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Friday, 30 August 2013

Rolling on the River with Blount

Blount Small Ship Adventures offers Intimate Cruising Experiences and Unique Itineraries

Grande Mariner
Blount Small Ship Adventures

The megaships are moving aside and a smaller, more intimate way of cruising is taking over.
River cruising is rapidly becoming one of the fastest growing trends of the U.S. cruise industry, and Blount Small Ship Adventures, which features the best value in small ship cruising, is known for visiting destinations that larger ships cannot though an array of unique itineraries for the river cruising enthusiast.
According to a recent American Express Travel agent cruising survey, 27 percent of respondents noted a demand for river cruises and 38 percent are seeing an increase in requests for small ships as a result of their unique features. Consumers are seeking more intimate ship experiences, choosing to explore unexpected locales, and Blount provides guests the opportunity to do just that.
Blount Small Ship Adventures has been cruising America’s waterways for over 47 years; our vessels are proudly built in the United States, fly the American flag, and are operated by an all-American crew.
With itineraries that slip under the low bridges and navigate the narrow locks of the Erie Canal, the only overnight cruise line able to do so, Blount cruises offer a unique chance to experience waterways and ports that only small vessels can access throughout the United States, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean.
Along with the intimacy of a smaller cruising experience comes a more personalized experience for guests onboard. Blount offers an array of activities for guests to embrace the local culture and immerse themselves in the destinations visited.
Onboard, guests will find destination experts, welcome cocktail parties, live musical entertainment, an assortment of guest speakers and more. Unlike the megaships, Blount also offers a variety of early arrival packages which allow guests to arrive in port one day ahead, spend the night onboard and explore the attractions of the embarkation port before cruising.
With fewer than 90 passengers per ship, Blount guests will avoid waiting in long lines to embark and disembark. The Grande Caribe and Grande Mariner ships are equipped with Blount’s patented bow ramp, allowing passengers to disembark directly from the ship to secluded beaches and the heart of small ports and destinations.
Guests will also avoid the hassle of waiting in line for meals, and can escape the crowds that can often be found overwhelming in ports.
All Blount cruises include three meals daily with menus that are fresh, creative and often reflect the local cuisine, refreshments and snacks 24 hours a day, with complimentary wine and beer during lunch and dinner. Blount cruises also feature a BYOB policy, with mixers and set-ups for cocktails available throughout the day.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

COLD AND BEAUTIFUL




ADVENTUROUS travellers can join a cruise to Antarctica with a marine expert from Sydney's Taronga Zoo next year.

The 10-night expedition on the Akademik Sergey Vavilov departs from Ushuaia in Argentina next March. At this time of year penguin chicks are almost fully grown and there is great activity above and below the water. Travellers will visit penguin rookeries and crabeater, weddell and leopard seal colonies during shore excursions on Zodiacs and are likely to encounter humpback and minke whales.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Sky High Expedition Cruising with Bill Peach

Bill Peach Journeys chartered Embraer 135LR in Longreach (R Eime)
Some time ago I was obliged to reappraise the concept of expedition cruising. It didn't have to be some swashbuckling, frostbitten adventure in either of the polar regions. The exhilaration of discovery beyond a deckchair and lurid cocktail and could easily extend to inland waterways, rivers and coastal enclaves. But know I'm even questioning whether expedition cruising needed to be aboard a ship.

Bill Peach
The concept of air cruising in Australia was promoted by pioneers like Dick Lang from Adelaide and continued and expanded by east-coasters like respected media personality Bill Peach who launched his own company off the back of his top-rating TV Series, "Peach's Australia" in 1983.

Travelling from point-to-point around Australia with a dedicated aircraft stopping to cherry-pick the key sites and locations, overnighting in quality hotels after a satisfying dinner, then setting off again for the next destination.

Bill Peach guests enjoy close
encounter with crocs in Kakadu.
Bill's signature journey would have to be the 'Great Australian Aircruise' which crosses the country from Sydney to the Top End, on to the Kimberley and back via the Red Centre, skimming the surface of this great country's spectacular scenic offerings in one 12-day aerial expedition cruise.

The product has remained remarkably similar, with the greatest changes being with the machinery. When the original F27 Fokker Friendship was retired a few years back, it was the oldest flying Fokker anywhere in the world. Its last flight was direct to Holland to retire in the Fokker Museum. Nowadays, state-of-art turboprop and jet aircraft are chartered and my journey is aboard the ultra sleek Embraer 135 corporate jet.

The original F-27 Fokker Friendship, now in the
Fokker Museum, Holland. (Daniel Tanner)
Check back here over the next few days for updates from around Australia as I travel with Bill Peach Journeys. (follow the tag)

Roderick Eime – editor – expeditioncruising.com


Monday, 19 August 2013

'2 for the price of 1' last minute Special on Ganges river cruises

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'2 for the price of 1' special on Ganges river cruises

If you can move quickly, you can book two people for the price of one on 6 and 7 day cruises along the mystical Ganges River.

Cruising along the celebrated Ganges river is wonderfully serene way to see exotic India. River Cruise specialists 'Active Travel' have just announced a "last minute 2 for the price of one" Special on two popular cruises on the "Mother Ganges', aboard the colonial style riverboat 'Sukapha'.

The 7 night Kolkata to Jangipur cruise, from the 20th to 27th September 2013, visits the former Danish colony of Serampore, terracotta temples at Kalna, the Matiari brass-working village and the spectacular Hazarduari Palace, with prices from $US 2129  per couple. There is also a 6 night cruise between Patna and Farakka, from 19 – 25 October 2013. Highlights include visits to the excavated Buddhist monastery at Nalada, the picturesque Pawapuri jain temple in the middle of a lake, early Hindu rock carvings on Jahangira island and the beautiful remains of forts, palaces and mosques from the Mughal empire in Rajmahal, with prices from $US 2444 per pair.

Inquiries and reservations can be made for limited seats remaining on these voyages with Active Travel on 1300 783 188  or visit "Specials" on their web site at www.activetravel.com.au for details of these and other River cruises.

  Slide 2


Saturday, 17 August 2013

Fiordland National Park Cruises


You're invited to explore New Zealand's magical Fiordland

click to order this brochure
free - no obligation
This is a very limited invitation to join Island Escape Cruises on one of their exotic New Zealand Fiordland National Park Cruises in 2013.
Island Escape Cruises gives guests the ultimate access, in safety and comfort, to the wonders of this majestic World Heritage site.
This is an invitation to get to know the Fiordland National Park alongside ecology guides who travel with guests into the territory to discover the region’s beauty with endless and unexplored spots yet to be discovered in this geological mosaic.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Un-Cruise Adventures launches SS Legacy



Un-Cruise Adventures officially named the 88-passenger SS Legacy in a dockside celebration near company headquarters in Seattle on Thursday. The replica coastal steamer is the eighth vessel in the fleet.

Legacy will sail heritage adventures, taking passengers back in time to the 1890s and early 1900s to explore history of the Klondike Gold Rush in Alaska and early explorers along the Columbia and Snake rivers. The all-American crew—in 1890s attire—aims to bring history to life through short vignettes during the day and staged dramas at night.

With a nod to the vessel’s style, the cruise line’s ceo and principal Dan Blanchard channeled his great grandfather Michael J. Willet, a turn of the century shingle mill tycoon, to tie in history of the 1890s in Seattle. HG Wells and Jules Verne joined the inaugural celebration and Ray Gardner of the Chinook Nation and Joe Williams, a Tlingit from Saxman, Alaska, blessed the vessel.

Blanchard and Tim Jacox, evp sales and marketing, together handed over command to Capt. Dano Quinn. JeeSook Kutz, company controller and godmother, smashed the bottle of champagne against Legacy's bow.

'This fine vessel has been refurbished into a coastal steamer from the 1900s, and crew in period costume bring characters from the past alive along the way,' Blanchard said. 'It’s not a ship; it’s a time machine.' He dedicated the christening to the late Capt. Kris Strinsky, a longtime friend.

In September Legacy will begin cruising week-long 'Legacy of Discovery' cruises on the Columbia and Snake rivers round-trip Portland with 12 departures scheduled through November. The ship returns to the rivers in April for nine more departures through May. From June through August, Legacy will sail 10 week-long 'Alaska’s Golden History' cruises between Ketchikan and Juneau.

Heritage adventures include shore excursions to points of historical interest. A gold rush highlight is the included trip aboard Skagway’s White Pass & Yukon narrow-gauge railway.


Bad Lands Come Good in West Africa

Words and images by Roderick Eime
(Full version of story submitted to News Limited)




A ready exchange of smiles from a people eager for peace is how Roderick Eime will remember his time in the once strife-torn West Africa.

“What was that?” gasped Beatrix, grabbing my forearm tightly. We all heard it. Was it the sound of waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks outside or, as many of us thought, the ghostly whispers of long departed slaves who once huddled in these squalid, pitch black dungeons awaiting an uncertain fate.

Here in the underground holding cells at the now UNESCO World Heritage listed Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, we stand transfixed, listening to a kind of supernatural white noise that waxes and wanes in our subconscious. Our heartbeats quicken and our skin tingles at the realisation that over the centuries, thousands of miserable souls shuffled through these rank corridors through the infamous ‘door of no return’ on an endless journey of unspeakable horror.

Africa has long been seen as a land of mystery and suspicion by Westerners. An unknown territory full of mind-boggling rites and rituals, but at the same time holding a perverse attraction for all who visit. Even a short stopover on the so-called ‘dark continent’ is sure to leave anyone changed forever.

Native Africans, both black and white, from the relatively familiar-feeling cities of the south, find these wild shores of West Africa a whole new world. There’s black magic (juju) and witchcraft, customs and practices totally at odds with the relaxed European lifestyle, yet here we are totally spellbound.

Sure, adventurous travel operators have offered overland trips for hardy, intrepid souls for some years, but regular commercial passenger cruises are a relatively new experience. Today the world’s growing fleet of cruise ships, large and small, are gradually unlocking these mysterious ports-of-call, picking their way from Namibia to Congo and on to Sierra Leone and Senegal. The biggest, like QM2, might make just two or three stops, while the small and intensely inquisitive vessels like ours, more than a dozen. Next year, G Adventures will increase its calls to 19 and terminate in Marrakech, Morocco.

Aboard G Adventures’ sturdy MS Expedition are 100 curious passengers from the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, Europe and even Asia, all with a common fascination for the last unknown destinations left on our planet. We are one of just a handful of vessels now intimately exploring the once forbidden, war-ravaged countries slotted, Tetris-style, along the Atlantic coast between Congo and Mauritania. Over the course of three weeks, we will make landfall in a dozen countries, explore bewildering markets and towns, while singing, dancing and eating with people many of us have only seen on the pages of National Geographic or Discovery Channel. It’s a proper adventure and a true expedition.

What’s more, a hand-picked platoon of impressively credentialed lecturers, adventure guides and avid naturalists escorts us at every turn, helping us unravel the flora, fauna and ethnic complexity we encounter every day. I’m one among the small band who continually hovers around David Conrad, a kind of post-Woodstock Indiana Jones with a Ph.D in African history and an eagle-eyed art hunter who’s forgotten more than most us will ever know about this crazy land. Others flock around Dr Steve Boyes, the ornithologist, while Wolfgang Kaehler plays Pied Piper to his wide-aperture gang of camera-toting travellers. Peter Baxter, historian, author and inveterate African field guide, draws a loyal following too, reminding us that Africa is not just for the curious, rubber-necked voyeur. It is a land facing a multitude of environmental and humanitarian challenges from messy and destructive resource exploitation, to grass roots medical facilities.

While it might seem that a motley troupe of floppy-hatted tourists in long socks and sandals buying trinkets would do little to alleviate the plight of the common people, think again. On this G Adventures expedition, there are numerous examples of how our visits directly benefit local communities and how the development of responsible and sustainable tourism practices can go a long way to alleviate the sense of loss and isolation traditional social systems may feel in a rapidly globalising world.

“Apart from the obvious revenue benefits, well managed tourism maintains the viability of local culture, providing an incentive for both its remaining alive and vibrant, but also a framework for it to continue evolving, bearing in mind that culture is fundamentally organic,” Baxter tells me, “A lack of formats such as ours for local cultural display will obviously result in many stagnating and ultimately disappearing under the weight of modern influences.”

Today’s Nigeria is a case in point. Unmonitored oil exploitation and serious environmental degradation in the River Niger’s delta has displaced and disenfranchised many local communities, causing some to resort to radical means of survival, including piracy. While the seaborn bandits are currently targeting oil and fishing vessels, these tactics could change at any time and MS Expedition is prepared. Aboard for that part of the journey are three burly ex-Royal Marines who, by the very look of them, would send any boatload of would-be buccaneers scurrying.

Our passage through the Gulf of Guinea is thankfully uneventful - except for the odd cranky port official and flat tyre – and what surprises many of us is the ready smiles and reflex waves we receive as our tour buses bounce along potholed highways and backroads. It seems the general populous is happy to see us (and our cameras) and the overwhelming feeling is one of welcome – mostly.

While the great continent of Africa may be prone to outbreaks of civil strife, less than benevolent dictatorships and greedy multinationals, it’s the ordinary people who form the fundamental character of each destination we visit. When it came time to go our separate ways in the bustling former French colony of Senegal, it was with a suitcase full of scary carvings and a clinging sense of optimism. An optimism that, if the unifying force of well-managed tourism was allowed to pervade these once sullen lands, Africa would be a better place. Right now, it’s at a crossroad and the once desperate march of manacled slaves is being replaced with lines of khaki-clad travellers hoping to make a difference.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Great Escape Last Minute Special

Last Minute Special Inline

Due to last minute cancellations we have 3 x Horizon View Staterooms on offer as a 2 for 1 last minute special.  This is only valid for our Southern Kimberley Experience August 27 - September 3 2013.  Usually the price for 2 people is $19,730 our last minute special is only $9,865 for 2 people.* Please note terms & conditions apply.

Don't miss this amazing price to see the majestic Kimberley on MV Great Escape, voted one of Australia's best luxury adventure cruises in 2013. For more details call us in the office on 08 9193 5983 or respond to this email.  First in best dressed :)

Coral Princess Cruises releases Kimberley '2014 Waterfall Season' Savings


 

Australia's pioneer of small-ship expedition cruising Coral Princess Cruises is offering 'Waterfall Season' specials of between 15 and 25 per cent off normal prices on their 10-night Kimberley Coast expeditions. The savings are valid on three April 2014 departures aboard their state-of-the-art 72 passenger small ship Oceanic Discoverer or the fully-refurbished 35-metre catamaran Coral Princess.  

 

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30,000. Coral Princess's voyages between Darwin and Broome cruise through one of the planet's oldest and most awe-inspiring scenery and landscapes. Exploring the Kimberley Coast in April, immediately following the 'wet season', affords guests the unique opportunity to experience the region's spectacular waterfalls in their full grandeur. From the towering 80-metre King George Falls, four-tiered Mitchell Falls and the iconic King Cascades to the amazing natural phenomenon of Horizontal Falls and lesser-known highlights such as swimming beneath beautiful Ruby Falls, Coral Princess's Kimberley itinerary includes all of the icons of this spectacular coast in unrivalled style and total comfort.

 

Waterfall Season prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise aboard Oceanic Discoverer start at $7,641.50 per person, twin share in a Main Deck (Category B) Stateroom and $6,281.50 in a Cabin category room aboard Coral Princess. For even greater savings, Coral Princess Cruises Platinum and Gold Xplorers club members can combine the 15% Waterfall Season savings with their 10% past guest discount, bringing the total saving to 25%. Silver Xplorers club members receive an additional 5% discount on top of the Waterfall Season savings. The reduced prices include all meals, lectures and services of the all-Australian expedition staff and excursions aboard a fleet of zodiacs and the unique 'Xplorer' excursion tender. The discounts apply to all new bookings on selected April 2014 departures and are available on new bookings until 31 October 2013, or until sold out.  

 

Coral Princess Cruises pioneered small-ship expedition cruising on the Kimberley Coast in 1996 and has 34 departures scheduled across the 2014 season, which runs between April and October. As a 100% Australian-owned, flagged and staffed operation, Coral Princess guests avoid the need to transit an international port as part of their Kimberley itinerary, a guideline applying to foreign owned and flagged operators in the region. With a minimum of two landings most days Coral Princess guests will enjoy the opportunity to see more of the Kimberley and make the most of every minute of their expedition.

 

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


Unlock Myanmar's best kept secrets with Cruiseco


Discover Myanmar (Burma), one of the world's most mysterious destinations, on board Cruiseco's Orient Pandaw.  Cruiseco offers guests the opportunity to explore the secrets of Myanmar or simply indulge in the spectacular scenery from the comfort of a luxurious cabin. With ancient temples and a history spanning 2000 years, this is one of the very few authentic destinations left in the world, which is still almost completely untouched by Western influence.

National Marketing Manager at Cruiseco, Amber Wilson, explains that this river cruise offers even the most discerning guests with an opportunity for new discoveries.

Bagan at sunset
"This is the ideal cruise for anyone who is seeking a culturally-enriched holiday experience, off the beaten track.  Since launching our charters in Myanmar in June 2012, we have been overwhelmed by our travellers' interest in this wonderful destination.  With the chance to explore exotic regions including Yangon and Mandalay, this is a journey for even the most cultured traveller," says Wilson.

This 11-night luxury holiday includes: a return economy class airfare; one night at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon; two nights at the Mandalay Hill Resort in Mandalay; and an eight night luxury river cruise on board the Orient Pandaw. This cruise includes: all on board meals; local beers; spirits and soft drinks; breakfast daily; lunch and dinner as specified in the itinerary; extensive sightseeing and transfers; gratuities, port charges and taxes.

·         Twin Cabin is available from only $3,999 per person based on twin share. Save $2,300 per person*.

·         Single Cabin is available from only $4,999 per person. Save $5,000 per person*.

"With no sign of chain restaurants, coffee shops or ATM facilities, this stunning destination is undoubtedly one of South East Asia's best kept secret." says Wilson.  

Cruiseco's Top Ten Tips for Travelling in Myanmar:

·         UPON ARRIVAL - Items of value and currency in excess of $2000 USD are supposed to be declared and taken again on departure, but in practice things are made quite easy for tourists.  Mobile phones and laptops are no longer kept in storage on arrival as is still claimed in some guidebooks.

·         EXCHANGE RATE - It is recommended that travellers do not change money at the airport as the rate is much lower than in towns such as Yangon.  US dollars are the best currency for exchanging and the Euro is becoming popular too, especially in Yangon.  The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better and the larger the bill, the better the rate.  Travellers should bring new series US dollar bills and with series numbers not starting with CB - these are not accepted in Myanmar due to rumours that this series are counterfeit.  Notes should be in a good condition and not torn, creased, dirty or washed as these will not be accepted.

·         INTERNET - This is still in its development stages and not reliable.  The connections can be extremely slow at times so patience is required.  Internet is also regulated in Myanmar and the access to some websites is filtered.  Many internet cafes can offer a different URL that will allow access to email providers such as gmail and yahoo.  Most of the hotels now have some internet terminals and in cities like Yangon, Mandalay and Nyang Shwe (Inle Lake), you will also find some small internet cafes.

·         MOBILE PHONES - These will not work in Myanmar as it has no roaming agreement with any country.  USD20 SIM cards are available to visitors.  These work with any GSM handset and are valid for 30 days within date of activation.  Prepaid cards of USD50 are available for purchase within the country and have 90 days validity after activated.  

·         POWER OUTAGES - This is quite common but most hotels have their own generator.  Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or round 3 pin plugs.  It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.

·         ENTERTAINMENT - For those seeking a taste of the local culture in the evenings, head to a tea shop, beer hall or night market where the locals gather to relax and socialise.

·         BURMESE CUISINE - The main ingredient in is usually rice and the curries tend to be not as spicy as those from India or Thailand.  A clear soup called hingyo accompanies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the flavour.

·         NATIONAL LANGUAGE OF MYANMAR is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects spoken.  The written language uses an amazing looking script based on ancient Indian characters.  In the cities, people from the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation.

·         WATER - It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere.  All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water per person in the room.  Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries.

For full details and the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist agent, visit www.cruising.com.au or call (02) 9492 8520.  *See Terms and Conditions, subject to availability.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

New Active Travel Website


Active Travel have launched a new website still accessed through activetravel.com.au.  We also have new Pandaw itineraries which can be found here http://activetravel.com.au/Trips/Trips/pandaw-river-expeditions/ .  One great feature of our new website is we now have pictures of the interior and facilities of all our riverboats which can be found here http://activetravel.com.au/Trips/Trips/river-boats/  .  We also will be advertising regular cruising specials in our specials section here: http://activetravel.com.au/category/specials/

Monday, 12 August 2013

Early bird discounts extended on A&K¹s Arctic Cruises

Inline images 1
Le Boreal in Greenland (R Eime)

Expeditionary cruise expert Abercrombie & Kent has extended the early bird offer on its 2014 Arctic journeys. Discounts of up to US $3,000 per couple are available for bookings made by 30 November 2013. Cruises operate on luxury vessel MV Le Boreal.

Arctic Cruise Norway: Polar Bears & Midnight Sun

29 July – 9 August 2014

Observe the wildlife that inhabits the barren Arctic landscapes – polar bear, walrus and musk oxen – and watch as the flora comes alive with unexpected colour under the midnight sun.

12 days from US $9,995.

Special Offer: Book cabin categories 1 – 3 by 30 November 2013 and receive a US $1,000 per person discount. Terms & Conditions apply.
 
Arctic Cruise Adventure: Norway, Greenland & Iceland

7 – 21 August 2014

Polar bears in their natural habitat, geological features and history – take it all in on this comprehensive Arctic voyage from Norway and Spitsbergen to the region's more remote and magnificent islands.

15 days from US $13,495.

Special Offer: Book cabin categories 1 – 3 by 30 November 2013 and receive a US $1,500 per person discount. Terms & Conditions apply.

To book your A&K itinerary today or to enquire further please contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 590 317 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au <http://www.abercrombiekent.com.au>

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Peregrine offers Arctic voyage with photographer, Steve Davey


SteveDavey

SteveDaveyp3

Peregrine Adventures has announced that world-renowned travel photographer, Steve Davey will escort a photography group on the departure of its Spitsbergen Explorer voyage to the Arctic commencing on 9 June 2014.one day before embarkation and enjoy an exclusive welcome dinner and drinks reception hosted by Davey plus one night’s hotel accommodation, in addition to the11-day voyage aboard the Sea Spirit. Prices for the special photography charter start from AU$6,964pp for a triple cabin, AU$9,178pp for a main deck twin cabin, AU$10,108pp for a superior suite and AU$10,108pp for a deluxe suite, including all meals on board and refreshments.


Davey will offer tailored tuition to help travellers perfect their photography skills while they explore the western edge of Svalbard and venture to outlying northern areas to see the hunting grounds of polar bears, watch walrus in their natural habitat, witness puffins and colonies of rare seabirds numbering into the thousands, and scan the Arctic Sea for whales.

NoSva

Passengers who join the exclusive photography group led by Davey will receive expert tuition throughout the expedition, with a series of illustrated talks, group practical sessions, photographic tasks and personal review sessions, as well as advice on taking photos in the Arctic’s unique conditions. Private group Zodiac convoys will enable travellers to benefit from Davey’s considerable photographic experience in the Arctic.

“The Arctic’s epic landscapes and abundance of wildlife make it a photographer’s paradise, and the beauty of the fjords and icebergs will take your breath away,” said Erica Hazen from Peregrine Adventures. “With Steve on hand to share his expertise and offer masses of encouragement, this is a unique opportunity to capture some spectacular images of an incredible destination and come home with improved travel photography skills.”

Passengers who join the photography group will start their trip in Longyearbyen on 9 June 2014,

Based in London, Davey is author of the international best-seller Unforgettable Places to See Before You Die and has led a number of travel photography tours to some of the world’s most fascinating destinations. His most recent book, Footprint Travel Photography is a leading title on travel photography and covers all aspects of travelling with a camera.


Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

Tauck Sees Huge Growth in French River Cruising


Company's Bookings Jump 137% in Two Years as it Adds Ships and Itineraries on the Rhone, Seine and Saône

When Tauck's ms Swiss Emerald sailed on the company's first-ever departure of its new Rhone River family river cruise earlier this month, it was just the latest milestone in Tauck's rapidly increasing presence in French river cruising.  Although the Connecticut-based company (recently named the "World's Best River Cruise Line" by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine) has only been operating on France's rivers for three years, it has already chalked up some impressive growth statistics.


Since its debut on the Rhone in 2011, Tauck's French river cruise bookings have increased 137%, and the company has gone from zero itineraries in France in 2010 to a total of seven for its 2014 operating season, including three popular specialty cruises for families, food lovers, and art aficionados.  The company will also deploy its ms Swiss Sapphire to sail on two new itineraries on the Seine next year, doubling the number of ships it has in France.  (The newly refurbished ms Swiss Emerald will continue to sail on the Rhone and the Saône.)  Tauck's success in France shows no sign of slowing, with pre-season bookings up more than 650% over the same time last year, and up nearly 1,300% over this same point just two years ago.

TWO NEW ITINERARIES ON THE SEINE
Helping fuel Tauck's incredible growth in preseason bookings are two new-for-2014 itineraries on the Seine.  The new "Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London" (from $6,790 per person, plus airfare) is a comprehensive two-week journey that begins with an included two-night stay in London at the landmark Savoy, featuring guided sightseeing plus a Tauck-exclusive lecture by Winston Churchill's biographer and granddaughter Celia Sandys.  After travelling via high-speed train beneath the English Channel to Calais, guests will board the ms Swiss Sapphire in Caudubec-en-Caux for a nine-day cruise along the Seine.

Highlights along the Seine will include an excursion to Normandy's D-Day beaches, an exclusive dinner with music at a private chateau in Rouen, and private tastings of absinthe in the Absinthe Museum in Auvers-sur-Oise and Calvados at Chateau du Breuil, a distiller of the spirit since the 1500s.  The journey continues in Paris, where the ms Swiss Sapphire will dock for three nights as Tauck guests enjoy an in-depth exploration of the city with included sightseeing.  After disembarking in Paris, guests will have their choice of a guided exploration of the city's colorful Montmartre district, or a guided visit to Louis XIV's palace at Versailles.  The 14-day itinerary concludes with a two-night stay in Versailles at the Trianon Palace Versailles, a Waldorf Astoria property, highlighted by an exploration of the Chevreuse Valley and a visit to the 12th-century Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay.

Tauck's second new French itinerary, "Rendezvous on the Seine," (ten days from $4,590 per person, plus airfare) also begins with an included two-night stay in Paris, at the Hotel Pullman overlooking the Eiffel Tour.  A subsequent seven-day cruise on the Seine includes ports-of-call at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Giverney (where guests will visit the home and gardens of Impressionist painter Claude Monet), Vernon, Les Andelys and Rouen.  Highlights include a farm visit and tasting of local farm-to-table specialties in Étretat, a visit to the seaside town of Honfleur, a lecture on the events of D-Day followed by a tour of Normandy's iconic beaches, and guided visits to historic abbeys and chateaux.

THE NEWLY REFURBISHED MS SWISS EMERALD
Elsewhere in France, Tauck's Rhone and Saône River cruises will sail aboard the newly renovated ms Swiss Emerald.  Launched in 2006, the ship received a makeover earlier this year when its décor was enlivened with new carpeting, new upholstery, new bedding and other enhancements.  The Swiss Emerald is one of four Tauck vessels in its Jewel Class of riverboats, along with the ms Swiss Sapphire, ms Swiss Jewel and ms Treasures.

Two new and larger Tauck riverboats, the ms Inspire and ms Savor, are currently under construction.  Set to launch next year, the 443-foot newbuilds will together comprise Tauck's Inspiration Class of ships.  Each will have twenty-two 300 square foot suites (a third of all cabins), as well as thirty-two 225 square foot cabins.

Eight of those 225 square foot cabins will be located on the lower (Emerald) deck, and they will feature an innovative "loft" design with a raised platform seating area.  Each seating area will have a table with two chairs, plus a raised ceiling that allows the use of a much taller window than can normally be incorporated into cabins on a riverboat's lower deck.  The upper portion of this window can be opened for fresh air, and being taller, the window will allow far more natural light to fill the cabin for a much brighter and more airy ambiance than can typically be achieved in lower level cabins.

ALL 2014 TAUCK RIVER CRUISES NOW OPEN FOR BOOKING

Each of the 19 European river cruises in Tauck's 2014 portfolio (on the Danube, Rhône, Rhine, Seine, Moselle, Saône, Main and Maas rivers) is now open for booking, and departure dates, prices and a host of additional information are contained in the company's new 100-page 2014 river cruise brochure.  Tauck has also debuted an expanded and redesigned section of its website at www.tauck.com dedicated exclusively to river cruising.  The new micro-site contains details on Tauck's river cruise itineraries and ships, a collection of nine new videos, the latest Tauck river cruise news, guest message boards, and more.

Tauck is also expanding its river cruising outreach to the travel agent community with the appointment of Mary Murrin as the company's first Business Development Manager – River and Small Ship Cruising.  A Tauck Cruise Director aboard the company's riverboats for five years prior to assuming her new role, Murrin is a travel industry veteran who has also worked with Ritz-Carlton and in events management.  In her new position, Murrin will focus on agent and consumer education, represent Tauck at cruise-related conferences and other events, and help Tauck maintain its leadership position within the river and small ship ocean cruising segments.

 ABOUT TAUCK

Tauck is a world leader in upscale guided travel, with nearly 100 land and cruise itineraries to some 70 countries and all seven continents.  The company has been named to Travel + Leisure magazine's list of the "World's Best Tour Operators & Safari Outfitters" in each of the past 15 years, and it has also been named to the magazine's list of the "World's Best River Cruise Lines" in each of the past four years.

ABOUT TRAVEL THE WORLD

Travel the World has been providing discerning travellers with unique luxury experiences for over 30 years. From premium cruise holidays with the world's best cruise lines to enriching cultural tours and indulgently luxurious resorts, Travel the World offers an exciting range of travel options beyond the predictable. The company has established new benchmarks of excellence in travel-related services to the Australian travel industry and consumers since 1977.

For further information on TAUCK please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Cruiseco Adventurer in Vietnam and Cambodia



Experience the best of both worlds on board the Cruiseco Adventurer, Cruiseco’s custom-built ship that travels between Vietnam and Cambodia. From the hustling and bustling streets of Saigon in Vietnam to the serene and calmly-paced village life of Cambodia, Cruiseco offers a unique insight into this part of the world. For a limited time, Cruiseco is offering guests the opportunity to save up to $2,300 per person when making a new booking to travel on the Cruiseco Adventurer.

Designed for the mighty Mekong River, the ship visits an assortment of hidden villages and historic landmarks on its 550-kilometre journey between the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam and Siem Reap. To name only a few highlights, the cruise includes fascinating onshore excursions including: a visit to the Lovers’ Museum in Sa Dec; The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh; ox cart rides amongst rice paddies; and visits to silk weavers, where guests can expect to meet the smiling local children.

National Marketing Manager, Amber Wilson, explains that exploring these beautiful locations is not all the Cruiseco Adventurer has to offer.

“With only 60 passengers on board, the custom-built, 68-metre Cruiseco Adventurer not only offers our guests the opportunity to visit exotic and hidden sights throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, but ensures a truly authentic experience by employing local community members throughout the Mekong area. Dedicated to incorporating the local communities where possible, we strive to ensure our guests’ experiences are as culturally enriched as they can be,” says Wilson.

Guests on board the Cruiseco Adventurer may choose to begin their adventure in Ho Chi Minh City and travel the Mekong River, stopping at exotic ports along the way to Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor and Capital of the 12th century Khmer kingdom. Alternatively, guests seeking a more relaxed start may join the cruise at Siem Reap and cruise down the Mekong River to Saigon.

The Cruiseco Adventurer is also one of the newest ships cruising the Mekong River. Its maiden voyage took place in October 2012. The ship has light, modern décor and boasts larger cabins, each one with a small private balcony.

Book your place on board to benefit from discounted prices on the Cruiseco Adventurer. For a limited time only, prices start at $3,299 per person for twin share; $4,599 per person for sole occupancy. Terms and conditions apply, subject to availability.

All customers booking with Cruiseco receive Qantas Frequent Flyer Points. The price of the cruise includes: return economy airfare from Australia to Saigon via Singapore and return from Siem Reap; two nights in the deluxe Caravelle Hotel Saigon; and two nights in the Raffles Hotel d’Angkor Siem Reap; seven nights aboard the luxurious Cruiseco Adventurer; onboard dining and local beer; local spirits and soft drinks from the bars; extensive sightseeing with expert local guides; onboard entertainment including local folk performances; and onboard gratuities plus all transfers and taxes.

The Cruiseco Adventurer will offer more than 50 fly, cruise and stay itineraries which will showcase the best of the Mekong with 11-night packages from Siem Reap to Saigon or vice versa. Bookings are open now.

Visit www.cruising.com.au or call (02) 9492 8520 for further information and to find details of your local Cruiseco agent.


Monday, 5 August 2013

French living, world famous wines, gardens and art with Sea Cloud II

Early booking savings of $430 per person

 

Sea Cloud II has a fascinating 10 night sailing from Dublin, Ireland to Bilbao, Spain from 20 to 30 August 2014 which includes an optional garden programme. Guests can drink in the beautiful gardens and ambience of ports in Ireland and Cornwall and enjoy world renowned wines along the Bordeaux Wine Route in France. Culminating in Bilbao, lovers of modern art and avant-garde architecture can choose to extend their stay and visit the famous Guggenheim Museum.

Early bird rates for a guaranteed double cabin lead in at AUD$5,670* per person for bookings made by 30 November, a saving of AUD$430 per person.

Sea Cloud II
Pre and post packages are available in Dublin and Bilbao including two night's luxury accommodation, breakfast, city tours and transfers.

Sea Cloud Cruises fares include all meals, from early breakfast to the exquisite four-course dinner menu and five course gala dinners, and drinks including carefully selected wines and beers, and a welcoming bottle of Champagne in each cabin.

*Early bird rates for bookings made by 30 November 2013 – and rates are subject to currency fluctuation

To view the virtual catalogue refer to the following link: Sea Cloud Virtual Catalogue

For more information please contact Sales Activation Marketing (Sea Cloud Cruises representative for Australia/New Zealand) on Tollfree:1300 583 572 or Ph: +61 7 5529 3969 or info@seacloud.com or visit www.seacloud.com

To order one of the ship brochures or subscribe to the newsletter please refer: http://www.seacloud.com/en/brochure-order or www.seacloud.com/en/newsletter

Sea Cloud Cruises offers a fleet of luxurious vessels that sail the oceans of the world and the finest rivers of Europe. Luxury and the personal, private atmosphere of small intimate yachts are the common elements of all vessels of Sea Cloud Cruises. A blue chip cruise operator since 1979, the Berlitz Cruise Guide has awarded it five stars for many years.

The River Cloud II is a floating five-star hotel that takes only 88 pampered guests on the Rhine, Main, Danube and Danube Delta to Europe's most beautiful destinations. The River Cloud II exudes Mediterranean elegance and charm and yet stiff formality is avoided at all times.

The Sea Cloud Fleet currently includes two five star windjammers: the legendary Sea Cloud, built in 1931 for wealthy businessman's wife Lady Marjorie Merriweather Post now restored to her former glory and her sister ship Sea Cloud II which combines nostalgia with the latest in modern comfort. The 81-year-old four-masted bark Sea Cloud with its high quality standard serves as the model for all other passenger ships that are part of the operator's fleet.

Sea Cloud II has 47 outside cabins and Sea Cloud offers only 32 outside cabins, (some with original marble bath) so impeccable and personal service is assured. Life on board is like being on a private yacht.


Zodiac 101: Getting ashore

Zodiac cruising in calm Antarctic waters (R Eime)

by Roderick Eime

The vexing question of Zodiac operations is one of the most-asked questions by prospective expedition cruise passengers and one of the common hand-wringing reasons some travellers decide against expedition cruising. What am I talking about? Read on.

Unloading to gangway. Proper handholds are critical. (R Eime)
What is a Zodiac? The trade-marked, patented Zodiac tender is an inflatable rubber runabout powered by an outboard motor and skippered by a single crewmember who steers by a 'tiller' (a throttle/handle attached to the motor). These aren't something you blow up and play with in the backyard pool. They are military-grade boats used by commandos in the worst conditions. They are designed for seriously heavy duty operations, are remarkably stable and virtually unsinkable. For ferrying camera-toting tourists on shore excursions, they are way over-specified.

Almost without exception, any ship you select for your expedition cruise will be equipped with several of these boats to land guests on beaches, rocky outcrops or tiny jetties too small for the ship to tie-up. It's a fact you have to face if you intend to go ashore during your cruise.

I've been in and out of more Zodiacs than I can remember over the last 15 years of adventure cruising and most problems are due to passengers not following instructions or doing something stupid. Operator skill and experience is another factor, although Zodiacs are pretty easy to operate in calm conditions. It's only when things get rough and windy that the best operators are required.

Pay attention to crew instructions or you'll end up
like this dunce. (Mick Fogg/Wallacea Expeditions)

Your selected cruise operator will give all passengers a detailed Zodiac briefing in advance of the first landing, so make sure you are present for that – and pay attention! You'll get detailed instructions on what clothing to wear, use of the special life jacket (which you must wear) and how the specific ships' boarding process works. It could be a step-type gangway from the deck or a stern transom (platform).

There isn't room here to go through the whole operation, but if you are considering an expedition cruise, particularly in the polar regions, you need to be comfortable with this process or you will be a hazard to yourself and the other passengers. Unfortunately not all cruise consultants are able to accurately assess your suitability for Zodiac operations. They are sales people after all and may not have ever been in a Zodiac themselves.

Boarding a Zodiac on shore. This is a wet landing. (R Eime)
In general terms and taking into account the worst possible conditions, passengers with mobility issues should think carefully about their suitability for Zodiac travel. In many cases, you'll need to climb a narrow gangway that could be wet and slippery and moving about slightly, then step onto the pontoon of the Zodiac which could also be moving up and down slightly (or a lot!). Yes, there are always staff and/or ship's sailors on hand to assist you and you should never attempt this without assistance. Even you, tough guy.

When seated around the pontoon (edge) of the Zodiac, you'll be snug against your fellow passengers facing inward. Spray, bumps and splashes are common and depending on your operator, the prevailing conditions and the size of the motor, you could be going fast or slow.

That said, I did witness one determined ship's crew land a wheelchair passenger onto a tiny jetty in Greenland to much applause, so it is possible under the right circumstances for almost any person to get in and out. In the end, only you can decide.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Unlock the mysteries of the West African coast on a cruise


"WHAT was that?" gasped Beatrix, grabbing my forearm tightly. We all heard it. Was it the sound of waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks outside or, as many of us thought, the ghostly whispers of long-departed slaves who once huddled in these squalid, pitch-black dungeons awaiting an uncertain fate?
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See the image slideshow





Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Cruise For People Who Don't Like Cruising (Really): True North In Australia


image sourced from Forbes.com

No one on board Australia’s True North is ever a “cruise person.” I certainly wasn’t when I set sail, and neither were the two dozen jolly Australians I was with. No one compared stories about past cruises, good or bad. We talked about climbing trips, diving, and other adventures; we were all low-to-the-ground, physically active, looking for freedom, and obsessed, like everyone these days, with the “authentic.”

My weeklong voyage wended through the gorges of the Kimberley, the wild, rugged coast between Darwin and Broome, in northwestern Australia, one of the world’s last true wildernesses. It’s a place so vast, undeveloped, and scorchingly hot that it’s best explored by sea. These are uncharted waters—literally; at least once during any week he’s on board, Craig Howson, the True North’s gregarious owner, motors a tender down a tributary, wondering aloud what’s down there, then putting on a show by wrestling with a crocodile.

[read full story]