions at an additional charge. The itinerary starts at $12,240 per person, based on double occupancy for an outside cabin. This price included a complimentary charter flight for guests from Vancouver/Canada to Nome/Alaska.

BOOKING DETAILS For more information on the itineraries above, visit www.hl-cruises.com.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Orion Releases 2011 Expedition Voyages Brochure

Orion Expedition Cruises has just released its new, expanded, 2011 Expeditions brochure, which features the company's two ships, Orion and (to be introduced in May 2011) Orion II.

The 94 page brochure covers 49 voyages to 17 countries and more than 170 remote and exotic destinations stretching from Antarctica to the Russian Far East.

Destination summaries by region provide useful reference for potential expedition travellers and highlight the differences between typical mainstream cruising and the rewarding physical and intellectual experiences to be had on Orion's luxury small ship expedition voyages.

"The introduction of Orion II to the fleet in 2011 has inspired us to present our range of exciting year-round expedition cruises within a quality photo-image format to best portray our varied destinations and 5 star ships. Expansive landscape photography reflects seascapes and cultural interaction typically encountered on Orion expeditions and the expanded range of 27 different itineraries provides plenty of choice for potential guests".

"Orion's ecologically and culturally sustainable expeditions provide authentic experiences in remote and seldom visited destinations. Onboard lectures and shore-side interpretation by our expedition team allows our guests to absorb the surroundings and cultures unknown to mainstream tourism", commented Sarina Bratton, Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises, when announcing the release of the new brochure.

The luxury life onboard is revealed through Orion and Orion II's range of accommodation and facilities, (including floor plans for Staterooms and Suites through to Owner and Penthouse Suites) and examples of onboard facilities that include boutique, massage, spa, elevator and lounges – and Serge Dansereau's award winning cuisine.

The brochure has a useful pricing supplement with early booking incentives, rewards and notes on how to reserve your Orion Expedition.

If a photo tells a thousand words then video goes one better. The brochure also contains a DVD providing a taste of some of the destinations visited and typical cultural, historic and wildlife experiences encountered along the way.

2011 voyage highlights:

• 13 Kimberley Expeditions, with inclusive Bungle Bungle flights
• Orion's inaugural West Papua and Maluku Voyage of Discovery
• Orion II's Voyage of Discovery to the Russian Far East
• Discover the ancient cultures on Orion II's Inland Sea of Japan voyage
• 7 Borneo voyages which will circumnavigate the island
• 2 Tasmanian Food and Wine focused voyages
• Orion's inaugural Exploration of the Antipodes
• 3 Orion Antarctic Centenary voyages of celebration to Commonwealth Bay (Mawson's Hut) and the Ross Sea (Scott and Shackelton's huts)
• Lord Howe Island and Aotearoa, including the active volcano at Mt White island
• Christmas in New Zealand's spectacular fjordland and sub-Antarctic islands
• 8 voyages to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, including the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh and Angkor Wat


Additional information

Orion II's inaugural voyages in 2011 include the Russian Far East, an in-depth exploration of Borneo, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia (including a visit to Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument), and the Inland Sea of Japan.

Orion's itineraries feature 13 voyages exploring Australia's Kimberley coast, the rarely visited indigenous art centres of Arnhem Land, and a voyage to the Spice Islands. Voyages to New Zealand and the Sub Antarctic islands will include the rarely visited Chatham, Antipodes and Bounty islands, while Orion's Papua New Guinea itineraries feature an exciting new voyage across northern Papua to West Papua and Maluku.

An electronic version of the Orion 2011 brochure can be downloaded from www.orionexpeditions.com/ebrochure or a printed version mailed directly simply by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), emailing info@orioncruises.com.au or through specialist expedition cruise travel agents.


Fares Guide:
All prices per person, twin share.

5 nights Great Barrier Reef / Orion: Fares from A$3,715 for an ocean view Category B stateroom; A$5,125 for a Junior Suite; Owners' Suites with French Balcony are A$7,780.

7 nights Gulf of Siam Explorer / Orion II: Fares from A$5,705 for an ocean view Category B Ocean Suite; A$7,910 for a Junior Suite; Penthouse Suites with Balcony are A$11,480.

10 nights Inland Sea of Japan /Orion II: Fares from A$8,150 for an ocean view Category B Ocean Suite; A$11,300 for a Junior Suite; Penthouse Suites with Balcony are A$16,400.

10 nights Kimberley Expedition / Orion: Fares from A$9,100 per person for an ocean view Category B stateroom; A$12,550 for a Junior Suite per person; Owners' Suites with French Balcony are A$19,055 per person. All prices twin share.

14 nights Ryukyu Islands and Sabah /Orion II: Fares from A$11,410 for an ocean view Category B Ocean Suite; A$15,820 for a Junior Suite; Penthouse Suites with Balcony are A$22,960.

18 nights Mawson's Antarctica / Orion: Fares from A$19,365 per person for an ocean view Category B stateroom; A$26,710 for a Junior Suite per person; Owners' Suites with French Balcony are A$40,555 per person. All prices twin share.

Mutiny, Misery and Majesty - Welcome to Norfolk Island

Named after a dead duchess by a slain sea captain and populated by mutineers, sadists and convicts, dainty little Norfolk Island did not get off to a flying start.

Humiliation and servitude
in the Royal Navy or this?
Fletcher Christian's many
descendants now populate
Norfolk Island
While the Christians, Quintals, Evans, Adams and Burkitts still hold positions of influence on Norfolk, and the eclectic community of 2000 dialect-speaking souls hold dear to their colonial heritage, modern marketing gurus are busy reinventing them.

“The World of Norfolk” is the new tagline for the little island which only got its airstrip in WWII when General MacArthur decreed it a strategic location. Once a stopover for DC3s and De Havillands, it’s long been a destination for Grey Nomads, Red Hatters and Blue Rinse Bombers. And it’s this now outdated perception that the Islanders are working so hard to correct.

“’The World of Norfolk’ tells a story of pared back natural simplicity, untarnished by the trimmings of the modern world. Norfolk Island is a microcosm of the planet earth and we are taking the steps to keep it that way,” said Wally Beadman, Chairman, Norfolk Island Tourism at the campaign launch last year.

P&O include Norfolk Island on eight itineraries in the next 12 months, including one visiting the famous Bounty mutiny site of 1789. Enterprising local operators compiled a list of nearly twenty shore excursions covering 4WD safaris, garden tours, golf, history, gourmet, fishing, scuba diving, horse riding and bushwalking.

Local co-ordinator, Duncan Evans, told me nearly 600 passengers signed up for shore excursions from the Pacific Sun in April. Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl will also visit in the next few months.

Pacific Sun unloads passengers by launch in Kingston Harbour

“There are still a few things we need to make smoother,” said Duncan frankly, “like disembarking 2000 passengers by launch in time for their excursions. That’s something we’re in discussions with P&O on.”

Certainly the lack of a tie-up wharf at Kingston inhibits large scale operations for the moment, but P&O have shown confidence in the islanders’ skill in handling so many guests.

"Norfolk Island is such a unique destination, we’re sure its many natural and historical attractions will be a hit with our passengers," Carnival Australia Senior Vice President Jenny Lourey said in an earlier press statement.

If there is one thing you can rely on, it’s the islanders ability to welcome guests, show them an amazing destination and send them on their way richer from the experience. The island even issued a series of P&O commemorative stamps.

Beyond the big ship challenges, Norfolk also attracts small ship visits from niche cruise operators like Cruise West, Hapag-Lloyd, Heritage Expeditions and Zegrahm.

If you can’t wait for a ship, Norfolk Air run regular scheduled services From MEL, SYD, BNE and Newcastle (BEO).

You must try a steak from one of the blue cows with local organic salad and vegies, drink the sparkling water and learn how to say “de baes said orn erth” (The best place of Earth)

More: www.theworldofnorfolk.com.au

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Tall Ship Voyage Sydney to Auckland

A RARE CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE ON A TALL SHIP AUTHENTIC SAILING VOYAGE FROM SYDNEY TO NEW ZEALAND
 
An opportunity to join the crew sailing an authentic square-rigged sailing ship

From Sydney to Auckland - departs 25th October – 8th November 2010

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

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

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

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

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

15-day all-inclusive cost $4095 per person - includes all meals onboard, all excursions and activities, services of professional and experienced sail crew and cook, use of ship's wet-weather gear, inflatable boats and all safety equipment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Pacific Ocean bluewater sailing voyages are available from Tonga to Fiji or New Caledonia to Sydney.  South Pacific island cruising voyages are offered to Vanuatu, the remote Vanuatu Banks & Torres Islands, to Fiji & to Tonga.

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

OUTDOOR TRAVEL Pty Ltd

Website:  http://www.outdoortravel.com.au/

Monday, 17 May 2010

20% Discount Makes Galapagos a Natural Selection

FAMED for its vast number of endemic species and stark volcanic landscapes, the Galapagos Islands, situated about 1000 km west of continental Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean is a world treasure waiting to be explored.

Home to a myriad of amazing creatures where Charles Darwin’s concept of natural selection was born some 170 years ago, the archipelago is a constant source of wonderment to travellers, scientists and nature lovers faced with the mystery of its incredible diversity.

A region of rare beauty and major ecological significance, it simply has to be seen to be believed and what better way than on this four day cruise adventure from Tempo Holidays aboard Galapagos Explorer II complete with fabulous amenities, spacious cabins, onboard Jacuzzi and massage suite plus expert naturalists to share their knowledge of the incredible region.

Reduced by 20%, rates start from just $1582* per person twin share including three nights accommodation, three breakfasts, two lunches and three dinners, transfers to and from Galapagos airport to cruise vessel plus all shore excursions with bilingual guide.

The special offer is valid for selected departures throughout 2010.

For bookings, contact your local travel agent or Tempo Holidays - Australian Travel Agent, www.tempoholidays.com, 1300 558 987 or info@tempoholidays.com. For more information, check out Tempo Holidays’ latest specials and promotions.

*Terms & conditions apply, subject to change and availability.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Zegrahm Expeditions’ Announces First-Ever “Circumnavigation of Sumatra” Cruise

Zegrahm Expeditions will extend its tradition of offering exclusive journeys and unique “circumnavigation” voyages in 2011, when it operates a Circumnavigation of Sumatra cruise in January aboard Clipper Odyssey.

Sumatra, located in Western Indonesia, is the sixth largest island in the world, and contains a rich diversity of natural and cultural highlights – ideal for Zegrahm’s small-ship, expedition cruising concept.

The maneuverability, comfort, and Zodiac capability of the 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey, makes the ship well-suited for a robust exploration of Sumatra. The 18-day Circumnavigation of Sumatra cruise departs January 3, 2011; the Clipper Odyssey will sail in a counter-clockwise direction around the island, making numerous landings for visits to remote villages, historic sites, and national parks. The voyage begins and ends in Singapore – an interesting destination itself, and convenient for international flights.

On this Circumnavigation of Sumatra cruise Zegrahm presents a destination of beautiful tropical rainforests, towering mountains and volcanoes, and a vast array of ethnic peoples – boasting 52 different languages. A wealth of national parks are home to over 200 mammal species, including nine that are endemic to the main island and 14 that are endemic to the Mentawai Islands. A special highlight of this voyage is the opportunity to view orphaned Sumatran orangutans at Bukit Lawang Orangutan Rehabilitation Station. Birders search for some of the 580 species recorded on the island, such as the blue-masked leafbird, Sumatran drongo, and spot-necked bulbul.

In the highlands, the cultures of indigenous peoples have endured for generations. The Batak have a special dress code, religious beliefs, and customs, and their dwellings are elaborately decorated. On Nias Island, travelers will witness the traditional practice of stone-jumping, where young boys prove their manhood by jumping over six-foot-high stone megaliths. Participants will also meet the Minangkabau, a matrilineal society that uniquely combines Islamic beliefs with their traditional animist philosophy.

Like Zegrahm’s other programs, this Sumatra cruise is fully guided by the industry’s brightest leaders and lecturers. Company co-founder Mike Messick will be the Expedition Leader, with a roster of naturalists, historians and scientists aboard, highlighted by Dr. Jonathan Rossouw and Kevin Clement – two of the world’s top wildlife experts.

Reservations for Zegrahm’s Circumnavigation of Sumatra cruise are being accepted now and a brochure is available. Departures on new itineraries have a tendency to fill quickly. For reservations or more information, please contact Zegrahm and Eco Expeditions at 800-628-8747 or 206-285-400. Details are also accessible online at http://www.zeco.com.


Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions Inc., founded in 1990, is a leading adventure travel company specializing in small-ship expedition cruises, tours, and safaris to remote and intriguing destinations around the world. Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are carefully crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents. For more information, please access http://www.zeco.com.

Cruise Diary: True North in the Kimberley


Few places in the world cause Australian eyes to light up brighter than the Kimberley, and the True North, crowned by its own helicopter, is ultimate way to experience it. This is a very abbreviated account of what to expect on a one-week adventure.

Day 1: From Broome we're transferred by light aircraft to the Mitchell Plateau where our helicopter awaits. A 15-minute ride and we land on the True North in the Hunter River below. What a way to start a cruise! A group has already set off on a three-hour hike, while the later arrivals choose between fishing or sightseeing on one of the six tenders. We reunite for dinner and a chance to meet our fellow passengers, while entertained by special guest, guitarist Phil Ceberano, who performs an acoustic set every night.

Day 2: Dressed only in our swimwear, everyone gathers on the bow for an intimate encounter with King Cascade. The captain edges the boat so close to the waterfall that we're all drenched – and loving it. Afterwards, two tenders venture out to the Ampitheatre Waterfall for a heavier aqua-pounding. Others have spent the day fishing, mud-crabbing, walking, or taking a scenic helicopter flight, so there are many stories to share throughout the evening.

Day 3: The highlight of the trip takes place today: a "heli-picnic" at Melaleuca Falls. The chopper shuttles passengers to a beautiful swimming hole where we enjoy a BBQ of fish, crab, prawns, steak and salads. We walk up to the waterfall and sit on a ledge behind the cascading water – an exhilarating experience. The rest of the afternoon is passed with a few drinks under the paperbark trees, before the helicopter whisks us back to the boat for dinner.

Day 4: I join a tender ride out to Montgomery Reef, home to turtles, birds, sharks and dugongs. Back onboard, our local guide Jarrad presents a talk on the Kimberley wilderness as we head down the Sale River for a short walk to another swimming hole. While some passengers fly off for a night of "heli-camping", the remaining 20 have a fancy-dress party to celebrate crewmember Mikey's 21st.

Day 5: More fishing and sightseeing down the Glenelg River, followed by a Kimberley-style day spa at Ruby Falls where we smear ourselves with mud. Continuing on to Steep Island, we embark on a 30-minute trek up to see one of the region's most accessible sites of Wandjana rock art. After dinner is the lively quiz night, which my team wins, of course.

Day 6: A tour of the bridge and engine room kicks off the morning, then a helicopter ride over Talbot Bay and the mining islands of Koolan and Cockatoo. Unfortunately the effect of the Horizontal Falls is spoiled by the neap tide, but our disappointment is washed away with a couple of beers and a game of cricket on the snow-white sands of Silica Beach – a good Aussie end to a great Australian adventure.

For details, see www.northstarcruises.com.au.

Where to Stay in Broome: The new Pinctada Cable Beach Spa Resort is the only official five-star accommodation in town. Managed by Marilynne Paspaley AM, the 72-room resort has a pool with spa and lap lane, alfresco dining, poolside café, cocktail lounge, gym, day spa, meditative garden and landscaping by Jamie Durie.

A few minutes walk from Cable Beach, it's a relaxing and friendly spot to stay before and after your Kimberley cruise. The ambience is enhanced with native plants, boab trees, original artworks and breeze-capturing balconies on all spacious studios. Airport pick-up is available.

For bookings, see www.pinctadacablebeach.com.au.



Louise Goldsbury is the editor of Cruise Weekly, available FREE to all cruise lovers in Australia and New Zealand. Sign up at www.cruiseweekly.com.au

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Cruise West Guests Rave About Inaugural World Voyage


Small-ship, authentic exploration, big adventures

Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, is receiving rave reviews from world voyage guests.  "The included Ultimate Explorer Experiences (noteworthy shore excursions) were so incredible that I will remember them forever.  So great, that I am rejoining the voyage later this year," said Susan B.

The line created an amazing array of included shore excursions designed to highlight the magic of each destination.  Blog Ahoy, Cruise West's world voyage blog with submissions coming from guests, talks of adventures and memorable experiences.  Guest Susan P. remarks on the blog, "One of the greatest blessings about going on an excursion like we are doing with Cruise West is the opportunity to experience a culture, climate, religious beliefs, and terrain that, for most of us, is so different from our own. One of the best ways to appreciate all that we are getting to see and do is to soak it all in and realize that here in Oman, or anywhere else, things are not necessarily better or worse than our ways, just different."

"Today onboard the ship, Dr. Jenifer Neils, who is a professor and Smithsonian speaker, spoke about the Gifts of the Nile this morning, preparing us for our excursion to Egypt. We learned the chronology of Egyptian rule; the geographical and political separation of the Upper Nile (which is called that because it is higher in elevation) and the Lower Nile; insight as to the many gods of Ancient Egypt; the art work produced using a specific grid for drawing humans (which explains the uniform look of their paintings); that the main crop grown in ancient times was barley (for bread and beer); and about mummies," mentions another guest.

Another guest comments, "Cruising on the Voyages of the Great Explorers world cruise is not just about the cultural experiences and unique destinations, it is also about meeting interesting passengers and enjoying fabulous food together. Doesn't food bring the world together...especially desserts?"

Voyage of the Great Explorers is a series of 24 separate and unique cruises to Southeast Asia, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Greek isles, East Coast Canada and USA, Australia and the South Pacific that combine to form a 335-day circumnavigation of the world along the major routes inspired by history's great ocean explorers.  The world voyage began March 5, 2010, and is sailing ever westward, returning to Singapore on February 3, 2011.  The second edition world voyage for 2011/2012 has been announced and is also accepting bookings.  Voyages range from 9 – 19 nights and may be purchased individually or in multiple segments.

There is still time to book a world voyage for 2010 and 2011 on board the 60-suite Spirit of Oceanus.  Prices start at $6,545 per person.  For further details, visit www.CruiseWest.com, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Ponant launches the new Le Boreal

 
Innovative new luxury sailing yacht sets sail in France

Compagnie du Ponant's newest luxury cruising yacht, Le Boreal has just successfully completed her maiden voyage from Marseilles to Nice. As the fourth addition to Ponant's fleet of ships built in the style of superb mega yachts, the 132-cabin Le Boreal will offer itineraries to rare and unique ports in exhilarating destinations, from the sun-drenched Mediterranean and exotic South America to the frozen landscapes of Antarctica.

Built by the Italian Fincantieri shipyard, Le Boreal's distinct design was created by Stirling Design International in Nantes. The interiors strike the perfect balance between casual chic and relaxed elegance, combining superior materials with modern décor and unique furnishings. On board, soothing neutral tones are enlivened by splashes of red, Ponant's signature colour, linking tradition and innovation, to create personal touches in the spirit of a private yacht.

Le Boreal's staterooms and suites offer expansive sea views with modern touches such as flat screen TVs with satellite channels, video on demand, DVD, CD and iPod™ players and wi-fi connectivity. Nearly all cabins have a private balcony, while some are available as triples, or as inter-connecting cabins for families who will also enjoy the leisure area equipped with Wii™ consoles and other children's games.

With six decks, Le Boreal features an extensive range of modern and luxurious amenities. Loyal to French tradition, the haute cuisine on board is worthy of the world's finest restaurants. Everything has been done to preserve the independence of each guest to suit their personal tastes: lounges for lectures and shows, a spa in partnership with Carita™, but also more intimate spaces such as the library and internet corner. Ponant has also joined forces with brands such as Nespresso, Swarovski, Palais des Thés, Carita and Mumm to enhance the guest experience on board.

Le Boreal's eco-friendly design is "Green Ship" label certified. The ship offers ingenious features such as dynamic positioning to avoid anchoring on the seabed; an electric propulsion system that is quiet and economic and an onboard waste and sewage treatment system.

At only 142 metres long, Le Boreal's small size assures access to remote locations inaccessible to larger ships. This grants passengers an exclusive invitation to amazing sights, new cultures and secret ports. Combining the most beautiful coastline and countryside with onboard lectures gives passengers an enriched cultural experience. Select Le Boreal cruises will have special themes – such as wellness, gourmet cuisine, golf, classical music and astronomy – which are enhanced by guest hosts, relevant experts and renowned lecturers.

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

Voyages to Antiquity: “Sicily Is the Key to Everything”

FEEL THE MIGHT OF SICILY!

15 day Athens to Venice cruise from $3995 per person

Geographically and historically the hub of the Mediterranean, the island of Sicily has been shaped by many influential empires, most notably the medieval Normans, Goths, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans.

These great civilisations have left amazing architectural legacies throughout Sicily including the well-preserved Greek temples of Segesta and the Valle dei Templi, the Norman Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel in Palermo, and the fortifications of Syracuse.

Now Voyages to Antiquity is offering "Sicily Is the Key to Everything", a one-of-kind 15 day cruise which explores Sicily's might and glory then Italy's spectacular Amalfi coast, and Greece.

 "Our voyages are not just about cruising, they're about exploring," said Craig Bowen, Managing Director of Cruise Traveller, which promotes the Voyages to Antiquity programme in Australia.

"Not only do we take you to fascinating places with amazing histories- we also ensure that you learn about their significance, and do so by providing expert lecturers and guided shore excursions," said Mr Bowen.



During this cruise aboard the "Aegean Odyssey", passengers will visit over 20 destinations, including Athens, Nauplia and Mycenae in Greece, Taormina, Syracuse, Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo in Sicily, plus Sorrento, Capri and Salerno on the Amalfi coast.

Highlights include a tour of the Acropolis in Athens, spectacular views of active volcano Mt Etna, the tomb of legendary scientist Archimedes and the extraordinary city of Pompeii.

This cruise is priced from AUD$3995 per person, twin share, departing on 27 July and again on 21 September 2010. All cruises include wine with every dinner, gratuities and port charges. Availability is limited at these prices and some conditions apply.

Aboard the 380-passenger "Aegean Odyssey", there are two restaurants, three lounges, four bars, a lecture theatre and cinema, a library, a shop, an internet centre, a medical centre, a swimming pool and jacuzzi and a beauty salon.

For more information or to make a booking, contact Cruise Traveller by email sales@cruisetraveller.com.au, or call 1800 507 777.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Amazing 40th Birthday Deals from Captain Cook Cruises

Captain Cook Cruises is celebrating its 40th Birthday this year with some amazing cruising discounts, a one day mega web sale and free cruises for 40 year olds.

For those dreaming of a tropical getaway to escape the Australian winter, Captain Cook Cruises are offering 30% off brochure fares on all 3, 4 and 7 night Fijian cruises.

The three nights Southern Yasawa Islands cruise starts from $839 per person twin share, the four nights Northern Yasawa Islands cruise starts from $1049 per person twin share and the seven nights Yasawa Islands cruise starts from $1749 per person twin share.

This great deal is valid for sale until 30 June 2010 and valid for travel from 01 June 2010 to 31 March 2011. As an extra bonus for families a separate children's bunk cabin is available at no additional charge with payment of two or more children 3-17 years with accompanying parents or guardians.

If discovering the distinct winter beauty of the Murray River and Sydney Harbour sounds appealing Captain Cook Cruises is offering 25% off all Wintersun 3, 4 and 7 night Murray River cruises and two nights Sydney Harbour Weekend cruises from June to August 2010.

Wintersun Murray River cruises start from $583 per person for the three nights Discovery Cruise, from $779 per person for the four nights Outback Heritage Cruise and from $1199 per person for the seven nights Murraylands & Wildlife Cruise.

The two night's Sydney Harbour Wintersun Weekend cruises start from $359 per person twin share.

The Wintersun sale is valid for travel 01 June to 31st August and on sale until 31 August 2010.

All cruise prices include accommodation, all meals, on-board facilities, entertainment and most on shore excursions.

For anyone lucky enough to 40 years of age, Captain Cook Cruises is letting you cruise for free on any Sydney Harbour sightseeing cruise including the famous Coffee Cruise, Harbour Highlights and Harbour Express Cruise. Passengers must be 40 at the time of cruising and photo identification must be shown at the ticket box.

This fantastic offer is valid travel until 30 June 2010. Sightseeing cruises depart daily from Jetty 6, Circular Quay and for a full timetable visit www.captaincook.com.au

To really help get the party started, Captain Cook Cruises is having a one day mega web sale in early June where cruises will be given away for as little as $1 from our range of Sydney Harbour, Murray River and Fiji Islands fleet. To take advantage of the sale customers must first pre-register. Visit www.captaincook.com.au/specials for details.
 

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

More adventure cruising ideas.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Cruise Weekly: Enquiring Minds go Adventure Cruising

Sir George Hubert Wilkins in his later years

by Roderick Eime

It’s not uncommon for cruise ships of all shapes and sizes to carry with them lecturers and demonstrators on all manner of subjects from history, geography, anthropology, winemaking, yoga and oil painting to crochet.

Adventure and expedition cruise vessels traditionally take the learning and enrichment angle very seriously. Instead of flower arranging and tantric diets, you can expect to learn about the exploits of early explorers and adventurers, the migration patterns of early the lapita civilization in Melanesia and how to tell a dorid nudibranch from a common sea slug.

William Mills, the late keeper of collections at Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University (SPRI), once berated me on behalf of all Australians.

“You Aussies are fixated on (British-born) Mawson and completely overlook one of the most accomplished explorers of the 20th Century,” he admonished. Aboard a Quark vessel, William proceeded to enlighten me on the outrageous career of Sir Hubert Wilkins, a modest country boy from South Australia, who was the first person to successfully deploy an aircraft in Antarctica, first to fly across the Arctic, first to take a submarine beneath the polar ice cap and first to comprehensively study the flora, fauna and indigenous people of outback Australia. Hubert who? Exactly!

My understanding of the complexities and subtleties of Melanesian culture was considerably enhanced by the vivacious Dr Nancy Sullivan, a US-born, Madang-based anthropologist whose ebullient descriptions of the convoluted Kula trading patterns of the Milne Bay region had the entire passenger and crew complement of Oceanic Discoverer transfixed. A vocal advocate for responsible tourism in her beloved PNG, Nancy defends the perceived intrusion of tourists.

“(Responsible) Tourism is good for Papua New Guinea,” she repeats almost as a mantra. “It brings much-needed funds to remote communities, encourages them to maintain traditional culture and prevents the young men, in particular, from seeking work in the cities where they’re exposed to many dangerous influences.”
Mick Fogg

Aboard Orion, Mick Fogg, carefully unrolls his vast knowledge in a way everyone can understand and appreciate. I can’t remember his specific specialty, but he can orate with the best on such varied scientific topics as marine biology, zoology, vulcanology and geology.

“People [aboard expedition ships] are looking for a full experience behind their travels,” Mick told me. “They want the whole story, not just another photo for their album. They’re asking questions and filling in gaps in their own understanding and often sharing their knowledge – just don’t ask me about global warming!”

Okay, I didn’t, but clearly lots of people do, and that’s okay because learning, discovery and understanding is what expedition cruising is all about. Our Earth is a tiny but fascinating planet in this vast cosmos and anyone who has ever been glued to their TV screen watching a David Attenborough documentary is a prime candidate for this type of mind-expanding travel.

Next time you are flicking through the pages of a travel brochure, consider the wider cruising options available. Are you an adventurer? Check out www.adventurecruiseguide.com for more ideas.