Monday 29 June 2009

Blue Lagoon cooks up 'lovers' breakfast' special

Blue Lagoon Cruises has added to its highly romantic onboard 'private dining experience' menu serving up a new 'lovers' breakfast in bed' option for its four and seven-day 'Gold Club' cruise passengers.

Priced from FJD247* per couple (around AUD150*) the package includes a fresh fruit and juice selection and a choice of cold dishes including yoghurt, ham and camembert cheese, Danish pastries, muffins and croissants.

For those who prefer a cooked breakfast, the 'lovers breakfast in bed' menu ranges from a traditional English breakfast to four different egg choices, steak, pan fried walu and stacked pancakes layered with fresh bananas, cream and maple syrup.

The offer also includes private car transfers to the wharf from Blue Lagoon Cruises' dedicated pre-boarding lounge area in Lautoka, a 'bubbly' breakfast in bed the next day, 'his and hers' gifts at breakfast, complimentary chocolates on turn down.

Further massaging the value, the offer 'lovers' breakfast in bed' option also features a 30 minute 'his and hers' back rub.

The new breakfast option compliments the boutique cruise specialist's highly romantic candlelit 'private dining experience'.

Priced from FJD150* per couple (around AUD91*) the 'private dining experience' package includes an appetiser, entrée, main and dessert plus port, a cheese platter and a complimentary bottle of wine.

Venue for the dinners is a sealed off section of the Sky Deck on board MV Mystique Princess and the Sun Deck on board MV Fiji Princess ensuring complete privacy.

Prices for a four-day/three night 'Gold Club' cruise lead in at AUD1184* per person twin share.

The seven-day/six-night 'Gold Club' cruise is priced from AUD1654* per person twin share.

'Gold Club' program highlights include complimentary champagne and Hors d'œuvres at sunset on the first night onboard as a prelude to a 'Captain's Welcome' dinner.

All cruise itineraries include all meals and cruise activities. These range from daily shore excursions, bush walks and snorkeling safaris to fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast, visits to remote villages, Kava ceremonies and a day spent at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai.

Prices for both the 'lovers' breakfast' and 'romantic dining' packages are valid until 31 March 2010.

*Conditions apply. Please note cruise prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea and coffee). A daily fuel surcharge of FJD25 per person also applies.

See for full itineraries.

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

Sunday 28 June 2009

Seabourn takes delivery of new ship

The Yachts of Seabourn has taken delivery of the cruise industry’s first ultra-luxury vessel to launch in six years. Built at T.Mariotti shipyard in Genoa and with a gross tonnage of 32,000, Seabourn Odyssey will be launched and named in Venice on June 24 before embarking on her maiden voyage.

“This is certainly a very historic day for our company, as today we took delivery of our beautiful new yacht, Seabourn Odyssey,” said Pamela Conover, president and CEO of Seabourn. “This moment marks a milestone occasion in Seabourn’s history; Seabourn Odyssey is the first of three new sisters to be introduced over the next two years and sets a new standard for the ultra-luxury cruise industry. We hope our guests will be as delighted as we are and we look forward to welcoming them aboard to enjoy a new era in Seabourn’s yachting life.”

The $250 million Seabourn Odyssey will be launched in an intimate ceremony with the unmistakable skyline of Venice as the backdrop. In a twist from traditional naming ceremonies, all guests sailing on the Maiden Voyage will be named ‘godparents’ with the breaking of a bottle of Italian Prosecco to mark the occasion. An ingenious bottle breaking mechanism has been designed especially for the event. Following the on-deck event, all ‘godparents’ will receive a commemorative certificate and their names will be affixed to a plaque displayed onboard.

American Safari Offers $500 Savings on New River Cruises

American Safari Cruises announces a new itinerary and introductory savings for fall and spring cruises on the Columbia and Snake rivers of Washington, Oregon and Idaho aboard the 145-foot, 36-guest Safari Explorer. The yacht’s entry into the region helps fill the void left by Majestic America Line when it ceased operating three riverboats in the area. Called “Rivers First” in honor of the Safari Explorer’s inaugural season on the rivers, the promotion offers savings of $500 per person on river cruises booked by the July 24 deadline. The eight-night itinerary is one way between Lewiston, Idaho, and Astoria, Ore.

“River cruising in America is very popular,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “And yet with Majestic America pulling its boats from the Mississippi River as well as here, and RiverBarge Excursion ceasing operations for this year, the opportunities to enjoy this experience are very limited.” Jacox says that the company decided to do one-way cruises because of the time required to lock through the eight dams on the Columbia. “If we did roundtrip itineraries, we’d have to go through 16 lockings and we’d see a lot more of the dams than the river, the spectacular scenery and historical side trips,” he said.

As with all ASC cruises, guests explore by double sea kayaks and motorized skiffs, and also take guided hikes. Because the route lies in the Pacific flyway, birding opportunities abound as more than 200 species of birds rest in the area during their annual migrations.

The Safari Explorer offers luxury amenities and activities including complimentary massages, exercise equipment, a sauna, top-deck hot tub, and yoga sessions. Staterooms feature Tempur-pedic mattresses, heated tile floors in the private bathrooms and DVD players. There is a complimentary bar with premium spirits, fine wines and microbrews; cuisine with fresh, local ingredients; a wine library; and a crew-guest ratio of 1-to-2. Cruises include a jet-boat excursion into Hells Canyon; wine-tasting at two Washington state wineries; a visit to Hood River, the wind-surfing capital of the world; a tour of Bonneville Dam; and the Lewis and Clark Discovery Center in Ilwaco, Wash.

Dates for fall 2009 cruises are Sept. 30, Oct. 8, Oct. 16, Oct. 24, Nov. 1, Nov. 9, Nov. 17 and Nov. 25. Prices begin at $5,295 per person. Spring 2010 dates for a seven-night cruise are March 20, March 27, April 10 and April 17. Prices begin at $3,395 per person. April 3 is a wine and culinary themed cruise featuring eight winery, distillery and brewery visits along with vintner and guest chef-hosted wine and food pairings to be held in the onboard wine library. Prices for this program start at $4,295 per person. For more information, call 888-862-8881 or visit


Four Ships, Four Distinct Itineraries

SEATTLE, WA – Drawing on its 63 years of tour/cruise experience in Alaska, Cruise West (, is introducing a new seven-night Alaska's Inside Passage itinerary that highlights more wilderness and Zodiac experiences and authentic ports of call. Four-night departures will be offered on Glacier Bay Highlights and Glaciers of Prince William Sound voyages, and the popular 10-night Gold Rush Inside Passage returns with a new port of call. The deployment changes reflect the Spirit of '98 staying on the Columbia River and the Spirit of Oceanus venturing on a new epic world voyage in 2010.

"Our redeployment is in response to demand and current market conditions, while maintaining the integrity and heritage of our core Alaska products," said President and CEO Dietmar Wertanzl. "In addition, the new Inside Passage itinerary really reflects our core values as a company, which is to get off the beaten path and explore! The best attributes of both our Whales & Wilderness and classic Alaska's Inside Passage itineraries were combined for the new streamlined itinerary. The included ports of call and waterways are a natural for our small vessels and this itinerary also offers further exploration by small craft excursions."

The deployment modifications include 25 departures of the new seven-night Alaska's Inside Passage cruise roundtrip from Juneau, which includes a winning combination of authentic ports, an included shore excursion in every port and awe-inspiring wilderness cruising. Guests spend one full day exploring both historical Sitka where a choice of additional shore excursions awaits, and World Heritage Site Glacier Bay National Park. The company enhances the itinerary with Wrangell, a hidden jewel that offers a plethora of high action optional excursions including bear viewing from the Anan Bear Observatory and taking a jet boat up the Stikine River. The lovely fishing village of Petersburg features a performance by the Leikarring Dancers, beautiful walks, and the charm of the local people and their rich Norwegian heritage. Always a favorite is scenic cruising in Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage, considered the most prolific whale watching waters in Alaska. Also featured are two additional days spent searching for sea and wildlife, including opportunities to explore around Lake Eva, Red Bluff or Security Bay by Zodiac inflatable craft, and a full day at Icy Strait and the Inian Islands. The action takes place on the 138-guest Spirit of Yorktown and 102-guest Spirit of Endeavour. Prices start at $4,399, per person double occupancy.

Further, the 84-guest Spirit of Discovery will operate 24 departures of the four-night Glacier Bay Highlights itinerary, roundtrip from Juneau. This cruise offers two nights in Glacier Bay National Park, with a stop at Bartlett Cove for a special presentation and an opportunity to take a nature walk, and a full day of adventures at Haines and Skagway. Prices start at $1,599 per person, double occupancy. Pre and post night hotel packages are available to build in time for "Cruise West crafted" excursions to enhance your experience.

The 78-guest Spirit of Columbia will operate 19 departures of the four-night Glaciers of Prince William Sound itinerary, roundtrip from Anchorage. One fifth of the state's tide water glaciers are located in Prince William Sound and this is nature cruising at its finest. The glaciers and scenery are sure to stun even the most seasoned traveler. The small fishing village of Cordova, known for its prized Copper River salmon and inaccessible by highway, is a featured port stop offering adventure activities including kayaking, hiking and river rafting. Prices start at $1,199 per person, double occupancy.

Cruise West's popular 10-day Gold Rush Inside Passage itinerary has been revised to include Misty Fiords and the authentic Tsimshian community, Metlakatla. Ten departures will cruise between Seattle and Juneau at the beginning and end of the season on all four ships. Port calls include traditional favorites and many jewels: San Juan Islands; scenic sea and wildlife cruising in the Strait of Georgia, Frederick Sound, Tracy Arm and Sergius Narrows; the Norwegian fishing village of Petersburg, Sitka, Skagway and Glacier Bay National Park. This cruise offers exceptional value with prices starting at $3,599 per person, double occupancy.

Cruise West is the only cruise line that provides a land tour extension featuring a 3-night stay at the six million acre Denali National Park and Preserve, included in all standard land tours. Guests have more time to explore the park and enjoy included exclusive lectures by naturalists from the Denali Education Center and Alaska Geographic. For guests seeking an even more in-depth and active Denali adventure before their cruise, the company offers a more exclusive and intimate experience at two interior park lodges: Kantishna Roadhouse or North Face Lodge.

As always, Cruise West includes a shore excursion in every port and offers numerous optional excursions to further personalize the guest experience. For maximum value, book and pay in full by August 14, 2009, and save up to $700 per person. For additional information regarding Cruise West's Alaska voyages visit or to book a cruise call 1-800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful. Small-ship exploration cruising allows up-close and personal experiences unmatched by the traditional larger cruise lines. For more than 63 years Cruise West has provided authentic travel experiences where the destination is the focus. Nine small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-138 explore remote and distinctive destinations throughout the globe. A robust onboard enrichment program further enhances the guest experience through topical guest lecturers, additional exploration by Zodiac and included excursions at every port.

Wednesday 24 June 2009


Travel on a $20,000 Expedition for Free!

Quark Expeditions is searching for an Official Blogger to join a voyage to Antarctica. Do you have a passion for the polar regions? A commitment to the environment? An insatiable urge to photograph penguins?

Post your entry and tell the world why you should be our blogger. Be creative! On September 30, 2009, the entrant with the most number of votes will be selected as the winner.

The Official Quark Blogger will travel with a guest to Antarctica in February 2010 and blog about their experience, chronicling the action, the emotion, and the drama as their polar adventure unfolds.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Adventure cruising, expedition cruising, now eco cruising.

Product differentiation in the travel business is an ongoing challenge for those marketing existing products and even more so for those launching new ones and trying to get their heads above the noise.

A couple weeks back I attended a function aboard the superb ten passenger charter vessel, MV Platinum. The premise for my attendance was the announcement of new “adventure cruising” and “eco cruising” itineraries aboard this sparkling new vessel.

First and foremost, the 38m MV Platinum is like no other vessel offering adventure cruise itineraries. It’s lavish, exclusive and oh-so posh. Immediately I’m thinking of visiting royalty and uber-celebs chartering this vessel for a week or so between coronations or Academy Awards. I see flowing evening gowns, balmy moonlit nights and lots of champagne.

So where does this lovely boat fit in with chunky ex-Russian spy vessels and 50-passenger expedition yachts? To be honest I’m not sure.

Platinum’s idea of eco-cruising is white sandy beaches, a spot of snorkelling, gourmet meals, relaxation and hand-and-foot pampering. 5-day itineraries between the Gold Coast and Whitsundays run at around $800pp/day, fractionally more expensive than our regulars in this market but without the included excursions. If you’re planning a honeymoon or smart get-away-from-it-all break this would be hard to beat, but adventure seekers might find themselves left to their own devices. Where are the kayaks and Scuba tanks? BYO I imagine.

The 32-cabin Fantasea Ammari struggled throughout 2008 with itineraries in the Whitsundays and was eventually withdrawn back to Brisbane last October. The Ammari is a perfectly capable vessel, more in line with regular adventure yachts like Coral Princess’ Oceanic Discoverer and Captain Cook’s Reef Escape. Her so-called ‘adventure cruises’ were more leisure orientated.

“I see her as a sort of floating beach house,“ said Fantasea Cruises patriarch Hume Campbell at the time of the vessel’s re-introduction, “somewhere where guests can slow down quickly and relax.”

If Fantasea’s experience is anything to go by, there seems to be something missing from the “kick back” small ship cruising model, especially in our region. I would argue that in order to apply the ‘adventure’ or ‘expedition’ label, a cruise itinerary needs much more than fine wine, marble bathrooms and scenery. Luxury is all well-and-good, but enrichment and the oft-touted “experiential and transformational” need stirring into the mix too. Our big ship brigade seem to have “laid back” down pat, especially in the $200pp/day price bracket.

Have a clear idea what you want out of your next small ship cruise and scrutinise itineraries and activities closely. In my mind at least, adventure cruising needs ‘adventure’.

Whale watch in the Kimberley – and save 15% on Orion

Late July and August is the prime time to see migrating whales in the Kimberley – and what better way to see the largest Humpback whale population in the world as they head north from the Antarctic to rest and calve than from on board the luxury expedition cruise ship, Orion?

Limited space remains for some of Orion’s 10 night Kimberley Expedition Kimberley voyages in 2009. Take in the highlights between Darwin and Broome, including visits to mighty King George Falls, the dramatic Horizontal Waterfalls, Montgomery Reef and the spectacular ancient indigenous rock artwork of Bigge Island – plus the chance to see whales breaching, tail slapping and blowing.

Kimberley Expedition – Select from 5 voyages between 22 July and 31 August 2009:10 nights. Darwin/Broome and v.v. typically including King George River and Falls, Vansittart Bay, Bigge Island, Hunter River (for Mitchell Falls), Montgomery Reef and Raft Point, Talbot Bay/Horizontal Waterfalls, Cape Leveque, the Lacepedes – refer to specific itineraries for details.

Fares Guide:

Special offer – save 15% on these prices

Fares begin from $8,790 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom.

Suites begin from $12,125 per person for a Junior Suite and Owners Suites with French Balcony are $18,410 per person

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:

Cruise the Kimberley with Coral Princess – and Explore the Reef for free.

Coral Princess Cruises has added two extra departures for its most popular cruise: a voyage exploring the remote Kimberley coast between Broome and Darwin. And for new bookings before 31 August 2009, Coral Princess is offering a second three- or four-night cruise on the Great Barrier Reef, valued at up to $4392 per couple, for free.

Due to ever-popular demand, the two extra voyages aboard the company's luxury flagship Oceanic Discoverer depart on October 2 and 12 2009. New bookings will also include a free Great Barrier Reef cruise that can be used any time in the 12 months following the Kimberley cruise and can even be passed on to family members as a memorable gift.

The 10-night Kimberley cruise visits Kuri Bay, home of the South Pacific pearl industry, and ventures ashore to view the world-famous Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings, - the world's oldest known indigenous art – and the towering, 80-metre King George Falls, the tallest waterfalls in Western Australia. There is an optional helicopter flight over the Mitchell Plateau for views of the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls, as well as excursions into secluded gorges and to rock pools perfect for swimming. The cruise explores the Buccaneer Archipelago – made up of 800 islands – and includes an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the 'Horizontal Waterfall', where the tide floods between rocky cliffs.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000.

Coral Princess operates two ships in the Kimberley. The Oceanic Discoverer accommodates a maximum of just 72 guests and travels with a purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer and inflatable Zodiacs. Coral Princess accommodates a maximum of just 48 guests. In true expedition style, the itinerary may vary to take maximum advantage of opportunities to venture ashore or to explore the many waterfalls, river systems, reefs and other natural attractions.

Prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise start at $6450 aboard Coral Princess and $7750 aboard Oceanic Discoverer. Prices are per person, twin share and include the cruise, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board and group transfers. There are regular departures from both Darwin and Broome between April and October 2009.

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

Sunday 21 June 2009

Blue Lagoon offers 30 per cent discount on four-day/three-night Yasawa 'Club' cruises

Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 30 per cent discount on all four-day/three-night Yasawa Island 'Club' cruises from now until 31 August 2009.

Pricing for the special starts from AUD1209* per person twin share in a 'Hibiscus' class cabin with travel valid until 31 March 2010.

All Blue Lagoon cruises programs include all meals and cruise activities ranging from daily shore excursions and snorkeling safaris to fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast, visits to remote villages, Kava ceremonies and a day spent at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai.

*Conditions apply. Please note cruise prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea and coffee). A daily fuel surcharge of FJD25 per person also applies.

See for full itineraries.

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

Thursday 11 June 2009

Original Kimberley Quest destroyed by fire

Note from Editor: Kimberley Quest II continues to sail advertised voyages


FIRE has destroyed a $2.3 million luxury cruise liner in the West Australian town of Broome.

The fire was reported about 11.30pm (WST) yesterday and was still burning late this morning.

Police spokeswoman Ros Weatherall said it was believed no one was aboard the boat.

The Kimberley Quest, a 24.9m fiberglass vessel built in 2000, had been in port at the Broome slipway undergoing repairs.

Ms Weatherall said two arson squad detectives were on their way from Perth to investigate the cause of the blaze.

"Because it is still burning, no one has been able to get too close to the boat,'' Ms Weatherall said.

"Hopefully the fire will be out soon and police can take a closer look at it.''

The boat's owners have asked police to clarify that the destroyed vessel was not the Kimberley Quest II, which is currently cruising the Talbot Bay area with 18 people on board.

Wednesday 10 June 2009

One Ocean Expeditions secures expedition ship ‘Akademik Ioffe’


Canada-based ONE OCEAN EXPEDITIONS, represented by ACTIVE TRAVEL in Australia, has announced a significant coup for the forthcoming 2010 Antarctic season.

Commencing 16 January 2010, ONE OCEAN will operate the well-known Russian research vessel, Akademik Ioffe, formerly chartered by US-based Quark Expeditions.

ONE OCEAN'S CEO and ex-Australian resident, Andrew Prossin, said " Akademik Ioffe has been sold in the Australian market for years. I worked with this vessel for many seasons and in my opinion she is the best-equipped Antarctic expedition vessel in the world. I am delighted to have secured her for the 2009/10 Antarctic season".

The Akademik Ioffe was commissioned by the Soviets in 1989 and was originally designed as high-tech "spy ship". She was never really used for that purpose however her sophisticated ballast systems and ultra-quiet engines make her an ideal vessel for polar exploration. According to Prossin, she is "about as quiet and vibration free as they come".

Andrew Prossin is a veteran of approx 150 voyages in Polar regions and is at the forefront of polar innovation. Some years ago he introduced sea-kayaking options to the Australian market and his 2010 programmes contain a number of creative options. First, he will reduce passenger numbers from 110 to 86, providing the highest staff/client ratio in the industry. Secondly, each voyage includes four 'Adventure Concierges', setting new standards for customer service. Their role is simply to engage with passengers at whatever level is required, to ensure they get the best from their Antarctic adventure.

ONE OCEAN is also unique in the expedition cruise industry by offering a wide variety of options to clients every time they leave the ship. These include sea-kayaking, guided hikes, zodiac cruises, bird-watching programmes – with passengers able to choose their preferred activity each time they go ashore. And an overnight adventure camping option (normally over A$200) is free of charge including all necessary gear.

By reducing passenger numbers from 110 to 86, there is considerable extra space on board. Each expedition will now include a massage therapist and a new onboard spa will provide a variety of relaxing and therapeutic services at an additional cost. The company has also developed an 'Active Cruising' programme, bringing fitness and adventure together into a unique package. An onboard personal trainer will offer a regular programme of fitness and training sessions so that participants are well prepared for daily activities – and for the delicious meals prepared by the Canadian chef!

Five expeditions are offered next year, including three 10 night cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula, a 12 night expedition to the South Orkney Islands, Weddell Sea and Antarctic Peninsula and an 18 night trip to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.

For brochures and further information contact ACTIVE TRAVEL in Australia on 02-9264 1231 or visit

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Changes Afloat

Like so many travel industry segments, the so-called global financial crisis has caused many operators to reevaluate their strategic planning. Even so, several were committed to new vessels and itineraries devised in the glory days leading up to the collapse.

Certainly one of the most ambitious and adventurous itineraries would have to be Cruise West’s Voyages of the Great Explorers, a 335-day circumnavigation of the world. Departing Singapore on March 6, 2010, the 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus will sail westward, following the sun, to return to Singapore on February 3, 2011.

This remarkable journey includes visits to 242 ports in 59 countries and 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites while crossing 14 seas and oceans, transiting three canals, as well as a voyage tied to The Famed Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Scotland’s colorful military musical spectacular. This is really a fine weave voyage, over twice as long and visiting nearly five times as many ports as a comparable Cunard, ‘big ship’ itinerary.

Another vessel that re-emerged after an expensive refit was Silverseas’ Prince Albert II. The luxury small ship cruise line jumped the adventure bandwagon by picking up the ex-Society Expeditions MS World Adventurer in 2007 and following her relaunch last year, immediately placed her on a leisurely schedule in French Polynesia. Fortunately that was quickly corrected and she is now embarking on proper polar voyages.

GAP Adventures were obliged to find a new ship after the high profile loss of Explorer in Antarctica in November 2007. The new 105m Expedition re-entered service last month and follows a popular recent trend among operators of converting arctic ferries into adventure vessels along the lines of Quark’s Ocean Nova, which was reborn from the Danish-flagged Greenlander, Sarpik Ittuk, in 2007.

Quark Expeditions, by the way, is in the process of rejigging their itineraries in response to the new challenges and an announcement is due any day on the revised plans. Stay tuned.

The giant, century old, Norwegian Hurtigruten cruise line (formerly Norwegian Coastal Voyages) is currently negotiating choppy waters. The decision to embark on a major fleet upgrade was a bit of unfortunate timing and the company is one of many caught in the global mess. There is a major push to get travellers aboard the newest expedition vessel, MS Fram. Built in 2007, she is one of the bigger expedition vessels with 318 berths and a GRT of 12,000.

In a more classic vein, the 1976-built Royal Dutch Navy vessel, Hr. Ms. Tydeman will be transformed to the 112-passenger MV Plancius and begin polar voyages next year in Antarctica with Oceanwide Expeditions.

As you’ve seen written many times already, now is certainly a great time to go adventure cruising with many companies offering enticing specials and deals. Go see your travel agent today.

Travel Solo Minus the Hefty Surcharge

Captain Cook Cruises have reduced their single's surcharge to only 25% on normal twin share prices on all Fiji, Murray Princess and Sydney Harbour accommodated cruises and Fiji Sailing Safari cruises.

Traditionally singles travelling alone, pay the same cost for their accommodation as a couple, which is normally a 100% increase on a twin share per person price.

"A lot of our competitors charge a 75% or even 100% solo surcharge, so we feel we are offering exceptional value." said Jackie Charlton, Joint Managing Director, Captain Cook Cruises.

Small ship cruising is a great option for single travellers allowing them to easily meet other passengers. Captain Cook Cruises accommodated vessels sleep up to only 120 passengers, so cruises are very intimate and solo travellers can meet other solo travellers or groups of people and make lifelong friends

Captain Cook Cruises offer 3, 4 and 7 night cruises in Fiji and on the Murray River and a 2 night Weekend Explorer cruise on Sydney Harbour.

Fiji cruises onboard the Reef Escape start from $1500 for sole occupancy, Murray River cruises onboard the Murray Princess start from $944 for sole occupancy and the two night Sydney Harbour cruise onboard the Captain Cook Explorer starts from $588 for sole occupancy.

Cruise prices include all meals, guided tours, onboard entertainment and use of the ship's facilities.

For reservations and enquiries please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free on 1800 804 843, Int +612-9206 1111 or visit


Monday 8 June 2009

New 2 day Whitsunday Sailing Adventure

Barefoot Cruises Australia has just increased their range of sailing and cruise products in the Whitsunday’s with the 18 metre ex racing yacht Apollo III. Launched in January this year this sailing holiday operates a 2 day 1 night experience and is aimed at the time poor traveler who still wants to experience the highlights of the Whitsunday’s, those on a budget and those who are not sure that 3 nights at sea is for them.

The cruise visits Australia’s famous Whitehaven Beach and guests also have the opportunity to snorkel the magnificent fringing coral reefs of Hook Island. Being a fast ocean racing yacht she is able to cover these distances fairly quickly and therefore is able to offer a number of different experiences over a short time period. Catering for a maximum of only 12 guests, this is a small group hands on experience. Guests are encouraged to participate with setting the sails, grinding the winches and taking a turn at the helm.

Costs for a single berth is only AUD$319 with doubles available at AUD$339 per person. Price includes meals, morning and afternoon teas, linen and snorkeling equipment. There are 3 departures per week from Abel Point Marina in Airlie Beach on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Further information is available from

Barefoot Cruises Australia. PO Box 519 Airlie Beach Qld 4802 Tel: 07 49461777
website: or by e-mail

Sunday 7 June 2009

Magical Melanesia - Cruise International - destinations, port guides and cruise reviews

Papua New Guinea is a wild, untamed land full of sorcery, magic and bizarre rites and practices. Some tribes are yet to see their first white face. Take this scene, add the luxurious expedition ship MV Orion, and you too will fall under the spell. WORDS AND PICTURES: RODERICK EIME

Dobu Island, part of the D'Entrecasteaux Islands
Dobu Island, part of the D'Entrecasteaux Islands
Fergusson Island, a prehistoric landscape of boiling lakes and the site of the famous Dei Dei hot springs, is just one of the numerous excursions we enjoyed during the expedition ship MV Orion's 11-night "Highland Cultures" cruise along the "spine" of Papua New Guinea's mainland. Located between the tropical north coast of Australia and the Indonesian archipelago, Papua New Guinea, or PNG as it's known, is a mysterious, mountainous land of tropical landscapes and amazing coastal scenery.

Read full story

Friday 5 June 2009

Wallace Family Celebrate 30 Years of Cruising

Jim and Jo Wallace, the Cairns-based owners and operators of Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises, are celebrating 30 years of cruising to the Great Barrier Reef.

The couple recognised the importance of the Great Barrier Reef long before it was inscribed on the World Heritage List, first sharing it with visitors on June 9, 1979 when they started daily cruises to Low Isles, off Port Douglas, on the Martin Cash.

“We have had 30 wonderful years in an industry we love. Sharing the magnificent Great Barrier Reef with others is simply the best job in the world,” Jim said.

“Our challenge as one of the early reef operators has been to set new standards for our competitors to follow and we have done this on many counts.

“In the late 80s we changed the ‘face’ of the reef cruising industry by introducing the revolutionary, comfortable and fast wavepiercer vessels. This year, we are the first reef operator to achieve a Zero Carbon Footprint and as a result have been awarded the highest level of certification under Eco Tourism Australia’s inaugural Climate Action Certification Program.”

The Wallaces operated Quicksilver Connections at Port Douglas for 10 years before selling in 1989 to the current owners.

However, it was only a year before Jim and Jo were back in the cruising industry, buying Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises in 1990.

They expanded the company’s capacity to Green Island from 200 to 320 in 1997 when they bought Reef Jet and merged the two permits. In 1999 they built the Reef Rocket to replace the Reef Jet vessel and the following year purchased the original Quicksilver III, refitting it and renaming it Big Cat.

The next major expansion was in 2004 when Jim and Jo bought Terri Too and changed the name to Cairns Habitat Cruises. This expanded the business from half and full day trips to Green Island to include day trips on Trinity Inlet to the Cairns Crocodile Farm and sunset cruises in the evening.

Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises truly is a locally-owned family business with Jim and Jo’s daughter, Paula Wallace, appointed Managing Director of the company.

The Wallace family’s winning formula of friendly and helpful service has earned Big Cat Green Island Reef Cruises an induction into the Tropical North Queensland Tourism Awards Hall of Fame after winning the Best Major Tour and Transport Operator in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Wednesday 3 June 2009

North Star Cruises Special Offers

Travellers offered unique opportunity to experience ultra luxury adventure cruise ship True North with special ‘beat the economic slowdown’ incentives.

North Star Cruises has unveiled a raft of special incentives to battle the economic slowdown.

For a limited time, consumers can take advantage of three 10% discounts.

North Star Cruises General Manager Peter Trembath said there had never been a better time to experience the luxury and adventure of a True North cruise.

“If you were ever thinking of experiencing the iconic True North, now is the time, with discounted special deals that are never likely to be repeated,” said Mr Trembath.

Specials include:

Previous Guest Discount: All previous guests will receive a 10% discount on repeat arrangements.

Early Bird Tariff Discount: All guests will receive a 10% for bookings outside 12 months.

Early Bird Deposit Bonus: All bookings received for departures outside 12 months will be subject to a 10% deposit only. The balance of the normal 25% deposit will become payable 12 months from departure.

The special deals are valid for all new bookings and will continue until further notice.

Mr Trembath said incentives could be combined meaning some excellent savings for those who qualified for more than one special deal.

“For many people, the True North is that once in a life time experience – so if you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing one of our cruises, it’s time to take advantage of these unbeatable special offers.”

“We travel to some of the most exotic locations in the world including the stunning Kimberley coastline, and into the Pacific Islands.”

Highlights for the rest of the 2009 season include:

• The Kimberley Photographic Workshop with renowned photographer Christian Fletcher onboard the Kimberley Wilderness Cruise departing Broome August 29
• The West Papua Discoverer cruise which explores an untouched paradise of hidden culture and incredible natural scenery departing Darwin in October.

For more information visit or phone 08 9192 1829.

True North Background

The multi award winning adventure cruise ship, True North, allows discerning guests to experience wilderness in surroundings more akin to one of the world’s most exclusive hotels. Lavish features include:

• A sundeck, forward observation lounge, ship’s lounge, alfresco bar, internet café, plasma screens with interpretive information, lower deck dining room with large panoramic windows, and fine dining.

• All cabins feature enhanced décor, en-suite facilities, in-house entertainment and satellite telephones.

• Multiple expedition boats allow passengers to do “what they want, when they want”.

• The True North is the only Kimberley adventure-cruise ship that sails with its own helicopter.

• The purpose built True North is able to explore the upper reaches of shallow river systems.

• Adventure cruises and expeditions operate along the magnificent coastlines of Australia and the South Pacific.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

Orion Wins Covetted Adventure Award

GT Travel Awards 2007: Best adventure tourism
Orion Expedition Cruises

Source: Gourmet Traveller Magazine

Orion’s great success in its three years of operation has been to make the inaccessible accessible, and to do so in supreme comfort. Until Orion commenced cruising in 2004, it was almost inconceivable that you could explore the fascinating but remote Kimberley coastline without your own yacht and a sense of adventure. Similarly, the Torres Strait Islands and Papua New Guinea used to be off-limits to all but the most courageous travellers; now it’s possible to explore these demanding destinations with Champagne in hand and expert commentary on tap. Zodiac excursions, sea-plane flights and outback sightseeing by 4WD offer further opportunities to experience areas off-limits to most Australians. Onboard Orion’s custom-built craft, ocean views and internet access are standard in all suites, as are flat-screen televisions, gym and sauna, and ample staff to cater to the needs of a maximum 100 cruisers. With menus created by Sydney chef Serge Dansereau and five-star facilities at their disposal, Australian explorers never had it so easy. Judges’ comments: "Orion combines luxury, intimate cruising, top accommodation, superb service and exceptional cuisine with the opportunity to journey to places that are way off the beaten track."

Orion Expedition Cruises (02) 9033 8700 or 1300 361 012,

A New Concept in World Cruising

A New Concept in World Cruising (1-06-2009) []

Ten days ago, Cruise West announced a new cruising concept that will see its Spirit of Oceanus follow in the wake of the Stella Polaris, that for so many years cruised the world in luxury carrying no more than 199 guests. Now, the similar-sized Spirit of Oceanus will start a 335-day circumnavigation in March 2010 carrying just 114 guests.

While most world cruises typically leave in the first week of January, Princess is also experimenting with cruises that leave outside the usual sailing dates and have a 104-day world cruise planned for the Dawn Princess, for example, leaving Sydney in an eastbound direction on July 5. [Spirit of Oceanus]

Seabourn will also conduct its first world cruise, a 108-day affair, leaving on January 5 next year, after they take delivery this month of their new 450-guest Seabourn Odyssey. But unless one considers the privately-owned suites on board The World of Residensea to be the equivalent of a cruise ship, no one is doing what Cruise West is doing, taking almost a year to circumnavigate the Earth."