Thursday, 13 June 2013

Set Sail on the Voyage of a Lifetime with APT’s New Luxury Small Ship Discoveries


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Meeting remote tribes people in Papua New Guinea, visiting an active Indonesian volcano, dining out at one of San Marino’s finest Michelin star restaurants, exploring the Gallipoli Peninsula, observing nature in the pristine Antarctic and exploring the back waters of Kerala onboard a houseboat are just a handful of the extraordinary experiences available in APT’s new Luxury Small Ships 2014/15 brochure which launches tomorrow (14 June).

The 29 one-off itineraries vary from 10 to 28 days and cover the length and breadth of the globe, from Europe, Asia and Antarctica to Latin America, the Indian Ocean and the Kimberley. Travelling on APT’s small five star boutique-style ships, guests travel in groups of 110 or less per sailing, enabling them to form friendships with fellow travellers as well as venture off the beaten track to visit hard-to-reach, exotic destinations, traditionally inaccessible to larger vessels.

Two luxury cruise styles are offered:

- Small ship cruising providing indulgent cruising to both popular and unusual destinations. Guests will travel onboard one of APT’s luxury yachts accompanied by an APT Cruise Manager and expert guest lecturers who offer a detailed insight into culture, history and the natural wonders of the destination.

- Expedition cruising allows guests to embark on a path less travelled while enjoying the comfort of one of APT’s luxury small ships. All are led by an APT Expedition Leader supported by an impressive onboard expedition team of hand-picked experts including marine biologists, ornithologists, naturalists, historians and geologists, all of whom share their knowledge and enthusiasm both onshore and off. Using a fleet of Zodiacs, guests explore remote regions and get up close to local nature, wildlife and culture.

Seven luxury small ships make up the APT fleet delivering these itineraries:

- MS Island Sky. Holding 110 guests and refurbished in 2010 this ship offers unusually spacious suites, all with ocean views. With a rear sun deck, bar, jacuzzi, hair salon and its own library, there is plenty of space to relax and unwind;

- MS Caledonian Sky. Refurbished in 2012, this boat holds 110 guests and is akin to a fine country club with a Lido deck for al fresco dining, a sun deck, library, small gym and hairdressing salon. Each suite enjoys ocean views, climate control, mini fridge, sitting area, flat screen television and a telephone.

- M/Y Variety Voyager. Completed in 2012, it features state-of-the-art amenities and a modern design and holds just 70 guests. A sun deck, bar and lounge, glass-enclosed dining room, power showers and marble ensuites as standard are some of the features that make this ship a true private mega yacht experience.

- Sea Explorer. Carrying just 106 passengers, this stylish ship is designed specifically for Antarctica. Refurbished in 2013 it is outfitted with the latest navigational and communications technology, as well as retractable fin stabilisers for smooth sailing. Its hull is also ice strengthened. One of just a few ships in Antarctica that has the ability to transport all passengers ashore at the same time, it features a bar, jacuzzi, dining room, library and internet access.

- Sea Cloud II. The only sailing ship in the fleet, this elegant vessel was launched in 2001 and holds 90 guests. All suites have marble baths trimmed with gold fixtures and have guaranteed outside views. A modern airy dining room, boutique, library and rich mahogany furniture create an exclusive atmosphere.

- Oceanic Discoverer is the newest ship operating in the Kimberley region and was purpose built to offer all the comforts of a larger cruiser, with the more intimate feel of a smaller style ship. Hosting just 72 guests, the ship features a promenade deck, range of elegant staterooms that each feature ocean views, an ensuite and air conditioning.

- Coral Princess is a 35-metre purpose-built catamaran which was beautifully refurbished in 2012. Accommodating just 48 people, all of the 24 spacious cabins feature ensuite and climate control as standard.

Amongst the voyages on offer are:

- Colours of Sri Lanka and India – priced from $12,995 per person, twin share, it comprises 20 day luxury small ship land tour and cruise (12-31 March 2014), onboard the MS Island Sky. After two nights at Chennai’s Westin Velachery guests set sail to Pudacherry before circumnavigating Sri Lanka, taking time to venture into the hills on a 75 year old train, visit temples and travel on Tuk-Tuks. Rejoin the India coastline at Tuticorin and travel on to Trivandrum, then Cochin, where guests have the option to stay on a traditional houseboat on the Kerala backwaters. Sail onwards to Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai, where guests will have the chance to see a Bollywood movie in production. Fly to Delhi and overnight in the Westin Gurgaon Hotel, travelling to Agra to visit the iconic Taj Mahal before flying home.

- Grand Indian Ocean Safari – Guests will visit some of the most remote, hardest to reach destinations on the planet on this 15 day luxury expedition cruise (11-25 February 2014), with land I would take this out, onboard the MS Island Sky priced from $11,395 per person, twin share. Following an overnight stay at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel set sail for 13 nights stopping at St Denis on the island of Reunion before heading off to explore remoter areas of Madagascar. Sail on to Astove in the southern Seychelles, with its landlocked lagoon, followed by Aldabra where APT travellers are privileged visitors having been granted special permission from the government to explore this island. Then it’s onwards to Alphonse, then Poivre, Praslin, La Digue and Mahe, where guests disembark.

- Spice Islands and Beyond – 18 day expedition cruise and land on the MS Caledonian Sky (19 August to 5 September 2014), priced from $12,495 per person, twin share. Highlights include sailing from Coron Island to Puerto Princesa on Palawan where guests will navigate its subterranean river with its full mountain to sea ecosystem, dubbed one of the new seven wonders of the world. Then to Indonesia, exploring local islands, villages, markets and wildlife as well as the breathtaking reefs of the uninhabited island of Pulau Wayag, where onboard marine biologists dive to capture this underwater wonder on camera to share with guests. Travel onwards to Jayapura to visit a Papuan tribal village. Disembark at Wewak after visiting the Sepik River and enjoy two nights at Port Moresby’s Grand Papua Hotel with a special commemorative service and visit to the Kokoda Track.

As well as enticing new itineraries, APT has also equipped ships with a number of special features to offer an enhanced experience for guests. Debra Fox, APT’s General Manager Marketing explains, “We want our guests to have an experience of a lifetime. So as well as offering them unique tailored continuous global itineraries, incredible luxury through our small yachts and expedition ships and the chance to explore destinations in much more detail than is possible on a conventional cruise, we have also invested heavily in equipping our boats with additional features.

“New for 2014, we have installed an ROV, which is a motorised underwater camera, on the MS Caledonian Sky, enabling our marine biologists to film and display the underwater sights in real time, presenting them live to passengers in the lounge. On the same ship we have installed 16 sets of scuba gear and dive instructors so that guests can explore underwater, as well as on land, if they so wish. Expedition Cruise Ships also have 10 inflatable zodiacs so that all guests can be out exploring at the same time. These enhancements allow APT guests to choose the level of their adventure,” Mrs Fox said.

The new brochure features a range of deals including a saving of $2,000 per couple on any Luxury Small Ship cruise booked by the 31st August 2013 and a further $1,600 per couple on any consecutive cruises booked.

Included in the price of all Luxury Small Ship itineraries are an APT Cruise Manager or Expedition Leader, a knowledgeable and experienced team of onboard experts, lectures and entertainment, tipping and port charges, all meals, wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on board the cruise, all shore excursions, sightseeing and transfers.