Monday, 22 May 2017

New boutique small ship cruises in Norwegian Fjords


Fjord Adventures has been offering small boat charters in and around the spectacular Hjorundfjord and Romsdal Mountain range of Norway for more than four years.  Due to demand, the specialist operator has launched a programme of summer itineraries suitable for families, couples, singles and small groups who wish to explore areas that large cruise ships do not access.

From August 2017, Fjord Adventures will operate regular cruises between Molde and Ålesund around a glorious archipelago of islands, stopping off en route to enjoy pretty villages and scenic locations where amazing wildlife such as orca, minke whales and porpoises are often spotted.

Owner and Skipper, Sven Stewart, has long been aware of the limitations of large cruise liners so he established Fjord Adventures with his favourite boat, HMS Gåssten, an ex-naval minesweeper and one of the last wooden warships ever built, offering accommodation for just 10 guests.

Sven has lovingly converted her to sleep up to 10 guests comfortably.  He comments:  "Our trips allow guests to visit and explore fjords and areas where the bigger ships do not have permission or the ability to access.  We offer unique and memorable holidays in one of the most unspoiled and breathtakingly beautiful areas on the planet.  We cannot wait to welcome guests aboard for our unrivalled summer cruises."

Highlights of the organized six-night itineraries include eating freshly-caught seafood bought from local fishing boats that day, spotting sea eagles nesting near the ship's anchorage with the stunning panorama of the Romsdal Mountain range in the background, and taking a ride on a small landing craft to explore local communities, including picturesque Hjertoya, a traditional fishing village that has remained unchanged for centuries.

Fellow skipper Tash Wright has worked at sea for 20 years and recently sailed solo across the Atlantic.  "As a skipper I have travelled the world and seen some incredible places, but I have to say that the Hjorundfjord is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring places I have experienced."

Activities abound during the voyage for those who wish to participate and range from stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, wakeboarding, snorkelling and swimming, to road/mountain biking on rugged terrain, sea kayaking, hiking in birch and pine forests, rock climbing, abseiling and canyoning.  The choice is almost endless but they will all definitely work up an appetite!

Luckily, the private chef serves up a veritable feast three times each day, beginning with a plentiful buffet breakfast comprising everything from yoghurt and local berries to bacon, sausages, eggs, cereals, breads and juices.

Packed lunches are available for guests going on shore excursions, while those staying on board may enjoy the likes of locally caught fish chowder and soda bread, or freshly baked asparagus and gruyere tart.

Dinner is a hearty three-course affair which, depending on the season, may feature anything from local monkfish stuffed with anchovies, wrapped in pancetta and served with crushed new potatoes, to elk casserole with Nordic chanterelles, seasonal vegetables and creamed potatoes.   Wine and beer are all included in the cost of the holiday (a definite bonus in 'expensive Norway').

Prices for the six-night Molde to Ålesund or Ålesund to Molde itineraries cost £2700 per adult and £1900 per child for an all-inclusive package including meals, refreshments, wine and beer and airport transfers on arrival and departure days.  This is based on departures in August and September 2017 and May through to September in 2018. Flights are available to both Molde and Ålesund airports.

Alternatively, HMS Gåssten may be chartered privately by those who prefer to be masters of their own destiny and wish to have a hand in plotting the details of their holiday itinerary.  Charter prices are available on request.

For further information www.fjordadventures.co

Did you know? The opening sequence to the BBC's Wonders of the Universe is filmed solely in the Hjorundfjord.



Alaskan Dream Cruises celebrates its eighth cruise season

#expeditioncruising .




Small ship cruise line Alaskan Dream Cruises will celebrate its eighth cruise season in 2018 with the launch of the new "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest" itinerary.

The 2018 season runs May 11 through mid-September with 58 sailings on six different itineraries. Many of those cruises, including a new 10-night "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest," will sail aboard the 74-passenger Chicagof Dream, which sailed its inaugural Alaskan Dream Cruises voyage in 2016. The itinerary explores the regions of Alaska's Inside Passage, including two full days in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and a day in Skagway. Guests travel from Sitka to Juneau, spending time in small communities such as Kake, Wrangell and Petersburg. The "Alaska's Frontier & Wilderness Quest" itinerary is offered on June 3 and June 13, 2018 and starts at $6,290 per person.

Additionally, special pricing is available for those booking early or traveling solo. All 2018 sailings can be purchased at 2017 rates when booked before August 1. Multiple departures of the seven-night "Alaska's Glacier Bay & Island Adventure" Itinerary on Chicagof Dream will be discounted for solo travelers. The single supplement fee will be waived for any A or AA category cabins on May 13, 20, 27 and September 2 and 9 departures.

Alaskan Dream Cruises will also bring back its seven-night "Alaska's Islands, Whales & Glaciers," "Alaska's Glacier Bay & Island Adventure" and "True Alaskan Family" cruises; the eight-night "Alaska's Inside Passage Sojourn" itinerary and the 10-night "Alaska's Southeast Explorer" sailing.

The full 2018 cruise schedule and rates can be found online at www.AlaskanDreamCruises.com.


Explore with Ponant: where polar bears outnumber the locals

#expeditioncruising .

PONANT’s ‘Discovery of the King of the Arctic’ Spitsbergen voyage


Polar bear mother and cubs (iStock)

There is little doubt that the dream of seeing polar bears in their natural habitat is a powerful incentive to travel, however timing and location of such travel is important to maximise the opportunity of sightings.

Ponant’s12 night luxury Spitsbergen/Svalbard voyage, Discovery of the King of the Arctic, takes place in prime polar bear viewing time, July, that period when the Midnight Sun doesn’t set below the horizon, and the Arctic ice slowly melts. Then there is less ice than in winter, and the polar bears tend to be in more concentrated areas, on drifting pack ice, from which they can hunt their favourite prey, the ring seal. And be observed.

More than 3,000 polar bears live around Svalbard, outnumbering the human population, so the chances of seeing one or more polar bears is high but nature being nature such things are likely although cannot be guaranteed.

Fortunately there is plenty of other wildlife to look out for and photograph. Arctic foxes, Arctic terns, walruses, whales, puffins. Svalbard reindeer have no natural predators, so don’t be surprised to see one wandering around, unperturbed, even in colourful downtown Longyearbyen. At 78 deg north Longyearbyen is the northernmost town on Earth, and the extraordinary start and finishing point for this memorable voyage.

Less ice also makes it possible to navigate the beautiful Norwegian Svalbard archipelago: magical landscapes, a blend of ancient glaciers, jagged mountains and spectacular fjords, seen from the decks of the compact 264 guest Le Boreal or closer still during Zodiac outings, the summer sun showcasing the grand vastness of this icy realm. Exploration with the specialist team of Naturalists will enhance interaction with nature.

In Norway, conservation is an age-old tradition based on sustainable principles established long before anybody had ever heard the term - since set down in law, reflecting a long-term respect for nature and wilderness. Nearly two-thirds of the surface of Svalbard is protected consisting of several nature reserves, national parks, bird sanctuaries and a geotopical protected areas.

So too polar expedition specialist PONANT respects the environment. With over 20 years of polar experience PONANT is the world leader in polar voyage expeditions. A member of both IIATO* and AECO* its fleet of ships - the most modern in the world - are all ‘ice certified’, featuring the very latest in maritime technologies and safety. Environmental respect is at the core of PONANT philosophy, with carefully chosen itineraries, the use of coatings that minimise air and water pollution, respect for the local populations, and raising awareness among crew and passengers both on board and prior to landing.

Flexibility is key to getting the most from an adventure like this and the ship’s Captain and Naturalists will maximise the daily opportunities afloat and ashore to ensure guests have every opportunity to experience the very best of this 13 day polar voyage.

With PONANT there will be no hardship encountered being a modern polar explorer. Instead enjoy French luxury and ambiance on Le Boreal and experience the difference small ship cruising offers. Intimate cruises venturing where large ships simply cannot.

Voyage overview / pricing example

PONANT 12 night luxury Discovery of the King of the Arctic voyage, 16-28 July 2018, Longyearbyen/Longyearbyen / Le Boreal

Pricing currently from A$14,250 per person, twin share, in a Deluxe Stateroom with private balcony. Please note: all fares are yield managed and PONANT Bonus savings will decrease as space is sold.

Price includes Paris/Longyearbyen/Paris flights pre/post voyage.

Fare also includes accommodation, all meals on board, Open Bar, 24 hour room service, expedition parka, free boot hire, outings in Zodiacs with the expedition team, onboard presentations.


Voyage features

• The most complete PONANT cruise to Spitsbergen. 13 days/12 nights for a comprehensive discovery of the kingdom of the polar bear

• Outings and shore visits in Zodiac® inflatables with your naturalist guides;

• Hiking opportunity

• Landscapes: ice floes, jagged mountains, icebergs, plains covered with moss and lichens, lakes and rivers

• Wildlife: polar bears, Arctic foxes, Svalbard reindeer, Arctic terns, walruses, whales, puffins


Set sail from the cosmopolitan village of Longyearbyen, - the journey will begin with an exploration of the wild and unspoiled east coast of Spitsbergen before reaching the lush green valleys of Bellsund fjord, followed by a visit to Ny Alesund, the former mining town and the most northerly post office in the world.

Further north, the majestic Monaco glacier, an impenetrable wall with blue-tinged highlights.

This expedition voyage has been designed for those to whom the essence of travel means being rewarded with rare experiences far from mainstream tourism, sharing the day’s adventures with family, friends or like-minded travellers and the stimulation of mixing with informed, passionate speakers and knowledgeable Naturalists ….. all the while travelling in luxury.

* PONANT is a voting Member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), an organisation founded in 1991 to advocate, promote and practice safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica - www.iaato.org

As a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), PONANT continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting and promoting the Arctic zone and to operating cruises to the area which are respectful of the environment and native populations.

INFORMATION & RESERVATIONS

Details of all PONANT voyages including itineraries, pricing and shore excursion highlights are available at www.ponant.com

Contact your travel agent, or PONANT on Australia: 1300 737 178 or + 612 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62, or email reservations.aus@ponant.com to request more information or assistance.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

New ships for Katarina Line

#expeditioncruising .

Katarina Line announced that it will be introducing new, “more luxurious and modern” vessels for 2018 as part of a fleet-wide rebranding program that raises its category of ships to six from its current four-category designations of Deluxe, A+, A and B.

Beginning with the 2018 cruise season, the new categories will be Deluxe Superior, newer and larger ships that are a minimum of 154 feet long, built or updated within the past year; Deluxe, state-of-the-art ships between 137 to 154 feet long; Premium Superior, newer category A+ ships similar to the current Deluxe ships but a bit smaller in length; Premium, the smaller of Katarina’s spacious, steel-hulled ships.

The company said it is Croatia’s premier small ship company, operating over 50 ships seasonally from Croatian ports and carrying over 26,000 passengers.

Katarina Line’s more traditional wooden ships will be classified in two additional categories: Traditional Ensuite, featuring cabins with private shower/toilets; and Traditional, a smaller line of wooden ships with shared showers and toilets. Both categories will also feature air-conditioned salon.

“The popularity of small ship cruising in the Mediterranean has increased the demand for larger, more luxurious vessels that cater to the new generation of travelers. These travelers are seeking soft adventures ‘on the high seas’ with more lavish accommodation, gourmet dining and superior, personalized service,” said Daniel Hauptfeld, marketing director for Katarina Line.

He continued: “Katarina’s new, top-of-the-line Deluxe Superior vessels is in response to this demand. They are the most spacious in our fleet, constructed with the best material that includes solid wood, glass, marble, and stainless steel, with gourmet dining, onboard entertainment, and high service standards, as well as lavishly and thoughtfully designed en suite accommodation.”

Source: Cruise Industry News

Expedition cruise company to homeport in Sydney, Canada

#expeditioncruising .


With the opening of a second berth at the port of Sydney, it will become the home port for an expedition cruise company, its managing director says.

Sydney is situated perfectly to be a gateway for the business, Andrew Prossin of One Ocean Expeditions said in an interview Friday.

Read full report at Cape Breton Post


True North Wins Best Australian Adventure Experience and Best Luxury Expedition Cruise

#expeditioncruising .

True North Adventure Cruises wins multiple categories at Luxury Travel Magazine’s annual Gold List Awards.

The Broome-based adventure cruise operator scored significant wins as Best Australian Adventure Experience and Best Luxury Expedition Cruise.

The company has now won multiple Gold List awards since 2013 including five consecutive wins as Best Australian Adventure Experience. The total number of Gold List Awards won during the same period has reached 13.

Commenting on the company’s Gold List success, brand director Peter Trembath said “The high number of wins demonstrates the outstanding levels of customer satisfaction associated with an adventure cruise on the TRUE NORTH.

“Our guests don’t just disembark happy, they get off saying that their time on board was the best holiday they have ever had!”

When asked to explain the TRUE NORTH difference Mr Trembath responded “We have always focussed on providing unparalleled access to stunning coastal environments and unequalled opportunity to truly experience the destination. An adventure cruise on the TRUE NORTH is definitely not just another expedition cruise.”



Mr Trembath added that the wins were also an acknowledgement of the outstanding service culture that exists aboard TRUE NORTH “Nothing is too hard for our crew members.”

The latest accolades come as True North Adventure Cruises prepares to celebrate 30 years of successful operations.

On May 26 more than 300 guests will attend a gala celebration at Broome’s historic outdoor picture theatre, Sun Pictures. The event will include a feature length screening of the company’s anniversary movie 30 Years of Adventure.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Antarctica aboard Silversea Silver Cloud - singles offer

#expeditioncruising




Discover the heart-stopping landscape of Antarctica aboard Silver Cloud's newly transformed expedition vessel, which will depart Ushuaia, Argentina on 8th February 2018 on an unforgettable 10 day return voyage. Fares start from AUD$15,390 per person based on double occupancy in a Vista Suite, including Early Booking Bonus.  The ultra-luxury cruise line is now also offering a special 25% single supplement for solo travellers.

Silver Cloud, which is due to set sail for the first time as an expedition vessel in November 2017, will take guests on a journey from one discovery to another, passing through stunning landscapes made up of frigid waters and huge rivers of ice where guests will encounter icebergs, glaciers and wildlife, with walks and hikes ashore to see huge penguin colonies and seals.

Once on board, guests will be invited to attend a warm and inviting welcoming reception, the perfect opportunity for solo travellers to meet and socialise with other like-minded guests. For those travelling alone, Silversea's Gentlemen Hosts are available throughout the cruise, to join guests as dance partners or dinner companions. 

Setting sail from Ushuaia, the thrilling voyage will follow Drake Passage, transporting guests through an area where cold polar water and warmer equatorial water come together, attracting a multitude of seabirds and whales for guests to admire.

From here, Silver Cloud will sail into Antarctica's vast white wilderness, where a flexible itinerary will take advantage of favourable sea and weather conditions. In the true spirit of expedition cruising, each day the Expedition Leader and Captain will determine the best course depending on weather, ice conditions and possible wildlife encounters. Possible destinations include: Brown Bluff, Tabrin Peninsula; Paulet Island; Cuverille Island, Errera Channel; Paradise Bay; Petermann Island, Wilhelm Archipelago; Port Foster, Whalers Bay and; Port Lockroy, Goudier Island, before returning back along Drake Passage to Ushuaia.

Joined on board by a team of passionate and expert professionals, guests will be able to attend wildlife, geography and history discussions hosted by expert naturalists and guest lecturers to learn more about their exciting surroundings and get the most out of this truly fantastic expedition.

Silversea's fares include: all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary onboard champagne, wines and spirits; and one hour of complimentary WiFi per day for each guest and unlimited WiFi for the ship's top suites (Medallion and higher categories) and all gratuities.

FEATURED EXCLUSIVE OFFERS:

Antarctica All-Inclusive Package: Now including charter flights, hotels and more + AUD $899 Economy Class Air Round Trip to Buenos Aires on Silver Explorer Expeditions, or Santiago de Chile on Silver Cloud Expeditions*

Early Booking Bonus: Save 10% if you book and pay in full by 30 June*

Alluring Single Fares: Single supplements starting at only 25%

*This voyage is subject to change and may be withdrawn at any time. Terms and conditions apply. For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Antarctic Cruising Season set to break Records

#expeditioncruising

Travellers opt for Innovative Experiences

Antarctica is hotter than ever according to the latest figures released by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) who recorded a 15% increase in visitors travelling to Antarctica with IAATO members throughout the 2016-2017 Antarctic season.

For 2017-2018, Antarctica visitation is projected to see a 5% increase to reach a peak of 46,385.

The number of Australian visitors increased by 5% compared to the previous year, ranking them third on the list of passenger nationalities, behind the US and China.

According to Polar Specialist Chimu Adventures, there are many reason for Antarctic tourism growth, the most obvious being increased air capacity and misconceptions regarding accessibility and affordability. Also contributing to the destination's growing appeal is the increased amount of unique experiences to be found on Antarctic waters.

"While Antarctica stays the indisputable bucket list icon of expedition cruising, travellers are no longer just lured by the destination's physical distinctiveness alone" said Greg Carter, co-founder of Chimu Adventures.

"While first and foremost, travellers still take a trip to Antarctica for its obvious drawcards such as its remoteness, exclusivity and spectacular wildlife, we are seeing that more and more travellers are opting for travel options that go beyond the 'ordinary' expedition cruise, looking for that additional spark of uniqueness, that wow factor that makes the trip extra unique" he added.

As Chimu Adventures are preparing for this record breaking season, the company would like to assure travellers that, as a proud member of IAATO, they work under strict guidelines to ensure tourism impact on Antarctic wildlife and the environment is minimised at all times.

"Sustainability is one of our core values here at Chimu and we believe that the world's love for this incredible place, and people's desire to see it, are some of the factors that have been keeping it so fiercely protected" added Carter.

"We want our guests to become vocal ambassadors to help us spread the word about how important this last true natural untouched wonder really is as for us, creating advocacy is the strongest and most effective way to really make a difference."

According to Carter, these are the top unique experiences for the 2017-18 Antarctic cruising season:

Cruise with a purpose
On the exclusive 11-day Frozen Frontier fundraising voyage, organised by Chimu in conjunction with their very own not-for-profit Make a Difference Project (MAD), guests travel alongside Peter FitzSimons, former Wallaby and best-selling non-fiction author of 'Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen'.

Only a few weeks ago, Chimu took award-winning Aussie TV personality Sam Johnson from Love Your Sister on board, raising funds to assist Love Your Sister's quest to kick cancer in the behind.

Chimu's Marketing Manager Meg Hall (middle) in Antarctica with Sam Johnson (right) from Love Your Sister

Ski Antarctica
On the 28-day sail and ski adventure Ski Antarctica, get onto the pristine white slopes, seek virgin terrain and climb unique peaks and go sea kayaking amongst ice and penguins.

Camp on ice
As part of the 18-day Shackleton's Antarctica, adventurers will have a chance of camping on the ice, the ultimate off the beaten track adventure for many.

Visit East Antarctica
The 26-day In the Wake of Mawson expedition, retracing the footsteps of Sir Douglas Mawson, is a collaboration between Chimu and Mawson's Hut Foundation, giving guests exclusive access to the very rare tourist ships departing Hobart, Australia for East Antarctica.

Dive Antarctic waters
It may not be your obvious diving destination, but gliding through the amazing icy blue waters of the Antarctic is sure to impress with fascinating underwater encounters with Antarctic marine life. The 19-day Falkland Islands, South Georgia & Antarctic Peninsula includes a diving option.

For more information visit www.chimuadventures.com      

 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Aurora Expeditions Newbuild World-Class Expedition Ship

#expeditioncruising .

With 25 years’ experience in expedition cruising to Antarctica and the Arctic, Aurora Expeditions has worked closely with US-based ship builders SunStone Ships Inc. to create a custom-designed ship that remains true to the company’s ethos of pioneering adventures, intimate experiences with nature and exploring new regions.

The state-of-the-art ice class 1A ship will be built to the latest polar code specifications, offering unprecedented levels of safety and environmental protection – for operations not just in the high latitudes, but across the planet. Exclusively designed for expedition cruising, the 104-metre vessel will allow Aurora Expeditions to continue to provide the authentic, small-ship experience for which they are renowned.

“With the development of our purpose-built expedition ship, we stay true to our small-ship philosophy where the focus is on the experience and engagement with the environment while at the same time providing the most comfortable form of travel in these challenging environments. In the polar regions, we will have the ability to reduce passenger numbers so we can continue to visit existing landings sites as well as explore new areas where strict regulations enforce no more than 100 people ashore at any one time.” says Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director of Aurora Expeditions.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will be the first in a new series of high-performance vessels designed to make the ocean-going experience as safe and comfortable as possible in the polar regions.



“We are excited to be the first to market with this exciting new design. The vessel is the first to use the patented X-BOW technology which has the ability to pierce waves with much greater stability, making open sea journeys – like Antarctica’s notorious Drake Passage – more pleasant for passengers than what is currently available from other small ships on the market today.” Halfpenny says.

While a traditional bow vessel rises on the waves and then drops violently onto the surface of the water, an X-BOW vessel, less subject to the vertical motions induced by the waves, continues on course more smoothly, while maintaining its speed. Because it uses less fuel to get through the waves, it also helps to save energy versus a conventional bow designed vessel.

Aurora Expeditions’ new ship will make access to nature easier and offer passengers a more comfortable experience than ever before. It will also allow for greater adventure opportunities with a custom-designed platform to cater for additional numbers of kayakers and divers, and a mud room for easier preparation for climbers and skiers. Small inflatable Zodiac crafts will continue to carry expeditioners between ship and shore, with a dedicated sea-level Zodiac loading platform for quick and easy boarding.

In between adventures, passengers will return to the warm, friendly and inclusive onboard atmosphere for which Aurora Expeditions is well-known. Whether it’s making new friends over dinner, sharing entertaining lectures, or briefings in the lounge, the small-group experience remains the same. Add to this private bathroom facilities, cabin balconies, a 180-degree indoor observation deck, wellness facilities including gymnasium, sauna and spa, and plenty of outdoor viewing areas for additional enjoyment and comfort.

At a time when the cruising industry is focused on 6-star luxury and onboard activities to attract passengers, Aurora Expeditions remains steadfast in its belief that its destinations are best-experienced in small groups, as close as possible to the heart of nature. This means getting off the ship as often as possible with multiple daily landings and getting amongst the action; seeing up close penguin adults feeding their chicks, polar bears hunting seals on pack ice or Galapagos sea turtles diving for a meal.

The yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in time for Aurora Expeditions’ 2019/2020 Antarctic season (November to March) and will complement the company’s existing fleet of vessels and destinations. Itineraries for the new ship are expected for release later this year.

www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

G Adventures' Big Chill is here

#expeditioncruising .

Travellers to save up to 20% on G Expedition cruises

Breathtaking glaciers, saw-toothed mountains, colossal icebergs, polar bears in their natural habitat and fields of ice that stretch on forever - these are just a few wonders available to travellers with the launch of G Adventures Big Chill sale.

The Big Chill, the adventure company's early booking bonus, offers savings of up to 20% across select trips from the G Expedition cruises for travellers looking to secure a place on a Norway expedition in 2018, an Arctic expedition in 2018, or an Antarctic expedition in 2018/2019.

The Arctic, Antarctic and Norway rank high on the world's “Mind-Blowing Places to Explore” list, and through G Adventures' Big Chill Sale it's even easier for travellers to cross these dream destinations off their bucket list.

Norway trips, Scottish Islands & Norwegian Fjords, Cruise the Norwegian Fjords in Depth, Norwegian Fjords & Arctic Discovery, exploring areas such as the stunning and wild Scottish coastline & north eastern islands to the majestic Fjords of Norway, are reduced by 20% when booking before July 3, 2017 for travel in 2018/19.

Arctic trips, Realm of the Polar Bear, Realm of the Polar Bear in Depth and Arctic Highlights, discovering the stunning Svalbard Archipelago, are reduced by 15% when booking before July 3, 2017 for travel in 2018/19.

Selected G Adventures' Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctic Islands, Antarctica Classic in Depth, Spirit of Shackleton, Antarctica Classic and Quest for the Antarctic Circle trips, all of which explore the region at the bottom of the world, are reduced by 10% when booking before July 3, 2017 for travel in 2018/19.

G Adventure's polar cruising programme has proven extremely popular amongst Australian and New Zealand travellers, and continues to see compounding growth year-on-year out of these markets. Adrian Piotto, Managing Director at G Adventures Australia and New Zealand, credits this to the Aussie and Kiwi love for adventure and insatiable appetite for travelling to the unknown.

“All of our G Expedition cruises offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences, from the unique wildlife, to the pristine landscapes and breathtaking beauty of the soaring icebergs,” he said.

“We're excited to be offering Australian and New Zealand travellers greater opportunity to explore the stunning natural wonders of these regions. Through the G Expedition travellers not only have the benefit of seeing the unforgettable scenery in comfort on board but are also given more shore time, with G Adventures' team of expert expedition guides there to provide a greater understanding of the area.”

Travellers are advised to book early. With these prices, the Big Chill isn't expected to last long.

To receive the savings, travellers must quote 17EX020EXP01 for Norway, 17EX015EXP03 on Arctic and 17EX010EXP01 on Antarctic.

For more information please visit www.gadventures.com.au and www.facebook.com/gadventures.

Terms and conditions apply.


Monday, 1 May 2017

Massive Icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador [watch]

#expeditioncruising .



‘Iceberg chasers’ are gearing up for a momentous year with the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador predicted to see more icebergs than ever before along its famous Iceberg Alley.

The monolithic iceberg that parked itself off the coast of the tiny seaside town of Ferryland over the Easter weekend was just the beginning of what’s shaping up to be a bumper ‘berg season.

The International Ice Patrol (IPP) suggests the increase in icebergs in Newfoundland may be the result of storms earlier in the year, causing more Greenland ice to break off than normal, with strong winds drawing the icebergs south.



Fans of these colossal ice mountains flock to Newfoundland in Canada’s north-east between May and August to witness the extraordinary parade along Iceberg Alley. This year, however, the season may well be extended with at least 700 icebergs expected to make their way as far as St John’s in southern Newfoundland.

On a sunny day, these 10,000-year-old glacial giants can be viewed along the northern and eastern coasts, with colours ranging from snow-white to deep aquamarine. Read on for three ways to experience these icy beauties.



Get up close with these icy goliaths on a boat tour, or paddle along in a sea kayak. Experience the rugged beauty of the coastline as you explore sea caves, inlets, and jaw-dropping fjords.
Take a hike along 29,000 kilometres of coastline and feel a shiver up your spine as you witness a sparkling iceberg drift down Iceberg Alley against a soundtrack of boreal songbirds.
As the sun sets, head back to town and sip on Iceberg Vodka, made from the purest water on the planet. Iceberg hunters harvest the ancient ice, comprised of water frozen long before industrial pollution, creating a uniquely smooth, quintessential Canadian vodka.

Plan your adventure in Newfoundland and Labrador HERE.

How to get there

Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane with connecting flights through to St John’s in Newfoundland and Labrador via Toronto.

Visit www.keepexploring.com.au


PONANT 2018 northern summer voyages brochure

#expeditioncruising .


45 new ports of call

The new April - November 2018 PONANT brochure, in addition to new routes to be discovered, highlights two important events: the 30th anniversary of the company which was founded in 1988 by Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, its current President, and the arrival of the first two yachts out of four in the series of PONANT EXPLORERS.

30 years of passion

In 2018, PONANT will celebrate its 30th anniversary. 30 years of cruises under French flag across all the world’s seas, 30 years of ports of calls in some of the least-known places on the planet, 30 years of magnificent moments for our passengers. To mark this anniversary, the company has prepared two exceptional itineraries, which recall two of the most emblematic regions of the world for PONANT, the Ponant Islands and Polynesia.

The 2018 season by PONANT:

• 67 departures including 7 tropical expeditions and 9 polar expeditions • 5 geographic zones
• 53 different itineraries
• 340 different ports of call, 45 of which are brand new
• 34 new cruises and variants
• More than half of itineraries are new cruises or variants

The inaugural season of the PONANT EXPLORERS

2018 will also see the arrival of the two first sistership yachts in the PONANT EXPLORERS series. Measuring 128 metres long and with just 92 Staterooms and Suites, all with a private balcony, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain will set sail on their maiden seasons in Northern Europe and Mediterranean, from June and September 2018.

INFORMATION & RESERVATIONS
Details of all PONANT voyages including itineraries, pricing and shore excursion highlights are available at en.ponant.com

Contact your travel agent, or PONANT on Australia: 1300 737 178 or + 612 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62, or email reservations.aus@ponant.com to request more information, a copy of the brochure or assistance.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Tauck to double small ship capacity


Tauck has announced plans to double its small ship cruising capacity within the next four years through strategic fleet expansion, deepened partnership programs and new itineraries.

"We are destination explorers at Tauck and some destinations are best explored by both land and sea," said Tauck President, Jennifer Tombaugh.

"Tauck Small Ship Cruising is our first product line to sell out each year," said Ms Tombaugh.

"By adding new destinations and expanding our capacity with Ponant, we are able to provide more choice and more availability in order to better serve the current and growing demand."

Ponant, the French-owned cruise line, will debut four new luxury expedition yachts in 2018 and 2019.

As part of an expanded partnership, Tauck will leverage all four Ponant new builds starting with Le Lapérouse in summer 2018.

The first Tauck sailing on Le Lapérouse departs on 3 July 2018 with the 7-night 'Iceland: Land of Fire & Ice' round-trip from Reykjavik stopping at off-the-beaten-path towns, tiny villages and isolated islands and priced from AUD9990 per person twin share.

"Today, Tauck utilises five Ponant ships for 10 itineraries. By 2020, we'll be sailing on nine Ponant ships further supporting our investment in growing the category," said Ms Tombaugh.

NEW CUBA CRUISE
Tauck Small Ship Cruising is adding a 10-day journey throughout Cuba departing 14, 23 and 28 December 2018 aboard the 3-masted schooner, Le Ponant.

The new people-to-people cultural sailing will be priced from AUD12,490 per person twin share calling on Cuba's coastal gems between Havana and Santiago de Cuba and including a two-night stay in Havana, complete with guided Tauck sightseeing.

BBC EARTH JOURNEYS
Tauck is further expanding its 4-year partnership with BBC Earth, the award-winning filmmaker behind the 2017 acclaimed series, Planet Earth II.  Starting in 2018, all Tauck Expedition small ship cruises become a part of the Tauck Earth Journeys portfolio featuring customised BBC Earth enhancements connecting travellers with wildlife and nature.

The newest destination to be added to the Earth Journeys' cruise collection is Iceland. Planned enhancements include BBC Earth experts on board select cruise departures and Tauck Director training and certification by BBC Earth filmmakers and historians.

Currently, every land and sea Tauck Earth Journey features on-tour film vignettes custom-made by BBC Earth natural history experts, which Tauck guests view during their travels. Many Earth Journeys also incorporate BBC Earth-approved field equipment gadgets, such as sensitive
long-range microphones, thermal imaging cameras, night-vision goggles, and self-activating camera traps. The vignettes provide exclusive insights and perspectives shared by BBC Earth experts, while the gadgets allow new and exhilarating ways for guests to interact with their surroundings, further enhancing and enriching the experience.

25 YEARS OF SMALL SHIP CRUISES
Celebrating 25 years in 2018, Tauck Small Ship Cruising offer a variety of intimate sailings to destinations across the globe. Leveraging its 90 plus years of land expertise to provide guests with more access and enrichment onshore, Tauck Small Ship Cruising itineraries include cultural journeys and expeditionary sailings. In the early 1990s, Tauck took its land model to the ocean in order to bring guests to destinations best explored by sea. By engaging various maritime partnerships, Tauck discovered that small ship cruises aligned most closely with the type of experiences their guests craved with an ability to reach locations big ships are unable to explore. Tauck's first small ship cruise set sail in 1993 in the Mediterranean. Today, all Tauck small ship cruises offer flexible yacht-like cruising on vessels tailored to each destination and range from 40 to a maximum 300 guests. Each Tauck Small Ship Cruising itinerary is all-inclusive covering all shore excursions, gratuities, port charges and taxes, airport transfers, luggage handing, internet access, on-board meals and dining ashore opportunities. Most Tauck itineraries also include complimentary on-board beer, wine and cocktails, as well as pre and/or post-cruise hotel stays featuring guided Tauck-exclusive sightseeing.

Bookings to be directed to your Travel Agent or Tauck Australia on 1300 732 300 or reservations@tauck.com.au

From aboard Spirit of Enderby in PNG: Islands Alive


Sailing in the narrow channel between Fergusson and Normanby Islands, in the D'Entrecasteaux archipelago of Papua New Guinea, we were surrounded by the cones of ancient volcanoes. Now they lie dormant and cloaked in jungle green, but they are certainly not extinct. At the base of Deidei volcano we explored a large area of hot-springs, with bubbling pools of mud and water. We followed our guides carefully. The rocky crust was thin and punctuated with holes. Beneath lay scalding water. Where the water flowed out and over the surface it deposited lines of travertine crystals, creating a series of shallow terraces. Steam and a faint whiff of sulphur filled the air, the atmosphere positively prehistoric.

Later in the day, in the sea around Dobu volcano, we found different evidence of the hot rocks not far below. In shallow water, amongst beautiful coral and seagrass, streams of bubbles erupted from the seafloor. In one location, powerful jets of steam burst continuously from fissures in the rocks, their rumblings clearly audible underwater. The gentler streams of bubbles danced and shimmered in the low afternoon sunlight. Snorkelling through them was a unique and magical experience, a beautiful reminder that these islands are definitely still geologically alive.



guest post by
Karen Bass and Neil Nightingale

Bob Hawke to be Guest of Honour on PONANT Le Cercle Polaire Antarctic polar voyage



Former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke, Honorary President of NGO Le Cercle Polaire, will be a Guest of Honour on PONANT's Le Boréal Antarctic voyage departing Puntas Arenas, 17 November 2017, bound for the Antarctic Peninsula.

Along with the late former Prime Minister of France, Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of Australia Bob Hawke, was a major political contributor in the adoption of the third protocol of the Antarctic Treaty System. He will be aboard Le Boréal to share his thoughts on the principles of international control over and management of the polar environments, through either the reinforcement of existing regulatory frameworks or the introduction of new regulations.

For nearly 20 years, PONANT, the world's leading polar cruise specialist, has been committed to ensuring that its activities in the extreme lands of the polar regions are conducted responsibly. This Antarctic voyage will highlight the importance of scientific understanding of the Arctic and Antarctic regions and encourage the preservation of the polar environments through involvement with and sponsorship of NGO Le Cercle Polaire, whose aim it is to expand global awareness of the fragility of the polar environments and the urgent need to protect them. Laurent Mayet, founding president of NGO Le Cercle Polaire will be accompanying Bob Hawke during Le Boréal Antarctic Voyage.  

200 prominent people from more than 52 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, have committed themselves to the protection of the Poles through their involvement with Le Cercle Polaire. A 'Call of the Poles' campaign has received testimony from politicians, scientists, photographers and adventurers committed to protecting the Polar Regions, the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Greater knowledge of the Polar Regions is critical to understanding global climate dynamics and the processes behind global warming.

Photo: Eva Rinandi/Flickr

PRICING:
From A$11,181pp twin share for an 11 night Punta Arenas to Ushuaia 'Chile to the Antarctic Peninsula' voyage, departs 17 November 2017, Le Boréal. Twin share, Superior Stateroom. Current Ponant Bonus Fare subject to change.

Price includes flights from Santiago/Punta Arenas, transfers, plus flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires.

Further information ON LE CERCLE POLAIRE :
Further information on Le Cercle Polaire is available at:
https://www.lecerclepolaire.com/en/le-cercle-polaire-uk/about

INFORMATION & RESERVATIONS
Details of all PONANT voyages including itineraries, pricing and shore excursion highlights are available at  www.au.ponant.com  

Contact your travel agent, or PONANT on Australia: 1300 737 178 or + 612 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62, or email reservations.aus@ponant.com to request a copy of the current Asia Pacific 2017 - 2018 brochure                            

Further information available on the website:  www.au.ponant.com

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Whale research on Antarctic expedition cruise [watch]



Collaboration between Polar Expedition Cruise specialist - One Ocean Expeditions (OOE) - and acclaimed marine mammal biologists and scientists leads to significant information on Antarctic whale behaviour that can help to protect fragile polar ecosystems.

Australian and US scientists, including Dr. Ari Friedlaender OOE's leading marine mammal biologist on Antarctic whale scientific research, were recently conducting fieldwork off the Antarctic Peninsula. With drone technology the team of experts were able to capture ground-breaking insights on the feeding behaviour of whales

"We are very proud to support leading-edge research, as well as offer the opportunity for OOE's guests and staff to meet and interact with acclaimed marine biologists and scientists in the intimate setting provided by our expedition cruise vessels. It's not everyday travellers can witness renowned scientists at work and experience such close encounters with Antarctic whales and wildlife," says Andrew Prossin, Managing Director at One Ocean Expeditions. "The 2017 Antarctic cruise season, particularly our Marine Mammals of Antarctica expedition cruise this March, was certainly one to remember!" Prossin added.



The team of scientists attached non-invasive suction cup camera tags with 3D motion sensors, which fall off approximately 24 to 48 hours later. Upon retrieving the devices, the researchers were able to study the recordings showing the feeding behaviour of the humpback whales, including lunge feeding into the abundant tight swarms of krill found in the Antarctic Ocean at this time of the year. Not only did it show footage, but it also recorded their exact movements and the depths of each dive.

"We have some wonderful data on different feeding strategies, ranging from rolling lunges near the surface and bubble net feeding to deep foraging dives lunging through dense patches of krill," says leading whale scientist Dr. Ari Friedlaender. "We have been able to show that whales spend a great deal of time during the days socialising and resting and then feeding largely throughout the evening and night time," Friedlaender added.



The data captured by the cameras will not only help scientists to understand the feeding patterns, social habits and the role played by whales in the Antarctic ecosystem, it will also help them to determine how any change in krill populations might affect these magnificent creatures. Through this understanding, the researchers will be in a position to establish measures to help protect the whales' environment.

Meanwhile, longer-term LIMPET tags were attached to minke whales, essentially because these mammals are faster and more elusive than humpback whales. The tags will transmit data for approximately two to three months. "This work is part of a long-term ecological research study to better understand the divergent impacts of climate change on the ice-dependent minke whales and more open-water humpback whales in this part of the Antarctic," says Elanor Bell, Australian whale research scientist from the Australian Antarctic Division.

One Ocean Expeditions is committed to supporting ongoing ethical science and outreach programs with opportunities available to accredited institutions on each voyage. A leader in polar expedition cruising, One Ocean Expeditions operates voyages to the Antarctic from end October through to March. On several of the cruises, guests have the opportunity to get to know the scientists and to be educated on leading-edge research initiatives - an important part of the One Ocean Expeditions cruise program, which differentiates the company in the growing competitive cruise market.

For more information on One Ocean Expeditions' voyages in polar destinations please visit: www.oneoceanexpeditions.com

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Island Escape cruises in Tahiti


Escape to Tahiti Like a Pop Star or President 

Tahiti Tourisme is offering Australian travellers the chance to relax like a rock star or take time out like a talk show host with a series of star-studded holiday packages now on sale.

Proving it's the world's pre-eminent island destination, some of the most famous people on the planet have chosen The Islands of Tahiti as their ultimate getaway in recent weeks.

Once owned by Marlon Brando, The Brando – an exclusive eco-resort on Tetiaroa – has been a playground for celebrities on "spring break", hosting a former president and talk show host on its idyllic shores.

A rock star and Oscar-winning actor have also taken advantage of the privacy of a luxury yacht to sail around the Society Islands, anchoring in the crystal clear lagoon of island paradise Huahine.

Meanwhile one of the music industry's most iconic couples took time out from their busy schedules to enjoy a babymoon at a Bora Bora resort.

Tahiti Tourisme Director Australia New Zealand Robert Thompson said the Islands of Tahiti had always been popular with celebrities as it offered the chance to truly get away.

"The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for their picture-perfect lagoons and palm-fringed beaches but what some visitors enjoy most is the destination's exclusivity and privacy," Mr Thompson said.

"Privacy is the ultimate luxury and it comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti, which offer all visitors the freedom and space to truly relax in their own private haven."

Tahiti Tourisme is inviting holidaymakers to experience the Islands of Tahiti like a VIP with a range of great packages:

Indulge in a babymoon like a pop star with a seven-night package including five nights in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso Resort,  return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia and transfers throughout including inter-island flights, from $5799* per person twin share.

Sail around the Society Islands like a movie star onboard the 24-passenger luxury small ship Island Escape, which offers the ultimate comfort as guests explore coves and islands that are inaccessible to larger ships. Prices start from $7199* per person twin share including the seven-night cruise, two nights at Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia, transfers throughout and inter-island flights.

Escape like some of the most famous couples in the world with a five-night package including three nights in a luxurious private beachfront villa at the Brando on Tetiaroa, two nights at Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia and transfers throughout including inter-island flights, from $8799* per person twin share. The all-inclusive resort offers all meals, beverages, excursions and a spa treatment.

For more information or to book visit www.tahititravel.com.au

*Subject to availability, conditions apply.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Arctic cruise experiences off the beaten track in 2017

#expeditioncruising

Australian travellers will have more reasons than ever to go on a polar adventure this year with Polar Specialist Chimu Adventures expanding their travel options to include a variety of off the beaten track Arctic itineraries.

Whether it's crossing the magnificent scenery surrounding Greenland, spotting polar bears in the Arctic's 'capital of wildlife' Spitsbergen, or following the footsteps of the early Arctic explorers on a voyage across the iconic Northwest Passage, Chimu's Arctic experiences will appeal to discerning travellers who have their heart set on seeing and experiencing one of the most seldom visited destinations on earth.

Apart from taking in some of the planet's most inspiring sceneries, the journeys also offer wildlife excursions as well as cultural visits and on-board lectures about the Arctic's local history and culture.

Itineraries encompass a vast range of experiences in destinations including the North Pole, Greenland, Spitsbergen, the Canadian Arctic and the Russian Arctic.

Highlights include:

-         The 8-day Realm of the Polar Bear (on sale - now priced from AU$ 3,518), is the ultimate introduction to the Arctic taking in the Spitsbergen area in-depth that is commonly referred to as the Arctic's 'capital of wildlife'. On this best value trip, travellers have a high chance of seeing the elusive polar bear and other prominent wildlife species while cruising the region's scenic glaciers, fjords and ice fields.

-         On the 15-day Arctic Highlights (on sale - now priced from AU$ 5,660), travellers can tick off not just one but several bucket list items. Taking in the best of Spitsbergen, Greenland and Iceland, this trip provides guests with a great chance of seeing polar bears and the Northern Lights.

-         The 13-day Top of the World (early bird sale - now priced from AU$ 36,345) is the ultimate way to see the North Pole. Guests will cruise aboard a state-of-the-art icebreaker, crush through multiyear ice on the Arctic Ocean, take in the rarely visited Russian Arctic archipelago before being presented with the once in a lifetime opportunity of standing at the top of the world.

-        The 17-day Northwest Passage: Epic High Arctic (priced from AU$ 16,255) is an in-depth exploration of the High Arctic with the North West Passage and its history being a major focus of this voyage. Following the footsteps of Sir John Franklin, this cruise explores the stunning fjords and icebergs of the Canadian Arctic, and travellers will visit traditional Inuit communities and learn about the Arctic's history and culture.

 "We have seen huge organic growth in demand for our Antarctica cruises over the last 18 months with an increasing number of travellers returning from their trips hungry for their next polar adventure. With most of our Antarctica vessels already operating in the Arctic, it was the next logical step for us to expand into this new destination" said Chad Carey, co-founder of Chimu Adventures.

"Even the most seasoned traveller will be blown away by the inspiring features that make up the Arctic – its mind-blowingly distinctive wildlife, picturesque sceneries, fascinating history and culture. For us, we really want to provide our travellers with an immersive experience that goes beyond the 'ordinary' expedition cruise and our travel options perfectly reflect this mission."

For more information, visit: http://www.chimuadventures.com/destinations/arctic-cruises

*Prices are subject to change ; terms and conditions apply.

www.chimuadventures.com

World Expeditions Antarctic Voyages Sale




#expeditioncruising

Save on selected World Expeditions active' Antarctic Voyages

Get active and save up to US$3,100 on World Expeditions' Antarctic Sale.  Choose between a 30 day historic voyage following the routes of past explorers, a 12 day base camp expedition, with free camping, kayaking, mountaineering, hiking and snowshoeing – or something in between.

On the 30 day Ross Sea Explorer -  Footsteps of Scott & Shackleton, which departs Invercargill, New Zealand on 10 January 2018 and 08 February 2018, you'll save US$2,230 on a main deck twin room, now US$20,070 per person, reduced from US$22,300 or save US$2,400 on a superior room, now US$21,600 per person, reduced from US$24,000.  This expedition is the ultimate Antarctic voyage in one of the most remote regions in the world and is only accessible for two months each year when the ice thaws. Visit historic huts of the early explorers including Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen. Voyage through the breeding grounds of Adelie and Emperor penguins, and enjoy landings on the Sub-Antarctic Auckland, Campbell and Macquarie Islands.



Save up to US$2,150 per person on the 11 day Antarctic Experience, which departs 6 December and costs from US$5,750 per person (down from US$7,200 per person). An ideal introduction to the Great White continent, see albatross and petrels as we cross the Drake Passage when the first huge icebergs come into view, along with a wide variety of wildlife including seals, whales and an abundance of penguin and other birdlife.

For the ultimate active experience in Antarctica, board the 12 day active Antarctic Basecamp Cruise, which includes camping, kayaking, mountaineering, hiking and snowshoeing.  Departing 4 November, you'll save between US$1,600 on a quad porthole room (reduced from US$7,950 to US$6,350 per person and US$2,350 (reduced from US$11,850 to US$9500 per person on a superior room.

Other trips on sale include the 15 November Weddell Sea - In search of Emperor Penguins (save up to $3,100) and the 29 November Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula (save up to $1,200).

Join World Expeditions' Antarctic experts at free information nights in Melbourne (4 May), Brisbane (10 May), Sydney (18 May) and Adelaide, (23 May) to hear about the suite of Antarctic expeditions.

Offer valid until cabins are sold out; however availability is limited.  Call 1300 720 000 or visit www.worldexpeditions.com for full terms and conditions.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Silversea Previews Major Redesign for Silver Explorer

#expeditioncruising .


Silversea's luxury expedition ship Silver Explorer will welcome guests to a stylishly elevated onboard experience starting with her May 20 voyage, sailing from Lisbon to Honfleur. A comprehensive stem-to-stern refurbishment is scheduled for the end of April and will take place during a nearly three-week dry dock in Las Palmas. Plans call for a complete renovation of Silver Explorer's interior decoration, creating a revitalized atmosphere throughout the ship. As part of its $170 million fleet-wide refurbishment program, the company is making a significant investment to ensure that guests enjoy a renewed sense of luxury and comfort when sailing aboard Silver Explorer. Highlights of the renovation include:

Refreshed Public Spaces: The ship's overall color scheme will shift to an elegant new palette of blue and beige tones, which guests will first notice in the remodeled reception area. The rich new look will be carried throughout the ship with the installation of attractive new carpets and wall treatments in the corridors, staircases and all public spaces.

In addition to new carpets and wall treatments, the Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge, and Connoisseur's Corner will be updated with all-new furniture. The restaurant's buffet counters, ceiling and walls will get a makeover and the furniture will be refashioned with new upholstery. The theater's bar will be completely redesigned and its banquette seats refreshed with new upholstery. A new boutique will be built in the space previously occupied by the library, while the reference and entertainment materials from the library will be moved to the Observation Lounge. Also set for a spruce-up are the spa and fitness center, which will double in size by taking over the area occupied by the original boutique. Plus, the Outdoor Grill will be enhanced with a new awning.

Elevated New Décor for Suites: The ship's all-suite accommodations will be completely renovated with new carpets, wall treatments, curtains, and furniture, including mattresses, headboards, wardrobes, bedside tables, vanity desks, sofa beds, armchairs, flatscreen TVs and lighting fixtures. In all but the largest suites (i.e., Medallion Suites and higher), the bathrooms will be enhanced with new flooring, granite appointments and rainforest showers (replacing tub-and-shower combinations). Suites with verandas will be outfitted with new veranda furniture. And the eight Expedition Suites on Decks 3 and 4 will be converted into 16 Vista and View Suites, with most featuring a connecting door for the convenience of families and friends traveling together.

The remodeled Silver Explorer will accommodate 144 guests in all-inclusive luxury as she sails to the world's most remote destinations—from the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa to the Americas, French Polynesia, and the Russian Far East. Guests will enjoy sumptuous cuisine, the personalized service of a butler, and a generous selection of shipboard amenities included in the fare, such as complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and at least one free hour of Wi-Fi per guest, per day.

In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests will be enriched by an onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations and daily recaps. Exploratory Zodiac excursions and interactive walks ashore, led by experts in their field—marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists, are complimentary.

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit www.silversea.com



Myanmar with The Strand Cruise: a spectacular experience from ship to shore

While the exceptional on-board amenities may make it difficult to leave The Strand Cruise, the luxury line's latest shore excursions make exploring Myanmar's stunning scenery irresistible, and easily accessible to travellers along the Ayeyarwady River.




The Strand Cruise, sister ship of the world renowned Sarkies brothers hotel The Strand Yangon, offers a selection of three-and-four-night cruises along Myanmar's epic Ayeyarwady River between Bagan and Mandalay. The à la carte shore day trips, many of which are not readily available to many visitors, include ancient cities, monasteries, pagodas and temples and unforgettable and exclusive experiences, such as horse-and-cart rides and hot air ballooning.

The Strand Cruise's shore experiences allow travellers to discover the hidden authentic gems of Myanmar, experience the rich tapestry that makes up this colourful and stunning country, and immerse themselves in the rich culture of one of the hottest emerging destinations for Australian travellers. Each guide has no more than five passengers with them during the excursions, making each journey ashore personalised and unique to the needs and wants of guests.

Guests on board The Strand Cruise can choose from a menu of unique tailor-made, shore excursions designed to allow travellers to customise their cruise experience.  Highlights of the shore excursions include:

·         Mandalay's magnificent U Bein Bridge, a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura which is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world

·         Former capital Mingun which lies at the foot of 'the unfinished pagoda', one of the largest ever constructed in Myanmar. Visit the pagoda via local Tuk Tuk transport and see the Mingun Bell – renowned as the largest un-cracked hanging bell in the world

·         Paya Hsinbyume, an impressive pagoda that rises in seven curved whitewashed terraces representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt Meru - the centre of the Buddhist universe

·         Embark upon a romantic horse-and-cart ride to ancient imperial capital Ava, which presided over successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Admire key landmarks of this ruined abandoned city, which has been ravaged by war and natural disasters. Visit the Yadana Shemee and Wingaba temples, as well as the Bopaya monastery

·         The architecturally significant ancient city of Bagan, beginning of the Bagan Heritage Trail and home to wonders including the exquisite Ananda temple, the gold-leaf bedecked Shwezigon Pagoda, and the five-terraced Shwe San Daw temple with its bejewelled umbrella and panoramic views from cylindrical stupa

·         A sunrise hot-air balloon ride floating above the 2000 glorious pagodas of Bagan (additional costs apply)

Formerly known as The Elephant River or Irrawaddy River, the Ayeyarwady River is Myanmar's lifeline, running from the snow-capped Himalayas through 1500 kilometres to the Andaman Sea. Its banks are home to hundreds, if not thousands of temples, stupas and nats, while its stories have inspired poets, authors, artists, photographers and modern day adventurers.

A luxury touring experience, The Strand Cruise is acclaimed for its flawless service, insightful guides, exceptional comfort and extensive on-board activity options, including a swimming pool, spa, series of fascinating lectures, regional cooking demonstrations and crew-hosted cocktail parties.

The Strand Cruise itineraries include three meals a day, soft drinks and local beer, house wine during meals, port charges, English-speaking guides, many on-board activities, shore excursions and satellite Wi-Fi in all cabins and public areas.

Throughout 2017 and 2018, The Strand Cruise will host a series of expert-led themed cruises designed to enrich guests' experience of Myanmar and its culture, including a photography cruise hosted by professional photographer Lucas Gurdjian in October and classical music-themed cruises in November 2017 and February 2018 featuring musicians from Orchestre de Paris.

New to The Strand Cruise in 2017 will be an 11-night voyage from Mandalay to Yangon, providing passengers with an immersive cultural experience and access to lesser known temples and villages along one of Myanmar's most majestic waterways.

Highlights will include a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, a 2,500-year-old gold-leaf and diamond encrusted pagoda and one of the country's most sacred and impressive Buddhist sites; the forts of Gwechaung, the bejewelled Shwe San Daw temple in Bagan; and the U-Bein Bridge, believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

The Strand Cruise is a reinvention of the legendary style and unique personality of its sister hotel, The Strand Yangon, within a contemporary river cruise experience, with design touches that evoke the character of the Strand in its heyday as a meeting place for explorers and raconteurs, combined with latest creature comforts and technology. Passengers can complement their cruise with a stay at the recently refurbished The Strand Yangon:  www.hotelthestrand.com

Thursday, 13 April 2017

News from Wild Earth Travel

#expeditioncruising .



Discover French Polynesia's Enchanting Marquesas Islands

Explore aboard the ultimate cruise freighter Aranui 5



Embark on a voyage of discovery following the paths of Paul Gauguin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thor Heyerdahl and Jacques Brel. The Aranui 5 takes you to some of the most remote corners of the Pacific, the ship has been uniquely designed to provide both a vital cargo link for the remote villages while at the same time bringing travellers in comfort to experience these spectacular islands and their welcoming inhabitants.

Each day the Aranui 5 will visit a new and different port where there is the opportunity to explore ashore, travel inland to historic sites, go horseback riding and many other included adventures.

The Aranui 5 was launched in 2015, designed and custom built with passenger comfort in mind. As you cruise, the experienced Polynesian staff and crew will welcome you to these exotic, captivating islands they call home.

The ship provides a relaxed, friendly experience with space to meet new friends while relaxing on the deck or by the pool, as the islands seem to float by. If you are looking for privacy, retreat to your balcony in our suites and deluxe staterooms.

Watch the infinite colours of the sunset play in the sky and sea as another day draws to a close in the South Pacific. After a 3 course dinner, let the lively Aranui Band introduce you to Polynesian rhythms.

Request more information on the Aranui 5's Marquesas cruises here, or view the itinerary on our website.

Join the North Pole Summit 20 July -2 August 2017

You are invited to embark on an adventure of a lifetime with seven modern-day heroes. Travel with world-renowned adventurers, photographers, writers, scientists, researchers and educators who will be sharing their unique perspectives on everything from facing environmental challenges to following your dreams.

Crush through multi-year ice on the Arctic Ocean aboard 50 Years of Victory. Sightsee by helicopter on the lookout for walruses, seals, whales and polar bears. Stand at 90 ° N with a glass of champagne in hand - and everywhere you look is south.

As you travel you'll discover first-hand what inspired these modern-day heroes to pursue the passions that have shaped their contributions to society.

To register your interest for this summit, contact us today.

Brand new expedition ship to explore remote glacier

#expeditioncruising .



Remote glacier at the bottom of the world added to new cruise itinerary for brand new expedition ship - Ventus Australis

A spectacular but remote glacier at the southern-most tip of South America and guarded by the world’s largest flying bird has been added to a new ‘bottom of the world’ cruise itinerary for brand, new expedition ship, Ventus Australis, which commences service with Patagonian cruise line, Australis, next January.

The huge and rarely visited Condor Glacier in Agostini Sound will be a highlight of a new, four-night ‘Patagonian Explorer’ itinerary that the 210-passenger Ventus Australis will offer from Ushuaia in Argentina to Punta Arenas in Chile when the ship debuts on January 2, 2018. Passengers will be able to see the glacier up close on zodiacs and also watch out for the Andean condors which gave the glacier its name. The Andean Condor is the largest, flying bird in the world, weighing up to 15kg and with a maximum wingspan of 3.3m.

Ventus Australis will be the only ship in the world to visit the Condor Glacier regularly, with the exclusive, new, four-night sailing from Ushuaia available every eight days from January to March, 2018, and again from September, 2018, to April, 2019. The Patagonian Explorer itinerary through the mountain-lined fjords of Tierra del Fuego also includes fabled Cape Horn, where guests can walk ashore, weather permitting, Wulaia Bay, a Magellanic penguin colony at Magdalena Island and three other glaciers – Pia, Giribaldi and Aguila, where guests will be taken ashore by zodiacs for close-up views and walks.

Ventus Australis will be a twin sister to the line’s other vessel, the popular, 210-guest Stella Australis, with bother offering panoramic, floor to ceiling cabin windows, free open bar, complimentary, guided excursions, nature lectures and gourmet cuisine including local dishes and Chilean and Argentine wines.

* To mark the debut of Ventus Australis, Australis has indefinitely frozen fares for the next two summer seasons at the same level as those for the current 2016/17 summer season. Australis is also offering a 10 per cent discount to passengers who combine two four-night cruises to create an eight-night exploration of the spectacular mountain and glacier-lined fjords of Tierra del Fuego, the Magellan Strait and Beagle Channel. The route from Punta Arenas back to Ushuaia will vary slightly, taking in different glaciers, islands and bays, allowing those who do back-to-back cruises to enjoy an in-depth, eight-night expedition of the breathtaking fjords of Tierra del Fuego.

Fares for four-night sailings aboard Ventus Australis in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons are available from US$1440 person, twin-share. A combo eight-night cruise is available from US$2592 per person, twin-share, including a 10 per cent discount. Prices include guided excursions ashore and beverages through an open-bar.
Contact specialist South America travel agent, Robyn Smith at www.movidas.com.au


Windstar Cruises returns to Alaska




Award-winning boutique cruise line, Windstar Cruises has announced a return to Alaska sailings in its northern Spring/Summer 2018 ports of call also taking in British Columbia.

The news comes on the heels of Windstar's recent announcement of its return to Asia in 2017/18, with the 212-guest, all-suite Star Legend yacht sailing from Tokyo to Seward (Anchorage), Alaska over a 14-day trans-Pacific cruise, which also stops in Miyako, Hakodate, and Kushiro in Japan.

Windstar's Alaska beckons guests to slow down over leisurely journeys. With voyages starting at 11 days, there is ample time for scenic cruising in both Canada's and Alaska's famed inside passages – where guests can look for orcas, bears, and bald eagles from the comfort of their elegant ship.

Star Legend will sail Misty Fjords National Monument and Kenai Fjords National Park, experiences usually booked via a shore excursion because the 'big ships' do not go there.

Each Windstar Alaska itinerary includes sailing through Tracy Arm Fjord – so close that noise of the ice breaking and falling into the water during glacier calving will surprise. Enthusiastic park rangers, scientists, glaciologists, geologists, and other experts will be aboard each cruise to provide education, perspective, one-on-one discussions, and ample opportunities for individual discovery in America's 'last frontier'.

"We are so excited to be enhancing the Alaskan travel marketplace by introducing our brand of true small ship cruising to Alaska. Sailing closer to pristine deciduous shorelines, delving deeper into all-enveloping fjords, kayaking in icy straits right off the ship's Watersports Platform, and viewing an endless wilderness from sea level. We are bringing our guests right to the heart of what makes Alaska and the Great Pacific Northwest such an amazing destination and magical place to visit," said Windstar President, John Delaney.

"We are working hard now to arrange customised bucket list moments like the chance to hike atop the massive Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska's capitol of Juneau, zip-line over crystal-clear creeks in bear country, snap a classic whale tail picture on your mobile phone – during a romantic deck-side dinner, fly over majestic Glacier Bay in a private plane, uncover Sitka's rich Russian heritage, or check out Petroglyph Beach in Wrangell – a destination rarely visited by cruise ships. Windstar is thrilled to put its stamp on this classic cruise region and expects it will quickly become a Yacht Club Member favourite. We honestly can't wait!"

Highlights of Windstar's inaugural Alaska season with the 212-guest Star Legend yacht include:

Cruising Tracy Arm and Misty Fjords.
Optional up-close and personal kayaking and scenic cruising by Zodiac directly from the ship.
Full destination immersion with 7 to 8 Southeast Alaska and British Columbia ports each cruise.
Sailing right into Misty Fjords and Kenai Fjords, due to small size of ship.
Multiple glacier experiences on northbound/southbound sailings featuring Mendenhall Glacier, Tracy Arm, and Kenai Fjords.
Longer itineraries of 11 to 14 days allowing the yacht to move slower and get closer to shore exploring more off the usual charted course.
Naturalist/Expedition Leaders on all voyages who will customise the experience for guests along with speakers from Native American tribes.

Once in Alaska, the elegant Star Legend embarks on three new itineraries with eight sailing dates, departing May to August 2018, including a 14-day Seward (Anchorage) to Vancouver option; 12-day Vancouver round-trip itinerary, and 11 or 12 day Vancouver to Seward (Anchorage) voyages. Windstar also plans to offer pre and post cruise land excursions, allowing guests more time to explore Alaska's interior.

New Alaska Itineraries Sail Longer, Slower, Closer to Shore, and Deeper into Fjords

Wonders of Alaska & Canada – These 14-day voyages from Seward (Anchorage) to Vancouver are offered three times, allowing guests a full two weeks of jaw-dropping scenery and history. British Columbia's Prince Rupert, located on Kaien Island just north of the mouth of the Skeena River, is a highlight – a picturesque port rich in culture and heritage. Teeming with wildlife, guests can expect whale, eagle, salmon, and grizzly bear sightings, and also visit the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, with one of the densest remaining North American bear populations.

Alaskan Splendors – Multiple journeys between Vancouver and Seward (Anchorage) over 11 or 12 days offer a tour de force of top Alaskan destinations. From the wildlife and glaciers of the Inside Passage to the First Nations totems of Ketchikan; hiking in Haines or sampling its cultural offerings like the Alaska Indian Arts Center, where traditional craftsmen demonstrate their work; to the biggest zip-line in the United States in Icy Strait Point.

Islands & Inlets of the Inside Passage – Offering two 12-day sailings, this itinerary cruises roundtrip from Vancouver, passing under the famed Lions Gate Bridge twice, both en route to the rugged coastline and on the return. A hidden gem at the midway point of the Inside Passage sits Metlakatla, Alaska on verdant Annette Island. This locale is the only US settlement of the indigenous Tsimshian people, where guests can visit a traditional longhouse and experience the full regalia of Native American song and dance shows.

Windstar Alaska fares start from AUD7163 per person twin share based on Oceanview Suite Cat S for the 11-night Alaskan Splendors departing 31 May 2018.

Star Legend, one of the world's most luxurious small cruise ships, plays the casually elegant host to no more than 212 guests. The experience is like sailing on your own private yacht with nearly a 1:1 staff to guest ratio, boasting all-suite accommodations and beautifully appointed public spaces such as the elegant AmphorA and romantic Candles restaurants. The classy and comfortable Yacht Club lounge located on the top guest deck is sure to be the place for spotting whale spouts and wildlife on the shoreline, as cruisers relax with a Captain's Coffee and enjoy the 270-degree indoor/outdoor viewing opportunities.

Star Legend's 106 suites offer more room than many hotels, with stylish décor, walk-in closets, marble bathrooms, L'Occitane® toiletries, and a tranquil seating area — all with a view. Alaska-bound travellers may choose from 106 suites, including 36 Balcony Suites with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that bring fresh air and sweeping scenery indoors; or select one of 64 Ocean View Suites with large picture windows; or splurge on a decadent Owner's or Classic Suite located just below the yacht's Open Bridge, with a stunning view from the private veranda. Yacht guests will enjoy 'destination authenticity' like only Windstar can deliver with regionally themed cuisine, libations, entertainment, speakers and activities, as well as personalised small group shore excursions, and always gracious and attentive service.

Bookings to be directed to your Travel Agent or Windstar Australia on 1300 749 875 or reservations@windstar.com.au