Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Special offer for Antarctica Cruises - free brochures delivered to your door or device

#expeditioncruising

click here to get these brochures now

There are some great deals going now for Antarctic cruises. Get this free pack of brochures delivered to your home - or digitally to your desktop or device.



For example, Peregrine Adventures is offering up to $8,300* off select Antarctic voyages. And Aurora is offering up to 15% off! Hurry, offers end 30 September 2016.

Or you can browse Antarctic cruises sailing right now with leading operators and book immediately.

Make your Antarctic dreams come true. 





Monday, 29 August 2016

‘Swallowed by the Sea’ explores Australia’s most famous shipwrecks

#expeditioncruising



- includes photos and dive notes

Over the centuries, Australian waters have become the final resting place for many ships lost in raging storms, on jagged reefs, under enemy fire, or through human error. In the forthcoming book, Swallowed by the Sea (NLA Publishing $44.99, 1 October 2016), maritime archaeologist Graeme Henderson explores the most famous wrecks from across Australia, dating back to 1622 and as recent as 2010. Readers learn about the oldest known wreck in Australian waters, the Tryal, driven into sunken rocks by the inept Captain Brookes, and the loss of emigrant barque Cataraqui, which struck a reef off King Island in the middle of a stormy night, drowning more than 400 people.

Henderson sets the scene for each disaster, describing how the ship came to be in Australian waters, the people involved, the dramatic circumstances of the actual wrecking and the aftermath. He has also personally located and dived at many of the wrecks featured, and describes what it’s like to swim the length of the HMS Pandora wreck, to dive in heavy turbulence raising artillery pieces from the Batavia, and the eerie experience of viewing the undercut cliffs that witnessed the drowning of asylum seekers on SIEV 221.

Alongside historical paintings and photographs of the ships themselves, Graeme’s accounts include recent underwater photographs of the dive sites with recollections by members of the diving crew. From English and Dutch trading vessels in the seventeenth century to emigrant ships in the nineteenth century and the great warships of the Second World War, Swallowed by the Sea provides a fascinating insight into how each ship was wrecked and discovered, and what remains of the wrecks today.

Graeme Henderson AM is a maritime archaeologist, former museum director and the 2002 Western Australian Citizen of the Year. His discovery at age 16 of the wreck of the seventeenth-century Dutch East India Company vessel, Vergulde Draeck, sparked a life-long interest in shipwrecks. He went on to develop the colonial shipwrecks program at the Western Australian Museum, to contribute to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and to serve as director of the Western Australian Maritime Museum for 13 years. Graeme has published widely on individual shipwrecks and those found off the coast of Western Australia; this is his first book on shipwrecks that occurred Australia-wide.

Paperback | Oct 2016 | National Library of Australia | 9780642278944 | 240pp | 265x220mm | Forthcoming | GEN | AUD$44.99, NZD$54.99 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises announces two new expedition vessels

#expeditioncruising .

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet grows. TUI Group, the world’s number one tourism group, will invest in two new-builds for its Hamburg-based subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The two, new, 5-star expedition vessels are scheduled for launch in April and October 2019, respectively, following 20 months of construction. Financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

New 5-star vessels announced for Hapag-Lloyd

Sebastian Ebel, member of the Executive Board of TUI Group in charge of Cruises: “The cruise business is one of the key elements of TUI’s growth strategy. Our ambitions are underpinned by our investment in the two new ships for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ luxury and expedition cruise segments serve as world-class benchmarks.”

New 5-star vessels announced for Hapag-Lloyd

Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises: “The former director Albert Ballin invented the modern cruise concept 125 years ago. We are perfectly positioned in the luxury market with our cruise ships “EUROPA” and “EUROPA 2”. In this anniversary year, we are charting the course for the future. Already we operate successfully in our expedition segment, which offers growth potential for 5-star cruises. Our new-builds will help us to develop further the expedition segment and offer a modern interpretation. They will also serve to strengthen our leading position in this market, in particular at the international level.”

The two ships will be built at the Norwegian Vard shipyard of Vard Holdings Limited, a shareholding of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard. The vessels will be equipped with state-of-the-art technological features and environmental technology. With PC6, the highest Polar Class designation for passenger ships, they will be able to cruise not only in polar regions in the Arctic and Antarctica but also in warm water destinations such as the Amazon. On-board Zodiacs will allow landings in otherwise inaccessible expedition areas. The ships will also feature a water sports marina.

Further information on the newbuilds

  • 5-star expedition segment
  • One new-build to serve German-speaking markets (Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
  • Other new-build to serve German-speaking markets and in addition Belgium, the UK, Netherlands and the US.
Identical ships, data for each ship:
  • GT 16,100
  • Length: 138 metres
  • Width: 22 metres
  • Draught: 5.4 metres
  • Passenger decks: 7
  • Cabins and suites: 120
  • Maximum passenger capacity: 240 persons
  • Crew: Up to 170 crew members
  • High ratio of balcony cabins
  • Restaurants: 3
  • Modern spa and fitness area
  • Interior design: Architecture firm Oceanarchitects
Reservations: Landmark Travel, phone (02)99 77 71 00, email gerd@landmarktravel.com.au

For more information on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ exciting destinations and itineraries, visit www.hl-cruises.com.

Discover Antarctica aboard Silver Explorer

#expeditioncruising .


Discover the ice-covered wonderland continent of Antarctica, on a 10-day voyage aboard Silver Explorer.  Departing Ushuaia, Argentina, on 26 February 2017, Silver Explorer journeys toward the Antarctic Peninsula, where guests will marvel at the incredible array of wildlife against the stunning backdrop of spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers.

Continuing her journey through the Antarctic Peninsula, Silver Explorer discovers the Aitcho and South Shetland Islands. As you step off the Zodiac to explore the island, it is very likely you will be greeted by the locals…penguins! Penguin species here include Gentoo and Chinstrap. Other annual seabirds include the Southern Giant Petrels.

During its final days, Silver Explorer journeys its way through other regions of the Antarctic Peninsula, where guests are able to view the 745-meter-high ice-caped mountain of the Tabarin Peninsula, the penguin colony on Paulet Island, and the collapsed volcano of Whalers Bay. Silver Explorer­ concludes her journey, returning via Drake Passage, disembarking in Ushuaia, Argentina, 08 March 2017.

As part of Silversea's Early Booking Bonus offer, guests can save 10% on the published fare when booked and paid in full before 02 September 2016. Prices are per person based on double occupancy, in a View Suite:

·         Published fare starting from AU$18,150
·         Early Booking Bonus fare starting from AU$16,335

Silversea Expeditions' fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; complimentary WiFi and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability.  Terms and conditions apply.  For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit www.silversea.com.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Planning a small ship cruise? Get our new storybook

#expeditioncruising .




Everyone knows that cruising is the hottest thing in travel right now. Everywhere we look, on TV, the web, the papers, it’s all about cruising.

But for many of us, the thought of cramming onto a massive ship with thousands of other passengers - and then trying to get off again - is the last thing we want to do on holidays. That’s where the delightful luxury of small ship cruising comes into it’s own.

Editorial by expert small ship journalists who tell you why they love to travel on adventure and expedition cruise vessels.

Read the full story and more in this beautiful storybook from Travel Associates

click to read online

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/d94983fd#/d94983fd/1

Seeking young explorers. Enderby Trust applications now open.

#expeditioncruising .


Enderby Scholarship Background



Starting in 1830 the London based Enderby & Co outfitted vessels for commercial voyages of discovery, captains were expected to go above and beyond their normal duties in the services of discover & exploration. A series of remarkable voyages began with the 1830 departure of the Tula and the Lively, on this voyage Captain John Biscoe discovered land at 67ºS and named it Enderby Land. In 1838 John Balleny, sailing to the Southern Ocean on the Eliza Scott accompanied by the Sabrina discovered the Balleny Islands and Sabrina Land. A stalwart of Enderby & Co, Charles Enderby, was a founding member of the Royal Geographical Society and in 1841 he was admitted to the Royal Society of London for his “promotion of geographical discovery in the Antarctic regions”.

Enderby Trust works in conjunction with New Zealand’s premier expedition travel company, Heritage Expeditions, to offer scholarship positions aboard expeditions to the Subantarctic Islands and Antarctica aboard the Spirit of Enderby.


Refer to www.heritage-expeditions.com for vessel and expedition itinerary information.

Enderby Trust was founded by the Russ Family knowing the opportunities for young people to visit these regions are limited but believing it is vitally important that young people experience this amazing region. The Trustee’s hope scholarship participants will share their experiences and enthusiasm with other people and grow the awareness of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Each expedition is accompanied by a team of naturalists and biologists to enhance the learning possibilities.

Application Process 

In less than four hundred words you must persuade the trustees why you should receive a scholarship and how the experience will benefit both you and the region. The trustees encourage creativity & passion, so let this shine through in your application. Applications can be submitted in the medium that best suits you! 

Applications should include: 1) Full name and Date of Birth (proof of age may be required) 2) Address including daytime and after hours telephone numbers 3) Scholarship applied for (Name and Departure Date) 4) Submission expressing interest within the Southern Ocean (see above). 5) Where you heard about the Enderby Trust Scholarship 6) Name and address of one referee 7) Declaration that you have sufficient funds to pay the contribution required. 

Submit applications to: 
The Trustees Enderby Trust 
P.O. Box 7218, 
Christchurch 8240 
New Zealand

Email: enderby@hotmail.com 


Applicant Requirements:

Successful applicants for the scholarships are expected to make a contribution to the expedition cost. This equates to 30% of the advertised cost of the expedition, Enderby Trust contributes the remaining 70% plus applicable government landing fees. Successful applicants are required to submit a presentation in a mutually agreed style on a topic of their choice within three months of their travel. 

Recipients are reminded that a goal of the trust is too encourage greater interest in and understanding of the Southern Ocean, its landscapes, history and biological diversity. The submitted presentation should be in keeping with the aims and goals of the trust. 

Closing dates for applications: Monday 17th October 2016


Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders


#expeditioncruising

Atlas Obscura is the book to inspire wanderlust (and wonderlust). Beautifully bound in a red debossed case cover with gold foil, this compellingly written, scrupulously researched compendium is a must for the adventurous and curious. Filled with over 700 entries from around the world and embellished with rich colour illustrations, charts, photographs and maps, Atlas Obscura is an object as desirable as the places described within.

Atlas Obscura is the ultimate compilation of the world’s best hidden marvels the Atlas Obscura community has unearthed. Carefully curated, every page of Atlas Obscura: An Explorers Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders paints a rich panorama of what a marvellously strange world we live in.

Entries include:
▪ A fire that’s been burning in the desert for 40 years
▪ A temple to the souls of insects that died for science
▪ A museum dedicated to art made from human hair
▪ Self-mummifying monks of Japan
▪ Pablo Escobar’s Hippos
▪ A bust of Lenin in Antarctica.



Every entry includes a detailed description and GPS coordinate; but some hidden wonders are so out of the way, so treacherously situated, or so deep beneath the surface, that few of even the most intrepid explorers will ever be able to visit. Readers will love to stumble across somewhere that they discovered and marvelled at, or explore a nearby hidden gem they never knew existed.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders is to experience wanderlust; amazing sights and unusual treasures behind every corner - if you just know where to look.


by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras & Ella Morton

HARDIE GRANT BOOKS | 1 OCTOBER 2016 | HARDBACK | RRP $69.99




Wednesday, 24 August 2016

French America Line sailing in Illinois and Arkansas rivers in 2017

#expeditioncruising



French America Line—now scheduled to begin sailing this Oct. 1 instead of in late August as first announced—is adding itineraries along the rarely visited Illinois and Arkansas rivers in 2017. Bookings for next year have opened aboard the flagship Louisane.

All cruise-tours are commissionable to travel planners, and 2017 brochures are now available.

Offered from March 4, 2017, to January 6, 2018, the 48 five- to 14-day programs focus on regional food, music and culture on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and Red rivers in addition to the Illnois and Arkansas.

New 2017 destination ports include Chattanooga, Louisville and Pittsburgh, with pre-cruise, one-night deluxe hotel stays prior to embarkation included in the tariff.

Sixteen 2017 itineraries will offer the opportunity to spend the night on board prior to disembarkation in four ports: Louisville, Memphis, Natchez and St. Louis.

Pricing includes the pre-cruise hotel stay, free-flowing house wines, spirits, beers, artisanal coffees and teas, soft drinks, sparking and still water, and Traveler Collection guided shore excursions. The use of bicycles with helmets and maps for private explorations is included, too. Optional Curator Collection and pre- and post-cruise experiences are also available.

'Deep South' itineraries will sail the Lower Mississippi and rarely-visited Red River beginning March 4, departing from New Orleans and Memphis. A 'Southern Spirit' 10-day grand cruise-tour from New Orleans to Memphis is available in nine departures from March to December. Other programs include 'Plantation Celebration,' from Memphis to New Orleans; 'Red River Holiday,' round-trip New Orleans, including a December departure to see the Christmas lights; and 'Splendors of the South,' a six-day program round-trip New Orleans.

Other choices are 'Historic Currents,' an eight-day cruise-tour from Memphis to St. Louis, and 'Sounds of the River,' a five-day sampler round-trip Memphis.

'Mississippi Headwaters' itineraries sail the Ohio, Mississippi and rarely traveled Illinois River, departing from St. Louis, St. Paul and Chicago. 'Jewels of the Heartland,' 10 days, from St. Louis to St. Paul, has three departures. The Sept. 29 program begins in Chicago with an overnight and breakfast at the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel and continues by private vintage Vista-Dome Streamliner train to St. Louis for embarkation aboard Louisiane.

'Midwestern Majesty,' an eight-day cruise-tour from St. Paul to St. Louis, has departures in July, September and October, while 'Marquette Explorer,' also eight days, travels between St. Louis and Chicago (with Ottawa, Illinois, used as the point for coach transfer to or from Chicago).

'River Crossroads' itineraries ply the Ohio and Mississippi rivers beginning at St. Louis, Louisville and Pittsburgh. They include 'Enchanting Passages,' a six-day tour from St. Louis to Louisville; 'American Adventure,' eight days, between Pittsburgh and Louisville; and 'Blue Grass Grandeur,' also eight days, from St. Louis to Louisville.

'River Pioneers' is a 14-day Collector's Cruise-Tour from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. The itinerary traces the path of New Orleans, the first steamboat on America's rivers known for its epic 1811-1812 voyage from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. The program starts Oct. 25.

'Wildnerness Rivers' itineraries chart the Tennessee and Cumberland, beginning in Louisville and Chattanooga. 'Appalachian Elegance,' from Louisville to Chattanooga, and 'Backroads of America,' from Chattanooga to Louisville, are each nine days.

Croatian Katarina Line Launches New Initiatives

#expeditioncruising

Katarina Line, a DMC and small-ship cruise line in Croatia, has announced that it is launching new initiatives to attract travel agents in North America.

The new initiatives include expanding its sales and marketing programs and increasing its participation at major travel trade shows, such as the USTOA Annual Conference inArizona. Katarina Line also pays commission to travel agents, and is a member of many travel associations, including ASTA, NTA, RDA, ETOA, and STAN.

Katarina Line has over 50 ships in four different sizes and categories in its fleet, serving approximately 30,000 guests annually. Katarina Line recently added new deluxe cruises in response to a growing demand from the U.S. and Canadian markets for a more luxurious cruise experience on the Croatian coast.

The company's cruise itineraries offer travelers a unique opportunity to explore theMediterranean coastline and picturesque Croatian towns in a more intimate way. Guests can swim in the crystal-blue waters and enjoy the local attractions at every port as they hop from island to island.

Vessels range from the ultra-modern MV Infinity that can carry up to 38 passengers to the more traditional ships: two- and three-masted wooden sailing vessels that hold from eight to fourteen people. All vessels, however, are fully air-conditioned, with modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi and spacious cabins.

Through its extensive DMC operations, Katarina Line also enjoys strong partnerships with every quality hotel in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Serbia, ensuring that any pre- and post-cruise land tours booked through them offers the best accommodations.

Visit www.katarina-line.com

Alaskan Dream Cruises release 2017 season itineraries

#expeditioncruising



Alaskan Dream Cruises has released their 2017 season itineraries, including cruises upwards of 11 days.

2017 itineraries include:
  • Alaska’s Galcier Bay & Island Adventure (seven nights)
  • Alaska’s Inside Passage Sojourn (eight nights)
  • Alaska’s Southeast Explorer (ten nights)
  • M/V Misty Fjord – a 60-foot vessel that carries only 10 passengers through southeast Alaska on seven-night cruises.
  • Discounts of three to 10 percent are available on select cruises with early bookings.
All of Alaskan Dream Cruises’ ships hold between 10 and 74 passengers, offer small, expedition crafts (including inflatables and kayaks), onboard naturalists who offer educational programs, and an open-bridge policy, meaning guests are allowed access to meet the captain and crew.

Visit www.alaskandreamcruises.com.

A return to Burma with Travel Associates and APT

#expeditioncruising




Cruising on Burma’s legendary Irrawaddy River has been a feature of life in the once secretive Asian nation for more than a century. Rustic steam-powered riverboats first plied the waters of this aquatic highway as far back as 1865, bringing an air of romance and nostalgia to today’s modern offering from APT.

Read full story here


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Australia International Dive Expo Back in 2016

Many #expeditioncruising operators offer #scubadiving

The third installation of the Australia International Dive Expo (AIDE) will take place on the weekend of 10 & 11 September 2016 at the Royal Hall of Industries at Sydney's Moore Park.

From a range of dive schools, courses and dream destinations to gears, gadgets and marine conservation activities, visitors will be able to learn and gather all of the information they desire, and much more, about the world of scuba diving at this annual event.

"Scuba diving is still very much a growing niche interest among Australian travellers as the underwater world remains relatively unknown and unexplored by many," says Ness Puvanes, Director and Organiser of AIDE.

"Each year, we witness and enjoy the positive interest shown in the sport as the rise in visitor numbers to our show and many other dive expos around the world reflect that," she says. "While we are still relatively new to the Australian market, interest is strong and consistently growing.

"We hope our show will not only continue to help expand the global community of divers, but encourage existing ones to further connect with new destinations, industry players and suppliers, while also engaging them on the topics of conservational efforts that are being studied and implemented."

This year's Expo will again welcome non-divers interested in scuba diving to give the sport a go in the pool with instructors from St George Dive School. Re-breather courses will also be available at selected times over the weekend.

Disabled divers will not be left out as representatives from Disabled Divers International (DDI) and Scuba Diving International (SDI) will be present to provide insight and guidance to those interested in learning to dive and becoming instructors. Over the years, the number of disabled divers increased due to the mental and health benefit of the sport.

There will also be information and safety education on free diving by the Australia Free Diving Association for anyone interested in the sport. Visitors participating in the longest breath-holding game will stand to win prizes at the stand as well.

University students will be pleased to learn that for the first time, the Expo will also include a free professional photography course exclusively for them only. Johan Boshoff from The Dive Spot will conduct a five-hour photography course on the Saturday from 10am – 3pm, taking students through a number of topics including tips and tricks on capturing vivid underwater images.

For families, the Australian National Maritime Museum will be hosting a series of fun activities for families with kids, including dress-ups, crafting masks, artwork and more. And as per every event, a number of experts on the sport and the marine world will be present to share their knowledge and tips.

The admission is AU$7 for adults, AU$5 for PADI divers and online registrants. DDI members, senior divers above 60yo, University students and children under 17 can enter free of charge. All visitors will receive goody bags and be entered for a chance to win major prizes including a week-long holiday to the Maldives; return air tickets to and within The Philippines; and a wetsuit and an advance diver kit. Prizes will be drawn live on both days at 5pm.

To find out more about the Expo, freebies, activities and more, visit www.australiadiveexpo.com.

Monday, 22 August 2016

New Murray Princess Cruise

 #expeditioncruising 

See More of the Murray on Exciting New 7 Night #Cruise




Captain Cook Cruises is excited to announce a new cruise on the Murray River – the seven-night Upper Murraylands Cruise onboard Paddlewheeler, PS Murray Princess. The cruise will depart once a month from Friday, 21 April, 2017.

The seven-night Upper Murraylands Cruise will explore the northern area of the Murray River from Mannum to Morgan, before returning to Mannum. The diverse itinerary ensures this cruise offers something for everyone.

"We are very excited to launch this incredible seven-night cruise that will operate monthly on the Murray River. The cruise has a fantastic itinerary that explores Australia's outback history and we are certain this cruise will be as popular as our regular 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries.

To be able to offer something new to our guests, many who are cruising with us for the third of fourth time is really exciting and we can't wait for everyone to experience it." Explains Donna Gauci, General Manager, SeaLink South Australia.

The Upper Murraylands cruise will visit historic towns including picturesque Waikerie, Morgan and Swan Reach, where guests will be taken on fascinating guided walks and visits to historic museums. At Blanchetown guests will be enthralled with the experience of going through Lock No. 1 (one of thirteen along the river).

Wine lovers can indulge with lunch and wine tastings at Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre and a vineyard tour and cellar door tastings at Burk Salter Boutique Winery. Guests can also visit the cellar door at Caudo Winery and tour its beautiful gardens and orchards.

Learn about Aboriginal history at the amazing Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve - one of Australia's most significant archaeological sites and enjoy a guided boardwalk tour of ancient rock carvings.

Guests will fall in love with the animals during a visit to a Native Wildlife Shelter and experience a fun and very Australian Woolshed Shearing Show.

Wildlife lovers can spot an abundance of nocturnal wildlife on the riverbanks including kangaroos, hairy-nosed wombats, tortoises and many other species.

Birdwatchers can get up close to the river birds including pelicans, wrens and swans on-board the 'Dragon-Fly' flat bottomed boat scenic boat rides.

Onboard guests can sit back in one of two air-conditioned paddlewheel lounges and enjoy the amazing views as the Murray Princess cruises past towering limestone cliffs, through picturesque gorges and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests. They can even watch the working paddle wheel through a spectacular two-story glass window in the Paddlewheel Lounge.

Food onboard the Murray Princess is a highlight of the cruise. Guests will enjoy a hearty hot buffet breakfast each morning, a two-course or buffet lunch each day and a three-course or buffet dinner each evening. There is a spectacular Captain's dinner and dance to enjoy and even an Aussie-style barbecue dinner and bush dance on the river bank.

The seven nights Upper Murraylands 2017 cruise departures include 21st April, 12th May, 9th , June, 14th July, 11th August, 15th September, 13th October and 10th November. Cruise departures in 2018 include 12th January, 16th February and 16th March.

The inaugural seven nights Upper Murraylands Cruise departs Friday, 21 April, 2017 and Early Booking Saver Fares start from $1902 per person twin share.

All fares include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, the Captain's Dinner and Dance, live entertainment, use of the sauna, spa, sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and mini gymnasium and complimentary scenic coach transfers from Adelaide or secure car-parking in Mannum.


For Further information and bookings please contact:

T: 1300 729 938 from within Australia or +61 9 8202 8697 from Overseas

Email: murrayprincess@sealink.com.au

Visit: www.murrayprincess.com.au

Best Of Galapagos Specialist Tour March 2107 - One Of The Top Wildlife Escapades?


Curious Traveller Presents The Best Of Galápagos

Explore Ecuador's Treasures - Galápagos & Quito Afloat

Specialist Tour 16–27 March, 2017

Calling on their experience from several previous Galápagos journeys, Curious have curated a unique quality trip that is guaranteed to make the heart sing. Although every trip to the Galápagos is extraordinary, there's actually a great deal of variation in the experience you can have, and what you'll see.

Currently, more than 100 boats take tours around the Galapágos. Only three meet Curious Traveller's very particular criteria for size, comfort, accessibility and itinerary. The Curious Traveller experience enables access to the absolute pick of places at the time of year when the best is on show. The carefully selected, comfortable vessel – Seaman Journey – has easy on and off access for the many daily excursions, including walks, snorkeling and small boat rides to get up close to the islands' amazing geology and littoral zone plants and animals.

The Galapágos "green" season is a period of life and plenty. Lowland shrubs and trees such as the palo santo are in leaf and the abundant flowers are in blossom. The mesmerizing waved albatross return after months at sea, meet up with their partners and perform their extraordinary, detailed acquaintance ritual. It's also when the blue-footed boobies get their groove on, brighten up their delightful feet and tap dance their way into each other's hearts. Sea turtles are hatching, newborn sea lion pups are exploring, frigate birds are nesting and the Darwin's finches are making the most of the season.

The planned March Curious Traveller trip of course covers iconic Galápagos favourites: marine iguanas, sea lions, giant tortoises and sally lightfoot crabs. Land bird species such as Darwin's finches and Galápagos mockingbirds will feature throughout, and we'll see Galápagos tortoises at breeding centres on San Cristóbal island and at the Charles Darwin research station.

The water's warm, and days are sunshiny bright. The Curious Traveller group is small, with a maximum of 16 people (including your Curious expert hosts Ian and Gail as hosts).

Upon return to mainland Ecuador the group will stay in the celebrated old town of Quito – the first built environment to be World Heritage listed by UNESCO. It's a great place to spend a couple of days exploring the architecture, lesser-known food spots and the artisanal markets in this cosmopolitan city nestled among Andes volcanoes.


Cost and booking info

11 day trip - 16-27 March 2017

$US6650 per person, twin share. Maximum group size 14 people, plus hosts.

Booking enquiries

Call 03 6234 4918

Email info@curioustraveller.com.au

About Curious Traveller's expert hosts

In the past seven years Ian Connellan and Gail MacCallum have been exploring South America and once or twice a year take like-minded guests to share the amazing places they've discovered. They have visited all of the accessible Galápagos islands and this year have chosen the trip that they believe represents the best the magical archipelago has to offer. Gail delights in the bird species, with the delightfully kooky blue-foots holding the closest place in her heart, while Ian, a decades' experienced photographer, can provide advice for catching iguanas and albatross in best light, while setting light-hearted challenges – some still unachieved, such as the perfect still frame of the famous marine iguana salt-sneeze.

Both Ian and Gail have worked for more than 20 years as writers, photographers, editors and publishers for organisations such as Australian Geographic, Reader's Digest and Lonely Planet. They've been exploring for decades as well – and bring science, fun and inexhaustible curiosity to every adventure.

The trip is aimed at curious people who

·        Would like an authentic experience of a country and its residents, both human and wildlife.
·        Have a particular interest in nature, ecology and conservation.
·        Would like to take amazing holiday photos that capture the unique magic of the islands.


About Curious Traveller

www.curioustraveller.com.au/

www.facebook.com/pages/Curious-Traveller

 

Cruise guides mauled by bear in Alaska

#expeditioncruising


A brown bear mauled two expedition guides from Un-Cruise Adventures as they led a shore excursion on a trail in Alaska.

The guides were leading a group of 22 cruisers from Wilderness Explorer on a hike on Chichagof Island on Thursday afternoon. The group encountered a brown bear sow and cub about 2.5 miles up the trail when the attack happened, according to a news release from Un-Cruise. All 22 passengers are unharmed.

Pic: injured guide is evacuated

Friday, 19 August 2016

PNG now offers free visa-on-arrival for Australians

#expeditioncruising



Great news for expedition cruisers - Australian passport holders can now secure a 30 day, free tourist visa on arrival in Papua New Guinea. The change in visa requirements was decided by the National Executive Council and it is the first time this option has been available to Australian visitors.

Chief Executive Office of Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA), Jerry Agus, said he is delighted by the news and sees this decision as an important step forward for the PNG tourism industry.

“We whole-heartedly welcome this news and believe that by simplifying the process and allowing visas to be granted upon arrival at no cost, will entice more Australians to visit one of their closest neighbours,” Mr Agus said.

Pic: Watam (Sepik) villagers perform for cruise guests (R Eime)
 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Australis makes UK sales appointment

#expeditioncruising

Silvia Vizzoni
Australis, the expedition cruise company, has appointed Silvia Vizzoni to head up sales and business development in the UK and Ireland.

Silvia has 15 years' experience working in the travel industry in the UK, Ireland and Southern Europe having worked with a number of brands such as Qantas, Aeromexico and Fiji Airways.

In 2013, Vizzoni launched her own travel and tourism representation business, BigBlue Collection, and Australis will join this portfolio of clients.

She will be tasked with developing stronger working relationships with the trade including tour operators and travel industry and destination associations as well as establishing new connections within the cruise and MICE sectors.

"The UK market is integral to Australis so it's vital to have an on the ground presence supporting and growing this market," said Leandro Bruno, marketing manager Europe and Asia.

The company runs three- or four-day all-inclusive cruises through the glacial channels of southern Patagonia and onto Cape Horn.


Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Local excursion boat sinks - 23 passengers rescued

#expeditioncruising

Update: an accident report has been issued (PDF)


Greenlandic authorities investigating the sinking of the Inuk II, a locally hired excursion boat ferrying passengers from the Ponant vessel, L'Austral, in Ilulissat are not commenting on the accident until they have a complete overview of what caused the incident.

From the accident report (linked above) it turned out a drain hose in the stern had not been correctly refitted during shore repairs.

Full story:

http://arcticjournal.com/business/2512/quick-action-prevented-serious-tour-boat-accident

Australis Cruises names new ship

#expeditioncruising

Name of new ship announced for Australis cruise line - Ventus Australis

Ventus Australis has been announced as the name of the new ship being built for Patagonian cruise line, Australis, which offers 'bottom of the world' expedition voyages to Cape Horn and the glaciers and fjords of Tierra del Fuego.

Latin for southern wind (Australis – southern; Ventus - wind), the new, 210-passenger Ventus Australis is being constructed at a shipyard in Valdivia in southern Chile ahead of her launch in late 2017 for Australis' 2017/18 summer season of cruising in Patagonia.

Tailor-made for cruising on the southern tip of South America, Ventus Australis will replace the smaller, 136-passenger Via Australis, which was built in 2005 and sold recently to Lindblad Expeditions.

Ventus Australis will be a twin sister to the 210-passenger Stella Australis, launched in 2010, which will continue to offer expedition voyages through the channels and fjords of southern Chile during the next 2016/17 summer season until her new fleet-mate joins her for Australis' 2017/18 program.

When she commences service, Ventus Australis will offer four-night cruises from Ushuaia in Argentina to Punta Arenas in Chile or return – the two southernmost towns in the world.

Australis is the only operator to offer regular cruises through the region, with the family-owned Chilean cruise line also offering more opportunities for travellers to step ashore on fabled Cape Horn than any other line.

From September to April each year, Australis operates regular three to seven-night expedition cruises from Ushuaia and Punta Arenas through the mountain and glacier-lined fjords of Tierra del Fuego, the Magellan Strait and Beagle Channel. Included in fares are zodiac excursions ashore to places like Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay and Pia Glacier. An average of seven massive tidewater glaciers can be seen on most Australis sailings while wildlife along the way includes elephant seals and Magellanic penguins.

Like Stella Australis (Latin for southern star), Ventus Australis will offer cabins with extra-large panoramic windows (almost floor to ceiling) so guests can enjoy vistas of spectacular scenery bathed in extended summer daylight. All guests will be offered complimentary, guided excursions and nature lectures as well as a free open-bar. Cuisine aboard includes local dishes as well as Chilean and Argentine wines. English and Spanish are spoken onboard.

For information on Australis cruises, see www.australis.comBookings can be made through South American specialist agency, Movidas [www.movidas.com.au]


South America Experts
South America Experts

Monday, 15 August 2016

Aurora Expeditions 2017-18 Antarctica Early Bird Sale Now On

#expeditioncruising



Aurora Expeditions 2017-18 Antarctica Early Bird Sale Now On
Plus two new itineraries and an exclusive photography masterclass

Polar cruise specialists, Aurora Expeditions, have launched their 2017-18 Antarctic program with an exclusive Early Bird sale, offering travellers the chance to save up to 15% on selected expeditions when booked before 31 August 2016.



Antarctica & South Georgia with Aurora Expeditions from Aurora Expeditions on Vimeo.

The 2017-18 Antarctic program, which features 10 departures between November 2017 and March 2018 aboard 54-passenger Polar Pioneer, includes two new itineraries and a plethora of exciting adventure options.

The new Fly & Sail ‘Antarctic Explorer’ has been designed for time-conscious adventurers, featuring just one open sea crossing. The new itinerary will allow travellers to maximise their time in Antarctica and enjoy an action-packed expedition exploring both sides of the Antarctic Peninsula. The 11-day Antarctic Explorer starts from US$9,500 per person.

Wildlife enthusiasts will revel on the brand new ‘Sub-Antarctic Safari’ as they sail between the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, enjoying up-close encounters with elephant seals, fur seals and various birdlife as well as world’s largest King penguin rookeries. The exclusive 15-day expedition offers an in-depth exploration of the sub-Antarctic islands and starts from US$10,900 per person.

Also new to the 2017-18 program is a Photography Masterclass delivered by award-winning photographer and adventurer, Chris Bray. Chris and his team will provide private tuition and group workshops to allow participants to finesse their photography skills and maximise their time shooting the marvels of Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. The 20-day ‘Photographer’s Antarctica & South Georgia’ starts from US$14,300 per person, with an additional surcharge for the photography masterclass.

Other optional activities are available for an additional surcharge, including sea kayaking, mountaineering, polar snorkelling and scuba diving. Camping is available free of charge to all passengers on selected expeditions, weather permitting.

With 25 years’ experience in Antarctic cruising, Aurora Expeditions continue to offer active small-group adventures featuring daily shore excursions, genuine wildlife experiences and educational interpretation via their team of expert guides, including naturalists, historians and polar specialists.

ANTARCTIC EARLY BIRD SALE – SAVE UP TO 15% PER PERSON
Aurora Expeditions invite travellers to book their 2017-18 Antarctic adventure before 31 August 2016 for their chance to save up to 15% on selected expeditions – that’s a saving of up to US$3,180 per person! Conditions apply.

For more information on Aurora Expeditions’ 2017-18 Antarctic program visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au, email info@auroraexpeditions.com.au or call 1300 061 490.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Days Seven and Eight: Life in the Arctic Ashore at Pond Inlet

#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

Location:
Icy Arm, Baffin Island - 71 deg 41.457' N, 75 deg 18.462' W
Pond Inlet, Nunavut – 72.7 N, 78.3 W (www.pondinlet.ca)

The massive cliffs of Icy Arm embrace Akademik Ioffe as we steam cautiously toward the end of Icy Arm, a deep majestic fjord that penetrates into the interior of Baffin Island from the east. Much of this region of mighty Baffin Island is characterised by these stunning formations, now just dusted with a light snow atop what must have been once a solid icecap. Glaciers bleed down from the plateau, most now stopping well before the waterline.

After collecting our kayak explorers from the water, our expedition continues northward for a rendezvous with residents of Pond Inlet, an Inuit outpost at the very northern tip of Baffin Island and regularly visited by One Ocean Expeditions' vessels during their summer season. Not a lot has changed since I visited in 2012, except that the kids in the cultural troupe have grown up. It's heart-warming to see them continue this tradition year after year.

The big talk around town is the relatively huge Crystal Cruises ship that will almost double the town's population next month when it brings more than 1000 visitors to the little hamlet. It will be an interesting test, but perhaps not as much as the nearby Mary River open-cut iron ore mine that is set to begin operations any day now. Receding ice and less severe winters have made access to natural resources a more viable proposition.

After the performance at the visitors' centre where we see demonstrations of Arctic games and songs, we're left to our own devices to wander town and visit places like the supermarket where a modest slice of watermelon can be snapped up for a mere $7.99 and Navel oranges sell for $10 a piece. I'll not complain about the cost of living in Sydney for a while.

Images:

  • Akademik Ioffe exits Icy Arm (R Eime)
  • Zodiacs ferry us to shore at Pond Inlet (R Eime)
  • Local Inuit performers pose for photographs (R Eime)
  • This curious joust is used to settle minor disputes among men. (R Eime)

Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada



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Saturday, 13 August 2016

The people you meet expedition cruising Neil Nightingale and Karen Bass

#expeditioncruising


by expeditioncruising.com editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Akademik Ioffe

Their names might not be immediately familiar, but their work most certainly is. I met Neil and Karen aboard Akademik Ioffe where they had been invited to give talks about their decades of work with the BBC Natural History Unit including seminal series featuring Sir David Attenborough.

While Head of The BBC’s Natural History Unit Neil oversaw numerous successful TV series including Life, Planet Earth, Big Cat Live, Frozen Planet, Deadly 60 and Springwatch. He also directed the recent theatrical films, Walking With Dinosaurs and Wild Africa.


Karen is a television director and producer with a passion for travel and natural history who, during 30 years with both the BBC Natural History Unit and National Geographic, made wildlife films in almost every corner of the Earth.

In my 20 years travelling aboard expedition ships and also many terrestrial journeys, their lively and engaging talks were among the most entertaining and enriching I have ever encountered. Especially when supported by clips from their mesmerising adventures capturing their award-winning footage. The added bonus of being able to chat over dinner or at the bar threw an even more personal light on their amazing travels and experiences.

“For us, getting the camera in the right place at the right time is where the rewards are,” says Karen,”and I can see the parallels in expedition cruising where the skill and experience of the expedition leader and the captain are critical in getting passengers positioned for these encounters. Even when, despite their best efforts and just like with our filming, not everything goes to plan, they are still able to produce unexpected surprises. For instance, who could plan for that breaching whale or the polar bear and three little cubs swimming past the bow of the ship?”

Then there is the time they spent weeks in the frozen Arctic waiting for the arrival of migrating narwhals or filming mating frogs in an African pond under the ominous scrutiny of Nile crocodiles. It all makes for captivating conversations.

“Put simply, expedition cruises are the only way for the regular person to experience these remote wildlife spectacles like a polar bear on ice or a rare bowhead whale,” says Neil.

Neil and Karen are planning more appearances aboard expedition cruise ships over the coming seasons, so stay in touch with your favourite expedition cruise company or consultant for updates.

More:
See Karen's TED2012 talk "Unseen Footage"



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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Four New Antarctica Cruises Launched by One Ocean Expeditions for 2017-18

#expeditioncruising

Offer Quicker Access and More In-depth Exploration

One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), is offering the opportunity to go further south of the Antarctic Circle than was previously possible on any of its other cruise expeditions, with the launch of a newly developed Antarctica ‘Deep South’ itinerary for the 2017-18 season.  It is one of four new itineraries from the polar cruise specialist, which also include expeditions taking in the New Year in Antarctica, Christmas in South Georgia, plus a 17-night trip featuring whale, fur seal and penguin chick spotting.      

Christmas in Antarctica, South Georgia & Falklands, 14-30 December 2017:  By using two flights – outbound from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island in the South Shetland Islands (Antarctica) and return from Stanley in the Falklands to Punta Arenas - this 16-night expedition reduces time at sea, a llowing more in-depth exploration of the destination with four days on the Antarctic Peninsula and four days, including Christmas Day in South Georgia.  Highlights include Elephant Island, named aptly by early explorers who saw elephant seals on the shore.  This remote spot provided refuge for Ernest Shackleton and his crew following the loss of their ship, the Endurance, in the ice of the Weddell Sea.

Prices start from US$15,295 per person based on triple share on board the comfortable expedition cruise ship, One Ocean Voyager (Akademik Sergey Vavilov).

Antarctica and South Georgia, 28 December 2017 - 13 January 2018:  Passengers will see one year out and the next year in on this 16-night voyage, which packs in all the highlights of a traditional 18-night itinerary by saving a day and a half at sea, using a flight at the end of the voyage from Stanley in the Falklands to Punta Arenas, Chile. With three days spent in South Georgia, there is plenty of time to appreciate the wildlife, including enormous colonies of king penguins, which often share the beaches with fur and elephant seals and gentoo penguins, while giant petrels and other sea birds swoop overhead.

Prices start from US $14,795 per person based on triple share on board the ice-strengthened expedition cruise ship, One Ocean Navigator (Akademik Ioffe).

Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica, 3- 20 February 2018:  Once again, by flying out of Punta Arenas to Stanley, Falklands Islands and disembarking in Ushuaia, this reduces travel at sea and allows all the locations of a longer voyage to be visited on this 17-night itinerary.  This is the perfect time of year for spotting whales as migrating pods visit Antarctica’s rich waters, as well as enjoying the sight of fur seals along the Peninsula and penguin chicks, which are increasingly independent and actively diving.  This is a favourite for photographers – amateur and professional – as well as nature lovers.

Prices start from US $16,395 per person based on triple share, travelling on the One Ocean Navigator (Akademik Ioffe).

Antarctic – ‘Deep South’,  20 February – 3 March 2018:  This itinerary usually requires 13-nights. However, due to the inclusion of the flight from Punta Arenas to King George Island, combined with disembarkation in Ushuaia, two days at sea are saved in transit and added ‘in destination', allowing travel further south of the Antarctic Circle than on other voyages.

Detaille Island, just beyond the Antarctic Circle, is the site of Britain’s Base W, which had to be evacuated in a hurry in 1958/9, leaving an eerily preserved time capsule of 1950’s Antarctic life.  Marguerite Bay, well below the furthest point of most ships, is home to two important science stations and J ohn Rymill’s southern base for the early 1930’s British Grahamland Expedition.  Weather permitting this cruise will include visits to these historic locations.  

Prices start from US $11,495 per person based on triple share, on board the One Ocean Voyager (Akademik Sergey Vavilov).

Early booking incentive - There is an early booking incentive of US $1000 per person available on all new bookings received by 1 November 2016.

For further information on One Ocean Expeditions’ cruises visit: www.oneoceanexpeditions.com



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Monday, 8 August 2016

One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Days Five and Six: The ice continues

#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

The ice continues and so does the wildlife

Location: Baffin Bay / Davis Strait

Thick ice and varying degrees of visibility continue to hamper our shore activities, so life aboard ship has been the feature of the expedition these last few days. Binoculars are trained seaward for birds and the ever-vigilant crew and passengers are on lookout for whale blows and flukes. Sarah, our Inuit artisan, continued to work on a seal skin brought with her for demonstration captured our attention as the delicate pelt neared completion.

While my previous journey in 2012 was largely devoid of ice, this year is markedly different, yet wildlife sightings have been abundant. Fourteen bears, including five cubs, the normally elusive bowhead, beaked and pilot whales and a few cheeky seals popping up at the few coves we've been able to visit.

We managed to get ashore in Sunneshine fjord, chock-a-block with fascina ting geological formations as well as a Zodiac cruise past the towering 'bird cliffs' in the Akpait National Wildlife Area. The majestic spires of these cliffs, hundreds of metres vertical from the shore, had all the hallmarks of an eerie fortress from 'Lord of the Rings'. Tens of thousands of breeding birds making their nests on the tiny ledges, swooping down in raucous flights to feed in the rich waters below.

Akedemik Ioffe continues northward where we hope to meet the locals at Pond Inlet.

Images:

  • Pilot whales in the evening light (R Eime)

  • Female polar bear and three cubs in the open water (OOE)

  • Bird cliffs of Akpait (OOE)

Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada 



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Friday, 5 August 2016

One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Days Three and Four: Thwarted by ice and the fata morgana



#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

Thwarted by ice and the fata morgana

Location: East of Baffin Island in Baffin Bay

Rising up against the backdrop of a bright, distant horizon, a massive plateau dominates the view. An attendant pillar juts imperiously from the ocean to right. Too far away to tell, they could be hundreds of metres high.

What I'm looking at is not, in fact, a geological feature at all. It is the mystical 'fata morgana', a comparatively rare atmospheric phenomenon that even our Inuit guide, Ted, has never seen in a life spent exclusively in the Arctic. The freakish condition is a type of mirage that grossly distorts distant objects making the sea ice in the opposite direction appear like a giant ice wall from the a scene from Game of Thrones.

So convincing are these apparitions, it is believed that the explorer John Ross named his vision 'Croker Mountains' and, marking them on his chart as impenetrable, turne d his expedition back to England. Subsequent expeditions failed to find any trace of this mysterious topography. The legendary land of Ultima Thule was also thought to be a product of these authentic-looking visions.

For the past two days, we've been kept away from the coast by heavy sea ice that refuses to break up and we spend our time scouring the remnants of the pack for signs of life. We are rewarded with yet more sightings of polar bears, this time feeding on the bloody remains of seals. Again, the optical artillery is brought to bear on these targets and blasted with the clatter of shutters in burst mode from a range of several hundred metres.

Besides interrupting the dinner of polar bears, we have several sightings of whales, large and small, including pilot and beaked whales.

Shore excursions are replaced with Zodiac cruises and we enjoy the opportunity to get out into the pack ice itself to see the crazy shapes and gorgeous blue hues contained in the fro zen sea up close. Kayakers rejoice in the chance to stretch their paddles. In between, enrichment is delivered in the form of nature and history lectures.

Our journey continues generally northward in Baffin Bay toward Lancaster Sound.

Bear count: 14 (including 5 cubs)

Images:
  • Is that the Croker Mountains? Fooled by the fata morgana (R Eime)
  • Ioffe in the sea ice retrieves Zodiacs (R Eime)
  • Big male polar bear snacks on a seal (R Eime)

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Day Two: Hangin' with the bear

#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

Location: Lower Savage Islands, Nunavut, northern Canada

If it weren't for the swirling eddies created by the raging currents, the otherwise placid waters and breathless air of the Lower Savage Islands, it would have been like boating on a dam.

We're motoring in a small convoy of Zodiacs among the labyrinth of waterways through these flat glaciated islands of solid rock. The texture and pattern of the stone varies enormously with patches of green lichen and smears of muddy run-off interspersed with glowing golden hues and the corroded bronze scuffs of surface copper. A harbour seal bobs up here and there and frantic gulls try and shoo away a marauding raven. We chat and watch.

“White dot ahead, two o'clock,” says expedition leader Boris, busting the silence over the two-way, its volume slightly overcompensated for the outboard.

Now we have a real purpose and before l ong we're calling out excitedly as a tiny furry head is seen propelled across the water by half a tonne of polar bear beneath the water. From a distance of about 150m we watch the massive beast haul himself out of the water and shake off a spray of frigid water.

“We could move in few metres,” says our resident bear expert, Nick, “he seems reasonably relaxed.”
So the encircled Zodiacs creep forward while cameras on rapid fire clatter. Massive lens are trained forward as if to deliver a salvo as the young male bear casually ambles up the slope and eventually across the brow of the hill, stopping occasionally, head aloft, to catch the medley of strange aromas that must be reaching him by now.

As he disappears from view our mini armada proceeds around the bluff and before long we've caught sight of him again. But wait, what's that? A mother and two first year cubs are high-tailing up the rocky cliff on the other side, putting as much distance as they can between themselves and the dangerous stranger.

The decision is made to linger with the male, sitting unperturbed on a moist ledge by the water. The strategy being to allow the mother and cubs to make a getaway while we photograph the magnificent specimen.

For the next hour we just hang with the brute while he does likewise, sniffing around the outcrops and having a bit of a dig at something interesting on top. The sun catches his fur from behind, creating a hairy halo around his whole body. The photographers are delighted. Needless to say we are late for dinner.

Images:
  • Young male polar bear against the sun (R Eime)
  • Bear stops to catch a scent (R Eime)
  • All lenses trained on the animal (R Eime)
  • Zodiac convoy amid the rocks of the Lower Savage Islands (R Eime)
Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada 


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One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Day Two: Hangin' with the bear

#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

 

Location: Lower Savage Islands, Nunuvut, northern Canada

If it weren't for the swirling eddies created by the raging currents, the otherwise placid waters and breathless air of the Lower Savage Islands, it would have been like boating on a dam.

We're motoring in a small convoy of Zodiacs among the labyrinth of waterways through these flat glaciated islands of solid rock. The texture and pattern of the stone varies enormously with patches of green lichen and smears of muddy run-off interspersed with glowing golden hues and the corroded bronze scuffs of surface copper. A harbour seal bobs up here and there and frantic gulls try and shoo away a marauding raven. We chat and watch.

“White dot ahead, two o'clock,” says expedition leader Boris, busting the silence over the two-way, its volume slightly overcompensated for the outboard.

Now we have a real purpose and before l ong we're calling out excitedly as a tiny furry head is seen propelled across the water by half a tonne of polar bear beneath the water. From a distance of about 150m we watch the massive beast haul himself out of the water and shake off a spray of frigid water.

“We could move in few metres,” says our resident bear expert, Nick, “he seems reasonably relaxed.”

So the encircled Zodiacs creep forward while cameras on rapid fire clatter. Massive lens are trained forward as if to deliver a salvo as the young male bear casually ambles up the slope and eventually across the brow of the hill, stopping occasionally, head aloft, to catch the medley of strange aromas that must be reaching him by now.

As he disappears from view our mini armada proceeds around the bluff and before long we've caught sight of him again. But wait, what's that? A mother and two first year cubs are high-tailing up the rocky cliff on the other side, putting as much distance as they can between themselves and the dangerous stranger.

The decision is made to linger with the male, sitting unperturbed on a moist ledge by the water. The strategy being to allow the mother and cubs to make a getaway while we photograph the magnificent specimen.

For the next hour we just hang with the brute while he does likewise, sniffing around the outcrops and having a bit of a dig at something interesting on top. The sun catches his fur from behind, creating a hairy halo around his whole body. The photographers are delighted.

Needless to say we are late for dinner.

Images:

  • Young male polar bear against the sun (R Eime)
  • Bear stops to catch a scent (R Eime)
  • All lenses trained on the animal (R Eime)
  • Zodiac convoy amid the rocks of the Lower Savage Islands (R Eime)

Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada 



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One Ocean Expeditions Baffin Island: Day One: North to Nunavut

#expeditioncruising #ExploreCanada

North to Nunavut

After a flight of more than two hours directly north from Ottawa, our ageing 737 touches down on the super long former military airstrip at Iqualuit, known in Cold War times as Frobisher Bay. On a line between the Canadian capital and the North Pole, it's roughly half way.

The pre-trip anticipation among the expeditioners is always palpable at this time. Some are making their first trip to the Arctic while others are well into double figures. The spread of nationalities on these departures is always intriguing and it's clear from the excited chatter that we have a mini United Nations awaiting the Zodiac transfer to Akademik Ioffe waiting at anchor in the bay.

If you count Alaska, this will be my sixth Arctic adventure aboard ship and my second with the venerable company, One Ocean Expeditions, who carry on their explorations in the time-honoured fashion by utilising the f ormer Soviet oceanographic vessels which pioneered the modern era of commercial polar cruising soon after the Berlin Wall came down.

In more recent times, the new wave of flashy 'champagne expedition' ships have shone a somewhat disparaging light on these proud and rugged vessels, but they have shown their mettle with decades of continuous reliability, a testament to their original robust and purposeful construction. What they lack in opulence, they more than make up for in sheer dependability and fit-for-purpose design.

In fact, it was on Ioffe's sister ship, Akademik Vavilov, that I made my first expedition cruise in the Antarctic almost 20 years ago. How time flies.

Images:

  • First Air 737-400 on the tarmac at Iqaluit (YFB) (R Eime)

  • View across Frobisher Bay toward township (R Eime)

  • Our vessel awaits (OOE)

Expeditioncruising.com is travelling as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions with support from Destination Canada 



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