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Thursday, 28 July 2011

New Cruising Itineraries in Galapagos

Passengers from Ecoventura enjoy Giant Tortoise experience at Charles Darwin Conservatory (Roderick Eime)
Ecoventura Offers Two 7-Night Cruise Itineraries

Starting January 2012 on 20-Passsenger M/Y Eric, Flamingo I and Letty


New Itineraries Developed to Comply with New Galapagos National Park Regulations Will Enhance Experience While Minimizing Visitor Impact

Ecoventura's (http://www.ecoventura.com) environmentally friendly fleet of small expedition vessels in the Galapagos will alternate two 7-night itineraries approved by the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve beginning on Jan. 29, 2012.

Three 20-passenger sister yachts, MY Eric, Flamingo and Letty are charged with helping protect and preserve the fragile eco system while engaging guests in the splendors of the Galapagos archipelago.

Cruise rates start at $3,350 per person double occupancy per week. Shorter options are sometimes available on seasonal departure dates only for a 5 or 6 night cruise.

"Our team of experts carefully developed two distinct itineraries that would best benefit our client's interests and allow them to see the greatest variety of species of wildlife possible," explains Ecoventura spokesperson Doris Welsh. "The two weeklong itineraries can easily be combined to create the ultimate Galapagos experience providing a comprehensive view of the region's geology, history, wildlife and culture."

The itineraries complement park efforts to reduce erosion, pressure and possible stress on wildlife at the 14 most popular central visitor sites in the archipelago. This is being accomplished by redistributing visitor numbers across more sites away from the Central Islands. All tour boats in Galapagos must comply with this new regulation which will ultimately enhance visitor experience, said Welsh.

Both itineraries offer two guided land visits daily, snorkeling, dingy rides and kayaking, together optimizing opportunities to see iconic species of wildlife that make Galapagos famous: giant tortoises, penguins, frigate birds, boobies, flamingos, Darwin Finches, albatross, flightless cormorant, marine and land iguanas, lizards, many varieties of sea birds, whale, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks and sea lions.

Passengers who chose Itinerary A will visit the Southern & Central islands stopping at La Galapaguera, Cerro Brujo, Punta Pitt on San Cristobal, Punta Suarez and Gardner Bay on Espanola, Punta Cormorant, Post Office Bay and Devil's Crown on Floreana, Humedales, Wall of Tears, Sierra Negra on Isabela, Bartolome, Black Turtle Cove and South Plaza Island as well as the highlands of Santa Cruz.

Passengers who book Itinerary B will visit the Northern & Western islands stopping at Playa Ochoa, Leon Dormido in San Cristobal, Prince Philips Steps and Darwin Bay in Genovesa, North Seymour, Bachas Beach, Darwin Station on Santa Cruz, Punta Espinoza in Fernandina, Tagus Cove, Elizabeth Bay and Urbina Bay in Isabela, Puerto Egas on Santiago, Santa Fe and Rabida Island.

See: http://www.ecoventura.com/expeditionyachts/itineraries2012.aspx

After Jan. 29, 2012 Ecoventura guests can combine the two itineraries for an all-encompassing two-week program. Guests who book two consecutive weeks back to back are eligible for a 5 percent discount applicable any week (excluding holidays).

For scuba divers who want to combine diving in Galapagos with wildlife top side, the fleet's luxury dive live-aboard, Galapagos Sky offers one week in tandem with a second week on Eric, Flamingo or Letty.  Passengers are eligible for a 5 percent discount on selected departure dates.

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard its fleet of three expedition vessels; Eric, Flamingo and Letty, identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts. The company also operates the M/V Galapagos Sky, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin.

To reserve a cabin or private charter, or to receive a copy of Ecoventura's 2011-2012 catalog please call toll-free 1.800.633.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access current rates, schedules and itineraries log on to http://www.ecoventura.com/.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

APT adds Upper Mekong cruising


APT adds Thailand and Upper Mekong cruising in Laos

APT has added Thailand land touring and cruising the Upper Mekong in Laos to its Vietnam holidays.

Upper Mekong cruising will be on the stylish boutique river ship Mekong Sun (pictured), carrying up to 28 passengers.
 
Thailand land touring includes two nights in each of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Bangkok.

Three APT itineraries combine the six-day Upper Mekong cruise which starts and finishes in Luang Prabang with Vietnam and Cambodian land touring and Lower Mekong cruising (from $11,495 per person twin share) where APT operates La Marguerite and ms AmaLotus.

APT has fly free offers including taxes for the 26-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Thailand Discovery package (from $11,495 per person twin share) departing between November 2011 and April 2012, and on the 21-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand Adventure (from $9295). The deals apply to bookings before September 30, 2011. A $2000 deposit for a fly free offer is due within seven days of booking.

The 18-day Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand Adventure, from $8195 is billed by APT as the lead-in package. The price includes Ho Chi Minh City, seven-night Mekong cruise, port charges and tipping, 52 meals including Dine Around Dinners, soft drink, local beer and spirits available at all times on the Lower Mekong cruise, small boat excursions to the floating markets in Cai Be, Vinh Long and Sa Dec and on to Siem Reap and its Angkor temples, then to Chiang Mail and Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, the old kingdom of Chian Sean and to Bangkok and its palaces and temples.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit www.aptouring.com.au or see a travel agent.


EC editor on extended assignment until August 24

Orion II at anchor in the Russian Far East (c) John Borthwick
Your editor and keeper-of-blogs at expeditioncruising.com will set off today on assignment and a rendezvous with Orion II in the Sea of Japan, then travel south to Sabah via Philippines. Stay tuned for updates here, Yahoo! and at Cruise Weekly. Later stories will appear in Cruise Passenger, Cruise International and Escape.

Fuel regulations send Antarctic cruise costs up


Anti-pollution rules will curb tourism to the continent and push up the cost the cruises, writes Caroline Shearing.

By Caroline Shearing - www.telegraph.co.uk

The cost of cruising to Antarctica is likely to rise next month with the introduction of new regulations that will compel ships visiting the region to use less polluting fuels.

From August 1, they will be banned from burning or carrying heavy fuel oil and must instead use marine gas oil, which is cleaner but considerably more expensive.

The change, which could cost large-scale tour operators several million pounds a season, has prompted some cruise lines to withdraw from the region, and visitor numbers are expected to fall to their lowest in almost a decade.

“The ban will reduce the number of voyages next season available aboard larger 'cruise-only’ ships – those carrying more than 500 passengers, with no opportunities to go ashore in Antarctica,” said Steve Wellmeier, executive director of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (Iaato). He confirmed that Holland America and Azamara Cruises will continue to offer cruise-only sailings, but Crystal, Princess, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania have dropped Antarctica from their brochures.

Read full story

Travel to Antarctica Continues to Decline


Source: www.cruiseindustrynews.com

With the formal end of the tourism season in the Antarctic, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) has released its final numbers for 2010-11. The total number of visitors to the region traveling with IAATO member-operators was 33,824.

This includes those traveling on traditional expedition ships, yachts, larger cruise-only vessels as well visitors participating in land programs. The overall seasonal results reflect a decrease of 8.3 percent from last year's total of 36,875 passengers.

In reviewing the numbers by category, traditional small and medium-size expedition ships – which carry 500 or fewer passengers and conduct landings – accounted for 18,534 passengers, a decline of nearly 13% from the previous season in this category.

There were a total of 14,373 passengers in the cruise-only category – those vessels that carry more than 500 passengers and only travel through the area without disembarking their guests ashore in Antarctica. This represented a decline of just over 4%.

A much smaller air-sea category that includes a combination of air transportation to Antarctica and small-ship cruising tallied at 531 visitors.

Land tourism accounted for an additional 386 visitors during the 2010-11 season. While the overall number of participants increased this past season for both the air-sea and land tourism categories, the numbers remain comparatively very low.

More than 100 different nationalities were represented during this past season, including citizens from every one of the Consultative Treaty Parties. Of those, the majority (77%) came from 10 different countries, with the US (37%), Australia (10%), UK (8%), Germany (7%) and Japan, the Netherlands and China (each at 3%) topping the list.

With a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) imposed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) set to take place this August, IAATO projects a significant decrease in the cruise-only category from 14,373 passengers to less than 5,000 for the 2011-12 season. As a result, the number of voyages by 500-plus passenger vessels is expected to decrease from 12 this past season to just five in 2011-12.

Because of this and the lingering effects of the slow economy, the overall number of visitors traveling with IAATO operators next season is projected at 25,319, a 25 percent decline from the season just ended.

"Antarctic tourism numbers have been trending downward since the 2007-08 season," noted Steve Wellmeier, Executive Director of IAATO. "The decline to date has largely been the result of the effects of the economic slowdown worldwide. While we expect this to continue playing a role, there is little question that the more significant factor in next year's lower numbers is the consequence of the HFO ban. The result will be visitor numbers overall that mirror those of a decade ago." Wellmeier adds that the priority for IAATO is to remain focused on its mission of safe and environmentally responsible travel and ensuring continued development and maintenance of best practice standards throughout the Antarctic tour operator community.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Free return flights to Russia for 2012 cruise


APT is offering free companion flights to Russia, including air taxes, for booking a holiday that includes a 12-day Russian Waterways cruise between Moscow and St Petersburg next year.

The booking has to be made before November 30, 2011 and applies to three stateroom categories on the 212-passenger ms AmaKatarina, a four-deck, two-restaurant 2011-rebuilt river ship which claims to offer the most spacious accommodation on Russia's waterways and the first of its kind to introduce Outside Balconies, a feature of over 70% of staterooms.

The Russian Waterways cruise is priced from $5695 per person, twin share, (based on Sep. 30, 2012 departure) which includes 11-night cruise, 32 meals, wine and beer with dinner, sightseeing excursions, tipping and transfers as well as Russian language lessons and Moscow Circus and St Petersburg ballet performances.

The ms AmaKatarina cruises along the Volga, Svir and Neva rivers, exploring the forested islands, vast lakes and quaint lifestyles of rural Russia.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit www.aptouring.com.au or see you travel agent.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Two for One on Galapagos Cruise

AdventureSmith Explorations Announces Two for One Galapagos Cruises
Late Summer / Early Fall on 32-Passenger Galapagos Evolution

Leading small ship cruise company AdventureSmith Explorations, http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/ that secures matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of expedition ships, announces a two-for-one special (cruise rate only in shared cabin) for four late summer / early fall departures in the Galapagos on the classic motor yacht Galapagos Evolution.

The Aug. 25-Sept. 4, Sept. 8-18, Sept. 15-25 and Sept. 22-Oct.1 packages which begin and end in colonial Quito, Ecuador, include an 8 day / 7 night Galapagos cruise, pre and post cruise Quito hotel accommodations, airport/hotel transfers, round trip flights from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands and a half day tour of the Quito's old town, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.

MY Galapagos Evolution

Departures (guaranteed when 16 guests have signed up for the program) start at $5,895 for the first traveler with the companion paying only $1,100 for extras (in-country air tickets, transit control card and park entrance fees) exclusive of the cruise rate. See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/58

For this same trip, guests may add a complimentary 4 night / 5 day Amazon adventure extension plus free extras valued at $600 per person if they forego the two for one offer and pay full price for the cruise. Bookings must be made by July 30.

"Special offers like this are increasingly rare in the Galapagos, especially during the popular months of August and September when temperatures are most pleasant for hiking and wildlife viewing," said Todd Smith, company owner and founder. He noted that the Galapagos Evolution is a unique adventure ship that has all the modern amenities "in the spirit of bygone oceangoing luxury" yet retains the adventurous atmosphere of a smaller expedition vessel.

This motor yacht is designed to give travelers the sensation of stepping back into the Roaring Twenties aboard a cruise ship dedicated to guest luxury and style. It has 14 cabins and two suites for 32 passengers. A crew of 18 plus two naturalist guides and a cruise director accompany each sailing.

About Adventure Smith Explorations
AdventureSmith Explorations is the global leader in small ship, adventure cruise vacations. Company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness cruising that combines the comforts of a small cruise ship with the adventure of sea kayaking, hiking and exploring remote wilderness areas ashore. The company matches guests with the top names in small ship cruising as well with intimate, boutique ships that may not make the radar of most travelers.

In moving through exotic natural environments and exploring vibrant native cultures seldom associated with more mainstream cruise itineraries, AdventureSmith Explorations dedicates its efforts to small footprint, sustainable travel and has launched a carbon free cruising initiative. Its off-the-beaten-path destinations include Alaska, Baja, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Hawaii, Peru, the Arctic, Antarctica, and Australia.

The company's mission is to give back to the individuals, communities and environments touched by AdventureSmith Explorations trips by connecting travelers with a network of grassroots and global nonprofit partners worldwide including the Alaska Natural History Association, Neotropica Foundation and Galapagos Conservancy.

The company was named by National Geographic Adventure as one of "The Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" and is the recipient of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious "World Savers Award." In June of 2011, Andrew Browning, a vacation sales consultant with AdventureSmith Explorations received TravelAge West's Wave Award in the category of Trendsetters - Upward Bound, RockStar Agent Under 40.

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, California along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe.  Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or 530-583-1775.

Email: travel@AdventureSmithExplorations.com
Website: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Explore the islands of Papua New Guinea with Orion Expedition Cruises

For those seeking a truly memorable experience, right on Australia's doorstep yet far removed from the familiar tourist hotspots of the South Pacific, Australia's closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea, is a tropical paradise forgotten by time and overlooked by tourism.

During March and October 2012, the two luxurious 100 guest expedition ships Orion and Orion II explore the islands of Papua New Guinea, with six 11 night voyages from which to choose. Accompany the specialist expedition team and visit isolated villages, encounter primitive tribal cultures, see superb indigenous artwork and carvings, unique flora and fauna, and enjoy world-class snorkelling in the famed Coral Triangle.

This land of 800 languages with its remarkable cultural diversity will take your breath away. Whether it is the mysterious art of the Sepik or the feathered head dresses of a Tufi tribesman, the historic battle grounds of World War II, volcanic tropical fjords or pristine white sand beaches, Orion's expeditions to Papua New Guinea will provide experiences that will stay with you for life.

 www.orionexpeditions.com


ANTARCTICA, FALKLAND ISLANDS AND BUENOS AIRES – JUST FOR STARTERS

Azamara Journey
START 2012 with a cruise like never before – this one goes to the isolated Falkland Islands, gives you three days visiting the remote Antarctic Sound and Peninsula, and then sails around legendary Cape Horn to one of the world's most vibrant cities, Buenos Aires.

Ushuaia, Argentina
And they're just for starters: the total 18-night package that's available through Cruiseco also includes return Economy Class international airfare from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth & Darwin, two nights pre-cruise in Buenos Aires with breakfast, 16-nights aboard the luxury 700-passenger Azamara Journey to Montevideo in Uruguay, Ushuaia (the world's southern-most city) and Puerto Madryn in Argentina, and back to Buenos Aires.

All port charges, government fees, air taxes and gratuities aboard Azamara Journey are also included.

Azamara Journey sails from Buenos Aires on January 13 2012, with prices for the 18-night fly, cruise and stay package starting from $8,480pp twin-share ex Sydney if booked by 31 September 2011 (or unless sold out before this date;) for those who wish Cruiseco can also pre-arrange all necessary airport, hotel, ship transfers at an extra cost.

For full details, prices from other mainland cities and the names of Cruiseco's 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies visit www.cruising.com.au

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION: The 30,000-tonne Azamara Journey has a main restaurant, two speciality restaurants, a coffee café and a separate grill, piano bar, wine bar, a choice of lounges, live entertainment, daily enrichment programs including wine and Champagne tastings and dance lessons, a Spa and Wellness Centre, and a pool, library, casino, game shows and selection of specialty shops.

Note from expeditioncruising.com editor: Azamara Journey fully complies with IAATO guidelines for light fuel in Antarctica regions and will be one of the few 'cruise only' vessels to participate under the new regulations that bans heavy fuel oil.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Weeklong Cruises in Washington & British Columbia Return to American Safari Cruises 2012 Deployment

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22-guest Safari Quest sails Pacific Northwest Passage cruises from Seattle


Well-known in yachting circles as a favorite for gunkhole cruising— a yachter's paradise of quiet, scenic anchorages—the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands star in American Safari Cruises' Pacific Northwest Passage itinerary returning in 2012. The cruise features Washington and British Columbia with a new homeport—Seattle, Washington.

Beginning September 14, 2012, the 22-guest Safari Quest sails 10 weeklong cruises roundtrip from Seattle.  The yacht returns in the spring for six more weeklong cruises beginning March 29, 2013. The Pacific Northwest Passage itinerary explores the inlets and islands of the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands including visits to Victoria, Jervis Inlet, the Harmony Islands, Princess Louisa Inlet, Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands, British Columbia; Friday Harbor, San Juan Island and Stuart Island, WA.

"The intimate nature of this upscale yacht is ideal for navigating among the islands and scenic inlets in Washington and British Columbia," said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. "Sailing from Seattle will be more convenient for many people, and we've also increased the number of sailings in fall and spring."

Sailing from Seattle, the yacht passes through the historic Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to Puget Sound.  In Victoria, guests enjoy a tour of Butchart Gardens with a traditional British high tea, a visit to the Royal British Columbia Museum and the historic Empress Hotel.

A flexible itinerary allows time to search out and view wildlife such as orca whales, eagles, seals, sea lions, porpoise, black bears and deer. Expedition—or gunkhole—cruising means the yacht freely explores among the inlets and islands of the Pacific Northwest.  An onboard expedition leader provides expert narration while leading waterborne or land-based adventures including kayaking, hiking, beachcombing and skiff rides. Paddle boards are also available for solo adventures in scenic waters.

Other highlights of the cruise include exploration by foot or by kayak in Princess Louisa Inlet, only half a mile wide and culminating at the spectacular Chatterbox Falls; scenery and solitude while relaxing in the upper deck hot tub; stroll along Nanaimo's picturesque waterfront promenade; a visit to the town of Friday Harbor with boutiques, galleries and a Whale Museum; hiking along a bluff to Turning Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island and kayaking among the sheltered Harmony Islands.

Cruise fares start at $3,995 per person based on double occupancy. The inclusive cruise includes all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. The 22-guest Safari Quest features a hot tub, Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in all bathrooms and upper category balconies. An all-American crew has a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1. Yachts can be booked as a private charter or by individual stateroom. To book a yachting adventure or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or American Safari Cruises at 888-862-8881 or email sales@americansafaricruises.com.

 www.americansafaraicruises.com

In Australia: Ultimate Cruising 1300 662 943

Traditional Dhoni Cruise in the Maldives


The Maldives - clear and translucent waters, coral reefs and white sand.

What could be better than cruising on a traditional dhoni to experience island hopping far from the crowds, learn about the local way of life and snorkel the spectacular reefs of the Indian Ocean. The dhoni, with a maximum of 8 passengers resembles a traditional Arab sailing vessel, and is handcrafted locally from coconut palm timber. They have been converted into live-aboard cruise boats with twin accommodation and a saloon area inside, plus plenty of room on deck for relaxing and watching the world go by. During the day there is ample time to swim and snorkel and every evening is spent moored off a different island - meeting the locals of small settlements or enjoying a fresh seafood barbecue on a pristine uninhabited beach.

6 days, 7 nights

Just $1,150 per person ex Male including all meals, accommodation and cruising.

Departs Tuesdays October-March. For more information or to make a booking contact World Expeditions on 1300 720 000 or at www.worldexpeditions.com.au

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Re-write Your Bucket List with Peregrine's New Arctic Cruises

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Peregrine has released a range of adventures in the High Arctic that will have you re-writing your bucket list. Think hot air ballooning over the North Pole; hiking to see the Northern Lights in Greenland, or cruising to the top of the world in the most powerful icebreaker on earth. And for bookings made by September 30, Peregrine is offering Early Bird savings.

Greenland is the best place on earth to see the Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights – one of nature's most spectacular shows. Peregrine's new 14-day East Greenland Explorer trip aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, is timed to coincide with the optimum atmospheric conditions for viewing the Lights.

Departing from Reykjavik, Iceland, the cruise explores the east coast of Greenland, including iceberg-choked fjords, glaciers and Inuit settlements. The focus is on hiking, with a variety of half and full-day hikes through the immense wilderness, with the chance of seeing all manner of wildlife, including Polar Bear and Musk Ox.

The 14-day cruise departs on September 16, 2012 and costs from $7750 per person, twin-share, cruise only.  Or for bookings made by September 30, prices start at $6795.

Possibly the only thing more 'out there' than cruising aboard the world's largest and most powerful icebreaker to the North Pole is jumping into a wicker basket and floating over the ice in a hot air balloon. It's arguably the most 'exclusive' adventure on earth: few humans will ever do it as it's only open to a total of 100 people.

Peregrine's 14-day North Pole cruise aboard the 50 Years of Victory – the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in existence – includes landings on Franz Josef Land as well as at the North Pole. An on-board helicopter offers the chance to look down on the awe-inspiring sight of the ship crushing through the pack ice, and 50 people per voyage  - three at a time – can also opt for the tethered hot air balloon flight, at an additional cost of $255.

The cruise begins in Helsinki, Finland and ends in Murmansk, Russia, with charter flights to join the ship. It departs on June 25 and July 6, 2012 and costs from $24, 950 per person, twin share. This includes the cruise; one night pre and post cruise hotel accommodation; all excursions; meals; on-board programme; helicopter flights and charter flight. For bookings made by September 30, the charter flights between Helsinki to Murmansk are free, representing a saving of $1725 per person.

For further information, see your travel agent or Peregrine Travel Centre; call 1300 854 500 or visit www.peregrineadventures.com.

Captain Cook Cruises Announce Dates for 2011 Renmark Cruises

Captain Cook Cruises has announced it will operate two unique seven night Renmark cruises this year on the Murray River, aboard the PS Murray Princess.  Both cruises will run in December with the first cruise departing Friday 02 December and the second cruise departing Friday 09 December.

The Renmark cruises take in over 420kms of the Murray River, passing through five locks from Mannum to Renmark which is near the Victorian border. Following in the wake of the great 19th Century pioneers the PS Murray Princess will negotiate massive sandbars, hidden reefs and submerged forests on a journey that has taken months to prepare.

The cruise will pass through Portee Bar, Kingston On Murray, Cobdogla and Moorook and passengers will get the opportunity to visit Burk Salter Vineyard at Blanchetown, take part in a cellar door wine tasting, learn about Australian history at the Morgan Museum in Morgan, explore the township of Waikerie, visit the picturesque river town, Berri, enjoy a scenic tender boat ride up the river and visit historic Loxton where the stories of our early settlers are displayed in over 45 buildings and exhibits.

With the Renmark cruise only occurring when the river conditions are right, it's the unknown challenges that make this voyage one long great rive adventure. Succeed or fail in reaching the destination, passengers will definitely have a whole lot of fun along the way.

Passengers have an option of two seven night Renmark cruises, with the first cruise departing Mannum on Friday 02 December at 4.30pm and arriving at Renmark on Friday 09 December at 9.00am. The second cruise departs on Friday 09 December from Renmark at 3.30pm and arrives at Mannum on Friday 16 December at 9.00am.

Prices for the seven night Renmark Cruises start from $1599 per person twin share and include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks and eco-excursions, onboard presentations, use of ship's facilities, the Captain's Dinner and Cocktail Party, live entertainment and complimentary scenic coach transfers from Adelaide or car parking in Mannum.

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.
 

SEADREAM II’S FORTS, PALACES, CITADELS – AND FLOWER-POWER

SEADREAM Yacht Club has a highly unusual 9-night sailing aboard the 56-stateroom mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II on May 10 2012, because this one starts 85km up Spain's Guadalquivir River in architecturally and culturally spectacular Seville.

And it will visit such small and unusual ports as Motril with its nearby 14th century fortress-palace of Alhambra in Spanish Granada, as well as Ibiza in the Balearic Islands that was the birthplace of "the rave," home to flower-power followers in the 1960s, and today is still considered Spain's "clubbing central."

This unique sailing also visits Bonifacio founded on the French island of Corsica in 828AD and dominated by a massive cliff-top citadel built in the 9th century, with other ports of call including Puerto Banus, Cartagena, Spain's Balearic Island's Palma de Mallorca and Menorca, Alghero on Sardinia (Italy) and finally Civitavecchia (the port for Rome.)

Prices start from US$6048pp twin-share including all gourmet 5-star dining, wines with lunch and dinner, drinks from the open bars, nightly cocktail receptions, power and sail watersports (in ports where permitted,) use of the 30-course golf simulator, onboard gratuities, and port charges and taxes.

The boutique SeaDream II carries a maximum of just 112-guests served by 95-crew, with many of her small and unusual ports of call on this sailing unable to be accessed by larger cruise ships.

Details from travel agents or visit www.seadream.com; airfares are additional.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

AdventureSmith Explorations Offers Antarctica Basecamp Option

AdventureSmith Explorations is offering a new sea/land program that allows clients cruising Antarctica to engage in off-vessel activities including optional tenting. The program, entitled Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Cruise, offers two departures in 2012 and one in 2013 -- Feb.27 to Mar. 9, 2012; Nov. 22 to Dec. 3, 2012; and Feb. 25-Mar. 9, 2013. Per person double rates are from $8,350 in 2012 and $8,790 in 2013.

This first trip of its kind in Antarctica is modeled after successful basecamp adventure cruises in Alaska. The recently refurbished, 110-passenger motor vessel Plancius will anchor for two or three days each at diverse locations to serve as a comfortable hub that allows more time than usual for such off-vessel activities as hiking, snowshoeing, glacier walking/light mountaineering, kayaking, zodiac excursions, overnight camping at tented base camps, photography workshops and even scuba diving (extra fee).

“This trip keeps sea days as short as possible in order to spend more time ashore,” said Todd Smith, AdventureSmith Explorations’ founder. A strict “leave no trace” ethic will be the mantra for both basecamp and on-board programs. The Plancius plies the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula, a 500-mile-long mountain chain with peaks rising to over 9,000 feet, and numerous off-lying islands.

The adventure begins in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. While crossing the Drake Passage, varieties of albatrosses, cape pigeons, southern fulmars and petrels may be observed. Following the first sightings of icebergs, a protected island becomes the first multi-activity basecamp. In this alpine environment, there opportunities to scout the region on foot, zodiac and kayak, weather conditions permitting, and visit a British research station and post office. The cruise then follows the Lemaire Channel to Pleneau and Petermann Islands to witness Adelie penguins, blue-eyed shags and possibly humpback, Minke and fin whales.

Hikers, mountaineers and photographers (there will be photography classes included) will have the option to traverse other landscapes encompassing scientific stations with modern Antarcticans working on the White Continent and a crew at the Ukrainian Vernadsky Station. When cruising to Paradise Bay, with its myriad icebergs and deep cut fjords, zodiacs and kayaks are available. Camping, including tented and open air, is optional, as some guests may prefer to remain on board. For those braving the elements, provided gear and field equipment include tents or wind and waterproof bivouac bags (lightweight alternative to a tent system). Guests are outfitted with mattresses and polar sleeping bags.

AdventureSmith Explorations is a leader in small ship, adventure cruise vacations. Company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness cruising that combines the comforts of a small cruise ship with the adventure of sea kayaking, hiking and exploring remote wilderness areas ashore. The company matches guests with the top names in small ship cruising as well with intimate, boutique ships that may not make the radar of most travelers. For more information, call 800-728-2875, email travel@AdventureSmithExplorations.com or visit www.AdventureSmithExplorations.com.


Monday, 11 July 2011

Active Travel offers Burma, Irrawaddy and Rangoon

Best of Burma

Burma's celebrated Irrawaddy River is the country's principal highway and a magnet for lovers of colonial-style riverboat cruises. But beyond the river there's an age-old serenity unmatched by any other country in the region.

Burma specialist, Active Travel, has an 11-day "Best of Burma" tour including Rangoon, Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura - and a relaxing three day cruise to the ancient capital of Bagan aboard a colonial-style riverboat. A side-trip is also made to Inle Lake, a magical inland waterway where leg-rowing fishermen ply their trade against a backdrop of forested hills.

The tour is designed for independent travellers and departs from Rangoon every Monday.  Prices from A$2400 per person, twin share, ex Rangoon.

Other tours and cruises in Burma are also available. For further information call (02) 6249 6122. Or visit www.activetravel.com.au

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Coral Princess releases Spring Specials of up to 25% on selected expeditions.


Australia and the South Pacific’s pioneer of small-ship expedition cruising Coral Princess Cruises is offering Spring Specials of between 15 and 25 per cent on September, October & November 2011 departures of their Kimberley Coast, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia expeditions aboard the state-of-art, 72 passenger small ship Oceanic Discoverer.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000. Coral Princess’s 10-night voyages before Darwin and Broome cruise through one of the planet’s oldest and most awe-inspiring sea and landscapes. Rivers carve their way through ancient, eroded mountains that were once the height of the Himalaya, dropping in champagne waterfalls such as the 80-metre King George Falls. Excursions ashore visit rock art galleries where Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings - the world’s oldest known art - record a human history stretching back 50,000 years.

Exploring the Kimberley Coast in September and October affords guests the unique opportunity to experience the region’s annual whale migration. The cruise also explores the 800-odd islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, including an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the Horizontal Waterfalls, where the largest tides in the southern hemisphere force their way between rocky cliffs in a formidable display of the forces of nature.

Spring Special prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise start at $6,337.50 per person aboard Oceanic Discoverer for departures on 30 September & 10 October 2011 and $7,182.50 per person on 9 & 19 September 2011 departures. The reduced prices include all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board and excursions.

Discovering Papua New Guinea and Melanesia by small ship offers even the most well travelled expeditioner the opportunity for new and unique experiences. During the 12-night Papua New Guinea expedition between Cairns and Rabaul, guests will enjoy the opportunity to come face to face with villagers in their traditional communities, experience the largest area of rainforest outside of the Amazon and snorkel over some of the world’s most pristine coral reef systems. Throughout the 15-night Melanesia itinerary from Cairns to Noumea, guests will explore Papua New Guinea, the rarely visited Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, travelling well beyond the reach of larger cruise ships to enjoy authentic experiences and the opportunity to interact with the South Pacific’s most exotic people and scenic locations.

Coral Princess Cruises is offering 15% discounts on these 12-night Papua New Guinea and 15-night Melanesia expeditions aboard Oceanic Discoverer departing on 3, 15 & 28 November 2011. The 12-night PNG itinerary is priced from $7,522.50 per person and the 15-night Melanesia itinerary is priced from $9,520 per person.

As part of the Spring Special, single travellers will be able to avoid the dreaded “single supplement” when they join Coral Princess Cruises in the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea or Melanesia on selected dates, a saving of up to $6,325.

The discounts apply to all new bookings on selected departures and are available until 10 October 2011 or until sold out.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises on 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.


Antarctica: Frozen Folly


A trip to East Antarctica is anything but a walk in the park. Our Adventure Cruise Guide editor follows gingerly in the footsteps of Sir Douglas Mawson. Words & Photos: Roderick Eime

“Beyond the Roaring Forties there are the Furious Fifties and Shrieking Sixties, for the storms that ravage these regions become more and more severe as one proceeds further south.” – Herbert Ponting, 1921

Who in their right mind would willingly subject themself to this kind of discomfort? And to call a voyage to Antarctica a ‘cruise’– especially if you’re venturing beyond 70 degrees south – is a serious misrepresentation.

If your idea of a cruise is sitting on a deckchair beside a pool with a pina colada in one hand and a Jackie Collins potboiler in the other, read no further. Deep Antarctica is one of those places, like the moon, that is just so distant and unreachable that to travel there is almost the stuff of fiction.

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Cruise ship sinks. Dozens missing

File picture of 50-year-old river vessel, Bulgaria
AT least one person died and 97 were missing yesterday after a Soviet-era cruise ship sank on a Russian river.

The ship carrying more than 180 people sank in a heavy storm on Russia's Volga River, officials and witnesses have said.

A total of 84 people were rescued off the Bulgaria boat, which was carrying 182 tourists and crew members when it sank in the central Russian republic of Tatarstan, ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova told Vesti 24 television.

One woman has been confirmed dead, the spokeswoman said.

"There were 182 people on board. We have saved 84 people," Ms Andrianova said.

"One person died. Search and rescue operations are continuing," she added.

State television reported that the two-deck Bulgaria was built in 1955 in what was then Czechoslovakia.

Read more at news.com.au


Thursday, 7 July 2011

American Cruise Lines Awarded Contract to Operate in Glacier Bay

49-passenger American Glory

American Cruise Lines announced today that it has been awarded a contract by the Glacier Bay National Park to operate in the famed Alaskan park, making the line one of only several permitted to tour the breathtaking area. Known for its abundant wildlife and spectacular blue glaciers, Glacier Bay is a highly sought after destination for Alaskan cruisers and travelers. American Cruise Lines will offer seven-to-eleven night cruises including roundtrips out of Juneau.

Designated a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve, Glacier Bay is a nature wonderland. A National Park Service Ranger and a Native Cultural Interpreter will join passengers aboard each cruise to provide narration and insight into Glacier Bay, as well as help spot wildlife such as mountain goats, whales and brown and black bears.

“It was important to be able to feature Glacier Bay on our Alaskan cruises,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines. “As one of the few places where people can still view the world as nature intended it to be, we wanted to make sure we could take our passengers there to experience it for themselves. We’re honored to have been awarded such a highly coveted contract and we look forward to showcasing the beauty Glacier Bay and the rest of Alaska has to offer.”

WILD EARTH TRAVEL REVEALS BRITAIN’S ISLANDS ON THE EDGE

Wild Earth Travel is offering adventurers the opportunity to explore the magic and mystery of the British Isles and Scotland by sea, with a comprehensive range of voyages on offer throughout 2012.

These voyages offer the chance to experience a side of the British Isles and Scotland rarely seen by visitors, navigating spectacular coastlines and threading through narrow channels to hidden lochs, visiting traditional farming communities and archaeological sites dating back to the Stone Age. One of the advantages of exploring this region by small ship is that travellers can visit a number of different places in a much shorter time compared with travelling overland.

A 14-day ‘Exploring the British and Irish Isles’ voyage aboard the National Geographic Explorer delivers history, culture and unexpected wildness. This adventure through England, Ireland and Scotland takes travellers to remote and beautiful islands such as Staffa and Orkney, adding culture and history to the spectacular landscapes. Highlights include the huge tropical gardens in the otherwise “English-y” isles of Scilly; the stunning geological architecture of Fingal’s Cave on Staffa; the quiet of Iona, the capital of ancient Celtic Christianity; and the 5,000-year-old Neolithic dwellings at Skara Brae. This special voyage is accompanied by Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland, and formerly the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will help bring perspective and context to modern Ireland. The voyage departs on 15 May 2012 from Portsmouth, UK and concludes in Bergen, Norway. Prices start from AUD 9,700 / NZD 12,570 per person.



A 9-day ‘Spirit of Scotland’ voyage around Scotland to the Hebrides and Northern Isles aboard the 86-passenger Ocean Nova, travels into the Atlantic to St Kilda, a once inhabited island which has now been left to the thousands of seabirds that frequent the huge cliffs that rise from the ocean. By contrast, the Inner Hebrides and the islands of Gigha and Islay offer lush scenery; and on Lewis travellers will see the mysterious Standing Stones of Callanish. In addition to these scenic wonders, the voyage visits the ancient Castle and Gardens of Mey. The voyage travels from Oban to Aberdeen and departs on 18 May 2012. Prices start from AUD 2,990 / NZD 3,880 per person.

The 8-day ‘Birds, Bottlenose Dolphins and Basking Sharks’ voyage from Portsmouth to Edinburgh departing 18 May 2012 on board the 116-passenger MS Island Sky, will appeal to wildlife and wilderness lovers, visiting the remote Channel Islands, the wildlife-rich uninhabited islands of Les Sept Iles in France; the two privately owned islands of the Saltees, along Ireland’s east coast, which attract nearly three million birds; and the isolated island of St Agnes with its population of just 72 people. Prices start from AUD 3,290 / NZD 4,250 per person.

A 14 –day ‘Islands on the Edge 2012’ voyage departing from Tilbury on 17 August 2012 onboard the MS Island Sky, follows Scotland’s wild coastline, visiting the historic sites of Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island; the Isle of Skye; the famous Ring of Kerry and the Channel Islands before disembarking in Portsmouth. A major highlight of this voyage includes a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh. Prices start from AUD 6,455 / NZD 8,355 per person.

To learn about the full range of British Isles voyages on offer in 2012 call 0800 WILDEARTH (with NZ) or +64 3 365 1355 or visit www.wildearth-travel.com

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATIONS WITH COMPAGNIE DU PONANT

Offering EU$150 shipboard credits per person and 5% reduction on selected itineraries 

For over 20 years Compagnie du Ponant has lead the way in luxury yacht cruises, offering passengers a unique experience that is personalised to each individual. With a limited number of passengers, comfortable cabins and convivial public areas, Compagnie du Ponant guarantees a relaxed, intimate atmosphere unique to all their cruises. 

To celebrate Bastille Day on the 14th of July, Compagnie du Ponant is offering every passenger who books during the week of 11-15 July 2011 a shipboard credit of EU$150. And to add to the festive spirit, the French Cruise Line is also reducing fares on Asian and South American cruises by 5% on bookings made between now and the 15th of July.

Compagnie du Ponant offers cruises worldwide with a fleet of five intimate luxury yachts and a true French spirit. Passengers who take up this exciting offer will discover golden shores inaccessible to most large ships, and experience Compagnie du Ponant's unique blend of private yacht intimacy with exciting bespoke itineraries. 

With 13 Asian itineraries on offer, passengers will have the choice to travel on Le Diamant to destinations that are exotic and memorable. Visit the bustling streets of Mumbai, with its rich diversity of geography and culture, or see the intricate décor of Vietnam. Explore China's colourful cuisine or Hong Kong's city of lights as you sail on Le Diamant with her113 cabins, 226 passengers and 120 crew members. Le Diamant offers private balconies and panoramic sea views from most cabins which create a unique European atmosphere and warm ambience. 

This limited offer also covers exceptional itineraries within South America travelling on one of the latest vessels, Le Boréal. South America is a sort after destination and will amaze you with the diversity of its immerse landscapes; waterfalls, arid deserts, volcanoes, tropical forests and a truly extraordinary flora and fauna. Passengers have the choice of cruising from Venezuela to Lima in Peru or Ushuaia in Argentina. For those interested in exploring Chile, Le Boréal will travel from Valparaiso to Ushuaia in Argentina. 

Le Diamant - 4th December 2011 - Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh - $3, 241pp twin share incl. taxes.

Le Boreal - 11th November 2011 - Valparaiso – Ushuaia - Superior Stateroom $5,264 pp twin share incl. taxes.

Note: In order to take up this offer, passengers must secure their cruise by the 15th of July.

For further information about Compagnie du Ponant or to make a booking, please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit http://www.traveltheworld.com.au/Specials/Promotions/Ponant-Cruises-Sale.html  

American Safari Cruises Adds Hawaii


American Safari Cruises expands its warm water itineraries this winter with new adventure cruises among the Hawaiian Islands in addition to its voyages in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés. The upscale yachts specialize in active, outdoor explorations with flexible itineraries and a full component of adventure gear.

In 2011, the 36-guest Safari Explorer begins sailing new inter-island Hawaiian adventure cruises between Maui and the Big Island (and reverse). From November through April, weeklong Hawaiian Seascapes and 10-night Hawaii’s Traditional Shores itineraries explore Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Molokini and the Big Island.

“This type of inclusive yacht cruise is a totally new way to vacation in Hawaii,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “We are an exclusive floating resort that cruises between the islands to show you the best of Hawaii. Going ashore with only 36 total guests means cultural experiences are more personal and authentic. And since we provide adventure gear and include activities, it’s 100% fun and relaxation.”

The 22-guest Safari Quest sails weeklong Aquarium of the World itineraries in Mexico’s Sea of Cortés from November through April. Sailing roundtrip from La Paz, Mexico, the flexible itinerary takes time to seek out the myriad marine life in this World Heritage biosphere reserve and explores Isla Partida, Isla San José, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes, Isla Coyote, Isla San Francisco and Isla Espiritu.

In both warm water destinations, the two yachts feature exciting and novel holiday travel – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day (with a special Hawaii Romance Package), Easter and special Kids in Nature family departures during popular spring break weeks in March.

A relaxed itinerary of cruising from cove-to-cove among islands in Hawaii and the Sea of Cortés maximizes the yachts’ ability to act as a platform for water based adventures such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming from the yacht’s swim step, snorkeling, braving the rope swing, sailing, skiff explorations and tubing. Guided excursions are led by expert on board naturalists.

In both destinations, exclusive cultural explorations ashore are included and led by the yacht’s expedition leaders. Guests in the Sea of Cortés visit Isla Coyote, a small island inhabited by the Cuevas fishing family, where guests will tour the village and visit with the family. On Hawaii’s Moloka’i, guests meet a local family for guided walks through the valley focusing on history and archaeology, a chance to help restore ancient taro terraces and a traditional Hawaiian pa’ina—celebration and feast.

In Australia: Ultimate Cruising 1300 662 943

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Orion II's Thailand and Cambodia expedition voyages

Angkor Wat (Roderick Eime)
Capture the energy of bustling modern Asia balanced by the serenity of the ancient

Orion II's Gulf of Siam and Thailand, Temples and the Mekong expeditions provide the opportunity to experience traditional and modern Asia from a different perspective, often far from the clutter of the big cities.

From the flash of saffron robes in a Buddhist temple to the remote crystalline beaches of Tioman Island and the bustle of floating market stalls on the Mekong, these 7 night voyages combine the sensory contrasts of Asia into never to be forgotten experiences of sights, sounds and smells that encapsulate South East Asia.

Take an early morning elephant ride through the templest the world's largest religious complex, the World Heritage listed temples of Angkor Wat, to see first-hand the technological and architectural wonder of the ancient Khmer kingdom.

Cross the broad muddy waters of the Mekong Delta and mix it with the locals on an exclusive Zodiac exploration of the river and floating markets – Orion II being the first foreign ship to be granted permission to do this.

Bargain for batik, beaten brassware and shot silk in dazzling colours, sip a dry martini, lounge on a untouched beach, snorkel transparent waters and photograph sampans with their distinctive timber hulls and sun-bleached yellow sails.

These two itineraries reveal a balance of history, culture and relaxation that capture the energy of bustling modern Asia balanced by the serenity of the ancient.

Orion Expedition Cruises has released a pocket sized fold out map of the 2011 and 2012 Orion II expedition voyages to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. A useful reference piece it captures all the important highlights for each voyage. A copy is available through your travel agent or on request by contacting Orion on info@orionexpeditions.com / Australia 1300 361 012 or New Zealand 0800 444 462

 www.orionexpeditions.com

Kimberley Cruise offers - FLY FREE

For two special departures in August and September 2011, Broome & The Kimberley Holidays are offering FREE return flights from most capital cities to join Orion on a spectacular expedition cruise of the Kimberley coast between Darwin and Broome.

Few travellers are fortunate to experience the majesty of the untamed Kimberley in all its splendor, especially late in the Kimberley cruising season when most of the waterfalls have ceased to a trickle. However this year is proving to be the exception.

Mr Bernard Whewell, Managing Director of specialist travel company, Broome & The Kimberley Holidays says, " a Kimberley Cruise is a holiday experience like no other. With the recent unseasonal rain in our region, passengers booking an end of season cruise are more likely to see spectacular scenery and waterfalls in flow, which is unusual at this time of year."

"This year, we have worked closely with our local cruise partners to negotiate offers representing great value for our clients, to experience one of life's great adventures" he says.

"We have partnered with Orion Expedition Cruises to offer our clients FREE FLIGHTS from any Australian capital city to join Orion in either Broome or Darwin. The cruise highlights include the Horizontal Waterfalls at Talbot Bay, the tidal phenomenon at Montgomery Reef, and the plunging waterfalls at King George Falls, to name a few."

10 Night cruises start from $8190* per person twin share in a Category B cabin on board Orion and includes our FREE FLIGHT offer. *Conditions apply. Available for immediate sale for travel on specific departures, 24 August 2011 ex Broome to Darwin & , 03 September 2011 ex Darwin toBroome.

Reservations contacts: 1300 245 565 or reservations@broomekimberley.com

For more information visit www.broomekimberley.com.au