Friday 30 December 2011

Tui Tai Cruises Fiji New Year Offers

Tui Tai Expeditions is happy to offer some super special pricing to book now!
We have the following HOT Specials, up to 40% off, for bookings confirmed by 29-February 2012.

Hot Specials, Book Now
Booking Window: Now to 29-February-2012
Travel Window: Now to 31-March-2013
Exclusions: none
Conditions: Applies to new bookings only. Booking must be confirmed by 29-February-2012. Specials listed may not be used in conjunction with other specials or value adds.

Below you'll find the best specials we have ever published, categorized by what's most popular and booked by you: adventure, scuba diver, honeymoons, families.

Hot Adventure Special
Normal Price: USD $2995
Hot Special Price: USD $2295
You save: USD $700 (23%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Expedition Cabin accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Scuba Diver Special
Normal Price: USD $3765
Hot Special Price: USD $2895
You save: USD $995 (26%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes unlimited scuba diving (up to 18 dives), dive gear hire
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: bar, spa treatments
• Expedition Cabin accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot InStyle Special
Normal Price: USD $3495
Hot Special Price: USD $2895
You save: USD $600 (17%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Stateroom accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Scuba Diver InStyle Special
Normal Price: USD $4390
Bula Special Price: USD $3534
You save: USD $856 (19%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes unlimited scuba diving (up to 18 dives), dive gear hire
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: bar, spa treatments
• Stateroom accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Honeymoon Special
Normal Price: USD $3445
Hot Special Price: USD $2795
You save: USD $650 (19%)

• 5-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Grand Stateroom accommodation
• Private dinner served on a secluded beach, optional serenade
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Luxury InStyle Special
Normal Price: USD $5627
Hot Special Price: USD $4395
You save: USD $1232 (22%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Oversea Veranda Stateroom accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Luxury Honeymoon Special
Normal Price: USD $5547
Hot Special Price: USD $4195
You save: USD $1352 (24%)

• 5-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Oversea Veranda Suite accommodation
• Private dinner served on a secluded beach, optional serenade
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Family of 3 InStyle Special
Normal Price: USD $4019
Bula Special Price: USD $2495
You save: USD $1524 (38%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Grand Stateroom accommodation
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Family of 3 Special
Normal Price: USD $2995
Bula Special Price: USD $1995
You save: USD $1000 (33%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Expedition Cabin accommodation (1 cabin)
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Family of 4 Special
Normal Price: USD $2995
Hot Special Price: USD $1995
You save: USD $1000 (33%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Expedition Cabin accommodation (2 cabins)
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Family of 5 Special
Normal Price: USD $2995
Hot Special Price: USD $1795
You save: USD $1295 (43%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Expedition Cabin accommodation (2 cabins)
• Price is per person and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Family Luxury Suite Special
Normal Price: USD $27,191
Hot Special Price: USD $15,995
You save: USD $11,196 (41%)

• 7-night Tui Tai Expedition Cruise
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Accommodation in the 2 best rooms on the ship: Oversea Veranda Stateroom and Oversea Veranda Suite. Door opens between private verandas to create a huge onboard villa complete with second-storey stardeck cabanas
• Price is total for the suite (2 rooms, up to 5 guests) and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Hot Private Charter Special
Normal Price: USD $8000
Bula Special Price: USD $5995
You save: USD $2005 (25%)

• Tui Tai Full boat private charter
• Includes: meals, activities
• Does not include: scuba diving, bar, spa treatments
• Accommodation in all guest cabins and staterooms, including: 7x Expedition Cabins, 1 Stateroom, 1 Grand Stateroom, 1 Oversea Veranda Stateroom and 1 Oversea Veranda Suite.
• Price is per night of private charter. Minimum 5-nights charter and does not include Fiji Government Tax (20%)

Follow Tui Tai Expeditions online:
* Follow Tui Tai Expeditions on Facebook
* Follow Tui Tai Expeditions on YouTube
* Tui Tai Blog
* Tui Tai Photos on Flickr

Phone: +679.885.3032

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Compagnie du Ponant Joins Virtuoso Network

Compagnie du Ponant and luxury travel network Virtuoso have a new preferred supplier relationship. The French Compagnie du Ponant operates five yachts that visit 450 ports in 81 countries. Virtuoso, a by-invitation-only organization, comprises over 330 agencies with more than 7,200 travel advisors in 20 countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as over 1,300 of the world’s best travel providers and premier destinations.

Guidelines for Passenger Landings on Spitzbergen

Passengers go ashore from Zodiac in Spitsbergen (R Eime)

The Association for Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) has presented guidelines for landings on Spitzbergen – known as the “Svalbard Site Guidelines.” Nine site-specific guidelines for locations along the west coast of Spitsbergen are available. They can be found at

“The guidelines give information about specific sites and advice on how to behave on these sites in order to avoid any unwanted influence when visiting,” according to AECO. Members of AECO and their guests are obliged to follow these guidelines, but AECO would like to invite and encourage all other visitors to do the same, the organization said in a prepared statement. Its members have since many years operated in accordance with the guidelines and also ask guests to follow a set of general “guidelines for visitors to the Arctic.” These are also available on the same website.

The Svalbard guidelines have been developed through a project financed by the Svalbard Environmental Protection Fund. The project group has had the following participants: Archeologist Per Kyrre Reymert, archeologist Kristin Prestvold, biologist Georg Bangjord, botanist Dagmar Hagen, field-ornithologist/photographer/artist Trond Haugskott, biologist and expedition leader Ko de Korte, expedition leader/assistant project manager Joern Henriksen and project manager Frigg Joergensen. The Governor of Svalbard represented by tourism adviser Stein Tore Pedersen has acted as adviser. The project has based the site assessment on a methodology developed by NINA (The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) and NIKU (The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research). Dagmar Hagen from NINA has been in charge of the assessments. “Svalbard Site Guideline’s” design and web-site has been developed by TANK – Tromso.

AECO includes 16 members operating altogether 22 cruise-vessels in Arctic waters, ranging from 10 to approximately 300 passengers. In 2011 AECO-vessels carried some 13,000 passengers to the Arctic and among these, 10,00 visited Svalbard. AECO’s main objective is to ensure respectable, environmentally-friendly and safe expedition cruise activities in the Arctic.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Food, Wine & Fishing in the New Year


How about kicking off the New Year with a seafood safari across the Great Australian Bight?

Revel in a sumptuous lunch at one of the McLaren's finest wineries, sample the many delights of famed Kangaroo Island and wash down oysters with champagne in beautiful Coffin Bay.  Then mix-in some cage diving with great white sharks, close encounters with charismatic seals, swimming with giant tuna and, some of Australia's most reliable fishing action and you've got a safari with a difference

Experience all this and much, much more aboard the revered TRUE NORTH.

North Star Cruises' Southern Safari cruise departs Adelaide on January 14 and the company is now offering Standby Rates. Prices start from just $5196 and include the 8 night cruise, all activities and a return flight from Ceduna to Adelaide.

The coast between Adelaide and the Eyre Peninsular is one of Australia's best kept secrets – not only do you get to tick-off bucket list items like visiting Kangaroo Island and cage diving with white sharks – you also get to visit a part of Australia that has a very special flavour. Sometimes it's typically Australian – rugged and isolated, then at other times you encounter rolling hills and farmland but the one constant seems to be the region's unique sense of community

Apparently the crew of the TRUE NORTH taste this unique flavour every year and they can't wait to do it all again

So don't miss-out – wrap-up this very different cruise as the ultimate Christmas gift

Full details are available at

For more information on the TRUE NORTH see

Hooked on paradise: PNG cruise

SHOCK set in the moment my fishing guide Ben locked a look of horror on me after frantically grasping the fishing line.

One of six large hooks on the popper lure had pierced straight through the side of my left hand.

I'd been barbed by a barracuda!

And that barracuda, with protruding needle-like teeth and one large peeper firmly fixed on mine, was about to have the last laugh after our five-minute fight by delivering another of its trademark aggressive thrashes.

Read more:

Friday 23 December 2011

Coral Princess Cruises extends Kimberley 'Waterfall Season" Savings

Special offer for Single Travellers

Australia's pioneer of small-ship expedition cruising Coral Princess Cruises has extended their Kimberley 'Waterfall Season" special offers to new bookings made until 31 March 2012 or until sold out. The discounts, between 15 and 25 per cent off normal prices on their 10-night Kimberley Coast expeditions, are valid on April 2012 departures aboard their state-of-the-art 72 passenger small ship Oceanic Discoverer or the intimate 35 metre catamaran Coral Princess. Single Travellers can also take advantage of great savings, with the bane of the single traveller – the dreaded single supplement – waived on April 2012 departures aboard Oceanic Discoverer.

The Kimberley wilderness of Western Australia is three times larger than England with a population of just 30 000. Coral Princess's voyages between Darwin and Broome cruise through some of the planet's oldest and most awe-inspiring scenery and landscapes. Exploring the Kimberley Coast in April, immediately following the 'wet season', affords guests the unique opportunity to experience the region's spectacular waterfalls in their full grandeur. From the towering 80-metre King George Falls, four-tiered Mitchell Falls and the iconic King Cascades to the amazing natural phenomenon of Horizontal Falls and lesser-known highlights such as swimming beneath beautiful Ruby Falls, Coral Princess's Kimberley itinerary includes all of the icons of this spectacular coast in unrivalled style and total comfort.

Waterfall Season prices for the 10-night Kimberley cruise aboard Oceanic Discoverer start at $6,517.50 per person for Coral Princess Cruises past guests (25% off) and $7,386.50 for first time travellers (15% off) in a Main Deck (Category B) Stateroom. Special prices aboard Coral Princess start at $5,242.50 for past guests and $5,941.50 for first time travellers in a Cabin category room. The reduced prices include all meals, lectures and services of the all-Australian expedition staff and excursions aboard a fleet of zodiacs and the unique 'Xplorer' excursion tender.

Coral Princess Cruises pioneered small-ship expedition cruising on the Kimberley Coast in 1996 and has 34 departures scheduled across the 2012 season, which runs between April and October. As a 100% Australian-owned, flagged and staffed operation, Coral Princess guests avoid the need to transit an international port as part of their Kimberley itinerary, a guideline applying to foreign owned and flagged operators in the region. With a minimum of two landings most days Coral Princess guests will enjoy the opportunity to see more of the Kimberley and make the most of every minute of their expedition.

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

Tuesday 20 December 2011

American Safari Cruises Returns to Molokai

Seattle-based American Safari Cruises is extremely pleased to announce that an understanding has been reached allowing its 36-guest yacht, the Safari Explorer, to resume visits to Molokai in January 2012. After working with state and federal authorities and local groups, an amicable agreement has been reached to allow the yacht unimpeded visits to the island on its seven-day adventure cruises.

Lawrence Aki, left, and Kawika Foster will lead guides of Halawa Valley to the visitors from American Safari Cruises. Photo courtesy of American Safari Cruises

The yacht will return to its regularly scheduled two-day visits Jan. 21-22, 2012.

This agreement is a result of many long hours of spirited discussions about tourism and development on the island with all participants sharing the underlying desire to preserve Molokai’s unique character, history and traditions. With an eye on conservation, American Safari Cruises’ small-group travel philosophy strives to educate guests, be responsible stewards and make a positive impact on communities visited. On Molokai, the yacht purchases fresh produce, meat and coffee, and contracts with locals for tours.

“We are grateful to the wonderful people of Molokai for their true aloha spirit. We hold tremendous respect for their unwavering desire to preserve their traditional lifestyle for future generations,” said Dan Blanchard, American Safari Cruises’ CEO and principal. “We are delighted to be able to share Molokai’s beauty and honest and untainted Hawaiian spirit with those guests traveling on our 36-guest yacht, the Safari Explorer.”

From October through May, seven-night active, adventure un-cruises explore Lanai, Molokai, Maui and the Big Island. Itineraries sail between Maui/Lanai and the Big Island and reverse; a scenic ferry ride connects guests between Maui and the yacht on Lanai.

Exclusive cultural tours on Molokai are included during a two-day visit. Lawrence Aki, a 50th generation of his Hawaiian Halau lineage, will guide the group to a waterfall in the pristine Halawa Valley. Along the way, guests spend time with Lawrence “talking story,” listening to the land and absorbing the spirit of the natural world and ancient cultural practices passed down through generations of native Hawaiians. Guests may also choose to tour local farms — Molokai Plumerias and Tuddie and Kammy Purdy’s Macadamia Nut Farm — and walk through ancient taro terraces.

Auntie Noelani Keliikipa hosts a visit to the Molokai Museum and Cultural Center and a Hawaiian pa’ina celebration feast. The feast features locally sourced cuisine including fresh fish and poi, seaweed and Molokai sweet potatoes, all staples of the Hawaiian diet. Local musicians join in the celebration along with a kumu hula dancer.

Flexible yacht itineraries focus on the leeward side of the eastern-most Hawaiian Islands. Guests can be as active as they like and explore by foot, kayak, paddle board, sailboat and motorized skiff excursions. Expert naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea. The unstructured itinerary allows time for viewing wildlife such as humpback whales and snorkeling tours are a highlight throughout the trip.

For details, contact Ultimate Cruising on 1300 662 943

Sunday 18 December 2011

Hubert Who? The incredible life of unsung adventurer Hubert Wilkins.

War hero. Polar explorer. Spy.

Malcolm Andrews 

Published by Harper Collins [link]

Product Details
ISBN: 9780733323003
ISBN 10: 0733323006
Imprint: ABC Books - AU
On Sale: 01/09/2011
Pages: 304
List Price: 32.99 AUD
BISAC1: Biography & True Stories / Biography: general

The amazing life of Sir Hubert Wilkins, Australia’s greatest unsung hero.

He shot the world’s first movie footage from an aircraft (while strapped to its fuselage); and was the first to fly over both polar icecaps. He was the only member of the media ever to win medals for gallantry, during World War I; the first man to attempt to take a submarine under the North Pole; a spy for the British in Soviet Russia and the Americans in the Far East; and an enlightened friend to Aboriginal people in outback Australia. Yet this South Australian farm boy is barely acknowledged in his homeland.

Explorer, pioneer aviator, war photographer, naturalist, meteorologist, student of the paranormal, secret agent and the last man from the West to meet with Lenin … Sir Hubert Wilkins’ life was an amazing adventure, packed with exciting and extraordinary experiences.

How can a man who achieved so much be so little remembered?

Malcolm Andrews has breathed life into the exploits of this remarkable yet humble adventurer, creating a gripping tale that resoundingly answers the question: ‘Hubert who?’ So set your compass north and it’s chocks away — for the incredible true story of one of history’s most heroic personalities ...

‘The bravest man I have ever seen ... Australia’s counterpart to Lawrence of Arabia’
— General Sir John Monash

Malcolm Andrews is an author and journalist with 50 years experience in Australia and overseas. He is the author of 27 books, including The Fabulous Fairstar and From Russia with Gloves, boxing champ Kostya Tszyu’s ghosted autobiography.

Suite dreams on Antarctic cruise

TRAVELLING to the end of the Earth can now be done in hedonistic comfort, writes Roderick Eime.

Antarctica is for the hardened traveller, the gritty explorer and world adventurer used to privations and hardships. That is, until the arrival of vessels like L'Austral.

French-flagged cruise line Compagnie du Ponant (or just Ponant) has launched two of its planned three new-generation, green-certified luxury expedition cruise ships.

Read full story

Saturday 17 December 2011

The Australian: Bear facts and polar opposites

A polar bear and her cub on the sea ice near Wrangel Island, Russia.
Picture: Rod Eime
Source: The Australian
SCATTERED across a wide valley on remote Wrangel Island, 16 polar bears were in view from the deck of Russian expedition ship the Spirit of Enderby.

The bears foraged quietly in short-grassed tundra and along the rocky shore, unperturbed by the human interlopers. During a cruise conducted by New Zealand-based Heritage Expeditions through the Russian Arctic at the end of the northern summer this year, we spotted 106 polar bears in six days around Wrangel, Herald and Kolyuchin islands.

The bears were concentrated on the islands because this summer the sea ice, from which they hunt seals, was well to the north. Since our visit, the bears have spread out on the ice as it returned in the northern autumn to resume their seal hunting. They appear to have managed well enough while land-bound; on Wrangel Island, we saw several bears feeding on the carcasses of walrus.

Read the full story

Friday 9 December 2011

Safari Endeavour’s Inaugural Season in Alaska

* American Safari Cruises Offers Complimentary Night At Juneau’s Baranof Hotel
* 86-guest Safari Endeavour sails active, adventure cruises roundtrip Juneau in summer 2012

Travelers interested in an Alaskan adventure cruise this summer aboard American Safari Cruises newly acquired yacht, the upscale 86-guest Safari Endeavour, have an extra incentive to book a trip now. Guests reserving a stateroom between December 1, 2011 and January 31, 2012, receive a complimentary hotel night pre- or post-cruise at Juneau’s Baranof Hotel.

The Safari Endeavour will cruise in Southeast Alaska from May to September. Weeklong cruises roundtrip from Juneau, Alaska include 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 US$4,795 per person. Two-week cruises from Seattle to Juneau and reverse will be offered in spring and fall.

“To kick off our first season with the Safari Endeavor and our new partnership with the Baranof Hotel, we are offering guests a complimentary hotel stay in Juneau,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “This is an extra incentive to book the Safari Endeavour’s inaugural season in Alaska now.”

Travelers who make a reservation for summer 2012 during the two month period of December and January receive a one night hotel stay per stateroom—a value of US$380 for two people. The historic Westmark Baranof Hotel is centrally located in downtown Juneau near shops and the waterfront.

The Safari Endeavour is undergoing an extensive renovation project to add American Safari Cruises’ exceptional comfort and refined atmosphere on board. 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 a bow-mounted underwater camera to stream video to interior viewing monitors, 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. 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.

The inclusive cruises include all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; hand-crafted meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; a massage and all port charges, taxes and fees. To book a yachting adventure or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or American Safari Cruises at 888-862-8881 or email

Australian passengers: To book a small ship adventure or to request additional information, contact Small Ship Adventure Company 1300 650 481 or email

Oceanwide Expeditions Offers Ross Sea

ROSS SEA Exploratory voyage aboard vessel m/v “Ortelius” (formerly Marina Svetaeva)

mv Ortelius © Oceanwide Expeditions

The latest most recently designed Oceanwide voyage is a unique Discovery Voyage. It is the only expedition that includes the southern Antarctic Peninsula, the rarely visited volcanic Peter I Island, the outer fringes of the pack-ice in the Amundsen Sea, Ross Sea and Macquarie Island. We will furthermore visit the landing site of Roald Amundsen, from where he gained access to the ice-shelf and finally reached the South Pole in 1911 and have the rare privilege to enter the huts of British explorers Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott.

Oceanwide offers two back-to-back Ross Sea voyages with m/v “Ortelius”. The first 30-night voyage will be carried out from 16 January till 15 February, 2013. We start in Ushuaia, Argentina and end in Invercargill, New Zealand. The second expedition (in reverse) takes place from 15 February till 17 March 2013.

M/v “Ortelius” is an excellent expedition vessel and has the highest ice-class notation (UL1, equivalent to 1A) “Ortelius” is a great expedition vessel for 100 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces and a very large bridge which is accessible to the passengers.
Download here the Ross Sea 2-page brochure with dates and rates and day-by-day itinerary.
Download here the m/v “Ortelius” 2-page brochure, including deck plan.
Click here for the Ross Sea photo-gallery.

Late booking offers from Oceanwide Expeditions

Oceanwide is pleased to announce the introduction of two new Late Booking Offers:

PLA27A 15% OFF
Antarctic Peninsula – Feb 7 – 17, 2012 (11-day/10-night)
PLA28 15% OFF
Antarctic Peninsula – BASECAMP PLANCIUS – Feb 17 – 27, 2012 (11-day/10-night)

Savings typically USD 1000 off brochure prices

Agents: Extra commission applies

Thursday 8 December 2011

Your own private Arctic expedition

POLAR expedition expert, Arctic Kingdom, is wowing cruisers by launching tailored explorer-yacht polar expeditions.

The idea behind the voyages is that they will be customised by the clients who want in-depth and personal yachting around Arctic regions including Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and the Canadian Arctic.

“Yacht captains and owners are searching for new, untapped cruising grounds,” said Arctic Kingdom’s ceo Graham Dickson.

“And the Arctic, with miles of jaw-dropping coastline, teeming with polar bears, walrus and whales, is catching their eyes,” he added.

For more details, visit the Arctic Kingdom website -

Orion's Antarctic whale encounters

Orion mixing it with the whales in Antarctica

Wednesday 7 December 2012.

Extracts from the daily report by Don McIntyre, Antarctic Expedition Leader onboard the expedition ship Orion in Antarctica (60 degrees plus South).

"GREAT DAY!!! The most spectacular icebergs I have seen in years … our first 'berg was amazing and the second was just as good…cruising the pack ice, so all happy. Then just as sitting down to the big degustation menu, literally about to eat the first course, when the Captain rang me from the bridge…whales sited!! went up to see about 15 humpbacks in front of the pack ice just playing around…spectacular.

Dilemma. The food was coming out fast!!! so we decided to just stay in contact with the whales and let dinner run late….when the maître d' heard what was happening we cleared the dining room.... had a great show with calves and tail slapping. Captain got the ship positioned just right…quite something to see!!!

So we steamed away for dinner and planned to come back in 90 minutes...they are now about 1.5 miles up front again, so we will have another show very shortly. Sun low on the horizon, sea glistening.

(A later report)

It just got a lot better…we had about eight humpbacks playing with the ship as we were stopped about 50 metres from the pack ice. They were coming up to within about three metres, rolling around and under and checking us out for about 30 minutes. They stayed with the ship for a few hours. You can see them in Queensland for sure, but to be in their "real" element surrounded by ice, watching and listening to them play was stunning!! Best whale experience I have ever had!! …All the best…Don"

Additional information, from guest lecturer Olive Andrews, Program Director of Pacific Based Research and Conservation Organisation

'Whales Alive', also onboard Orion.

"I will be matching all the humpback whales we see on our voyage to the catalogues of the South Pacific Whale Consortium. This includes a catalogue of 2000 individuals that are known to calve on the East Coast of Australia. The behaviour we saw yesterday is what we refer to as a 'mugging' … where the whales choose to come very close to a vessel and interact with the people onboard. They were engaged in social behaviours with each other and with the vessel.

It is worth noting that over 200,000 humpback whales were taken out of the Southern Hemisphere in the last 100 years, with the East Australia population dropping to just 100 animals. These are endangered whales in their feeding grounds and we have been extremely lucky to see them. Being able to identify these individuals we saw will help the scientific community better understand their breeding and life history."

Wednesday 7 December 2011

*Updated* Ponant Le Diamant Sold

Ponant's 1974-built Le Diamant is sold
International Shipping Partners (ISP) has arranged the acquisition of the cruise vessel Le Diamant from Ponant Cruises.

The vessel was originally built in 1974 as a cargo vessel, however, was completely rebuilt as a cruise vessel in 1986 with a capacity of 226 passengers in 113 cabins/suites. Delivery is scheduled for mid-December.

ISP has been appointed the administrative, commercial and technical manager of the ship by the new owners, a Bahamian company controlled by a number of investors.

*UPDATE*QUARK Expeditions has announced that it will debut the 189-guest Ocean Diamond (currently Le Diamant) next year for its 2012-13 Antarctic season which kicks off in Nov 2012

*update * Lyubov Orlova's Stranded Russian Crew Going Home

Workers aboard a popular Arctic cruise ship who've been stranded in St. John's since authorities seized the vessel six weeks ago in will be heading home to Russia starting Saturday.

Local residents have donated everything from food to clothes to cigarettes to help crew members who are owed months of back wages.

Their ship is named the Lyubov Orlova for the beloved Russian actress who is perhaps best known for her work in the 1934 comedy, Jolly Fellows.

But the International Transport Workers Federation says there's nothing funny about how the ship's former Russian owner failed to pay 52 crew members about $340,000 in wages.

The 50 Russian workers and two Ukrainians are to be paid as part of ongoing negotiations for the sale of the 122-passenger vessel to a Norwegian company, federation inspector Gerard Bradbury said Thursday.

Read more:

* UPDATE * Lyubov Orlova to be sold Read Full Report

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Snow Petrels and Showgirls: Ponant Antarctica

Ice Queen: L'Austral looks magnificent amid the Antarctic landscape (Ponant)

You know how it is when you just can’t get a song out of your head. So why was I strolling through a Gentoo penguin rookery on the Antarctic Peninsula humming Beyonce’s hit, “All the single ladies” ? Read on.

From my experience, folks travel to the wild lands of the Antarctic for enrichment and a dash of adventure. A chance to relive – in a safe and comfortable way – the daring exploits of the pioneers a century ago.

High-stepping showgirls
High-stepping showgirls entertain adventurers
after a hard day in the Zodiac (R Eime)
Aboard the brand new Ponant ice queen, L’Austral, the journey however becomes a decadent foray into the frozen realm complete with private butler, spa treatments, fine dining and a saucy after dinner cabaret with high-stepping Parisian showgirls.

At this point you could easily back a strong argument for either side of the cruising debate. Should Antarctica be left to the rugged, eco-warriors who throw themselves in front of Japanese whalers, or should it be opened up to the Mumm-sipping elite as a diversion between pedicures and foie gras ? Both, of course, are extreme but this is where we’re at. I’ll leave that thought with you for a moment while I describe this amazing vessel.

La Compagnie du Ponant (or just Ponant) has been around since 1986 specialising in small ship, niche market and sophisticated cruise products. Their first vessel, Le Ponant, is a gorgeous 64-pax, three-masted sailing ship in the mould of Windstar or Sea Cloud – yes, the one in the 2008 Somali pirate drama. The company added an expedition ship in 2004 with the 1974-built Le Diamant, now sold (along with Le Levant) to make way for a trio of state-of-the-art vessels. Le Boreal was launched in May 2010, L’Austral just last June and la troisième will launch in mid-2013.

Scoff as the purists might, these ships represent the cat’s whickers in maritime design. They are the first to be “green ship” certified and, at 10,000 tons with 132 suites and staterooms, are huge by expedition cruise standards. Each can transport up to 264 guests in stabilised, Sofitel-level comfort to all corners of the globe, although numbers are limited to 200 for Antarctic operations. The 142m hull is ice rated 1C (1A is the toughest) and the impressive satellite navigation will keep the vessel fixed without the need to drop anchor.
Dining is single seating in one of two restaurants with house wine included. Deck 6 has butler service and two of three cabins have private balconies. There’s a big gym, Sothy spa, kids club, wheelchair access throughout, beaut observation lounge bar/library, pool and Wi-Fi internet access.

Staterooms and suites are all fitted with flatscreen TV coupled to an inflight-style entertainment system. Bath tubs installed on Le Boreal are deleted from subsequent vessels and bathrooms now have just showers with L’Occitane amenities. There are six price levels, ranging from the smallest at 18.5-square-meter (with 4-square-meter balcony) to the palatial 45-square-meter owner’s suite with a massive 9-square-meter private balcony.

Excursions are marshmallow soft compared to the hardy Russian counterparts, but still permit guests to get ashore and “tick off” their Antarctic continent landing. Costs, perhaps surprisingly, are not a lot different. When vessels exceed 100 guests, landing operations can get complicated. IAATO (the Antarctic tour operators association) regulations permit only 100 ashore at any one time, so aboard Ponant the parties much be spilt and rotated. Time ashore can be precious and at the in-demand Port Lockroy where you can visit a small museum and buy souvenirs, our allotted 30 minutes is painfully inadequate.

Lectures and enrichment are provided and for those with a basic understanding of Antarctica and its environment, this will considerably lift knowledge. However those with an academic background – and this represents many travellers to the south – might find the content superficial and over-simplified. It’s a tough job for the expedition leaders trying to find a balance for the up to 200 guests of several nationalities and languages. French and English are the official ship languages, while German and Spanish are available too. As I was disembarking, a group of 100 Chinese were preparing to come aboard, demonstrating the growing global attraction for this delicate destination.

Are you planning an Antarctic cruise vacation? Decide if you are a cocktail sipper or a tree hugger, because now the choice is yours.
Compagnie du Ponant Antarctic Cruise 2012
Departure 01 December 2012 - 11 days/10 nights
On board L'Austral
Itinerary: Roundtrip Ushuaia
Ponant bonus fare: The lead-in fare is $5309per person twin share
Pricing and is correct as of 02 December 2011 and as this is a bonus
fare it is capacity controlled and can change at any time.
For bookings or more information contact Travel the World on 1300 950
622 or visit

Sunday 4 December 2011

Cruising with whales and dolphins

Star Clippers commits to Environment

Cruise passengers on the tall ship Royal Clipper will have more chances to spot whales and dolphins and delve into the mysteries of marine biology in the Caribbean next year.
Star Clippers, operators of the world's largest fleet of luxury sailing ships Royal Clipper, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, have appointed Spanish-born Laura Del Rio Torres as marine biologist in residence for the Caribbean season.
A graduate of universities in Barcelona and New Jersey, Laura is fluent in Catalan, Spanish, and English, and is a former national champion swimmer and professionally trained dancer.
On board, Laura will give talks on marine wildlife, operate a daily whale and dolphin watch, lead beach walks and join guests on dives. She will also continue studies of the environment in which Royal Clipper sails.
Royal Clipper spends nearly five months a year (November to April) in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados on mainly seven-night cruises.
All three ships of the Star Clippers fleet, which are under sail for 70 percent of their time at sea, have a strong focus on eco initiatives for both passengers and crew.
The ships use pure high-quality low-sulphur gas oil for engine power to reduce air pollution, and crews follow a 'reduce, re-use and recycle' policy, selecting only eco-friendly biodegradable products for cleaning.
Star Flyer also has a naturalist/marine biologist on board for its winter sailings in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua advising passengers about the region's flora and fauna, volcanoes and cloud forests.
Owner-operator of Star Clippers, Mikael Kraftt, said: "As cruise ships get bigger and their impact on the environment is increasingly under scrutiny, we are increasingly concerned that Star Clippers' ships continue to offer a cleaner, greener way to sail – not least because their principle source of propulsion is wind power.
"We at Star Clippers are passionately committed to preserving the environment and by offering more opportunities for our guests to learn and get involved, we hope to pass on our enthusiasm."

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

Eco-Tourism Expert Launches Sea Voyager Expeditions

Former Lindblad vessel, the 60-passenger
MV Sea Voyager was refurbished in 2001
EC Editor notes: Not to be confused with the 301-passenger
Sea Voyager, an out-of-service coastal cruise vessel
By Theresa Norton Masek

Eco-tourism expert Denise Landau, a former executive director of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, is launching Sea Voyager Expeditions with the first voyage scheduled for February. The cruise line will visit four fauna- and wildlife-rich countries -- Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

“We have chosen to specialize in this region and share its spectacular diversity as exploration from the sea floor to the rainforest canopy is possible,” said Landau, CEO and president. “Our itineraries are as varied as the noisy monkeys, the myriad of colorful butterflies, and the thousands of species of birds unique and endemic to this region.”

Fares for the numerous itineraries range from $2,930 to $5,365 per person, double occupancy, and include all meals, pre- and post-cruise hotels, shore tours, admission to museums and parks, tax and port fees, and transfers when the Sea Voyager air program is used. Meals are prepared by chefs with local ingredients, freshly caught seafood and locally grown coffee. The cruises are accompanied by experienced naturalists and guides.

The 60-passenger Sea Voyager, currently undergoing outfitting, is an expedition ship designed for the tropics. All staterooms are air-conditioned with outside views and private baths. The ship has a lounge with windows, bar, fitness room, library with Wi-Fi, massage room, dining room with two to 12 guests per table, buffet, deck space, fore, aft and covered decks, and a platform for getting on and off Zodiacs, kayaks, swimming and snorkeling. Sea Voyager’s North American sales agent is Global Voyagers Group, of Bellevue, Wash. For more information, call 888-912-2572, email or visit

Friday 2 December 2011

Orion's record sales month

Sarina Bratton, Managing Director of Orion Expedition Cruises, has announced that sales in November achieved record levels.

The company moved to a new yield management programme in October and implemented a strategy to stimulate sales using a combination of reduced rates and set booking deadline, much like the airlines use.

A significant advertising campaign under the banner "It's like having a cup of tea with God" appeared over a six week period in weekend national and metropolitan press with the immediate result being increased enquiries followed by conversion to sales as the deadline of 30 November neared. "The result is that we have had our best sales month ever – which is no mean feat in the current economic climate. It goes to show that people will buy if you have the right product and an added incentive to commit right away" said Sarina.

Continuing, "As advised to the trade, our web site has been updated to show that pricing for Orion's expeditions has now increased and will continue to do so on an ongoing basis according to demand, with the expectation that pricing incentives will diminish by voyage as availability of accommodation decreases".

"We have had nothing but positive feedback from the travel trade with many of our existing agents recording record sales and a number of new agencies enjoying the sales success with resulting 10% Orion commission for the first time".

The Orion web site will be updated on a weekly basis to reflect any savings available on Orion's 69 voyages to 17 countries and 174 destinations during 2012.

For reservations, or to obtain more information call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) / 0800 444 462 (New Zealand) or see your travel agent. Email:

Thursday 1 December 2011

Ponant sales up

Source: Cruise Weekly

The 20-y-o Le Ponant was the French line's first vessel.

In two months, the French line has sold a yacht, ordered a yacht, and may soon increase its presence in Australia.

COMPAGNIE du Ponant has recorded a strong year of sales in Australia and may be sending its next luxury vessel down under.

A Ponant spokesperson told Cruise Weekly that the company is “seriously looking at the yet-to-be-named new ship spending some time in Australian waters”.

Until then, L’Austral, launched in April, is set to make its maiden visit to Australia in March 2012, calling at Townsville, Cairns, Port Douglas and Darwin.

Represented in Australia by Travel the World, Ponant has been encouraged by the growth in local sales.

“We have had a good year and the sales are significantly up on last years departures – approximately 40%,” said Michelle Taylor, TTW’s director of sales and marketing.

Taylor also confirmed further details about the sale of Le Diamant to International Shipping Partners (CW, 29 Nov).

Ponant will continue to operate the vessel next summer for its scheduled Celtic itineraries from 06 June to 20 Sep 2012.

“This enables CDP to honour several charters planned for a long time and to commercialise five Celtic cruises, which should be as successful as last year considering the first level of 2012 bookings,” Taylor said.

The sale of the 37-year old Le Diamant is part of the line’s fleet modernisation, but Taylor said there were no plans to sell the 20- year-old Le Ponant.

“CDP does not intend to sell Le Ponant, which is an iconic ship of CDP, her three sails being the symbol of its logo.

“Le Ponant offers unique itineraries and moorings in the cruising industry.”

MEANWHILE, a new name has not yet been chosen for the next yacht, which is set to debut in June 2013, but it is likely to be selected through a consumer competition.

“Timing is still being finalised,” Taylor said.

American Safari Cruises seeks to resolve community concerns on Molokai

Protesters blockade ASC Safari Explorer
at Kaunakakai, Molokai.
American Safari Cruises CEO Dan Blanchard issued a statement this afternoon informing the Molokai Community that the company’s vessel will postpone its planned Friday and Saturday visits to the island.

“I want to express my sincere appreciation for the overwhelming participation in last night’s community meeting,” said Blanchard in the email statement.

Blanchard said it is the company’s intention to find “a workable solution to this situation.”

“We are working with members of the community to further this goal,” said Blanchard. “In this effort, we have elected to postpone the Safari Explorer’s arrival in Moloka’i.”

Read full report at: