Luxury Small Ship expedition cruising has become one of APT's fastest growing products. Proof of its growing popularity is the fact that APT has grown its own fleet of Luxury Expedition Ships, taking ownership of three of the eight ships featured in its latest Luxury Small Ships 2015 brochure.
APT's expedition cruising brings together an average of just 100 like-minded guests with a team of expedition experts such as naturalists, marine biologists and geologists, sailing aboard luxury boutique-style ships to far-flung and unusual destinations. According to APT General Manager Marketing and Sales, Debra Fox, one of the key factors in the success of this style of cruising is the size of the ship:
“We are seeing rapid growth in our luxury small ship program and it's coming from two distinct traveller types. On one hand we have guests who, having tried a river cruise with us, want to try a sea-based equivalent that can take them to more exotic locations; and then we've got our more adventure-driven guests who love APT's luxury five star all inclusive travel style but want to transfer it to ocean cruising.
“What both have in common is a desire to cruise on really small ships with a group of like-minded people. Size really does matter, and the fact that the ships in our program carry an average of just 100 APT guests is what is really attracting people to APT's program in particular.”
And the top five cruise destinations for this popular style of cruising? According to APT, guests can't get enough of expedition cruising in the:
1. Kimberley and Top End – APT's first Kimberley Coast cruise season sold out in just four months. So for 2015, the luxury cruise operator is bringing its own luxury small expedition ship, the 55-suite MS Caledonian Sky, to Australia's Kimberley coast and Top End to support its other charters. In doing so, APT is able to offer double the number of departures for its popular cruises in 2015.
Set sail: 11-day Kimberley Coast Cruise sails from Darwin to Broome aboard the MS Caledonian Sky. As well as gorges, islands and waterfalls, highlights include a jet boat ride through Horizontal Falls, ancient Aboriginal art at Bigge Island and viewing rare Green Turtle breeding grounds. Departs on various dates in June to September 2015.
2. Seven Seas of the East Indies – Sailing through the unique ecosystem of the world's longest navigable underground river at Puerto Princesa, the chance to encounter Komodo dragons in their natural habitat and meeting the resident orangutans and Malayan sun bears of Balikpapan – just a handful of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are driving APT guests to book cruises in this region. One of APT's highlights is an overnight experience in Torajaland, where guests get the chance to explore a lost culture in the 'Land of Heavenly Kings'.
Set sail: 17-day Seven Seas Odyssey is a luxury expedition cruise aboard the MS Caledonian Sky and land journey from Manila to Darwin taking in the seven seas of the East Indies sailing through some of the world's most stunning islands with unforgettable stops in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysian Borneo and East Timor. Departs 21 May 2015.
3. Indian Ocean – Much of the appeal of this destination for expedition cruise guests is the fact that some of the islands are so remote, they are almost untouched. For example Aldabra, the world's second largest coral atoll, is known as the 'Galapagos of the Indian Ocean'. Named by Sir David Attenborough as 'one of the wonders of the world', it is one of the most isolated places in the world. Comprising four islets around a large shallow lagoon that is encircled by fringing coral reef, APT visitors have been granted special permission from the Seychelles' government to explore here.
Set sail: On the 15-day Grand Indian Ocean Safari from Mauritius to Mahe, the Seychelles, aboard APT's own vessel, the 57-suite MS Island Sky, the expedition team take guests on the adventure of a lifetime from La Reunion, to Madagascar and then the Seychelles. Departs 11 February 2015.
4. British Isles – History, wildlife and culture are the three magic ingredients luring travellers to coastal cruise around the British Isles. APT's own ship, the MS Island Sky, takes guests on an adventure that includes Guernsey, Tresco, the Irish coast and through the Islands of the Scottish Highlands.
Set sail: 12-day British Island Sky takes guests to remote coastal ports and tiny islands to give guests an authentic insight into the deep seated history, traditions and contrasting cultures of these isles. Departs 15 June 2015.
5. Antarctica – Majestic, unspoiled scenery, unique wildlife and rich history are the drawcards driving the popularity of this destination. From Humpback Whales to King Penguins and Weddel Seals, Antarctica is teeming with wildlife.
Set sail: Cruise aboard APT's recently acquired vessel, the luxurious MV Sea Explorer, to Antarctica with APT and enjoy zodiac adventures and insightful lectures from a team of experts. With just 53 suites on board, you'll travel in a small group of like-minded people on the ultimate luxury small ship experience. Departs 3 February 2015.
Included aboard all APT Luxury Small Ship Expedition Cruises are meals, beer, wine and soft drink with lunch and dinner, an APT Expedition Leader and full expedition team, transfers to and from the ship and all sightseeing, shore excursions, park and port charges.
For further information on APT's Luxury Small Ship 2015 program call 1300 196 420, visit aptouring.com.au or see your local travel agent.