Friday 27 February 2009

Cruise West to Antarctica

Seattle, WA - Continuing to add exciting new destinations to its global offerings, exploration cruise line Cruise West ( is pleased to announce that it is adding an exclusive, 19-night Antarctica expedition to its product line-up for 2010.

On board the 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II, a very select group of guests will have the opportunity to explore the very best that the most remote continent on earth has to offer. Ports of calls and sites include the Falkland, South Georgia and Orkney Islands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula and the myriad of islands that dot its shore.

"Cruise West is making a conscientious effort to keep itinerary offerings fresh and intriguing," said President and CEO Dietmar R. Wertanzl. "We are seeking out destinations that complement our core products, create excitement for repeat guests and appeal to new guests - so introducing Antarctica was a natural progression. The Corinthian II is a sister ship to our Spirit of Oceanus, so we know our repeat guests will feel right at home."

Diversity - in cultures, landscape and temperatures - will be one of the hallmarks of this maiden voyage as guests begin their adventure in luxury at the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Hotel in Buenos Aires before departing for the quaint, southernmost city in South America, Ushuaia.

After boarding the Corinthian II, guests will gain fascinating insight on the flora, fauna, history and geology via presentations by an expert staff of eight naturalists. In the tradition of Cruise West's up-close, casual and personal style, guests will have extraordinary opportunities to view Rockhopper penguins in the remote British outpost of the Falkland Islands; thousands of King penguins and nesting grounds of wandering albatross in South Georgia, while simultaneously admiring the water-loving larger species of whales, fur seals, elephant seals and the icebergs and glaciers that surround them.

Antarctica, owned by no country but managed under a 46-country scientific treaty, is the fifth largest continent on the planet while remaining the least populated. Its exotic remoteness combined with legendary stories of exploration and adventure spur on the fantasies of armchair travelers and documentary-watchers all over the globe; for 114 Cruise West guests, the fantasy has now become an attainable reality.

Cruise West's 19-night maiden voyage to Antarctica will depart February 7, 2010. Prices start at $13,899 (US dollars); save $1,000/person, based on double occupancy, by booking and paying in full by May 1, 2009.

To learn more about this itinerary or other Cruise West voyages, consumers are encouraged to attend one of the company's online live presentations - Visit to view the schedule.

More information about advance reservations for this itinerary - as well as Cruise West's other itineraries to destinations as diverse as Alaska, Panama and Costa Rica, Mexico's Sea of Cortes, Japan, Vietnam, the Galapagos, the Pacific Northwest or the romantic rivers of Europe - can be found online at, by calling 1-800-296-8307 or contact a Travel Professional.

Thursday 26 February 2009

Cruise The Ring Of Fire

Kamchatka And Beyond

Including the Kamchatka Peninsula, Kuril and Commander Islands

Book before 30 April 2009 and receive US$1,000 discount off your selected option!

Cruise these little known and seldom visited regions on board the polar class passenger vessel Spirit of Enderby. Cruise accompanied by a world-class team of biologists and historians ensuring an experience of a lifetime. Limited to 50 passengers.


10-21 July 20009

Priced from US$5,436

Airport and hotel transfers is Russia - One night's accommodation/meals prior to the cruise - 10 Night cruise - Free Russian Visa invitation letter (required for obtaining visa).


9-22 July 2009

Priced from US$8,367
Ex Seoul (South Korea)

Return flights to/from Seoul & Petropavlovsk - Two night's accommodation/meals prior to cruise (Additional cost if flight schedule requires additional nights) - 10 nights cruise - One night’s accommodation/meals after the cruise - Airport/hotel transfers in Seoul and Russia - Free Russian Visa invitation letter (required for obtaining visa) - Services of Russian/English speaking escort.


7-24 July 2009

Priced from US$10,997. Includes additional days in Vladivostok and Kamchatka Regions - Fully escorted.

Return flights to/from Seoul & Petropavlovsk - 7 nights pre and post cruise accommodation - 10 nights cruise - All meals except 5 dinners and 5 lunches - Airport/hotel transfers in Seoul and Russia - All admissions as per final itinerary - Free Russian Visa Invitation letter (required for obtaining visa).

*All prices are twin share per person in US$ and subject to change without notice.

Contact our Expedition Cruise Experts on 1800 222 141 for complete details, itinerary and bookings.

Adventure Associates

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Coral Princess Increases PNG Departures in 2009

It might be our closest neighbour, but Papua New Guinea hasn’t really registered on travellers’ radars up to now. But Coral Princess Cruises’ expedition-style cruises have proven so popular, the company has increased the number of its departures for 2009, exploring further and deeper into one of the world’s least developed regions than any other operator.

Papua New Guinea is still largely unexplored: there are vast expanses of thick tropical jungle nurturing over 3,000 kinds of orchids and its surrounding waters support unparalleled bio-diversity - its reefs are a magnet for SCUBA divers from around the globe.

The 10-night Rabaul to Port Moresby cruise aboard Coral Princess’s purpose-built luxury expedition vessel, Oceanic Discoverer, immerses passengers in the gorgeous scenery that ranges from pristine coral atolls to volcanic mountains and dense tropical rainforest. Passengers also meet many of the local tribespeople: PNG is one of the world’s most culturally diverse nations, with over 1000 recognised cultures.

Accommodating a maximum of just 72 passengers, Oceanic Discoverer visits the spectacular Trobriand Islands and retraces the World War II history of Madang and Alotau, where Australian forces fought off the Japanese offensive during World War II. No other vessel sails as far down the Sepik River, taking passengers to the Middle Sepik region, renowned for its bird watching and the unique art and artefacts of the local villages.

The Oceanic Discoverer’s purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer; glass bottom coral viewer and fleet of inflatable Zodiacs allow passengers to intimately explore the reefs and remote islands, where flotillas of canoes full of welcoming locals greet the ship’s arrival.

Excursions are guided by naturalists and experts who interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region. In true expedition style, the itinerary may vary to take maximum advantage of opportunities to view wildlife, go snorkelling or diving, or visit local villages and attractions.

The Oceanic Discoverer is designed to provide all the comfort and facilities of larger cruise ships, yet is small enough to enable access to remote and pristine sites inaccessible to other vessels. On board facilities include a large sundeck and spa pool, reference library, lecture lounge, two cocktail bars, a boutique and dive shop.

There are three Papua New Guinea itineraries, with eight departures in 2009/10. Prices for the 10-night Rabaul to Port Moresby and the 10-night Alotau to Rabaul cruises start at
$7750 per person twin share in a Main Deck B stateroom for the November, 2009 departures. Subsequent 2010 departures start at $8250.

There is also a 12-night cruise from Cairns to Rabaul, departing in November, 2009 and November, 2010, costing from $8,150 per person twin share.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises on 1800 079 545 or visit

Blue Lagoon Cruises: Fiji Time Machine

From Today's Cruise Weekly

Everybody knows Fiji as the epitome of the romantic tropical getaway. But cloistered inside the sanitised confines of a premium Denarau Island hotel or resort, what are you going to see of the real Fiji?

Long associated with genuine Fiji island cruising, Blue Lagoon Cruises operates two 4-star and one 3-star vessel on 6-, 3- and 2-night itineraries throughout the Yasawa Islands and, with the 'Historical and Cultural Cruise', beyond to the far northeastern reaches and dateline.

Those wishing to indulge their hedonistic urges can opt for the Yasawa Island cruises, but for those wishing to truly explore and discover, the 6-night, tri-annual 'Historical and Cultural Cruise' is for you.

Aboard the French-built, 60m catamaran 'Fiji Princess', up to 72 passengers cruise comfortably to infrequently visited ports and islands like Levuka, the 19th Century colonial capital and wild Rabi (pron. Ram-be) past Vanua Levu where resettled Micronesians from Kiribati and Banaba still cling to traditional language and customs. The schoolchildren enthrall visitors with energetic dancing and song.

Besides school and village visits, there is plenty of time for swimming and snorkelling among the gorgeous reefs and SCUBA diving can be arranged on day six at Nanuya Lailai during the layover. Guests may fish from the vessel at any time and DVDs play around the clock to in-cabin flat screen TVs.

The 13 sqm cabins are not large and it's definately one at a time in the ensuite bathroom. Food is hearty and plentiful with daily variation, but you won't find any Michelin stars on board. There are no cabin phones or onboard Internet, but mobile reception is available most of the cruise for those who must stay in contact. But to fully enjoy the relaxing Fijian experience, learn to turn it off.

While slightly behind international standards of 'luxury', the Fiji Princess has spacious public areas with plenty of 'air'. While there are wall maps and bridge visits, a small library with reference books would be a nice addition.

Staff are attentive and friendly in true Fijian style, but be aware the word 'urgent' does not translate in the local culture. Be calm and patient and your request will be addressed.

Founded in 1950 by Trevor Withers, a young, starry-eyed New Zealander, Blue Lagoon Cruises grew to become the defacto national cruise line of Fiji. Initially planned as a tuna fishing enterprise, the potential for tourist and passenger transport soon overtook the failing fish business. Withers had fallen in love with the Fiji Islands, particularly the idyllic Yasawa Group to the North West of Viti Levu, and felt sure he could persuade well-healed Americans to soak up the sun and surroundings.

The first vessel was an ex-military fast launch converted to carry just six passengers with a second vessel acquired in anticipation of more business.

It wasn't until the mid-1960s that Blue Lagoon Cruises hit its straps and in 1966 BLC was sold to Claude Millar, a fellow New Zealander who further expanded the fleet with the sturdy and robust Fairmile Class ex-naval 34m motor launches. Millar added more vessels during the 1970s, replacing the aging Fairmiles.

Upon retirement in 1978, Millar sold out to David Wilson who continued to grow the company with the introduction of Princess-class vessels. In 1996, the sleek 188ft Mystique Princess joined the fleet, creating a whole new level of opulence. In 2001, BLC became a majority Fijian-owned company and supports the remote Yasawa Island communities through development funds and capital works.

Prices for the 6-night/7-day 'Historical and Cultural Cruise' start at $7,774.80 per cabin (2 persons) but at time of writing early booking incentives were offered. Check with your agent.


Monday 23 February 2009

American Safari Cruises to operate under new company with former CEO Dan Blanchard

American Safari Cruises former CEO Dan Blanchard, who headed the company from 2001 to October 2008, has formed a new company, InnerSea Discoveries, which purchased the assets of American Safari Cruises and will operate the ASC brand beginning with the 2009 Alaska season. Based at historic Fishermen’s Terminal in Seattle, the new parent company plans to add several new brands to complement the American Safari yacht cruising experience of up-close, interactive exploration of the routes less traveled.

The InnerSea Discoveries executive team of Blanchard and Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing, has a combined 60 years of experience in yacht and small-ship cruising. “Tim and I are extremely excited to be back at the helm of a product we love and to build on the strong name of American Safari Cruises,” Blanchard says. “Showcasing nature up-close has been our true passion for decades, and we are looking toward new opportunities for bringing people closer to nature in small-group comfort.”

To ease agent and consumer anxiety in the current economic climate, InnerSea Discoveries is voluntarily placing client payments into a secure acoount. “We believe this to be a sound business practice for our new company model,” Blanchard says. “This is our own decision — we are not required to do this by any regulatory agency.”

Under ASC’s “Alaska – Even More Beautiful At 50″ promotion, travel agents who book an Alaska cruise before April 15 will save their clients $500 per person, receive their normal commission plus a $50 thank you, and will be entered in a late-April drawing for a free Alaska cruise.

For the fall 2009 season, the company is introducing new nine-day, eight-night one-way cruises along the Columbia and Snake rivers on its flagship Safari Explorer; details will be announced in late February.

InnerSea Discoveries will continue to provide cruises that focus on natural history and environmental education, all within the framework of luxury cruising. They are retaining the elements that led to ASC’s unique reputation – an inclusive experience onboard yachts carrying from 12 to 36 guests; the choice to book private charters or individual staterooms; a two-to-one passenger-crew ratio; professional expedition leaders with specific backgrounds in the cruise route; an enthusiastic all-American crew; an unstructured schedule where the captain follows the wildlife; and itineraries that avoid tourist-clogged towns in pursuit of up-close encounters with nature.

Kayaking, hiking and shore boat excursions remain a top priority, and guests enjoy fine cuisine prepared with fresh, local ingredients and a complimentary bar stocked with premium spirits, wines and microbrews. In 2007, ASC was named one of the world’s top five luxury small-ship/specialty cruise lines by the Virtuoso luxury travel consortium.

ASC’s Alaska itineraries maximize whale encounters, bear viewing, glacier visits and exclusive explorations such as an unprecedented two days exploring spectacular Glacier Bay National Park with an onboard park ranger. Yacht sizes range from the elegant 105-foot, 12-guest Safari Spirit to the 145-foot, 36-guest Safari Explorer. The 2009 Alaska Inside Passage season runs May 2 to Sept. 11; prices begin at $4,495 per person double occupancy.

The yachts are available for private charter for family or business and incentive travel. To secure charter space, early confirmation is highly encouraged. For information: 888/862-8881 or

Clelia II: A New Ship for Antarctica

Clelia II
(100 Passengers)

To be re-launched early in 2009 (constructed 1991) for Antarctica expeditions, the all-suite luxury ship Clelia II was extensively refurbished, redecorated and otherwise improved to offer the finest in small-ship cruise travel. This private, yacht-like, ice-strengthened expedition ship accommodates only 100 guests in 50 suites. Each suite provides ocean views, measures 215 square feet or more, and includes a sitting area or separate living room, twin or queen-size beds, spacious closets, air conditioning.


Decorated with rich fabrics, handsome wood, polished brass, rare antiquities and fine works of art, the yacht’s public spaces are warm and inviting. These include:

• Library with Internet access
• 2 Lounges with audiovisual facilities
• State-of-the-art gym/spa
• Beauty salon
• Boutique
• Hospital
• Elevator serving all passenger decks
• Dining room
• Two sun decks
• Jacuzzi
• Swimming platform

Clelia II complies with the latest international and U.S. Coast Guard safety regulations and is outfitted with the most current navigational and communications technology as well as with retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing, an ice-strengthened hull and a fleet of Zodiacs. Clelia II is staffed by 60 European officers and crew. Taken together with her limited guest capacity, excellence of design, craftsmanship and material, Clelia II's spaciousness and intimate ambience combine to make her ideal for distinctive cultural and expedition voyages.


Length: 290 ft
Beam: 50 ft
Draft: 12 ft
Gross Tonnage: 4200

The Clelia II will be operated by Polar Cruises of Oregon, USA and can be booked in Australia by Cruise Traveller.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Cruise ship carrying 105 runs aground in Antarctica. All safe, ship appears undamaged.

MORE than 100 people on a cruise ship that ran aground off Antarctica have been transferred to another ship.

Ship operator Quark Expeditions said the 106 people from the Bahamian-flagged Ocean Nova were now sailing on another ship operated by the Clipper Adventurer company.

Seven Australians were among the 65 passengers, 30 crew and 11 expedition staff on the Ocean Nova, which ran aground on Tuesday.

The Clipper Adventurer will return to Ushuaia, Argentina's southernmost city and the original jumping-off point for the 15-day voyage exploring the polar circle.

The Ocean Nova ran aground amid high winds and was unable to break free during the rising evening tide as officials had hoped.

Quark Expeditions said continuing high winds thwarted the attempt to dislodge the ship on Wednesday.

But several hours after the passengers were rescued, the late evening tide lifted the Ocean Nova away from the rocky shore.

An inspection by divers showed no damage or leaking, and the operator said the ship would host a separate 20-day expedition of the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands beginning on February 22.

The company, based in the US state of Connecticut, said the ship had been on a two-week cruise costing up to $US18,290 ($A28,618).

Tuesday 17 February 2009

Orion expeditions to Sub-Antarctic islands

Immerse yourself in some of our planet's most extraordinary biodiversity. 

Protected by the Southern Ocean, secluded and seldom visited, the Australian and New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, recognized by UNESCO as one of the worlds' precious regions of unique biodiversity, will be visited by the expedition cruise ship Orion in December, 2009.

Today these remote nature reserves enjoy World Heritage status, recognised for their volcanic and glacial geological formations and extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna - much of which endangered or recovering since being discovered and later plundered in the late 1700's and early 1800's by sealers and whalers.

Home to over half of the world's seabirds, some of which exist nowhere else, this wildlife paradise contains 40% of the world's albatross species and 50% of the world's penguin species including the endangered yellow-eyed penguin, plus hundreds of thousands of other endemic birds - petrels, prions and cormorants. 

The expedition team will include the highly respected British zoologist and naturalist Dr John Sparks, who travelled to Antarctica onboard Orion in 2006.  

At Snares there is every expectation guests will see Sooty Shearwaters, the endemic Snares Crested Penguins, Snares Fernbird and Tomtits.  On Enderby Island expect to see pipits, parakeets and plovers, Hooker's Sea Lions, and perhaps even the Auckland Island Flightless Teal and Sub-Antarctic Snipe. Campbell Island, home to the Southern Royal Albatrosses, has the highest diversity of breeding albatrosses of any island in the world. 

And then there are plant species that have to be seen to be believed, including 5 meter high tree daisies on Snares, giants compared to their relatives in more temperate climates. 

With convenient embarkation in Bluff (Invercargill, New Zealand) or Hobart, Orion will head south to visit (depending on voyage) Macquarie, Campbell, Stewart, Snares and Auckland islands as well as spending time exploring New Zealand's beautiful Fjordlands (including Milford and Doubtful Sounds).  

These two expeditions to the Sub-Antarctic islands are designed for nature lovers and photographers alike. The remnants of the old whaling station on Macquarie Island, the high cliffs and numerous caves and arches formed by marine erosion on Campbell Island and the enormous sea stacks on the southern peninsulas of Snares present dramatic contrast to the prolific bird life, penguins, seals, sea lions and flora in this remote sanctuary. 

Dr John Sparks has travelled all over the world making wildlife films, including five with Sir David Attenborough; he has written 11 books and visited Antarctica on many occasions. Details available at 

Orion Fares Guide:

13 night Sub-Antarctic Adventure –departs Hobart 1 December 2009 or Bluff (Invercargill) NZ  14 December 2009. Itineraries vary.

Fares from $10,630 per person twin share for an ocean view Category B stateroom

Suites from $14,660 per person twin share for a Junior Suite

Owners' Suites with French Balcony are $22,265 per person twin share 

Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship, featuring an unmatched range of onboard facilities. 

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters. 
Further information on all Orion Expedition Cruises to Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, Asia, New Zealand, the Kimberley and Arnhem Land can be obtained by visiting the website  

For reservations or to obtain a brochure call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email: 

Sunday 15 February 2009

Blue Lagoon Cruises 'Historical & Cultural Dateline' cruise early birds

Cruise specialist offering 'early bird' rates on May, August and November sailings

Blue Lagoon Cruises has announced it will again offer 'early bird' rates on the three remaining 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruises' it has scheduled for 2009.

Departing the Fijian cruise company's home port of Lautoka on 18 May, 17 August and 09 November, the cruises offer a unique opportunity to see the largely uncharted and seldom visited reaches comprising Fiji's remote north-eastern tip.

While lying in the shadow of one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, Fiji's north-eastern tip rarely receives attention from the outside world.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' 60-metre flagship MV Fiji Princess is in fact one of the very few commercial vessels to have visited the region in recent years.

Prices for the cruises start from AUD3089*" per person twin share.

However all bookings for any of the three departures received prior to 17 May 2009 will qualify for the 30 per cent discount – a saving of AUD927* per person.

Operated to the boutique cruise company's highly regarded 'Gold Club' standard, the seven-day itinerary includes Kioa Island, home to some 300 Polynesian Elice Islanders who migrated into the region in the 1940's.

The cruise will also visit the 4,000 Micronesian Banabans who have inhabited Rabi Island since 1946.

Rabi remains virtually the same since the Banabans first arrived from Kiribati to escape the ravages phosphate mining had dealt to their home islands.

The cruise schedule also includes visits to Fiji's original capital city, Levuka, on Ovalau Island and Nananu-I-Ra Island, the home of the Fijian Serpent God Degei who according to local legend created the Fijian archipelago.

Hands-on cruise activities include the opportunity to visit these islanders in their villages and participate in several of their ancient ceremonies.

These include 'Yaqona root' (Kava) drinking, lashings of traditional entertainment and a trip to the 180th Meridian and International Dateline at Taveuni where passengers can stand with one foot in each of two different days.

The cruise also includes a walking tour of Levuka and a guided tour of Taveuni, including the Bouma Eco Park and waterfall.

A high spot of the overall cruise is the greeting by Kioa islanders, resplendent in traditional war dress, paddling out to the MV Fiji Princess in outrigger canoes to ferry passengers ashore for a traditional welcome.

For cruise reservations telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on +679 666 1622, facsimile +679 666 4098 or via email on

For more information please visit

*Conditions apply. Please note prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea or coffee).

Saturday 14 February 2009

Go North, everyone! Arctic cruising is all the rage.

By Teresa Earle for Canada Tourist Commission

This summer, record numbers of intrepid travellers are boarding ships headed north of the Arctic Circle. Cruise North is leading the charge.

The North is hot—and I’m not talking about global warming. Arctic eco-tourism is all the rage, with a record number of cruise ships calling into ports north of the Arctic Circle this summer. Much of this traffic is bound for Nunavut Territory and northern Quebec, bringing curious visitors to high-Arctic outposts with tongue-twister names like Auyuittuq, Pangnirtung, Kuujjuaq and Akpotak Island, plus the enduringly-named Resolute.

Riding this new wave of Arctic cruising is Cruise North Expeditions, a Toronto, ON-based company owned by the Inuit of Northern Quebec (Nunavik). Once the exclusive domain of the wealthy, today touring the Canadian Arctic by ship is comfortable, affordable and geared to outgoing, inquisitive travellers.

Cruise North’s president, Dugald Wells, sums it up nicely, calling his brand of ship-based exploration the “anti-cruise.” Passengers care far more about birds than bikinis, and their idea of a good time is photographing beluga whales at 3 am.

Could this trend spell the end of the boozy, hedonistic Caribbean cruise? Not likely. But for some intrepid adventurers, there’s clearly more to cruising than the cruise. Hmmm, let’s see… should I explore fragile Arctic ecosystems and learn about Inuit culture aboard a 122-passenger expedition vessel, or should I sign up for another tour of duty-free shopping and Vegas-style entertainment on a 2,000-passenger “fun ship”? Exactly.

Tuesday 10 February 2009

New Life for Ms. Tydeman

Artists impression of rebuilt vessel

MV Plancius started her life in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named Hr. Ms. Tydeman. In June 2004, the vessel was taken out of active service for rebuilding.

Still under construction, but available for Polar expeditions in June 2009, the vessel will be completely rebuilt as a 112-passenger vessel and shall comply with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea), is classed by Lloyd’s Register in London and will fly the Dutch flag.

The vessel will be comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxurious vessel. Its voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel program, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet the demands to achieve this.

M/V “Plancius” can accommodate 112 passengers in 54 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 triple private cabins, 40 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters).

The vessel is manned by 30 international crew members (inc. 10 stewardesses/cabin cleaners), 6 hotel staff (4 chefs, 1 purser and 1 steward-barman), 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guides-lecturers) and 1 doctor.

MV Plancius is operated by Oceanwide Expeditions and represented in Australia by Adventure Associates

Saturday 7 February 2009

Blue Lagoon Cruises Historical and Cultural Cruise

By James Shrimpton, specialist cruise writer and former Travel Editor, (AAP)

LAUTOKA, Fiji, AAP - A sparkling greeting from locals ashore awaits the infrequent shiploads of tourists which venture around Fiji’s distant northeastern islands, far from regular sea routes.

From scores of villages and isolated homes, using hand-mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays, they flash signals of welcome directed to passengers and crew,

Aboard the cruising ships, those with similar mirrors respond in kind, while crew members on the bridge may use other reflecting implements such as silver-coloured CDs.

Blue Lagoon Cruises (BLC) sends one of its four small cruising vessels on seven-day northeast-bound voyages three or four times a year, in aqddition to its regular three- or four-day sailings from Lautoka, Fiji’s second largest city. around the Yasawa and Mamanuca island groups off the northwest coast of Viti Levu, the main island.

Our "historical & cultural" cruise was on the 1,228-ton catamaran Fiji Princess, carrying up to 72 passengers, which joined the fleet three years ago from the African side of the Indian Ocean where she operated as Pearl of the Seychelles in and around that island republic.

Atmosphere on board is laid-back Fijian friendly, with crew and passengers on a first-name basis from the opening get-together in the ship's lounge when it was hand-shakes all round, from skipper Saulo Tuiloma (who also plays guitar in the ship’s band!) and cruise director “Big Joe” to the ever-attentive stewards of both sexes.

On the cruise were a good mix of travellers from Australia, New Zealand, England, the United States, Canada, Austria, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

All cabins are compact, en-suite and have TV carrying recent DVD movies.

The program mixed excursions ashore to white-sand beaches for swimming, snorkeling and diving with informative and entertaining looks at the history and culture of some of the more remote of Fiji’s 322 islands and their people - preceded by night-before talks from local experts Allan Griffin from Blue Lagoon and Fiji-born Alan Roxburgh.

On its northeastern voyage, Fiji Princess was also a seaborne aid project, delivering to needy villages goods donated by BLC and Australian groups such as Rotary and Variety Club Queensland.

They included 20 sets of bunk-beds and mattresses for weekly boarders at a school at faraway Druadrua on the north coast of Fiji's northern and second largest island Vanua Levu, and items such as books, pencils, teachers’ aids, toothbrushes and toothpaste to other village schools.

(Druadrua head teacher Mosese Cabecuva touched many passengers' hearts when he described how his boys practised rugby using coconuts because of a lack of footballs.)

BLC has been one of the pioneers of Fiji tourism since it began virtually from scratch in the early 1950s by New Zealand stockbroker Trevor Withers after he abandoned plans with Australian aviator partner Harold Gatty.

Friday 6 February 2009

North Star Cruises: Last Minute Availabilities

Spoil your TRUE LOVE with a cruise on the TRUE NORTH!

Give the gift of adventure this Valentines Day and book a cabin on our West Coast Explorer cruising from Fremantle to Dampier (28th Feb – 10 Mar), or come walkabout and get lost with your loved one on our stunning Kimberley Wilderness Cruise.

The following cabins are available to book now:

West Coast Explorer Cruise
28 February - 10 March
2 cabins remaining

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 1
14 March - 27 March
1 cabin remaining

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 2b
04 April – 10 April
1 cabin remaining

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 4a
25 April – 02 May
6 cabins remaining

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 4b
02 May – 08 May
3 cabins remaining

Highlights from our West Coast Explorer Cruise:

A classic ‘blue water’ experience with fishing, snorkeling and diving offered.

Visit the very spectacular Steep Point – Australia’s most western point.
Explore Dirk Hartog Island – site of the first ever European landing on Australian soil.

Snorkel Ningaloo Reef & Coral Bay. World class!

Highlights from our Kimberley Wilderness cruise:

Get up close & personal with this ancient land that is over 1.8 billion years old.

Knowledgeable crew onboard to interpret the history, geology, art, flora & fauna.

Amazing excursions daily including optional scenic heli flights up gorges, over river systems and waterfalls

Excellent Fishing – guaranteed to catch one! (Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, Fingermark Bream, Queenfish & Salmon)

Go Wild in Style!

PO Box 654 Broome Western Australia 6725
Telephone: (+61 8) 9192 1829 Facsimile: (+61 8) 9192 1830
Email: URL:

Thursday 5 February 2009

Heritage Lines releases new Jayavarman impressions

With construction of its 58-metre luxury flagship The Jayavarman right on track for its September launch date, Trails of Indochina's luxury Mekong River cruise specialist Heritage Lines has released two new impressions of how the vessel and its luxury cabin accommodation will look once complete.

The featured cabin image is of one of the vessel’s 11 Deluxe standard ‘Indochina-style’ cabins.

The cabins offer 24m sq of space which when complete will making them the largest of their type on any vessel operating Mekong cruises.

Operated by Ho Chi Minh-based Heritage Lines and part of a project estimated in excess of USD4 million, the 58-metre deluxe river boat has been conceived in what the company describes as a fusion of traditional eastern shipbuilding craft and avant-garde French colonial design overlayed with state of the art technology.

Accommodation ranges from two ‘Bao Daop’ Royal Hue themed junior suites (26m sq) to the 11 Deluxe standard ‘Indochina-style’ cabins and 14 Superior standard (21m sq), each of which will be themed individually.

The ship’s spacious facilities also include a spa, a spacious restaurant serving eastern and western cuisine, two expansive lounges, a shop and a library spread over 800 square metres on a total five decks.

Following her maiden voyage The Jayavarman will commence operation of a medley of Mekong Delta cruise itineraries structured over two, three, four, five and eight days.


Monday 2 February 2009

Aurora Expeditions Seeks Marketing Coordinator

An exciting opportunity exists for a passionate person with great marketing skills to join Aurora Expeditions. Aurora is a leading adventure travel company specialising in ship-based travel to the world’s remote places including Antarctica, the Arctic, Papua New Guinea and the Russian Far East. This is a varied role, which requires responsibility for all areas of the marketing mix and would ideally suit someone with travel industry experience.

Marketing Coordinator:

Please view the attached job spec for more in-depth details of the position that currently exists.

Essential requirements:
• Minimum two years marketing experience
• Relevant tertiary qualifications
• Great communication and presentation skills written & oral
• Strong attention to detail & organisation skills
• Enjoy working at a fast pace
• Capacity to manage consecutive tasks
• Excellent & accurate computer skills

Highly desirable:
• Exposure to and/or interest in the adventure travel industry
• Desktop publishing skills

Travel within Australia and to specific destinations may be required.

An attractive package in accordance with industry experience will be negotiated.