Tuesday, 19 September 2017

What does ths new Polar Code mean for expedition cruising?


#expeditioncruising .

The introduction of the new Polar Code requirements for all maritime traffic in the regions of the Arctic and Antarctic waters is about to have a much greater impact on expedition cruising than many people in the industry may realise, claims longtime cruise professional, Gerd Wilmer of Sydney’s Landmark Travel.

“Many ships currently operating on polar cruises and more intending to may not have fully realised the implications of the Polar Code on their forward plans,” says Wilmer, who is also the Australian representative for German premium cruise line, Hapag-Lloyd.

Hapag-Lloyd's Bremen is one of the first vessels to become Polar Code compliant.

The Polar Code in its entirety is a complicated technical document, but the most relevant section as far as expedition cruising is concerned means that vessels that do not currently have an Ice Rating of either 1A or 1A Super will not be permitted to operate below 60deg south or above 60deg north latitudes (with the exception of Iceland and Norwegian coast). Specifically this means Svalbard, Greenland and all of the Northwest Passage will require Polar Code compliant vessels. In the south, the entire Antarctic continent, including the Peninsula, requires this.

“There are one or two cruise lines who are advertising departures that, according to the code, will not be permitted on the dates advertised,” says Wilmer, “this may well cause some customer confusion and disappointment down the line.

“What is also most interesting is that many of these new, supposedly hi-tech ships under construction will not be certified under the Polar Code because of their light Ice Rating.”

Northern Polar Zone
Southern Polar Zone

The first implementation of the Polar Code came into force in January this year (2017) and second phase comes into force in January 2018. It states:

  • Ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017 shall comply with the safety part of Polar Code at delivery.
  • Ships constructed before 1 January 2017 shall comply with the safety part of the Polar Code by the first intermediate or renewal survey, whichever occurs first, after 1 January 2018. (renewal surveys take place at 5 year intervals)
So, from January 2018, expect to see some major reassignment of vessels currently enjoying their last taste of the ice.

NOTE: There is some discussion about whether an upgraded vessel can be deemed to be ‘new’ at time of application, plus there are also discussions about permitting certain non-compliant vessels into areas deemed ‘low risk’ around the Antarctic Peninsula. This article will be updated when these matters are clear.

Comments below are welcome >


Peregrine triples Europe cruise program in 2018 as 'overtourism' concerns grow


Peregrine Adventures is tripling the number of its small ship Adventure Cruising departures in Europe in 2018 in response to growing demand for more sustainable cruises.

After almost 40 years as a leader in small group adventure travel on land, Peregrine Adventures' first season of small ship cruises has been an overwhelming success with a pilot charter trip along the Croatian coast 95% sold out.

Now the carbon-neutral travel company will add four new charter itineraries to its Adventure Cruising range in Europe, with a total of 20 departures available in 2018. Peregrine Adventures will also offer a wider range of trips operated in partnership with Variety Cruises, which are carbon-offset by parent company, the Intrepid Group.

Cruise is one of the largest growing sectors in the global tourism industry, but the sector has been in the spotlight lately for sustainability issues with locals protesting against mass tourism in European cities such as Venice and Barcelona.

Peregrine Adventures Adventure Cruising range is operated by small ships with no more than 50 travellers onboard, enabling travellers to visit the small ports that big ships can't get to and explore little-known towns and villages in some of the world's hottest travel destinations. It's a conscious choice, enabling the renowned responsible travel company to operate in the same immersive local style as it offers on almost 2000 trips on land each year.



"Travellers are increasingly aware of the impact they can have on holiday," says James Thornton, CEO of the Intrepid Group. "We've heard from local leaders that cruise ship travellers are now being called 'ice cream tourists' because that's all they're buying when they visit an increasingly overcrowded city like Dubrovnik."

Thornton says he believes the demand for a more sustainable style of small ship cruising is so big, that Adventure Cruising travellers may outnumber those on Peregrine Adventures land-based trips in another ten years.

"We're starting small, but we have big ambitions to grow a more sustainable style of cruise ship travel. There has been an overwhelming response to this first season. By 2025, we may even see more Peregrine customers travelling on small ship cruises than on our land-based trips."  

As part of its commitment to sustainable tourism, in 2018 Peregrine Adventures has banned all single-use plastics such as straws, cups, and water bottles on board its Adventure Cruising charter trips. Cloth bags and refillable water bottles will be provided.


Monday, 18 September 2017

Responsible polar tourism promoted in joint AECO / IAATO conference

#expeditioncruising

October 1 - 4, more than 90 representatives from the Arctic and Antarctic expedition cruise industry will gather in Iceland for the second AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference. The topic of the conference is evolution and new challenges in the polar tourism industry.

The three-day conference program includes sessions on growth management, technological developments, safety standards, operational development, citizen science and field staff qualification.

The Polar Field Staff Conference is organized by the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operations (IAATO). The conference gathers guides, expedition leaders and operations managers working for AECO and IAATO. The aim of the gathering is to support the two associations' joint mission of advancing safe and environmentally responsible travel in the polar regions.

"It's a chance to discuss the practical issues that staff are facing out in the field, but it's also an opportunity to weigh in on the larger perspective of polar tourism," says Frigg Jørgensen, Executive Director of AECO.

Expected growth

According to Jørgensen, with greater interest in Arctic and Antarctic itineraries, managing growth will be an important topic at this year's conference, "It is in the industry's interest to ensure sustainable growth. AECO and IAATO are continually developing guidelines and raising standards to promote safe and responsible tourism. Our members have decades of polar field experience, and their expertise is one of our best resources as we prepare for growth," says Jørgensen.

Positive contributions

The conference also highlights how the industry is doing to have a positive impact in the polar regions. One example is the many citizen science initiatives that enable polar visitors and crew to contribute to research projects, such as collecting data for whale identification or sea-ice monitoring.  

"Involving visitors in polar research is not only good for science, it also gives them a deeper understanding of the polar regions and the need to protect these unique and globally important areas," says Damon Stanwell-Smith, Executive Director of IAATO.

Photo

Photo caption: "Safety is an important aspect of responsible polar travel. Bringing tourists safely through polar bear country in Svalbard is just another day on the job for an Arctic guide. Photo: Ilja Leo Lang." Download high resolution image here.

2017 AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference

The biennial joint AECO/IAATO Polar Field Staff Conference is aimed at operation managers, expedition leaders and senior field staff, who are working for members of AECO and/or IAATO. This year's theme is Evolution and New Challenges in the Tourism Industry. The two-and-a-half-day conference will take place at Hótel Örk in Hveragerði, Iceland, from October 1-4, 2017.

Members of the press are welcome to request press accreditation by contacting Edda Falk, Communications Manager, AECO, at edda@aeco.no / cell: +47 47 63 25 50.

Program and list of speakers available here:

https://www.aeco.no/events/aeco-iaato-field-staff-conference-2017/

AECO - Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators

www.aeco.no

International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO)

www.iaato.org


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Women-only expeditions in the Galapagos

#expeditioncruising .

A leading travel company that specializes in women-only expeditions has teamed up with female Ecuadorian, naturalist-trained guides for two itineraries that explore on land or from the sea the Galapagos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wild Women Expeditions offers more active travel departures for women only than any other tour company in the world. Its programs in the Galapagos epitomize for owner Jennifer Haddow the importance of being part of the solutions emerging in places where tourism, among other issues, places fragile infrastructure at risk.

“We run adventure programs with highest standards in ecotourism,” says Haddow. “This includes giving back to communities and investing in conservation. Wild Women Expeditions is an Ambassador of the Galapagos Conservancy, and supports the Charles Darwin Foundation whose research and program implementation affect how people both live and visit here in harmony with this environment.”

The land-based, Galapagos Islands Multisport Adventure uses small water craft to explore the distinguishing features of some of the islands that reveal the pressures of a volcanic history that led to the formation of this archipelago. Guests hike to a volcano rim, kayak to beaches of docile sea lions, snorkel through fantasy worlds of colorful fish swarming a lava cone, and even while stand up paddle boarding bear witness to a bizarre birdlife that remains unafraid of humans, even after being the subjects of attention to throngs of curious passers-by.

While hiking to the spot where Darwin’s HMS Beagle landed in 1835, the guide discusses Darwin’s theories and findings from his five-week exploration of the islands. On another day, a six-mile roundtrip hike leads up Sierra Negra, an active volcano with the second largest (6.5 mile span) caldera in the world where birdlife is abundant.

The per person, double rate is from $5,495 for this 10-day Multisport vacation with dates of Nov. 11-20, 2017, and Nov. 10-19, 2018. Included are domestic flights from Quito, Ecuador, to San Cristobal in the Galapagos and Quito return from Baltra, plus related airport transfers; national park and transit control taxes and documentation; three nights camping on Galapagos Islands; six nights double occupancy in hotels; ground transportation and private group transfer by motorized boats between islands; all meals from beginning of program to end including a dinner with a local fishing family; four days of sea kayaking and wildlife viewing; one-day hike of Volcan Sierra; all gear and equipment related to programs including kayak, stand up paddle board and snorkeling excursions; and the expertise of English-speaking naturalist guides; Alejandra Mosquera and Africa Berdonoes.

Born and raised in Quito, Alejandra Mosquera started guiding in 2004 and now divides her time between guiding and parenting.

Africa Berdonoes grew up in the Galapgos islands, scuba diving since age12 and later becoming a Dive Master and guide. She once crossed the Pacific Ocean in a traditional Polynesian canoe, powered by wind and guided by stars. She holds an advanced degree in Protected Area Management. She believes the Galapagos can one day be an example of humans living in harmony with nature.

The cruise-based Galápagos Islands Eco-Yacht Adventure utilizes the M/V Eric a hybrid solar-powered vessel which incorporates some of the best conservation-focused technology in the world and sets the bar for environmental sensitivity for ships in the Galapagos. In accordance with Galapagos National Park protocol, M/V Eric’s route ventures through the islands on routes proscribed to minimize environmental impact.

Twenty privileged guests travel aboard this luxury yacht enroute to bold discovery and quiet revelation while walking stretches of land that serve as nesting sites for clusters of fearless, air-born creatures or snorkeling and swimming alongside a friendly sea lion or following the trail to the dramatic ocean blow hole or watching colorful crabs crawling along the shoreline. A visit to Centro de Crianza Fausto Llerena (formerly the Charles Darwin Research Station) helps connect these experiential dots.

The per person, double rate for this eight-day Nov. 26-Dec. 3, 2017, adventure on this solar-powered yacht is from $5,295. The rate includes roundtrip domestic flights from Quito to San Cristobal and related airport transfers; single, double or triple-berth accommodation for seven nights aboard M/V Eric; national park and transit control taxes and documentation; all meals aboard; complimentary use of wet suits and snorkeling gear and excursion and activities-related equipment such as sea kayaks and stand up paddle boards; guided hiking and Zodiac excursions; and the expertise of English-speaking naturalist guides; Malena Cruz and Gaby Espinoza.

Magdalena “Malena” Cruz enjoys sharing her knowledge of sea currents, geology and the marine reserve. She studied to be a Tourism Professional Guide at the Universidad Internacional del Ecuador. When not guiding, she manages her family’s hotel on San Cristobal.

Maria “Gaby” Espinoza holds degrees in science education from the University Estatal Guayaquil. Fluent in English and German, she became a naturalist guide in 1990. Conservation is her passion.

About Wild Women Expeditions

Founded in 1991, Wild Women Expeditions is the world’s largest women-only travel company. Its initial focus was on canoeing on remote Ontario waters. Through an unwavering focus on Canada, one of the wildest, most pristine countries in the world, Wild Women Expeditions became experts in a pioneering niche that introduced small groups of women into wilderness settings. The company now hosts guests all over the world, offering more trips and more women-only, backcountry camping adventures than any other women’s travel company in the world.

Source: Late Cruise News
 

New Amazon departures for Aqua Expeditions

#expeditioncruising .

Aqua Expeditions has added two new departures on the Aria Amazon in Peru for the upcoming winter season due to popular demand. Aqua Expeditions will now be offering departure dates on November 27 and December 1, 2017.



Guests can experience the “high-water” season on Aqua Expeditions’ luxurious 147-foot-long cruise ship with only 16 spacious staterooms on board. As always, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy active wildlife excursions with jungle hikes across suspended bridges, as well as fishing, kayaking, canoeing and biking. In addition, guests can also experience drinks at sunset, live on-board entertainment, movie nights, stargazing by telescope, spa treatments, and 5-star cuisine by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

New ship ordered for Coral Expeditions

#expeditioncruising .

Coral Expeditions, Australia’s pioneering cruise line, has signed a contract today with Norwegian shipbuilder Vard to build its fourth expedition cruise ship due to be delivered in mid-2019, with a further vessel intended to follow.

In the planning for over two years, this new ship is designed for ocean cruising to remote tropical areas and draws on the latest technical advances as well as Coral Expeditions’ 34 years of experience building and operating expedition ships.

Modern and rugged, the new ship will carry a maximum of only 120 guests in 60 cabins, preserving Coral Expeditions’ traditionally relaxed and intimate onboard atmosphere. She will be Australian flagged and conform to the highest standards of build quality, operational redundancy, environmental compliance, and safety.

Vard is a Norwegian-headquartered company with nine shipyards globally and a long history of building complex and sophisticated ships to operate in the toughest conditions.
Custom-designed around its clientele and expedition-focused itineraries, the new ship will feature several of Coral Expeditions’ much-loved features:

  • Twin ‘Xplorer’ tenders mounted on hydraulic platforms that allow guests to embark and disembark for shore excursions without steps, queues or waiting
  • A natural light-filled lecture lounge equipped with modern technology for daily presentations and briefings by expedition experts
  • Facilities onboard to host scientific research missions and local exhibitors
  • Spacious communal areas, including a relaxed dining area which seats all guests
  • All outside-facing cabins with en-suite bathrooms; over half have private balconies
  • Open bridge policy and guest observation lounge overlooking the bridge
  • Multiple indoor and outdoor bars to see the world go by over a glass of Australian wine



The new ship will feature a modern Australian-designed interior with the colours and textures of tropical Queensland, the birthplace of the company. Accommodations will be restful havens for guests returning from shore excursions and range from outside staterooms of 17 sq m (183 sq ft) to suites of 43 sq m (463 sq ft) with outside-facing bathrooms. Active stabilisers will ensure guest comfort in varied conditions.

The ship will join the Coral Expeditions fleet exploring the Kimberley region, Cape York and Arnhem Land (The Top of Australia), Papua New Guinea, the Spice Islands, Indonesia and the South Pacific. She will be available for bookings in October 2017. More information will be released closer to the booking date.

The new ship order reflects continuing strong demand for the Coral Expeditions product – an intimate and destination-focused cruise experience that stands apart from mega-ship cruising.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

New tours and excursions in Asia from Windstar

#expeditioncruising .



Windstar Cruises has announced five new cruise dates running September to November 2018 in addition to already diverse offerings in Asia for 2017 and 2018 on 18 different itineraries with 25 different departure dates spanning seven to 34 days.

Visiting both well-known ports and hidden harbours across Southeast and East Asia options include a President's Cruise to the Philippines and Borneo, fresh land tours, recently added itineraries, and fascinating shore excursions showcasing the region in the line's '180 degrees from ordinary' style of cruising.

"Windstar's Asia Collection now offers larger-than-life adventures and exceptional experiences only possible on a small ship," said Windstar President, John Delaney.

"Reaching dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and bringing guests in contact with some of Asia's less frequented landmarks, Windstar will also proudly sail straight into the heart of must-see Asian cities where larger ships typically dock on the outskirts. I'm really looking forward to hosting our guests and visiting some extraordinary locations on the President's Cruise, along with Star Legend Godmother and US travel professional, Gloria Bohan."

After two intriguing itineraries in Arabia, Windstar's Asia cruise season begins in December sailing through to the end of May 2018, when the ship navigates to Alaska for the summer season. The itinerary offerings are exceedingly diverse with port calls to small exotic harbours where cruise ships rarely call to epic visits at the icons of Asia including Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo (Yokohama), Singapore and Bangkok.

Windstar guests will embark upon a journey that allows them to enjoy a wider range of locales on land with four new pre and post cruise tours, including five longer itineraries via Windstar's new Star Collector Voyages. Aboard the sophisticated Star Legend, accommodating an intimate 212 guests, the casually elegant ship will provide access to distinctive cultural, historical, and culinary experiences, tantalising all the senses and making for an unforgettable holiday. The new itineraries and land tours cover architectural favourites and geological splendours including the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat and Mount Fuji, as well as the chance to sail across the Pacific from Anchorage to Yokohama. New for 2018, passengers will delve into the magnificent and rustic Alaskan wilderness before soaking up all that Japan has to offer.

Windstar's President's Cruise sets sail on The Best of the Philippines & Borneo itinerary departing 6 January with Windstar President, John Delaney and Star Legend Godmother, Gloria Bohan. Many of Windstar's crew on this cruise are from the Philippines, so it will be a homecoming of sorts. It will be a wonderful way to explore the culture and country alongside those who love and know it best with Filipino crew to join passengers on shore excursions to visit their native landmarks and will share tips on their favourite activities and beloved locations in their homeland. The 14-day cruise will visit beautiful islands and beaches including Palawan and Boracay. The voyage features an overnight in Manila and a stop at the often-overlooked (and rarely visited by cruises) Hundred Islands National Park. A visit to Brunei takes guests inside one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, affording a look at some of the largest and most beautiful mosques in Asia.

Asia shore excursions are now 'live' on Windstar's website and able to be booked by guests. With so many new and noteworthy offerings from culinary adventures to must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites, advance reservations are recommended particularly with the more popular and unique experiences like Ko Kut Treepod Dining. Offered by Windstar aboard the Icons of Southeast Asia cruise, this one-of-a-kind dining affair, inspired by the free-spirited nature of childhood, involves climbing up high to a leafy canopy where guests are comfortably seated in a bamboo pod. They are then gently hoisted high up onto tropical foliage of Ko Kut's ancient rainforest, taking in the shoreline views as a gourmet feast is delivered to them via the zip-line acrobatics of a personal waiter.

Uniting land and sea is the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Bangkok with four pre and post cruise options on Windstar. Over the course of three days on land, guests will have the chance to marvel at the impressive architecture of religious temples, predominantly Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here guests, who wish, will be driven in the early hours of the morning to witness a breathtaking sunrise over this Seventh Wonder of the World. A visit to Wat Atvea Pagoda, located in the Angkor Archaeological Park, is also included where there will be an opportunity to meet monks and receive a traditional Khmer Water Blessing from them.

Similarly, Windstar is offering the Angkor Wat Land Tour to/from Singapore with pre and post cruise options on 11 sail dates/itineraries. The Beijing and Xian Land Tour can be experienced as a pre or post cruise option on three Windstar's Asia cruises, with a 3-day land journey that begins in Beijing at the Temple of Heaven, providing an authentic look into local city life. From there, the 'Forbidden City' will present visitors with some of the best-preserved pieces of classical Chinese architecture before they head to Tiananmen Square, home to Chairman Mao's remains. No holiday in China is complete without sampling the flavoursome local cuisine, with guests to be taken to a famous Peking duck restaurant in Beijing. Guests will also experience the Great Wall before flying to Xian to encounter the Terracotta Warriors and visit the old city. The Kyoto/Osaka Land Tour is a 3-day option pre or post cruise on Windstar's Grand Japan. Highlights include Osaka Castle, the UNESCO Site of Nijo Castle and Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion and aptly named because the walls and eaves are covered in shimmering gold leaf.

There are five new sailings in the Asia Collection open for bookings 2018 and five new Star Collector Voyages in Asia, which combine some of Windstar's itineraries in the region for a more in-depth exploration. Free daily laundry is also included. These sailings range from 14-34 days with highlights including the following:

Singapore & Siam Holiday presents an exotic and stress-free alternative to celebrating the holidays over seven glorious days. Let the festivities begin with an overnight stay in Singapore before sailing to Malaysia to Penang's UNESCO World Heritage Site in Colonial George Town and then ascend on the Langkawi Gondola to get a bird's-eye-view of the rainforest wonders. Upon arrival in Ko Yao Noi, sea lovers can swim with the colourful butterfly fish in the aquamarine waters of this Thai island paradise or venture inland to scope out the quaint rural villages. An overnight stay in picturesque Phuket tops off this unparalleled holiday escape. What better way to ring in the New Year than with a Taste of Siam & Singapore New Year's Eve cruise. Guests will spend seven days sailing from Phuket (Patong Bay), Thailand to Singapore, stopping in Malaysia along the way. This exhilarating voyage commences in Phuket, famous for its pristine beaches. It continues onto Ko Phi Phi, made popular by the 2000 film The Beach, where party-goers can pop open their bubbly to celebrate the arrival of 2018. After a day at sea, create iconic memories in Ipoh, the fourth-largest city in Malaysia, where evidence of a British colonial past remains, and then take in the 360-degree views from the top of one of the world's highest towers in Kuala Lumpur. The trip concludes with a visit to the UNESCO city of Malacca and an overnight stay in bustling Singapore.

Aleutians & North Pacific Crossing will create an extraordinary passage between Seward, Alaska and Tokyo, Japan over the course of 16 days in 2018. A cruise that emphasises the less-frequented ports of call will retrace the route of Russian-America fur trade, island-hopping along the Aleutian Archipelago. Visitors can live out their wildest adventures as they sportfish in Kodiak – possibly spotting one of their famous bears – or kayak in the remote waters of Sand Point catching glimpses of bison. Fans of 'The Deadliest Catch' will get the chance to visit Dutch Harbor which was featured on this television show for being the only deep-water port in the Aleutians and main delivery port for king crab. This awe-inspiring excursion continues in Japan with Kushiro, home to Japan's largest marshland and endangered Japanese cranes, and Miyako, a city slowly recovering from the devastating 2011 tsunami and whose Jodogahama Beach has been nationally dubbed a 'Place of Scenic Beauty'.

While Windstar's 10-day Grand Japan itinerary was originally announced solely for early 2018, Windstar has now added two new Autumn sailings on this already wildly popular itinerary. Fall colours promise to be spectacular, along with fewer crowds during this less-visited but no less gorgeous time to explore Japan and South Korea.          
For another take on Japan with a taste of Korean and Chinese culture, Pop Culture Kings of Asia offers 11 days of uncovering over 17 UNESCO sites, as well as the birthplace of J-Pop and Harajuku culture. Beginning in Tokyo and ending in Beijing, cruise dwellers can choose to immerse themselves in retail heaven in the largest underground mall in Seoul or meditate in the serenity of Kyoto, Japan's Bamboo Forest. Other highlights of the trip include Shimizu, home to Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, the nearby 65-foot Shiraito Waterfall, and the unforgettable Tamano (Uno), a location though which few vessels are able to pass. Stopping in Hiroshima to sample the Okonomiyaki savoury pancakes cannot be overlooked before sailing over to South Korea where the dormant Hallasan Volcano and the world's longest lava tunnels are also a must-see.

Comprehensive China Exploration is an 11-day experience highlighting the best of China and Taiwan and featuring overnights in Shanghai, Taipei, and Hong Kong in 2018. This is a foodie's dream come true with opportunities to taste the umami of oyster pancakes found in the night markets of Taiwan, sample authentic dim sum in Hong Kong, and sip the local brewed beer in Qingdao. Senses will be tantalised in Shanghai, the 'Pearl of the Orient', from the maze of shops and vendors in Old Shanghai to the colourful tall buildings dotting the impressive skyline. In Zhoushan, the 'Venice of China' sightseers can explore the 36 bridges connecting the city or the nearby island of Putuoshan, home to 80 Buddhist monasteries and gardens

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


Polar Code: MS BREMEN receives Polar Ship Certificate

#expeditioncruising .

Polar Code: MS BREMEN becomes one of the first passenger ships in the world to receive the Polar Ship Certificate

· It will be mandatory for ships operating in the polar regions to have the certificate from January 2018
· The extensive preparatory phase lasts two years
· All other ships in the fleet will receive the certification in future

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ 4-star expedition cruise ship, the 155-passenger MS BREMEN has become one of the first passenger ships in the world to receive the Polar Ship Certificate which will be mandatory for ships operating in the polar regions. Following a two-year long phase of intense preparation, finally the Polar Code certification has been awarded. All of the other ships in the fleet are also due to meet the requirements of the Polar Code by the Arctic season in 2018.

The International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) – adopted by the International Maritime Organisation – contains regulations concerning the ships’ construction, equipment and training and their crews that intend to operate in the polar regions. Issued by the classification society DNV GL, the Polar Ship Certificate confirming compliance with the Polar Code will be mandatory for all ships from January 2018. The Polar Code is intended to increase the safety of ships and pay greater attention to environmental protection.

“The Polar Code will improve the safety of navigation in polar waters significantly. We have taken a pioneering step in certifying the BREMEN and paved the way for the other ships in the fleet of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises to comply with the Polar Code. I am happy to have contributed”, says Captain Thilo Natke, who oversaw the certification process for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. Natke prepared a Polar Water Operational Manual that will, in particular, familiarise younger officers with the ship-specific particularities of navigating in ice.

Certain technical modifications have to be carried out on board the ships in order for them to meet the requirements of the Polar Code. For instance, fire lines located on deck were fitted with additional insulation and an additional ice spotlight was installed when the BREMEN was in dock in October 2016. A wide range of extra equipment has also been sourced in order to ensure the survival of passengers and crew members in potential emergencies in the polar regions. During 2017, as part of their routine dry-dock periods in the shipyard, the other ships in the Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ fleet will also be brought in line with the criteria of the certificate in order that they meet the requirements of the Polar Code at the latest by the Arctic season in 2018 and are able to operate in the regions successfully.

BREMEN will be operating three international cruises during the 2018/2019 season, including sailing to the North East Passage in the Summer of 2018.

Reservations: phone +61 (0)2 99 77 71 00 or mail@landmarktravel.com.au


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

iExpedition debuts a specialised booking system for Polar cruises

#expeditioncruising .


For travellers seeking an experience that is more than a typical 'bucket list' experience, iExpedition.com brings together Australia's largest selection of Polar cruises.

Tick off the seventh continent! Kayak among majestic icebergs while whales play around you and then camp on the ice in the Antarctic solitude. There's also the chance to ski, climb, snorkel or scuba dive. Yes, in Antarctica.

In the Arctic fly over the North Pole, get up close to polar bears in Norway, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land or Canada, and for the serious adventurer, there's the chance to snorkel with orcas – no cage required. We are serious when we say iExpedition is home to a complete range of experiences available on polar expedition cruises.

iExpedition brings together more than 600 different expedition departures to Antarctica and the Arctic regions in an intelligent, user-friendly and visually pleasing site. This allows travellers to search and filter hundreds of voyages, quickly and easily find ones that fit their travel dates, budget, time frames, dream adventure activities and many other personal preferences. They can also create wish lists, request reservations and book cabins online.

With 40 vessels ranging in size from sailing vessels for just 10 passengers to small, luxury expedition ships that can cater for 300, there is a ship for all travel styles and budgets on iExpedition.com.

Ben Alexander, iExpedition's founder, says: “iExpedition identified the difficulties clients have when searching for and comparing Polar cruises online, and have created ways to close this gap, enabling travellers to confidently find voyages that fulfil their personal travel preferences.”

A combination of iExpedition's dedication to Polar expedition cruises and director Ben Alexander's expertise and near decade in the industry has enabled the company to pool a huge amount of data on hundreds of Polar voyages in a way that is easy for travellers to navigate.

As part of its sustainability commitment, iExpedition partners with Carbon Neutral and for all new bookings donates '1 tree for each day our travellers are at sea' to replenish key Australian biodiversity corridors.

iExpedition provides specialised knowledge for Polar expedition cruises to Australian travellers. Search the complete Polar voyage range online at www.iExpedition.com or contact iExpedition directly on 1800-960-577 to start planning your polar experience.

Promotions:

Explore iExpedition's full range of current last minute Antarctica deals here;
http://explorer.iexpedition.com/antarctica-on-sale-now/

Monday, 11 September 2017

Cruise the Mediterranean with a local. PONANT.

#expeditioncruising .



Almost entirely surrounded by land, the Mediterranean comprises not only the familiar Adriatic, Aegean, Balearic, Ionian, Ligurian and Tyrrhenian seas but also the lesser known Alboran and Levantine Seas, the Seas of Crete and Sardinia, and even a Sahara Sea.

It makes sense then to explore seas and surrounding lands with a local, familiar with the very best bays, beaches and historic ports, many inaccessible to large ships.

Marseille-based PONANT luxury expedition cruises has been sailing these waters for almost thirty years. This is their backyard and your cruise introduction to the Mediterranean and all her beauty, whether by small expedition ship or classic three masted yacht.

PONANT offers an extensive range of Mediterranean cruises - 31 departures between April and November 2018, with a range of 7 to 9 night itineraries visiting 8 countries that include many important UNESCO World Heritage sites. Itineraries showcase a diversity of destinations endowed with layers of civilisation reflected through history, art, music, architecture, language and boundless culinary temptations.

Monique Ponfoort, Vice President PONANT Australasia, expands on the options: “From Gibraltar to Athens, Venice to Corsica, enjoy the many facets of the Mediterranean including Zodiac landings on secluded beaches or in the heart of small ports.

Pass through the narrows of the Corinth canal connecting the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. At just over 21 metres wide it is hard to conceive of a larger vessel than one of PONANT’s sister ships managing to squeeze its way through this historic waterway.

Or visit the diminutive mythological Greek island of Delos in the Cyclades archipelago, sanctuary to the god Apollo and birthplace of Artemis.

Nearby, explore the island of Mykonos with its waterfront cafes, restaurants and bars. Donkey-power transport and picturesque whitewashed windmills are backdrops to this modern iteration of Mediterranean life style. Casual, relaxed and above all, stylish.”

Whether it be observing active volcanoes or sipping Sicilian wine, marvelling at the extraordinary mosaics of Monreale or photographing the bronze horses in Piazza San Marco, select from PONANT’s Mediterranean collection of voyages confident that you will enjoy life onboard and ashore discovering the multiple charms of the Mediterranean with a local.

PONANT itineraries in 2018 include Italy, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, Malta, Greece, Corsica, Morocco and Egypt, venturing off the main marine highway to often explore smaller, less visited ports-of-call in Sardinia, the Balearic Islands and Corsica. The fleet of Zodiac’s often employed to

Some voyages are specially themed to appeal to those who have specific interests, for example gastronomy, music (jazz, classics and opera) or playing a round of golf on some of the Mediterranean’s stunning courses, while other guests may enjoy discovering the underwater world of the Mediterranean, Scuba diving while on Le Ponant.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Ancient encounters along the Kimberley Coast

#expeditioncruising

Kimberley Pearl at anchor at King George Falls (Josh Milne)

From aboard 'Kimberley Pearl' in Australia's North West

“We've got a visitor at the back of boat,” Skipper Rod calmly informs us as we're settling in for a cool drink after a full day's fishing the estuaries and tidal creeks around Doubtful Bay in the Kimberley.

“She's just popped by to say hello,” he says. 'She' is a 4+ metre Tiger Shark mixing with the gaggle of cheeky little reef sharks that have come to investigate Kimberley Pearl anchored in the middle of the bay. We christen her 'Betty' and call out her as she glides serenely past the transom, occasionally taking a peak above the surface to exchange glances.

Fishing guide, Chris, is busily filleting our Esky full of Mangrove Jack, Fingermark Snapper, Javelinfish, cod as well as a couple of prize Barramundi won after hours of sweat and toil (and a few choice exclamations) amid the tangles of mangrove roots and oyster-encrusted boulders that typify these ancient waterways. Bite size scraps find their way into the water and the big predators posture and jostle for dining rights. The heads and big leftovers go aside for tomorrow's mud crab bait.

Kimberley Pearl against the stark, ancient Kimberley landscape (R Eime)
The coastal waters along the rugged Kimberley coastline are alive with fish of dozens upon dozens of varieties, a sure sign of a flourishing ecosystem that supports more than its fair share of predators from the greedy river fish, right up to the apex species of sharks and the stealthy four-legged reptiles on permanent sentry, always within an easy stone's throw.

As we sit in the dinghies, our hooks baited with tiny mullet and mesmerised by the sun and the gentle slap of water against the metallic hull, there's plenty of time to ponder the enormity of our surroundings that have changed very little in the last million or so years. Massive, sheer cliffs contorted and tortured by incomprehensible tectonic forces have warped solid rock into wavy layers like so much sponge cake. Scattered among these bizarre formations are hundreds of galleries of ancient rock art that, after decades of archaeological study, have dated the oldest murals to at least 50,000 years. The so-called Bradshaw or Gwion Gwion paintings are starting to look like the oldest known to man and are found widely throughout the Kimberley north of the Prince Regent River.

Jack from Shepparton with his prize barramundi (Josh Milne)

In between our battles with the fierce fish, we swim in the sublime freshwater billabongs, ride the torrid tide through Talbot Bay's Horizontal Falls, ogle the cultured pearls at Cygnet Bay and hike up to the expansive gallery of Wandjina art at Raft Point. Back aboard, chef Ty turns our catch into masterful creations that include such intriguing side dishes as deep-fried Barramundi skin and rock oysters (hand-harvested by ourselves) every which way.

Free of interruptions from mobile phones, noisy traffic or glaring street lights, the magnitude of the heavens take on truly cosmic proportions. Massive clouds of stellar gasses and billions of stars against a backdrop of Devonian-era rocks (350 million years) should remind even the most self-obsessed of their utter insignificance in this scenario. Whether you're a celebrated admiral of industry, a lauded president or a humble farmer, the Kimberley couldn't care less. You are just a temporary speck in the blink of evolution's eye. Let that sink in for a minute.

Kimberley Pearl (formerly Dalumba) is no newcomer to these waters either. Her previous lives as a trawler for Kailis and later, a pearling lugger for Paspaley stand her in good stead for the rigours of work in this arduous environment. As gratitude for years of faithful service, her new owners comprehensively outfitted her to a luxurious standard, making her ready for her next phase of life as a high-end, boutique fishing and expedition charter vessel.

“Once we began work on the refit, it was clear there was much more potential than just a private weekend fishing boat,” said Jim Stevenson, whose family has run road transport operations from Fremantle for decades. “Mates encouraged me to take charter bookings for fishing groups and families which we've done for the last two years, and it's been a very pleasant surprise. We're now running scheduled 7-, 11- and 14-day departures between Broome and Wyndham and working with travel agents and the wider leisure industry.”

The Crew: Chef Ty, Guide Chris, Guide Josh, Captain Rod.
The two-year, stem-to-stern makeover included an entirely new living and operations section incorporating five super comfortable 2+1 cabins with private facilities, expansive kitchen and dining, relaxation areas and machine space. Just four crew: a master/engineer, a two crew and a chef, handle all duties from navigation to baiting our fish hooks – and everything in between.

With the clear approval of Betty and her doting entourage, Kimberley Pearl is ready for many more years of stalwart service in the glorious waters of Australia's North West.

For further information and bookings, visit www.kimberleypearl.com.au or call Peter on 0408 753 069.

For activities in the wider region, see the official website: www.australiasnorthwest.com

ExpeditionCruising.com was a guest of Kimberley Pearl Charters and Ultimate Kimberley