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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sven-Olof Lindblad's Kimberley experience aboard Orion

October 2013

Dear Fellow Traveller,

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of travelling, unfortunately briefly, on National Geographic Orion in the Kimberley, but that short visit made quite an impact. I have said repeatedly that Australians have amazing geographies in their backyard and the idea that a region so stunning and filled with marvels is an easy voyage away, is truly remarkable. As one who has spent a lifetime exploring remote and pristine parts of the globe, I believe the Kimberley ranks as one of the most spirit-expanding places I have ever visited.

Ourjob is to provide meaningful expedition experiences for our guests and in the Kimberley we have incredible resources: an expedition team with ten years of local experience, augmented by knowledgeable Lindblad Expedition veterans, for a staff- to-guest ratio that ensures an exceptional experience. Plus, the best expedition ship in the region, National Geographic Orion, is equipped with a first-class suite of exploration tools to reveal the many facets of the Kimberley.

Then, when you have the prospect of a Kimberley experience before you, isn't it great to know that you'll make memories and have a visual record, too? On National Geographic Orion, you can confidently assume it. A National Geographic photographer and a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor accompany every departure this season—to inspire and help you. I find that guests who might never have considered themselves photographers get involved in the photography fun aboard and end up thrilled with their results, whether they're using a smartphone camera, a point-and-shoot, or sophisticated gear.

I am very gratified that the Kimberley is part of the Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic global expedition portfolio. On behalf of our enthusiastic team, I look forward to welcoming you aboard and to sharing a Kimberley adventure with you in 2014.

All the best,
Sven-Olof Lindblad



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Croatian small ships in Dalmatia

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Croatia holiday specialist Beyond Travel has added new, more upmarket, small ship cruising options in Croatia for 2014, to meet demand from travellers seeking a more comfortable voyage along the Dalmatian Coast and islands.

Six new sophisticated vessels will be introduced for the 2014 season all of which are extremely good value but offer more comfortable public areas, modern cabins and other facilities.

An example is the MS Splendid which will have 15 guaranteed departures of an eight-day roundtrip from Dubrovnik visit Mljet, Hvar, Split, Brac and Korcula which will cost from $1680 per person twin share and include $300 Travel Credits per couple for any other Beyond Travel services when paid by December 20.

Another new vessel is the MB Krilo Pride which also operates an eight-day roundtrip from Dubrovnik which includes visits to Mljet, Korcula, Hvar and Split with prices from $1985 per person.

Generally, the ships carry 35 to 40 passengers, offering a friendly and relaxed atmosphere with stops daily in small historic ports inaccessible to larger cruise ships.

All Croatian cruises include on board accommodation, half-board, sightseeing tours, arrival and departure transfers, port fees and taxes.

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

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Mekong Cruising – For how much longer?

Floating traders in the delta (R Eime)
by Roderick Eime

Just as cruising along the famous Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia is hitting its straps, news is that dams being built further up the river in Laos in a joint project with Thailand seem likely to change the nature of the Mekong forever.

Anyone who has cruised the Yangtze in recent years will know firsthand how comprehensively dams can alter the character of a river. Instead of little traditional villages and subsistence farming and fishing, we have concrete and steel replacing authentic materials as the water rises and the population is relocated to high-rise developments.

Will this happen to the Mekong? The truth is no-one knows. But what is fairly certain is that the river dependent communities in Cambodia and Vietnam who the river cruising tourists visit on a daily basis will face food security threats. Fish migration patterns and the life-giving flood cycles will be seriously impacted.

Worldwide, the Mekong River ranks second in fish diversity after the Amazon, with more than 1000 new plant and fish species discovered in the past decade, according to the World Fish Center. About 60 million people in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia are dependent on the Mekong for their livelihoods, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Mekong fisherman throws his net (R Eime)
"The Don Sahong ... will block migratory fish, which is 70 percent of Mekong fish, from swimming upstream and down on the only channel that allows the fish to reach the upper part of the Mekong," said Ame Trandem, the Southeast Asia programme director at advocacy group International Rivers.

She said the (Don Sahong) dam, which will require 95,000 truckloads of riverbed to be removed, will devastate the region's fish and dolphins, the tourism industry, and the hundreds of thousands of fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the Mekong.

Further north in Laos, the Xayaburi Dam is creating equal if not greater concern. The Mekong Basin Community Council Network (MBCC) has called on the Thai government to step in and help block the construction of both dams on the mainstream Mekong River.

Critics and environmentalists are angry with Laos and Thailand for failing to uphold their pledge to consult neighbouring countries under the 1995 Mekong Agreement, which requires thorough consultation on every project proposed for the mainstream Mekong River. Others are less coy in their objections accusing stakeholders in both Laos and Thailand of putting massive profits before the livelihood and security of the residents all along the Mekong.

Threatened: traditional Mekong fish harvesting (Int Rivers)
One cruise operator spoke to CW on condition of anonymity.

"We just don't know what will happen. All around the world the effects of dams on rivers can be seen and Mekong cruise lines have made massive investments in ships, staff and infrastructure. This uncertainty is not good for anyone's business and clearly the people who stand to suffer the most are those who live along the river. Our guests develop an emotional bond with the families and townsfolk who welcome and host us. Many are distressed that the river communities who have already suffered so much face new and completely avoidable threats."

British-born journalist and filmmaker, Tom Fawthrop, has worked in Southeast Asia for more than 25 years and studied the dam project. "Yes, of course the rural people in Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand have the right to electricity, but they also have the right to fish. You can't eat electricity."

Sunday, 27 October 2013

River cruising features in Travelmarvel's new Burma and China Program


New brochure: Asia 2014/15

Travelmarvel Adds Burma and China to Asia Program


22 October 2013: Travelmarvel is expanding its Asia product, announcing premium journeys in Burma (land only) and China (land and cruise) as new additions to its 2014/15 program, which also comprises Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Luxury Mekong River Cruising.

As well as adding new destinations to its new Asia 2014/15 brochure, Travelmarvel has doubled the number of departures of its popular Mekong river cruises aboard its luxurious ship, RV La Marguerite, offering 40 sailings for the new season.

It has also lengthened its popular Ha Long Bay cruise, sailing aboard a traditional junk, from one to two nights.

Now it's third year of operation in the region, Travelmarvel General Manager, David Cox, puts the company's rapid expansion down to the composition of its product offering:

"We've worked hard to get the balance of our offering just right. Our sightseeing program combines well known icons with unique off the beaten track experiences, while at the same time allowing enough free time for guests to explore on their own. Add to this a portfolio of centrally located premium accommodation and a price structure offering excellent value, and what we provide to guests is an Asian travel experience that is immersive, educational, fun and most importantly, well within their comfort zone," he said.

The new 68-page brochure offers 15 itineraries, two of which are new Burma land tours.

The core Burma itinerary is the 10-day Charming Burma. Priced from $3,395 per person twin share, it encompasses Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay and Bagan. Highlights include a stay at the Pristine Lotus Spa Resort, dinner in a bamboo forest and an ox-cart ride to the Shwezigon Pagoda. This itinerary can be linked with a 12-day Mekong river cruise to form the 22-day Captivating Burma & The Mekong.

New for China, Travelmarvel has introduced a core 13-day Imperial China priced from $4,495 per person, twin share. It comprises three days in Beijing, visiting the Forbidden City, Great Wall of China and a local family who live in the city's old hutongs, or alleyways; followed by a four night Yangtze River cruise aboard the MS Victoria Katarina or MS Victoria Jenna (and one departure n the MS Victoria Anna), with executive lounge privileges; and culminates with two nights in Xi'an, a night in Wuzhen and two nights in Shanghai.

This itinerary is also a component of the 29-day Iconic Asia and the 24-day China, Vietnam & Cambodia Discoverer.

As part of its authentic sightseeing program, Travelmarvel has introduced a range of new Insider Experiences for 2014. These include a special welcome dinner at Hanoi's KOTO restaurant (Know One, Teach One), which serves as a culinary training centre for disadvantaged youths; a two-night stay at Pilgrimage Village, boutique hotel and spa in Hue, Vietnam; and the opportunity to participate in a traditional tea ceremony in Shanghai's Yu Yuan Gardens.

Travelmarvel Asia holidays are priced to include all accommodation; sightseeing; the services of a Travelmarvel tour or cruise director; most meals; internal flights; airport and hotel transfers; gratuities; free flowing local beers, spirits and soft drinks and international wines with both lunch and dinner on all Mekong cruises; and selected alcoholic beverages at dinner on all Yangtze cruises.

Lead-in itinerary is the 12-day Essential Vietnam & Cambodia. Priced from $3,695 per person, twin share it comprises two nights at the Shinta Mani Resort in Siem Reap, followed by a seven night luxury Mekong river cruise and two nights at the Grand Hotel in Saigon.

Travelmarvel is offering a range of highly competitive 'Fly Free' deals across its new Asia portfolio.

For example book any Vietnam cruise holiday of 12 days or longer, in any suite category, departing June 2014 to April 2015, you'll fly free including taxes, a saving of up to $3,950 per couple.

Alternatively book any China holiday departing June 2014 to March 2015 and your companion will fly free, including taxes, a saving of up to $1,660 per couple.

These deals are valid on bookings made by 31 March 2014 and are subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply.

Agents phone 1300 300 036, visit www.travelmarvel.com.au or contact your local business development manager.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

CNN: on the Road Mandalay with Pandaw

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CNN's On the Road series explores the culture, heritage and customs of a country, covering popular culture, food and drink, design and architecture, sport, technology and innovation.
The channel brings you greater insight into Myanmar, from the famous pagodas to the treasure of Mandalay.
 
Pandaw River Expeditions is proud to have welcomed the CNN crew on our RV Indochina Pandaw last month.
 
Please see the coverage on CNN:
CNN on the Road Myanmar
Saturday, October 26th  GMT 09.30 /  CET 11.30
Sunday, October 27th GMT 08.00 / CET 10.00
 
www.pandaw.com


Discover the Kimberley Coast with Silversea

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Mitchell Falls

Explore the remote area of the Kimberley region, sailing from Darwin to Broome or vice versa, on board Silversea's latest addition to the Expedition Fleet, Silver Discoverer.

Departing from Broome on 2nd and 22nd April 2014, and from Darwin, 12th April and 2nd May 2014, this 10-day luxury cruise will offer guests the opportunity to travel along the Kimberley coastline for 6 days, with all shore excursions included. This voyage also offers guests a complimentary flight over the Bungle Bungle range of the Purnululu National Park in Western Australia, where guests can experience a birds-eye view of this unique region.

Prices are per person starting from AU$9,950 double occupancy. Silversea's fares include all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus designed by Relais & Châteaux, complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship, and all gratuities.

Price is subject to availability, capacity controlled and may rise as the sailing date approaches. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit www.silversea.com

Follow Silversea on Twitter, Facebook and the Silversea Blog

 




Friday, 25 October 2013

Bentours celebrates with Shackleton's 100th year anniversary voyage to Antarctica

  

Voyage to Antarctica with Bentours' expert led cruises

25 October, 2013: Next year marks the 100th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton's historic Endurance expedition through the Antarctic, the world's most extreme continent. Bentours is offering travellers the chance to voyage where Shackleton journeyed with its special expert-led Spirit of Shackleton cruise departing January 2014 and January 2015.

Bentours' centenary expedition is a 21-day tour departing from Ushuaia, Chile on board the MS Expedition vessel. This spectacular adventure retraces the route of the legendary British explorer, cruising past incredible pristine ice-filled bays, towering ice-capped mountains and the giant icebergs that make up this mystic southern world.

Packages start from AU$15,999 per person twin share and include all onboard meals, access to lectures and education programs with experts in the field, scheduled visits to scientific research stations and photography programs, as well as Antarctic excursions and landings in Zodiac boats.

Shackleton began his epic journey in 1914 and has been hailed as the last great explorer of the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration. His aim was ambitious - to cross the Antarctic Continent via the South Pole and become the first person to traverse Antarctica.  Aboard Bentours' Spirit of Shackleton, travellers have the chance to map the great explorer and discover the region's rich history and unique wildlife.

Expedition expert and on-board lecturer, Susan Adie, commented:  "Travellers continue to be drawn to explore the Antarctic region because it is the last great wilderness on earth - a place of intense natural beauty and incredible wildlife. It is difficult to describe Antarctica to those who haven't been there, as it can't be compared to anywhere else. So many of the travellers aboard the MS Expedition have been blown away by the sheer magnitude, the landscape, wildlife and of course the history of the region, it is no wonder that so many great explorers travelled epic journeys to discover this region".

Highlights of the tour include visiting the Falkland Islands, where guests have the rare opportunity to witness the biological diversity and extraordinary scenery of the sub-Antarctic islands. Penguins and albatross are abundant in the Falklands and the islands boast the largest colony of black-browed albatross in the world. Travellers also visit South Georgia and the incredible Antarctic Peninsula where they set foot on this awe-inspiring icy land. Weather permitting explorers can encounter Gentoo, chinstrap and Adelie penguin rookeries, as well as leopard seals, orca, humpback and minke whales. King Penguins can also be found in both the Falkland Islands and South Georgia.

Optional activities include camping and kayaking through the world's last great wilderness.

Bentours offers a number of Antarctica packages, making the world's most remote wilderness more accessible to Australian adventurers.

Book now to secure places by contacting your local travel agent or Bentours at www.bentours.com.au, 1800 221 712 or enquiry@bentours.com.au. For more information ask your local travel agent for a copy of the new Antarctica 2014/2015 brochure.

*Price is per person, based on twin share accommodation & subject to availability. Spirit of Shackleton is valid for sale and travel until 10 Jan 15.  Advertised price is based on twin share accommodation in a Deck 2 Cat 2 Outside Cabin for the 10 Jan 14 departure. Price quoted includes all onboard meals. Prices quoted are accurate as at 08 Oct 13. Cancellations made 100 days or more prior to departure will be subject to loss of deposit. Cancellations made up to 99 days prior to departure will be subject to loss of up to 100% of total cost. A deposit of $750 per person is required within 7 days of booking.  Full payment is required 100 days prior to departure date. Single supplements apply. All airfares are excluded. Prices are subject to availability and may change due to currency fluctuations. Payments made by credit card will incur a surcharge. Tempo Holidays trading as Bentours International A.B.N. 51007331213 VIC License 31341



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Pandaw River Expeditions: Excursions ashore are a key part of any Pandaw Cruise


With beginning of the season, Pandaw sets new standards in not just visiting, but experiencing the countries we visit.

Excursions are “all inclusive” including admission fees, cool drinking water and a maximum of 24 passengers per group on all Mekong departures. We use deluxe sampans, buses, cyclos, ox carts and our comfortable Pandaw Explorer boat to visit the unique floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake.


This year we have added new excursions on selected departures: The visit of Ba Phnom mountain, one of the first religious and cultural sites in Cambodia and may be considered a birth place of the Cambodian nation; Koh Dechou island, a remote Mekong island famous for its homemade noodles, but rarely visited by foreigners; Our visits to Battambang, its much-talked-about circus and the very curious bamboo railway; and the famous Prek Toal, a virgin freshwater swamp forest and bird sanctuary.

Meet real Burma, Vietnam and Cambodia. Off the beaten track. Find yourself among villagers roasting rice, weaving baskets or fishing with nets. Experience local life, while taking an ox cart ride through picturesque countryside or a cyclo ride through bustling Phnom Penh.

Walk through villages, visit Pandaw Charity projects, floating markets and hidden temple ruins, receive a Buddhist blessing by a monk in a pagoda or get thrown into a “National Geographic Documentary”-feeling while cruising by small boat through the back waters and mangrove forests of the Mekong Delta.

Our expeditions have a local link. We visit communities with respect and do not support mass tourism creating begging children or destroying cultures.

We stop at least once a day, usually twice. Our excursions are not compulsory, enjoy the ship and the sun deck if you prefer.

After each exciting excursion, your Pandaw crew will be waiting for you onboard, clean your shoes and serve a welcome drink and cold towels. Lean back, relax and enjoy the sunset before dinner.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Sea Cloud Cruises shines in the Berlitz Guide



Sea Cloud Cruises, the specialist in boutique yachting, has once again been recognised by the annual Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2014 guide. Both its windjammer yachts – Sea Cloud and sister ship Sea Cloud II – were ranked in the top 5 boutique ships (50 to 250 guests).

The respected guide is now in its 29th year of publication and features in-depth reviews of 285 ships, highlighting each ship's strengths and weaknesses and offering advice on finding the best facilities, food and service to suit all types of cruise traveller.

The 64-guest Sea Cloud made her debut in 1931 and was widely regarded as the most magnificent sailing yacht in the world. Many features of the legendary windjammer are preserved in the luxurious style of the 1930's, creating a unique and impressive backdrop for any voyage. The 94-guest Sea Cloud II combines the atmosphere of her sister ship with the very latest in modern comfort. Onboard both ships, guests enjoy the highest standards of luxury and personalised service, combined with a relaxed, convivial ambiance. The intimate size of the yachts mean they can access idyllic anchorages that larger ships cannot reach.

For more information on Sea Cloud Cruises and the various sailing adventures on offer please contact Sales Activation Marketing (Sea Cloud Cruises representative for Australia/New Zealand) on toll free 1300 583 572 (Australia) or info@seacloud.com or visit www.seacloud.com

A&K's new 2014 Antarctica & Arctic Brochure


Abercrombie & Kent has just released its 2014 brochure for polar expeditionary cruising. The journeys are operated exclusively by A&K on board luxury cruiser MV Le Boreal revealing the polar reaches at their astonishing best.

In the Arctic, there are two journeys operating in July and August 2014. The first encompasses Norway and the High Arctic Svalbard archipelago and takes guests in search of the mighty polar bear. The second visits Norway and Spitsbergen plus the region's most remote islands and East Greenland. Polar bears, fjords, volcanoes, fishing villages and remarkable landscapes are all highlights.

In Antarctica there are four expeditions during the 2014-15 season. Each visits the wildlife rich Antarctic Peninsula with two adding South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Journeys are themed with a special family expedition over Christmas and New Year, a Climate Change mission trip plus two photographic journeys.

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

Featured Brochure: Pandaw River Cruises 2014




Monday, 21 October 2013

Seabourn returns to Antarctica



source: Cruise Passenger Magazine

Seabourn has announced it will return to Antarctica next year, as part of the line’s 2014/15 Cruise Collection.

The luxury cruise line has revealed six different Antarctica itineraries.

Among the cruises is the 21-day Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia cruise. Departing Buenos Aires 29 November 2014, calls include Elephant Island, Antarctic Sound, Hope Bay and King George Island.

Alternatively, there is the 41-day South American & Antarctica Exploration departing 3 February 2015. The cruise will take guests from Valparaiso, Chile to Anavilhanas near the equator via Antarctica.

The Cruise Collection also sees the debut of Seabourn’s Extended Explorations for guests who want longer and in-depth cruises.

Extended Explorations vary from 28-days to 116-days. They feature overnight stays in ports, regionally-themed menus and local entertainment.

Also new in the 2014/15 brochure is the 14-day South East Asia itinerary through the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia. And a series of Oceania cruises between Sydney and Auckland in December 2014 and February 2015.


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cruiseco offers guests a chance to experience Vietnam and Cambodia

Cruiseco Adventurer

Cruiseco, the leading provider of cruise options in Australia and New Zealand, is providing guests with the opportunity to experience Vietnam and Cambodia, two of the most culturally diverse destinations in the world. For a limited time only, Cruiseco is offering guests a seven night cruise only package deal on board the Cruiseco Adventurer.

National Marketing Manager, Amber Wilson, explains that whilst onboard the Cruiseco Adventurer guests will travel to remote locations and experience fascinating onshore excursions.

"This Cruiseco Adventurer provides a truly authentic experience and enables guests to immerse themselves in the local community. Guests will have the opportunity to visit the Lovers' Museum in Sa Dec, the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, enjoy an ox cart ride amongst rice paddies, and meet friendly locals. The journey ensures guests not only have a culturally enriching experiencing, but also have the option to relax and unwind on board our luxurious ship," says Wilson.

Guests on board the Cruiseco Adventurer can begin their adventure in Siem Reap and cruise down the Mekong River to Saigon or alternatively cruise upstream from Saigon to Siem Reap.

Your cruise holiday includes 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.

Book by 01 November 2013, or before these special offers sell out.
  • Twin cabins are available NOW from $1,299 per person, based on twin share.
  • Single cabins are available NOW from $2,599 per person.

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

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Aurora Expeditions Launches Brand New Destinations In 2014



Australian adventure company, Aurora Expeditions, has released its 2014/2015 brochure - Expeditions - featuring an array of brand new destinations including Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands, Alaska, Arnhem Land, Cape York, Bhutan and Patagonia. With the addition of a trekking program to their ship-based expeditions, the new brochure spans 12 exciting destinations across 19 innovative itineraries.

Lisa Bolton, CEO of Aurora Expeditions says “The exciting addition of adventure treks and the expansion of our expedition cruise program is in response to the high level of demand for respectful travel to hard-to-reach destinations. Our commitment to providing authentic small group experiences and our reputation for pushing the boundaries is a winning combination and I look forward to developing the program further”.

With decades of experience taking passengers to Antarctica via South America, Aurora Expeditions have introduced a brand new ‘Ecuador in Depth’ voyage in 2014 exploring Ecuador’s Amazon Basin and the wildlife playground of the Galapagos Islands by small ship. The expedition also incorporates land touring to allow passengers to experience the famed 'Avenue of Volcanoes' and the National Parks of central Ecuador.

In addition to their flagship expeditions to the Polar Regions, in 2014-15 the company will also offer passengers the opportunity to follow migrating humpbacks up Alaska’s Inside Passage or explore Australia’s tropical north combining the Kimberley Coast, Arnhem Land, Cape York and the Great Barrier Reef in one incredible voyage.

Along with new destinations the brochure also features a refreshed Antarctic program including the introduction of a new port and Antarctic Gateway, Puerto Williams, as well as a ground-breaking new activity, Polar Snorkelling. The first operator to offer Polar Snorkelling, this activity will provide passengers with the opportunity to explore underwater scenery unlike any other place on earth.

Those wanting to put their sea-legs to the test will have the opportunity to witness spectacular mountain scenery on an expanded range of trekking adventures throughout some of the world’s most remote, land-locked treasures including Nepal, Bhutan and Patagonia.

In Nepal, Aurora’s climbing guide and three time Everest summiteer Tashi Tenzing, leads us deep into the heart of the Mt Everest region, introducing trekkers to Sherpa culture and hospitality. In Bhutan, highlights include sharing mountain trails with Buddhist pilgrims and yak herders across a spiritual and spectacular Himalayan kingdom.

In Patagonia, Aurora Expeditions have developed a 10 day program of exhilarating walks amongst the pampas and ice-capped peaks of the Andes, the perfect warm up to an Antarctic cruise. Each ‘Patagonia Adventure Trek’ is timed to depart in conjunction with one of their exciting Antarctic expeditions and travellers can save 20% when they book on adjoining departures.

Download or order the new ‘Expeditions 2014/2015’ brochure online at www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or call Aurora Expeditions on +61 2 9252 1033 or freecall 1800 637 688 (Australia only).

Explore Myanmar with a special offer from Cruiseco

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Explore Myanmar (Burma), one of the world's most exotic destinations, on board Cruiseco's Orient Pandaw. Cruiseco, the leading supplier of cruising options in Australia and New Zealand, is currently offering Australians the opportunity to explore Myanmar with an eight night cruise only package deal.

National Marketing Manager at Cruiseco, Amber Wilson, explains that travellers will be able to experience some of Myanmar's best kept secrets on this river cruise trip which will see travellers visit Yangon, Mandalay and Sagaing.

"This is the perfect cruise for anyone wishing to explore a unique destination, slightly off the beaten track. Myanmar is home to historically rich landmarks, breathtaking landscapes and incredibly friendly people. This luxurious cruise provides guests with the opportunity to explore the hidden secrets of Myanmar, all while taking in the spectacular scenery from the comfort of their cruise," says Amber.

This luxury cruise holiday includes eight nights on board the Orient Pandaw; 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.

Book this special offer by 25 October 2013, or before it sells out.

Twin cabins are available NOW from $1,399 per person, based on twin share.
Single cabins are available NOW from $2,799 per person.

This eight night charter aboard the Orient Pandaw departs weekly through to March 2014.

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

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

American Cruise Lines Announces 2014 Schedule


American Cruise Lines officially announced today its 2014 cruise schedule, which includes over 35 unique itineraries. With advance bookings already ahead of the previous year, the line is preparing for an exciting year ahead, with new itineraries and plans to operate more cruises than it ever has before.

In the American Heartland, American Cruise Lines has added a new itinerary on the mighty Mississippi River. New for 2014, the line’s authentic paddlewheeler Queen of the Mississippi will be operating new St. Louis to New Orleans cruises.

This new itinerary allows guests to experience a greater portion of the Mississippi River, by sailing through six states, in only eight days. The new cruises are being offered exclusively by American Cruise Lines.

Furthermore, due to popularity and demand, American Cruise Lines has added eight more sailings to next year’s Puget Sound & San Juan Islands schedule. Newly introduced this year, the eight-day roundtrip cruise from Seattle, explores the hundreds of islands nestled between Canada’s Vancouver Island and the U.S. mainland.

Guests enjoy breathtaking views of a diverse natural wonderland and experience the region’s culture with guided tours to historical sites and museums. 2014 sailings are offered March through November.

“We are gearing up for a busy 2014,” said Timothy Beebe, Vice President of American Cruise Lines. “Spring cruises are already selling out and we look forward to working with new and existing valued travel partners to help us reach even more guests. We thank them for being a major factor in our growth and success.”

American Cruise Lines will also be announcing a robust 2014 theme cruise and entertainment schedule in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Pandaw, Kipling and Orwell revive the Road to Mandalay




"On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play,
An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!"

- Rudyard Kipling


It's an intoxicating cocktail of equal parts nostalgia and pomposity sitting here on the expansive teak deck of the RV Katha Pandaw. It's taken me almost ten years of trying to get here to Burma and aboard one of the classic Pandaw vessels that revived a century-old tradition on the fabled Irrawaddy River. And now I'm feeling every bit the privileged sahib, G&T at hand, watching the little stilt villages pass by as the locals toil in the fields or bathe in the murky waters.

Driven by a keen sense of history, the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, upon which the modern Pandaw fleet is styled, has been reborn thanks to Scottish historian and entrepreneur, Paul Strachan. Now about to launch the new fleet's 13th vessel, Strachan struck upon the idea when he found one of the old fleet's hulls languishing on a riverbank.

He restored the vessel, which became Pandaw 47, and began a revival that continues to this day. Even now we see many other salvaged, Clyde-built hulls in use by local operators performing their original tasks of hauling a mix of freight and passengers to the many ports dotted along the length of both the Irrawaddy (which runs down from China to the NE) and the Chindwin (whose headwaters originate to India to the NW).



All along our journey from Mandalay to Katha and beyond, we reminisce of literary giants like George Orwell who wrote his début novel here, of military campaigns under the command of General Slim which slowly overcame the invading Japanese in WWII and of the grand ancient kings who once ruled this land and left a legacy of thousands upon thousands of gold-topped stupas everywhere one looks.

This particular itinerary is new to the Pandaw portfolio and explores north from the romantic hub of Mandalay as famously portrayed by Rudyard Kipling, past the remote outpost of Katha where Orwell set his Burmese Days, to the navigable extreme of Kyauk Pone near the town of Bhamo in Kachin state. Great jungle-clad cliffs reminiscent of the Yangtze Gorges tower above us, but instead of the Chinese concrete and steel, it's bamboo, teak, thatch and busy little canoes going about their daily routine.

But just as the Yangtze has been irretrievably transformed by massive dams and earthworks, so too are such terraforming projects planned for the upper Irrawaddy. While not yet set in stone, let us pray that these devastating constructions can be thwarted by the public pressure welling against them.

"Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old flotilla lay;
Can't you 'ear their paddles clunking from Rangoon to Mandalay?
On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin'-fishes play,"



The writer wishes to thank John Boyd from Pandaw Cruises and Active Travel for making this journey possible.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Join Hurtigruten in the Hunt for Northern Lights on a Classic Voyage of the Norwegian Coastline


Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis
On November 1, Hurtigruten officially kicks off its winter season … and the hunt for Northern Lights begins. A signature element of Hurtigruten’s winter voyages, the display of Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a natural phenomenon that fills the night sky with yellow, green or red-violent belts of color, arising with little advance notice. As a goal that appears on many a travelers’ bucket list, Hurtigruten guests have a greater possibility of seeing the Northern Lights during the company’s northbound, southbound and round-trip Classic Winter Voyages as the ships sail above the Arctic Circle. Although the Northern Lights are often viewable from September to April, the peak viewing season is during Hurtigruten’s winter voyages, as this is when nights are at their longest in Northern Norway. Sailing between November 1 and March 3, fares for departures through December 31 start as low as $1,078 per person, double through Hurtigruten’s “Winter Cabin Guarantee Offer.” For trips in 2014, prices range from $1,311 to $16,425.

The term “Hunting the Light” was coined by one of Hurtigruten’s captains as he described what happens when guests gathered on deck, eager to see this natural light show for themselves. Guests can learn more about the science behind the Aurora Borealis through onboard lectures, and they’ll also get photographic tips about how best to capture the light show. They can even sign up to be awoken during the night should the crew spot the Lights.



The coastal voyages run between the UNESCO-listed harbor city of Bergen and the Norway/Russia border town of Kirkenes. The fleet of 11 ships, which visit 34 ports of call during the seven-day northbound and six-day southbound sailings, and twice each during the 12-day roundtrip (Hurtigruten’s most popular itinerary), provides guests with an opportunity to experience Norway in a truly unique and meaningful way. A single journey on Hurtigruten shows each aspect of the diversity of Norway’s natural resources and culture while allowing guests to interact with locals, as Hurtigruten offers an everyday means of transport for inhabitants of the coastal region.


During these winter voyages, Hurtigruten’s onboard activities, menus and excursions are inspired by the season. Guests can take a ‘dip’ in the frigid Barents Sea, participate in a fish filleting demonstration on deck, and enjoy such seasonal menu items as freshly made fish cakes. A wide selection of exciting winter excursions are also available to passengers, including a snowmobile trip in the polar night for a star-studded sky and even stronger Northern Light displays - far away from the city lights, dog sledding, and the opportunity to spend a night in the Kirkenes Snow Hotel. As part of a special winter package, guests can book four excursions and receive a NOK 650 ($111 US)* onboard spending credit. Those experiences include a Lofotr Viking Feast at the Lofotr Viking Museum; a Polar History Walk in Tromsø; a visit to the North Cape, which is the northernmost point on the continent; and a Husky Sledge Adventure, during which guests can meet huskies and speed over frozen landscapes. There are a total of 21 optional excursions available, varied by cruise direction.

Hurtigruten, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, sails 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 and fall. The company’s fleet of intimate ships, which each carry 100 to 646 guests, allows travelers to enjoy the scenery and culture of the destination in a relaxed atmosphere.

Additional information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from travel agents or Hurtigruten's visitor-friendly website, www.hurtigruten.us; by phone at 877-301-3117; or fax at 888-524-2145. To order brochures 24 hours a day, call 800-582-0835.


Monday, 7 October 2013

No sailing with the crowds makes for a dream start to 2014


GIVE yourself a pampered start to 2014 with 7-nights post the Christmas-New Year holiday period aboard world-renowned mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II from Singapore through the Indonesian Islands to Bali, a voyage that's a particular dream for those who don't like to "sail with the crowds" as SeaDream II has just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew.

Making SeaDream Yacht Club's first-ever visit to Asia, SeaDream II departs Singapore on January 11 for Pulau Seribu in the famed 1000 Islands, Semarang in Central Java, Lembar for a visit to Lombok, Komodo Island (home to the famed Komodo Dragon,) and Bali. There are also two full days at sea for indulging SeaDream's "Good Life," that includes an onboard spa that is the only at-sea member of the Thai Spa Association.

Prices begin from an enticing US$3954pp twin-share including all 5-star dining, selected wines, spirits and beers, use of a 30-course golf simulator, fitness centre, power and sail water-sports (where permitted,) crew gratuities and port and government charges.

Full details from travel agents or www.seadream.com

"We can actually own this market" says Silversea's Bettridge


By Tom Stieghorst

Ellen BettridgeIt has been five years since Silversea Cruises launched its first expedition ship, the Silversea Explorer. But in the last year it has stepped up the pace, launching the Silver Galapagos this month and announcing plans for a third ship, the Silver Discoverer, in 2014. In one fell swoop, that ship will add more than 150 destinations to the line's catalog. Ellen Bettridge, who arrived 18 months ago as Silversea's president of the Americas, talked about Silversea's expedition fleet with cruise editor Tom Stieghorst.

Q: Why has Silversea expanded into expedition cruising?
A: We've had our Silver Explorer for five years now, and we've had great success with her. She truly is an expedition ship, which has been what encouraged us to purchase the Silver Galapagos. Expedition cruising is just really hot right now, and especially when we can actually own this market, because we have that luxury twist. So we believe this is a great way to bring customers something that they're really asking for.

Read the full story: www.travelweekly.com/In-the-Hot-Seat/Silversea-Cruises-Ellen-Bettridge


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Windstar Introduces Air-Cruise Package to Tahiti

Windstar Wind Spirit
Windstar Cruises offering a new air-cruise package for its recently introduced Tahiti program. The package includes roundtrip airfare between Los Angeles (LAX) and Papeete, Tahiti, via nonstop Air Tahiti Nui service; one complimentary pre-cruise night at Le Meredien Papeete; and complimentary transfers to and from the yacht for $1,999 per person. Windstar also offers two-for-one cruise fares for its Tahiti voyages from $2,999 per person.

The 148-passenger Wind Sprit will operate the seven-day “Dreams of Tahiti” voyages from Papeete beginning May 2 through Nov. 7, 2014. The cruises will stop at the Society Islands of Moorea, Tahaa, Raiatea, Bora Bora and Huahine.

For bookings please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or www.traveltheworld.com.au

Island Escape Cruises Enhanced Product Relaunch in December



Following an extensive refit and makeover, Island Escape Cruises is poised to introduce its luxury small ship “Island Passage” on its inaugural series of Fiordland Cruises in early December.

Internally and externally, the vessel will have never looked better after its most extensive makeover since entering service. Externally the vessel’s hull is being completely sandblasted before gleaming coats of rich flag blue are applied.

Onboard, suites and staterooms will be refurbished with new carpet, textiles, furniture and luxury bed linens. The vessel’s traditional wood-panelled elegance will be complemented by a contemporary palette of understated tonings with tasteful splashes of colour in furnishings, bed throws and cushions.

With guidance from a leading Auckland Creative Designer, the vessel will emerge with a fresher, lighter, crisper and more contemporary look. Upgraded bathrooms will feature French soaps and toiletries by L’Occitane en Provence.

In other changes, a Cruise Director will join the established shipboard team for the first time. As on board liaison officer between the ship and its 24 guests, this role has been introduced to ensure guests’ expectations are impeccably met and even exceeded.

As the only small ship operating to luxury standards in Fiordland, “Island Passage” offers a unique insight into one of the world’s most remote and spectacular destinations.

Limited space is still available on selected sailings. With seasonal cruises in both the renowned Bay of Islands and enchanting islands of Vanuatu, the vessel is successfully attracting more and more repeat passengers.

(www.islandescapecruises.com)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Superyacht burns: 16 passengers and crew escape blaze


Flames pour from the Seafaris after it caught fire
Sixteen people were forced to abandon ship when a luxury yacht caught fire and sank off the far north Queensland coast this morning.

Eight passengers and eight crew were on board the Seafaris when the blaze broke out on the 41-metre vessel in Cow Bay in the Daintree region about 6am (AEST).

They abandoned ship and were rescued about 90 minutes later by a bulk carrier which heard the yacht's mayday call.

The group has arrived in Cairns and paramedics have checked two elderly passengers.

The Seafaris is owned by property developers the McCloy Group, whose chairman is Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy.

Mr McCloy is on his way to Cairns to find out what happened.

He says he is devastated the multi-million-dollar vessel, which attracted visitors from around the world, has been destroyed but is thankful those onboard are safe.

"(The boat was) a marvellous thing for Australia and it was doing great charter work, but the charterers on board are safe and that's the main thing I'm concerned about at the moment."

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

The Newcastle-built Seafaris undertakes charter trips and tours of the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef out of Cairns.

The seven-year-old vessel boasts accommodation for up to 10 guests and 10 crew, as well as a gymnasium, cinema, library, spa and cocktail bar.

Heritage Expeditions head to Bouganville next week, as Lloyd Jone's 'Mr Pip' is released today

Colourful Bougainville
Andrew Adamson's film adaptation of Lloyd Jones' award winning book Mr Pip is released throughout cinemas in New Zealand and worldwide this week. The film is set in Bougainville during the civil war and follows 14 year old Matilda, her mother and Matilda's teacher Mr Watts throughout this violent time.

After years of isolation, Bougainville is slowly reopening and Heritage Expeditions is due to be the first expedition company to visit Arawa, the settlement at the centre of the conflict, on the upcoming Melanesia Discoverer voyage departing next week.

Bougainville is a pristine island paradise – home to some of the greatest biodiversity in the region both above and below the waters. We also look forward to visiting the local communities based on the island, and spending time with them to learn more of their history and plans for the future.

The 14 day expedition, Melanesia Discoverer, departs Madang, Papua New Guinea on the 11th October.

Melanesia Discoverer 2014 – departs Madang, Papua New Guinea on the 8th October 2014.

http://www.heritage-expeditions.com

For Worldwide Small Ship Cruising contact our in-house specialists –
Wild Earth Travel: www.wildearth-travel.com / info@wildearth-travel.com





Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Aranui Adds Bora Bora For First Time in 2014

Credit: Lionel Gouverneur
Tahiti’s freighter cruise line, Aranui, will make its first scheduled calls to Bora Bora next year including a special Christmas visit.

Aranui is best known for its 14-day cruise adventures to French Polynesia’s mysterious Marquesas and the pristine Tuamotus but will also add two visits to Bora Bora’s famed blue lagoon during April and December 2014, with fares from $8799* per person twin share.

Aranui’s Regional Representative Australia New Zealand Laurent Wong said Bora Bora would be a highlight for passengers booking the special cruises.

“We visited Bora Bora for the first time during Aranui 3’s 10th birthday celebrations earlier this year and after seeing how much our passengers enjoyed it, we realised we needed to call more regularly,” Mr Wong said.

“We pride ourselves on showing off some of the most beautiful parts of French Polynesia and by including Bora Bora, our passengers get the opportunity to see three very different archipelagoes (Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands).

“We chose December 25 for one of the visits because we couldn’t think of anything more exciting than waking up on Bora Bora’s picture perfect blue lagoon on Christmas Day – it’s the ultimate Christmas treat!”

The special Bora Bora visits on April 17 and December 25 will include a picnic lunch on a secluded beach with optional activities ranging from an island tour to a lagoon excursion, manta ray experience and a helicopter ride.

Ultimate Cruising has all-inclusive packages priced from $8799* per person twin share for a standard cabin on Aranui’s April 5 and December 13, 2014 departures. Each cruise will feature a call to Bora Bora, included shore excursions at 16 ports, all main meals, complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, return economy airfares from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne with Air Tahiti Nui, four nights pre and post accommodation at Manava Suite Tahiti with breakfast, taxes and all transfers in Tahiti plus to and from home within 35km of the airport.

Aranui 3 accommodates around 200 passengers in air-conditioned cabins including suites with private balconies and deluxe and standard twin rooms.

The freighter line dispenses a lifeline of food, fuel and other staples to the remote ports in the Marquesas and Tuamotus while passengers disembark and explore lush Garden of Eden landscapes on a range of complimentary excursions including hikes and 4WD tours.

Throughout the journey, guests enjoy the comforts of a cruise ship from a spacious sundeck to a freshwater swimming pool, a gym and a library.

To book contact Ultimate Cruising on 1300 485 846 or visit www.ultimatecruising.com.au

For more information on Aranui visit www.aranuicruises.com.au

*Subject to availability, conditions apply. Prices are per person based on twin-share. Single occupancy attracts a 50 per cent single supplement surcharge.



National Geographic Orion to revisit Melanesia in 2014



The unprecedented sales success of National Geographic Orion’s season of Melanesian voyages early in 2014 has prompted revisions to a later itinerary which now incorporates popular Melanesian highlights in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, enroute to Fiji.

Departing Cairns for Lautoka (Fiji), 5 November 2014, National Geographic Orion’s 13 night voyage will provide one additional opportunity to explore Melanesia onboard National Geographic Orion in 2014.

Be one of just a trickle of tourists to experience remote Melanesia, far from the sushi train of mainstream cruise ships. In idyllic Louisiade Archipelago, buy pottery or exquisite wooden and stone carvings from the artisan who made the artwork; no sign here of plastic tourist trinkets being peddled.

On Santa Ana, for example, children, eyes alight with glee will guide you past thatched huts and sit with you while villagers with mud covered face masks perform a stunning spear dance.

Time to swim, snorkel and kayak as you explore these chains of coral atolls and scatterings of islands including Luganville. Your specialist expedition team, headed by Tim Soper, and including Chris Rainier, National Geographic Photographer considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today, will be with you to reveal remnants of fierce WWII battles - aircraft, tanks and vehicles both on land and the seabed. In this vast aquarium without glass, with all the Lindblad Expeditions tools of exploration at hand, snorkel over coral reefs the size of suburbs and dive on the famed World War II wreck, Calvin Coolidge. Kayak among the mangroves, explore along coastal trails and witness the incredible phenomenon of Fijian fire walking.

All this and yet time to recharge mind and body during sea days. The joy of an afternoon siesta, comfortably relaxed on the teak steamer chairs on the spa deck, gin and tonic within lazy reach. Attend interesting and informative briefings and lectures pertinent to the region; get tips onboard and in the field from the Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor about your photography techniques and equipment; view dramatic images of the undersea from the ROV (remotely operated vehicle) transmitted from 300 metres depth; be stimulated by discussions with like-minded fellow travellers, your environment and the day’s cultural and physical activities.

An expedition not to be missed.

Exploring the Coral Sea: Papua New Guinea to Fiji. Departing Cairns, on 5th November 2014, this 13 night voyage concludes in Lautoka, Fiji.

Voyage includes CAIRNS, Kwato Island, Louisiade Archipelago, Milne Bay, Honiara, Santa Ana, Luganville, Port Vila, Lelepa, Beqa, LAUTOKA.

Fares Guide

Category 1 – B stateroom from A$12,550 per person twin share

Category 3 – Junior Suites begin from A$17,305 per person twin share

Category 6 - Owners’ Suites with French Balcony are A$26,270 per person twin share

Solo Fares also available in Categories 1 and 3

2014 brochure of expeditions available

Request your 2014 brochure detailing National Geographic Orion’s range of voyages stretching from Borneo to the Kimberley, Micronesia and Melanesia, Great Barrier Reef to Easter Island and Antarctica by visiting the websitewww.orionexpeditions.com

Further information can be obtained by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises: Australia 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), New Zealand 0800 44 44 62 or your travel agent. Email:info@orionexpeditions.com

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Silver Galapagos Sets Sail

Silver Galapagos
Silversea has launched its second expedition ship. Fresh from a major refurbishment, the 100-guest ship (formerly named Galapagos Explorer II) embarked September 28 on her first-ever voyage as Silver Galapagos.

Prior to setting sail, a christening ceremony was held on board, attended by local dignitaries and company executives. Highlighting the occasion were speeches by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea's chairman; Santiago Dunn, vice president of Silversea, Ecuador; and Conrad Combrink, Silversea's director of expedition cruises. Following the traditional blessing by a priest, the chairman's daughter, Costanza Lefebvre d'Ovidio, the ship's godmother, officially welcomed Silver Galapagos into the Silversea fleet by cutting a ceremonial ribbon.

The all-suite Silver Galapagos has just completed a major stem-to-stern refurbishment. All public spaces and guest suites have been refreshed with new upholstery, carpeting, curtains, and wall treatments. Each suite is highlighted by a totally renovated bathroom, enhanced with rich marble detailing. Besides a new walk-in rainforest shower, each bathroom features a new vanity, shelving, mirrors, lighting fixtures, and wood flooring. Plus, all guest suites have been outfitted with new flat screen TVs, new mattresses (custom-made exclusively for Silversea), and luxurious Pratesi bed linens.

Other ship enhancements include the installation of Wi-Fi access throughout the ship (including all suites) and a new complimentary service providing streaming movies and live television news broadcasts for guests to enjoy on their portable devices.

And rounding out the renovations are a new fitness center, massage room, beauty salon, outdoor Jacuzzi, outdoor furniture, and Silversea's signature outdoor dining venue, The Grill.

In his remarks at the christening ceremony, Lefebvre d'Ovidio stated, "It is our aim that this ship will not only offer our guests the highest level of comfort and service, but also enlighten them to the rarity and beauty of the Galápagos Islands."