Friday, 30 October 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: The farthest reaches of the Solomons


From expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands
Thursday 29 October 2015. Duff Islands, village of Taumako.

The Duff Islands, named after the visiting London Missionary Society vessel in the late 18th Century, are about as remote as one can get in the Solomons and are surely one of the most remote communities anywhere in the South Pacific.

After a snorkel among the hard coral reefs just offshore, we reboard the Zodiacs and proceed to Taumako which has the look of a walled or fortified village with a two metre sea wall constructed from coral rubble protecting the delicate structures from the battering of the waves. Evidence of conflict with the elements is clear with two huge trees uprooted after the last cyclone struck.

The community is spread along the main island shore and also on two similarly reinforced islands a few hundred metres f rom the beach. It seems every member of the village is lined up waving to us and a substantial turnout awaits us at our landing point.

Arrival formalities are completed and our gift of staple items is made to the chief, signalling the dancers who chant and sing in their own unique way.

The Duff Islanders also embrace the revival of the voyaging canoe and one elder, Simon, takes great pride in displaying his large scale model of one such vessel that once took his ancestors to the far reaches of the Pacific hundreds of years ago. We hike across the island, uphill and down dale, to another village where we see the ancient hull (or outrigger?) of one such canoe, its origin and future unclear.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com and www.visitsolomons.com.sb

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: Red Feather Dollars


From www.expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands

Wednesday 28 October 2015. Nendö Island, village of Noipe.

It was all the fun of the fair in the little village of Noipe. The kids were chasing each other around the green while the elders sat under a shady tree chewing betel nut surveying the scene with satisfaction. There were handicrafts laid out in a tent, pop corn, fresh green coconuts and traditional sago pudding with dried fish.

After we had been ceremoniously unloaded from the backs of tipper trucks, the official events begin. With introductions to senior islanders, including the much-loved local female minister, Joselyn Wesley Ipei, made with a raucous bullhorn the formalities kicked off with more traditional dancing and rituals.


While parts of the Solomons use intricate shell constructions as currency, the people of Nendo create their tender with the tiny red feathers of the local Scarlet Honeyeater, cardinal myzomela. The long red strips, called tevau, comprise tens of thousands of these minute feathers are worn on the woman's head in a flat coil and can be valued up to A$20k.

The celebration comprises men and women in costume chanting and stomping rhythmically in a circle. The men, in particular, with mother of pearl decorations through their noses and feather adornments are a striking vision. Dried nut shells tied in bunches to their feet add a musical percussion to the performance.

Today the event celebrates an older couple returning to the circle after a period of mourning and the joy is too much for everyone to resist and soon the throng grows to almost fill the entire circular arena. At the day's conclusion we are sent on our way after a touching and clearly heartfelt farewell that included more songs, "hip, hip, hoorays" and shaking hands with every member of the village, young and old. It's a clear demonstration to us all how the power of responsible tourism builds bridges between cultures and reinforces the value of maintaining traditional practices in remote communities.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com and www.visitsolomons.com.sb

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Sent via High Seas Satellite Phone

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: A Royal Visit and a Jungle Surf Cult


From expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands

Tuesday 27 October 2015. Star Harbour. Makira (San Cristobal) Island. Villages of Tora and Namamrau

In 1974, the Royal Yacht Britannia made her only call to the Solomon Islands, and for reasons I have to yet establish, stopped only at Star Harbour at the very end of this seldom visited island. HRH was treated to a right royal welcome by her then Commonwealth subjects.

Our own early morning arrival was not quite as auspicious as our two fully-loaded Zodiacs headed toward the tiny harbour. Villages comprised just a few huts, a timber guest house, the 'Star Beach Lodge' and a wharf for small inter-island freighters. Our objective was two small villages accessed by a narrow, muddy channel through thick mangroves, the last section requiring wading in the dark gloop to make our landing point.

In typical fashion, our party was escorted by skipping, giggling kids of all ages enjoying the unusual spectacle of white Europeans trudging through their village. The discovery here was the jungle surf cult enjoyed by the young boys who fashion rudimentary surfboards from slats of sago palm pinned together with bamboo spikes. The technique is mainly to catch the shore breaks in bodyboard style, but a few were keen to show us they could stand on their little boards too. When the soft wood gets messy around the edges, a quick trim with a machete brings the board back into shape.

This little fraternity apparently evolved after a visit from a bunch of Aussie surfers back in 2008. The local kids were fascinated by the heroic antics of the sun-bleached blokes riding the swell coming in from the south at Namuga and mimicked them every day with whatever floating object they could find. The sago palm boogie board is a development that took some months of trial and error.

It was here in the farthest village that I deposited an overnight bag full of surplus clothes, books and school material and it was a great to delight to read my kids' 'Pirate Treasure' pop-up book to the throng of kids who quickly gathered. “Can you find the buried treasure?” I think it was we who'd found the treasure in tiny Tora.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com and www.visitsolomons.com.sb

Monday, 26 October 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: A Warrior Wedding




From expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands

Monday 26 October 2015. Ngongosila Island. Malaita Province.

Traditionally a somewhat restive region of the Solomons , renown for their independence and fierce warriors. This was demonstrated to us as we came ashore when a horde of howling tribesmen brandishing weapons stormed our Zodiacs when we hit the beach. Okay, some might have been 10 years old and having a ball, but the tradition is clearly not lost.

The community is packed onto a reinforced sand spit, held together by piles of coral boulders shoring up the perimeter. While there are a couple of explanations, it seems this remote location attracts cooling sea breezes across Kwai Harbour, keeping the houses largely free of the pesky mosquitoes which inhabit the coastal mangroves.

Safely ashore, our group is ushered to the 'village square' where a traditional wedding ceremony is being acted out for us. A 'bride', looking suitably mournful, is being prepared for transfer to her groom's family who have paid rolls of shell money and a terrified pig for the girl's consent. At the groom's place, the men dance and chant in warrior fashion celebrating the occasion as well as their success in battle and safe return to the village.

The event culminates in a bit of retail trading, with handicrafts, carvings and massive shells sure to get the attention of quarantine officers anywhere. Right now, Spirit of Enderby is heading due south at 10 knots en route to seldom visited Makira Island.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com and www.visitsolomons.com.sb

Secrets of Melanesia. From aboard Spirit of Enderby


From expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands

Sunday 25 October 2015. San Jorge Island.

For many aboard, our landing at Thousand Ship Bay on San Jorge Island in Isabel Province was an eye-opener. We went ashore at a clearing with just a few huts carved out of the jungle, locally known as Lubira. All about was the evidence left by departing Malaysian loggers who had left just a few months ago after working the hardwood forests of the sacred island for most of the last decade. They came seeking valuable timber such as mahogany and rosewood and found plenty. Mining for nickel is taking place now on the main island of Santa Isabel.

It's a salient reminder about the fragility of the Pacific Islands, both culturally and ecologically, and their need to find a balance in the demanding world economy.

We set off along the wide road bulldozed through the now denuded jungle toward Talise, the major village on San Jorge where schoolchildren sang for us and the village elders made us welcome. The people of San Jorge are, according to Chris our local guide, known as the 'Indians of the Solomons' due to their long straight hair, particularly on the women.

Amid a throng of cheering kids, we departed from the rivulet, now almost dry due to delayed arrival of the seasonal rains and made our way back via SoE to Utuha Island where a pan flute troupe entertained us for an hour.

My last voyage aboard the Russian-flagged “Spirit of Enderby” (real name Professor Khromov) was in 2012 when we sailed to Commonwealth Bay and Mawson's Huts in East Antarctica.

More info: www.heritage-expeditions.com

Friday, 23 October 2015

Trekking the volcano on Savo Island in the Solomons

The Solomon Islands are one of the true adventure destinations of the South Pacific with great diving, fascinating cultural experiences and lots of WWII history.

Before joining my Heritage Expeditions 'Secrets of Melanesia' expedition, I had time to venture out to Savo Island, a mysterious dot on the map a tantalising distance from Honiara.

Dramatic Savo Island is located just a short distance from the capital Honiara, but is a whole other world, even for somewhere as remote as the Solomon Islands themselves.

A resident pod of dolphins play offshore (R Eime)
You can only access the island by private boat transfer (less than one hour), as there are no ferries or air links to the rugged volcanic island and the 1000 or so inhabitants live a traditional life with few modern conveniences. There are no roads, only pathways, and the only vehicles are canoes and local 'banana' boats.

The island juts out of the ocean imperiously at the northern end of Iron Bottom Sound, halfway between Guadalcanal and the Florida group, and was a centrepiece of the famous naval battle that signalled the start of the ferocious military campaign in August 1942.

Local Savo Island taxi (R Eime)
Staying at the island is at either the backpackers' eco-lodge or the slightly more upmarket, beachfront Savo Sunset Lodge. The latter offers beds and rudimentary private rooms with a modest restaurant and cool drinks. Sitting on one of the benches out front, watching the resident dolphins play in the surf is as away-from-it-all as it gets.

The key activity on the island is either of the two volcano treks. The shorter, I'm told, is about a half hour return, but the second is a more challenging hike takes up four hours there and back for leisurely strollers. A cross-island option is possible too, taking in the dormant caldera. Allow at least three hours for that one.

The trek begins along this sometimes dry river bed (R Eime)
Before attempting the second hike, some preparation is required.
  • An early morning departure, even at dawn, is highly recommended as temperatures can get crippling under the midday sun. Dry weather is preferred, as parts of the track has virtually no pathway and you are scrambling over rocks, fallen logs and hopping the creek along the way. Attempting the track after heavy rain is not a good idea. 
Some of the steeper sections can be tricky, especially when wet (R Eime)
  • Take a guide. Local knowledge is important and you'll appreciate a helping hand along the way. Don't go alone. 
  • Sturdy, closed hiking boots are a must, preferably with at least gaiter protection. Toward the top, the ground gets hot and brittle with little steam vents ready to scorch your ankles. The water in the stream gets hotter as you get closer to the boiling source.
  • Take drinking water with you as the water in the stream is sulfuric. And a sun hat of course. 
  • Take your time, don't rush. There are many hazards along the way and making a race of it invites injury. 

This steamy valley is the turnaround point unless you
want to continue to the crater and the other side of the island. (R Eime)

Accommodation & Transfer bookings
• Savo Sunset Lodge +677 21213 or +677 7489401
• Solomon Island Tourism Bureau +677 22442.
www.visitsolomons.com.sb

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

PONANT announces new voyages - come to the event!

#expeditioncruising


PONANT announces new voyages - come to the event!

Attendees at these forthcoming Information Events will hear about the range of luxury and expedition cruises PONANT will undertake during the September 2016 through May 2017 period, plus receive a copy of the just-printed new brochure.

New destinations include, for the first time, South Africa, the Scattered Islands and the exquisite Seychelles. Other destinations to be featured include Tahiti, Japan, South America, the Antarctic, Vietnam, Borneo, Melanesia, Caribbean and Latin America. 62 voyages, some luxury, others expedition, range from 7 nights to a grand 79 nights - something for everyone, including special Christmas and New Year voyages.

There are five events open to interested potential guests as well as travel agents (and their guests as well). Meet the PONANT team, hear about the voyages and enjoy complimentary snacks and drinks at:

Auckland / Stamford Plaza 28th October

Sydney / Kirribilli Club 5th November

Brisbane / Emporium Hotel 11th November

Gold Coast / Southport Yacht Club 12th November

Melbourne / Royal Brighton Yacht Club 19th November

All events have the choice of a 2pm OR 6pm presentation.

Guests and travel agents are asked to register prior to attending by visiting http://bit.ly/PONANT-EventsNovOct15 or by contacting PONANT Sydney on 1300 737 178 (Australia) - 0800 44 32 62 (New Zealand).

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Vale Chris Cutler - Biologist and expedition team member

#expeditioncruising

Members of the expedition cruising community will be saddened to learn of the sudden death of much-admired naturalist, Chris Cutler.

Chris was a regular and sought after expedition team member, best known for his work and love for birds. He regularly charmed guests with his quiet yet authoritative style and exceptional photography.

He studied biology at the University of California, beginning several years of investigation on the biogeography, ecology and behaviour of birds and mammals. 

Colleagues who knew Chris better than this writer are heaping accolades on their departed friend and companion.

"Such a clever, inspirational and passionate man with the most wonderful sense of humour and smile."

"Everyone can remember the fun and joy he gave us, the laughter and the adventures, and of course his incredible way of imparting knowledge; things we all shared with Chris, truly one of the most remarkable naturalists and wonderful people we will ever know. We will miss you terribly."

I travelled with Chris aboard Orion II from Japan to Borneo and found his easy, relaxed style a perfect fit for an extended voyage like that. We talked frequently and I learned many things from him as I do from experts such as Chris.

Chris also sailed most recently with Silversea.

The expedition cruising community is all the poorer for his untimely departure.

 




Saturday, 17 October 2015

A World First in Navigation for French--flagged Ponant

#expeditioncruising




WORLD FIRST IN NAVIGATION: TWO PONANT CRUISE SHIPS CROSS NORTHWEST PASSAGE

September 2015 | The only French cruise line and world leader in Polar cruising, PONANT has just completed a first in the history of navigation, as two of its sister-ships, Le Boréal and Le Soléal, have just crossed the legendary Northwest Passage from Greenland in the east to Siberia in the west.

A WORLD FIRST FLYING THE FRENCH FLAG

Having achieved a first for France in 2013, PONANT has pulled off a world first with two of its ships crossing the passage three days apart on the historic explorers' route via the Bellot Strait. This latest achievement is the culmination of more than 15 years' experience sailing in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. "It is with great pride that we announce this crossing under the French flag, unique in international maritime history," says Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, Chief Executive Officer of PONANT.

Captains Etienne Garcia and Patrick Marchesseau on Le Boréal and Le Soléal ensured their passengers were able to take full advantage of an extraordinary experience aboard these two luxury yachts. Designed to sail in extreme regions, each has 132 staterooms and suites and have obtained the international "CLEANSHIP" label (Bureau Veritas) for their innovative green equipments.

Along the voyage through the narrow channels and shifting glaciers of this little known region, they explored historic landmarks like Beechey Island of Franklin expedition fame, Gjoa Haven where Amundsen anchored his ship over a century ago and Cape Bathurst. They also saw hundreds of belugas, around 60 bears and nearly 500 narwhals. Another highlight for passengers was meeting French adventurer Charles Hedrich, the first man to cross the Northwest Passage solo in a rowing boat.

FIVE-STAR EXPEDITION

Aboard luxury yachts designed for extreme regions and small enough to venture into areas not accessible to other ships, PONANT's five-star expeditions offer an opportunity to explore the remotest regions in luxurious comfort: a unique concept where flexibility at all times is the approach with a constant respect for the environment.

From sharing in th e day-to-day activities of the crew and expedition teams, comprising experts who are passionate about their subject, to having access to the Bridge and regular outings in Zodiacs in small groups, everything has been thought of to provide an experience that is as close to nature and the thrills of exploration as it is possible to be.

2016 NORTHWEST PASSAGE

Kangerlussuaq - Nome (23 days / 22 nights on L'Austral) 16 August to 7 September 2016
Wait list only available

2017 voyage pricing yet to be released

INFORMATION

Australia:1300 737 178 or + 61 2 8459 5000
New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62 reservations.aus@ponant.com | www.ponant.com

Photo credits: Philip Plisson, iStock, Servane Roy Berton, Ponant.



Thursday, 15 October 2015

New ship - Santa Cruz II - completes maiden voyage in Galapagos




OCTOBER 10-14, 2015 - SANTA CRUZ II COMPLETES HER MAIDEN VOYAGE

We are happy to announce that our new expedition vessel, Santa Cruz II, has just completed her maiden voyage on October 10-14, with 81 explorer guests, nine staff support members from different areas of the company, 50 crew members and eight Naturalist Guides on board. The voyage was an Eastern Islands itinerary, starting at San Cristóbal Island and ending at Baltra airport.

On October 10, the two vessels were anchored next to each other one at the visitor site of Tijeretas, and this was a very unique day since this will be the day of their only "official" encounter in the Galápagos Islands. This was the day of powerful transformations, as a new era in Galápagos cruising started, and a new beginning for Metropolitan Touring as well.  Since 1979, MV Santa Cruz was honoured to host world explorers, and every day for the crew offered a new beginning. Over time, the vessel not only created a name and reputation, but it fostered the understanding of high-quality service standards for Galápagos. Santa Cruz II stands right next to a colossal new chapter for all of us. It will write its own new history.

As we prepared ourselves for the first day of her maiden voyage, Santa Cruz II was full of team work, with hope found everywhere, tons of excitement, and quite naturally the feeling of the unknown. Truly, transition time was a mere few hours, where crew members were waving goodbye to their floating home for so many years…some for over 20 years! For sure a very touching moment, but the excitement of our new fleet member tapered the inevitable tears…and the show must go on.

In no time, our new guests arrived and suddenly the expedition took a new shape, and they liked it, and so did we. We were all treated to a glorious "sunset cocktail", where guests received a commemorative shirt, buff and cap with the inscription "Santa Cruz II Maiden Voyage Oct. 10-14, 2015". Guests knew they were part of this new history by being on board this unique voyage. History never repeats.

Some highly-emotional comments from our crew & staff who were part of this maiden voyage, are worth sharing:

TESTIMONIALS

"…as we sailed off Chile, three times we had to turn around due to the weather and rough seas of the southern ocean. It was a challenging voyage. I remember one time when the storm and wind made the ship turn 180 degrees and high waves were seen in all directions. This was the best test for a vessel, whose build up proved to be solid, robust, and noble. Today is different; the tropical Galápagos waters are calm and peaceful…" Marco Montalvo, First Officer, on the Santa Cruz II sailing from Chile to Ecuador

"It was touching to see the two boats together, the MV Santa Cruz giving way to the Santa Cruz II… many memories came to my mind... I had mixed feelings of not being able to see again what my home was for many years in the Galápagos, but extremely happy for the new beginning…" Cristina Merino, Quality Control - Metropolitan Touring Staff

"For me…it is mission accomplished…this ship means the future for new generations…" Pilar Proaño, Hotel Manager Santa Cruz II

"We started with a well equipped kitchen, motivated crew and many culinary challenges which turned into rewarding experiences. We are excited to have a kitchen as large as those of any hotel in mainland..." Byron Rivera, Gastronomy Director - Metropolitan Touring Staff

"We have been on board Santa Cruz II for 24 hours, her first 24 hours. I feel a total sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for being part of this dream from the moment it started, including the bringing of the vessel from Punta Arenas in Chile. Now the challenge is to take up the baton from her legendary predecessor. For me, as Captain, it will be my absolute pleasure to be part of this new era..." Ernesto Thoala, Captain – Santa Cruz II

www.movidas.com.au

1300 853 752



Thursday, 8 October 2015

Solomon Islands to boost cruise tourism

#expeditioncruising




by Elise Galati

The current Solomon Islands government has made it its mission to boost tourism, cruising and, by extension, the economy in the region.

Naturally, broad-based employment and increased income go hand in hand with growth in these sectors. However, an equally important benefit is the retention of culture and customs.

In light of this, the government has collaborated with Solomon Islands Ports Authority (SIPA) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to redevelop Honiara Wharf.

Due for completion next year, the multi-million dollar wharf will accommodate bigger ships (exceeding 300m) and thus cater for larger vessel cruising in addition to expedition cruising. This is vital if the country wishes to take cruising to the next level, as large cruise ships prefer to tie up alongside a wharf than tender passengers to shore, which is riskier, more costly and contingent upon the weather.

source: Travel Weekly  [read full story]

Expeditioncruising.com will return to the Solomon Islands this month to report on Heritage Expeditions voyage




Wednesday, 7 October 2015

New riverboat is Peruvian Amazon’s most luxurious.





Rainforest Cruises is marking the launch of the Peruvian Amazon's most luxurious riverboat with free internal flights for all 2016 seven-day cruises booked this year.

Amazon Discovery, which launches in October, is a 22-suite river cruiser with five-star features including a spa, plunge pool and gourmet dining, yet with space for just 43 passengers the boat is small enough to travel deep into the tributaries of Peru's Amazon.

For river cruising in comfort, the ship has an open-air sun deck with cushioned chaises longues and a shaded bar, an air-conditioned lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking jungle views, and a spa for stone massages, soothing wraps and coffee-cacao scrubs.

There are four and seven-day cruises available, with activities including an expedition along the black-waters of Tahuayo River to a feeding spot of Pink River Dolphins; a visit to the start of the Amazon River where the Ucayali and Marañon Rivers merge, and skiff excursions into Pacaya Samiria, the largest wildlife preserve in Peru.

On-land adventures include guided jungle walks, traditional village visits and the chance to meet the ribereños river people whose lives revolve around the river.

On-board activities include expert talks from naturalists, Peruvian cooking classes and nightly entertainment with a local flavour.

Luxury cabin aboard Amazon Discovery
Jeremy Clubb, direct of Rainforest Cruises says: "The Amazon Discovery is the most luxurious small cruiser on the Peruvian stretch of the river. For travellers who want to immerse themselves in the amazing world of the Amazon, and do so in comfort, this new launch is not to be missed."

To celebrate the launch of Amazon Discovery, Rainforest Cruises is offering free return domestic flights with LAN airlines between Lima and Iquitos (average cost around £180) for every seven-day Amazon Discovery 2016 cruise booked before 31 December.

Four-day trips start from £1319 per person and seven-day cruises from £2549 per person for departures in 2016, with all food and local drinks included. International flights are extra.

India - north and south by land and sea




All-inclusive luxury tour featuring opulent palace hotels

A luxury, small ship ocean cruise to Sri Lanka and along India's tropical southern coast will be coupled with an overland tour through Rajasthan, stays at India's grandest hotels and a visit to the Taj Mahal at sunrise as part of a new 26-day cruise tour in March, 2016, offered by Cruise Express.

The exotic, all-inclusive itinerary with APT features an interactive Indian cooking class and stays at a string of five-star Taj Hotels, including Udaipur's iconic Taj Lake Palace, which starred in the 1983 James Bond movie, Octopussy.




The adventure begins with a flight from Australia on February 29, 2016, to Chennai where guests board the boutique 114-passenger MS Island Sky for a 14-night journey to Mumbai via eight ports in Sri Lanka and India. All cabins on the ship are suites with ocean views, with guests pampered by 75 staff, complimentary shore excursions and free beverages with lunch and dinner.

As a smaller ship, MS Island Sky will call in at lesser-visited ports with the itinerary featuring Trincomalee, Hambantota, Galle and Colombo in Sri Lanka and the Indian ports of Trivandrum, Cochin, Mangalore, Goa and Mumbai. Excursions ashore include visits to temples, palm-lined beaches and spice and tea plantations, with guests able to delve into the colourful history and culture of both countries.

From Mumbai, a 10-day overland tour takes in the highlights of India's most spectacular state, Rajasthan, with its stunning and historic forts and palaces in Udaipur and Jaipur. The itinerary includes a jeep ride through villages near Samode and a sunrise visit to the World Heritage-listed Taj Mahal in Agra.



Each night guests will stay in some of India's most luxurious palace hotels. Amongst them are the marbled Taj Lake Palace, which was once the abode of maharaja and exudes an air of mystique. Guests will also stay in Jaipur's Taj Rambagh Palace, an architectural icon with ornamental gardens, rich fabrics and an interactive cooking class for guests, and the exclusive Samode Palace, a 475-year-old sanctuary blending traditional opulence with modern luxury and offering four-poster beds and exquisitely carved furniture.

Including flights from Australia and flights within India, most meals, beverages with lunch and dinner during the cruise, shore excursions and daily sightseeing, the 26-day package is available from $23,199 per person, twin-share.

For bookings and details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au





Two weeks on SeaDream to begin Mediterranean summer



SEADREAM Yacht Club is kicking off next year's Mediterranean Summer with an exceptionally priced seven days aboard its boutique SeaDream II from Rome to Athens, and with the opportunity to stay aboard for a second week at an even more-tempting price to visit some of the smaller and most historically fascinating ports in Greece and Albania.

After departing Rome's port of Civitavecchia next June 11 the 5-star mega-motor-cruiser will visit dreamy Capri, have an overnight stay in Sorrento for time to visit Pompeii, call at Taormina in Sicily with an option of climbing volcanic Mt Etna, have a full day at sea, and then visit Fiskardo, Galaxidi (for ancient Delphi,) and make a transit of the famed Corinth Canal before Athens port of Piraeus.

Price starts from US$4726pp twin-share including drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail water-sports where locally permitted, onboard gratuities, and Government charges and taxes.

And an immediately-following 7-days Piraeus-return allows an opportunity to take in more of Delphi (one of the top three archaeological sites in Greece,) the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Butrint in Albania, Katakolon where the ancient Olympics were held, Gythion to visit Sparta for a taste of yester-year Greece, Elafonisos Island with its famed seafood tavernas, and historic Hydra whose port is renowned for its restaurants, shops and markets – and for being car-free.

That week is priced from US$4297pp twin-share including a 10% Second Week Saving on the cruise portion. (There is no saving on Government charges, taxes etc.)

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

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Take in the Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth



One Ocean Expeditions' 2016-17 Antarctic season includes two South Georgia In-Depth trips featuring on board Photography Symposiums that will appeal to amateur photographers and lovers of remote small-ship adventure cruises alike.  Both expeditions include incredible wildlife encounters, fascinating history and truly breath-taking scenery.  Plus, with up to 10 consecutive days of exploration in South Georgia, witnessing what has often been described as the 'greatest wildlife show on earth', it's the chance to spend more than double the time traditionally allocated to this seldom-visited area on longer trips to Antarctica.

For those travelling in October 2016 (15th-31st) the departure has been timed perfectly to coincide with the intense spring wildlife activity in Antarctica.  Guests will see king penguins by the hundreds of thousands, elephant seals fighting for territory to mate with their harems, fur seals mating, pupping and clustering the beaches, as well as a profusion of seabirds from albatross to giant petrels and skuas.

In addition, following OOE's inaugural Shackleton Crossing in October 2015 in conjunction with the New Zealand Heritage Trust, particularly intrepid passengers will have an amazing opportunity to repeat Sir Ernest Shackleton's famous journey across the spine of South Georgia in 2016.  Using skis, the crossing from King Haakon Bay to Stromness will take place one hundred years after the famous explorer completed the original journey.

The January 2017 voyage (28th Jan – 11th Feb) takes place during the height of the polar summer when wildlife is at its most relaxed.  Daylight hours are longer, penguin chicks are playful, fur seal pups are especially curious and a plethora of sea birds including wandering albatross, giant petrels and smaller cape petrels fills the skies.  Not to mention staggering numbers of king penguins, particularly on the black sand beaches and tussock covered dunes of Salisbury Plain.

On both expeditions five professionals will share their expertise in photographing and recording the wildlife and landscapes.  They have all been selected for their exceptional ability to prioritise excursions in order to maximise the light for photography, whilst also managing weather conditions and itinerary commitments.

Leading the group will be award-winning photographer and conservationist, Daisy Gilardini, who has visited Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands every year for the past 19 years.  Daisy combines her skills as a photographer and love of extreme adventure with a true passion for the natural world and a life-long commitment to the environment and conservation issues.

She comments:  "As environmental photographers, it is our duty to capture the beauty of places and species at risk and to raise awareness through the images that we capture.  Going back to the same places in different seasons is one of the most rewarding experiences for a photographer.  South Georgia holds a very special place in my heart.  It is overwhelming for the breath-taking beauty of the landscape as well as the huge amount of wildlife you can find there."

Joining Daisy will be Martin Hartley, one of the world's leading expedition and adventure travel photographers, who has 20 unique polar assignments to his name; Ron Clifford, an artist, coach and creative mentor who is well-versed in sharing his photographic skills, teaching field techniques and hosting workshops; Gerhard 'Guts' Swanepoel, who has earned his reputation as one of the most sought-after guides of his generation following 13 years of guiding and a staggering 1.2 million kilometres travelling across Southern Africa; and Canadian artist, David McEown, who has focused his work on the polar regions for the past decade, witnessing and recording the beauty of a world that is changing rapidly as it disappears.

The 16-night departure on 15 October 2016 costs from US $10,395 per person based on triple share accommodation on board the purpose built and upgraded cruise ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, while the 14-night departure on 28 January starts at US $13,395pp.

Prices include return flights between Punta Arenas in Chile and Stanley in the Falkland Islands, airport transfers, accommodation and meals on board, plus guides, wet weather gear, excursions and activities as included in each itinerary.  Interactive workshops, one-on-one reviews and constructive feedback to help improve photographic skills, as well as dedicated photographic excursions, to take advantage of the light and extended periods on shore to satisfy the photographic time required are also included.

An Antarctic Early Bird offer from OOE gives a US $1000 travel credit on all 2016/17 season bookings made before 1 December 2015.

One Ocean Expeditions www.oneoceanexpeditions.com


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Cruise International Awards -Voyages of Discovery won the award for 'Best for Adventure' cruises


ADVENTUROUS VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY CLAIMS AWARD


Voyages of Discovery beat five leading cruise brands to claim the 2015 Cruise International Award for the best cruise line for Adventure.

Voyages of Discovery offers Small Ship Discovery Cruising with the opportunity to choose what you want from your holiday. On board guest speakers bring to life each destination which can be experienced with both inclusive and optional excursions.

Voyages of Discovery cruises include all meals, accommodation, entertainment, renowned guest speakers and onboard gratuities

Liz Jarvis, Editor of Cruise International, said: "The Cruise International Awards 2015 are voted for by the people who go on cruises and the results are a real insight into consumer opinion. With new cruise lines making an impact in 2015 this year's results have been very interesting. The cruise industry continues to go from strength to strength and we're delighted to be able to play our part in recognising the extraordinary achievements and incredible innovation of this amazing industry."

Andy Harmer, Director of the Cruise Lines International Association, added: "The Cruise International Cruise Awards are very much an integral part of the cruise calendar and it's great to see cruise lines, agents and others recognised for their outstanding service by those who matter – the consumers. The thousands of votes for the Awards bear testament to the passion shown by those holidaymakers with a love for everything cruise."

Click here, to download a copy of the Voyages of Discovery 2016/17 brochure.

For more information, prices and bookings, please contact your local Travel Agent or Discover the World on 1800 (623 267) OCEANS or email voyagesofdiscovery@discovertheworld.com.au.