Friday 28 August 2009

Orion Expedition Cruises' 2010 Voyages Brochure Just Released - A 5 Star Brochure for 5 Star Expedition Cruising

Orion's latest full colour brochure, just released, features evocative colour spreads, some by award winning Australian photographers Ken Duncan and Earl Carter (along with winners of the Orion Photography Competition) depicting key destinations, along with an overview of guest experiences and life onboard.

In addition to destination features including the Kimberley and Arnhem Land, Papua New Guinea, the Spice Islands, New Zealand and Antarctica, the 2010 brochure contains useful information for potential expedition travellers, demonstrating the differences between typical mainstream cruising and the stimulating physical and intellectual experiences to be had on an Orion expedition voyage.

The brochure contains comprehensive information on Orion's range of 5 star accommodation and facilities, (with floor plans from Staterooms to Owner's Suites) and examples of onboard luxuries such as boutique, massage, spa, elevator and lounges – and Serge Dansereau's award winning cuisine.

If a photo tells a thousand words then video goes one better. The brochure also contains a DVD providing a taste of some of the destinations visited and typical cultural, historic and wildlife experiences encountered along the way.

Included with this year's brochure is a useful lift-out reference booklet containing in-depth itinerary details by destination, pricing (with savings for early booking) and Calendar of Sailings for all expeditions throughout 2010 and early 2011.

Brochures are available by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises on 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), through the website at email or through specialist expedition cruise travel agents.

Expansive landscape format and photography reflect seascapes and vistas typically encountered on Orion expeditions.

The cover features a dramatic photo of Orion alongside a waterfall in New Zealand's spectacular fjord land. Internal spreads include Orion at the mouth of the Hunter River in the Kimberley, Mawson's Huts in Antarctica, King George

Falls, cultural dance groups and remote beaches in PNG and Melanesia, and wildlife encounters on New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic islands and Antarctica.

In 2010 Orion has Australia covered - for the first time Orion will be visiting every Australian State - plus Macquarie Island and Antarctica. Two coastal highlights voyages that include Victoria and South Australia in November will round out visits to every State and the Northern Territory.

Expeditions also include Melanesia, remote islands of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, New Zealand fjord lands and sub-Antarctic islands.

2010 voyages feature
• 6 new rarely-visited island destinations in Papua New Guinea
• 3 new ports in the exotic Spice and Tanimbar Islands
• Orion's inaugural visit to Irian Jaya, famous worldwide for its vibrant Asmat Art woodcarvings
• New Australian coastal voyages from Cairns to Hobart including World Heritage listed marine parks, nature reserves, national parks and wilderness areas
• Inaugural voyages to Melbourne, the Limestone Coast, Kangaroo Island, Eyre Peninsula and Fleurieu Peninsula
• Christmas in New Zealand's spectacular fjordland

The Antarctic continent remains a strong Orion drawcard for adventurers lured by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the historic Antarctic explorer bases of Mawson, Scott and Shackleton.

Those seeking warmer climes can cruise our own Great Barrier Reef – perfect for shorter breaks in one of the most beautiful parts of the world – and easily accessible through major gateways.

An electronic version of the Orion 2010 brochure can be downloaded from or a printed version mailed directly simply by contacting Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate), emailing or visiting your travel agent.
General email:

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 Orion Expedition Cruises can be obtained by visiting the website

Monday 24 August 2009

Blue Lagoon Cruises diversifies product with launch of new Yasawa ‘island hopping’ program

Blue Lagoon Cruises has diversified its overall product range at the same time opening up new business opportunities for hotel and resort operators in Fiji's Yasawa islands with the launch of a new multi-tiered series of 'island hopping' options in the region.

Seen as offering a new transportation solution for the thousands of FIT travelers, predominantly 'flashpackers', visiting the  islands every year, the boutique island cruise specialist will position the MV Lycianda on the route which officially commences operation on 31 August.

Departing from the cruise company's home port of Lautoka every Monday and Thursday, the new program will connect the popular backpacker-oriented Bounty Island Resort and Beachcomber Island Resort in the Mamanuca Islands with more than 20 resorts spread across the Yasawas.

The program structure also includes the opportunity for passengers to spend two nights on board the 21-berth vessel at Blue Lagoon Cruises 'private island, Nanuya Lailai.

Prices for the program start from FJD50* for a day pass which can be used for departures ex-Lautoka as well as for passengers joining the vessel at any point along the entire cruise program. Cost includes morning and afternoon tea plus lunch depending on which point passengers embark and disembark from.

An 'Overnight Pass' is priced from FJD150* based on a one-night onboard stay with afternoon tea, dinner, breakfast and lunch included.

Two night options and 'Combi Passes' offering onboard accommodation and pick-up/drop-off options along the entire route are also available.

For those wishing to stay on board for the entire three-day cruise program which overnights at picturesque Yalobi Bay and Nanuya Lailai, prices start from FJD350* per person in shared accommodation inclusive of all meals while on board.

The 39-metre MV Lycianda's facilities include 21 air conditioned cabins, a 60-seat dining room, sun deck and cocktail bar.

Blue Lagoon Cruises' CEO Tim Stonhill said the commencement of the new Yasawa service would provide a much needed and very affordable transportation service for travellers visiting the islands.

"The new service opens up a whole new source of business opportunity for the hotels and resorts spread right across the Yasawas, all of which stand to benefit in terms of their ability to promote themselves to a much wider audience," he said.

"The new service will also benefit the Yasawa Islanders, many of whom are dependent on and see Blue Lagoon Cruises vessels as a primary source of freight transportation in the region."

As an added bonus, Blue Lagoon Cruises is also offering a free bus transfer between Nadi and Lautoka on arrival/departure days. Booked passengers simply have to flag down a special bus service or wait at clearly marked stops along the Queens Highway which links both towns.

For more information please visit or telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on +679 666 1622, facsimile +679 666 4098 or via email on

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

Thursday 20 August 2009

Inuit Cruise Line’s Inaugural Northwest Passage Trip

The world's only Inuit owned and operated cruise company embarks on its inaugural trip through the Inuit homeland of the Northwest Passage this Friday, August 28, 2009.

During the years of early exploration, explorers would rely on Inuit, who have been living along the passage for centuries, for guidance, companionship, fresh meat and other supplies. Now, Inuit are continuing this practice, by guiding passengers from all over the world through this historic waterway.

Tracing the legendary trading route first navigated by Roald Amundsen in 1903-1906, Cruise North’s Northwest Passage voyage begins in the High Arctic’s Resolute Bay and travels through the Canadian Arctic archipelago.

In this land of true polar desert, passengers follow the routes of the intrepid explorers, going only where the ice permits, for even with the effects of climate change, ice reigns supreme. The itinerary calls for exploration of the waterway, along with historic sites left as they were abandoned more than a hundred years ago, including Beechey Island, Victory Point, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Bellot Strait and Prince Leopold Island.

Cruise North Expeditions passengers travel in comfort and safety aboard the ice-class rated 122-passsenger ship, the Lyubov Orlova, in the capable hands of a first-rate expedition team, accompanied by historians, naturalists, ornithologists and Inuit guides and elders.

Note: Cruise North Expeditions is a subsidiary of the Inuit-owned Makivik Corporation of Quebec, a highly successful investment corporation born of the first modern-day Aboriginal land claim settlement agreement in Canada (the JBNQA of 1975). Makivik also owns the well-respected First Air and Air Inuit.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Life in the Freezer

These are interesting times. For the first time in many years, there is availability on deep Antarctic cruises. A quick phone around yesterday turned revealed most operators still have a few cabins to fill. NZ’s Heritage Expeditions were the fortunate recipients of most of Aurora’s passengers from their cancelled program. I’m predicting these two established niche operators will be working closely over the next few years at least.
Spirit of Enderby
Dave Bowen, new GM at Heritage, said there were still some opportunities for last minute bookings. Heritage operate “Spirit of Enderby”, a 50-berth ex-Soviet oceanographic vessel of the same class as Molchanov and Shokalskiy. “Historically, Heritage has been oversubscribed for all their Antarctic expeditions. We still have one or two cabins available for this season’s Ross Sea, but I expect they will fill shortly.” The 4.5 star Orion, whose departures are always guaranteed, still has a couple of spots left for the Commonwealth Bay and Ross Sea voyages departing Invercargill NZ and Hobart.
Kapitan Khlebnikov
Quark Expeditions, newly partnered in Australia with TUI stablemate Peregrine Adventures, are sending the mighty icebreaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov, south as usual. Their Emperor Penguin safaris are always heavily in demand, but long-time Quark representatives Adventure Associates assure me there is still space available for the Weddell Sea and the month-long Epic Antarctica voyage, which would have to be the prize sailing for 09/10. Luxury adventurers, Hapag-Lloyd, make occasional diversions to the deep south with either of the expedition vessels, Bremen or Hanseatic. Gerd Wilmer of Landmark Travel tells me neither will be back there until 2011/12 at earliest, having made their last trip in 08/09. You’ve seen it written here before, but I’ll repeat it again; Deep Antarctic is not for the faint hearted. It’s a full-on expedition crossing some of the wildest oceans on the planet. Travellers will need to be hardy and determined to make this voyage, but the rewards are enormous.
Emperor Penguin and chick
The ‘excursions’ to the Peninsula, while rewarding on their own, pale by comparison. You’ll sea wildlife like Emperor Penguins, Leopard Seals and whales normally reserved for coffee table books. ‘Life-changing’ is a term becoming overused, but this is where it started. If you’ve dreamed of this ultimate voyage, this year may be the only time you can make a spontaneous decision. I won’t list prices because you may want to do some arm twisting, but expect starting prices in the region of US$15,000 per person. Interrogate each operator thoroughly, choose your ship and itinerary carefully and set off on the journey of a lifetime.

Orion keen to increase international booking and acquire second ship

Australia's Orion Expedition Cruises plans to boost UK sales before it buys a second ship.

The cruiseline's ship, Orion, sails between Darwin and Broome in the Kimberley, Northern Australia, and to Papua New Guinea and Antarctica.

However, founder and managing director Sabrina Bratton, in London last week on a UK/US sales trip to raise trade awareness of the cruiseline, said she is keen to increase international bookings and buy a second ship.

"Despite economic conditions, it's still expensive to build, so we are looking to buy. We are a profitable company with a 35% repeat factor. But that brings its own challenges as it means we have to offer new destinations and itineraries for repeat passengers," she said.

Bratton said the second ship would cruise around Asia, which would attract repeat guests as well as the UK market.

"We are offering a cruise from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City, and we want to build on that. Our research shows there is demand for Asia."

Orion cruises are priced in Australian dollars, but Bratton said a pound-based brochure would be produced as UK business improves. As well as specialist cruise agents, she is targeting retailers and operators with a strong database of well-travelled clients who are not cruisers but are looking for something different.

Australians account for 90% of Orion's passengers, excluding charter business, with Brits and Americans making up most of the remaining. Bratton expects 60 British passengers this year, worth about £315,000.

If Orion adds the second ship, Bratton hopes the UK and Europe will account for 25% of sales. She said: "We have representation in South Africa and Asia but we have identified the UK as the biggest growth market after the US."

She said the new ship would be small - Orion holds just 106 passengers - so it can visit remote destinations.

Source: Jane Archer - TravelWeekly (UK)

Thursday 13 August 2009

Coral Princess Expands in the Kimberley in 2010 – with Early Bird Discounts!

An exploratory cruise along the wild and beautiful Kimberley coast – much of it only accessible by sea – is Coral Princess Cruises' most popular voyage. In the just-released 2010 Kimberley & Across the Top of Australia brochure, the company is offering an unprecedented 36 departures and, for the first time, an early bird discount of 15 per cent.

Responding to popular demand, Coral Princess – which pioneered small-ship cruising in the Kimberley 14 years ago, has added 4 departures to its 2010 complement, with a choice of vessels: the 48-passenger Coral Princess or the luxurious 72-passenger Oceanic Discoverer.

And for bookings on voyages departing between April 01 and May 17, 2010, a 15 per cent discount off the cruise-only cost applies to all cabin categories. These departures coincide with the early stages of the Top End dry season, when the many waterfalls that plummet directly into the sea or into dramatic gorges are at their most spectacular.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000. Coral Princess's 10-night voyages cruise between Darwin and Broome through one of the planet's oldest and most awe-inspiring sea and landscapes. Rivers carve their way through ancient, eroded mountains that were once the height of the Himalaya, dropping in champagne waterfalls such as the 80-metre King George Falls. Excursions ashore visit rock art galleries where Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings - the world's oldest known art - record a human history stretching back 50,000 years.

There is an optional helicopter flight over the Mitchell Plateau for views of the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls, and bushwalks to idyllic swimming holes. The cruise explores the 800-odd islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, including an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the Horizontal Waterfalls, where the largest tides in the southern hemisphere force their way between rocky cliffs in a formidable display of the forces of nature.

Prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise start at $6850 per person, twin share, aboard the Coral Princess and $8250 aboard Oceanic Discoverer, including all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, excursions and group transfers. There are regular departures from both Darwin and Broome between April and October 2010.

At the beginning and end of the season, the Kimberley cruise can be combined with an 11-night voyage, Across The Top of Australia, between Cairns and Darwin, exploring the remote reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, Cape York, Torres Strait, Arnhem Land and the Cobourg Peninsula – visiting places of exquisite beauty and cultural significance so remote that they can't be reached any other way. Departing in March, April and October, prices for this 11-night cruise start at $6850 per person. There is a 10 per cent discount for booking the two cruises together.

Next year, Coral Princess is venturing into the Kimberley by both land and sea, with a 24-night Kimberley Cruise & 4WD Expedition, combining the 10-night cruise and a 4WD tour through the Kimberley's rugged and beautiful interior.

The 4WD journey travels the length of the legendary Gibb River Road, stopping at million-acre El Questro station to hike into Emma Gorge and soak in the hot pools of Zebedee Springs. Further along the road, Lake Argyle is the largest man-made lake in the Southern Hemisphere, with 18 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour. A highlight of the road trip is World Heritage-listed Purnululu (Bungle Bungle) National Park, and 'camping out' in style overnight at the award-winning Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge.
The 24-night Cruise & 4WD Expedition starts at $12 745 aboard the Coral Princess and $14 145 aboard Oceanic Discoverer. Prices are per person, twin share. This includes the cruise and 4WD transport, all meals and group transfers.

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

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Captain Cook releases 2010 dates for Dateline Cruise

New 2010 Dates for Northern Fijian Dateline Cruise

Captain Cook Cruises has released the 2010 dates for its popular seven nights Northern Fiji Dateline Discovery Cruise.

The new 2010 departure dates are: 4th May, 1st June, 3rd August, 7th September, 5th October and 2nd November.

The Northern Fiji Dateline Discovery Cruise is an amazing cruise that reveals the unique history, art and culture of the Northern Fiji Islands and allows passengers the ultimate experience of standing' on the International Dateline.

Developed after months of extensive research and searching for secluded and exclusive locations, passengers are taken beyond the Yasawa Islands to very remote and exotic tropical Fijian islands.

Day trips include the historic island of Ovalau which still features 19th Century colonial architecture and waterfront promenades from colonial rule, the Bouma Waterfall lagoon on Taveuni Island, the extinct volcanic crater, hot springs and thriving markets on Savusavu, a special choral Catholic church service at Waiyevo and of course the 180th Meridian – the arbitrary Dateline between today and tomorrow on Taveuni Island.

There is plenty of swimming, snorkelling and diving off picturesque islands including Tivua, Nanuyakoto, Savusavu Bay, Nananu-I-ra and Manava Island.

One of the most endearing features of this cruise is the generous welcome from Fijian village locals living on islands rarely visited by tourists. Passengers will be given the extraordinary opportunity to experience village life and partake in a kava ceremony, enjoy a traditional 'lovo" (earth oven) feast and dance to the drum of the meke (dance).

Early Booking Saver (EBS) fares start from just $1999 per person twin share and the cruise departs Denarau Marina at 2.00pm.

Price includes shipboard accommodation, all meals, guided village and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including a swimming pool, spa, sauna, sun deck, cocktail bar and much more.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: or visit


Epic World Cruise Will Feature Smithsonian Journeys Experts On 10 Select Itineraries and a Cruise Sweepstakes

he Voyages of the Great Explorers – the Cruise West yearlong world cruise that launches in March 2010 -- will feature lectures and presentations by noted travel experts from the Smithsonian Journeys on select segments of the epic world voyage.

Cruise West and Smithsonian Journeys will develop the lecture series for 10 of the 24 distinct itineraries of the yearlong cruise highlighting such exotic locales as Singapore, Rome, Alexandria, Istanbul and Mumbai. Smithsonian Journeys experts will lead in-depth discussions and presentations on each region's rich history and culture.

The Voyages of the Great Explorers is a collection of distinct voyages that reflects the exploits of the legendary seafarers. Booked separately or as a complete journey, each segment offers historical insights into the sea commanders who first made history along the same routes.

"A world journey deserves world-class lecturers and guides," said Dietmar Wertanzl, president and CEO of Cruise West. "We recognized early on that a lecture series provided by Smithsonian Journeys would be a perfect complement for our adventure, given their long experience with onboard enrichment augmented by speakers recognized as authorities on our destinations. Working together, we can better achieve our mutual objective -- to educate people in the arts, history, sciences and culture through rich travel experiences."

Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution's educational travel program, feature top experts who are passionate about their subjects and delight in sharing their knowledge in lively, informative lectures and informal discussions.

Specific voyages featuring the Smithsonian Journeys' Lecture Series include:
  • Voyage 2, 16-nights Song of India Chennai to Mumbai departing March 20, 2010, starts at $9,995
  • Voyage 4, 18-nights Pharaohs and Prophets Muscat to Alexandria departing April 17, 2010, starts at $10,695
  • Voyage 5, 14-nights Isles of the Turquoise Coast Alexandria to Istanbul departing May 4, 2010, starts at $11,595.
  • Voyage 6, 14-nights Echoes of Odysseus Istanbul to Venice departing May 17, 2010, starts at $11,595
  • Voyage 7, 12-nights Pax Romana Venice to Valetta departing May 30, 2010, starts at $9,995
  • Voyage 8, 13-nights, Romans & Carthaginians Valletta to Rome departing June 10, 2010, starts at $9,595
  • Voyage 18, 9-nights Sojourn to Easter Island Guayaquil to Easter Island departing October 24, 2010, starts at $3,895
  • Voyage 22, 17-nights Discovering the Maori Coast Auckland to Sydney, December 15, 2010, starts at $14,395 (also a holiday cruise)
  • Voyage 23, 19-nights, The Land Down Under Sydney to Darwin December 31, 2010, starts at $10,695
  • Voyage 24, 16-nights Dragons and Spice Darwin to Singapore, January 18, 2011, starts at $10,995
Prices per voyage include a hotel night pre-cruise. For maximum savings, guests can book and pay in full by October 15 and save up to 21 percent. Guests who book more than one voyage save an additional five percent. For guests who book the entire voyage starting at $230,295, Cruise West will include first class airfare.

Other features of the partnership include select books and DVD's provided by Smithsonian Enterprises and a sweepstakes for a cabin for two on the Voyage Three, 14-nights Treasures of Persia traveling from Mumbai to Muscat, April 4-18, 2010. Sweepstakes information is listed in the September issue of Smithsonian magazine and online at

Departing Singapore on March 5, 2010, Cruise West's flagship -- the 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus -- will sail westward to return to Singapore on February 3, 2011. For further details on The Voyages of the Great Explorers itineraries, visit, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

~ Up-Close, Casual and Personal Cruising ~

About Cruise West

Cruise West believes that small is beautiful. Small-ship explorations allow up-close, casual 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.

About Smithsonian Media

Founded in 1970 with the launch of Smithsonian magazine, Smithsonian Media -- comprising Smithsonian magazine, Air & Space, goSmithsonian, Smithsonian Publishing Digital Network, Smithsonian Books and advertising for Smithsonian Channel -- allows the intellectually curious to indulge and engage their passions for history, the arts, science, the natural world, culture and travel. Smithsonian Media's flagship publication, Smithsonian magazine, has a circulation of more than two million. This multimedia network is also affiliated with the world's most visited museum and research complexes at the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit, and

Blue Lagoon releases 15 per cent discount

Fiji's Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 15 per cent discount on 'Club' and 'Gold Club' Yasawa Island cruises booked from now until 31 October 2009.

Valid for travel from 01 November 2009 until 31 March 2010 the discount applies to all three day 'Club Cruises' and all four and seven-day 'Gold Club' cruises.

Prices start from just AUD399* per person twin share for a three-day/two-night 'Club' cruise.

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.

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

See for full itineraries.

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

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Win Your Next Cruise

Win your next cruise - 14 Night APT "Magnificent Europe" cruise for two.

Help Cruise Passenger improve by filling out our survey and you could win a fabulous 14-night APT 'Magnificent Europe' cruise for two people, from Amsterdam to Budapest! Worth $13,000, this luxury cruise calls in at historic towns and villages along the Rhine. Main and Danube Rivers, the true heart of Europe.

Greenland Savings from Hurtigruten

As interest in Greenland grows, especially as regards its ongoing significance in the global warming debate, Hurtigruten is making it easier and more affordable for North Americans to get a first-hand look at the changing landscape and learn about its history, geography, culture, wildlife and environment from onboard experts during lectures and land excursions. Whether the consumer is interested in a "25% Off + 2 Hotel Nights" deal with savings of 25% and free hotel nights in Copenhagen; traveling solo at nearly the same rate as those traveling on a double occupancy basis, saving up to 47%; or wanting to embark on an air-included trip in Greenland and disembark at the harbor edge of New York City's skyline, while saving up to 67%; there is an offer made to fit. All sailings include cabin category selected, three meals daily aboard ship, services of naturalist guides, specified land excursions and PolarCirkel excursions, ship transfers, government fees, cruise taxes and port charges. New bookings must be made by August 31 and availability is capacity-controlled.

Guests aboard the world's newest expedition ship, Hurtigruten's deluxe 318-berth MS Fram, take in sights and scenery little changed in 5,000 years while moving from village to village, and spend time ashore, meeting and sharing time with the local population. Scenic highlights include Eqip Sermia Glacier, a huge wall of ice that calves directly into the sea; towering icebergs in Disko Bay and at the mouth of Jakobshavn Ice Fjord, a World Heritage Site; and Jakobshavn Glacier, the world's most active glacier. Guided walking tours take in Inuit villages and towns, with tongue-twisting names - Qeqertarsuaq, Ukkusissat, Itelleq and Ilulissat - and illustrate how the friendly local populations flourish in one of the harshest climates on Earth.

"Three Countries - One Deluxe Ship" -- besides saving 64% to 67% on the voyage ($8,667 to $13,117 in savings), and beginning the voyage on the MS Fram in a European country and ending it in New York (by way of Canada), and exploring one of the world's most remote destinations (Greenland), guests on the 18-day voyage are treated to a unique historical perspective as they are joined by Benedicte Ingstad, the daughter of the famed explorer Helge Ingstad. Ms. Ingstad was with her parents, Anne Stine and Helge, on their groundbreaking historical 1960 expedition to L'anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, where they discovered and excavated what is considered to be the 'Vinland settlement' of Leif Eriksson from circa AD 1000, or 500 years earlier than Christopher Columbus's 'discovery' of North America. She will share memories of her family's adventures and the story of her father's life as well as show photographic material and unique films. Other highlights include visits to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: L'anse Aux Meadows, Red Bay (provisional World Heritage list) and Gros Morne National Park. The September 22 departure has fares of $4,249 to $7,249 per person, double, include flights from New York/Newark, one night hotel in Copenhagen, as well as the aforementioned inclusions.

"25% Off + 2 Hotel Nights" -- the 25% savings, amounting to a reduction of $1,990 to $5,745 per person, has the added bonus of including two hotel nights in the Denmark's capital city of Copenhagen, where guests will have time to explore this medieval city at a leisurely pace, taking in its abundance of attractions. The discounted prices for the 8- and 15-day Greenland sailings (10 and 17 days with the two hotel nights) in August and September range from $4,597 to $15,862 per person, double.

"Go Solo And Save" -- single travelers will pay the normal brochure rates -- as if they were traveling with a partner and paying the double occupancy rate - saving upwards of 47%, or $3,065 to $19,034. The no supplement savings, offered on the 8- and 15-day August and September departures, result in single passenger prices of $6,129 to $21,149. And the friendly crew and fellow guests are always around so no solo traveler ever really travels alone.

For more information about Hurtigruten please contact Discover the World on (02) 9959 5309 or 1800 OCEANS.

Aqua Riverboat Robbed for Second Time in Two Weeks

Aqua Expeditions riverboat was robbed again Aug. 4 on the Amazon River in Peru. It was the second such incident; the last one occurred July 26. Aqua reports that no passengers or crew members were harmed. The 24-passenger Aqua was boarded by six bandits early Aug. 4. Aqua Expeditions CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro has been meeting this week with senior government officials, including the minister of tourism, head of police, and Department of Defense officers, all of whom pledged to take all necessary actions to guarantee the safety of the Peruvian tourism industry and visitors to the country.

“This incident is of national importance as tourism is a vital activity in the region,” said Martin Perez, the Peruvian minister of tourism. “The Amazon region of Peru is safe for travelers and we cannot allow these incidents to deter their holidays and affect the integrity of the tourism sector.” As a result, both the Peruvian Coast Guard and National Police confirmed that the Aqua and other vessels in the region will have permanent escorts until a long-term plan is implemented to have more presence along the route. In addition, the Aqua and other vessels will have security personnel on board. The Coast Guard has also committed to immediately implement a mobile patrol station halfway through the itinerary with several additional patrol boats.

As an additional and extended measure of security, the Aqua as of Aug. 8 will change its itinerary to avoid the area of the past incident. “This second attack has truly shocked and saddened us,” Galli-Zugaro said. “We want to reassure our guests and clients that all measures are being taken by the government to ensure the safety and security of the region. We are thankful for their proactive measures and continue to work closely with them to avoid any such future incidents. Our operations are continuing as normal, with our first priority being the safety of our passengers and crew.”

According to the Telegraph (UK) officers later recovered some of the holidaymakers' belongings after discovering them in the gang's jungle base camp, where they also confiscated guns and walkie-talkies the armed gang are believed to have used to coordinate their well-planned attack.

Monday 10 August 2009

Tim Stonhill takes the helm at Blue Lagoon Cruises

Blue Lagoon Cruises has appointed Tim Stonhill as General Manager.

Blue Lagoon Cruises has appointed Tim Stonhill as General Manager
Announcing the appointment, Fijian Holdings CEO Sereana Qoro said Mr Stonhill would now take full managerial responsibility for all aspects of the iconic Fijian company’s operation with immediate effect.

A native Cornishman Mr Stonhill joins the boutique cruise operator with more than 30 years international travel industry experience.

This includes a more than 12-year stint as General Manager of the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Christchurch during which time he also acted as Group Operations Director for the high profile New Zealand hotel chain.

More latterly Mr Stonhill has been based on Australia’s Gold Coast, employed as a senior consultant for several high profile organisations in both the travel and corporate business sectors.

Ms Qoro said Mr Stonhill’s immense experience in the international tourism and travel industry arena had played a major factor in his being selected to take on the role.

“His vast industry knowledge and management skills are intended to contribute positively towards the future performance and business prospects of Blue Lagoon Cruises,” she said.

The company, fast approaching its 60th year of continuous operation, is highly regarded as one of the South Pacific’s most enduring brands.

Speaking from the company’s home port of Lautoka, Mr Stonhill said his initial priority would be to focus on the execution of the corporate strategies needed to consolidate then further expand the company’s global branding, particularly in this time of great change.

He plans to visit the company’s key source markets – Australia and New Zealand – later this month.

Mr Stonill replaces former General Manager Josefa Tuamoto who left the company late last year to take on the role of CEO at Tourism Fiji.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Win a 12-day Norwegian Coastal Voyage

You've read all about VIP secrets for a fantastic cruise.
(read the story if you haven't yet).

Now you can experience a breathtaking cruise voyage along the Norwegian coast.

The lucky winner and their partner will fly Thai Airways International to Oslo, Norway. From there, they will climb aboard a luxurious Hurtigruten cruise liner for an unforgettable 12-day journey of the breathtaking Norwegian Coast.

This classic round voyage will expose the winner to 34 separate ports along the stunning Norwegian coastline. With the breathtaking fjords, lush landscape and spectacular Northern lights as a backdrop, the voyage journeys from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen.

Enter our competition and you could win a 12-day Norwegian Coastal Voyage.

This awesome prize includes:

  • Two Thai Airways International adult return economy class airfares to Oslo, Norway
  • 11 night/12 day Norwegian Coastal Voyage - from Bergen return for two on board a Hurtigruten cruise liner
  • $500 travel voucher to be supplied by Hurtigruten

* The airfare is valid for travel from one of THAI's on-line points in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth).

Competition ends on the 4th September 2009.

Orion: Official Video

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Breaking News: Aurora Cancels Deep Antarctica

Just learned that Aurora Expeditions have cancelled this season's Deep Antarctica program due to lack of numbers.

"We are offering passengers alternatives such as special rates on Antarctic Peninsula but are assessing each case individually," said a spokesperson for Aurora.

Due to leave Hobart aboard Marina Svetaeva, the three effected voyages are:

The 27-day ‘Mawson’s Antarctica’ (11 December 2009 – 6 January 2010) and the two 26-day ‘Ross Sea Explorer’ expeditions (7 January – 1 February 2010, returning to Bluff New Zealand) and Bluff, New Zealand (2 February – 27 February 2010, returning to Hobart).

Aurora Expeditions' Antarctic Peninsula program is unaffected.

Full details in tomorrow's Cruise Weekly

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Forget Global Warming, now it's Economic Climate Change

With economic indicators starting to look slightly more positive, adventure cruise operators are hoping passenger numbers return to pre-GFC levels.

Orion Expedition Cruises MD, Sarina Bratton, reminds us she is still on the look out for Orion II to take the company further afield to Asia and the Pacific Islands while North Star Cruises have scheduled a return to West Papua in 2010 as well as a 10-night first timer to the Solomon Islands en route to Sydney for their annual stay in the harbour city.

Meanwhile some operators have found the last few weeks particularly testing.

The classic sailing ship, Soren Larsen, was struck by a rogue wave en route to the Cook Islands and is back in NZ for repairs, while the new luxury Amazon River cruiser, Aqua, was boarded by armed bandits (twice!) who robbed passengers and crew.

Fortunately there were no significant injuries in either case and Aqua at least is sailing again at near capacity.
Amanresorts announced the debut of Amanikan, a custom-built 105-foot coastal cruiser built in the style of traditional wooden Indonesian vessels known as Phinisi. This vessel will form part of the uber-luxe company's new 7-night Komodo Expedition which includes diving and an exclusive resort stay for a trifling \$US22k per couple.

Aussie favourites, Aurora, with new CEO, Lisa Bolton at the helm, are doing a refit of itineraries. Exciting news is their partnering with Coral Princess Cruises for PNG as well as Kimberley from 2010 and a reaffirmation of itineraries in the Russian Far East.

Logistics for deep Antarctica are still a sticking point and I'm told an announcement is due this week which will clarify some issues.

The stalwart Akademik Ioffe was made surplus by Quark Expeditions and gleefully snapped up by ONE OCEAN for their 2010 Antarctic program who promise to lift the bar with adventure options including kayaking, camping, hiking and Zodiac cruises.

The Canadian company is represented in Australia by Active Travel of Canberra. Active Travel, who also represent a wide range of river vessels and destinations, tell me there's a real battle brewing for bragging rights on the Mekong.

Heritage Cruise Lines has pushed back the launch of their brand new, The Jayavarman, to November and as indicated previously, Pandaw are not going down without a fight with expanded river itineraries as far afield as Borneo.

Other snippets include the deployment of Prince Rainier's private yacht, now refurbished and renamed M/Y Grace, to the Galapagos as well as Lindblad's announcement of Neil Armstrong joining their Nov.15 departure to Antarctica aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

UK-based travel giant, TUI Travel PLC acquired adventure cruise and tour company Zegrahm Expeditions and its sister company, Eco-Expeditions to add to Quark and Peregrine. The company now owns over 200 travel and leisure brands.

The next few weeks will reveal even more developments as adventure cruise operators rise to the challenges of the new economic climate.

Sunday 2 August 2009

Cruise tourism brings £4.2 million to the Falkland Islands

The cathedral at Stanley. Pic: Roderick Eime/

by Jake Downing -

Results released today by the Falkland Islands Tourist Board reveal that cruise tourism brought almost £4.2 million revenue into the Falklands in the 2008-9 season. This figure includes spend on tours, shopping, food and beverage, as well as over £1.3 million in the form of government taxes and levies.

39% of cruise visitors were from the USA, followed by Canada (10%) and then the UK (8.6%). American tourists spent the most money per head, an average of £57.32, with visitors from the UK and other countries spending in the region of £39 per head.

To carry out the survey, 599 cruise and expedition vessel passengers were interviewed while they waited outside the Jetty Centre for their tenders to take them back to their vessel.

“What’s very promising”, said Jake Downing, General Manager of the Falkland Islands Tourist Board, “is that almost half of the 599 cruise passengers we surveyed expressed an interest in returning to the Falklands for a land-based holiday. This represents the potential for considerable economic benefit to the Falkland Islands, as land-based visitors spend on average £917 per head on the islands.”

Visitors from the UK were most likely to want to return for a land-based holiday, and the tourist board are now planning an annual programme of marketing activity in the UK to capitalise on this.

Further information: contact Jake Downing, tel 27019 or