Tuesday, 17 October 2017

King of the Kimberley: True North's Craig Howson OAM

#expeditioncruising .

True North Adventure Cruises' founder, Craig Howson OAM, celebrates his boutique adventure cruise company's first 30 years and recalls some of the rocky roads leading to that auspicious anniversary.

Read full story at Vacations Magazine:



Monday, 16 October 2017

[updated] What does the new Polar Code mean for expedition cruising?


#expeditioncruising .

Update: see below

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, whose specialist cruise agency has operated for almost 40 years in the Sydney suburb of Manly.

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 (see comments below) 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, Wilmer says we can 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.

Update 16 Oct 2017

Amanda Lynnes, MCIPR, Head of Communications and Environment IAATO comments:

"We (IAATO) have been involved right from the beginning of the code’s development and have held workshops for our members to get them ‘Polar Code Ready’."

Lynnes includes these notes for reference.

There is no restriction in the polar code requiring a 1A or 1A super - even if you look at the Polar Code which defines three categories of vessels (type A, B en C).
  • Type A means designed for operation in Polar Waters in at least medium first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
  • Type B means designed for operations in Polar waters in at least thin first-year ice, which may include old ice inclusions
  • Type C is designed to operate in conditions less then Type A / B.
Type C would be the category where most Expedition vessels would fall under, although some are type B.

So no ship is excluded if it’s less than a 1A or 1A super, as long as the procedures and documents and certification are being met.

Operating in the Polar Waters depends on the Operating Envelope for the vessel, the operational assessment and an ice-risk system to be used, together with the PWOM (Polar Waters Operation Manual).

For existing ships there is no requirement to upgrade hull construction. The Polar Code Chapter 3, ships structure, clearly states “a category C ship need not be ice strengthened if, in the opinion of the administration, the ship’s structure is adequate for its intended operation.”

In response, Gerd Wilmer remains unconvinced.

"[IAATO] seems to think that some cruises will be able to use this clause* to operate inferior ships.
This will be very risky. As you know, cruises are planned 18 - 24 months before departure. I read the clause that Cat C ships will be allowed on an ad-hoc basis, taking into consideration current conditions."

* "These ships may be intended for open water or very light ice conditions and don’t necessarily need to be ice-strengthened."





Thursday, 12 October 2017

Aqua Expeditions Reduces Rates On Aqua Mekong In 2018 And 2019

#expeditioncruising .



Aqua Expeditions, one of the world's leading luxury river cruise companies, is offering travellers to Southeast Asia an exclusive offer of 30 per cent reduced rates on selected Aqua Mekong voyages in 2018 and 2019.

Guests will experience the green Summer season on Asia’s Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia and experience the vibrant culture, history and cuisines of Southeast Asia aboard the sustainably crafted Aqua Mekong, a five-star floating hotel with 20 designer suites, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Mekong River, a 1:1 staff to guest ratio and twice daily off-board excursions by high-powered skiff.

Aqua Mekong is the only ship on this stretch of the river to offer a fully equipped gym, screening room, outdoor cinema, observation deck and an upper-deck pool. Guests will dine on world-class dishes created by renowned Australian Chef, David Thompson and board the Mekong’s only private tenders for expert-guided shore excursions to serene Buddhist temples and stilted villages or exploration by bicycle and kayak.

The promotion is valid for 3, 4 and 7-night itineraries from 1 May to 27 July 2018 (inclusive) and 3 May to 30 July 2019 (inclusive).

Lead-in rate for the selected 3-night Discovery Cruises will be USD2835 per person twin share in a First Deck Suite.

For more information and bookings, please contact your travel agent or Aqua Expeditions Australia on 1300 124 204 or reservations@aquaexpeditions.com.au

Aqua Expeditions was the first adventure travel company to introduce five-star luxury cruises on the Amazon River in Peru and on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. CEO, Francesco Galli Zugaro, founded Aqua Expeditions to cater to discerning, adventure travellers seeking to explore remote and culturally important destinations for luxury voyages on the world’s greatest rivers.

Aqua Expeditions’ 16-suite Aria Amazon vessel entered service in 2011, a creation of Peruvian designer, Jordi Puig and featuring floor to ceiling windows, Jacuzzi, gym, sundeck and the haute Peruvian cuisine of Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. In October 2014,

In October 2014, Aqua Expeditions expanded to Indochina with the launch of Aqua Mekong with 20 design suites, sailing the historic Mekong River between Cambodia and Vietnam.

www.aquaexpeditions.com.au

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Polar bear feeding frenzy on Wrangel Island [watch]

#expeditioncruising .


When Heritage Expeditions' Vessel, the Akademik Shokalskiy, berthed in the Russian Port of Anadyr on Monday 24th September, it had made history. It had successfully completed a double transit of the Northern Sea Route (more commonly known as the North East Passage). Passengers, staff and crew celebrated what they described as the 'best expedition voyage in the world.' There has been a limited number of expeditions through the NE passage in recent years, but this is the first time a back-to-back transit had been attempted.

The Akademik Shokalskiy departed the Port Anadyr (Eastern Russia) on 31st July 2017 bound for Murmansk. It made numerous stops along the Chukotka coastline before making multiple landings on Wrangel Island, the Medvezhyi Islands, the New Siberian Islands, Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago and Franz Joseph Land. 

Apart from the many landings, staff kept very detailed wildlife observations and the expedition assisted the Arctic National Park with transport of researchers within the archipelago. Passengers disembarked on arrival in Murmansk.

The Eastbound Expedition departed Murmansk with a new group of passengers on the 29th August, visiting the same islands. Ice conditions were a little easier later in the season and wildlife observations were similar. On Wrangel Island passengers observed 181 Polar Bears concentrated around a dead Bowhead whale washed up on a beach. There were at least another 50 animals seen either making their way to or from the carcass.



This is the largest concentration of Polar Bears ever observed. This truly unique observation is attracting a lot of interest from researchers all around the world. Expedition Leader and owner of Heritage Expeditions, Rodney Russ, described the day as a highlight in his 32 year career as an Expedition Leader. "The sighting was ‘truly unforgettable, a day that all expeditioners aboard will never ever forget."

Heritage Expeditions Ltd is a New Zealand based company offering expedition cruises to Antarctic (Ross Sea), the Sub Antarctic Islands, South Pacific and Russian Far East. The next expedition to Wrangel Island will depart in July 2018 - bookings are now being taken. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Half Price Antarctica Trips on Offer in Peregrine Flash Sale


#expeditioncruising .

Making Antarctica affordable for more Australians, Peregrine Adventures is offering 50 per cent off select voyages to the White Continent in 2017/18 as part of a flash sale this week.

On sale until 6pm on Sunday October 8, 2017, there's never been a better time to book a spot on an Antarctic adventure and see the best of what the region has to offer from unforgettable wildlife encounters to jaw-dropping vistas.

The Peregrine sale includes 50 per cent off:

·       A 10-day roundtrip journey from Buenos Aires, Argentina, exploring the Antarctic Peninsula    with the chance to spy penguins, seals and whales and a memorable landing on the continent, priced from $7235*, departing December 11, 2017

·       A 20-day roundtrip cruise from Ushuaia, Argentina, exploring the islands of South Georgia and the Falklands, and cruising the Antarctic Peninsula, priced from $13,700*, departing January 25, 2018

·       A 33-day journey from South America's southernmost tip, Ushuaia, to Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa via an incredible spread of Atlantic Islands – East and West Falkland, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, St Helena, and Ascension - priced from $7800*, departing March 10, 2018.