Wednesday 31 August 2011

More Time for Snorkeling


Ecoventura's Environmentally Friendly Fleet of Small Expedition Vessels Allows Guests Access to Galapagos Waters for Daily Snorkeling Adventures

Green Operator Offers Five Tips on Getting the Most from a Snorkeling Outing

 Ecoventura's environmentally friendly fleet of small expedition vessels in the Galapagos allows guests of this visionary small-ship travel company ( to experience the Galapagos from as many land and water perspectives as possible. This includes snorkeling.

"Guests often tell us that their most sensational and enjoyable wildlife viewing comes from behind a mask while snorkeling," said Ecoventura spokeswoman Doris Welsh.

"They also report how amazed they are with the number and variety of snorkeling outings we include in our itineraries."

She said that in addition to guided shore excursions, guests can opt to snorkel or kayak at least once and sometimes twice daily in Galapagos waters. "Plus our small yachts (20 passengers) give our guests more opportunities to snorkel as compared to bigger vessels that take more time with the logistics of loading and unloading larger groups."

"These are not-to-be-missed opportunities to snorkel with playful sea lions, penguins, sea turtles, graceful rays, tropical fish and even friendly sharks.  You may even be able to snorkel with dolphins or find yourself spectator to a friendly feeding frenzy," she said, recommending Gardner Islet at Gardner Bay for tropical fish, sea lions, rays and sharks; Sombrero Chino for penguins; and Punta Espinosa for sea turtles.

Following are Ecoventura's tips on how to make the most of a snorkeling adventure in the Galapagos.

>Find a mask that fits. When pressed to the face it should stick (better yet, bring a mask and snorkel from home, but do use the fins on board the ship (these are bulky items and take up too much room in a suitcase).

>Bring a skin suit (and dive gloves) to wear underneath the wet suit provided on board. The skin provides added warmth and an extra layer of protection. Note that at the surface, Galapagos waters are very comfortable for snorkeling averaging 70 to 78 degrees F varying on time of year, currents and depth.

>Before a trip get a copy of the Galapagos Reef Fish Identification Guide by Paul Humann.

>Always snorkel with a buddy and stay within eye distance and ear shot of the group and Zodiac.  Life vests are available and recommended for some swimmers.

>Consider July to October for optimum snorkeling. Water temperatures are warmer December to May, however the marine mammals (dolphins and whales) as well as sea lions and sharks are more active when temperatures are cooler July to October. 

Welsh points out that, "Starting in 2012, due to new regulations for all cruise companies in the Galapagos, ships will no longer be in port for a full day during the cruise itinerary so the possibility of scheduling an optional "dive day" will no longer be possible. However snorkeling, especially in deep water, will still provide a "dive like" experience."

Ecoventura last year helped launch DivEncounters Alliance ( to handle sales and reservations for the growing scuba dive market in the Galapagos and elsewhere. For scuba divers who want to combine diving in Galapagos with wildlife top side, the fleet's luxury dive live-aboard, Galapagos Sky offers one week in tandem with a second week on Eric, Flamingo or Letty.  Passengers are eligible for a 5 percent discount on selected departure dates.

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard its fleet of three expedition vessels; Eric, Flamingo and Letty, identical, superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts. The company also operates the M/V Galapagos Sky, a 16-passenger dedicated dive live-aboard offering 7-night weekly itineraries visiting the northern islands of Wolf and Darwin.

To reserve a cabin or private charter, or to receive a copy of Ecoventura's 2011-2012 catalog please call toll-free 1.800.633.7972, or e-mail To access current rates, schedules and itineraries log on to


Tuesday 30 August 2011

Flickr: Expedition and Adventure Cruising

Mekong_1509True North - North Star CruisesPOM_5004Orion II"Europa" - Neumayer kanaal - Antarktis"Europa" in Antarctica (64°46 S & 63°19 W)
Ross Ice Shelf Feb 2011Ross Ice Shelf & Cape Crozier Ross Is Feb 2011Ross Ice Shelf from the 'Spirit of Enderby'Ross Ice Shelf 047Macaroni penguins.Emperor penguin and his chick.
Polar bear at 77°12 N -Barents sea-SvalbardGrease ice forming near the Ross Ice Shelf Feb 2011Mt Erebus and iceberg McMurdo Sound Feb 2011Tabular iceberg astern of the Spirit of Enderby Ross sea Feb 2011Ross Ice Shelf near the eastern end of Ross IslandMt Erebus, McMurdo Sound Feb 2011
Sunset behind Beaufort Island Antarctica Feb 2011Sunset Ross Sea Feb 2011The taxi to shoreBlack-browed Albatross - Thalassarche melanophrysAbundant Birdlife, YankichaHot Springs, Yankicha
Share your expedition cruising images with us on Flickr

SMH: In Memory of Mawson

A century after the explorer embarked on his expedition, Louise Southerden steps ashore on Australia's Antarctica.

You've spent days crossing the Southern Ocean from New Zealand, found your way through pack ice, seen your first house-sized berg. Now, here it is: the Antarctic continent, a wall of ice with a sloping brow, filling the southern horizon. Nothing prepares you for that first glimpse of this alien land and the simple vastness of it. The South Pole is still, incredibly, 2630 kilometres further south, across all that ice, some of it four kilometres thick. All you can do is stand and stare.

Then, out of the whiteness, a rocky point appears: Cape Denison, on Commonwealth Bay. This is one of the few places in east Antarctica, due south of Australia, where the largest ice sheet on the planet kneels down to meet the sea, allowing you to step ashore. It's also where a timber hut built by Douglas Mawson and his men in January 1912 still stands.

Read more:

Tui Tai Winner Announced

The winner of our Tui Tai competition has been decided. Narelle Preece will be taking a friend on a seven-night, all-inclusive Fiji cruise with Tui Tai Expeditions.

Congratulations Narelle!

More information on Tui Tai

Want to be a winner too?
Enter now

Aranui 3 Cabin Upgrade; 2012 Program Announced

The Aranui 3 was the first of the cargo-passenger vessels bearing the Aranui name that was built with passenger comfort in mind. The well-appointed “Freighter to Paradise” will soon receive further enhancements including new carpeting for guest cabins, as well as new and re-upholstered dining room chairs, among other things. These enhancements will occur during her 2011/2012 winter drydocking. The Aranui 3‘s main engine will also receive an overhaul, while her hull will be scraped and recoated. Lifeboats will also receive a major overhaul to ensure safety.

The 2012 Aranui 3 schedule includes sixteen departures from February 4 to December 15, 2012. She departs from Papéeté, Tahiti, on a regularly-scheduled 14-day voyage. Next year’s schedule includes the following travel dates:

2012 Departures from Papéeté:

February 4 – February 17
February 25 – March 9
March 17 – March 30
April 7 – April 20
April 28 – May 11
May 19 – June 1
June 9 – June 22
June 30 – July 13
July 21 – August 3
August 11 – August 24
September 1 – September 14
September 22 – October 5
October 13 – October 26
November 3 – November 16
November 24 – December 7
December 15 – December 28

Travellers joining the Aranui 3 will receive a complete holiday experience, following in the footsteps of such famous figures as Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson and journeying through 800 miles of the most spectacular and remote islands in exotic French Polynesia, including Tahiti, the Tuamotus and the Marquesas.

Highlights include Nuka Hiva, where 23-year-old Herman Melville jumped a whaling ship for an adventure that ultimately inspired highly regarded literary works such as Typee and Moby Dick, and Hiva Oa, where artist Paul Gauguin’s search for an unspoiled paradise came to an end. The ship also visits the Marquesan islands of Tahuata, Ua Pou, Ua Huka and Fatu Hiva, as well as Fakarava and Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Islands.

The Tuamotu Islands provide a relaxing respite during the journey between Tahiti and the secluded Marquesas
The Aranui 3 is a mixed passenger-cargo vessel operating between Tahiti and the Marquesas, offering comfortable, air-conditioned accommodation for about two hundred passengers. The ship features 63 tastefully designed standard cabins, nine deluxe staterooms and 14 elegantly appointed private balcony suites.Featuring a crew primarily from French Polynesia and the Marquesas Islands, the Aranui 3 combines her hospitality with top-notch amenities and stunning scenery for an unforgettable experience.

Fares for 2012 start from £3,175 (€3511) per person sharing a standard twin bedded outside cabin with private facilities including all meals with wine, all land-based guided sightseeing excursions, picnic and meals ashore, plus taxes. Optional excursions such as scuba diving, horseback riding, fishing and helicopter tours are additional. The operator reserves the right to charge a nominal fuel surcharge. For a detailed deck plan of the vessel and cabin layout click here. Flights to/from Papéeté, Tahiti, are not included but Air France and Air Tahiti Nui fly to Papéeté (via Paris and Los Angeles), with prices from around £1,750 pp return.


Explore the Northwest Passage with Wild Earth Travel

The Northwest Passage is a sea route through the Arctic Ocean sought by explorers for centuries as a possible trade route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Until recently, Arctic pack ice prevented regular marine shipping throughout most of the year, but climate change has contracted the pack ice, and this reduction has made the waterways more navigable.

Wild Earth Travel is offering adventurous travellers the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of early explorers such as Roald Amundsen, Captain James Cook, and James Ross, on two separate voyages exploring this famous waterway on board the MS Clipper Adventurer.

The 15-day 'Into the Northwest Passage' expedition starts with a monumental voyage along one of Greenland's longest fjords, cross the Arctic Circle, and ventures to Upernavik, the farthest north the Vikings are known to have travelled in this region. In addition abundant wildlife, this voyage explores the themes of exploration, human history, art, climate and culture, with many intimate encounters with indigenous communities along the way.

Major highlights of the voyage include a visit to the chilling site of the lost Franklin Expedition, where passengers will see first-hand the signs of their struggle against the harsh Arctic winter; Fort Ross, the last trading post built by the Hudson's Bay Company; Zodiac cruising to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ilulissat Icefjord; and a visit to Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world, which supports significant concentrations of wildlife.

Wildlife encounters are likely to include narwhal and beluga whales, polar and grizzly bears, bald eagles, walrus, muskox and caribou; while the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory Bird Sanctuary contains the largest variety of geese of any nesting area in North America.

The voyage also operates in reverse with a 17-day 'Out of the Northwest Passage' expedition starting in Kugluktuk (Coppermine River), the site where Samuel Hearne became the first European to reach the Arctic coast of the continent.

The 122-passenger MS Clipper Adventurer is specifically constructed for expedition voyages to the far reaches of this remote land. Her A-1 ice class rated hull permits her to sail easily and safely through ice-strewn waters that are not accessible to conventional cruise vessels. Built in the style of great ocean liners; the ship features all new outside cabins with large windows, private facilities, and modern amenities.

Prices for the 15-day 'Into the Northwest Passage' voyage start from US$6,995 per person with one departure on 19 August 2012.Owner's Suite, two lower berths, shower & bathtub, picture window.Owner's Suite, two lower berths, shower & bathtub, picture window. The 17-day 'Out of the Northwest Passage' voyage is priced from US$7,195 per person with one departure on 2 September 2012.

Wild Earth Travel can also arrange pre and post touring in Greenland and Canada and competitively priced airfares to embarkation and disembarkation points.

For further information phone 1800 107 715 (within Australia) or +64 3 365 1355 (New Zealand) or visit

Heritage Expeditions · Antarctic House · 53b Montreal Street · Christchurch, Canterbury 8023

Monday 29 August 2011


Luxury yacht cruise liner Compagnie du Ponant is pleased to announce that it has joined the International Cruise Council Australasia (ICCA), Australia's leaders in providing professional cruise information and reservations throughout the region, as a full category A member.

Represented by Travel the World in Australia, Compagnie du Ponant offers five luxury ships – Le Ponant, Le

Levant, Le Diamant, Le Boréal and L'Austral - which redefine intimate cruising elegance. The newest addition to the

Compagnie du Ponant fleet is L'Austral which launched on 27th April 2011 and is due to visit Australian waters in March 2012.

Travel the World Managing Director Andrew Millmore elaborated on Ponant's plans: "Australia is an exciting and increasingly important source market for Compagnie du Ponant. In addition to offering a range of cruises in local waters next year, Ponant is also exploring and expanding homeporting options in Australia." Commenting on Ponant's ICCA membership, he added, "We are looking forward to working through ICCA's training program to raise awareness of Ponant's great product and itineraries amongst Australian travel agents, as local demand for luxury cruising continues to grow."

Highlights of the Australia-bound Ponant cruises offered through Travel the World in 2012 are as follows:

Noumea to Darwin – Departure 17 March, 2012

Discover the treasures of the South Pacific before entering Northern Australia, exploring tropical forests and the Great Barrier Reef.

Darwin to Singapore – Departure 31 March, 2012

Travellers will experience an unexpected blend of ancient and modern traditions specific to Singapore, otherwise known as the 'Lion City'. 

  • 14 nights on board Compagnie du Ponant's superb new yacht L'Austral
  • All meals, and mineral water, tea, coffee, white, red and rosé wines during lunch and dinner
  • Welcome aboard and captain's cocktail parties, gala dinner
  • Evening gatherings, organised entertainment / events
  • Porterage from the quayside to the ship and vice versa
  • 24 hour room service
  • All cruise safety & port charges
For cruise information for Compagnie du Ponant, please contact Travel the World on 1300 804 522.

North Star Continues to Celebrate


After enjoying yet another successful season in the Kimberley, North Star Cruises, operators of the adventure-cruise ship TRUE NORTH, are getting ready to sail east to Papua New Guinea. The company not only offers luxury adventure-cruises all around the Australian coastline but also in the stunning waters of the South Pacific and this year celebrates 25 years as one of Australia's most-loved tour operators.

Guests disembarking from the TRUE NORTH consistently respond with "that's the best holiday I have ever had!" 

Those fortunate enough to secure a cabin on the PNG cruises, aptly named Adventures in Paradise, can look forward to a long list of daily activities including snorkelling over ditched WWII tanks, SCUBA diving and fantastic game fishing.  Guests can also enjoy treks into the jungle and opportunities to explore the beautiful fiords of Tufi. There are exhilarating helicopter flights including a visit to the Kokoda Track and flights over Rabaul's active volcano and, strolls on the uninhabited Lusancay Islands.   There are also plenty of opportunities for guests to experience village life and local culture. The warmth and friendliness of the villagers is often overwhelming. The cruise also includes return flights from Cairns in a private charter plane - saving valuable time for more adventure!

Over the past 25 years North Star has become revered as a provider of unique holiday experiences. Not bad for a small company that is 100% Australian owned and, a real pat on the back for a young Aussie crew who have developed an equally revered reputation for service and attention to detail.

Adventures In Paradise Cruising Schedule

Adventures In Paradise 1

Cairns / Alotau - Kavieng / Cairns

From 29 October 2011 To 05 November 2011: Hurry - only a few cabins left!

Adventures In Paradise 2

Cairns / Kavieng - Alotau / Cairns

From 26 November 2011 To 03 December 2011: Cabins Available

Adventures In Paradise 3

Cairns / Alotau - Kavieng / Cairns

From 03 December 2011 To 10 December 2011: Cabins Available

Adventures In Paradise Extended

Cairns / Kavieng - Louisiades - Alotau / Cairns

From 10 December 2011 To 19 December 2011: Cabins Available

For more information on the TRUE NORTH see  

Friday 26 August 2011

Expedition Diary: Wild Scotland

In June 2010, editor, writer and retired geologist Ian Nowak, along with his wife Margaret, boarded Polar Pioneer for a two-week voyage to wild Scotland and the Faroes. Ian shares some glimpses from that remarkable trip.

Those fourteen days were one of the most sustainedly exciting periods of my life—geology, ornithology, wildflowers, and bouncing about in Zodiacs in sea caverns—but beyond that was the sheer beauty and emotional saturation of ‘being there’, immersed in human history spanning the Stone Ages to our own times.
The Scottish Isles are cold, windswept, green and treeless blobs of hard tough rock, mostly volcanic, upon which centuries of hardy folk have, for reasons which defy my logic, persisted in eking out their existence running hairy sheep and cattle, plundering the eggs and oils of more than enough gannets, puffins, petrels, gulls and fulmars, digging peat to provide basic warmth, breeding to their own strict codes, and singing songs and dancing in defiance of a number of saints who presumed to know what was good for their spirits and afterlife.

The island of St Kilda had been etched onto my mind as a place of lonely, dark and windswept mystery, where the chance of landing was in the lap of the sea gods and the weather. I never dared imagine I would one day be exploring St Kilda’s main island of Hirta.

We hiked to The Gap, a half saddle with a sheer drop-off that overlooks the ocean. At the top, between episodes of swirling mist, were nesting fulmars aplenty and a plethora of hardy wildflowers. On the way down, we scrambled around the ruins of cleits—rock shelters used to store goods from peat to grain to salted carcasses of sea birds—then on to Hirta’s ‘High Street’, a desolate row of cottages abandoned when the last settlers were forced to leave the island in 1930.

To the northeast, the remote Shetland Islands lie north of 60° latitude, and it was here we explored the coastline of Papa Stour with its network of caves and narrow, steep-sided inlets. Semi-submerged skerries and high, jagged stacks gave our Zodiac drivers plenty to think about as we drew close. The Zodiacs are so stable that there was hardly time or need to worry as we were lifted almost to the roof of the cavern we had entered. Suddenly, we were floating more gently on the quieter waters of the inner cave, from where we watched the local cormorants, shearwaters and fulmars.

Even more remote are the far-flung Faroe Islands, a self-governing dependency of Denmark where Faroese remains the native language. The islands’ north-west coastline, with its solid wall of towering cliffs (the world’s highest, over 500 metres), is laced with chasms and caves. Here, our Zodiac cruise along the Vestmanna Bird Cliffs was mind-blowing. We ventured into several chasms and into a network of caves and caverns that eventually led us back out to the ocean. The kittiwakes, guillemots, gulls, puffins and fulmars were less concerned with the remarkable geology as with decent nesting ledges and crannies.

As it was with our earlier Aurora Expeditions’ voyage to the Antarctic, the moods of the Scottish and Faroese landscapes, the weather, the wildlife—and on this trip the local people— stirred my soul in a way not many Australians have been lucky enough to experience.

Ian’s full article can be found at:

To order a 2012 Scotland and Faroe Islands brochure, call us on +61 2 9252 1033 or visit

Changes at Blue Lagoon Cruises

BLUE LAGOON CRUISES IS RESTRUCTURING ITS operations in a bid to better suit the boutique cruising market.

Rerfurbishment: Mystique Princess
The move includes a three-month soft refurbishing of one of its vessels, MV Mystique Princess which will commence on 01 October.

During Mystique Princess' makeover, Blue Lagoon's MV Fiji Princess will operate seven-day/six-night sailings on the first Tuesday of each month, as well as four-day/three-night sailings on Tuesdays, three-day/two-night voyages on Saturdays, and seven-day Historic & Cultural sailings three times a year, (with the next departure scheduled of 15 August, to be followed by a new departure departing 01 November).
For Sale: Fiji Princess

Mystique Princess will return to service on 01 January 2012, operating seven-day/six-night and four-day/three-night cruises, with Fiji Princess (currently up for sale), continuing to operate the three-day/two-night services until she is sold.

Additionally, BLC CEO Tim Stonhill announced his resignation after 18 months at the helm.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Kimberley Quest II: Introducing our 10 Day Adventure Quest


10 Day 'Adventure Quest' - NEW for 2012

Meeting popular demand, the Kimberley Quest team are excited to announce the release of our new 10 Day cruise which will commence next year.

Offering a totally different Kimberley experience, the 10 Day 'Adventure Quest' delves into parts of the Southern Kimberley to explore many untouched places and well kept 'secret spots' that we rarely have the opportunity to visit.

Take an adventure like no other; join us on this uninterrupted Broome to Broome cruise to explore many waterways and inlets, visit pristine beaches, experience idyllic fishing opportunities and venture to untouched areas along the Kimberley coastline.

10 Day Adventure Quest: Broome - Broome

21 August - 30 September
30 August - 8 September

Prices start from $9,000 per person

For further details on our NEW Adventure Quest cruise, please contact our office on:

P. 1300 156 035 or (08) 9193 6131

Sale of Captain Cook Cruises

Adelaide-based SeaLink Travel Group has just announced the acquisition of iconic Sydney-based tourism business Captain Cook Cruises.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, includes 15 vessels used on CCC's flagship Sydney Harbour operations, along with the Murray Princess paddlewheeler used in South Australia.

It also includes the related infrastructure, marina berths and licenses - but not Captain Cook Cruises' operations in Fiji.

CCC founder Captain Trevor Haworth said the deal marked the start of a "new and exciting chapter" in the company's history.

"As a family business, we have always placed enormous value on our staff, customers and business relationships. It is very satisfying to know that SeaLink shares these same values," he said.

"SeaLink is the ideal tourism partner to add further investment and grow this business further," he added.

Anthony Haworth has been appointed General Manager of Captain Cook Cruises, while Jackie Haworth-Charlton will remain as Director of Sales. All of the 300 staff in the Sydney and Murray River operations are expected to be retained under the new ownership.

It's the latest move in a series of acquisitions by fast-growing SeaLink, which earlier this year purchased the Townsville-based Sunferries Group.

More information in today's Cruise Weekly and tomorrow's Travel Daily.

Oceanwide Expeditions acquires the vessel m/v "Marina Svetaeva"

Oceanwide Expeditions has expanded its fleet with the addition of the 100-passenger vessel "Marina Svetaeva".

The vessel will be re-flagged and renamed "Ortelius". As Plancius, Ortelius was a Dutch / Flemish cartographer. Abraham Ortelius (1527 – 1598) published the first modern world atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World in 1570.

In order to offer additional capacity for some of the currently sold out voyages aboard "Plancius", our new vessel "Ortelius" will start operating cruises in Antarctica from 31 December 2011. The first voyage ending on 25 January 2012 is already sub-chartered, but we have secured an additional 18-nights departure to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula from 25 January until 12 February 2012, followed by a 10-nights voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula from 12 until 22 February 2012.

The ice-strengthened vessel "Ortelius" is an excellent vessel for Polar expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctica, providing us with possibilities to adventure remote locations such as the Ross Sea and Franz Josef Land. "Ortelius" was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named "Marina Svetaeva", and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel has the highest Russian ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice.

"Ortelius" offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar/lecture room and a sauna.  She can accommodate 100 passengers, has plenty of open-deck spaces and a large accessible bridge. A considerable number of quadruple and twin cabins with shared facilities (toilet and showers to be shared in the corridors) offer attractive lower starting prices for our Polar voyages.

The cabin lay-out is as follows: 5 quadruple cabins with bunk beds and shared facilities (these can also be used as triple or twin cabins); 14 twin cabins with 2 lower single berths and shared facilities; 9 twin cabins with portholes, private toilet and shower and 2 single lower berths; 10 twin cabins with windows, private toilet and shower and 2 single lower berths; 6 superior cabins with double beds, private toilet and shower and a separate day room, and 1 suite with a double bed, private toilet and shower and a separate day room. All cabins are spacious outside cabins with a minimum of two portholes or windows per cabin. The vessel offers basic but comfortable cabins and public spaces. The vessel is manned by 34 highly experienced Russian nautical crew, 15 international catering staff, including stewardesses, 6 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 5 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor.

Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 100 on the "Ortelius", flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Cruising-solo across the Atlantic with Star Clippers

Solo sailors with a keen eye for a bargain and a yen for privacy can get away from it all on one of the great ocean crossings in April next year.

Royal Clipper, the luxury five-masted flagship of the Star Clippers tall-ship fleet, is offering some sole occupancy outside cabins at a 35% discount on its 21-night Atlantic Ocean crossing repositioning cruise from Barbados to Rome, departing April 7.

The special solo fare is $7041 including port charges and gratuities and all meals and entertainment on board for bookings made before October 31. The normal twin-share price for a cabin in the same category is $7207 per person.

From laid-back Barbados, which reflects its British-influenced heritage and the colourful Caribbean way of life, Royal Clipper will make its first port of call at Punta Delgadas on the island of São Miguel in the archipelago of the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

Next is Malaga, Spain, a city steeped in 3000 years of history. Other Spanish ports of call include Palma de Mallorca and Mahon (Menorca) before arriving in Civitavecchia (Rome) on April 28.

The Royal Clipper crossing is one of 163 cruises scheduled for the Star Clippers' fleet (Royal Clipper, Star Clipper and Star Flyer) in 2011/12. In the 2012 European summer, Star Flyer will operate in the Baltic and Scandinavian waters for the first time. All three ships are currently in the Mediterranean.

At 134m, Royal Clipper carries 42 sails and a maximum 230 passengers combining the adventure and tradition of sailing with the ambience and amenities of a private yacht.  Its one-of-a-kind Captain Nemo lounge deep in the hull is the site of a spa and health club which features underwater glass portholes.

For reservations contact your travel agent or Star Clippers on 1300 362 599 or <> <>

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Cruise Weekly: With the King of Coron

Vessel: Orion II, 100 passengers, 88m
Location: Coron Island, Philippines

With the threat of Typhoon Muifa largely behind us, Orion II sails blissfully among the stunning, otherworldy basaltic outcrops of Coron, part of the northern Palawan region of the Philippines.

There's considerable excitement on board as this is the first time an international cruise vessel has visited Coron in recent memory and the local Tagbanua people are preparing to greet us. Coron is a perfect venue for expedition cruising. It's way too small to accommodate large cruise ships, there's little in the way of formal infrastructure and the local 'council' are protective of their semi-autonomous status and scant resources.

HM Tribal Chieftain
Rodolfo Aguilar I
The Coron Island Ancestral Domain is ruled by HM Tribal Chieftain Rodolfo Aguilar I, assisted by his Council of Elders, hence we are being feted by royalty. The 'king' of Coron greets us in work shorts, polo shirt and bare feet. He says a prayer and welcomes us on a private beach which Orion expedition chief, Justin Friend, confesses he acquired for 'chicken feed'. A stark contrast to the horse-trading that took place under the iron grip of Sergey in the Russian Far East.

His Majesty's junior councillors have excelled themselves with our organisation. Not only do we have this secluded strip of sand and its waters to ourselves, we are treated to a cliff-climbing demonstration as barefooted lads scale the razor-sharp sheer basalt cliffs. Why, you might ask? Well, fishing, as you would expect, comprises the bulk of Coron industry, but there is another source of wealth that fetches far more. Swift nests have been used in Chinese cuisine for hundreds of years and a kilo of saliva that forms the little birds' nests can be worth up to $10,000 per kilo. The king, therefore, is mindful of potential disturbance to his delicate resource. If the birds are scared away by hordes of noisy tourists and huge cruise ships, he'd quickly be a former monarch.

Stern section of Olympia Maru
Coron's other tourism resource is less obvious. During the closing stages of WWII, a small fleet of Japanese auxiliary vessels was surprised by Allied aircraft and sunk at their moorings in 20 to 50 metres of water. Although most of their valuable cargo and fittings were salvaged post-war, the hulks of these vessels have provided colourful artificial reefs now alive with marine animals of all types. On my dive, despite poor visibility from recent storms, we were able to see stone fish, lion fish, scorpion fish, clown fish, barracuda and scores of others whose names I've never learned. Divers come from all over the world to dive these famous wrecks and dive shops line the shopping strip downtown.

This is early days for well-organised expedition cruising in these waters and so far, I like what I see. Typhoons aside, the water is gloriously clear and warm and enough is happening in town to suit low impact travellers. There's no sprawling resorts, menacing touts or seedy underbelly that I could see. With smaller vessels (ie around 100 pax) on infrequent itineraries, this region should be on everyone's adventure list.

For more information on Orion's expeditions, see, and for Coron tourism information, see

Monday 15 August 2011

American Safari Cruises Acquires 86-passenger Safari Endeavour

American Safari Cruises has announced the addition of an 86-guest small ship to its fleet of three yachts offering inclusive adventure cruises.

The Safari Endeavour, formerly the Spirit of Endeavour, will undergo major renovation to transform it into an upscale vessel ready to sail in Southeast Alaska in summer 2012.

“This is an ideal time to expand our fleet,” said Dan Blanchard, principal and chief executive officer. “In our 14-year history, our occupancy rates have never been higher, and we are seeing an increase in demand for the type of small-group adventure travel we offer.”

The yacht-style ship will cruise in Southeast Alaska from May to September. Weeklong cruises roundtrip from Juneau, Alaska follow similar itineraries sailed by the yachts with two days exploration in Glacier Bay National Park and expedition cruising in Icy Strait, Frederick Sound, Thomas Bay, Chichagof Island, Ford’s Terror and Endicott Arm. Inclusive fares start at $4,795 per person. Two-week cruises from Seattle to Juneau and reverse will be offered in spring and fall.

“The addition of the Safari Endeavour enables more travelers to see the awe-inspiring sights in Alaska—close up adventure on a small ship,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “The newly-created ambiance on board will be casual yet with a full menu of upscale amenities. The highlight remains the wilderness outside which we explore daily in a variety of ways.”

An extensive renovation project will add American Safari Cruises’ exceptional comfort and refined atmosphere on board. The guest capacity of the yacht-style ship will be reduced 16% from 102 to 86 guests with a mix of twin (some convertible) and king beds. Five stateroom categories include three Master, 21 Commander, 12 Captain, three Admiral and four Commodore Suites. The suites will be created by merging two former staterooms and adding new step-out balconies. All staterooms have one or two outside view windows. Other amenities being added to the ship include two massage rooms, two hot tubs, sauna, exercise equipment, wine bar and a library. An all-American crew of 34 will ensure attentive service with a guest-crew ratio of 2.5 to 1.

American Safari Cruises’ active, adventure cruises allow freedom to engage in many activities, much like on board the yachts. Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are available for excursions. Skiff rides will explore shoreline, wildlife and glaciers up close. Expert naturalists and guides lead excursions on land and sea. An enhanced program of educational presentations will be presented in the salon. In Glacier Bay, a National Park Ranger boards the ship for two days to lead hiking and kayaking excursions and provide interpretation of the area’s history, culture and geography.

American Safari Cruises’ meals are a highly anticipated part of each day. Exquisite cuisine is innovative and fresh with seafood and produce purchased locally whenever possible. All meals will be served in the elegant dining room, and the complimentary bar offers premium spirits, fine wines and microbrews.

Five Stars, Three yachts and One World on offer from Sea Cloud Cruises in 2012

-Early bird savings before 31 October 2011-

Yearning to discover faraway places or sail to a distant shore?  Sea Cloud Cruises bring that yearning to life with a selection of sumptuous journeys on offer in their 2012 program.  Combining all three yachts for the first time; Sea Cloud, Sea Cloud II and the River Cloud II the brochure provides discerning passengers with a smorgasbord of themes and experiences to choose from whether for lovers of art, music, gardens, golf or cycling.

River yachting on the River Cloud II

The River Cloud II will begin her season in April 2012 in Belgium and the Netherlands, including the opportunity to experience "Floriade" which takes place only once every ten years.  After cruises on the Rhine, Moselle and Main, she will glide down the Danube to the Danube Delta in July, the largest coherent reed area in the world and home to 1000 plant and 4000 animal species.

Special dates for River Cloud II in 2012 include:

·         17-24 May 2012: Garden cruise to experience the World Horticultural Expo "Floriade" with landscape gardener Antonius Bösterling from Amsterdam to Basle.  *Prices commence from €1,745 per person for a guaranteed double cabin on the 7 night/8 day cruise for bookings made prior to 31 October 2011.

·         01-09 June 2012:  Culinary cruise with starred chef Harald Rüssel and wine connoisseur Ingo Swoboda cruising from Trier to Basle.  *Prices for the 8 day/9 night cruise commence from €1,995 per person for a guaranteed double cabin for bookings made prior to 31 October 2011.

·         19-26 July 2012:  Art cruise for the 150th birthday of Gustav Klimt with art connoisseur Frank Köck from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany.  *Prices for the 8 day/9 night cruise commence from € 1,745 per person for a guaranteed double cabin for bookings made prior to 31 October 2011.

·         27 October – 03 November: Music cruise for the 150th birthday of Claude Debussy cruising from Koblenz to Amsterdam.  *Prices for the 8 day cruise commence from € 1,745 per person.

Yachting on the high seas with the Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II windjammers

Both windjammers are spending the European winter in the Lesser Antilles and the Grenadines, Cuba, Costa Rica and Panama. 

In April 2012 the Sea Cloud II will first head for the Azores and Madeira before sailing into the western and eastern Mediterranean, followed by the Adriatic and the Aegean.

Special cruise dates on the Sea Cloud II include:

·         04-16 January 2012: The Panama Canal and National Parks in Costa Rica from Puerto Limón (San José) to Puerto Caldera.  *Prices for the 13 day cruise commence from € 2,835 per person.

·         11-18 April 2012: Resplendent garden landscapes of the Azores with an 8 day round trip sailing from Ponta Delgada.  *Prices commence at € 2,445 per person.

Sea Cloud: A newly resplendent legend

After six months of rejuvenation in 2010 Sea Cloud is setting sail for new waters with a youthful freshness.  She will plow the waters of the Adriatic and the Aegean before sailing into the Atlantic and on to the Canary Islands via the western Mediterranean.

Special cruise dates on the Sea Cloud for 2012 include:

·         17-24 August 2012: Rediscover Sicily departing Malta for an 8 day round trip cruise.  *Prices commence at € 2,795 per person.

·         27 October – 03 November 2012: Golf Cup 2012 sailing the Mediterranean from Mallorca, to Cadiz, Spain. *Prices for the 8 day cruise commence from €2,445 per person and €695 per person for the golf package.

For more information please contact Sea Cloud Cruises on 

Visit  or Toll-free Ph:  1300 583 572

Wednesday 10 August 2011

News from Broome and the Kimberley Coast

Hello from sunny Broome, and welcome to our mid-season news from the magnificent Kimberley Coast.

Blessed with beautiful blue skies and balmy 28 degree days, the streets of Broome are bustling with tourists flocking to explore the pristine wilderness on our doorstep, and to escape the winter blues.

Being peak season it's also a busy time for The Great Escape Charter Company; we've seen our first round of 13 night Kimberley Classic Adventures come and go and made some wonderful new friends along the way. Two groups booked the whole boat and each had a festive 2 weeks from Wyndham to Broome; what a way to reunite with friends!

Our first round of 7 night Southern Kimberley Experiences have passed and Skipper Scotty, a favourite with guests, returned to join the crew, and guide guests through the land he is so passionate and knowledgeable about.

Now we return to the full 13 night cruises and while conditions are perfect, the waterfalls are still flowing along the entire coastline, thanks to the amazing Wet Season we had at the start of the year. The whales are also appearing as they move up the West Coast of Oz heading for Camden Harbour, a prime area for whale mating and breeding.

Help Save the Kimberley Coast

Those of you who have had the opportunity to experience the incredibly pristine wilderness of the Kimberley Coast will understand the importance of preserving and protecting this precious region for now, and for future generations.

The region is under threat of a proposed liquid gas processing plant development at James Price Point near Broome, and now is an important time to voice concerns about destroying this vital wilderness. To find out more you can read about what is happening here and if you would like to send a letter in protest you can visit this page on the Save the Kimberley website.


The Great Escape Charter Company is one of the original Kimberley Charter boat operators, exploring the Kimberley coast and Rowley Shoals for over 10 years.

Click to see our Cruise DVD or our Dive DVD Or call to find out more: 08 9193 5983

Thursday 4 August 2011

Variety Cruises Sails in West Africa

Variety Cruises' remarkable small-ship Rivers of West Africa program embarks on Christmas and New Year's sailings, with seven-night reduced fares starting at $1,790 per person, per week.  Passengers can get a glimpse into the warmth of West Africa's people and culture, a truly unique gift for the holiday season.

Christmas and New Year's cruisers set sail on the Rivers of West Africa program departing December 23 and 30, 2011 from Dakar, Senegal, at a reduced fare of $1,790 per person, per week (savings of $110). This culturally rich program traverses the Gambia and Saloun Rivers, visiting nature reserves and villages, including a school near Janjangbureh supported by Variety Cruises, through corporate and passenger donations.

Cruisers will want to make note that James Island on the Gambia River, featured in Alex Haley's famed saga "Roots", is a remarkable site on the Rivers of West Africa itinerary.

For more information on Variety Cruises' holiday program, please call 1-800-319-7776 (US) and 1-866-944-8498 (Canada) or visit   


Wednesday 3 August 2011

Captain Cook Fiji Specials

Fiji – Celebrity Chef Cruise with Simon Gault
• Special guest NZ MasterChef Judge Simon Gault
• Cooking demonstrations & more
• 4-Nights departing 08 November 2011
• From AU$1709pp
More info                           
Fiji – New Discovery Cultural Cruise
• Circumnavigate Vanua Levu
• Meet three different cultures
• Snorkel the Great Sea Reef & more
• Save up to 20% from AU$1478pp                                                 
                                                                  More info

Fiji – Discovery Heritage Cruise
• Explore the garden island of Taveuni & swim in the Bouma Waterfall
• Discover historic Levuka, the colonial capital of Fiji
• Visit Savusavu’s hot springs & markets
• Save up to 20% from AU$1478pp

                                                                  More info
  Fiji - Sailing Safari
• 3 & 4-Day Sailing Safaris of the Yasawa Islands
• Great Graduation present for the kids
• Cruise aboard topsail schooner Spirit of the Pacific
• No experience necessary - From AU$345pp 

                                                                   More info
Reservations & Enquiries
Captain Cook Cruises call 1800 804 843 (Aust), +61-2-9206 1111 (Int) (Australia) (Fiji)