Friday, 27 April 2012

Safari Spirit Fire at Seattle Dock - Major Damage


The 105-foot 12-passenger Safari Spirit, operated by American Safari, burned at a Seattle dock last night, resulting in massive amounts of damage according to various reports.

The small ship burned alongside, with fire fighters working the blaze for hours. Early indications said that the flames destroyed four decks, including all passenger accommodations.

Dan Blanchard, American Safari owner, was apparently sleeping onboard when the fire started, and called 911 before getting off the ship safely. There were no passengers onboard.

Fuel onboard led to what officials called a “stubborn” fire, continuing to flare up throughout the night, before finally being fully extinguished.


The Coast Guard has placed a boom around the ship, watching for any pollution.

The Safari Spirit was scheduled to leave on its first voyage of the year on May 11, from Juneau.


Thursday, 26 April 2012

How we take the records when it comes to Seadreaming .


AUSTRALIANS who now make up an amazing ten per cent of guests aboard the world's most highly-rated boutique passenger vessels, the mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II, can now lay claim to another record – we make more back-to-back sailings than guests from any other part in the world.

"I think it's because you travel half-way around the world to join us in either the Mediterranean region or the Caribbean," said SeaDream Yacht Club President, Bob Lepisto. "And because you've travelled so far you want to enjoy longer than just one week relaxing aboard, so you now take the record for back-to-backs."

And to reward us, SeaDream is offering ten per cent off the price of the second week of a back-to-back, an added bonus on top of voyage prices that include all 5-star gourmet dining, wines with lunch and dinner, drinks at any time from the bars, nightly pre-dinner cocktail gatherings, ocean-view staterooms, use of a thirty championship course golf simulator as well as power and sail watersports (in ports where permitted,) and even onboard gratuities.

A current back-to-back special is a week from Dubrovnik this August 18th to Kotor in Montenegro where there is an overnight in port, Sarande in Albania, Taormina (Sicily to view Mt Etna,) Lipari (Sicily,) Positano (overnight,) Capri and Civitavecchia for Rome.

This is followed by a second week from Civitavecchia to Capri, Sorrento (overnight,) Taormina, Fiskardho in Greece and Galaxidi to visit Delphi, a transit of the historic Corinth Canal, Hydra (Greece,) and Piraeus for Athens.

This two-week back-to-back on SeaDream I is priced from US$8452pp twin-share; for full details see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com.

 

Orion Special Kimberley Offer


If you have promised yourself that one day you must see the pristine wilderness of the Kimberley then now is the time to do it!

Orion Expedition Cruises would like to offer a 25% saving* off the brochure fare for twin occupancy. For solo travellers we will waive the sole occupancy surcharge*.

This offer is valid for the following departure dates
Darwin to Broome (10 nights): 3 May & 12 June 2012
Broome to Darwin (10 nights): 13 May, 2 June & 22 June 2012

Fares from $6,825 per person twin share and $9,100 for sole occupancy.

From spectacular waterfalls and awe inspiring gorges, to ancient cultural history and indigenous rock art, the only way you can access the best of the Kimberley is from the sea onboard Orion. Also included is Orion's exclusive Bungle Bungle flight-seeing excursion at no additional cost.
Click here for full voyage details.

To check availability, for further details or to make a booking, please call 1300 361 012, email info@orionexpeditions.com or contact your travel agent. Quote ‘Kimberley Offer'.

*Fares are per person twin share in Australian dollars. Twin fares are based on Category B Stateroom including 25% saving. Savings are subject to availability. Sole occupancy offer based on brochure fare. Offer valid for new bookings only. Not combinable with other offers. This sailing is made up of two separate international sailings and will be ticketed as such. One way pricing to/from Com is also available on request. Current passport with 6 months validity is required.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

“Going, Going Gone” – Hurtigruten Raises Funds for “Save the Albatross” and others


"SAVE THE ALBATROSS" ONE OF SEVERAL LONG-RUNNING CHARITY AUCTION

BENEFITS RUN BY HURTIGRUTEN AND ITS GUESTS DURING EXPEDITION VOYAGES

Inline images 2

"Going, Going, Gone" Charity Auctions Raised €140,000 for Assn. of Greenlandic Children Since 2007

Award-winning cruise line Hurtigruten has been an active participant in many of the remote areas it visits on its Expedition Voyages and often raises money for needy causes.  A new fundraiser to begin in early summer on the MS Fram's Arctic and Antarctica sailings focuses on helping to "Save the Albatross," (a project of the Bird Life International Foundation), a much treasured bird that faces extinction mainly due to industrial long-line fishing.  "These animals are incredibly elegant when they move. To me, they are one of the most impressive bird species in the world," said expedition leader Karin Strand, "able to fly thousands of miles."  For further information on the "Save the Albatross" project, please visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/supporting/campaigns/albatross/.

 This is one of several fund-raisers initiated by Hurtigruten and funded by both the company and its Expedition guests – where guests bid on company items that include the unique nautical chart of the respective voyage and signed by the captain, a Hurtigruten flag, and expedition team jackets.  "We want to give something back to the regions we visit, after the great pleasure of experiencing these magnificent and remote areas," is expedition team leader Karin Strand's explanation of the idea behind the fundraising campaigns. "Our guests recognise the privilege of being able to travel to the Antarctic, Greenland or Spitsbergen – and as a thank-you they would like to contribute to the future of these regions."

Ongoing fundraisers include campaigns run by "Antarctica South Georgia Heritage Trust and the "Ocean Foundation."  A very popular and successful fundraiser is the one focusing on raising funds for the "Association of Greenlandic Children" – yielding more than €140,000 in its first four years solely through the crew-run auctions and generous guests on board.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen as well as year round along Norway's coast and Europe in the spring.  The company's fleet of 14 intimate ships, carrying 100 to 646 guests, allows travelers to enjoy unique destinations in a relaxed atmosphere.   Additional information, as well as brochures and reservations, can be obtained from travel agents or Hurtigruten's visitor-friendly web site, www.hurtigruten.us; or by phone: (877) 301-3117; fax (888) 524-2145; for brochures (800) 582-0835, 24 hours a day.


Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sail Italy's Spectacular Amalfi Coast


Inline images 2
Typical Turkish-style Gulet, Almira
The tour visits some of the best-known destinations in the area including the isle of Capri, the ruins of Pompeii and breath-taking Amalfi, as well as lesser-known sites such as the ancient underwater city at Baia and the outstanding Roman frescoes of the Villa Oplontis.



The sparkling seas and ancient sites of Italy's famous Amalfi Coast can be explored aboard a magnificent wooden sailing boat this northern summer thanks to cultural tour specialist Peter Sommer Travels.

Led by author and archaeologist Dr Michael Metcalfe, the eight-day tour Cruising the Amalfi Coast takes in the most spectacular scenery of the Bay of Naples, cruising aboard a traditional gulet with no more than 10 guests.


Departing from Naples on June 9 and again on September 15, 2012, the tour costs from £3595 per person twin share (approx A$5576) including transfers, seven nights aboard the gulet, all meals, all entrance fees and expert guiding. Price excludes flights.

Inline images 1
click to enlarge map
For full details and bookings contact Peter Sommer Travels in the UK on 0011 44 1600 888 220, email info@petersommer.com or visit www.petersommer.com.


Ponant names third vessel Le Soléal


With the same elegant contours as her two sister ships, Le Boréal (2010) and L’Austral (2011), LE SOLÉAL is set to become further embodiment of Compagnie du Ponant’s ‘Yacht cruises’ concept.

Boasting five-star accommodation in the 132 staterooms and suites with a sophisticated design, Le Soléal offers the same level of comfort as a private yacht. Plus, this human-size vessel is permitted access to the most outstanding sites around the globe, where larger ships can’t even get close.

By naming its new ship ‘Le Soléal’, Compagnie du Ponant not only makes the connection with its two other ships, L’Austral and Le Boréal, obvious, but also aims to emphasise the ‘soft expedition’ aspect of their itineraries. Etymologically, Le Soléal is a combination of two of the company’s most powerful symbols – ‘le soleil’ (French for sun) and ‘the one who leads the way’.

For her inaugural season starting in July 2013, Le Soléal will be taking passengers to a new, rarely visited and exclusive, destination: the Arctic. From the legendary North West Passage (which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans) to the Bering Strait, from ice floe to tundra, these unusual itineraries will offer passengers the chance to discover hidden gems way beyond the Arctic Circle. Le Soléal’s 264 passengers will be able to follow in the footsteps of the great explorers, discover Inuit villages and watch extraordinary wildlife, including polar bears, brown bears, wolves, puffins, walrus and even belugas.

Excursions in zodiacs, hiking excursions and helicopter tours will also be on offer for the most adventurous guests.

Stable and quiet, Le Soléal is designed to navigate safely in the most extreme regions. The ship was awarded a CLEANSHIP certificate

Designed by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, the contemporary interiors are inspired by the world of yachting. Nautical codes have been subtly revisited and applied to re-create the atmosphere of chic seaside resorts, with clean lines and combining the soothing colours of driftwood, and shades of grey and white.

Restaurants, lounges, a library, theatre and spa also offer passengers a whole range of five-star facilities and commodities.

A well thought design, excellent service and gourmet cuisine enhanced by state-of-the-art equipment and comfort reflects perfectly the philosophy of Compagnie du Ponant – a slow cruise combining intimacy, authenticity and elegance, as only the French know how.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Testing water on Sydney cruise


IT IS cruising's equivalent of sticking a big toe in the water - a sampler to see if life on the water is right for you.

Preparing to board my cruise ship on Sydney Harbour on a clear autumn afternoon, all the good things about cruising come to mind: unpack once, water views everywhere, sail-away party, interesting stops, spectacular scenery, great food, friendly fellow passengers, on-board entertainment, no taxi hassles at night's end ...

But on this mini-cruise there are a few differences to a full-blown blue-water cruise no need for a passport, for starters, because on this weekend jaunt we will not even pass through the Sydney Heads.

Read more


Sing-sing and sago up the river


 "We were up in the fiord area of New Guinea, near Tufi, and it was a spectacularly beautiful area.

"Deep channel entrances and fringing fiords are framed by jagged mountains coming straight up from the sea. We were taken by local villagers on traditional outrigger canoes to an area upriver from their village. If you can imagine being paddled up a remote river where there is no sign of human habitation and then seeing a procession of women and children throwing petals into the water - it was very special and quite moving.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/singsing-and-sago-up-the-river-20120419-1x9j4.html#ixzz1slJKfiUo



Saturday, 21 April 2012

Star Clippers Busy in 2013

Star Clippers fleet of three tall ships will blanket the Mediterranean and Baltic/Scandinavia with more than 90 sailings in the European cruising season in 2013.
 
At the start and finish of the summer/fall program, each ship will make trans-Atlantic crossings between Europe and the Caribbean mostly under sail.
 
The flagship Royal Clipper has 26 cruises scheduled including seven, 10 and 11 night itineraries between Rome and Venice; seven nights along the Amalfi Coast and Sicily; and seven nights to ports in Croatia and Montenegro.
 
Star Flyer will return to northern Europe after a successful 2012 inaugural season, sailing to exotic ports in Scandinavia and the Baltic covering Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Poland.
 
From August, the ship will move south for two months offering seven-night cruises sailing from Malaga to Morocco and Gibraltar and to other Spanish ports.
 
Star Clipper will be the busiest of the fleet sailing to the Greek Isles, the French and Italian Rivieras, and to a string of ports between Istanbul and Athens and Athens/Venice.
 
Star Clippers operates three of the world's largest and tallest sailing vessels visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht.

The ships follow the sun year-round in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and the Baltic.

For Star Clippers sailing reservations contact your travel agent or Star Clippers on 1300 362 599 or email:starclippers@creativecruising.com.au <mailto:starclippers@creativecruising.com.au>
www.starclippers.com

Friday, 20 April 2012

IAATO increasingly concerned on recent yacht related incidents in Antarctic waters

The Brazilian motor yacht ‘Mar Sem Fim’
crushed by ice on April 7 in Maxwell Bay,
South Shetland Islands.

Recent incidents and sightings involving yachts in Antarctic waters have generated considerable interest and concern among the members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO).

The incidents and reports – some of which have been covered by the media – involve commercial and private yachts not associated in any way with IAATO, according to Administrative Director Steve Wellmeier. Some of the incidents include:

The sinking of the Brazilian motor yacht ‘Mar Sem Fim’ April 7 in Maxwell Bay, South Shetland Islands. The four Brazilian passengers and crew were rescued unharmed by the Chilean Navy and transported by air from the nearby Presidente Eduardo Frei airstrip to Punta Arenas, Chile. The suspected cause of the sinking was compression of ice following severe weather the day earlier.

Read full story


Top Purveyor of Small Ship Cruises Enters Mediterranean


MY Harmony
Beginning Summer 2012 AdventureSmith Explorations Launches Mediterranean Small Ship Cruising Accessing Intimate Anchorages

Through April Two-for-One Cruise Promotion Applies To Select Itineraries

The active travel company securing matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of small, expedition ships, AdventureSmith Explorations, in summer 2012 will inaugurate its own style of cruising in the Mediterranean / Aegean in ships for 30 to 60 guests with rates ranging from affordable to luxurious.

From now through April 30, 2012, inaugural rates allow two guests to travel for the price of one on the following cruises:

Classical Greece: 8 days from $2590
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/444
TurquoiseCoast & Islands of the Eastern Aegean: 8 days from $1790
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/452
Jewels of the Cyclades: 8 days from $1791
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/455
Agean Odyssey: 8 days from $2450
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/445
Antiquity to Byzantium: 8 days from $1190
http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/itinerarydetails.php/advid/446


Other cruises aboard the classic square rigger Sea Cloud include Turkey and Greece: A Sailing Odyssey: 10 days from $7990; Sailing the Greek Isles: 9 days from $6990; and Under Sail: Greece to the Dalmatian Coast: 12 days from $9990.

"Expanding our unique style of cruising into this region represents the culmination of many years of effort," said Todd Smith, Director of AdventureSmith Explorations. Smith noted high demand from previous clients for cruises in this corner of the world. Small ports accessible exclusively to small ships will be avenues to history and culture; the company's other destinations, such as Alaska, highlight wildlife and wilderness.

A complete listing of all new Mediterranean cruise itineraries can be found at: http://www.adventuresmithexplorations.com/adventures.php/d/mediterranean.


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Heritage Expeditions to voyage to remote Heard and Mcdonald Islands


Spirit of Enderby (aka Professor Khromov)
 A rare opportunity to explore Australia’s most isolated Subantarctic outposts

Adventure cruise company Heritage Expeditions will voyage to Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean in November this year. Participants are invited to join the team of world class naturalists and biologists on what is one of the last great 'Journeys in the World', to islands more remote than Antarctica and visited by far less people.

Heard and McDonald Islands, deep in the South Indian Ocean, are closer to Antarctica than any other major landmass, and have traditionally been the preserve of researchers and scientists. Their remoteness and status as a Federal Nature Reserve and World Heritage site have ensured the islands are visited only by the fortunate few. Heritage Expeditions last visited in 2002 and it is unlikely they will be repeating this voyage in the foreseeable future due to the logistics involved.

Heard Island is the location of Big Ben, Australia’s highest mountain and only active volcano. At 2,745 metres, this snow covered monolith is an impressive 517 metres higher than Mt. Kosciuszko. Heard also enjoys the unique human history associated with discovery, sealing and Australia’s first Antarctic Research Station established in 1948 (and closed in 1952). Fortunately the human impact of these few visitors was minimal, and today the island is one of the few in the world that is largely as nature intended. As a result the wildlife is particularly special, with four species of penguin, numerous other seabirds and three species of seal including a large population of Southern Elephant Seals.

The expedition will include staff from the Australian Antarctic Division, as it is a rare opportunity even for them to visit these islands. They will also confirm the expedition adheres to the rigorous quarantine regulations which ensure the islands remain pristine for future generations.

The voyage departs from Fremantle on the 8th of November and ends in Albany on the 2nd of December 2012. Prices for the 25 day expedition start from USD16,000 per person and include transfers, all meals, shore excursions and permits, but exclude landing fees.

For further information visit www.heritage-expeditions.com.


LAST MINUTE OFFER ON A SPECIAL JOURNEY


BEYOND Travel has just released a last minute special - a saving of $1000 per couple - on the exclusive special journey "Croatia and Slovenia By Land and By Sea" from Dubrovnik which includes a privately chartered seven-day cruise through the Dalmatian Islands aboard the MS Eden or MS Afrodita.

The saving is valid on the June 6 departure this year and in addition a $600 per couple Travel Credit applies, you must book and pay by May 7.

The 18-day package which begins with two nights in the Croatian capital Zagreb, is a fully escorted small group tour with an English guide. The itinerary includes a visit to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, two nights in Bled, excursions to the Istrian Peninsula, and two nights at UNESCO–listed Plitvice Lakes before heading to Split.

In Split board your privately chartered cruise on a motorised sailing vessel for a six day Dalmatian Islands cruise. Highlights of the voyage include two nights in Dubrovnik and stops in Hvar, Makarska, Mljet and Korcula, the supposed birthplace of Marco Polo.

This special offer is priced from $5095 per person twin share and includes accommodation, the six day cruise, daily breakfast and many other meals, comprehensive sightseeing and transportation, gratuities, return transfers and visitors tax and port charges.

For more details contact Beyond Travel at 1300-363-554 or email info@beyondtravel.com.au

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

G Adventures Reports Best Two Months in its 21-Year History

Sales for small group adventure holidays operator up more than 20% in 2012

Bruce Poon Tip
January and February returned the highest sales figures in G Adventures' 21-year history, with passenger numbers up 19% and revenue up 22% for bookings made in the UK market.

Although based in Toronto, 55% of G Adventures' business is done in the UK and Europe and this is growing despite challenging economic conditions.

G Adventures' founder Bruce Poon Tip accredits the company's innovative programming and the support of the UK trade for the growth.

"This achievement is a reflection of our commitment to creating innovative, life-changing travel experiences. It also recognises a number of accomplishments over the past few months," says Bruce Poon Tip, G Adventures' founder.

"Factors that have contributed to this success include the strength of emerging destinations, the launch of our North America programme and outstanding Expedition cruise sales. All supported tremendously by our valued agent partners."

In terms of bookings, destinations recording the greatest increase for 2012 include Bolivia (up 55% on passengers year-on-year), Vietnam, which can be attributed to the introduction of direct flights (up 28%) and classic South America tours to Peru (up 34%) and Nepal (up 33%). Italy has also grown 144% due to the introduction of the 'local living' programme which enables travellers to have a more immersive cultural experience when they travel.

Encouragingly, Japan has bounced back with 138% growth off an already strong passenger base.

"I'm also delighted with the response of the UK market to our new North America programme, launched this year," says Poon Tip. "The UK has sold 42% of trips to North America, which is more than any other region globally."

Additionally, the company's polar expedition cruise sales have increased 76%, in part due to the popularisation of the poles through television shows such as Frozen Planet.

For more information please call 0844 272 2040 or visit http://www.gadventures.com

About G Adventures

G Adventures is an adventure-travel pioneer offering the widest selection of affordable small-group tours, safaris and expeditions to more than 100 countries.

Powered by an international team of passionate travellers, the award-winning trips embrace authentic accommodation, exotic cuisine and local transport to engage travelers with the planet's people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife.

The intimate, authentic and sustainable approach to small-group travel introduces travellers to the highlights of a destination while offering the freedom to explore it on their own. Whatever age, interest, ability or budget, G Adventures has a genuine life-changing experience.

For more information please visit http://www.gadventures.com.


APT adds Antarctica


New brochure: APT South America and Antarctica 2013

Antarctica has been added for APT's South America 2013 small group holidays, which carry maximum 28 passengers.

This is the first time APT has package Antarctica in its 37 years travelling to South America.

An 11-day Antarctica trip using the specialised expedition ship Akademik loffe has been added to APT's popular 20-day The Very Best of South America in a package priced from $22,595 per person, twin share.

The Antarctica trip on the Akademik loffe has been billed as a key "APT Exclusive" alongside the small group structure for the entire South America program and access to Orient-Express Rail - Hiram Bingham Train (voted by the readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine as the best train in the world) for the journey to Machu Picchu which comes with onboard four course dinner.

Features of the Antarctica cruise are the wildlife at Half Moon Island,including a breeding colony of Chinstra penguins, kayaking and an opportunity to camp overnight.

Companion fly free, discounted business class airfare and solo traveller discounts are early booking incentives launched with the brochure, which carries 11 packages, ranging from 21 to 36 days.

All journeys feature APT's acclaimed Freedom of Choice Touring and Dining, APT Tour Director and local guides, local arrival and departure transfers, port charges and all tipping. These expertly planned itineraries are fully inclusive. Flights within South America and meals, for instance, are included. APT offers a guaranteed price; providing travel agents a peace of mind when selling this unique product.

APT General Marketing Manager, Debra Fox said APT was enjoying excellent bookings this year from its customer base of discerning travellers.

"There is big demand for this 'wow factor' continent combined with our style of travel, and next year we're delivering even more with the addition of Antarctica and our own special experiences," she said.

Among the other special APT "Exclusive" experiences are a fun introductory Spanish lesson over coffee and croissants at Cafe Tortoni, a famous literati coffeehouse in Buenos Aires, a Bird Park near Iguassu Falls for a walk among toucans and other native birds as well as Rojo Tango for Argentina's ultimate Tango show, fine dining and quality local wine.

APT "Exclusive" accommodation staying at Miraflores Park Hotel in Lima, The Ritz-Carlton in Santiago, the Libertador at Lake Titicaca, Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel at the base of Machu Picchu and Llao Llao Hotel and Resort, near Bariloche and one of the Leading Hotels of the world while dinner in a Peruvian home and a BBQ Lunch on the shores of Lake Titicaca are special dining experiences.

The 20-day The Very Best of South America (from $11,995) is the backbone of APT's South America program, exploring the colourful cities and ancient sights of Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Passengers can tailor their holiday by choosing to add on a visit to the Patagonian Lakes, Galapagos Island cruises, Amazon River Cruises or Amazon Lodge stays.

Contact: 1300 229 804, see www.aptouring.com.au, see an agent.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

Cultural cruise to Fiji

IT'S the friendliness of the people and their cultural richness that make a Fiji cruise so memorable, writes Sarah Mennie.

AN OLD man rests in a sagging hammock, a blow dart in his hand. In front of a nearby thatched hut, a young woman sorts coconuts to be sold at market.

Their village on Rabi Island, home to 15 people and a collection of pigs and chickens, is metres from a postcard-perfect beach. The smiles from the villagers are a reminder why Fijians are considered among the friendliest people in the world.

Read full story


Friday, 13 April 2012

Atlantic Odyssey voyage onboard Plancius interrupted in South Georgia

Vlissingen , 13 April 2012 | 12:32 CET

Reduced propulsion power of m/v Plancius interrupts Atlantic Odyssey voyage All passengers and crew are safe and sound The Atlantic Odyssey voyage onboard m/v Plancius is interrupted since 09 April 2012 due to the vessel experiencing an incapacitation caused by mechanical dysfunction of the main propulsion system causing a reduced propulsion power. The ship is sheltered in safe position resting alongside the jetty of King Edward Point Research Station in Grytviken/Cumberland East Bay/South Georgia (54°17′S, 36°30′W).
Passengers, crew and expedition staff are safe. There is no threat to life or the environment The spirit on board is - given the circumstances - good and passengers indulge in local walks and excursion program organized by expedition staff.

Oceanwide Expeditions takes precautions in the sake of passenger safety As a result of the propulsion failure the ship has only very limited sailing capabilities ( maximum 4- 5 knots in calm conditions), which means the vessel will not be able maintain course in rough seas of the open ocean. The original ship ´s voyage was aimed at crossing the Atlantic (embarkation of passengers took place in Ushuaia on 29 March, disembarkation of passengers was planned at Praia/ Cape Verdes on 05 May). The weather forecast is unpredictable due to approaching winter period. Oceanwide Expeditions decided to take precautions and cancel the crossing of the Atlantic based on mission to operate safe and environmentally responsible travel. It is planned that all 73 passengers, some crew members (from 35 nautical and hotel), 6 expedition staff and 1 medical doctor will be repatriated onboard chartered passenger vessel m/v Ushuaia which will sail to Grytviken, South Georgia from Mar del Plata, Argentina, departing on Friday 13 April at 12.00 hours, arriving in South Georgia on 18 April, approx 12.00 hours local time. It is expected that the vessel can depart from South Georgia the same day with all passengers, including expedition and hotel staff. The vessel is scheduled to arrive in Montevideo, Uruguay on 24 April for disembarkation and connecting travel arrangements .

Next-of-kin of passengers have been informed directly or via their booking agents by Oceanwide Expeditions. M/v Plancius will have to be towed with support of a tug boat from South Georgia. This tug boat will arrive in South Georgia in the afternoon of 17 April. IAATO ( International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators), Class (Lloyds register) , flag state (The Netherlands), South Georgia Government and National Authority in the Netherlands have received status reports respectively.

Public Relations | Oceanwide Expeditions
 Bellamypark 9, 4381 CG Vlissingen, The Netherlands


50 Degrees North brings Antarctica closer to you: iBook Application


During a recent visit to Antarctica, Esbjörn Torstensson of 50 Degrees North has created a practical and innovative iBook. Designed to enable future Antarctica travellers to get a good sense of the destination, the beauty of Antarctica is captured in its videos and pictures. It is not a comprehensive guide to Antarctica, it’s been put together to give future travellers an idea of the sights and sounds that they would experience visiting Antarctica.

If you have an iPad and want to do a bit of couch travelling, download our free iBook on Antarctica, http://bit.ly/Hox7Ts. The free iBook is available for download on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes. Books must be read on an iOS device.

Recent reviews of the iBook: “This iBook presents a unique view of a unique place. Fully interactive, beautiful photography and imagery combined with good commentary provide insight to this wonderful place.”

If you have any questions or would like more info, email us any time on info@fiftydegreesnorth.com or call us on 1300 422 821, if outside Australia, +61 3 8682 8905

About 50 Degrees North:

50 Degrees North Pty Ltd is a wholesale travel operator specialising on the area north of the 50th parallel north, as well as Antarctica (50 degrees south). The company is fully licensed, and a full member of the Travel Compensation Fund.


Plancius Stranded at South Georgia - Engine Failure


A handout pictured released by Inezia Tours shows the Dutch ship Plancius in Antarctica. The ship is stranded with engine trouble on April 11, 2012 on South Georgia island with some 100 people of different nationalities taking part in a tourist expedition.
Source: www.timescolonist.com

Some 70 tourists are stranded on board a Dutch polar exploration ship at South Georgia Island in the southern Atlantic after the ship experienced a partial engine failure, its owner said Wednesday.

The Plancius was lying under anchor off a pier in a bay outside South Georgia’s small port of Grytviken - a former whaling station and now a popular stop-off spot for cruise ships visiting Antarctica, Mark van der Hulst said.

"The ship is anchored off a pier in South Georgia after suffering partial loss of her engine. She is safe and sound and there is no danger for passengers," Van der Hulst of Oceanwide Marine Services told AFP.

"She is waiting for another passenger ship to pick them up and bring them to Montevideo, from where they will be flown home," he added.

The 89-metre (291 feet) long Plancius was then expected to make her way under own steam to Montevideo for an inspection, said Van der Hulst.

Read Full Story



Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cruise lands guests right into Antarctic wildlife

 
CRUISECO has added one of the last frontiers to its diversity of world-wide cruise holiday options, with sailings aboard the 189-passenger expedition ship, Ocean Diamond from Ushuaia in Argentina to Antarctica in November and December this year – with 25% off these prices if booked by April 30.
 
In conjunction with polar specialists, Quark Expeditions, Cruiseco have a 9 night package on November 21 2012 that's priced from US$5,895pp twin-share and two 10 night packages on November 29 and February 9 2013 from US$6,595pp twin-share – less 25% if booked by April 30. All three include a night pre-cruise in Ushuaia, a sail down the historic Beagle Channel, crossing of the Drake Passage, and visits to the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula with landings by Zodiac to view the myriad of land and marine wildlife, glaciers and ice-bergs.
 
It also has two longer 19 night packages on 3 November and 26 December 2012, that include a night pre-cruise stay in Ushuaia, visit to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Shetland Islands and Antarctica, and crossing of the Drake Passage, all at a remarkable price from US$12,995pp twin-share and less 25% if booked by April 30.
 
Packages include all onboard dining, shore landings with professional expedition leaders, a Quark Expeditions parka and loan of waterproof expedition boots, a photographic DVD of the voyage, comprehensive pre-departure material, group transfer on disembarkation to Ushuaia airport, service taxes and port charges.
 
For full details and the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise specialist travel agent, go to www.cruising.com.au. Air travel is additional.

 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Typhoon threat creates an opportunity for Orion passengers

Closure of the port at Ho Chi Minh City due to severe bad weather kept Orion II in harbour and delayed departure twice. Highlights of the city and nearby had already been part of the scheduled voyage with a complimentary Mekong Delta excursion and the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels added at the last minute as a result of the delay, so further extra time in port called for something spontaneous and unusual.

The ship's Hotel Manager and Expedition Leader quickly researched options and organized interesting excursions that would appeal to the guests onboard and stimulate their appetite for local culture.

The most popular excursion with guests involved the ships chefs and dining room team on a "foodies" walk around the bustling local market where locals come to buy fresh produce as well as everything from bolts of cloth and home wares to jewelry.

Executive Chef Frederic and two Chefs led the guests and explained the exotic selections on display. Of course with Orion there is invariably something unexpected and Orion II guests wandering the markets were delighted to see familiar faces from the ship - Maitre'd Clinton and his team (all dressed in uniform) standing randomly around the market with taster platters!!

Guest (photography) lecturers Sue Flood and Nick Rains led a separate photo group through the market as well, capturing the activities and preparing for the onboard lectures and instruction on better photography.

Typical Orion points of difference, where attention to detail is paramount.

Back onboard, the port re-opened, Orion II has now departed and is making for Haiphong (Hanoi).

For reservations or to obtain a brochure of 2012 or 2013 expeditions call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email: info@orionexpeditions.com


Pics: Orion II Wait Staff and general market scenes. Images by Nick Rains. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

G Adventures - 25% off Greek Sailing Adventures

click to enlarge
Greek Islands Sailing Adventure (Santorini to Kos)

Departing May 6, 2012 | Trip code: GVSK

A yacht adventure is the ideal way to experience what many consider the world's most beautiful islands: the Greek Islands. Sail for up to 8 days aboard our 50-foot yachts, with time for hiking, snorkelling and relaxing. Explore ancient archaeological sites and taverna-lined harbours, dine on fresh seafood and don't forget to try the Ouzo!

What's Included

• Fully licensed skipper, Snorkelling equipment, 7 nights aboard our yacht
• No meals are included but basic items on the boat will be covered by a food kitty. (Allow EUR140-245 for meals not included.)
• Our yachts are equipped with 5 twin-share cabins, 3 shared bathrooms and 2 showers (see Trip Details Important Notes).
• 50 ft sailing yacht.
• Skipper throughout.
• Small group experience; Max 8

For more information: http://www.gadventures.com/trips/greek-islands-sailing-adventure-santorini-to-kos/GVSK/2012/

Original price: $1449 AUD twin share

Reduced price: $1087 AUD twin share (reduction of 25 per cent)

To book: www.gadventures.com or call 1300 796 618

True North Crew Member Attacked by Croc Released from Hospital

pic: File image of adventure vessel, True North, showing helicopter.


A YOUNG woman who was attacked by a two-metre crocodile at a remote freshwater pool in the Kimberley region has been released from hospital.

Tara Hawkes, 23, a crew member on the tourist vessel True North, was swimming in Dugong Bay north of Derby on Sunday afternoon when a crocodile bit her upper leg as she left the water.

She was flown in the boat's helicopter to Derby Hospital, where she remained for two days before being released today.

Early today a Derby Hospital spokesman said Ms Hawkes was in a stable condition and was in "good spirits."

Peter Trembath of North Star Cruises, the vessel's operator, said Ms Hawkes' injuries were not serious and only required cleaning and stitches.

``We're pleased she's been discharged and we're expecting her to make a speedy recovery,'' he said.

``She loves her job and loves what she does, and I expect she'll be back at work as soon as she can.''

Mr Trembath said crew members had checked the crystal-clear pool and seen no crocs, but obviously one was there.

``As Tara was getting out of the water it latched onto her leg, but fortunately it wasn't a very big animal.''

Mr Trembath said the animal might have been a big freshwater croc or a small saltwater one.

``Freshies don't normally bite unless you step on them or if you corner them, which could have happened as she stepped out of the water.''

Mr Trembath said early reports of tour passengers having a tug-of-war with the animal to free Ms Hawkes were not true.

WA's Department of Environment and Conservation has put out an alert to tour operators not to let people swim in the area because it's believed the crocodile is still there.

A department spokeswoman said it was believed the animal was a saltwater crocodile.

The True North, which can carry up to 36 passengers, is continuing on its adventure cruise.

A wildlife officer was on the way to the scene of the attack and the DEC says it is assessing options to deal with the crocodile.

Dugong Bay is south of Talbot Bay, near Horizontal Falls, off Derby, 2500km north of Perth.

True North, which can carry 36 passengers and has 20 staff, was purpose-built to access remote wilderness areas. It was the cruise ship used by American model Jerry Hall and her Perth-based boyfriend Warwick Hemsley on a recent trip to the Kimberley.

Ms Hawkes posted pictures of True North on her Facebook page.

Passengers pay thousands a day for a berth - a seven-night Kimberley adventure costs $9000-$14,000 a person.

The vessel is due to take passengers from Wyndham to the King George Falls this weekend.

Aboard Hapag-Lloyd MS HANSEATIC: Cook Islands


Aboard Hapag-Lloyd MS HANSEATIC
Expedition Südsee (South Seas) from Tahiti to Fiji
28-29-30 March 2012

Pic: Zodiac operations at Palmerston Atoll.

The tiny Pacific island nation of the Cook Islands occupies an inordinate amount of space. For the 2.25 million sq km of ocean, just 240 sq km comprises any sort of land. This rare, habitable commodity is divided between 15 major islands and supports 13,000 residents who hold NZ passports and spend NZDs.

The major island of Rarotonga (or just Raro, for short) is 32 kms around the perimeter road and hosts the majority of population and activities. Despite the lack of a tie-up wharf, cruise ships of all sizes still make occasional stops at the port of Avarua where they disembark by tenders boats and disappear for a few hours on well-organised tours or just wander the quaint seaside shopping district in search of that iconic souvenir, the black bearl.

Aboard the MS HANSEATIC, the famous 184-passenger German expedition cruise ship, we make a couple of extra stops in this island group. 220 kms north is Aitutaki, a sleeping atoll known for a couple of high-profile destination resorts. The little island opened up to the world after the US SeeBees built an airstrip in 1942 and the recently renovated airport is as busy now as it was during the frenzy of WWII. Again, I bypassed the organised tours in favour of a one man mountain bike safari ($8NZD/day from Rino Rentals). It was fun to greet the locals with a lusty 'Kia Orana' and see their bemusement as the flabby white guy puffed and panted his way around the island. I also had time for a quick scuba dive with Onu Hewett (PADI Bubbles Below) and spent the first few minutes encircled by a mass of colourful reef fish competing for the half a coconut he gave me. The voracious little critters chomped at the white flesh with such force they nearly knocked the thing out of my hands several times and one particularly greedy parrot fish nipped the end of my finger. Ouch. The undersea environment is mainly hard corals and rock in which turtles and reef sharks are common.

Access to the wharf at Aitutaki was by ship's tender, in this case the covered lifeboats. All freight must be barged ashore as even the smaller freighters can't penetrate the tricky lagoon with its many coral obstacles. Also at the wharf was an massive twin-hulled Polynesian voyaging canoe (vaka) undergoing a painstaking restoration. 'Te Au O Tonga' was built in 1994 as part of a Pacific-wide voyaging event culminating in Hawaii. Progress is slow, but steady.

Our third and last stop in the Southern Group of the Cook Islands is at Palmerston Atoll, a true 'Gilligan's Island' experience. Named by Cook in 1774 the island was annexed from the British Government in 1863 by a renegade ship's carpenter, William Marsters, who turned up with two Polynesian wives on the then uninhabited atoll. He added a third wife and 23 children, with 50-odd descendent still occupying the island in a most curious feudal system. There's a church, a clinic, a school, a main street, a relatively new solar-powered, satellite telecommunications system (currently inactive) and lots of coconuts.

No aircraft can land on Palmerston and a freighter visits only a couple of times each year. Occasionally yachts drop in, but the lagoon is a formidable barrier passable only with an experienced local 'pilot' to guide us. Our visit is part supply run as we ferry boxes of essentials to the tiny community from Aitutaki. There's much jubilation as bags of flour and rice and cartons of beer and cigarettes are unloaded. Enormous frozen parrot fish, the only cash economy of the island, are offered in return. 

As we wait for our departing Zodiac shuttle, two heavy coconuts thud onto the sand just a couple of metres away reminding me of the welcoming prayer from Rev. Marsters, "May the Lord give us guidance and protect us from falling coconuts!" Amen to that.

Next destination: Samoa