Friday 25 September 2009

Cruise Passenger Magazine - Spring Issue

Why has European river cruising more than doubled in popularity for Australians in a year when we’re supposed to be broke? Where are the best river cruises in Europe, Asia, Russia, America and Africa? What do you need to know if you’ve never been on a river cruise before?

Cruise Passenger
magazine’s annual River Cruising Guide, free with the spring issue on sale now, has all the answers.

Cruise Passenger is Australasia’s leading cruise publication, dedicated to providing its discerning readership with news, reviews and in-depth features about ships and destinations by the best travel and cruise writers in the business.

Must-read features in the spring edition of Cruise Passenger include:
  • New Season Special: the inside story on ships, trips, ports and itineraries as the new cruising season Down Under launches with more on offer than ever before
  • Australia’s fabulous Kimberley: the essential cruising guide to this magnificent wilderness region
  • Destination Asia: it’s close to home and offers an amazing array of cruise and travel experiences – no wonder we’re queuing up to book cruises there.
In this issue, readers can also win these great prizes:
  • European river cruise for two, worth $13,500
  • 2 return business-class Emirates flights from Sydney to Auckland
  • $4,500 Orient-Express holiday anywhere in the world
  • Panasonic Lumix digital camera, Velbron tripod and LowePro backpacks

The ‘bible’ of cruising is available at selected newsagents and by subscription for an amazing $29.95 a year for 4 issues, including the annual River Cruising Guide and Adventure Cruise Guide – call 1300 668 905 for details.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Cruise Remotest Papua New Guinea With Aurora Expeditions

Aurora Expeditions offers travellers the chance to experience the rich cultural heritage and unspoilt nature of Papua New Guinea with two new adventure cruises taking in the Sepik River on board the luxury ship Oceanic Discoverer in 2010.

Aurora has added some new sites to its itineraries, exploring some of the least visited regions of the country including the remote communities of the Sepik River.

Village life along the Sepik remains virtually unchanged since European explorers made first contact in the 1800s. The local Sepik people are among the greatest primitive artists on Earth, and the skills of its craftsmen are legendary.

The voyages, departing in November 2010, will also visit the Trobriand Islands, known as the 'Islands of Love'; the D'Entrecasteaux island group; Bismark Archipelago and Kimbe Bay, one of the richest and most diverse coral reef environments in the world.

Aurora Expeditions places emphasis on a combination of interactive experiences with the environment and a strong educational element. Assisted by a team of expert lecturers, these expeditions aim to provide authentic experiences with the people of PNG and give a genuine insight into traditional lifestyles that have changed little in centuries.

Spacious viewing decks and purpose-built excursion boats make Oceanic Discoverer an excellent vessel for an in-depth exploration of PNG's hidden bays and coral reefs.

Prices start from AU$8,650 per person twin-share (ex Cairns and Rabaul), including all meals on board, shore excursions and lectures.

For more details or to obtain a copy of the new 2010 Papua New Guinea brochure (which will be released in October 2009), contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688, visit or email

Orion 2010 Kimberley expeditions

Highlights of the Kimberley that stimulate the mind and capture the spirits

During 2010 the luxurious expedition cruise ship Orion explores the Kimberley coastline with a series of 10 night expeditions departing May, June, July and September.

Create your own dreamtime stories when you join Orion's specialist Expedition Team in the Kimberley to view pre-history aboriginal rock art, land on remote islands and beaches and explore gorges, inlets and serpentine waterways or climb to the plateau next to the highest waterfall in the Kimberley, King George Falls.

Conveniently embarking and disembarking in Darwin or Broome, Orion's 10-night voyages combine the contrasts of exploring the ancient and magnificent Kimberley wilderness, incredible at-sea experiences and the historic pearling town of Broome with its cafes and art galleries. 

Orion's guests will see art galleries of another sort at Vansittart Bay - Gwion Gwion (Bradshaw) Aboriginal rock art depicting highly adorned and decorated figures. Believed to be as much as 50,000 years old, these paintings, possibly the oldest known to man, record times when humans first explored this ancient continent.

At Raft Point and Bigge Island, Orion's Expedition Team will take guests to see aboriginal art including the mythical Wandjina tribe on a 'Great Fish Chase' featuring images of the Wandjina spirits with their distinctive halos and dugong, crocodiles, fish and snakes.

Crocodiles love the Hunter River and it is no wonder, flanked with lush green mangroves and soaring ochre cliffs - arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Kimberley coast - Orion's guests too will wonder at this extraordinary environment as they venture into the labyrinth of waterways in search of saltwater crocodiles to photograph.

An amazing event unfolds at Montgomery Reef. Arriving at high tide, in waters rich in marine life (including whales, dolphins, dugong, turtles, manta rays and black-tipped reef shark), there is very little to distinguish Montgomery Reef. However, as the 10 metre tide changes it drops faster than the waters trapped inside the reef can escape and a raging torrent of water cascades over the top as kilometres of reef emerge from the ocean.

Prepare to get wet as Orion's Zodiacs will take intrepid guests into a channel in the reef as water cascades down either side.

At Talbot Bay, Orion's guests will experience another mighty Kimberley feature - the Horizontal Falls, a by-product of the incredible 10 metres high tidal movements the region experiences. The falls are created when water, trapped on the inland side of gaps in the coastline cannot escape fast enough on a falling tide, rushes out through the narrow gap to the ocean side.

The 12km journey up the King George River, either by helicopter or Zodiac, reveals some of the world's most spectacular scenery including vertical canyon walls and the highest single-drop waterfalls in the whole of the Kimberley. Who will resist the optional flight-seeing excursion offering a wonderful view of the falls, as well as the rugged, complex system of gorges behind?

Voyage early in the season, following the annual 'Big Wet', to see the waterfalls at their most magnificent; while 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 onboard Orion?

With fishing, scuba diving, hot air ballooning and camel safari's to try out there is plenty to do when Orion visits Broome. Inherited from its early pearling days, its colourful history and cosmopolitan feel is still evident. Guests can relax, enjoy the pristine white sand and swim in the clear waters of Cable Beach, wander Chinatown or visit Gantheaume Point, home of 130 million year old dinosaur footprints.

These voyages exemplify expedition cruising with Orion. Adventure, excitement and dramatic sea and landscapes combine with outstanding levels of service and comfort on-board to stimulate the mind and capture the spirits.

Orion's Kimberley season runs from May to September, offering guests a range of twelve 10 night cruise itineraries between the tropical city of Darwin and historic pearling town of Broome (and vice versa).

Kimberley Expedition –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:

Early booking savings available

2010 Kimberley Expedition fares begin from $9,100 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom. Junior Suites begin from $12,660 per person for a Junior Suite and Owners Suites with French Balcony are $19,055 per person

Expedition fares per person twin occupancy include accommodation, all meals, landings and selected activities ashore.

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 2010 Expedition Cruises to Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia, 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:

Friday 18 September 2009

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises New 5-day Kimberley cruise

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises has a new five-day Kimberley coastal cruise to meet demand for shorter excursions from Broome.

The new itinerary includes a 45-minute scenic flight from Broome to meet Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises’ Kimberley Quest II at Arm Point on the Dampier Peninsula, cruising over following days to the Buccaneer Archipelago, Montgomery Reef, Ruby Falls, Raft Point, Doubtful Bay, Sale River, the Horizontal Falls, Cyclone Creek and Crocodile Creek before the return flight to Broome.

Scheduled prices range from $5000 to $6300 a person (depending on cabin), which includes local flights, cruising and guided excursions, all meals and transfers.

Four departures are in March, seven in September and one in October next year. They fit neatly into Kimberley Quest’s 2009 seven and 14-day cruises which Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises has been operating for 14 years.

Contact: Tel 08 9193 6131, or see

Additional detail

Waterholes, monsoonal rainforests, fishing and art sites as well as cruising by the region’s magnificent cliffs, inlets and islands are still presented in this five-day package.

The air-conditioned Kimberley Quest II accommodates just 18 passengers in deluxe twin, deluxe double, superior double cabins and an exclusive flybridge double cabin, all equipped with private ensuites. Onboard features include a spa bath on the forward deck, inside dining and bar and casual rear deck.



Smithsonian Journeys Guest Speakers, Extraordinary Included Excursions, Air Credit or Free Venice Land Tour and up to 21 Percent Early Booking Savings

  Six distinct Mediterranean voyages, from Alexandria, Egypt to Honfleur, France, mark the second chapter of small-ship exploration line Cruise West's epic world adventure, Voyages of the Great Explorers.  Delving deep into the heart of the Mediterranean -- rich in myth and mystery -- guests will journey to many fabled destinations in Greece and Turkey, and savor the cultural richness and sensory pleasures of Tunisia, Algeria, Italy, Sicily, Malta, Spain, Portugal and France.  Guests can enjoy savings up to 21 percent savings if voyage is booked and paid in full by October 15, 2009.

 There is incredible value with every voyage. In addition to an included excursion at every port, each of the six voyages will be enhanced by an extraordinary 'Ultimate Explorers Experiences' (UEE) excursion, designed to bring guests into direct personal contact with fascinating peoples, cultures and natural wonders.  Engaging presentations by Smithsonian Journeys experts and local acclaimed authorities on the region's culture, history and current events will bring each region to life.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Bonus Kids cabin & 25% Off for Fiji Cruise

Book a Fiji Island family adventure cruise with Captain Cook Cruises and receive a separate children's bunk cabin at no additional charge when booking for two or more children aged 3-15 years who are accompanied by adults. Book now and also save up to 25% off the brochure price.
This great family holiday offer is valid for sale and travel on all 3, 4 and 7 night Fiji cruises until March 31st, 2010.
With Captain Cook Cruises discovery-style cruises adults and kids will enjoy an intimate and personal experience of the Yasawa Islands aboard the MV Reef Escape
Kids will never be looking for something to do, with a new and exciting destination to explore every morning and afternoon.
Offering a true cultural experience for the whole family, the cruise visits unspoiled Fijian villages where passengers can interact with the locals, take part in a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast and even tour a village school where the school children will perform.
There is also plenty of time for fun water activities every day. Kids will love snorkeling over the amazing coral reefs, and swimming in crystal clear waters, while parents can relax on the warm white sands or go diving in spectacular blue lagoons. Families can take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji's coral reefs.
Mum and dad can be pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the pool or at the pool bar.
Dining is another vital ingredient of these amazing cruises. Families will enjoy alfresco buffet luncheons and a mix of table d'hote and buffet dinners. Free child minding is available during meal times for children under 7 years.
Adult fares start at $900 per person twin share with children (3-15yrs) priced from $225 for the 3 night Southern Yasawa cruise. For the 4 night Northern Yasawa cruise adult fares start from $1200 per person twin share with children priced from $300. Adult prices for the 7 night Yasawa Islands and 7 night Northern Fiji Dateline Expedition cruise start from $1195 per person twin share with children priced from $525.
Prices include all meals, daily island and water activities, guided island, village and school tours, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours, use of snorkelling equipment and mini gym, a Lovo feast and kava ceremony, entertainment, child minding during meal times, 24 hour self-service tea and coffee bar and transfers from Nadi and Denarau hotels.
For pre or post cruise accommodation Captain Cook Cruises is offering two nights accommodation for the price of one at the Radisson Resort Fiji, Denarau Island for anyone booked on a three, four or seven night Fiji Islands Captain Cook Cruise. Prices start at only $210 per person twin share for a two-night stay.
For reservations and enquiries please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free on 1800 804 843, Int +61-2-9206 111, Email: or visit

Tuesday 15 September 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: New destinations for adventurers

Le Boreal and L'Austral

The first time most of us heard about the largest French-flagged cruise line was when Somali pirates commandeered the luxury sailing vessel Le Ponant last April as she was returning from her Indian Ocean itineraries.

Commandos freed the hostages, recovered the vessel, took six Somali prisoners and ensured Ponant Cruises massive global PR.

Now the company is more interested in trumpeting its two new builds.

Le Boreal, a 142m super luxury expedition cruiser, is scheduled to enter service in May 2010 followed by her sister, L'Austral, 12 months later.

Although final specifications may change, both vessels will have 132 twin staterooms and suites, two restaurants, a theatre, health club, beauty salon and medical centre.

Fitted out to luxury standards, either or both may well take five Berlitz stars and dethrone Hapag-Lloyd's Hanseatic as the world's most luxurious expedition vessel.

Both are designed to Ice Class 1C. Orion, by comparison, is constructed to the much tougher 1A.

Destinations being touted by Ponant for these new vessels include Antarctica, the Canadian Arctic, the Amazon and South-East Asia.

Currently Ponant's only other "real" expedition yacht, Le Diamant, is carrying out polar duties.

When both join the fleet, Ponant will have five vessels in total. Pricing for Le Boreal cruises will be in the region of AU$600 a day.

A rare opportunity from Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten, meanwhile, has announced a rare opportunity to visit Marguerite Bay, below the Antarctic Circle on the Western Coast of the peninsula where one of the few accessible Emperor Penguin colonies exist.

Late in last season, Quark's Ocean Nova was briefly stuck on rocks there and I'm sure Hurtigruten's Fram will be staying well clear of the shallow parts as she visits during her 17-day voyage.

Visit the "wild side" of Scotland

Homegrown adventure operator, Aurora Expeditions Expeditions, has surprised some with the announcement of a "wild side" of Scotland cruise for June next year.

Aboard will be Scottish historian Carol Knott, who has lived and worked in the Outer Hebrides for the past 20 years. As a field archaeologist she has focused on the history of remote communities and the lives of the people who have lived there from early times.

The 5000-year-old Neolithic village of Skara Brae, where you can still see stone furniture in the long-abandoned houses, is sure to be a highlight for history and archaeology buffs.

The new voyage will be aboard the 54-passenger Polar Pioneer with prices starting from $7,155 per person for a triple-share cabin.

Even now, it's not too late to make a decision to travel to Antarctica this season - use the lower than usual loadings to score yourself a bargain rate.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Compagnie du Ponant's newest ship to set sail in 2010

Le Boreal to set sail in May 2010

Compagnie du Ponant announces new state-of-the-art luxury cruising yacht

7 September 2009: Compagnie du Ponant has announced the arrival of its most state-of-the-art ship yet, the new luxury cruising yacht Le Boreal. Launching in May 2010, Le Boreal features a modern design and sleek silhouette, and will offer intimate itineraries to rare and unique ports in exhilarating destinations, from the frozen landscapes of Antarctica to the sun-drenched Mediterranean and exotic Amazon.

Le Boreal's six decks will feature an extensive range of modern and luxurious amenities, each offering the highest standard of service. Guests will savour the fine French and international cuisine at the stylish Le Restaurant Gastronomique, or relax in the casual atmosphere of Le Grill Restaurant. When not taking in the breathtaking views from Le Boreal's multiple observation areas, they may sip on a cocktail in one of three lounges, or choose from an enriching program of lectures and entertainment at Le Theatre. And to keep travelers looking and feeling their best, there is also a Fitness and Beauty Corner and Medical Centre on board.

Each of Le Boreal's Staterooms (up to 64m2) and suites (up to 121m2) offer an ocean view, with 95% also featuring private balconies. Beautifully decorated by French designers, all rooms provide individually controlled air conditioning, twin or queen-sized beds, a DVD / CD player, flat screen TV with satellite channels, electronic safe and mini bar, ensuring guests are truly able to rest and relax.

At 142m in length, Le Boreal's small size gives her access to hard-to-reach ports not visited by larger cruise ships. Departing 6 May 2010, Le Boreal's inaugural 7-night cruise will sail from Marseilles to Nice, taking in the stunning coastline of the French Riviera. Other summer 2010 destinations will include the European cities of Venice, Honfleur, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Athens, Istanbul, Antalya and Iceland's Reykjavik.  With further sailings planned for Antarctica, South America, Canada, USA, the Caribbean and Amazon, Le Boreal will offer captivating itineraries to suit every traveler.

Pricing for the inaugural Marseille – Nice cruise starts at €2,390 (AU$4231*) , which includes all meals, 24-hour room service, wine with meals, evening gatherings and organised entertainment, guest speakers and attendance at the Captain's Welcome cocktail reception. Sensational discounts of up to €350 (AU$620*) apply to bookings on select cruises for guests traveling on their wedding anniversary, honeymoon, second consecutive cruise and for those who book early.

For further information about Le Boreal and Compagnie du Ponant or to make a booking, please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit

Thursday 10 September 2009

Hurtigruten's Follows In The Footsteps Of Antarctica's First Explorer


Three Antarctica Expeditions Showcase Stunning Vistas, Mammoth Glaciers and Curious Wildlife

A maverick of the cruise industry, Hurtigruten has set itself apart with expedition voyages to some of the world's most remote destinations; and now, the cruise company is offering three cruises that go further south than many of its competitors, allowing guests a rare glimpse into Antarctica's pristine wilderness. Sailing against a backdrop of vast glaciers and captivating polar skies, guests follow in the footsteps of Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole in 1912 aboard the original MS Fram -- the namesake of the current day luxury vessel Hurtigruten passengers will use in their voyage. PolarCirkel crafts allow even greater intimacy with nature, taking guests up close to the unique flora and fauna; and ashore, where curious penguins are known to approach visitors and sea elephants and seals can be seen lounging on ice floes. The three itineraries, ranging in length from 13 to 22 days, are priced from $6,237 to $15,178 per person, double; higher rates are for suites.

·         The 17-day "North & South Antarctica" voyage combines exploration with nature- and geography-focused programs. The ship sails to the farthest and most rarely visited reaches of the Antarctic Peninsula, including the historic Marguerite Bay -- remote even by Antarctic standards and home to the only known colony of Emperor penguins on the peninsula's western coast. Jan. and Feb. prices are $8,115 to $15,178.

·         The "Argentina & Antarctica" cruise is a 13-day adventure through the Antarctic Peninsula accompanied by guided Antarctica tours, lectures and PolarCirkel landings.  After making its way through the Drake Passage, the ship visits areas such as Whaler's Bay, with its warm springs and black volcanic sands; Half Moon Island, a rookery for Chinstrap penguins; and Wilhelmina Bay, a feeding ground for whales and seals. The voyage offers seven departures between  Nov. and Feb. with rates from $6,237 to $11,506.

·         The 22-day sailings that take in the Falklands (Malvinas), South Georgia & Antarctica, departing Oct. 31, and Feb. 21, offer guests an extensive array of sights and experiences, visiting lands that are abound with wildlife and nature. Excursions in the Falklands include Sounders Island, with miles of colonies of Black-browed albatross and Rock Hopper penguins, and West point Island, known for its fur seals and sea lions – as well as for having the highest sea cliffs in the Archipelago.  In South George, passengers can explore the abandoned whaling station Grytviken and visit Cooper Bay, known for its Macaroni and Chinstrap penguins. Fares are $7,920 to $14,627.

Fares include round-trip airfare from JFK or Miami, flights between Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, one night pre-cruise and post-cruise hotel accommodations in Buenos Aires, exploration guide services with onboard lectures and educational offerings, applicable land transfers, all meals onboard, port fees and land excursions.  Airline fuel surcharges and taxes, gratuities and air add-ons from dozens of American gateways are additional.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen. Information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Hurtigruten Inc., (800) 323-7436; fax (954) 486-9340; for brochures (800) 582-0835, 24 hours a day;

Wednesday 9 September 2009


Comprehensive Itinerary Attracts Well Traveled Singles

Cruise West (, the worlds leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, is waiving the single supplement fee for its 18-night ultimate Antarctica voyage departing February 2010.

"We found that the majority of guests interested in participating on our Antarctica voyage are singles, and when you think about it, it makes sense.  Every person has their own unique 'bucket list' that may not have the same appeal for their normal traveling companions, said Vice President of Sales & Marketing Richard Genovese.  "Cruise West would like to give these guests the opportunity to follow their dream and not be penalized financially for doing so."

The exclusive 18-night Antarctica voyage departs February 7, 2010, and includes one night in Buenos Aires at the lovely Palacio Duhua – Park Hyatt Hotel, roundtrip air from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and all excursions.  Traveling on board the 114-guest, all-suite Corinthian II, guests will explore such sites as the Falkland, South Georgia and Orkney Islands as well as the Antarctic Peninsula and the myriad of islands that dot its shore.  February is optimum viewing season for marine mammals and natural history observation – the penguin chicks have fledged and there is an increase in food supply.  Guests will encounter extraordinary opportunities to view Rockhopper penguins in the remote British outpost of the Falkland Islands and thousands of King penguins and nesting grounds of wandering albatross in South Georgia.

The voyage also features a visit to Palmer Station, one of the three United States research stations located in Antarctica.  Famed oceanographer Dr. Don Walsh – named one of the world's great explorers by Life magazine – will lead onboard lectures and discussions concerning the state of Antarctica.  In addition, an expert of staff eight naturalists will offer presentations and commentary on the flora, fauna, history and geology of the region.

Prices start at $13,899 (US dollars) per person.  For further details about this itinerary visit, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Explorations ~

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. 

Tuesday 8 September 2009

See the wild side of Scotland with Aurora Expeditions

Aurora Expeditions is offering adventurers the opportunity to explore the magic and mystery of the Scottish Isles, with a new voyage onboard the Polar Pioneer departing in June 2010.

Following Scotland's wild north-west coastline, this expedition-style voyage takes in the mournful beauty of the Outer Hebrides and Orkney Islands; the fertile farmlands of the Shetlands, World Heritage-listed St Kilda; and the remote Atlantic Faroe Islands, before finishing in Bergen, Norway.

The voyage offers a chance to experience a side of Scotland rarely seen by visitors, navigating spectacular coastlines and threading through narrow channels to hidden lochs, visiting traditional farming communities and archaeological sites steeped in history.

Historic sites visited include Iona, considered the birthplace of Christianity in Britain and the 5000 year-old Neolithic village of Skara Brae.

There is also the opportunity to enjoy a quiet single malt from a distillery in the home of whisky; buy a sweater from the village of Fair Isle; and visit castles that were once strongholds of Scottish clans.

Daily shore excursions and explorations using inflatable Zodiacs provide access to the best wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities. A team of experienced naturalists and historians will guide passengers through the dramatic landscapes, unique culture and abundant wildlife that embody the essence of the Scottish nation.

Joining the voyage will be noted Scottish historian Carol Knott, who has lived and worked in the Outer Hebrides for the past twenty years. Her research as a field archaeologist has focused on the history and archaeology of remote communities and deserted offshore islands, and the lives of the people who have made their homes here from earliest times.

Limited to a small group of just 54 passengers, the 14-day voyage departs on 12 June 2010 from Oban. Prices start from A$7155 per person for a triple share cabin and include all meals, shore excursions and port charges.

For further information contact Aurora Expeditions on (02) 9252-1033 or 1800 637 688 (toll-free) or visit

Transocean Tours Files For Insolvency

German cruise operator Transocean Tours, which charters Marco Polo, filed for insolvency yesterday, September 3.

The Bremen-based company, which also charters Astor, will over the next few weeks attempt to restructure, according to reports in the German media.

The same reports say that cruises for the remainder of 2009 on both ships will be unaffected. We are waiting for official confirmation of this fact from Transocean Tours.

A spokesman for Cruise & Maritime Services International (CMS), Transocean's U.K. representative, has confirmed that British passengers are booked on Marco Polo's 32-day Treasures of the West Indies voyage, departing October 6. But this is the only voyage aimed at U.K. cruisers for the rest of the year. The remainder of Marco Polo's calendar for the year is charters for the German market and cruises on Astor are only sold in Germany.

According to media speculation, a number of factors led to the company's demise, among them hefty insurance payouts that had to be made following the cancellation of Astor's 2008/09 world cruise.

Cruise & Maritime Services International announced last month that it was setting up a new cruise operation, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, for 2010, chartering Marco Polo and a second ship, Ocean Countess, to offer ex-U.K. cruises to the Amazon, Orinoco and West Indies in winter and northern Europe and the Mediterranean in summer.

The 2010 programme has just gone on sale, with prices starting at £199 for a three-night mini cruise to Amsterdam and Antwerp. Bookings on these cruises are completely unrelated to Transocean Tours.

- by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor

NZ Prime Minister John Key launches cruise ship in Bay of Islands

The 45-metre catamaran, built for Fullers at a cost of $12 million, has 30 luxury staterooms, a bar and dining-level, and a sundeck.

Malcolm Johns of Intercity Group, which owns the company, says the ship will make overnight cruises in the Bay of Islands and Hauraki Gulf.

He says bookings for the summer are solid and the ship is already generating employment.

Tangata whenua have gifted the vessel the name Ipipiri, which is an early Maori name for the Bay of Islands.

Copyright © 2009 Radio New Zealand

Charles Darwin Anniversary Fundraising Cruise On Board The M/V Eclipse

Sails October 24-31 / 2009

Sanctuary Retreats’ special Charles Darwin Anniversary fundraising departure on October 24th is now just two months away and the M.V. Eclipse is very pleased to announce that the renowned British actress and conservation campaigner Miranda Richardson has also confirmed her participation on the cruise, along with Randal Keynes, Charles Darwin’s great, great grandson who, with the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos Conservation Trust, has supported this initiative from the outset.

Both our special guests on board will provide a unique flavour to this important charity event, which has created a lot of interest among our valued clients around the world.

Miranda Richardson’s films include “Get Carter” with Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine, “Sleepy Hollow” for Tim Burton, “The Apostle” with Robert Duvall, “The Designated Mourner” by Wallace Shawn, and Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun”. Her recent credits include “Churchill – The Hollywood Years”, “The Prince and Me”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “The Young Victoria” and “Dagenham Girls”.
Miranda has been involved with the Galapagos Conservation Trust since 2003, but this will be the first time she has achieved her ambition to visit the Islands. She has appeared in a number of TV programs about conservation, including Extinct in 2006 and is passionate about the need to address climate change.

Randal Keynes, not only great great grandson of Charles Darwin, but also great nephew of the economist John Maynard Keynes, is author of “Annie’s box, Darwin, His Daughter and Human Evolution”, a book about Darwin and aspects of his life with his family that influenced his thinking.

Randal first visited Galapagos in 2000 and joined the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation in 2004. He was elected to the Board of the CDF in 2007 and is one of the champions of the Floreana project, stressing the key importance of Floreana's unique mockingbird species in Darwin’s thinking about evolution.

"Creation", the new film about Darwin starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, which has been chosen to open this year's Toronto International Film Festival, is based on Randal's book, and he has acted as advisor for the production.

In addition, on our Thursday stopover in Puerto Ayora, guests will be treated to an exclusive program organized by the Charles Darwin Foundation, and hosted in person by the Executive Director of the Foundation in Galapagos, Dr. Gabriel Lopez.

During the cruise, Randal will give a series of after-dinner talks about Darwin and Galapagos and there will be many opportunities for discussion of other topics.

The combination of our special guests with our unique activities and events will provide passengers with an unprecedented and privileged chance to celebrate Darwin’s anniversary year in an extraordinary way!

Sunday 6 September 2009

Blue Lagoon Cruises ‘Historical & Cultural Dateline’ cruise early bird rates

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

Cruise specialist offering 'early bird' rates on November sailing

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

Departing the iconic Fijian cruise company's home port of Lautoka on 09 November, the cruise 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.

Standard prices for the 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruises' start from AUD2318* per person twin share.

However all bookings received for any of the three departures prior to 30 September  will qualify for the 30 per cent 'early bird' discount which brings prices down to AUD1623* per person twin share, a saving of AUD695* 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 1940s.

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.

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).

Friday 4 September 2009

Brett Dudley’s adventure pick of the week

It has to be Adventures in Paradise on True North. It's a 7-night adventure flying from Cairns by private plane to Alotau in PNG. There you'll board True North for a sumptuous Seafood lunch before exploring Milne Bay. I won't go through the whole itinerary however, you can read it online if you click on the link below. It looks amazing and something I'd love to do myself. Apparently the fishing and diving are amazing not to mention you have access to your own helicopter on board! The other good news is, the prices are the cheapest ever for this November's departures. Prices have dropped from $8999.00 to an amazing $6599.00! Click here for itinerary and more details.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Cruise Weekly Comment: Adventure Cruising – Aussie Style

For lots of people, the idea of an adventure cruise means some far off, distant land, icebergs and glaciers. But some dinkum Aussie operators provide world-class products right here from our favourite cities.

Of those operators sailing Australian-flagged vessels with all-Australian crew, North Star Cruises in Broome, Coral Princess Cruises in Cairns and Captain Cook Cruises in Sydney come quickly to mind with itineraries covering the entire coastline of Australia, including the Murray River.

Iconic destinations such as the Kimberley and Great Barrier Reef are well covered, but dig deeper and you’ll find semi-secret locations such as the Rowley Shoals in WA and Cape York and Arnhem Land across our Top End. North Star Cruises continue their Southern Safari out of Adelaide that covers Kangaroo Island and Eyre Peninsula with the exciting “Jaws” shark cage dive as highlight.

Coral Princess Cruises, one of the premium operators in the Kimberley, are even offering a free Great Barrier Reef Cruise for every new booking in the Kimberley this year. (this offer was supposed to expire end August, but tell them CW said it was extended by 7 days for subscribers only!) Otherwise a 15% earlybird applies for 2010 dates.

It’s a bit harder to keep track of some of the smaller operators offering niche products, but Pearl Seas Cruises, Cannon Charters, Great Escape (pic r), Matrix, K2O and One Tide all offer intimate vessels of around a dozen passengers and can be booked through the one-stop Kimberley Cruise Centre or direct. These little ships are great for divers, fishers and small corporate or family groups.

The multi-award-winning Orion Expedition Cruises are an Australian Private Company operating the 106-passenger Bahaman-flagged Orion. The “grand dame” of our adventure fleet, Orion offers the nearest thing to a big ship experience, yet still keeps that adventurous touch. Their just-announced 2010 brochure includes a wealth of local cruising options including our east coast, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia – many of which are firsts for Orion. The loyal following will have plenty of reasons for repeat cruises next year and new cruisers may want to try them too.

So if you’re hankering for an adventure cruise and don’t want the jetlag, there are stacks of great opportunities in brilliant vessels right on our doorstep. Print this page now, race into your favourite travel agent and get aboard!

Cruise Passenger Newsletter

Deal of the Week

No Single Supplement!
Kimberley Coast on board Oceanic Discoverer
Broome-Darwin 10 nights
21 Sep & 12 Oct 09
Darwin – Broome 02 Oct 09
$7750 single occupancy

Call 1800 288 266

South Georgia sees more ships but less visitors

Vavilov at anchor in South Georgia

The annual Tourism and Visitor report for the 2008/9 season shows that despite more tour ships than ever visiting South Georgia Island last season, overall cruise passenger numbers fell slightly.

According to the South Georgia Newsletter, July release, twenty eight ships (three new to South Georgia), made 70 visits to the Island and brought 7,700 passengers between October 2008 and May 2009. This was six more visits, but about 400 fewer passengers, than the previous season.

The difference between seasons was largely explained by there being 25% fewer larger ships; those with 150 passengers or more. Just over 5000 crew and nearly 800 staff also visited in 2008/9.

Most of the ships visiting bring 50-100 passengers each time. The smaller vessels (50 - 150 passengers) tend to spend more time at South Georgia and visit more sites than the larger ships.

Passengers came from a total of 55 different countries, but the majority (65%), were from English speaking countries: 28% from the USA; 24% from the UK and 13% Germans.

The most popular visitor sites (top down) were Grytviken, Gold Harbour, Salisbury Plain, Stromness, St Andrews and Prion Island.

The popularity of extended walks (any walk of more than 1km from the landing site) continues to rise. The most popular of these is the Shackleton walk from Fortuna Bay to Stromness, which was completed 35 times (up 29%), by a total of 1,486 passengers, a 36% increase in number of people making this walk.

Kayaking was also an increasingly popular activity. Six cruises were offering this as an option. Kayaks were launched sixteen times in six different locations with 268 people setting out for a paddle.

Twenty-five yacht visits were also made by 22 different yachts. Most of these (13) were on private journeys, but seven were under charter, one was supporting an expedition, and two were supporting Government related projects.

Twelve expeditions were logged: seven were scientific expeditions or had a science element; three were mountaineering; there was one youth group; one photography expedition; one historical expedition and one concentrating on habitat restoration.

Three science ships and six military ships also visited during the year.

Australis orders third expedition vessel

The Chilean cruise company Cruceros Australis which operates from Punta Arenas is having a third vessel built in Valdivia which should be operational for the 2010/2011 season, according to Branco Ivelic, manager of Cruise Operations.

Stella Australis will join the Mare Australis and Via Australis “sometime in October, November next year on time for the celebrations of Chile’s bicentenary”, said Ivelic in an interview with La Prensa Austral.

Ivelic said the company has been in business since 1990 mainly with “expedition cruises”, when “nobody in the region was thinking of developing this option. We continue on the same line and we are planning long term, that is why the new vessel”.

“Stella Australis” does not come cheap for a Chilean regional expedition cruise company: 23 million US dollars for a vessel 89 metre long and 14 wide with capacity for 210 passengers and 60 crew members. Although of similar shape, the new Australis is far more efficient (the current vessels carry 136 passengers), with an improved display of cabins and more amenities.

Ivelic said the company is investing in spite of the fact that the last season “we felt the impact of the world recession and something similar we expect this year since 90% of our clients are foreigners”.

“We expect a trade contraction of possibly 20% less passengers, but sooner or later the crisis will be over. We believe this will begin to be seen in the second half of next year, and regional tourism will again begin to grow, the attraction and potential of the Patagonia region is immense”, underlined Iveli.

Source: MercoPress