Thursday 29 October 2009


Free Airfare and Extraordinary Excursions Included and Early Booking Savings Available

Inspired by the intrepid journeys and legendary explorations of Leif Eriksson to the New World, three voyages mark the third chapter of small-ship exploration line Cruise West's epic world adventure, Voyages of the Great Explorers.  Starting from Honfleur, France and ending in St. John's, Newfoundland, guests will visit the United Kingdom and Scandinavia -- with excursions to multiple UNESCO World heritage sites -- before charting a course across the North Atlantic.

Guests will save up to $1,550 per person ($3,100 per cabin) and receive FREE round trip international airfare from five select U.S. Cities: San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Washington D.C. (IAD) and New York (JFK) or an air credit of $750 per person by booking and paying in full by December 18, 2009. 

In addition to an included excursion at every port, each of the three voyages will be enhanced by an extraordinary 'Ultimate Explorers Experience' (UEE), designed to bring guests into direct personal contact with fascinating peoples, cultures and natural wonders.  Engaging presentations by notable experts on the region's culture, history and current events will bring each region to life. 

The Viking's adventures come alive in three distinct voyages

Cruise West's own "Modern Day Explorer" Captain Reidulf Maalen, will take the helm of the Spirit of Oceanus for all three voyages. He brings not only a lifetime of maritime experience, but also a warm level of hospitality that has made him one of the most sought out captains in the industry.  

Voyage 11: Honfleur to Oslo, encompasses Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia. The County of Wicklow -"the Garden of Ireland"  -- brings guests up close to domed granite mountains, deep glens and wooded valleys.  Scotland's Stornoway, with ancient standing stones, and the Orkney Islands, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and birders' paradise, reflects Scotland's wild beauty.  Exploring Norway's spectacular fjords and fishing villages includes another UNESCO World Heritage Site – Saltstraumen, just above the Arctic Circle.  In addition, there are ample opportunities to observe the abundant wild life including large colonies of sea birds and pods of Orca whales.  In Bergen, guests are treated to a private recital of composer Edvard Grieg's music in the Troldsalen Concert Hall.  

An excursion of Magerøy Island and The North Cape brings guests up close to life in the north (UEE). Guests will travel along the Skipsfjord to the fishing village of Kammøyvaer, populated by 100 hardy souls, before a trip to see some of the Sami people's 4,000-reindeer herd that roams freely here during the summer months. Then, it's onto Skarsvåg, the northernmost fishing village in the world, to shop for knitwear, Christmas decorations and more at the North Cape Christmas and Winter House.

The 19-night voyage departs July 19, 2010; prices start at $15,195 per person before savings.  Add-on: pre-cruise three-night tour of Paris. 

Voyage 12: Oslo to London focuses on history, art and architecture of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Russia.  Visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites include the Swedish walled city of Visby; the Estonian city of Tallinn -- one of the finest medieval old towns in all of Northern Europe -- and the opulence of St. Petersburg.  Notable excursions include a tour of Denmark's small villages -- including Gudhjem, a vividly scenic fishing village -- en route to majestic Hammershus Castle Ruin. 

Excursion highlights include a visit to St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum (UEE).  Founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, it's one of the largest and oldest museums in the world with collections comprising nearly three million works. Then a short bus ride to the Peter and Paul Fortress, built by Peter the Great in 1703 with a final stop at the Church on the Spilled Blood. 

The 15-night voyage departs Aug. 6, 2010; prices start at $12,495 per person before savings.  Add-on: three-night pre- or post-cruise The Best of England from London.

Professor Ron Wixman, a specialist in world cultural and political geography and well versed in the societies of Europe and the former USSR, joins both Voyages 11 and 12.   His expertise on the peoples and cultures of Northern Europe is extensive, and his informative lectures will provide both a historical and contemporary context for Norway.

Guest lecturer David Perry, an authority on maritime history and an avid collector of maritime literature, artifacts and stories joins Capt. Maalen on Voyage 13: London to St. John's.  Perry's expertise will prove invaluable on this transatlantic voyage that includes two continents and countless unforgettable stops along the routes that the Vikings charted more than a thousand years ago.

Guests explore the Royal London and Buckingham Palace, before heading for Scotland, Iceland and Greenland.  Among the excursions: Iceland's thermal and geological wonders, including Reykjavik, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and a visit to the Greenland settlement founded by Erik the Red. The voyage culminates with arrival to L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland -- site of Leif Eriksson's Vinland and the first European settlement in North America, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A highlight of the voyage is a private reception aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, hosted by Rear Admiral Sir Robert Woodard, KCVO, DL, the last serving Admiral, followed by a stirring performance of the annual Military Tattoo, one of Scotland's proudest cultural events (UEE). First staged in 1950, this dramatic spectacle in Edinburgh Castle combines the traditional sounds of the bagpipes and drums with military marching drills.

The 19-night voyage departs Aug. 20, 2010; prices start at $12,795 per person before savings.  Add-on: three-night pre- or post-cruise The Best of England, from London.

Book by Voyage or Multiple Segments

The Voyages of the Great Explorers – a cruise industry first -- is a collection of 24 individual voyages (which can all be booked separately) that combine to form a 335-day circumnavigation of the world along the major routes inspired by history's great ocean explorers.  Beginning March 5, 2010, on board Cruise West's flagship, the 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus, the world voyage will sail ever westward, returning to Singapore on February 3, 2011.

Prices per voyage include a pre-cruise hotel night, all excursions and transfers and a tour of the embarkation city.  Guests who book more than one voyage will save an additional five percent.  Rates for all three voyages of Chapter 3 start at $38,595 before savings.  For further details, 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 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. The fleet of small ships with guest capacities ranging from 78-148 explores 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 28 October 2009


SMALL ship cruising with just 350 fellow passengers aboard the Spirit of Adventure is selling through Cruiseco from now to the end of 2010, with cruises including escorted shore excursions in most ports and expert onboard lecturers to ensure guests get the very most from their adventure experiences.

Spirit of Adventure cruises such diverse destinations as the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, around the British Isles, and to Scandinavia, the maritime ports of the Hanseatic League, and the Crimea.

All cruises are designed to take-in as much as possible of local cultures, wildlife, natural wonders and natural history, and range from 5- to 23-nights.

And as well as offering some of the world's most amazing locales, Spirit of Adventure offers exquisite dining in a choice of formal and casual venues with wines included with lunch and dinner on select cruises, and nightly entertainment ranging from cultural shows by local performers to classic ensembles and recitals.

Relics of the Red Sea cruise prices begin from as low as $1975pp twin-share for 7-nights return from the UK to the Red Sea, Jordan and Egypt including Cairo and the Suez Canal; cruises include all onboard gratuities and port charges.

For cruises departing from Dover, Cruiseco includes complimentary return transfers between London Heathrow or London Downtown to Dover pier on the actual day of embarkation or disembarkation.

For a detailed brochure phone 1800 225 656 or visit for the name of your nearest Cruiseco travel agent.

Plancius – Oceanwide Expeditions new vessel afloat

This is the start of a new era in polar expedition cruising: the Dutch-flagged, expedition vessel "Plancius," operated by Oceanwide Expeditions, is finally ready to set sail to Antarctica this season.

"Plancius" is now freshly painted and alongside the dock in the Netherlands. While the ship is waiting for final sea trials, a team of builders is giving the final touch to the interior of the vessel. The crew will board end of October and bring life to the ship. Departure from the Netherlands is scheduled for early December in order to carry out the first Antarctic voyage on January 8, 2010.

Oceanwide Expeditions offers the free use of boots aboard the ship. Also, outdoor wind and waterproof North Face® expedition jackets can be ordered and bought for a discounted price prior to departure and will be given to the passengers on board the vessel.

Plancius is a base camp for various activities such as scuba diving; kayaking; near-shore, field camping; and active hiking trips with snowshoes. Detailed information can be found on Oceanwide Expeditions website or can be requested per email.


"Plancius" will set new standards to the world of expedition cruising: spacious yet small ship character; comfort and style; modern technology and safety appliances; and a base camp for active, adventurous, and wildlife-minded modern explorers!

"Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman." The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was finally purchased by Oceanwide Expeditions. The vessel was completely rebuilt and converted to a 110-passenger vessel, which complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea) and is classed by Lloyd's Register in London. The ship sails under the Dutch flag.

It's a small ship operation: "Plancius" can accommodate 110 passengers in 53 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 triple private cabins, 39 twin private cabins (ca. 15 square meters), and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters).

All cabins offer lower berths (either two single beds or one queen-size bed), except for the 4 triple cabins (bunk beds and 1 lower bed). The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on starboard side that guarantee a swift zodiac operation.

"Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but the ship is not a luxurious vessel. It's made for explorers! Voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel program, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this.

The vessel measures 89 meters in length (267 feet), has a breadth of 145 meters (475 feet) and a draft of 48 meters (157 feet) and is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system, which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1,230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10-12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages.

"Plancius" is manned by 17 nautical crew, 18 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman, and 10 stewards/cabin cleaners), 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides-lecturers), and 1 doctor.

"Plancius" was named after the Dutch astronomer, cartographer, geologist, and vicar Petrus Plancius (1552 – 1622). Petrus Plancius theorized the existence of an accessible northern passage to Asia and his theory encouraged several northern discovery voyages at the end of the 16th century. A dutch expedition under the command Willem Brantsz discovered Spitsbergen, but got stuck in the pack ice of Novaya Semlya (now Russian territory). Those discoveries gave rise of the 17th century whaling industry in Spitsbergen.

"Plancius" is furthermore a homage to the predecessor of Oceanwide Expeditions (Plancius Foundation, 1981-1996), the first cruise operator on a yearly base in Spitsbergen, offering voyages with a small cruise vessel named Plancius. It certainly means "the return of Plancius." Oceanwide continued with the activities of the Plancius Foundation in 1996.

Monday 26 October 2009


Photography, Alumni, Steinbeck, Chairman and President Cruises

 Cruise West (, the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, announces 18 theme cruises from a choice of 11 itineraries in 2010.   Choose from breathtaking Alaska to the wild jungles of Costa Rica, marine rich waters of Sea of Cortés, exotic Southeast Asia, scenic Europe and more.  Early booking savings are still available. 

There is incredible value with every voyage.  In addition to the events associated with each 'theme' is an included excursion at every port designed to bring guests into direct personal contact with fascinating peoples, cultures and natural wonders.  Guest can anticipate engaging topical presentations by onboard guest lecturers, Exploration Leaders and local acclaimed authorities that will bring each region to life.  Ships range from 78-148 guests depending on the itinerary.

Six Photography Cruises

Guests will have the opportunity to participate in onboard presentations and special field events with a photographer who will conduct special field events and onboard workshops throughout the cruise. Whether novice or seasoned photographers, hands-on instruction on everything from image composition and digital image management to tips on how to be in the "right place at the right time" will be invaluable.  Each departure includes a full menu of activities as well as the expertise of our Exploration Leaders.

7-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife, roundtrip Cabo San Lucas departing January 23.  Priced from $2,999.
9-night Panama & Costa Rica Between Two Seas, one-way Panama City to San Jose departing March 7.  Priced from $4,299.
7-night Alaska's Inside Passage, roundtrip Juneau departing June 6 and August 18. Priced from $4,499.
4-night Glacier Bay Highlights, roundtrip Juneau departing June 29.  Priced from $1,799.
4-night Glaciers of Prince William Sound, roundtrip Whittier departing August 9.  Priced from $1,399.

Two Steinbeck Cruises
Sail in the company of a Steinbeck scholar and learn of the extraordinary journeys of famed author John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts, whose voyage of exploration and understanding sparked the creation of The Log from the Sea of Cortez. 

7-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife, roundtrip Cabo San Lucas departing January 2 and 9.  Priced from $2,599.

Four Chairman and President Voyages
Mingle with Chairman & Managing Director Dick West and wife Leslie or President & CEO Dietmar Wertanzl on four distinct voyages.  In addition to the extraordinary itineraries, guests will enjoy hosted dinners, special events and private tours escorted by West or Wertanzl. 
Chairman Voyages 

16-night Voyage 1: Singapore to Chennai (segment of Voyages of the Great Explorers) departing March 5, 2010.  Priced from $12,695 including air from five major US cities or an air credit of $750 per person by booking and paying in full by December 18, 2009. 
16-night Voyage 10:  Barcelona to Honfleur (segment of Voyages of the Great Explorers) departing July 4, 2010.  Priced from $14,195 including air from five major US cities or an air credit of $750 per person by booking and paying in full by December 18, 2009. 
Rhine & Mosel Rivers in Europe (NEW), one-way Vienna to Cologne departing October 12, 2010.  Priced from $4,999.

President's Voyage

13-night Voyage 16: Palm Beach to Panama  (segment of Voyages of the Great Explorers) departing October 3, 2010.  Priced from $7,995.

Six Alumni Sailings

Any alumni that previously sailed with Cruise West (Quyana Club members) receive an additional five percent savings, onboard gift (valued at $15), and a welcome aboard reception hosted by a Cruise West executive.  Commiserate and explore with fellow like-minded guests.

7-night Sea of Cortés Whales & Wildlife, roundtrip Cabo San Lucas departing January 30.  Priced from $2,999.
9-night Panama & Costa Rica Between Two Seas, one-way Panama City to San Jose departing March 25.  Priced from $4,199.
7-night River Voyage of Discovery on the Columbia & Snake Rivers, roundtrip Portland departing April 17, June 5 and Aug 28. Priced from $2,999.
7-night Pacific Northwest Coastal Escape that includes British Columbia, roundtrip Seattle departing Sept 25.  Priced from $3,399.

Early booking savings are still available for most voyage and all prices listed are before savings is applied.  Kid's 18 and younger pay 50 percent off the adult rate.  For more information or to book a cruise, please visit or call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

~Up-Close, Casual and Personal Exploration~

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. 

SMH: The Chill Factor

Daniel Scott discovers a harsh environment and enduring Inuit culture on an expedition cruise into the Arctic. 

At first it is no more than a white blur on the distant shore of the long, low-ridged Mansel Island, under a boundless Arctic sky.

The pace among we six kayakers quickens as we paddle towards it across the clear, shallow sea. After seeing my first polar bear from a safe distance the previous evening, my chest rises with excited trepidation at the prospect of encountering another up close.

Read full story at

Sunday 25 October 2009


Fantasea Adventure Cruising took out the treble at the 2009 Tourism Whitsunday Awards, winning awards in the three categories the company contested.

Winner of the Best Tourism Attraction Award was Fantasea's Reefworld day tours to Hardy Reef Reefworld which features include a large underwater viewing observatory, secure diving areas, large sundeck and viewing area, change rooms, fresh water showers, children's swimming enclosures and extensive shaded areas.

Fantasea's Reefworld, featuring Australia's only Great Barrier Reef sleepover, was the winner of the Unique Accommodation Award.

The ultimate in Barrier Reef experiences, Reefsleep offers fully catered overnight accommodation on Hardy Reef, 51 nautical miles offshore.

The company also took out the award for Best Major Tour and/or Transport Operator, recognition of the level of service provided by Fantasea's fleet of high speed multi-hulled boats which plies between the Whitsunday islands.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising is a Queensland owned company, being part of the Riverside Marine group operated by the Campbell family in Brisbane.

(Pic Caption – Left to Right; Fantasea staff Tiffany Brett, John Dyson, Michelle Rynne, Michael Moran, Heather Thatcher, Jamie Ashton and Sarah Adams celebrate their tourism awards success. Please credit Whitsunday Times )

Saturday 24 October 2009

Dave Randon Accepts Vice President Post at Expedition Cruises


Small Ship industry cruise veteran Dave Randon has accepted the position of Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Expedition Cruises for North America.

Dave will reinforce the mission of Expedition Cruises: to align itself with key consortiums, travel agents, and tour operators.

He has worked in the cruise industry since the 1970s. He was recently the Vice President of Sales for Variety Cruises and earlier occupied the position of Director of North American Sales for Antarctic Dream Expeditions.

Expedition Cruises features The Nuclear Icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory—the most powerful icebreaker ever built by man. This 15-Day North Pole expedition cruise is a bold journey that allows travelers to experience firsthand the awesome beauty and raw savagery of one of the last few remaining frontiers on earth.

Friday 23 October 2009

The Norwegian Fjords - World's best travel destination in NG survey

Once again the Norwegian fjords have been rated as the World's most celebrated and iconic travel destination by National Geographic Traveler. Hurtigruten offers its congratulations with appreciation!

Hurtigruten has been proudly presenting the Norwegian fjords to Norwegian and foreign travellers since 1893. We can confidently state that the Norwegian travel industry would be much poorer without the sustainable management of our fantastic nature in general, and our unique fjords in particular.

Once again National Geographic Traveler magazine has placed the Norwegian fjords at the top of its list of destinations, an evaluation of the world's most celebrated and iconic travel destinations undertaken in cooperation with the National Geographic Center for Sustainable destinations. This is the sixth annual "Places Rated" Destination Stewardship survey, and the Norwegian fjords have topped the list on no less than three occasions. In 2007 Norway stuck another feather in its cap when Lofoten was voted the third best island destination in the world.

"The integrity and world renown of National Geographic, as well as its global penetration makes this one of the most important awards in travel industry internationally. The fact that the Norwegian fjords have once again topped the list is an affirmation of the unique natural assets that we possess. We are delighted by the results and would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Fjord Norway on its success," says Christian Bue Nordahl, Global Brand Manager at Hurtigruten ASA.

This award will further reinforce the recognition of Norway as an attractive travel destination.

"For many foreign travellers Hurtigruten represents their first encounter with the Norwegian fjords and Norwegian nature. Ever since Richard With founded the route in 1893 there has been a strong bond between the Norwegian fjords and Hurtigruten. Our 11 ships sail these waters every single day and the Norwegian fjords are one of our strongest cards. The fact that Norwegian destinations are once again placed at the top by National Geographic tells us that we are doing all the right things in a sustainable Norwegian travel industry," says Bue Nordahl.

In 2008 over 100 000 foreign visitors experienced the fjords and the Norwegian coast between Bergen and Kirkenes with Hurtigruten.

About the survey:

133 destinations were surveyed by 437 travel experts, and rated based on the following six criteria: Environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management and outlook for the future.

Hurtigruten has been the original coastal voyage since 1893, and offers genuine experiences in unique waters. Hurtigruten consists of 11 ships operating year round along the Norwegian coast, as well as the explorer ship MS Fram, which sails to Svalbard, Antarctica, Greenland and Europe.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Win a Trip to Ecuador & the Galapagos with A&K!

Global luxury travel company, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), is delighted to announce their My Inspiring Travel Moment photographic competition, open for entries from 19 October – 30 November 2009.  The first prize is an outstanding trip for two to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, cruising on the luxury MV Eclipse, experiencing the wonder of wildlife in this amazing archipelago.

Starting in Ecuador's capital Quito, this journey of a lifetime includes leisurely days cruising the Galapagos, taking in the marvels of nature with an expert naturalist guide.  With numerous trips by rubber panga to secluded bays, guests are likely to spy the famous Galapagos turtle, land and marine iguanas, brightly coloured crabs, fur seals, sea lions and maybe even a blue footed booby!  Surrounded by whales, penguins and dolphins, the trip includes a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station.  This trip is a travel lover's – and keen photographer's – dream!

Participants undertake 3 easy steps to submit their entry on line at  Each image entered costs $10 and all monies raised will go to support projects undertaken by Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, a specific division of A&K set up to support and fund a range of philanthropic initiatives around the globe (go to for more details).

The My Inspiring Travel Moment competition is being run in conjunction with The Australian's Travel & Indulgence section with the winning image being published in their final issue for the year in mid December.  Susan Kurosawa,The Australian's esteemed Travel Editor, is joining with A&K Australia Managing Director Sujata Raman, to choose the worthy winner.  Both seasoned travellers with a passion for discovery, their keen eyes will be focussed to spot the most inspiring travel image.

Running from 19 October-30 November, the winner will be announced in early December.  Go to to find out more information and follow the links to enter on line.

Sujata Raman, A&K's Managing Director says, "This is an unbelievable opportunity for keen photographers to submit their inspiring work and possibly win the trip of a lifetime to Ecuador and the Galapagos.  One of the world's most pristine wildlife environments, this is one travel experience that will be truly unforgettable.  And with the entry fee going to support A&K Philanthropy, it's a positive result all round.  We look forward with interest to My Inspiring Travel Moments and to selecting a worthy winner.  It's going to be a difficult task, I'm sure."

For more information or a copy of the 2010 Inspiring Journeys brochure, contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 851 800, or visit

Expedition Cruise from Patagonia Chile to Argentina

Explore the stunning landscapes and wildlife of southern Chile and Argentina with a cruise that takes you from Punta Arenas, Chile to Ushuaia, Argentina (or vice versa). This four or five day expedition cruise wends through fjords, glaciers and through the Beagle Channel for an unforgettable journey.

The five day cruise begins in Punta Arenas, Chile, where you’ll board your expedition vessel, specially outfitted for Arctic cruising, and sail through the Strait of Magellan. Continue the cruise with stops at places like Tucker Islet to see colonies of Magellanic penguins and cormorants, Cape Horn National Park, and more. You’ll sail through Glacier Alley, through six imposing glaciers, and disembark on the Pia Glacier for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

The four day itinerary still visits glacier, penguin and forest highlights, and is great for those shorter on time. The four day itinerary departs from Ushuaia, Argentina; the five day itinerary departs from Punta Arenas, Chile.

Ask about availability, and combining this trip with land adventures throughout Chile and Argentina.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

New Antarctic Expedition Ship from A&K


For those dreaming of genuine adventure, Antarctica has long been considered the last frontier.  This pristine landscape of mountains and glaciers remains largely untouched by civilization, however this once-remote destination has moved to the top of many travellers' places to go next list.  Global luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent has been taking travellers to Antarctica for over 20 years and is the expert in providing unforgettable travel experiences for its discerning guests.

In order to provide the highest levels of floating accommodation and service in Antarctica, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), has chartered the spacious new MV Le Boreal for the 2010/2011 Antarctic season. An all-balcony expedition ship, MV Le Boreal features a convenient layout, aided by three passenger elevators. Highlights include a single seating dining room, al fresco dining, an outdoor heated pool, and a modern lecture facility and theatre, as well as an ample and comfortable gathering area and library. A full-service salon, steam rooms, spa and fitness centre are a welcome addition to cater for all guests' requirements. On other cruises to different destinations, she carries more than 264 passengers however in Antarctica, A&K limits her to just 199 guests.

That's an important A&K difference: fewer passengers mean more shore excursions each day, as well as outside staterooms with private balconies for every guest.

Environmentally Responsible

Designed with the environment in mind, MV Le Boreal will be the most environmentally-friendly ship to sail in Antarctica, with cutting-edge technology that includes the most up-to-date waste water system, recycling facilities, and other measures designed to ensure that the ship operates with minimal impact on the environment including:

-         State-of-the-art computerized dynamic positioning eliminates the need for dropping anchor in fragile marine reserves, protecting corals and the environment.

-         Thermal and phonic insulation in engines and the propulsion system reduces overall energy consumption.  This insulation also minimizes noise and vibration for passenger comfort.

-         The most advanced waste water system and waste management.  Waste will be sorted, treated and stored in a special refrigerated zone for proper discharge in port.  NO water (other than fully potable water), waste or rubbish will be discharged at sea.

-         Operates on the lightest and cleanest burning Marine Gas Oil fuel in full compliance with new International Maritime Organization standards taking effect in July 2011.

-         Zodiac boats are equipped with fuel efficient 4-stroke engines that meet the strictest environmental standards.

Abercrombie & Kent has planned three expeditions for the 2010-2011 Antarctic season aboard MV Le Boreal during the best months for travel in these waters.  Itineraries include:

·         Classic Antarctica highlights the best of the Antarctic Peninsula: vast penguin and seabird colonies, dramatic icebergs and glaciers … a paradise for those who want to observe and photograph wildlife at close range.  Sail through breathtaking Paradise Bay and into the Lemaire Channel.  Professor James McClintock will share the changes he has seen over the past 25 years and introduce scientists at Palmer Station. Fourteen day Philanthropic Journey: December 7-20, 2010 from US$9,995.

·         On Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, follow in the footsteps of one of the greatest adventurers of all time: Sir Ernest Shackleton.  This itinerary offers close-up views of the unique king penguin, along with fur and elephant seals.  Visit an active research station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nineteen day departures Dec 17-Jan 5 and January 2-21, 2011; from US$15,795. Family Departure: December 17, 2010-January 5, 2011. Children under 18 save 50% of cruise price when travelling with an adult (except in suites).

Prices are per person, double occupancy

Sujata Raman, A&K's Managing Director says, "As experts in small ship cruising in destinations worldwide, we carefully match the ship to the destination. In a place like Antarctica you need to strike just the right balance between on-board amenities and full-fledged wilderness adventure as well as environmental responsibility. The sleek, contemporary design of Le Boreal allows us to offer a distinctly different adventure cruise experience with private balconies and access to crystal-clear bays and narrow fjords that the big cruise ships simply can't reach."

For more information or a copy of the 2010 Inspiring Journeys brochure, contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 851 800, or visit to download your own copy

Orion Expeditions to Papua New Guinea 2010 - including new destinations

Additional destinations added for Orion PNG expeditions in 2010

For those who seek a path less travelled, Papua New Guinea, ranks as one of the most diverse and absorbing geographic and cultural destinations.

Impenetrably dense tropical rainforest, scattered islands, rugged terrain and active volcanoes conspire to make PNG difficult to explore. The purpose-built 5 star expedition cruise ship Orion provides the perfect base for those seeking adventures in this unspoilt paradise.

In March, April and October 2010 Orion returns to Papua New Guinea with five voyages to exciting points-of-call including spectacular Lambom and Lamassa (visited for the first time in 2009 and regarded as highlights of unspoilt wonder), and for the first time evocative Tingwon, Manus, Wuvulu, Sissano, Hansa Bay and Bagabag – newly uncovered by Orion's Expedition Scouting team and described as offering exceptional cultural experiences.

Not for everyone, these expeditions appeal to those who are naturally curious, seeking intellectual stimulation through experiences far from the norm – all the while assisted by Orion's knowledgeable Expedition Team both onboard and ashore, while travelling in luxurious surroundings with the service of 75 crew to manage every need or whim.

With numerous World War II sites of great significance, colourful colonial trading history, an extraordinary range of cultures and artwork, friendly villagers and outstanding crystal clear waters for swimming, snorkelling and diving, Orion's expeditions attract a group of like-minded travellers who enjoy photography, marine biology, bird watching, anthropology, maritime and military history and the just plain curious.

Access to and from Rabaul in PNG has been is simplified as Orion has arranged for Australian-operated charter flights between Cairns and Rabaul to assist in convenient transfers in both directions meaning, in effect, the expeditions start and finish in Cairns.

Further details for the New Zealand voyages and itinerary are available at

Travel + Leisure Names Galápagos Small Ship Expedition Company Ecoventura Winner of 2009 Global Vision Award for Green Cruising

Ecoventura has been singled out for the second time this year by one of America's most prestigious travel publications to receive accolades for its trend-setting commitment to sustainable tourism.

In the fifth annual edition of Travel + Leisure's Global Vision Awards, Ecoventura ( is the recipient of the 2009 award for Green Cruising. The company is one of 17 winners named in a variety of categories. Following the Oct 19 announcement, the 2009 Global Vision Award winners will be featured online at and in the November issue of Travel + Leisure magazine.

This award follows on the heels of Conde Nast Traveler's 15th Annual World Savers Award given to Ecoventura in September, also in the category of Cruise Lines.

Both publications recognize Ecoventura's ongoing mission to be the pacesetter for responsible tourism in the Galápagos Islands.

"It's gratifying that today's opinion makers are seeking out companies like ours that understand it takes an unwavering commitment to sustainable change and purpose instead of blind profit," said Santiago Dunn, Ecoventura president.

"Ironically," said Dunn, "booming tourism in the Galápagos has added to the challenges and problems faced by those looking to restore and protect the island's native species and ecological balance."

The annual Global Vision Awards recognize the latest and best efforts at cultural preservation, environmental conservation, and community building through tourism.

About Travel + Leisure: Travel + Leisure and its website propel readers to travel now, travel smarter, and travel often. With an eye for the authentic, the innovative, and the irresistible, T+L fuses expert reporting on style, culture, food, and design with stunning photography to transport its readers to the places—and the experiences—that matter most. The long-standing authority in its field, Travel + Leisure has the largest, most affluent audience of any travel magazine and is an indispensable read for today's global citizen.

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the Galápagos cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard a fleet of three expedition vessels; identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts with 10 double cabins. The company also operates the Sky Dancer, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin. All of its vessels have been purposefully retrofitted to meet or exceed the highest possible environmental standards.

To reserve a cabin or private charter, or to receive a copy of Ecoventura's 2009-2010 catalog please call 1.800.644.7972, or e-mail To access current rates, schedules and itineraries you can log onto

Cruise to the Heart of Papua New Guinea with Coral Princess Cruises

It's on our doorstep, yet it's one of the last great frontiers on earth: Papua New Guinea has the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon; over 1000 distinct cultural groups and a staggering diversity of plant and animal species. Coral Princess's Oceanic Discoverer ventures deeper into the wilds of PNG than any other cruise ship, on 10 and 12-night expedition-style cruises in 2010-2011.

The 72-passenger, luxury expedition ship Oceanic Discoverer is the only expedition cruise ship that ventures up one of the world's great rivers, the Sepik, to the remote and seldom-visited villages of Bien and Angoram. The local people live a traditional lifestyle and are renowned for producing some of PNG's – and the world's - most outstanding 'primitive' artworks. Spending time among the local people is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Flowing for over 1000km from the Central Highlands to the sea, the Sepik River is one of the country's least-developed regions, and is the lifeblood of the 430,000 people who live and trade on the river.

While other cruise ships are too large to enter the mouth of the river, the Oceanic Discoverer – purpose-built for expedition cruising in remote regions – is the only expedition ship that safely penetrates up to 100km upstream, through landscapes framed by sharp-edged mountains, past settlements that few outsiders have seen, spending two full days up the river.

The voyage visits the Trobriand Islands – the famous 'Islands of Love' – to witness harvest dances performed in elaborate costumes; retraces the journeys of explorers such as Bougainville and Cook and the World War II history of Madang and Alotau, where Australian forces fought off the Japanese offensive.

Throughout the voyage, Oceanic Discoverer's on-board historians and naturalists help guests identify and understand the overwhelming plethora of wildlife (which includes 700 species of birds) and plant life (including 3000 varieties of orchids). PNG is also known as one of the world's most outstanding snorkelling and SCUBA diving destinations, with pristine coral reefs and hundreds of species of fish.

Oceanic Discoverer's purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer; glass bottom coral viewer and fleet of inflatable Zodiacs allow passengers to intimately explore the reefs and remote islands. On-board facilities include a large sundeck and spa pool, reference library, lecture lounge, two cocktail bars, boutique and dive shop.

There are 10-night cruises between Rabaul and Alotau, departing March 21, November 5 and 15, 2010, and March 18, November 4 and 14, 2011, costing from $8250 per person, twin share in a Main Deck stateroom, including all meals, excursions and port taxes. Each of the departures can be extended by two days, beginning or ending in Cairns. The 12-night itinerary costs from $8650 per person, twin share.

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

Legendary Icebreaker to Retire

Quark's flagship, Kapitan Khlebnikov, will end her career as an expedition vessel in March 2012, returning to escort duties in the Russian Arctic.

This is truly the End of an Era, and will be marked by a series of remarkable itineraries and special guests that celebrate the career of this extraordinary ship.

This is your last chance to sail aboard, and visit remote regions that will become inaccessible to future travelers.

Visit; for more details.

To learn more about the special guests who have accepted our invitation to mark the End of an Era, order a free biographical package at;

Cruise West Offers Unprecedented Savings on 24 World Wide Voyages

Free Air or Air Credit, Waived or Reduced Single Supplement and 50 Percent Off for Kids and More

Cruise West (, the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, is offering unprecedented savings for all 24 individual voyages (ranging from nine- to 19-nights) that combine to form the epic world adventure, Voyages of the Great Explorers.  Book and pay in full by December 18, 2009, for maximum value-add savings.

Whether guests are eyeing a trip to Southeast Asia, North Africa, the Mediterranean, Greek isles, East Coast Canada and USA, Australia or the South Pacific, there is tremendous value offered in this landmark year.  Guests will save up to $1,550 per person ($3,100 per cabin) and receive FREE round trip international airfare from five select U.S. Cities: San Francisco (SFO), Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD), Washington D.C. (IAD or DCA) and New York (JFK) or an air credit of $750 per person by booking and paying in full by December 18, 2009.  The free air or air credit is valid for Voyages 1 through 18 of the 24-voyage segments of the Voyages of the Great Explorers.

Additional saving incentives for all 24 voyages (except where noted) include:

·         Bring a friend (new booking) and each person receives $500 off the cruise fare

·         50% savings for all children 18 and younger

·         Single supplement will be waived on Voyages 1 – 4 in all cabin categories

·         Reduced single supplement for Voyages 5 – 24 in Superior, Majestic, Premium and Classic cabin categories

The best value afloat.

With most cruises, guests pay extra for every little thing (and big things) such as soft drinks, taxes and port charges, and shore excursions.  But with Cruise West, the fare includes everything except alcohol. There are no surprise charges that can easily add up to double the fare or more.

Cruise West includes a shore excursion in every port, and in addition, each of the 24 voyages includes one 'Ultimate Explorers Experience.'  A sampling includes tickets to Edinburgh's world-famous Military Tattoo, the chance to participate in the special novitiate ceremony and feeding of the monks in Rangoon, or an overnight stay in Sydney Harbor during its magnificent New Year's Eve celebration and fireworks display. These are once-in-a-lifetime events that only a small number of travelers will ever see.

This is the world that most people have never seen.

Each of the 24 journeys of the Voyages of the Great Explorers takes guests to the "must see" sights—Pompeii, Petra, Florence, Luxor, the Hermitage, the Guggenheim.  Board a Zodiac bound for an uninhabited island in the Maldives or a remote village in the Tuomotus. Travel the narrow Corinth Canal and Kiel Canal where big ships can't go. Visit tiny islands in the South Pacific like Pitcairn Island of HMS Bounty fame, and Palmerston Island, where all 50 residents are descended from one Englishman.  In fact, these voyages will visit 85 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  Further, engaging presentations by Smithsonian Journeys guest lecturers and renowned experts on each region's culture, history and current events will bring each itinerary to life.

All voyages take place on the intimate 120-guest, all-suite Spirit of Oceanus.  Prices start at $4,995 per person before savings and include a pre-cruise hotel night.  For further details on Cruise West's Voyages of the Great Explorers itineraries, visit, call  800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

Monday 19 October 2009

Cruise Weekly: Romance on the Reef

Location Thetford Reef; 16 deg 48.2S, 146 deg 10.3E

"Where's Wally?" That was the question on everybody's lips. Wally, in case you were wondering, is the 100kg Giant Hump-Headed Maori Wrasse who inhabits Thetford Reef, Coral Princess II's first stop out of Cairns on her southward exploration of the Great Barrier Reef. "He looks nasty," says Vanessa, our ebullient marine biologist guide, "but he's really a big sook. Right now it's mating season and he's almost certainly off chasing lady Wrasses."
Coral Princess Cruises, established in 1984 by Tony and Vicki Briggs, are certainly the longest operating Australian adventure cruise company and, according to Tony, the first. They've come a long way since their first vessel, a Fairmile-class former submarine chaser, first began overnight reef safaris for adventurous guests. It was a bold move, but one that certainly paid off. CPCs now operate three vessels within a territory that includes Papua New Guinea, the Kimberley, Melanesia and New Zealand. Their flagship, the 72-pax 65m Oceanic Discoverer, was launched in 2005, just in time to join True North II and Orion in the exploding local expedition cruise scene.
Our itinerary, 3 nights to Townsville, is a leisurely exploration of the outer reefs with plenty of snorkelling and scuba diving for beginners and certified divers alike. Vanessa, literally overflowing with information, crams as much biological information as we can handle. Our wonderful reef is a mind-boggling organism, 2400 kms long, stretching from Bundaberg to PNG. The variety and complexity of vivid and colourful life is beyond the comprehension of most, including me. While some believe our reef is dying in the warming planet others, like Vanessa, are more optimistic.
The itinerary is broken with a resort stop at Dunk Island and a beach BBQ at Pelorus, CPC's private island just north of Townsville. This cruise is carrying thirty passengers from as far afield as the UK, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, France and the USA indicating there is more interest in a our reef from overseas than locally. Our vessel, Coral Princess II, is a 25-y-o, 48 pax catarmaran now exclusively operating the the two GBR itineraries. She is joined by Coral Princess over summer, when not on Kimberley duty with Oceanic Discoverer. CPCs offer three GBR itineraries; 3 nights to Townsville, 4 nights Cairns to Cairns via Lizard Island and Cooktown and 7 nights with the two butted together. My personal choice is the 4 night, northern sector for variety and a little extra land-based activity.
While lusty Wally remains elusive, there are plenty of other exciting discoveries like the two massive Coral Trout in the throws of passion, a fish feeding frenzy with giant trevally, a spectacular but solitary Lion Fish, serene turtles, elegant rays and chipper little Nemos (anemone fish). If love is an indicator, then our reef is alive and well.
Fares begin at A$1496 (twin share) for the 3-night cruise. Coral Princess Cruises: 1800 079 545

Image:: Wally comes by for a visit. (c) Vanessa Marshall

Thursday 15 October 2009

2009 Edition of Adventure Guide on line now

Follow Prisca Campbell's new Antarctica Blog: Emperors and Kings - The Royal Tour

One month from today, I’m going to be completely distracted, as it will be the day before I leave for Ushuaia, Argentina, to join the Emperors and Kings expedition to the Weddell Sea, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.

I’ll be sailing with three special guests – Robert Bateman, Birgit Freybe Bateman and Doug Allan. The members of the Expedition Team are equally stellar – starting with the Expedition Leader, Shane Evoy. He is a fellow Canadian who has led numerous expeditions to Antarctica. Fun loving, experienced and always up for adventure, I am thrilled to travel with him at last.

I’ve started blogging early, because I’ve begun the final research stage that I always do before I travel. I’ll be sharing the nuggets, nonsense and new adventures, beginning today.

Emperors and Kings - The Royal Tour

Macquarie Island featured on TV

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

Macquarie Island is a highlight of our Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic expeditions. Tune in to Channel 7's 'Sunday Night' show at 6.30pm this Sunday to see why Macquarie Island is often described as one of the "wonder spots" of the world - said to rival South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. Click here for a sneak peek - look at the top right of your screen.

Protected by the Southern Ocean, secluded and seldom visited, the Australian and New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, recognised as one of the worlds' precious regions of unique biodiversity, will be visited by Orion on 4 separate expeditions in December 2009  and January 2010.

The expedition team will include the highly respected British zoologist and naturalist Dr John Sparks and Antarctic explorers Don and Margie McIntyre. Guest lecturers include well known scientist and media presenter Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, ornithologist Glenn Ehmke of
Birds Australia, photographer Nick Rains and Natural History expert and author Neville Peat who will guide you through the voyage.
Further information about tours:

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Captain Cook's Murray Princess, Adelaide & Kangaroo Island Combo

Enjoy the best of South Australia with this fantastic cruise and land package from Captain Cook Cruises. Enjoy three or four nights cruising the spectacular Murray River aboard its only paddlewheeler, the Murray Princess, one night in Adelaide and two full days on Kangaroo Island.

Passengers will spend the first part of their trip cruising the beautiful Murray River and exploring the big river gorges, bio-diverse Murray riverlands, unique flora and fauna of the outback and experiencing exciting day trips to historic ports, sacred Aboriginal sites, a sheep station and woolshed and a native wildlife shelter.

On-board passengers will enjoy outside cabin accommodation, all meals, the use of two spas, two saunas, a sun deck, two bars, two lounges, a single sitting dining saloon and great entertainment.

Following the cruise, a complimentary scenic coach will transfer passengers to the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel in Adelaide. Arriving at midday guests will enjoy one night's accommodation and have all of Adelaide's main tourist attractions including Rundle Mall, Skycity Casino, museums and art galleries at their feet.

A coach will then transfer guests the next morning to Cape Jervis where they will join the Sealink Ferry to Kangaroo Island.

Day one on Kangaroo Island will feature a Seal Bay Discovery Tour including a delicious lunch, followed by a Nocturnal Penguin Tour. After a busy day guests will then settle into their choice of overnight accommodation on the island.

On day two, guests will enjoy a Remarkably Wild tour that also includes lunch before returning to Penneshaw for the return ferry and coach to Adelaide. For a few dollars more guests can upgrade to the late afternoon flight from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide.

For people with a love of food and wine, they can do an optional full day Barossa Valley Tour when they disembark the cruise at Mannum and return to Adelaide at 5.30pm that day.

2010/11 prices for the five night package starts from $1469 per person, twin share and includes three nights on the Murray Princess, one night at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel and one night on Kangaroo Island. The six night package starts at only $1766 per person, twin share and includes four nights on the Murray Princess, one night at the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel and one night on Kangaroo Island.  

Prices are valid to 31 March 2011.

Cruise Weekly: Tues 13 Oct 2009

Photo competition: Send us your best expedition cruise pic to win

Send your pics to Cruise Passenger Magazine and win - Send us your cruise photos and we'll publish the best - plus you could win a powerful Panasonic digital camera!

Email your photos to:

Most of us pack a camera when going on a cruise and, thanks to the wonders of digital photography, take hundreds of pictures. Now you could win a fantastic Panasonic Lumix digital camera, a Lowepro camera backpack and a Velbon tripod, just by sending us your best cruise photo. We will showcase your photos on our website,, and publish the winners in the December issue of Cruise Passenger magazine.

First prize: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 hybrid camera has a remarkable 12x optical zoom in a compact, stylish body and 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens. It also includes AVCHD Lite*1 video recorder, making the TZ7 a truly versatile point and shoot. Find out more at

Terms and Conditions: Send us up to three photos (high-resolution digital only), taken on a cruise ship or at a destination reached by ship. It must have been taken within the last five years. Email your photos to: by October 16, 2009. In addition to your photos, please include the following details in your email entry: your full name and address; name of ship and/or location featured. The photographer of the picture judged the best will win a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 hybrid camera (right). Runners-up will receive a Velbon tripod and Lowepro camera backpacks. The judging panel will consist of representatives from Edge Custom Media, Maxwell Optical and Panasonic.

Saturday 10 October 2009

Great Riverboat Journeys – 20% reduction on all trips

ACTIVE TRAVEL, the Asia riverboat specialist, has announced a 20% discount across the board, effective immediately, on all its brochured cruises.

The company offers 20 different riverboat journeys along the Mekong, Kwai, Ganges, Hooghly, Brahmaputra and Irawaddy rivers. Vessels are small, ranging from 11 to 46 cabins, and each offers an intimate on-board experience and a close-up view of life along the river.

A 7-day trip along the Lao section of the Mekong River, starting and ending in Pakse, is reduced from $1710 to $1370. A luxurious journey aboard the newly launched La Marguerite, from Saigon to Siem Reap now starts at $2285 (reduced from $2855). An 8-day cruise along the Hooghly River, in Bengal, is now offered at $1775 (reduced from $2215) and an 8-day journey along Assam’s Lower Brahmaputra River is now available for $3140 (reduced from $3925). All prices are per person, twin share, based on the lowest cabin category.

“Interest in riverboat cruising has surged in the last 12 months”, according to director Robert Fletcher. "However the market is still a little quiet so, with a surging Australian dollar, we’ve decided to offer our own little stimulus package to kick things along.”

Call Sydney 9264 1231, or Canberra 6249 6122 for details or visit

Friday 9 October 2009

Hurtigruten Offers Six New Winter Theme Vacations

This winter, Hurtigruten is offering six new winter theme vacations, each featuring a sailing along Norway’s 1,250-mile west coast between Bergen and Kirkenes, above the Arctic Circle. The themes highlight different aspects of the region, from the Northern Lights Festival in Tromso to the beauty of Finnmark’s landscape with rookeries of puffins and gannets along its cliffs. Fares range from US$2,499 to $6,048 per person, double. All voyages can be booked using Hurtigruten’s “Layaway Getaway” monthly payment plan.

The 12-day “Arctic Voyage & Snow Hotel” kicks off with a night in Bergen, where guests have time to explore before embarking on a northbound Arctic tour. The ship calls at the Alesund and Molde, with breathtaking views of the Romsdal Alps, before arriving in Trondheim, Norway’s first capital. After crossing the Arctic Circle, the ship passes by towns and stops in Tromso before arriving in Kirkenes, where a night in a Kirkenes Snow Hotel Suite awaits. After flying to Oslo, travelers can explore independently or take in a performance at the new harborside National Opera House. Prices start at $2,739 for the January and February departures and US$3,019 for the March departure.

The eight-day “Arctic Highlights” tour is a glimpse into life in remote regions of mainland Norway. Guests spend a day and night in Oslo before transferring to Tromso for a round-trip voyage to the northern seaport of Honnigsvag. The ship sails along the coast for three days, arriving back in Tromso in the late evening. Prices start at $2,899. Those seeking to immerse themselves in Sami culture can spend 10 days on the “Sami Day & Reindeer Races” package. After one night in Oslo, guests fly to Tromso for a two-night stay. Here they can attend local festivities in honor of Sami National Day on Feb. 6 as well as witness the annual reindeer racing championship in the center of the city. Travelers then embark on a cruise along the Norwegian coastline to Bergen for a one-night stay. Fares start at US$2,699.

The seven-day “Ice Hotel Adventure” starts with an overnight stay in Oslo and then a flight to Tromso for a cruise to Oksfjord and Hammerfest and finishing with an overnight in the fishing village of Honnigsvag. Travelers then proceed to the edge of the Arctic Circle and a night in the Alta Igloo Hotel, a 21,525-square-foot complex with nearly all of its elements -- from guest rooms and beds to bar room drinking glasses -- built anew from ice and snow each January. Additional nights can be booked at the Alta Igloo Hotel, which has 30 bedrooms, suites, an ice bar, a chapel and several lounges. The trip ends with another night in Oslo. Fares begin at US$2,499.

The 10-day “Northern Lights Festival” coincides with the annual Northern Lights Festival of Music. The trip begins with a night in Bergen and continues on with a northbound voyage aboard the Finnmarken. Passengers disembark for a two-night stay in Tromso, the center of the festival. Local events cater to an array of musical tastes, from symphonic to soul, in the Tromso Concert Hall and the Arctic Cathedral. Travelers then fly to Oslo for a one-night stay. Prices start at US$2,699.

The “Digital Photography” vacation offers a chance to capture the vistas of a Norwegian winter, as well as the Northern Lights. The 10-day trip begins in Bergen, where guests spend one night before sailing and then arriving in Tromso for the Northern Lights Festival. It concludes with a night in Oslo. Fares start at US$2,919. Fares are capacity controlled and include round-trip airfare from JFK, domestic land transfers and flights, all meals onboard and port fees. Cruise fuel and airline fuel surcharges, air taxes, gratuities, ticketing fees and air add-ons -- available from dozens of North American gateways -- are additional.

Thursday 8 October 2009

“Le Boreal” Launched In Ancona Super Luxury Ship for Compagnie Du Ponant

Today at Ancona shipyard there was the launch of “Le Boreal”, the first of two super luxury cruise ships ordered from Fincantieri by the French owner Compagnie du Ponant. Due to take up service in spring 2010, in terms of size and sophisticated décor in many respects the ship is very similar to a mega yacht.

Present at the ceremony were: Jean-Emmanuel Sauvee, Director General of Compagnie du Ponant, Bertrand Leblond, Technical Director, Jean Philippe Lemaire, the future captain of the vessel which is destined to become the fleet’s new flagship, and, representing Fincantieri, Antonio Quintano, Director of Ancona shipyard. Godmother to the ship was Vèronique Saade.

The new ship, which will fly the French flag, is approximately 10,700 gross tonnes, 142 metres long and 20 wide. Passenger capacity is over 260 guests, accommodated in 132 cabins and suites, all with a sea view, of which 94% with a private balcony.
Equipped with cutting edge technologies to reduce environmental impact, “Le Boreal” will be able to reach ports and destinations which are inaccessible to larger vessels.

Compagnie du Ponant, whose head office is in Marseilles, currently has a fleet of three cruise ships serving a super-luxury customer target. Founded in 1988, the company is a member of CMA-CGM Group, the world’s third ship owning group in the container sector.

Since 1990 Fincantieri, world leader in the sector, has delivered 50 cruise ships. A further 12 vessels, including the “Le Boreal”, are under construction or due to be built within 2012 at the group’s shipyards.

Source: Fincantieri

Wednesday 7 October 2009

MS Hanseatic: Successful Makeover At The Shipyard

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises vessel, MS HANSEATIC left the Bredo shipyard in Bremerhaven/ Germany after a two-week stay. Thoroughly overhauled and smartened up in many areas, the world’s only five-star expedition ship (according to the Berlitz Cruise Guide 2010) shines in new splendour. Besides plenty of technical work, the primary focus was on refurbishing the suites.

The staff at the shipyard worked several shifts in order to complete all the items on the comprehensive “to do“ list in time. The most elaborate tasks included replacing the cabin windows as well as removing and rebuilding the bathrooms in the suites. Separate bath tubs and showers were installed and sophisticated materials such as marble for the walls and granite for the floors were used. Two suites have been completely redesigned. Another modification, clearly visible for the passengers, is the transformation of the hairdressing salon into a modern styling and cosmetics studio. A new lighting and sound system adds to the evening atmosphere on deck.

The new “art on board“ concept creates a modern ambiance; the premium-quality black and white photographs portray extraordinary nature and animal scenes, emphasising the spirit of expedition.

The new ITV system offers direct access to the Internet from all cabins whilst the additional installation of Wireless LAN makes it possible to use the Internet in many public spaces on board.

The HANSEATIC combines the adventure of global expedition and study cruises with first-class comfort. The highest ice class gives the maximum of 184 passengers the opportunity to travel to remote destinations in polar waters or in the South Seas. Its shallow draft means it can also sail on rivers like the Amazon. Trips with the ship’s own Zodiac inflatables, talks and recaps about the destinations by lecturers are among the highlights of the programme. Those top-flight experts accompany the cruises to deliver
spellbinding background information.

The HANSEATIC cruise program 2010 offers the following enticing itineraries, all of them operated bilingual in English and German.

Destination Antarctica:
Trip logistics: from Ushuaia to Puerto Montt, 13 February to 5 March 2010, 21 days, with stops in/ at the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, Antarctic Peninsula; cruise only rates starting at £7553 per person. Exclusive special: passengers booking a category one guarantee cabin will get an automatic upgrade to a category three cabin. This saves £2107 per person. Additionally, passengers will receive a Euro 300 – on board credit for beverages and laundry.

Destination: the legendary Northwest Passage
Trip logistics: from Kangerlussuaq to Nome, 16 August to 10 September 2010, 25 days, with stops in Greenland, Cruising in Disko Bay, Baffin Island, Devon Island, Barrow Strait, Northwest Passage and Alaska; cruise only rates starting at £11,536 per person including charter flight Hanover – Kangerlussuaq

Destinatian Kamchatka
Trip logistics: From Nome to Yokohama, 9-30 September 2010, 20 days, with stops in Alaska, Chukchi Peninsula, Chukotka, Kamtchatka, Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, Japan; cruise only rates starting at £6725 per person

All of the dedicated bilingual cruises included in the enclosed brochure, ensure English-speaking passengers feel comfortable from the moment they step onboard. Documentation in English onboard includes: daily programs, menus, announcements, lectures/video presentations and safety drill instructions. Shore excursions are offered in English on a group or individual basis whenever possible in the port of call. Lastly, the entire crew is fluent in English.

For more information on these and other of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ exciting destinations and itineraries, visit

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Truly Getting Up Close And Personal On True North

TWO adventure cruises to the famed Kimberley wilderness region in July and August next year aboard the boutique True North, will feature activities as diverse as barramundi fishing, swimming in remote billabongs, seeing indigenous cave art with onboard naturalists, nudging underneath a vast waterfall, and a coral reef that “rises from the ocean.”

True North will sail these two 7-night cruises from Broome to the Hunter River on July 31 and August 28 2010, carrying just 36-guests served by 20-crew.

Highlights include witnessing the region’s vast tidal movements including “riding the tide” on the ebbing Sale River aboard True North’s expedition boats, and seeing the Montgomery Reef “rising from the ocean” – a phenomenon created when the fast-receding tide drains from the 350 square kilometre reef to expose myriad turtles, dugong, rays and other sea creatures.

True North also explores numerous rivers and one of the Kimberley’s most scenic waterways Prince Frederick Harbour, while shore excursions include the famous Wandjina rock paintings at Raft Point and the boab tree inscribed with HMC Mermaid 1820 by Captain Phillip Parker King 189 years ago.

A helicopter is carried aboard for optional-cost sightseeing flights, a picnic at an otherwise inaccessible billabong and a “Champagne Sunrise.”

Prices start from $7799pp twin-share including all gourmet onboard dining, use of six expedition boats for shore excursions and a light aircraft transfer from the Hunter River to Kununurra; air fares are additional. For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

Cruise Weekly: Aboard the MV Charaideo

Position: 26 deg 19' N, 92 deg 08' E Brahmaputra River, Assam, India

Tea and Tigers on the Brahmaputra

“Ship stuck in sand, foreigners taste the Orient” - The Telegraph (India)

It wasn't an auspicious start. We were on the front page of one of the national Indian dailies even before we'd boarded the vessel. The famous Brahmaputra River (it's okay, I had to look it up too) runs from Tibet, through Assam and Calcutta into the Bay of Bengal. Late monsoonal rain had artificially swollen the river and as the level rapidly fell our vessel, the charming MV Charaidew, began to settle on the sandy bottom while waiting for us to arrive. All through the night, two burly little river tugs strained to free us from our plight and by breakfast we were away. Apart from some lost sleep and a few red faces, their was little interruption to our journey.

The Assam-Bengal Navigation Company (ABN) was formed in 2002 as an Indo-British joint venture company by long time UK travel operator, Andrew Brock, and local tea magnate, Ashish Phookan. The company now operates two vessels, the restored MV Charaidew (38m, 24 pax) and the new build, Sukapha, on Indian Rivers including the Brahmaputra and Hugli – the latter a 'distributary' of the massive Ganges. Two river lodges adjacent the national parks are also owned by ABN.

If you've been following this column, you'll recall my growing fascination with 'inland cruising' and the massive growth in this market segment. As the ranks of committed river cruisers grow and they've ticked off Danube, Rhine and Amazon, the search for more enriching waterways continues. India is poised to snare a fair slice of this market as operators like ABN, the pre-eminent Indian river cruise operator and newcomer, the SE Asian company Pandaw, work to grow this market.

At time of writing ABN were offering products ranging from three to seven nights incorporating lodge stays and visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Kaziranga NP in the remote Golaghat District of Assam. While tiger and sloth bear sightings are recorded, it's the equally rare Asian rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) that offers the best chance. Our group made five contacts, including a mother and calf. Elephants, of course, are also high on the list and rides atop these mighty pachyderms are a highlight of your visit. Those in search of birdlife, native culture, religious and colonial history will also be in their respective elements. Assam, as tea-drinkers will quickly attest, produces some of the world's finest brew. The sight of dozens of brightly coloured saris moving slowly among the vast plantation is a scene long-remembered.

Before you pick up the phone to book your Brahmaputra River cruise, please understand that the departure port of Guwahati, the Assam state capital, is a remote town even by Indian standards. There is no mobile roaming in place, ATMs are uncooperative and many traders will only accept Rupees. Your ABN bar tab, for example, can be settled in USD, but not credit card. Any travel in India can be a bit of a chore, especially by road.

Having said that, the cruise component of the ABN product is perfectly charming, wonderfully relaxing and a glorious throwback to the days of the British Raj, when the way of England was the way of the world!

Further Information: Active Travel 02 9264 1231 or

Free Ho Chi Minh City Stay With Vietnam & Cambodia River Cruise

PANDAW River Cruises that operates replicas of yester-year 19th century river-boats on the rivers of South East Asia, is offering two free 5-star hotel nights in Ho Chi Minh City as part of its 8-day Mekong Expedition Cruises in Vietnam and Cambodia in January and February next year.

Its boutique 32-cabin Mekong Pandaw and 38-cabin Tonle Pandaw operate these cruises from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly the French colonial Saigon) through culturally and geographically divergent Vietnam and Cambodia to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Highlights along the way include the Vietnam Delta region, back-water village areas that can only be reached by the shallow-draught Pandaws and local “country boats,” a Cambodian orphanage funded by voluntary donations from Pandaw’s guests, over-water villages, wetlands, the 60km wide Tonle Lake and the legendary temple complexes of Angkor Wat.

The two nights given free as part of these package in January and February 2010 are at the 5-star Sofitel Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City, and would normally be valued at $248 per person; the hotel is located in the heart of the city close to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace and the bustling Central Markets.

Saturday 3 October 2009

Orion’s New Zealand Highlights voyage

Join Australia's 5 star expedition cruise ship Orion to explore the amazing land and seascapes of New Zealand’s North and South Islands.

Experience the overwhelming grandeur of magnificent World Heritage-listed fjords, with spectacular glacial hanging valleys and plunging waterfalls, as Orion explores deep into Fjordland.

You’ll see abundant wildlife on New Zealand’s southern island and extraordinary lush tropical rainforests. From the natural beauty of Milford Sound to the spectacular Dusky and Doubtful Sounds, you will experience the best that this sought after destination has to offer.

This visually spectacular 10 night New Zealand Highlights voyage includes world famous Marlborough Sounds and the historic French settlement of Akaroa (population 680), an historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Hawke’s Bay is famous for its wineries, orchards and

artisan food producers, and elegant Napier features some of the most outstanding 1930's Art Deco architecture to be seen anywhere in the world.

Enjoy the charm of Dunedin, settled by Maoris over four centuries ago, and a visit to the world's most southern capital, Wellington, the only capital in the "Roaring Forties" latitudes. Kaikoura features a dedicated wildlife habitat affording plenty of opportunities to see whales, dolphins, fur seals, albatross and mollymawks.

Orion’s expeditions invariably include contrasting highlights and in this instance a visit to the actively-volcanic White Island with its fluorescent green lake, sulphurous ponds and thermal vents is an exciting adventure not to be missed.

This voyage features beautiful bays, remnant and active volcanoes, exquisite wine country, calm harbours, wildlife and the scenic grandeur of exquisite National Parks and fjords all wrapped up in the 5 star comfort and service of Orion and her 75 crew.

10-night New Zealand Highlights:

Invercargill/Bluff to Wellington, 3 February 2010

Bluff, Milford Sound, Dusky Sound, Otago Harbour (Dunedin), Akaroa, Kaikoura Peninsula, Wellington, Marlborough Sounds, Napier, White Island, Auckland

Fares begin from A$8,175 per person for an ocean view category B stateroom; Junior Suites from A$11,280 per person and spacious Owners’ Suites with French Balcony are A$17,125 per person

Further information on Orion Expedition Cruises 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: