Monday, 31 March 2014

Stella Australis to Cape Horn (The Telegraph)

#expeditioncruising 

The Stella Australis at anchor near the Aguila Glacier. Picture: Jenny Stevens
 
Welcome to The Far Side of the World: From Ushuaia, Argentina to Cape Horn on Stella Australis 


SPRAY rose into the air, clearly visible against the black rock of the forbidding headland in front of the ship. This was the legendary Cape Horn, the sailors’ nemesis and the southernmost tip of South America.

Two great oceans collide here at 55 degrees south and 900km north of Antarctica, and the rocky outcrop that marks the spot feels all the fury of the roughest stretch of water in the world.


Read the full story at The Telegraph



Name-dropping five days from Monte Carlo to Rome on SeaDream II


SEADREAM Yacht Club still has space available on a 5-day sailing in the Mediterranean in May of this year that will have you name-dropping for years – it begins in Monte Carlo and embraces the French and Italian Riviera's, the famed UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre, and picturesque Elba Island.

And remarkably it is priced from a low US$2804pp twin-share, SeaDream II departing Monte Carlo on May 26 – the day after this year's Monaco F1 Grand Prix – and

included are all 5-star dining, wines with lunch and dinner, drinks from the open bars, sail and power water-sports in ports where permitted, use of a 30 championship course golf simulator and state of the art fitness centre, gratuities and port charges and taxes.

The mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II has just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew.

For full details see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com

ADDITIONAL ITINERARY DETAILS: After departing Monte Carlo on May 26, SeaDream II will visit St Tropez for a day and not depart until midnight, Portofino "the resort of the rich and famous" and in which cars are banned, Portovenere in the heart of the spectacular Cinque Terre for an overnight, picture-postcard Portoferraio on Elba where Napoleon was once exiled, and will end her sailing in Civitavecchia, the port for Rome.


http://search.cruiseexpress.com.au/cruiseline/seadream-yacht-club
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Compagnie du Ponant - Discover Luxury Yacht and Expedition Cruises In All Corners of The World

#expeditioncruising 
 


Cruise Traveller is excited to now represent Compagnie du Ponant in Australia. Compagnie du Ponant offer luxury yacht & expedition cruises in all corners of the world. They have a modern fleet of three, soon to be four, elegant boutique vessels and a sailing ship, venture to rare destinations only accessible by small ships, all with an intimate ambience, attentive service and gourmet cuisine.

The Managing Director of Cruise Traveller, Craig Bowen said: “After 15 years of developing our boutique cruise and voyage portfolio, this is an exciting addition.”

With the first Compganie du Ponant ship on its way to Australia & New Zealand next summer, their existing programs cover a wide range of exciting destinations; The Mediterranean, Northern Europe & the Baltic, Arctic Great North & Canada, South America, Caribbean & Central America, Asia, Antarctica & South Georgia and West Africa.

Their range of itineraries appeal to those looking for luxurious, stylish and casually elegant voyages in an intimate environment, are priced in AUD, and offer exceptional value and inclusions. Additionally they offer low or no single supplements and extremely small premiums on balcony staterooms, subject to availability.

Three new exciting voyages aboard L’Austral include: Bali to Cairns, 16 days, departing 12 December 2014; normally $10,067, now from $7,808 per person twin share, save $2,259, in a deluxe stateroom and only 30% single supplement.

Alternatively, cruise Auckland to Darwin, 18 days, departing 15 February 2015; now from $7,179, per person twin share, save $2,561.

Or board a voyage closer to home and cruise Darwin to Hong Kong, 17 days, departing 4 March 2015; now from $6,435 per person twin share, save $2,274. Both Auckland to Darwin and Darwin to Hong Kong are based on a superior stateroom and have no single supplement.

Call our friendly boutique voyage & cruise specialists at Cruise Traveller on 1800 507 777, 07 5575 8094, via email, sales@cruisetraveller.com.au or visit www.cruisetraveller.com.au for further information.


What you need to know about taking an expedition cruise (Herald Sun)

#expeditioncruising 

Coral Princess Cruises passengers are taken for a zodiac ride
through the Horizontal Waterfalls at Talbot Bay in the Kimberley.
Source: Supplied
 
THERE are grand and fun ocean cruises, relaxed and fascinating river cruises – and then there are expedition cruises. 
 
For those who like to go off the beaten path in the water world, expedition cruises head across the water less travelled.

Read full story at Herald Sun

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Silver Discoverer review

#expeditioncruising

Silver Discoverer at Marina Bay Cruise Terminal. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

Silver Discoverer feels like a real ship. It’s small, carrying a maximum of 120 passengers and about 96 crew, and while it bears Silversea’s luxury hallmarks it is undeniably a vessel built for exploring.

Stateroom [Sally Macmillan]
The walls are hung with amazing photographs of wildlife and exotic destinations visited by Silversea’s expedition fleet – photographer Richard Sidey took many of them and he was on the ship for the christening and will be part of the upcoming expedition crew. On the top deck, which is a work in progress, were the ship’s Zodiacs and glass-bottomed boat.

There are two good-sized lounges (the Discoverer Lounge on Deck 5 leads on to the aft deck which has a bar and pool) and the main dining room, so even when the ship is carrying a full complement of guests you’d never feel crowded. (Silver Discoverer’s first season in the Kimberley, which starts on April 2, is already sold out.)

Pictured from left Steve Odell, Silversea Cruises President Europe,
Africa, Middle East & Asia-Pacific; Captain Luksa Plecas, Master, Silver Discoverer;
Godmother Elda Turco Bulgherini; and Silversea Cruises Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio.
© 2014 Ralph Grizzle
On the afternoon of the christening, two magnificent buffets were served in the lounges – Japanese cuisine in one, and a selection of Asian dishes in the other.

The inaugural dinner in the main restaurant was a celebratory feast; guests on this luxury expedition vessel will certainly be spoilt by fabulous food, excellent wines and exemplary service.

Our menu included carpaccio of tiger prawns, a foie gras terrine, pasta with caviar and if that wasn’t enough, a choice of lobster medallions or fillet of beef (superb!) for mains. A selection of sweet treats was served on the pool deck.

The cabins are spacious for a small ship; all have picture windows or portholes and nine suites on Deck 6 have balconies. The bathroom in my View Suite on Deck 5 was very boutique – you wouldn’t want to be a “person of size” – but stocked with lovely Bulgari products, large new towels and most importantly, a very efficient shower. The bed and pillows were blissfully comfortable – I wasn’t the only guest who disembarked somewhat reluctantly this morning.

WORDS: Sally Macmillan (The Cruise Director, SMH)
IMAGES: Ralph Grizzle (AvidCruiser), Sally Macmillan

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Seabourn veteran expedition leader, Robin West, in expanded role

#expeditioncruising
Source: www.seatrade-insider.com


Robin West in new role at Seabourn
Seabourn hired veteran expedition leader Robin West as its manager, expedition operations and planning, to lead cruise programs in Patagonia and the Antarctic, as well as developing new expedition land elements and tours in other regions around the world.

The appointment follows West's role as expedition leader during Seabourn's inaugural season of four voyages aboard Seabourn Quest in Antarctica and Patagonia from November to February.

'Robin was a key to the enormous success of our first season in Antarctica,' said Seabourn president Rick Meadows, who cited West's deep knowledge and expertise along with his skillful collaboration with Seabourn's shipboard team and coordination with a large and diverse expedition team.

A native of South Africa, West founded two companies offering scuba diving and outdoor adventures in many of his country's most beautiful and exciting areas. He has participated in expedition travel operations since 2002, sailing on numerous ships and planning and executing expedition programs for half a dozen companies.

West has spent multiple seasons in regions from the circumpolar Arctic to the Antarctic, including East and West Africa, the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Australia and the Mediterranean.

In his new Seabourn role, West will be responsible for planning and managing cruises in the Patagonia and Antarctic regions and will continue as on-board expedition leader during the Antarctica season. He will also prepare the detailed daily landing schedules in Antarctica and hire and manage the larger expedition team.

Plus, West will work to enhance Seabourn's current deployments with added opportunities for authentic, adventurous experiences ashore.


Cruiseco Mekong Savings

#expeditioncruising

SAIL THE MIGHTY MEKONG & SAVE - BOOK TODAY!

Board the luxurious Cruiseco Adventurer on an 11 night fly, stay & cruise tour exploring the mighty Mekong. Save on June, July & August 2014 departures!

Includes airfare, 2 nights in Saigon, 2 nights in Siem Reap, 7 night luxury cruise, extensive sightseeing and much more!

Prices from $3,999pp twin share


Friday, 28 March 2014

What you need to know about taking an expedition cruise

#expeditioncruising

Coral Princess Cruises passengers are taken for a zodiac ride through the Horizontal Wate
Coral Princess Cruises passengers are taken for a zodiac ride
through the Horizontal Waterfalls at Talbot Bay in the Kimberley.

THERE are grand and fun ocean cruises, relaxed and fascinating river cruises – and then there are expedition cruises. By Brad Crouch, News Ltd.

For those who like to go off the beaten path in the water world, expedition cruises head across the water less travelled.

Read Full Report

Cruise to Papua New Guinea with APT on the Caledonian Sky

#expeditioncruising

Traditional dancing at Owen's Corner, the start of the Kokoda Track. Picture: Angela Saurine

ON THE banks of the Sepik River, villagers go about their daily life.

Children are on their knees playing in the mud, rowing dug-out canoes and splashing in the water, naked except for a few colourful bangles.

A man with chiselled muscles is chopping wood from a sago palm, which his wife collects and takes to a nearby wooden contraption to extract the sago, used in cooking.

There are few signs of modern life besides our cruise ship anchored near the mouth of the river and the lime-green gumboots one sandy-bottomed toddler waddles along the shallows in.

Kopar Village is our first port of call in Papua New Guinea on our 19-day APT cruise on the Caledonian Sky, which had begun in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is noticeably poorer than West Papua, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea but is part of Indonesia.

Read full story

Thursday, 27 March 2014

RV Rajamahal on the Hooghly. Welcome to Krishna Land

#expeditioncruising 
 

Hoarding showing final vision of the Hare temple.


Even by Indian standards, this was one of the most bizarre shore excursions.

It was easy to dub the site 'Krsna Land' when confronted by this enormous structure growing from the humble shores of the Hooghly River at Mayapur. Surrounded by satellite buildings, temples, stalls, halls, restaurants, offices and parks, the whole meticulously maintained area takes on a decidedly theme park appearance.


The entrance to 'Krishna Land' showing the
massive temple under construction (R Eime)

Many times larger than the comparatively modest Taj Mahal, Lord Chaitanya's 'exceedingly wonderful' and 'very unique' temple looms imperiously overhead and is being funded 'by money raised all over the world'. At $1500 per square metre, you too can become one of the blessed donors contributing to this 'Temple of the Vedic Planetarium'. Westfield, come take a look, this will make your Parramatta multiplex look like a kebab stall.

Truly a marvel of modern globablised religion on an industrial scale, Swami Prabhupada's International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKON) intend to open this temple in time for the movement's 50th anniversary in 2016.

(I'd love to know the total projected cost of this monstrosity. If anyone knows, please add comment)



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

RV Rajmahal on the Hooghly River, West Bengal. Shore excursions

#expeditioncruising

 Street scene along the Hooghly River in Murshidabad, India. (R Eime)
Shore excursions: 23 March, 2014

As one day blends seamlessly to the next, Rajmahal follows the ancient Hooghly River downstream from Farakka, through the historic lands of the Nawabs, Moghuls and British Raj.

Ornate terracotta temples and crumbling colonial palaces interspersed with vast irrigated plains make up this rich and fertile country. Fruit, grain and livestock paddocks stretch out in all directions from the banks of the Hooghly (also spelled Hugli locally) with both tiny villages and minor towns dotting the landscape as we serenely sail past. The current helps us on our way as villagers washing, bathing and fishing pause for a moment to wave, the children crying out delightfully 'ta ta! ta ta!' as they jump and and down with the hands in the air.

Our first introduction to the surrounding antiquities is the former Sultanate capital of Gaur, a hair-raising two hour drive from our berth in Farakka. The excitement never stops as our vehicle negotiates the swerving overloaded trucks, terrifying taxis and teetering trishaws that share every inch of the highway, which itself alternates between a honeycomb of savage potholes and a smooth dual carriageway. The concept of the divided road seems to escape the understanding of some motorists as a speeding SUV comes hurtling toward us in the overtaking lane. Straddling the centreline is, it appears, the standard practice for keeping one's options open while dodging the constant threat of errant traffic, wandering livestock and suicidal pedestrians.

Crumbling palace harks back to lavish colonial times. (R Eime)
At Gaur, our little convoy leaves the highway and heads onto the backroads where the landscape is interspersed with ruins and monumental structures like the Baradwari Mosque, dating from the early 16th century. The earlier (mid-15th century) Salami Darwaza (gate) once stood imperiously against all comers, now it's power is is purely cosmetic and the surrounding moat converted to fish-farming. The Firoz Minar, the Qadam Rasul Mosque and Fath Khan's tomb make up the balance of our enrichment. In between, we pass through tiny villages momentarily interrupting their daily rituals as we exchange greetings delivered in a kind of universal sign language.

Our guide, who enjoys the nickname of 'Nemo' progressively reveals himself as a patient and good-humoured companion with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of local history.

After a pause for lunch at a roadside café, our exciting tarmac journey continued, rejoining the relocated Rajmahal at Jangipur.

[ExpeditionCruising.com is a guest of ABN and Active Travel www.activetravel.com.au]


Silverseas christens Silver Discoverer

#expeditioncruising 
 
PHOTO: Pictured from left Steve Odell,  Silversea Cruises President Europe, Africa, Middle East & Asia-Pacific; Captain Luksa Plecas, Master, Silver Discoverer; Godmother Elda Turco Bulgherini; and Silversea Cruises Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre D'Ovidio. (Photo by Ralph Grizzle, courtesy Silversea Cruises)


Silversea today, has officially welcomed a third expedition ship, Silver Discoverer, to join the Silversea Expedition Fleet, during a christening ceremony held at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore.

A traditional Chinese lion dance performance and Bhangra Folk dancers provided colourful local entertainment for the quayside event. Silversea's senior executive team and company Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio were on hand to welcome a guest list that included local dignitaries, trade and media from around the world.

Following a blessing, honorary godmother Elda Turco Bulgherini, Professor of navigation law at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, officially welcomed Silver Discoverer to the Silversea Expedition Fleet by cutting a ceremonial ribbon.

"This is an exciting and proud moment for Silversea," said Lefebvre d'Ovidio. "With itineraries encompassing some of the most fascinating and remote regions of the Pacific, Silver Discoverer will take our guests to places where few people have ever set foot - offering incredible opportunities not just for travel and learning, but for life-enriching cultural experiences."

Fresh from a major refurbishment, the 5,218-tonne Silver Discoverer has been updated with elegant carpets, upholstery and photography. Up to 120 guests are accommodated in 62 ocean-view suites, each featuring an in-suite bar set-up, refrigerator, and a fully renovated bathroom, enhanced with rich marble detailing. In addition to a new walk-in rainforest shower, each bathroom features a new vanity, shelving, mirrors, lighting fixtures, and wood flooring. All suites have been redecorated and outfitted with reupholstered furniture, new flat screen TVs, and new mattresses topped with luxurious Pratesi bed linens. Select suites benefit from a small private balcony.

Public areas include a restaurant, main lounge (also the lecture room), The Discoverer Lounge which accommodates breakfast and lunch diners, The Grill for outdoor dining, an outside bar and a small swimming pool. An all-new sun deck area has been added, along with a fitness, beauty and massage room. All public areas have been refitted with either new or reupholstered furniture throughout to provide Silversea's guests with an expedition cruising experience in keeping with the comfortable and intimate Silversea atmosphere.

Guests aboard the small-sized Silver Discoverer will be able to explore some of the world's most secluded regions and enjoy an enriching onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore will be led by experts in their field - marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists.

Silver Discoverer will embark on her maiden voyage from Broome to Darwin on April 2, exploring Australia's spectacular Kimberley Coast.
For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com


Monday, 24 March 2014

RV Rajmahal at a glance

#expeditioncruising

Brand new RV Rajmahal at anchor on the Hooghly River, West Bengal (R Eime)
A modern, comprehensively equipped river cruise vessel operating on the Ganges and Hooghly Rivers in West Bengal, India.

Owner: Assam Bengal Navigation (ABN)
Entered service: 2014
Length: 51m
Width: 10.4m
Draught: 1.5m
Passenger Decks: 3
Crew: 29
Passengers: 40 max
Cabins: 22. 18 convertible twin cabins. Four single cabins. All a/c.
Balcony: French windows
Tipping: Suggested $8/guest/day
Other: Spa, dining room, saloon/lounge/library, full length sun deck.

Itineraries offered:

  1. Kolkata to Farakka (7 nights)
  2. Farakka to Patna (8 nights)
  3. Patna to Varanasi (7 nights)


  • Dining is typically buffet selections of predominantly Indian cuisine. 
  • Shore excursions are a combination of local boat transfers and vehicle tours by local taxi. An experienced guide accompanies each cruise.
  • Water is filtered on board for use in bathrooms. Bottled water is supplied daily for drinking. 
  • Extensive Massage menu typically $30/45 mins
  • Laundry. Wash and iron shirt/blouse $1.50
  • Bar: Bottle Jacobs Creek $30. Spirits $6. Cocktails $10+ Beer $4
  • Medical: ship carries first aid only. All guests should carry insurance.
  • Internet: Limited WiFi depending on local mobile coverage. 

For further information and reservations, contact Active Travel www.activetravel.com.au

Grand Circle Cruise Line Acquires the M/V Corinthian

#expeditioncruising 

 
MV Corinthian in former Orion II livery. Now sold.

 

New owner for former Orion II

Acquisition underscores Grand Circle's commitment to expand its small ship fleet and itineraries to meet high demand of American boomers and seniors
 
Vince Cook, CEO of Grand Circle Cruise Line, the leader in small ship and river cruising worldwide, announced today that the fleet has acquired the M/V Corinthian, a 98-passenger, ocean faring vessel that currently operates in Antarctica.  Grand Circle Cruise Line had chartered the ship for the past year and will expand the Corinthian's operations with the launch of three new small ship cruise itineraries in 2015. 

The ship was acquired for an undisclosed price from Travel Dynamics International, a leading operator of high-caliber educational programs aboard small cruise ships. Travel Dynamics will continue to operate the Corinthian throughout 2014, with Grand Circle Cruise Line assuming operational control when the ship returns to Antarctica in the fall.  In addition, Grand Circle Cruise Line and Travel Dynamics have entered into a long-term agreement through which Grand Circle Cruise Line will provide small ship itineraries on the Corinthian and its other small ships for Travel Dynamics' educational programs.

"Small ship cruising is a rapidly-growing trend among baby boomers and seniors who want the ease, comfort and affordability of small ship cruising along with access to local communities, cultures, and experiences," said Cook.  "We are committed to expanding our small ship fleet and to creating affordable, new small ship itineraries that provide travelers with an intimate experience of a destination.  Our travelers to Antarctica have had an amazing experience on the Corinthian, and we feel extremely proud that this spectacular ship has joined our growing fleet."

The Corinthian is an ice-strengthened vessel with the latest navigational, communications, and safety equipment. The ship is 297 feet long and carries 98 passengers in 49 outside-facing suites—each at least 225 square feet in area. All suites feature individual climate control, mini-refrigerator, safe, telephone, TV, DVD/CD player, a sitting area, and a private bath. An elevator serves all passenger decks. The ship's well-appointed common areas include a restaurant, two lounges—including one with panoramic windows—and a library with Internet access.

Grand Circle Cruise Line will launch three new itineraries for the Corinthian in 2015, including an 8-night, roundtrip cruise (Lisbon, Portugal; Portimao, Algarve; Casablanca and Tangiers, Morocco; and Gibraltar and Seville, Spain); a 12-night Baltics cruise (Copenhagen and Ronne, Denmark; Gdansk, Poland; Visby and Stockholm, Sweden; Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Helsinki, Finland); and an 11-night UK cruise (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, the Outer Hebrides Islands, and Isle of Skye, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland;  Holyhead, Wales; and the Isle of Scilly, England).  Grand Circle Cruise Line also will offer several repositioning cruises. 

Similar to every Grand Circle Cruise Line small ship, the Corinthian will be able to enter small ports that larger ships cannot, providing travelers with access to small cities, towns, and villages and opportunities to engage with local people and experience their culture and way of life.  For example, on the new Lisbon itinerary, the Corinthian will sail along an inland river right into the heart of Seville, docking there, whereas larger ships, unable to sail this passage, must dock in the large port of Cadiz and bus travelers to Seville for day trips.

Grand Circle Cruise Line's small ships are known for their small group size, for their outstanding local Program Directors (guides) and nautical and hospitality crew, and for itineraries that connect travelers with locals through activities such as visits to homes, schools, markets, neighborhoods and beyond.  "Our focus is not on having fancy bells and whistles onboard our ships but to offer travelers authentic, firsthand cultural experiences on shore," said Cook.  Grand Circle Cruise Line's small ships also are known for exceptional value—with per diem rates typically $50-$250 less than other small ship cruise lines' and free single supplements for solo travelers.  In the past several years, Grand Circle's small ships have received myriad awards for excellence by readers of Conde Nast Traveler; most recently, Grand Circle's three, 50-passenger small ships were rated the #1 (Artemis), #2 (Arethusa) and among the top 5 (Athena) best small ships in the world for 2014.

Established in 1998 with a single river cruise ship, today Grand Circle Cruise Line has dozens of small ships and river ships, including three, 4-star plus 50 passenger ships that operate in the Mediterranean (Athena, Artemis and Arethusa), 15 privately-owned river ships, and exclusive charters.  More than 79,000 travelers have sailed with Grand Circle Cruise Line in the past two years, including more than 19,000 solo travelers. Grand Circle Cruise Line anticipates 40,000 travelers in 2014, including more than 12,000 solo travelers attracted by Grand Circle's comprehensive solo friendly policies and programs.

The acquisition of the Corinthian closely follows on the acquisition of the River Cloud II, now named the Chanson, a 90-passenger river cruise ship that will operate in the Bordeaux region of France
For more information, please visit Grand Circle Cruise Line or call 1-800-221-2610.

RV Rajmahal. Hoogli River, West Bengal.

#expeditioncruising

Train passes the famous flower market in Calcutta

Day 1, 22 March 2014

Even before we arrived to board the brand new RV Rajmahal tied up at a remote wharf along India's holy Hoogli River, we'd been immersed in the sub-continent’s famous chaotic transport system.

Yesterday's hotel transfer to Howrah railway station was but a mild introduction to the hurley-burley that makes any visit to India truly 'incredible'. Every highway, road and alleyway is a motley mix of handcarts, livestock, bicycles, lorries, taxis and pedestrians feverishly running the gauntlet between the lot.

This is my fourth visit to India, but my first experience on the railway system that is the talk of train buffs the world over. Calcutta station on any given day is like a scene from an Armageddon movie. Passengers frantically lugging suitcases between all manner of humanity as they search for their respective platforms. Beggars, buskers, vagabonds and vagrants all mill about the central atrium to the accompaniment of Tannoy announcements, whistles, train horns and anxious chatter among travellers. And there's that signature Calcutta aroma.

Four hours later we unload ourselves at Farakka station, suitcases unceremoniously disgorged onto the dark platform. Hemanta, our Assam Bengal Navigation chaperone cheerfully greets us and ushers us to our waiting fleet of taxis to take us the short drive to the vessel.

RV Rajmahal awaits passengers at Farakka
The greeting I remember from Assam a few years back is delightfully reprised by the crew; cool fruit juice, a cold towel, a welcome tikka of lurid kumkum is daubed on my sweaty brow and finished off with a big Assamese smile.

It's well after sundown now and a proper inspection of our vessel will have to wait. But this scratch-built river cruiser shines like a new pin. After the quaint chug-a-lug of the Charediew on the Brahmaputra, Rajmahal lacks something of the nostalgia and romance of the old darling in the northeast.

Rajmahal's spotless wooden flooring is paired with plain white wall panels decorated with antique prints and modern fixtures and furnishings. The big French windows open out to … well, nothing. Instead of a balcony, the cabin itself doubles as an open-air viewing platform. This might take a bit of getting used to.

There's a bit of time for a refreshing splash before the welcome briefing and dinner. Tomorrow beckons.

Stay tuned for more daily coverage of ABN's Rajamahal on the Hoogli.

For more information of Assam Bengal Navigation, see www.activetravel.com.au

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic new expeditions

#expeditioncruising 
Sea Cloud
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced four new itineraries and, due to popular demand, brought back four itineraries for the 2015 season -exploring a range of new destinations.

From Madagascar to Morocco, Sri Lanka to the Seychelles, these itineraries offer the best new discoveries in expedition travel. Following are the 2015 itineraries, with rates per person, in Australian dollars based on a double occupancy in a category one cabin:

Wildlife and Cultures of South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar

This voyage spans five countries and a range of diverse habitats. Guests can experience Mozambique’s capital, coast and marine life, the lemurs of Madagascar and bush country of South Africa, to name a few. The 21-day voyage begins 21 March 2015 with rates from $28,820, departing Cape Town, South Africa and disembarking in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Treasures of the Indian Ocean: Zanzibar to the Seychelles

This trip provides an opportunity to see tropical nature at its best in almost every location. Guests will learn about Zanzibar’s history and the Swahili culture, explore the unique coco-de-mer on Praslin Island and encounter three world heritage sites – Zanzibar’s Stone Town, Aldabra, and Praslin’s Vallée de Mai. The 13-day voyage begins 9 April 2015 with rates from $14,770, departing Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and disembarking in Victoria, Seychelles.

Indian Ocean Odyssey: Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka

On this voyage guests will visit the middle of the Indian Ocean – home to tiny tropical islands with pristine ecosystems. Here they can snorkel with more than a thousand types of fish species including manta rays and whale sharks, search for blue whales near the Maldives and Sri Lanka and walk the ramparts of the walled city of Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The 19-day voyage begins 20 April 2015 with rates from $22,140, departing Mahé, Seychelles and disembarking in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Wild Islands of Sri Lanka, Borneo and the Andaman Sea

This is an expedition of rare opportunities, where guests can search for leopards or elephants on game drives and meet welcoming people of long-isolated cultures. Highlights include a two-day visit to an orang-utan rescue centre in the forests of Borneo, exploring the seldom-visited Andaman Islands and visiting Sabang, at the western end of Indonesia. The 20-day voyage begins 6 May 2015 with rates from $23,380, departing Colombo, Sri Lanka and disembarking in Denpasar, Bali.

Sailing the Greek Isles Aboard the Sea Cloud

This trip explores the Cyclades throughout the Aegean Sea. Guests can discover ruins in the ancient sanctuary of Delos (birthplace of Apollo and Artemis), ride a donkey or cable car down a cliff side to the harbour of beautiful Santorini and soak up the culture and Venetian legacy of the age-old villages. The eight-day voyage begins 25 May; 5 Jul.; 13 and 20 Sep. 2015 with rates from $9,770, departing and disembarking in Athens, Greece.

Voyage to West Africa: The Gold Coast to Morocco

Guests will explore nine countries aboard this expedition of rich culture through West Africa. Expedition highlights include exploring the chimpanzee rehabilitation centre in Sierra Leone, tracing the history of the transatlantic slave trade at Ghana’s Cap Coast Castle and taking a boat across Benin’s Lake Nahoué to explore a village built solely on stilts. The 19-day voyage begins 24 March 2015 with rates from $21,280, departing Accra, Ghana and disembarking in Casablanca, Morocco.

Along the Viking Trail: From Iceland to Greenland

This is the chance to channel the explorer within, as guests discover the landscapes and traditions of the Vikings throughout Greenland and Iceland. This itinerary allows guests to see the sights of the Viking Trail, explore ice floes in East Greenland by Zodiac and kayak and a hike through Iceland’s wild Westfjord region. The 11-day voyage begins 20 July 2015 with rates from $11,760, departing Reykjavík, Iceland and disembarking in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.

Exploring Greenland and the Canadian High Arctic

This is the best way to explore deep into the far reaches of the Arctic, tracing the fjords of Greenland and navigating the mouth of Canada’s legendary Northwest Passage. Guests will have the opportunity to travel between large icebergs at the mouth of UNESCO site the Ilulissat Icefjord, discover the wildlife and landscapes of the Canadian High Arctic and observe polar bears, walruses, ringed seals and whales in their natural habitat. The 13-day voyage begins 20 July and 7,17 and 27 August 2015 with rates from $14,430, departing and disembarking in Ottawa, Canada.

For more information on Lindblad Expeditions visit www.expeditions.com


Friday, 21 March 2014

True North Rowley Shoals adventure

#expeditioncruising 
 


Three departures this September for True North’s action packed Rowley Shoals itinerary

300km off the coast of Broome lies one of our country’s best underwater secrets; the Rowley Shoals. Made up of three rarely visited coral atolls, the Rowley Shoals is a watery paradise brimming with untouched coral reefs, clear lagoons and incredible marine life. And if there’s one way to explore this breathtaking environment it’s on board the mighty True North, where expedition and adventure are just part of the regular daily schedule.

With three 5 night departures scheduled for this September, True North’s Rowley Shoals itinerary offers the perfect opportunity for the keen but time-poor adventurer to bask in the magnificence of the Rowleys and in True North’s exceptional hospitality.

Guests are guided by the True North’s expert all Australian crew. They know exactly where all of the best spots are, whether they are fishing for black marlin, sailfish, wahoo, and yellow-fin tuna and sport fishing the lagoon for giant coral trout and long-nosed emperor, or diving and snorkelling the pristine coral gardens. True North’s on-board biologist will also be on hand to offer environmental insights into the wonders of this natural water playground.

North Star Cruises GM Peter Trembath rates the Rowley Shoals as one of his favourite destinations. “There’s something really magical about the Rowleys. The pristine turquoise waters and colourful corals, the idyllic white sand at Bedwell Island and the vast array of marine life, it’s all there.”

“What makes the area even more special is less than 300 people a year are fortunate enough to visit – it’s really a very exclusive destination.”

This year’s cruise dates are September 13-19th, 18-23rd and 24-29th. Pricing starts from $4,995 per person.

Australia’s premier luxury adventure-cruise ship, the True North is purpose-built to sail deep into the heart of the wilderness, visiting areas that larger ships cannot access. Guests are privy to only the highest quality experiences courtesy of True North’s on-board biologist, a team of naturalists, a ship’s helicopter and six dedicated expedition boats. In fact, a knowledgeable crew of 20 tend to the every-need of just 36 guests.

Exceptional food and wine are also at the heart of a True North experience. The ship’s modern Australian cuisine is supplemented with locally sourced ingredients and complemented by an outstanding selection of Western Australian wines. Cabins are spacious and modern; there is a panoramic lower deck dining room, a ship’s lounge, an alfresco bar, an observation lounge and a sports deck.

Bookings: Contact North Star Cruises on 08 9192 1829 or email cruise@northstarcruises.com.au

APT Showcases Expanded Luxury Small Ships program

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click to have this brochure delivered


Two additional ships and seven new itineraries added to cater to growth

Exotic locations, unforgettable adventures and ultimate luxury are the three key ingredients driving the success of APT’s Luxury Small Ship program, according to the company’s General Manager Marketing and Sales, Debra Fox.

Commenting on the award-winning cruise and tour operators newly-launched Luxury Small Ships brochure, Ms Fox says, “Since we launched this product in 2011 it has gone from strength-to-strength, and as a result in the last twelve months we’ve increased our number of charter nights by well over 300 percent.

“Driving the growth of this program are our loyal guests who keep asking us for new experiences, seeking APT’s hallmark standard of discovery, comfort and service to which they have become accustomed. We’ve responded by offering a program that combines all of those expectations with destinations that truly have the ‘wow’ factor. We’ve got the whole world covered – from colourful Cuba to India’s iconic Taj Mahal, the fjords of Norway, the rich wildlife haven of Antarctica, local culture in Papua New Guinea and even island hopping in Greece.”

The program offers guests the choice of two distinct styles of cruising; small ship cruising, providing indulgent cruising to both popular and unusual destinations, mainly in Europe ; and expedition cruising, whereby a team of expert guides take guests on a path less travelled, exploring remote regions, stopping at unique and more established ports and using a fleet of zodiacs to enable guests to get up close to local nature, wildlife and culture.

To cater to its growth, APT has included additional ships for 2015 taking the total number of vessels used in the program to eight: the stylish 44 cabin luxury private yacht, the MV Tere Moana will serve guests sailing on Mediterranean itineraries; and the elegant 132 cabin luxury small ship, L’Austral, will carry guests on APT’s Canada and Alaska cruises.

MS Island Sky

They join the MS Island Sky, MS Caledonian Sky, MV Variety Voyager, Sea Explorer, Sea Cloud II and Oceanic Discoverer.

Travelling aboard one of APT’s small luxury boutique-style ships, guests travel in groups of between 70 to 200 per sailing, enabling them to form friendships with fellow travellers as well as venture off the beaten track to visit hard-to-reach, exotic destinations, traditionally inaccessible to larger vessels. Also personalising the experience further is the high crew to guest ratios of 1:2 per sailing.

The total number of itineraries has also increased for 2014/15 with APT adding seven new cruises to its portfolio of 30 itineraries which vary from 10 to 30 days in length. The program, designed specifically for Australian and New Zealand guests covers the length and breadth of the globe, from Europe, Asia and The Americas to the Indian Ocean, Antarctica and the Middle East.

New itineraries include the:

- 18-day Six Seas Odyssey luxury expedition cruise and land journey (5 – 22 August 2015). Priced from $14,495 per person, twin share, the cruise departs Darwin on 5 August 2015. Sailing aboard the MS Caledonian Sky to Sandakan, guests travel the six seas of the East Indies with unforgettable stops in Indonesia, Malaysian Borneo and East Timor. Highlights include exploring the unique coloured crater lakes of Ende’s volcano Mount Kelimutu, meeting the resident orangutans and Malayan sun bears of Balikpapan, encountering Komodo Dragons in their native habitat and an overnight experience in Torajaland where guests get the chance to explore a lost world;

- 15-day Mediterranean Dreams (8 – 22 August 2015) is a luxury small ship cruise aboard the MV Tere Moana which departs from Venice. Priced from $13,595 per person, twin share, it takes in some of Europe’s most diverse cities as it sails the coastlines of Croatia, Albania, Italy and Spain before concluding in Lisbon Portugal;

- 22-day Magical Seas of Europe (16 May – 6 June 2015), also a luxury small ship cruise aboard the MV Tera Moana, is priced from $18,995 per person, twin share. Departing from Rome, it travels the coastlines of Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey, including the chance to visit Anzac Cove in Gallipoli to visit the Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair memorials; and

Following on from the sales success of Kimberley and Alaska as APT Luxury Small Ship destinations in 2014, APT is expecting Antarctica, Asia and the British Isles to feature as popular small ship cruise destinations for 2015.

The new brochure features an early booking deal which offers couples the chance to save up to $2,000 on any Small Ship cruise as well as a further $2,000 per couple on any consecutive cruises booked. Offer is subject to availability.

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

For further information call APT on 1300 196 420, visit aptouring.com.au or see your local travel agent.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

National Geographic Orion Sets Sail on Inaugural Voyage




This Friday 21 March 2014 marks an exciting new chapter for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic as the National Geographic Orion, formally the Orion, will be christened under its new name, before embarking on its inaugural voyage from Auckland to Cairns.

Lindblad Expeditions, the pioneering expedition travel company which partners with the National Geographic Society for expedition cruising, acquired Orion Expedition Cruises in March 2013. The name change comes with new ship enhancements that include a full roster of exploration tools, including kayaks, a state of the art remote operated vehicle (ROV) that reaches depths of up to 300 metres, full snorkelling gear for all, a SCUBA program that can accommodate up to 24 divers at a time with a dive master, a glass bottom boat and additional Zodiacs,to name a few.

Tomorrow's inaugural activities commence with a champagne ceremony with Valerie Taylor - the celebrated dive legend, shark chronicler, undersea photographer and filmmaker - while guests sail out in Zodiacs to watch the proceedings.  Valerie, and her husband Ron Taylor, gained fame in the early days of scuba diving for their breathtaking live footage of sharks, particularly Great Whites.  Following the ceremony Valerie will join the inaugural voyage as a Global Perspectives guest speaker, adding layers of knowledge and connection to the geographies explored for the guests on board.

The expanded expedition team will feature a National Geographic photographer, a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, and a video chronicler on all departures; an undersea specialist/dive master on many voyages, plus Global Perspectives guest speakers on select voyages.  

Jeremy Lindblad, Australian Business Development Director of Lindblad Expeditions says: "These enhancements will only heighten the already exceptional standards of accommodation, service and cuisine on this incredible ship. The additional expedition tools ensure the National Geographic Orion is fully equipped for its 2014/15 itineraries that take the ship beyond Australian waters, allowing guests to explore the undersea like never before.

"The addition of National Geographic Orion to our fleet will increase passenger capacity by 18 per cent. These itineraries are selling fast with these enhancements, highlighting the ever-increasing support from the Australian and New Zealand market.

The National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins. The interior is spacious and offers a range of modern public rooms with panoramic views. Her public rooms include a window-lined main lounge and library, as well as an observation lounge at the very top of the ship. In addition, a dedicated theatre provides a unique setting for specialist presentations, films or slideshows.

Designed and purpose built in Germany in 2003 specifically for expedition travel, National Geographic Orion was created from the outset to explore the far corners of the Earth in self-sufficiency.

For more information on Lindblad Expeditions visit www.expeditions.com
 

Contact Lindblad Expeditions on T: 1800 EXPEDITION (1800 397 3348)

 E: info@expeditions.com or see your travel agent


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

One Ocean Expeditions Adds New South Georgia Voyage

#expeditioncruising
King penguin chick (David Schultz)
Antarctic operator, One Ocean Expeditions has announced the addition of a sixth departure to the wildlife rich Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctic Peninsula. Travelling aboard the 96-passengers expedition ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, the new voyage departs Ushuaia (Argentina) on November 3rd, 2014.

Announcing the new departure, Richard Cunningham – Australian GM for One Ocean Expeditions said, “Our two scheduled November departures to Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica are on the verge of selling out. We had an opportunity to extend our sailing season and add this new departure to cater for the heavy demand and we’re already seeing solid bookings on this early season voyage”.

One Ocean Expeditions CEO and Founder, Andrew Prossin led an exploratory expedition to South Georgia aboard the Sergey Vavilov in early November 2013. Prossin said, “I was staggered to find scenes right out of an Attenborough BBC wildlife documentary. At this time of the season, the Elephant seals are battling for control of the beaches and the female harems. The King penguins are there in their tens of thousands and the snow covered mountains are at their most spectacular”.

After leaving South Georgia, the expedition travels across the Scotia Sea towards the Antarctic Peninsula, aiming to visit Elephant Island – the place where Sir Ernest Shackleton launched his famous rescue mission 100 years ago. This remarkable feat of survival was brought to light recently during the screening of the documentary on SBS - ‘Chasing Shackleton’ – co-ordinated by Australian adventurer Tim Jarvis.

Four days of exploring the stunning bays and coves of the Antarctic Peninsula follow, where guests explore by Zodiac inflatable boats and make daily shore excursions to enjoy a range of activities in the company of wildlife experts, naturalists, adventure guides.

Visit www.oneoceanexpeditions.com for details or email: voyages@oneoceanexpeditions.com

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Family cruises in Alaska

#expeditioncruising
Leader in Alaska Small Ship Cruising Caters to Parents and Kids - Suggests Lineup Of Top Family-Designed Departures

Alaska, the most popular destination for small ship cruises, wraps its heart around families who choose to join a growing number of small ship family departures.

AdventureSmith Explorations, the travel company securing matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of small expedition ships and land-based lodges, offers six distinct family itineraries that clients can match with the small ship of their choice. Cruise prices include most all land excursions so there are no hidden costs to a family.

“An Alaska family vacation can be a transformative adventure while sharing experiences like kayaking in front of a tidewater glacier, walking in an ancient temperate rainforest or watching whales at water level from a small skiff,” says Todd Smith, AdventureSmith Explorations founder/owner. “The greatest benefit is traveling with like-minded families and kids of similar ages.” Professional guides are family-oriented, meals are child-friendly and flexible activities offer multi-generational options.

AdventureSmith Explorations offers this lineup of distinctive family cruises for 2014:

Eastern Coves Family Adventure Cruise and Western Coves Family Adventure Cruise, among the most active cruise options, are suited to ages eight and up. Children will get the most out of their adventure by participating in off-vessel activities such as hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. The 8-day Eastern Coves cruise travels from Juneau to Ketchikan; the 8-day Western Coves travels from Ketchikan to Juneau. The two cruises may be combined.

Kids in Nature departures are further geared toward entertaining and educating all ages. Children 12 and younger receive 25 percent off the adult fare. Eastern Coves utilizes the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer on a July 19, 2014, departure and the 76-guest Wilderness Discoverer on a June 27, 2015, departure. Western Coves utilizes Wilderness Adventurer on July 26 and Aug. 9, 2014, departures and Wilderness Discoverer on July 4 and Aug. 1, 2015, departures.

Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness is an 8-day cruise aboard the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird or Sea Lion, among the finest small ship expedition cruises in Alaska. National Geographic expedition leaders are professional experts in their field. Special programming for kids on all departures includes photo workshops, journaling, scavenger hunts, zodiac-driving lessons, hands-on nature and science programming, and child-friendly menu options with a special pizza and movie night. Travelers ages 17 years and under save $500 at double occupancy.

Discoverers’ Glacier Country is an 8-day upscale family cruise exploring Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska's Inside Passage and Admiralty Island. Guests hike, kayak and whale-watch. Select Kids in Nature departures offer a savings of 25 percent in select cabin categories for children 12 years and younger. Departures aboard the 86-guest Safari Endeavour are July 20, 2014, or in 2015 June 21 and July 19. Departures aboard 22-guest Safari Quest are June 20 and July 18, 2014.



True Alaska Family Cruise is a 9-day cruise departing July 19, 2014, aboard the 49-guest Baranof Dream. The custom itinerary moves at a slower pace exploring Alaska’s nature and Native American culture, visiting Sitka, Petersburg, Juneau and Hoonah. Activities include kayaking, Zego personal skiff rides and rough-terrain vehicle explorations in scenic Hobart Bay. Native crafts, scrapbooking, geology, scavenger hunts, game night, geo caching, a quick dip in the water (“Killer Whale Dip”), baking, knot tying, plant and animal identification and other special programs are available. Triple and quad accommodations are priced from $1,999 for children.

Alaska Island Spirit Family Cruise is aboard the 32-guest Island Spirit scheduled for a July 20-28, 2014, exploration of Alaska’s towns and wilderness. The ship anchors in quiet coves so guests can enjoy the Alaskan solitude or kayak and walk the shore. A unique battery system allows for a complete shutdown of engines and generators at night, creating near-total peace and quiet. Kids travel two for one on the dedicated family cruise on July 20, 2014.

Throughout the season charter cruises provide options for family vacations, reunions and other occasions. Smaller charter yachts include the Glacier Bay Adventure Cruise aboard the 12-guest Sea Wolf, Active Inside Passage aboard the 12-guest Pacific Catalyst II and Active Prince William Sound Discovery aboard the 12-guest Discovery. When considering a charter, guests should plan ahead at least nine to 12 months or more in advance.

“We help clients compare itineraries and small ships, then we handle such details as traveling to the embarkation city, recommendations for packing, hotels, transfers, flights and tours, all at no extra cost to the client,” Smith says.

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. Early in his career, company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness small ship cruising in Alaska that incorporates the comforts of a floating base camp. In 2012, Smith joined the ranks of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious 14th Annual Travel Specialists List as the world’s expert on small ship expeditions. A distinction he received again in 2013. For information, availability and 2014 reservations, call 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit www.adventuresmithexplorations.com
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