Friday, 30 September 2011

Broome & The Kimberley Holidays: NEW 2012 Kimberley Snapshot Exclusive

Broome & The Kimberley Holidays are pleased to release a unique NEW Kimberley Cruise package offer for the 2012 Kimberley Waterfall Season.

Your holiday begins at Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa in a Villa; totally luxurious and private with your own butler service and plunge pool. Join the True North cruising the pristine Kimberley coast from Broome to Wyndham. Highlights include King George Falls, the Hunter River, Prince Regent River, Montgomery Reef and the Horizontal Waterfalls. Arrive into Kununurra, the heart of the East Kimberley, the perfect base to explore the region including the Bungle Bungles.

This unique 10 night package includes:
·         2 night's accommodation in a Villa at Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa
·         BONUS in the Villas – breakfast daily, private airport transfers, afternoon canapés & butler service
·         Lunch & Beer Tasting Experience at Matso's Broome Brewery
·         7 night Kimberley Snapshot Cruise, Broome to Wyndham with True North
·         All onboard meals, transfers, scheduled tender excursions
·         BONUS night at Pinctada Kimberley Grande in Kununurra
10 nights from $9, 979* per person

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Cruising the Kimberley coast in comfort

James Shrimpton AAP

The 120-tonne coastal cruiser Kimberley Quest II is not much bigger than one of 18 lifeboats aboard the world's largest passenger ship, the 252,282-tonne Allure of the Seas.

But we'd bet that the 25-metre-long KQ2's 18 passengers (maximum) sailing the Kimberley coast of Western Australia would have at least as good a time - in a different way - as the 6,300 or so aboard her 360m-long "big sister" plying the western Caribbean.

No crowded lounges, restaurants and swimming pools here, no stage shows, no casinos, no bingo and no long queues to go ashore - no making new friends the first day out then never seeing them again.

KQ2's voyages between Broome and Wyndham include expeditions by custom-built tenders and on bush tracks into the Kimberley Coast wilderness, a colourful and historic area of craggy rocks, waterfalls, exotic birds and animal life - and ancient rock art.

Read Full Story



CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE ABOARD SILVER EXPLORER

Silversea's Silver Explorer

- Limited availability for a range of fascinating expedition cruises between February and May 2012 -

Silversea has limited availability for select sailings in 2012 aboard its stylish expedition vessel, Silver Explorer. Expedition cruising with Silversea Expeditions is a little different; all accommodation aboard the 132-guest vessel has ocean views and personalised butler service. From the Chilean Fjords and Patagonia to the rainforests of Central America or off-the-beaten track destinations in Europe and North Africa, Silver Explorer's all-inclusive voyages will appeal to discerning travellers who like their expedition cruising to come with a little luxury.

On 29 February 2012, an 11 day 'Chilean Fjords and Patagonia' expedition will depart from Ushuaia, Argentina for Valparaiso, Chile. Taking in spectacular scenery, wildlife and native culture, the voyage will visit majestic Garibaldi Fjord, Pio XI Glacier and the Chilean Fjords, as well as the Chilean ports of Punta Arenas, Puerto Chacabuco, Castro, Puerto Montt and Niebla. All-inclusive cruise only fares start from AU$5,438 per person, double occupancy.

A 12 day 'Rainforests and Ancient Cultures' expedition will depart Callao (Lima) in Peru on 16 March 2012 for Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, with numerous opportunities to discover the region's colourful flora and fauna, from colonies of sea lions to monkeys and diverse birdlife, as well as the pre-Columbian excavations of El Brujo. Silver Explorer will visit Salaverry, Isla Lobos de Tierra and Paita in Peru; Guayaquil and Isla de la Plata in Ecuador, and Cocos Island, Golfo Dulce and Puerto Quepos in Costa Rica. Fares start from AU$4,255.

Silver Explorer will embark on a 10 day 'Caribbean Sea Adventure' on 4 April 2012, which will take guests from Colon, Panama to Bridgetown, Barbados, visiting a Kuna community, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cartagena's old walled city and the largest marine park in the Caribbean. Silver Explorer will call at Panama's San Blas Islands; Cartagena in Colombia; Oranjestad in Aruba; Los Roques in Venezuela; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, and Bequia and Tobago Cays in the Grenadines. Fares start from AU$3,555.

On 25 April 2012, a 12 day 'Island Days and Arabian Nights' expedition will depart from Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands to Lisbon, Portugal. The voyage will include bird watching in Madeira, hiking into Lanzarote's Cuervo Volcano and visits to Marrakech's 19th Century Dar el Bahia Palace and the Neolithic Caves of Hercules in Tangiers, with ports of call such as San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands; Arrecife, Lanzarote; Funchal and Portimao, Portugal; Deserta Grande Island on Madeira; Safi and Tangiers in Morocco, and Cadiz, Spain. Fares start from AU$5,039.

And finally, on 7 May 2012, a 12 day 'Vintage Europe' expedition will depart Lisbon for Portsmouth, England, taking in the renowned wines of Bordeaux and the Normandy beaches where the D-Day landings took place. Silver Explorer will call at Oporto (Leixoes), Portugal; the Spanish ports of La Coruña and Santander; Bordeaux, Quiberon, Saint-Malo and Honfleur in France, and St Peter Port and Sark in the Channel Islands. Fares start from AU$5,039.

Silver Explorer brings an elegance to expedition cruising, offering the largest average size, all ocean view accommodation of any expedition ship, with butler service across all suite categories. Cruise fares include all-suite accommodation, complimentary wines and drinks throughout the ship, gourmet menus designed by Relais & Châteaux and all gratuities. The onboard team of naturalists and special guest lecturers enhance the Silversea expedition experience and zodiac boats provide opportunities for thrilling up-close explorations.

*Fares are subject to availability, terms and conditions.

For more information please contact Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or toll free 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Gap rebrands to G Adventures

Source: www.etravelblackboard.com

Disputes with US clothing company Gap has urged Gap Adventures to drop two letters in its title, renaming the company to G Adventures.

Announced today at the Future of Tourism, G Adventure founder Bruce Poon Tip explained that after 22 years of operating under the Gap title, the company has made the decision to “free” itself from disputes and change the name that was deemed by a US court as too confusing for the general public.

“There was a judgement in the US that people are confused about our brand up there and the clothing company,” Mr Poon Tip said.

“As a company we can never be free [in US] and so three months ago we said that we are going to change our name globally.

“I fought five years and now it is time to welcome a new era of G Adventures.”

From 1 October, the company will continue to use the same font and brand image, simply dropping the A and P in the logo.

Mr Poon Tip added that also remaining strong in the company would be the brand's principals and commitment to sustainability.

"In every way that matters, we’re the same company today that we were yesterday.

"We’re still available 24/7 to answer questions.

"We still offer our innovative lifetime deposit.

"We still spend every minute of our waking hours dreaming up new, responsible and sustainable ways to show travellers the world as it was meant to be seen.”

Another change Mr Poon Tip highlighted is the news that for the first time ever the company would launch North American tours.

During the Future of Tourism event, Mr Poon Top was also hailed as the first Global Ambassador of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Awarded the event in Toronto, Canada, GSTC executive director Erika Harms said Mr Poon Tip deserved the title because of his and his company’s overwhelming commitment to sustainability and environmentally friendly travel.

“He not only believes but lives and breathes sustainable tourism,” Ms Harms explained.


Orion’s Tasmania Food & Wine voyages - with up to 50% savings


In contrast to the reputation Orion has for remote area expeditions – Antarctica and the Russian Far East being about as far from mainstream tourism as is possible – there is another, softer side, the cruising side, featuring occasional voyages to parts of the world renowned for both environment and outstanding local produce. Tasmania being a prime example.

From convict outpost to gourmet heaven, a balancing act of amazing seascapes, colonial convict history, exquisite foods and fine wines – with savings available up to 50%

On Orion’s two 5 night Tasmania Food & Wine voyages during November 2011 enjoy some of the world’s finest seafood and shellfish, olives and oils, chocolates, cheeses, meats, wines – even fine single malt whisky – on a voyage more relaxed, less expeditionary; an exploration of flavours, aromas, textures and colours.

Travel with guest food and wine lecturers chef Ross O'Meara, whose hunger for food knowledge has led him to Michelin starred restaurants (although these days he is more likely found in South Bruny tending to his rare breed pigs, goats and sheep), or Bruny Island cheese maker and judge Nick Haddow, depending on the voyage selected.

To whet the palette and impart his thoughts on all things vinous (on both voyages) is highly awarded and applauded Tasmanian wine maker and wine judge Andrew Hood. He will be joined by Bill Lark, from Tasmanian Lark Distillery, whose Centenary malt whisky was awarded "Best Other Single Malt Whisky (no age)" in the "World Whisky Awards". Stand by for an introduction to the nuances of malt mash and smoky peat!

Shore side with Orion’s specialist expedition team in Freycinet, Launceston and Flinders Island allows time to explore quaint towns, historic sites (including Port Arthur convict settlement) and picturesque farm lands producing some of Tasmania’s freshest and finest foods.

Taste freshly shucked oysters at Coles Bay, truffles and fudge at Anvers confectionary and cheeses at Ashgrove Cheese Farm. In Tasmania there is never a winery far away and this voyage reveals some outstanding examples including Josef Chromy, Coombend, Spring Vale and Milton Vineyards, and in the Coal River Valley, acclaimed for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, enjoy wine tastings at Puddleduck and Meadowbank vineyards.

In addition to exploring the penal settlement at Port Arthur, isolated Flinders Island and a walk through Cataract Gorge, guests new to Orion will be relieved to know that there is plenty of opportunity to work out in the gym onboard, take a sauna or join the morning exercise class to balance any gourmet excesses.

Bon Apetite

Tasmania Food & Wine voyages 


5 night Orion Tasmania Food and Wine voyages alternate between Hobart and Launceston, including Port Arthur, Freycinet -Wineglass Bay and Coles Bay – and Flinders Island.

Two 5 night voyages – 7 November to 12 November and 26 November to 1 December 2011

Fares: 5 night fares from $3,715 per person for an Ocean Suite

Junior Suites begin from $5,125 per person

All prices twin share

Prices subject to up to 50% reduction depending on availability

Details of Tasmania Food & Wine voyage itineraries available at http://www.orionexpeditions.com/expeditions/australianislands/voyage_summary

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

For reservations or to obtain a brochure of 2011 or 2012 voyages call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) / 0800 444 462 (New Zealand) or see your travel agent.

Email: info@orionexpeditions.com



Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Heritage Expeditions expands Russian Far East exploration

HE_email_banner_2.jpgHeritage Expeditions has launched a new voyage to the virtually unexplored 'Sea of Okhotsk' as part of its Russian Far East programme in 2012. True to the exploratory style of the company, Heritage believes it is only the second expedition of this kind to visit this remote region.

Bounded to the north and west by the Russian continent, the Kamchatka Peninsula to the east, and the Kuril Islands to the south; the 'Sea of Okhotsk' roughly translates as the 'sea of hunters' in the language of its local indigenous people, the first indication of the abundance of wildlife to be found here.

In the mid-19th century, the sheltered sea was a hotbed for whaling which continued until the early 20th century. Despite the hunting and exploration that has occurred here over the decades, this sea remains one of the richest environments in the world for marine mammal life. Species such as endangered Western Grey Whales, Bowhead and Killer Whales frequent the waters; while the rugged coastline offers some of the best birding islands in the world, including the chance to see the rare Steller's Sea Eagle. On land, wild Brown Bears seek out the rich bounty of salmon in the rivers, against a backdrop of magnificent forests, high Arctic tundra, towering volcanoes and stunning wildflower displays.

The Russian Far East has something to captivate every adventurer, with the chance to visit a land steeped in mystery and intrigue and seen only by a privileged few. In addition to its rich natural history, the region is home to the Nivikh, Oroki and Even indigenous peoples - whose descendants can still be found practising a way of life handed down by their ancestors over thousands of years.

Travellers will follow in the footsteps of the great 17th century explorer Vitus Bering, who charted the coasts of the early Russian Empire, and whose legacy can still be seen today, seemingly frozen in time.
In more recent history, during the Cold War, the Sea of Okhotsk was used as a missile and submarine base for the Soviet Pacific Fleet. Until the 1990s, access was restricted even to local Russians, and it was very rare for a westerner to obtain the permits necessary to travel here. It is still considered a 'border zone', and special permits and permissions are needed before non-Russians can enter. The heavy military presence still active in the region today is a reminder of the Cold War and the role it played in the history of the Far East.

This remarkable 18-day 'Sea of Okhotsk' voyage departs on 7 June 2012 from Sakhalin Island. Prices start from US$8,000 per person triple share and include one night pre-voyage hotel accommodation, transfers, all meals, shore excursions, permits and landing fees. Berths are strictly limited and early bookings are recommended. Heritage Expeditions is also able to arrange competitively priced airfares, as well as additional pre and post voyage touring in the Russian Far East.

For further information phone 1800 143 585 (Australia) or 0800 262 8873 (NZ) or visit www.heritage-expeditions.com

Heritage Expeditions New Zealand Ltd
Antarctic House, 53B Montreal Street, PO Box 7218 , Christchurch , New Zealand
Free Phone: 0800 262 8873 (within New Zealand)     1800 143 585 (within Australia)
Phone: +64 3 365 3500 Fax: +64 3 365 1300 Email: info@heritage-expeditions.com



Quark Expeditions Announces 2012-13 Antarctica Itineraries

Quark Expeditions will offer six new itineraries and two new activities -- snowshoeing and photography courses -- among its 2012-13 Antarctica itineraries. The itineraries are highlighted by an in-depth exploration of the South Georgia archipelago, the "Galapagos of the poles," which features more than 30 types of breeding birds, including four penguin species.

Itineraries range from an eight-day “Fly the Drake” voyage priced at $7,995, to a 16-day “Explore South Georgia: The Ultimate Wildlife Expedition” priced at $10,295. Travelers who book by Nov. 30, 2011, will receive a 15 percent early booking incentive. For more information, call 888-892-0171 or visit www.quarkexpeditions.com.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Amazing Antarctic Adventures at 35% off


World Expeditions has slashed the cost of two of its Antarctic voyages by 35% offering discounts of up to US$3,986.  If you've always been intrigued by the amazing tales of exploration, isolation, wildlife and sheer natural beauty that is associated with Antarctica, then now's your chance to experience it, at an amazing price!

The 14 Day In search of the Emperor and King Penguin cruise departs 20 November 2011 and travels beyond the fringes of the peninsula into the Weddell Sea where tabular icebergs stretch the horizon. Part of the mission of the voyage is to discover all eight Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic penguin species as well as being inspired by regular shore excursions. The trip concludes in the Falkland Islands and with a spectacular flight from Port Stanley to Santiago.

Superior cabin: Now USD$7,404. Was USD$11,390. Save USD$3,986
Twin Window Cabin: Now USD$6,364. Was USD$9,790. Save USD$3,426
Twin cabin with porthole: Now  USD$ 6,039. Was USD$9,290. Save USD$3,251

Airfares to the gateway city of Ushuaia are also great value with special fares being regularly promoted and available through World Expeditions.

Don't miss a great opportunity to grab a hot special to the world's coolest destination!

More details at www.worldexpeditions.com or on 1300 720 000.

Details: Offer applies to new bookings from 18 September 2011 for travel on specified departures and is available until sold out.

www.worldexpeditions.com  

 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mekong Flood Update

as forwarded by John Boyd
RV Mekong Pandaw ties up at street level. Floods along
the Mekong River are disrupting travellers' plans. (Pic: John Boyd)

As of 3pm today Siem Reap has experienced prolonged heavy rain resulting in extensive flooding of downtown Siem Reap. More rain has been forecast for the next 3 days. Due to this development we have decided to shut down most operations in this area.

Until further notice we will provide group tours by coaster (25 seater bus) only. This means that any FITs will be grouped together with their individually assigned guides in coasters. We will only provide one group tour to the central temple complex of Angkor Wat and the National Museum as this is the only itinerary we are currently able to operate. The reason for this is the use of smaller vehicles such as minivans and cars are at risk of stalling in the flood water.

We will do all possible to keep all other services such as restaurants the same, though some services are limited so there may be some changes. No extra charges will be incurred.

As soon as the situation improves and we can access more of the temples and attractions we will resume normal operations. Please see below for the current restrictions:

* The central temple complex of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Angkor Thom are accessible and will remain so. All other temples are off limits until further notice.
* The airport road is only partially flooded and can be accessed by coaster. The main international hospital is still accessible via road 6.
* Operations in the northern provinces are off limits inclusive of Kampong Thom, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Steung Treng.
* Land transfers are being carefully monitored near Kampong Thom on route 6. The situation is changeable. If the route becomes impassable we will advise clients to remain in Siem Reap or transfer by air to Phnom Penh.

We anticipate these conditions to ease after 3 to 5 days after which limited services will resume as normal.

Our operations teams are on 24h standby to assess the situation and we are remaining flexible with clients who may wish to amend their travel plans and continue onto their next destination. We are in close contact with the airlines and are able to make or change flight bookings if required.

All agents with clients in country will be contacted by a member of the Exotissimo team today. We will send another update on the situation on Monday.

North Korean Cruising: Pack up your Mangyongbong

Setting sail: The Mangyongbong embarks on a trial cruise from
Rason on North Korea to the picturesque Mount Kumgang resort.
It’s quite possibly the worst cruise experience since Captain Arthur Philip landed his first guests in Sydney Cove. North Korea’s timid initial foray into adventure cruising took place in August aboard the “newly renovated” Mangyongbong-91, a 40-year-old vessel reputedly used in a former life to ferry contraband, drugs and weapons for the secretive Stalinist regime. 120 foreign journalists were housed in a dormitory-style room with mattresses on the floor for the 21-hour journey to the scenic Mount Kumgang region. This special tourism zone has languished since South Korea banned visits after a tourist was shot dead in 2008. Oh Dear Leader!

Full Story


Saturday, 24 September 2011

American Safari Cruises Offers $200 Savings on Alaska Sailings


American Safari Cruises, to kick off its first season in Alaska in 2012, is offering savings of $200 per person savings for guests who book a cruise on the 86-passenger Safari Endeavour by Nov. 30, 2011. From June through August, the yacht-style ship sails weeklong “Discoverers’ Glacier Country” cruises roundtrip from Juneau, Alaska.

The inclusive cruise aboard the newly renovated ship spends two days exploring inside Glacier Bay National Park. Guided hiking and kayaking trips with park rangers and on board expedition leaders afford guests a view of the park and its wildlife. Other areas explored include Icy Strait, Chichagof Island, Baranof Island, Frederick Sound, Thomas Bay, Ford’s Terror and Endicott Arm. Rates start at $4,795 per person double.

The travel credit is also available on the two-week “The Famed Inside Passage” cruise from Seattle to Juneau on May 27, 2012 and Juneau to Seattle on Sept. 2, 2012. Rates start at $6,095 per person double. “The travel credit is intended to help guests with airfare,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “It’s our gift to guests booking the Safari Endeavour which we’ve recently added to our fleet.”

The $200 per person credit is available on new bookings made from now through Nov. 30, 2011. The travel savings is for guests sailing aboard the 86-guest Safari Endeavour in Alaska from May through September 2012.

The Safari Endeavour will be fresh from an extensive renovation project. Five stateroom categories include three Master, 21 Commander, 12 Captain, three Admiral and four Commodore Suites. The suites will be created by merging two former staterooms and adding new step-out balconies. All staterooms have one or two outside view windows. Other amenities being added to the ship include two massage rooms, two hot tubs, sauna, exercise equipment, a wine bar and a library. An all-American crew of 34 will give the ship a guest-crew ratio of 2.5 to 1. For more information or reservations, call 888-862-8881, email sales@americansafaricruises.com or visit www.americansafaricruises.com.

In Australia: Ultimate Cruising 1300 662 943



Lindblad Expeditions Offers Pacific Northwest Culinary Programs

Lindblad Expeditions is enhancing its culinary attributes with a program called Columbia & Snake Rivers Journey: Harvests, History and Landscapes, set to debut in 2012. A new onboard dining program features a menu dominated by local and sustainable foods in addition to a selection of wines and craft beers that have gained the region international acclaim.

Scheduled to launch next September with the 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion, this natural, cultural and culinary seven-day/six-night adventure will unveil a landscape millions of years in the making and a vibrant patchwork that encompasses high art, fine foods, award-winning wines along some of the route Lewis & Clark followed on their Corps of Discovery Expedition.

Highlights will include a trip to The Gorge White House, a 102-year-old working family farm that features breathtaking and panoramic views of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams. Guests will be hosted by the farm’s owners, Jerry and Camille, multigenerational farmers who grow heritage pears, apples, berries and greens using environmentally respectful and innovative techniques. The visit will culminate with a delicious meal using farm ingredients, and served on the property’s garden patio. Guests will also tour and taste the fruit of the vines from leading Columbia Gorge wineries. The focus on Pacific Northwest viticulture will continue back onboard, where an array of award-winning regional wines will be served, specially selected by Executive Chef Gary Jenanyan (former executive chef at Robert Mondavi Winery).

The journey will begin by navigating the Columbia to the mouth of the river at Astoria. At Fort Clatsop, where the explorers hunkered down for the wet winter of 1805-06, guests can walk through the full-scale reconstructed fort. The voyage will also offer plenty of chances to enjoy the region’s trademark natural splendor, adjusting itineraries to allow for even more time to take in the majestic sights of Multnomah Falls, Crown Point and other landmarks. The package offers options ranging from hiking and kayaking adventures to Zodiac cruises in the Lewis and Clark Wildlife Refuge or Palouse River.

Lindblad Expeditions and the Food Alliance will work together to highlight a variety of the region’s leading providers, including Country Natural Beef, a cooperative of 120 family ranches in 13 Western states; Tillamook Cheese, made up of 110 dairy farms committed to animal welfare and dating back to 1909; and Draper Valley Farms, the pioneer of Washington- and Oregon-raised fresh chicken since 1935.

The partnership is consistent with both Lindblad’s history and its mission. Each Lindblad expedition is linked to the health of the ecosystem, designed so that its passengers can enjoy the company’s destinations today and contribute to others’ enjoyment of them for years to come. And by working with Food Alliance, Lindblad is ensuring a succession of ecological responsibility, supporting those fishermen and farmers who, in turn, help to support some of the most beautiful places on earth. There will be 10 weekly departures in 2012 from Sept. 14 to Oct. 27. Rates begin at $3,990 per person based on double occupancy for a Category 1 cabin for September and October 2012 expeditions. For more information, call 800-EXPEDITION or visit www.expeditions.com.


The Rowley Shoals - the "bucket list" dive experience


Greetings from sunny Broome! We hope this finds you well and enjoying a great year so far, and a lovely start to Spring.


We're already beginning to wind up our wilderness adventure cruises along the Kimberley Coast for the season and before we know it we'll be heading west again, to visit the breathtaking underwater jewel of the Kimberley, the Rowley Shoals.

In Sydney during the Australian Tourism Exchange this year we heard from many international diving tour organisers who all agreed the Rowley Shoals is a dream destination for diving fanatics worldwide. It continues to be highly protected by the Department of Environment and Conservation, and as there are only a few tour operators allowed access to the Rowley Shoals, it is a highly sought after dive destination.

These three coral atolls lying west of Broome are home to a mesmerizing 688 species of fish and 233 varieties of coral. With visibility between 40-60 metres, warm tropical waters, and variety of dive environments including sheer walls, caves, lagoons, drift channels and spectacular coral gardens, the Rowley Shoals are a true paradise for snorkelers and divers alike.

The short season runs between the end of October and the start of December each year, and we have 3 dive and snorkel adventures in our 2011 season schedule.
Special Last-Minute offer on remaining availability

As we are now just 5 weeks away from our Rowley Shoals season starting, we have released our special last-minute offers on all remaining availability.

The offer includes 30% off the full fare price of both Horizon View Staterooms and Panoramic View Staterooms, and a nights stay at Broome's new 5 star The Pinctada Resort post-cruise.

The 5 night dive and snorkel adventure is now reduced to $2, 885 per person twin share in a Horizon View Stateroom, and the 7 night dive and snorkel adventure is now reduced to $3, 990 per person in a Horizon View Stateroom.

Please email us or call us on 08 9193 5983 for more information or to make a booking.

Specially scheduled dive & snorkel adventure... bring the kids!


This year The Great Escape Charter Company welcomes all children to the Rowley Shoals for a specially scheduled family dive and snorkel adventure.

In addition to the stunning sites for children to snorkel at, a swag of other fun activities are planned for children including skurfing, boat bombies, fishing, and visiting the stunning white sands of Bedwell Island. You can be sure there will be plenty of additional entertainment onboard from the fun and friendly crew, and on-screen entertainment with kids movies in the evening. After that the adults get the run of the boat!

Call us on (08) 9193 5983 to make a reservation, or email us for more information and prices.

New Website: www.greatescape.net.au


Thursday, 22 September 2011

Orion II grounded in Borneo

(as reported in Cruise Weekly)

LAST weekend a technical hitch caused the grounding of Orion II on soft mud at the port of Sandakan, Sabah.

There was no damage to the vessel or passengers during the incident, however the cruise line cut short the itinerary, and guests were put up in hotels, as repatriation arrangements were made.

Affected passengers will receive a partial refund, and Orion II is now enroute to begin its next voyage a day later than planned.

Passengers booked on the upcoming shortened itinerary will be accommodated overnight before boarding Orion II.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Another new ship for Ponant

Compagnie du Ponant has ordered a new ship, a sister to Le Boreal and L'Austral, from Fincantieri, reports Seatrade Insider.

The €100m ship will have 132 cabins and will enter service in June 2013. It will be built at Fincantieri's Ancona yard, just like its two predecessors. The interior designer will again be Philippe Nuel.

'This is for us a new step towards the future, which validates a successful business plan and a successful bet,' commented Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, general manager of the Marseille-based company today.

Compagnie du Ponant operates five luxury vessels and is expecting to carry more than 20,000 passengers (including 7,000 French) in 2011 and report an €80m turnover, representing a 40% hike on 2010. One in two passengers this year was new to the company, Sauvée told Seatrade Insider, and one in four was cruising for the first time, he added.

In 2012 Ponant hopes to carry 22,000 passengers.

Veronique Saadé, deputy general manager commented: 'These yachts are perfectly suited to what our passengers are looking for and owing to their shape and design, allow us to explore exceptional destinations such as Greenland and Antarctica in top comfort.'

She added, 'Our concept is to offer a five-star expedition and tailor-made service.'


Variety Cruises: Chic Mediterranean on New Ship


Variety Cruises launches its elegant 36-cabin mega yacht Variety Voyager in spring 2012 with two new, equally chic itineraries to the Mediterranean. "Romantic Rivieras" will sail the French and Italian Rivieras from June to September, while "Treasures of South Italy and Malta" cruises September to October. Each cruise is seven nights with fares from $2,990 per person, per week.

ROMANTIC RIVIERAS

Embarkation: Nice, France

Glamorous playgrounds of the French and Italian Rivieras let cruisers travel with A-list panache. The first stop is St. Tropez, a must for any jetsetter, and continues to sparkling islands Corsica (France) and Elba (Italy). Stops in Italy's main land to treasured villages Portovenere and Portofino are followed by a respite in cosmopolitan Monte Carlo.

TREASURES OF SOUTH ITALY AND MALTA

Embarkation: Salerno, Italy

Sicily, celebrated for beautiful beaches, legendary cuisine, and fascinating history, comes to life with visits to Taormina, Syracuse, Agrigento and Cefalu. Islands of Capri, Malta and Lipari summon leisurely strolls in flowing summer clothes backed by stirring architecture and seascapes.

M/Y VARIETY VOYAGER: COMING IN 2012

Private yachting meets conventional cruising on the 223-foot state-of-the-art Variety Voyager mega yacht. With room for only 72 passengers in 36 cabins, the ship creates an intimate atmosphere for commiserating, almost as if the cruise were itself a private group event. The Variety Voyager design features sleek lines and ample deck space. Inside, cabins and public areas are finished with warm fabrics, rich marbles, Axminster carpeting and soft-toned wood paneling. Unobstructed views of the ocean and ports envelop every area of the ship. An attentive 28-member service crew provides impeccable service, as if each guest were the ship's captain.

Fares for "Romanctic Rivieras" and "Treasures of South Italy and Malta" include accommodations in double or twin cabins with private bathrooms and air conditioning; American buffet breakfast and two main meals daily; use of fishing equipment (subject to availability); coffee, water or tea; and an English speaking cruise escort. Port charges are an additional $350 per person.

For more information on Variety Cruises, please call 1-800-319-7776 (US) and 1-866-944-8498 (Canada) or visit www.varietycruises.com.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

AdventureSmith Explorations Announces New 2012 Cruises


From Hawaii to Great Barrier Reef, Baja to Cambodia; New Waters Ahead for Leader in Expedition Cruising

The active travel company that secures matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of small, expedition ships, AdventureSmith Explorations (http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/), announces a roster of new and favorite cruises for late 2011, 2012 and beyond.

When northern winds howl, here are some warm-weather options from AdventureSmith Explorations Director Todd Smith:

Hawaiian Seascapes explores the “other side” of the Hawaiian Islands beginning in early Nov. 2011 with a nearly continuous schedule through May 2012, repeating again from Nov. 2012 to May 2013. Activities include birding, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, with explorations of, among others, secluded coves and beaches on the Big Island, Molokini, Lanai, Molokai and Maui. The 150-foot luxury small ship Safari Explorer carries up to 36 passengers in 18 modern cabins. From $4,995 per person, double.

See http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/200

The Many Faces of Panama and Costa Rica is a Dec. 17-27, 2011 departure on the 62-passenger Sea Lion. The most comprehensive Panama cruise itinerary ever offered visits Panama City, the Panama Canal and Barro Colorado, the primary Smithsonian center for tropical rain forest study since 1923, the Embarra village of Mogue and the Pearl Islands. There are opportunities for birding, kayaking and canoeing.

See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/347

The Jan. 11-21, 2012 Baja California Odyssey: San Ignacio Lagoon and the Sea of Cortez emphasizes San Ignacio Lagoon along the Pacific Coast, the primary mating and birthing ground for California Grey Whales. Close encounters are commonplace. Activities while exploring the Sea of Cortez include bird watching, kayaking and canoeing. Up to 70 guests aboard the M/V Sea Bird are accommodated in 37 outside cabins. See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/99

Viet Nam & Cambodia: Along the Mekong River has four departures beginning in late January and continuing through mid-March 2012. Archeology, birding and hiking team up with a cultural insight of these ancient countries. The itinerary includes both land and water portions; while cruising guests are accommodated aboard the 48-passenger Jahan in 24 outside facing cabins. Onboard amenities include fully air-conditioned indoor areas, pool deck, Jacuzzi, bar, wellness spa, gym and private boutique.

See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/427

In late spring, Natural Treasures of the Russian Far East traverses waters few would ever think of. Departures of Orion II on the 11-day cruises May 31-June 10 and June 10-June 20, 2012 explore the Northern Ring of Fire, an environment dominated by the effects of volcanic activity across the Bering Sea between Russia and Japan. From Hokkaido, Sapporo through sparsely populated islands, guests are greeted with vodka, bread and salt and the cacophony of seabirds, sea lions and fur seals. The journey ends in Petropavlovsk, one of the oldest towns in the Russian Far East and home to a Russian submarine base. Weather permitting; a helicopter trip can target the Valley of the Geysers, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and probably the second biggest collection of geothermal features outside of Yellowstone National Park.

See: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/297

For lovers of astronomy, two Great Barrier Reef Solar Eclipse Cruises are scheduled Nov. 10-Nov. 16 and Nov. 13-Nov. 17, 2012, plying waters rife with reefs from Cairns to Lizard Island which lies on the ‘centerline’ of the prime eclipse viewing area.

http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/336



The Undiscovered Black Sea

crimeayalta_swallows_nest_ukraine.jpg

Special voyages to the crossroads of culture

The magnificent Black Sea region is still new territory for many visitors—an exciting irony, since so many pivotal events of world history have played out here, from the fall of Constantinople to the fall of the Soviet Union.

The great salt-water Black Sea has seen settlements on its shores for nearly 3000 years which along with the wars of the 19th and 20th centuries have all greatly influenced the surrounding lands, making the Black Sea one of the most fascinating and historically rich regions in the world.

Whether your interest lies in ancient or military history, architecture, literature, contemporary politics or just in visiting some of the most atmospheric and fascinating places on earth, the Black Sea has much to offer.

Wild Earth Travel is offering a range of expeditions in 2012 that explore this intriguing destination.

An 11-day 'Black Sea: Crossroads of Culture' voyage on board the Corinthian II starts in Athens, Greece and finishes in Istanbul, Turkey. Highlights include touring the historic monuments of Athens, the birthplace of Western culture; exploring the ruins, archaeological sites and churches of Romania; visiting the landmark cities of Odessa in the Ukraine and Sevastopol, the former base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet from the days of Catherine II until the fall of the Soviet Union; and Yalta, famed site of the 1945 conference between Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.

The deluxe Corinthian II is an all-suite luxury ship accommodating up to 114 guests, appointed with first class facilities including a sun deck with Jacuzzi; beauty salon; and an elevator serving all passenger decks. The Penthouse Suites and Veranda Suites feature private balconies with sliding-glass doors, as well as white glove butler service. This voyage departs on 17 July 2012. Prices start from US$7895 per person.

Two 11-day 'Black Sea Odyssey' voyages on board the 100-passenger MS Island Sky depart from Istanbul on 9 and 19 October 2012 with prices starting from $7549NZD/$5849AUD per person. Highlights include an in-depth exploration of Turkey including the ancient cities of Paphlagonia and Amasya, which according to legend was founded by the Amazon queen Amasis; Yalta, Sevastopol and Odessa in Russia; and Nessebur in Bulgaria, home of the 5th century Bishopric and 12th century St Stephen's church.

The MS Island Sky underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment in 2010 to make her one of the finest small ships in the world, where high quality service and attention to detail are the order of the day. The ship has 57 unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks. The atmosphere onboard is akin to a private yacht or country hotel.

Two 'Black Sea Treasures' voyages from Istanbul to Odessa on board the 50-pasenger M/Y Pegasus depart in June 2012 with prices starting from $2795NZD/$2199AUD per person. Highlights include the ancient city of Nessebar, a unique exploration upstream of the Danube River and the Crimean historical cities of Yalta and Sevastopol. The newly refurbished Pegasus has 23 luxuriously appointed cabins as well as an outdoor al fresco dining area and platform stern enabling guests to swim when conditions permit.

For further information on the full range of voyages in the Black Sea Freephone 1800 107 715 (within Australia), 0800 945 3327 (New Zealand),  +64 3 365 1355 or visit www.wildearth-travel.com


Monday, 19 September 2011

AKADEMIK SERGEY VAVILOV TO JOIN ONE OCEAN EXPEDITIONS FLEET

In what is seen as the most exciting development of the year for the expedition cruise industry, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) has announced that the highly regarded Akademik Sergey Vavilov will join Akademik Ioffe as its second polar expedition vessel with effect from November 2012.

The Vavilov has been described by OOE's competitors as 'one of the finest expedition ships to sail the polar seas' and is sister ship to the Ioffe, which OOE currently operates exclusively under a long term charter agreement.

Both vessels were built in Finland in the late 1980's for the Russian Academy of Science. Both undertook hydro-acoustic research and consequently are extremely quiet, fast and stable. They are widely acknowledged as the best expedition vessels for difficult polar waters.

One Ocean Expeditions was founded in 2006 by Canadian Andrew Prossin, a 20 year veteran of Antarctica and the Arctic. Known for his innovative approach to expedition cruising, he has worked extensively with both vessels and it was an obvious fit for his new company to bring these vessels into the fold.

"This addition to our fleet was both necessary and timely for OOE", he said. "It is necessary because our 2011/12 season has almost completely sold out and we definitely need a second vessel. It is timely because the opportunity to take the Vavilov now puts us in a leading position with the two best expedition vessels in the world".

With a capacity of 105 passengers, (but limited by OOE to 92) the Vavilov will initially be deployed in Antarctica, followed by the 2013 Arctic season. But first, the ship will be extensively refurbished. "The Vavilov is a great ship, and with the forthcoming improvement program we will have no trouble bringing her up to the high expectations of One Ocean Expeditions' clients", said Prossin.  "This is a terrific platform where we can offer an innovative expedition product and continue to hone the high levels of onboard guest services our clients have come to expect from us." A major renovation is planned, including redecorated cabins, enhanced, modernised public areas and a wellness centre.

For further details contact Active Travel on 02-9264 1231 or visit www.activetravel.com.au

Orion II's Japanese Culinary Adventure

Discover the rituals, history and philosophy of Japanese cuisine 

Orion II's Japanese Culinary Adventure: In April 2012 the expedition cruise ship Orion II will commence an 8 night Japanese Culinary Cuisine voyage to explore the wonders of Japanese cuisine. A must-do voyage for anyone interested in the rituals, history and philosophy of Japanese culinary art.  

This will be a remarkable journey of discovery using Japanese cuisine as a window into the culture, art and rituals of this ancient society. Orion II guests will have the opportunity to discover Japan and its ancient culture through the amazing diversity of Japanese food. At each port of call discover a different Japanese dish, learn its history and visit local markets to shop for ingredients. 

Onboard, expert chefs, including special guest chef Hideo Dekura, will teach guests how to prepare and present a range of the world's favourite Japanese dishes such as sushi; while time ashore will include visits to the markets where the locals shop, including the famous Jalgachi Fish Market in Busan. 

Explore the amazing variety of seafood, prepare mouth-watering Kobe beef, and learn why the notorious fugu puffer fish can be lethal and yet is sought by gourmet food lovers the world over.  

Enjoy every taste on this unique voyage of discovery. Douzo meshiagare - enjoy your meal. 
 
 

Orion II Japanese Culinary Adventure voyage 

One voyage only - departing 27 April 2012  

KOBE, Shimonoseki, Busan (South Korea), Nagasaki, Okinawa, KOBE 

8 night fares from $7,490 per person for an Ocean Suite LESS 20% if booked by 30 November 2011 – pay $5990 per person. 

Junior Suites from $10,385 per person LESS 20% if booked by 30 November 2011 – pay $8310 per person. 

Additional types of accommodation available, also with 20% reductions. 

Savings are subject to availability. All prices twin share. 
 

Details of Japanese Culinary Adventure itinerary available at http://www.orionexpeditions.com/expeditions/japan/voyage_summary  

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

For reservations or to obtain a brochure of 2011 or 2012 voyages call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) / 0800 444 462 (New Zealand) or see your travel agent.  

Email: info@orionexpeditions.com 
 

Further information: 

Background on special guest chef Hideo Dekura  

Hideo Dekura started his career in Australia in 1974 as a culinary consultant, food stylist and author, with a focus on recipe development. He gives demonstrations, lectures and classes in traditional Japanese Cuisine and is involved in product development for the import/export market. 

Hideo makes significant contributions to cultural events in Australia and overseas, and is is recognised by the media and food industry as an expert on all aspects of Japanese Cuisine.    

In 2007, Hideo was presented the award from the Japanese government for those whom have made a significant contribution to the promotion of Japanese food and cooking. Hideo runs Culinary Studio DEKURA and Japanese Functions of Sydney, Australia.  

Hideo's popular cookbooks include Essentially Japanese, Teppanyaki Barbecue, Japanese Cooking at Home, The Complete Book of Sushi, Japanese Flavours- Modern Classics, The Fine Art of Japanese Cooking, Sushi Modern and Sashimi.

Fire-Ravaged Cruise Ship Stabilized; Passengers Heading Home

Ship's postcard showing Nordlys in happier times.
by Sue Bryant,
Cruise Critic
Contributing Editor
Police and fire investigators are trying to establish the cause of the blaze that crippled Hurtigruten's MS Nordlys yesterday and killed two crewmembers. The damage to the ship is so severe that, according to a statement from the line, it will be out of service until at least mid-October.

An engine fire developed as Nordlys was approaching Alesund port on its northbound coastal voyage from Bergen. All 207 passengers, including British citizens and a group of 53 Americans, were evacuated safely, either by lifeboat or simply by walking off once the ship made it to Alesund. Eight crewmembers were taken to the hospital; four remain in serious condition, with burns and smoke inhalation.
An engine room explosion is suspected as the cause of the
devasating blaze aboard Hurtigruten's MS Nordlys
The ship is still not out of danger. The hull has a hole in it and the vessel is taking on water in port, leading to fears last night that it could capsize. But a team of experts flown in from the Netherlands has managed to pump out some of the water. "We have had confirmation that it is looking more stable now," Hurtigruten managing director Kathryn Beadle told Cruise Critic.

At one point the ship was listing nearly 22 degrees; news reports say it has been reduced to 17 degrees. Twenty degrees is considered a critical point.

The cause of the fire is as not known at this point, though a report by the Associated Press says Alesund police suspect an explosion in the engine room of unknown origin. At this stage, authorities don't believe it was sabotage or a terrorist attack, the AP continued. Norway is still reeling from a violent attack on a youth camp in July this year, in which a lone gunman murdered 69 young people.

Passengers, who are being accommodated in a nearby hotel, are receiving support from multilingual Hurtigruten staff and counselors. "We can't let anybody back on the ship to get their belongings and we don't know when we will be able to, but we have provided them with money and we have an account with a local department store that is supplying clothes," said Beadle.

There are challenges for those wanting to continue their journey, which includes the group of Americans, as most passengers' credit cards and passports are still onboard. What's more, although 11 Hurtigruten ships ply the west coast of Norway on a continuous basis, most of them are fully booked, according to Beadle. Even though two-thirds of the cabins on Nordlys were unoccupied at the time of the fire, the ships pick up passengers at every port; by the time they reach Kirkenes, the most northerly point of the round trip, they are usually full.

We'll keep you informed as the investigation continues. The telephone helpline for friends and relatives of those who were on board is +47 47 83 47 00.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

Journey of Discovery on the Mekong: News.com.au


THEIR feet and legs bleeding from gaping wounds, they hauled the boats across the jagged rocks and through muddy, leech-infested swamps.

Their shoes long worn out and discarded, the men continued on undaunted as the weeks turned into months and the months into years.

The search for the source of the Mekong, and the presumed river road to the riches of China, obsessed them to the point of madness. The ill-prepared but typically defiant French soldiered on for two years, leading them into China but tantalisingly short of their ultimate quest.

Once considered among the wildest rivers of the world, the 4350km Mekong (or Mother of Water) is the 12th longest river in the world and seventh longest in Asia. Its daunting rapids and narrow, raging gorges thwarted the French as much as the turbulent politics that festered along its banks. For the men of the 1866-68 Mekong Expedition, it would ultimately bring them undone and, albeit a century later, so too the French colonial administration.

Read full story at news.com.au




Arctic Sea Ice Melt Grave: Greenpeace


Greenpeace says the second largest Arctic sea ice melt in recorded history has grave implications for wildlife like polar bears, and the planet as a whole.

The US-based National Snow and Ice Data Centre says the scale of the retreat is behind only 2007's record melt.

Greenpeace says it's a clear signal of how climate change is causing the rapid shrinking of the Arctic sea ice cap.

Read Full Story

Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Age: The awe of the jungle

Speedboats head upriver in search of wildlife (Roderick Eime)
Adventure cruiser Roderick Eime strikes a balance between savagery and civility as he island-hops on an expedition ship.

The very mention of Borneo is enough to conjure vivid images of dense jungle inhabited by strange, hairy creatures, a land penetrated only by brave, machete-wielding explorers fending off menacing headhunters, blow darts and pirates.

Modern, internet-connected Borneo may have lost some of its wild and untamed characteristics but it's still one of the most dramatic and exciting destinations left on our shrinking planet.




Read full story at Fairfax traveller.com.au

The unedited version is as follows:


Going Wild in Borneo

Adventure cruiser, Roderick Eime, mixes it with apes and hornbills in Sabah’s last jungle hideout.

The very mention of Borneo is enough to conjure vivid images of dense jungle inhabited by bizarre hairy creatures. A land penetrated only by brave machete-wielding explorers fending off menacing head-hunters, blowdarts and pirates. Modern, Internet-connected Borneo may have lost some of its wild and untamed persona, but it’s still one of the most dramatic and exciting destinations left on our shrinking planet.

Today we travel in four-stroke outboard powered Zodiacs, put-putting quietly along the mangrove lined Kinabatangan River in the Eastern Borneo state of Sabah, comical hornbills swooping overhead while boisterous macaques play tag among the palm fronds.

“Look …. Quiet,” whispers Chris, our naturalist guide from Orion II, “it’s the Rhinoceros Hornbill. Just above the fork in the tree. Can you see it?”

Armed with powerful field glasses, large calibre telephoto lenses and packing Gigabytes of storage, we stalk these exotic species, ticking them off one-by-one as we progress silently within arms reach of the mangrove-lined banks.

Tales of the wild lands, animals and people of Borneo first reached European readers in 1522, when the straggling survivors of Magellan’s fleet limped back to Spain. Indian, Javanese and Chinese traders however had been visiting for centuries prior in search of timber, ivory, gold and spices. Later the Dutch and British colonial powers held sway, while the local Sultans played their own power games. The 20th Century was a dramatic chapter with a firm British grip until the Japanese took control briefly during WWII before liberation by Australian troops in 1945.

Sabah, on the farthest north-eastern tip, is now part of independent Malaysia and a source of much of the world’s palm oil, a crop that is unfortunately replacing the coastal and riparian (riverside) forests vital to many endangered species of birds and mammals. Driven by this urgency, eco-tourism is the new growth industry of Borneo, often colliding with the more established forestry and palm plantations.

Aboard Orion II, the Australian expedition cruise company’s latest vessel, we island-hop and port-pop around the ‘dog’s head’ of Sabah in search of these iconic creatures and the handsome Dusan and Bajau people who share the land. Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Sandakan and Labuan plus the islands of Pulau Mantanani, Mataking and Pulau Tiga form just part of the 10-night ‘Secrets of Sabah’ itinerary. Apart from craning our necks to the top of trees and squinting into binoculars, we dive, snorkel, trek, dance and shop our way around the ears and snout of the canine-shaped peninsula.

One of the highlights is certainly our speedboat-powered incursion into the hinterland of Sandakan where we stay overnight at a jungle lodge in preparation for our dawn riverine expeditions. Despite torrential downpours – this is the rainforest after all – we observe every species of hornbill and monkey that still inhabits these parts. A lone male Orang Utan sits unruffled in a tall Acacia tree while further upstream, the hilarious proboscis monkeys cavort along the waterfront, their trademark nasal call giving them away. Lucky visitors often see the rare pygmy elephant, but this isn’t our day.

Orion II, while not the youngest vessel around, is still a glamorous pocket adventure cruise ship catering to just 100 fortunate guests. With a commitment to transport modern adventurers to the “less travelled” corners of the globe in comfort, Orion Expeditions upgraded the 1991-launched, 88m vessel to match the high standards set on the much newer Orion. Evening meals are swish degustation affairs, while lunch and breakfast is buffet, supplemented by a la carte fare. I’m certain Magellan or even the White Rajah of Borneo himself, Charles Vyner Brooke, rarely dined this well.

The staterooms (as distinct from plain cabins) are completely refurbished with fresh sofas, wall panelling and carpets to match Orion’s fleet-wide 5-star luxury theme. This may be soft, well-upholstered adventure, but Orion’s growing legion of fans just love it. The only concessions to “cruising” are the small boutique and salon, gym and Jacuzzi deck. Oh, and Glen the entertainer, belts out a few tunes each night on the piano in a convivial singalong.

As I mingle and mix over canapés and drinkies, I discover that most passengers shun the big ship alternative. “I’m done standing in queues,” Wendy, a spritely and forthright 60-something from the Mornington Peninsula tells me, “and I don’t need poker machines or bingo to keep me amused, thank you.”

Adventure cruisers, to be general, fall well outside the typical ocean cruising social set. Mid-life professionals, retired executives, academics and erudite baby-boomers abound. There are no sequins or tuxedos or stuffy ceremonies. The expedition staff who guide us through this ecological nirvana conduct light-hearted yet informative lectures to entertain and enlighten us on our own little voyage of discovery.

Expedition cruising is a booming sub-set of the adventure travel market more so than the cruising scene which is expanding in its own right. Still feel the lust for hard-edged exploration? Want to wander in a primary forest in search of endangered species but relax with a crisp lager at day’s end. This might be just your ticket.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Magnificent Landscape of Mexico and Hawaii This Winter on the MS EUROPA

MS Europa

Guests Booking a Category 0 Suite Get Upgraded Into A Category 4 Veranda Suite, Over 35% of Savings

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' flagship, MS EUROPA, the only 5-star plus ship* in the world, is offering guests the perfect winter getaway in beautiful Mexico and the Hawaiian Islands in January 2012, with a special upgrade deal. Guests booking a category 0 suite on this cruise, at $6,170 per person, will be automatically upgraded to a category 4-veranda suite, which is $3,310 worth of savings per person. The trip features Mexico's endless beaches and Hawaii's breathtakingly beautiful volcanic islands rising from the Pacific, capturing the eye with steaming craters, gushing waterfalls and lush green along the route. Passengers board the EUROPA in Mexico City/Mexico on January 4, and depart the ship in San Francisco/USA on January 20, 2012.

The 16-day itinerary makes stops in: Acapulco/Mexico, Zihuatenejo/Mexico, Manzanillo/Mexico, Puerto Vallarta/Mexico, Cabo San Lucas/Mexico, Kailua/Hawaii, Lahaina/Maui, Nawiliwili/Kauai, and Honolulu/Oahu. Shore excursions offered include: a stop at the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii, helicopter flights over Waimea Canyon, as well as Maui and Molokai, and an exciting boat trip to the tortoise sanctuary in Mexico.

For more information on the itinerary above, or any of the EUROPA's 2012 itineraries, please visit www.hl-cruises.com or call one of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' local sales agencies
* According to the Berlitz Cruise Guide 2011

Explore History, Wine and Autumn Scenery Along the Columbia and Snake Rivers on a Luxury Yacht Cruise

Intermingling history of the west, the fall crush in Washington wine country, spectacular autumn scenery and exhilarating river explorations, American Safari Cruises offers six departures along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in October and November 2011.

The weeklong Rivers of the West itinerary sails one-way between Portland, Oregon and Lewiston, Idaho (and reverse) aboard the exclusive 12-guest Safari Spirit.  Available for individual travel or charter, departure dates include October 8; November 12, 19 and 26; and special Culinary and Wine Discovery theme cruises on October 29 and November 5.  

"Our small group travel philosophy shines on this itinerary along the rivers," said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. "Guests will enjoy private tours and wine tastings along with expert interpretation of the area's history by our on board naturalist."

The itinerary transits eight locks, three states and cuts through the dramatic Columbia River Gorge on its route between Portland, Oregon and Lewiston, Idaho. In Oregon, guests will explore the Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Dam and dock for the evening in the picturesque town of Hood River—the wind surfing capital of the world.  A guest speaker joins guests after dinner in Hood River to discuss the area's history. Cruising the Columbia, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region, offers a close-up look at the workings of the rivers' locks and dams.

On the Washington side, highlights include private tours to two local wineries for wine tastings, a guest speaker in Richland knowledgeable about the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, cruising through a wildlife region rich with migratory birds, entering the Snake River and kayaking or skiff explorations up the Palouse River. An exhilarating jet boat ride into Hells Canyon in Idaho takes guests into North America's deepest canyon for incredible scenery and opportunities to view 7,000-year-old petroglyphs and bighorn sheep.

On board the Safari Spirit, elegant décor and a casual atmosphere combine into a welcome sense of luxury. The inclusive cruises include all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. The Safari Spirit features a hot tub, sauna, library, open bridge, Tempur-pedic mattresses, Jacuzzi tub and shower and 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.

Oceanwide fuel surcharge for Antarctic season 2011-12

Oceanwide Expeditions has advised agents that for the coming Antarctic season it will levy a surcharge of US $25 per passenger per night. 
 
Michel van Gessel, Managing Director, says:

"We have been prudent about levying these surcharges, and have therefore closely monitored the fuel prices and hoped for a considerable price decrease.  Unfortunately the prices remained the same during this Summer and yesterday a barrel Brent Crude Oil was still US $111 . It does not seem likely that for the coming Antarctic season, 2011-12 the fuel price will dip under US $80 again. For all new bookings, please be advised that the fuel surcharge will now be levied at time of booking."
 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A&K Antarctica Cruise Savings

Last minute savings to Antarctica

A&K's luxury vessel MV Le Boreal has last minute availability on its Christmas expedition to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands & South Georgia. All-balcony and all-suite, the vessel carries 199 passengers and is elegant and slim-line. Experience hands-on exploration with an elite team of long-serving and passionate experts to show the way and share their expertise. Highlights include Zodiac excursions, visits to active research stations, incredible wildlife viewing, mesmerising icebound landscapes and rugged scenery.

Book before 30 September 2011 for savings up to USD2,920 per person (solo travellers save up to USD4380).

Tour dates: 17 December 2011-04 January 2012.

Prices:
Category 1            USD13,995 per person (Save USD2470 per person)
Category 2            USD14,845 per person (Save USD2620 per person)
Category 3            USD15,695 per person (Save USD2770 per person)
Category 4            USD16,545 per person (Save USD2920 per person)

For further information or to book – www.abercrombiekent.com.au or 1300 851 800.