Sunday 30 March 2008

Announcing the Maiden Voyage to the North Pole of the World’s Newest, Largest and Most Sophisticated Icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory

Quark Expeditions, world leader in polar adventure travel, has chartered the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory for expeditions to the North Pole in 2008.

Twenty years in the making, Victory, the largest Arktika-class vessel ever built, has a spoon-shaped bow, and an all-new automated digital control system. A stainless steel ice belt 18 feet wide enables crushing through ice up to 9.2 feet thick. Two nuclear reactors produce 75,000 horsepower for a top speed of 21.4 knots in open water. Victory is equipped with a helicopter for aerial sightseeing and shore transfers.

Commissioned in 2007 as a working vessel, Victory has been newly outfitted as an expedition ship with ample public space: Aft Saloon, Forward Lounge, a bar and polar library. The Aft Saloon converts from a day-time presentation room to a place to socialize in the evening. A shop, gym, indoor pool, two saunas and massage services provide other diversions. There are 64 cabins in five categories, all with facilities en suite and a window that opens to an ocean view.

Only 128 people will be able to claim that they stood on top of the world during Victory’s maiden voyage to the North Pole. Compare that to the number of people who can say they were there when the Red Sox won the World Series or Italy won the World Cup! This rare opportunity for travelers can never be repeated. The maiden voyage runs from June 23 to July 8, 2008. The 16-day voyage starts at US$22,900 per person for a Standard Twin cabin.

In addition to a champagne celebration on the ice at 90 degrees N, the expedition will include shore landings in Franz Josef Land. The archipelago is the most northerly land mass in Eurasia. The islands are a known habitat of polar bear, walrus and vast colonies of seabirds.

Quark Expeditions will operate two other expeditions to the North Pole aboard Victory in 2008: July 6 – 21 and July 19 – August 4. The July 19 – August 14 departure is 17 days in duration to accommodate a viewing of a total solar eclipse. Cabins for all three voyages can be booked through Quark Expeditions by calling 1-800-356-5699 or +1-203-656-0499. More information about the vessel can be found at

Saturday 22 March 2008

Seadream Yacht Club gets another best service award

20 March 2008


SeaDream Yacht Club, operator of the elite mega yacht cruisers
SeaDream I and II, was today named "Best Cruise Line for Service" at
ITB, the world's largest tourism industry fair currently being held in

The award, sponsored by the German-speaking market's top cruise
guidebook - Kreuzfaht.Guide – was judged by a jury of seven senior
German travel journalists and the guidebook's authors.

Accepting the award, SeaDream's Senior Vice President Worldwide Sales
and Marketing, Bob Lepisto said: "We are especially delighted to
accept this great accolade for two compelling reasons.

"First, at SeaDream service to our guests is always uppermost in our
minds. We believe that the enjoyment of the travel experience begins
and ends with guest service, something our dedicated staff strives for
on a daily basis.

"And second, this honor is highly important to us because it comes
from the German marketplace which constantly increases in importance
for us."

SeaDream Yacht Club has been the recipient of many awards and
accolades from authoritative travel organizations and publications in
North America, UK, Australia and elsewhere.

These include sharing the top Five Star Club award in the
authoritative Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships 2008 guidebook.
Berlitz guide author Douglas Ward created a special category "Utterly
Exclusive" for only three vessels he said were above luxury.

Of the three, two were SeaDream I and II. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine
named SeaDream Yacht Club the "World's Best Small Passenger Shipping
Line" for 2006. Additionally, SeaDream scored higher than any other
cruise line---large or small---in this reader's poll--- and was the
only cruise line rated in the top 100 "World's Best Travel

Travel + Leisure Magazine named SeaDream World's Best Small-Ship
Cruise Line in its 2007 reader's poll. Further, Cruise Magazine,
leading UK travel publication, named SeaDream I "World's Best Small
Cruise Vessel for 2006. In 2007 SeaDream was also named one of the
"World's Best Value" travel experiences by authoritative Travel +


For information about SeaDream I and II's sailings in the
Mediterranean and Caribbean see travel agents or visit

Tuesday 18 March 2008


BOOK all 12-cabins aboard the luxury motor catamaran Haumana in Tahiti for family, friends, club-mates or the company, and you'll not only have Haumana to yourselves, you can rename her whatever you like while you're aboard.

Haumana carries just 24-guests in her 12-cabins as she sails 3- or 4-night cruises – or a week with both these options combined – across the extraordinarily beautiful Rangiroa Lagoon in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

Guests who choose to charter can also fly their own flag during their unique holiday, that includes all crew, all onboard dining, at least one 4-star French beach picnic at shady tables set up in the shallow waters of an uninhabited island, wines with lunch and dinner, and all soft drinks throughout the cruise.

Activities can include fun fishing tournaments, beach games, watersports and snorkelling competitions to identify fish species, corals and other marine life, and escorted beach- and bush-walks.

If you'd like to give Haumana a try before going for a full-yacht charter, Coral Seas Travel have 3-nights costing from $5349pp twin-share and 4-nights from $5929pp twin-share, including return air and taxes from Sydney, transfers in Tahiti, 1-night pre- and one post-cruise at the Radisson Plaza Resort in Papeete, all meals, wines with lunch and dinner and non-alcoholic drinks.

Details – including prices for an all-of-yacht charter – on 1800 641 803, in Sydney 8236 9900 or


Cruiseco is giving free air and discounts of up to 27% on an extraordinary adventure cruise next February aboard the 4-star Discovery between South America, Antarctica, the Falkland Islands,
South Africa, India, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Harwich (London.)

This 108-day cruise that departs Buenos Aires on February 8 2009 to join Discovery in Ushuaia is priced from $27,250pp twin-share including the exclusive Cruiseco discount and free return air from mainland capitals.

For those with less time, it can be broken into sectors as short as 58-days between Buenos Aires and Istanbul or Athens, Cape Town and Istanbul, Athens or Harwich, or Mumbai and Harwich; these sectors arepriced from as low as $14,995pp twin-share.

Discovery has 3-restaurants, 6-bars, gymn, health and beauty centre, two pools, a theatre for destination lectures and movies, show lounge featuring nightly entertainment and classical concerts, deck games and internet centre.

Bookings for these cruises that are exclusive to Cruiseco need to be made 90-days before departure or until sold out; phone 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist agency Australia-wide, or visit

(Discovery will also sail a 50-day itinerary from Cairo to North Africa, South America and Antarctica on November 1 this year pricedfrom $14,850pp twin-share, including a 30% discount and free return air from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.)

Monday 17 March 2008


A 6-night cruise into Fiji’s spectacular Mamanuca and Yasawa-I-Rara islands in our coming winter months is selling through for the price of just three nights, saving up to $1200 a couple.

The super-value offering starts from just $2099pp twin-share including return air from Sydney, all onboard dining, a huge range of onboard and shore-side activities, and a night pre- and post-cruise at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island.

Blue Lagoon Cruises will sail these intimate and luxurious Gold Club cruises on select dates to August this year, with port charges, taxes and cruise fuel surcharges included; air taxes are additional.

Cruises begin with complimentary Champagne and Captain’s Welcome Dinner while sailing out of Lautoka, with activities over ensuing days including coral viewing and snorkelling, bush and beach walks, visits to local schools, villages and craft markets, onboard dancing and other entertainment.

Dining highlights include Theme Nights, a dinner ashore under the stars, a beach party and island feast, and a traditional “Yaqona” (kava) ceremony.

For full details phone1300 369 848 and quote product ID 5265 or visit

Friday 14 March 2008

High above the Arctic Circle

Aurora's 14-day Across the Arctic Circle voyage journeys to a world teeming with life and wrapped in awe-inspiring natural beauty. We invite you to join us as we discover the hidden secrets of the Scottish Isles, Norway and Spitsbergen.

This unique adventure begins in Aberdeen, Scotland, where you'll visit nature reserves and astounding archaeological digs like the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof. Heading north to the gateway of Norway's breathtaking fjords, explore quaint fishing villages perched beneath towering cliffs and watch for whales as you cross into the Arctic Circle and enter the land of the midnight sun. Sailing across the North Atlantic, the expedition then heads for Spitsbergen, an Arctic wonderland and home to polar bears, walrus, reindeer and millions of migratory land and sea birds.

Daily shore excursions and explorations using Zodiacs and sea kayaks, provide access to the best wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities.

Read our passenger's voyage log.

Travel is aboard Polar Pioneer, and limited to only 56 passengers. This 14-day expedition departs on the 3rd of July, 2008.

Arctic 2008 Brochure download and request

Our experienced reservations staff can organise a personal itinerary for you, including airfares, accommodation and pre and post voyage travel options.

To reserve your berth or for further details, contact us on +61-2-9252-1033 (1800-637-688 within Australia) or email Aurora at

Friday 7 March 2008

Latest Alaska cruise ship also the smallest

There are a variety of cruise ships this summer in Alaska but the newest may also be the smallest.

American Safari Cruises' new luxury yacht, the 36-guest, 145-foot Safari Explorer, will make its first Alaska port call 30 May in Juneau. That will mark the start of its eight-day, seven-night roundtrip cruises from the Alaska capital.

Now undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation in Seattle, the Safari Explorer is the cruise line's fourth luxury yacht. It offers an active spa environment with a licensed masseuse for complimentary massages, yoga classes, a dedicated fitness area, on-deck hot tub and sauna.

"The 'real' spa is the natural one, of course, the great Alaska narrow waterways and islands for kayaking and guided hiking," said Tim Jacox, vice president of sales and marketing.

In common with other American Safari Cruises vessels, the new yacht carries double sea kayaks and motorized shore boats for close-up exploration of the Alaska wilderness.

The Safari Explorer will cruise from Juneau through 5 Sept. The itinerary focuses on wildlife – whales, sea lions, bears – and glaciers, including up to two days in Glacier Bay National Park and a full day hugging the fjord walls of Endicott Arm to view the rarely visited Dawes Glacier.

Following the Alaska season, the yacht will debut in Hawaii with inter-island itineraries.

Report by David Wilkening

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Seadream: Purchasing Patterns and the World Economy




Questions and Answers on the Economy, Recession, Stock Market Volatility,

Economic Stimulus Package and Future Spending Patterns

MIAMI, Feb. 26---In the face of the barrage of unsettling economic news worldwide and dire predictions of its impact on discretionary spending patterns, SeaDream Yacht Club, award-winning purveyor of ultra luxury seagoing vacations, surveyed its customer base recently and came away with some conclusions that knocked its socks off.

SeaDream's President and CEO Larry Pimentel stated today that although the upscale operator has been experiencing near100 percent utilization of staterooms aboard its twin mega-yacht cruisers SeaDream I and II, this has occurred at the same time that dire predictions about the economy and their possible influence on spending patterns has dominated the news. "Hence, we surveyed the top 5000 of our most active guests. They concluded that upscale travelers will not be greatly affected by economic bad news and will continue to travel.

Middle income travelers are likely to be highly affected." he said.

Specifically, the opinion survey of SeaDream's past passengers indicated conclusively that a sizable majority of upper income households (65.3 percent) will continue to travel as usual for rest, recreation and other leisure pursuits.

34.2 percent stated some travel would be curtailed and only .06 percent said upper income households would curtail all travel.

But middle income households will be more circumspect about future travel according to the survey and a sizable percentage will curtail some or all leisure travel plans. Only 5.5 percent felt the group would travel as usual. 83.2 percent will curtail some travel and 11.3 percent would curtail all discretionary travel.

The opinion survey by Miami-headquartered SeaDream Yacht Club---which operates the 100-passenger SeaDream I and II on scheduled sailings and full ship charters in the Caribbean and Europe---drew responses from more than 26 percent of a 5000 person database of affluent, past passengers with a minimum household income of $250,000 per year.

The opinion survey showed further that while travel for the upper strata would not be greatly affected, other discretionary spending would be severely curtailed. Perhaps not surprisingly home purchases and jewelry took the biggest hit. Logically, with housing---that distressed section of the economy--- many respondents expressed the belief that home purchasing would be at the top of the list of dramatically curtailed spending.

But it was the opinions of these affluent responders on such high profile issues as the economy, recession, stock market volatility, the U.S Government economic stimulus package and perceived problems that may be exacerbating them that was perhaps the most startling to SeaDream officials.

When confronted with a statement saying that the economy worldwide is fragile and unsettled and then asked if they believed the U.S. and other parts of the world are sliding into a recessionary period, more than 70 percent said "Yes."

When asked if such a recession would be short term or long term, almost 80 per cent (79.6) answered "Short Term."

When asked if stock market volatility was "just an inevitable swing." 78.3 per cent replied "Yes."

The question "Will the stock market correct itself?" drew 57.2 per cent yeses with a majority stating it would correct itself but "Only after several years of volatility."

When asked if the U.S. Government intervention with an economic stimulus package would cause the stock market to correct itself and a recession avoided, 70 percent of respondents answered "No."

A further question on the economy drew a decisive response: "There are those who believe that frequently economic issues are overblown by the media and that this has the effect of exacerbating problems," 77.8 per cent agreed.

Commenting on the survey that was sent to recipients early last week and tabulated and interpreted Friday, Pimentel stated: "The economy and how it might affect future purchasing patterns has so dominated the public's thinking with 'round-the-clock reports and opinions by all types of media, that we were compelled to go out to our past guests for their opinions.

"We did this in spite of the fact that our continuing review of our own business has shown that the year 2007 was an outstanding one for us and our 2008 bookings are even better---well ahead of those at this time last year. And, of enormous interest to us is that as we look forward 2009 shows even greater positive response to our product.

"Nevertheless, just as with astute businesses in all sectors of the economy, we at SeaDream are always looking forward---far forward. Focused vision is a critical aspect of our financial planning.

"This survey will help us stay focused on our future and may help marketers of other types of travel products, as well as other discretionary product categories," Pimentel concluded.

Editors' Please Note: SeaDream Yacht Club has also conducted a similar survey of its travel agent sellers of SeaDream I and II. Results will be announced when the agent survey is tabulated and interpreted.

Monday 3 March 2008

Voilà! Makes French Connection

Leading Australian on-line cruise travel agency,, offers Australian cruisers a new dish on the menu – French.

Marseilles-based La Compagnie des Iles du Ponant (Ponant Cruises) was founded in 1988 and is the premier French-flagged cruise line operating three vessels of remarkably different configuration.

“After a distribution change, we needed a new Antarctic cruise line and we discovered this fantastic French operator,” said managing director, Brett Dudley, “and these beautiful ships are sure to recreate some of that famous French romance.”

The flagship, Le Ponant, is an intimate but modern, three-masted luxury sailing yacht thoroughly spoiling 64 privileged passengers on mainly Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Red Sea itineraries. C’est magnifique.

The sleek and futuristic Le Levant, could be James Bond’s newest plaything and looks perfectly at home in Monte Carlo or Saint-Tropez. At 100 metres long and with just 45 outside twin cabins, she is trim, taut and très chic. Currently operating Mediterranean voyages with Caribbean and Central America coming soon.

The grande dame, Le Diamant, is a classic expedition vessel built for both comfort and the rigours of Arctic service. At 8000 tonnes she carries 226 passengers to the far corners of the globe including the Arctic, Antarctic, South America, British Isles and the Mediterranean. Pour une grande aventure.

Prices for Le Diamant’s 15-day 2008/09 Antarctic cruise via South Georgia and the Falklands start at A$5799.00pp. Airfares to Ushuaia, Argentina are additional.

For further information please contact Brett Dudley, managing director, on 1300 369 848 or e-mail