Wednesday 29 February 2012

Freeze frames

WE can see for kilometres in every direction. All is ice -- before us unfolds a fantastical white desert, a frozen plain punctuated by snow-covered, bizarrely shaped hummocks, rising metres high.

The vista could be the landscape of an alien, frozen planet. Except that it moves.

Vast blocks of the horizon rise, ever so slowly, ever so slightly, above an adjoining section.

The effect is slightly giddying and reminds us that this is not land, but ocean -- the Southern Ocean, as few have seen it. The 54-passenger, Russian-crewed polar expeditionary ship Akademik Shokalskiy has sailed into a rare and impenetrable band of ice, 145km wide and even longer. This formidable frozen chastity belt is the result of a number of large icebergs trapping sea ice that would normally flow westerly across the east Antarctic coastline.

It is denying us our wicked way, which was intended to take us into Commonwealth Bay, home to Mawson's huts. Among the passengers there is an undercurrent of disappointment and some mumbles of dissent. The Aurora Expeditions staff -- a mix of Aussies, Poms and Kiwis, as amiable as they are professional -- has been exemplary. But just how do you deal with 50 people who have paid thousands of dollars only to be told on the doorstop of their destination, after 12 days of voyaging, that their main objective can't be reached?

Read full story

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Scenic Adds Land Tour to Six-Day Black Sea Cruise

Scenic Cruises is offering a 12-day “Black Sea Explorer” package that includes a six-day land tour with a six-day river routes cruise. The land portion includes three days each in the Hungarian capital of Budapest and Bucharest, Romania. The cruise visits ports in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary.

The trip includes excursions such as a show at a Hungarian Puszta horse farm, a home-cooked Croatian lunch in a house, a tour of Buda and Pest, and a visit to Bran Castle, known as the home of Count Dracula.

Prices for the April 14, May 19 and May 26 departure dates range from $5,395 to $7,380 per person, double. The 18-day “Black Sea & Turkey” river cruise, which combines this itinerary with an additional four ports, is available for prices ranging from $7,465 to $9,450.

Monday 27 February 2012

ABC TV: The Wild Ones: Edge of Nowhere

Macquarie Island, situated in the cold and furious Southern Ocean, is one of the most remote and little known places on Earth and is the last green outpost of land before the ice of the Antarctic. Here, on this tiny island at the end of the world, resides one of the largest concentrations of wildlife on the planet.

Dean Miller, scientist and marine biologist, dedicated twelve months of his life living on the island to study and document the return of the Antarctic fur seals from the brink of extinction.

Armed with a High Definition camera, Dean set out to observe and document every type of seal, every type of penguin, killer whales and every marine bird you can think of, and in the process captured the unique stories of each of these creatures and the wild island that they call home. It is a wild, colourful and rich story; it is the Edge of Nowhere.

Read Full News Item

Sunday 26 February 2012

Help Save Endangered Wildlife with Heritage Expeditions

Russian Sea Otter and pup
Heritage Expeditions is offering two special voyages in 2012 offering dedicated wildlife lovers the chance to become a part of genuine conservation projects helping to save endangered species from extinction in the remote Kuril Islands and Russian Kamchatka Peninsula.

The 18-day ‘Sea Otter Survey’ voyage will be led by a team of world-renowned professionals, who will undertake much-needed research on the Sea Otters of the region. Participants will join the research teams in Zodiacs and on shore patrols to assist with invaluable research and data collection. There will also be plenty of opportunities for birding, photography and hiking – or to simply enjoy the rugged beauty of these remote volcanic islands north of Japan. Largely uninhabited, their isolation has created a sanctuary for some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on earth. In particular, the secluded islands of Paramushir, Atlasova and Shumshu have the highest numbers of sea otters in the region.

A highlight of the voyage will be a landing at the rarely visited Kurilsky Nature Reserve on Kunashir Island, which is also home to numerous breeding bird species including the endangered White-tailed Eagle.

The second voyage, ‘In Search of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’, run in conjunction with Bird Life International, will conduct vital surveys of one of the world’s most critically endangered birds, travelling to places very few people have visited.

The warmer Pacific Ocean climate creates ideal conditions for seabirds and the area is one of the richest in the world, both in terms of the number of species and their sheer abundance.

Heritage Expeditions is a Bird Life Species Champion and is committed to helping Bird Life International’s work in protecting the world’s most threatened species from extinction.

A previous expedition in 2011 made ornithological history by finding a previously unknown breeding site of these rare birds. While the search for Spoon-billed Sandpipers are the central focus of the voyage, there are countless other wildlife highlights including Steller’s Sea Eagles, Brown Bears, and a high diversity of whale species including Blue, Killer, Grey, Humpback and Sperm Whales.

Both expeditions will take place on board the 50-passenger Spirit of Enderby, a former Russian research vessel, purpose-built for polar and oceanographic research and refurbished to provide comfortable accommodation for travellers.

Prices for the 18-day ‘Sea Otter Survey’ voyage departing on 9 May 2012 start from US$4900 per person. Prices for the 14-day ‘Search for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’ voyage, departing on 24 June 2012 start from US$8400 per person. Prices include all on board ship accommodation, meals, transfers, all shore excursions, landing fees and onboard lectures by experienced naturalists.Heritage Expeditions is also able to arrange competitively priced airfares, as well as additional pre and post voyage touring in the Russian Far East.

For further information phone 1800 143 585 (Australia) or 0800 262 8873 (NZ) or visit

Friday 24 February 2012

American Cruise Lines Plans Mark Twain Tribute Sailing

Queen of the Mississippi, 150-passenger sternwheeler
By Theresa Norton Masek (Travelpulse)

American Cruise Lines, getting into the spirit of its new Mississippi product, is offering a special Mark Twain tribute cruise aboard the new Queen of the Mississippi on Sept. 15 roundtrip from St. Louis. Planned stops include an extended visit to Twain’s childhood hometown in Hannibal, Mo.

The cruise will feature a Mark Twain impersonator, a tour of Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, an onboard display of a first edition copy of “Life on the Mississippi,” and a guided trolley ride through Hannibal. Guests will receive special edition copies of “Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.”

The Queen of the Mississippi, which will makes its debut in August, carries 150 guests in staterooms with private balconies. American Cruise Lines intends to operate the paddlewheeler over the entire Mississippi River system, including the Ohio and Cumberland rivers

Islands still harbour cold war secrets

Kris Madden - Escape

I FEEL as if I am in a scene from a James Bond movie. Some of us are wearing balaclavas as we race away from the Russian mother ship in our indestructible black rubber inflatables, heading for the shores of an abandoned Soviet nuclear submarine base.

The haunting remains of the crumbling buildings come into view as we land at Broutana Bay on Simushir Island, a now-uninhabited speck of land in the cold waters of the northwestern Pacific Ocean and part of the Kuril Islands chain which stretches between northern Japan and Russia.

This is certainly no holiday resort. From the 1960s through to as recently as the mid-'90s, this remote string of islands, and an area to the north known as the Kamchatka Peninsula or the "Russian Far East", were once used as secret hiding places for warships and submarines and used as "listening posts" to spy on the United States, which I discover is surprisingly within striking distance, just across the Bering Sea.


Thursday 23 February 2012

Wildlife photographer to host A&K Galápagos photo safari

48-passenger Eclipse
Abercrombie & Kent has booked zoologist, conservationist and wildlife photographer Mark Carwardine to lead a photo safari in the Galápagos Islands May 24-June 3.

A&K said late spring is the perfect time of year for photography in the Galápagos when the Humboldt Current brings cooling waters and more nutrients to the archipelago.

Photographers can come face to face with giant tortoises, sea lions, marine and land iguanas, and indigenous birds including the blue-footed booby.

Carwardine will share practical tips for capturing these animals on twice-daily shore excursions, along with presentations on board about his adventures with
Stephen Fry filming ‘Last Chance to See,’ a BBC series devoted to animals facing extinction based on the book he wrote with Douglas Adams.

Carwardine will accompany the group each day, hosting lunches and dinners on board and sharing his experiences during evening programs devoted to wildlife and photography.

The trip sails on the 48-passenger Eclipse, which earned the Rainforest Alliance ‘SmartVoyager’ green seal of approval for environmentally-sensitive operations.

Silversea cuts fares on some expeditions

Silversea Cruises announced lower fares, starting at $1,999, on select voyages sailing March to November, including a few expedition voyages.

The new fares are available on dozens of sailings spanning the globe from Africa, Asia and the Americas to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Expedition ship Silver Explorer sails from Colón, Panama, April 4 on a 10-day cruise to Barbados with fares starting at $2,999 per person.

Monday 20 February 2012

Explore Earth’s Final Frontiers with Eminent Photographer Martin Bailey and Aurora Expeditions

B&C Alexander_Arctic Photo
Expedition Cruise company, Aurora Expeditions, is delighted to announce world renowned photographer Martin Bailey will be running workshops on five of their wilderness voyages in 2012.

These photography tours are open to photographers of all levels and will provide the lucky few with the opportunity to learn from one of photography’s modern stars. Martin Bailey is a professional Nature, Wildlife and Portrait photographer. He has been included in one of “The 30 Most Influential Photographers of The Decade” lists and his popular weekly photography Podcast has over 75,000 monthly downloads. These extraordinary photography cruises travel to The High Arctic, Russian Arctic and Russian Far East, giving budding photographers the opportunity to hone their skills alongside one of the world’s leading experts.

Passengers on these spectacular voyages will have the opportunity to explore spectacular remote coastlines alongside Martin and the expedition team; making the most of the incredible light, close wildlife encounters and stunning scenery. Russian Far East voyages include the spectacular Kuril Islands, Kamchatka Peninsula and Commander Islands, while the Russian Arctic voyage offers the rare chance to visit Novaya Zemlya and Franz Josef Land. Russian Coast highlights include snow-capped volcanoes, deep fjords, pack ice and prolific wildlife such as whales, brown bears, rare birds, seals and even the illusive polar bear. The Jewels of the Arctic voyages include Spitsbergen – the realm of the polar bear, the breathtaking mountain vistas of the East Greenland coast and a taste of Iceland.

The 13 and 14 days voyages depart in June, July and August 2012. Prices start at AU$8700 and include photography programme, ship accommodation, all meals on board, all shore excursions, lectures, medical services, port charges and taxes.

During each Expedition, Martin will give informal lectures on subjects including Color management with the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport and calibration tools, Lightroom basics and enhancements, digital workflow, geotagging, composition, long Exposure techniques and Black & White with Silver Efex Pro 2. He will also hold convivial photo critique sessions whereby photographers look at each other’s images and provide constructive criticism and pats on backs!

Martin’s style is approachable and personal with the priority being passenger photography. His passion for creating photography that invokes emotions is infectious and his aim is to help others to do the same.

For more information on these spectacular voyages, please click here

Saturday 18 February 2012

Here be dragons, and they're after you

A TOUR of Indonesia's spice islands brings a close encounter with a reptilian giant. by Barry O'Brien, The Adelaide Advertiser

A BIG beady eye fixed its gaze on me. Suddenly the long, powerful tail started to twitch and the monstrous beast lifted to its full height on razor-sharp, clawed feet. I was sitting on the ground near a water hole trying to get a low-angle close-up shot of two Komodo dragons, side by side in the wild.

"I'd get up now sir," our guide pleaded with a hint of trepidation in his voice as he readied his stick to counter a possible attack. When one of the reptiles moved towards me, its long, white, forked tongue darting in and out, I didn't drag my feet in heeding his earnest warning.

Earlier we'd been told how a bite from these 3m monsters causes a painful death to their prey by infecting them with poison. Only a couple of years ago a child was taken from a village by a dragon.


Thursday 16 February 2012

Orion voyages to the Russian Far East. Vodka, volcanoes and brown bears

Limited opportunity remains for modern day adventurers to join like-minded travellers on an Orion Expedition Cruises Russian Far East voyage to the land of ice and fire. Explore places as yet untouched by tourism from the comfort and security of the expedition cruise ship, Orion II, your base camp for the voyage.

Evocative names such as the Zhupanova River, Skaly Lavushky, Yankitcha and Petropavlovsk set the scene. Places that, until recently, remained off-limits to the West today still see a mere trickle of adventurous tourists.

Extraordinary experiences will etch your mind forever: entering the Wagnerian-like Valley of the Geysers, 200 steaming thermal vents from hell, in a Russian military-style helicopter, or, while exploring an abandoned Soviet air base, complete with half tracks and anti aircraft guns, stumbling across a chillingly familiar Iron Curtain image, Lenin, painted on a stone wall.

Perhaps photographing the prolific wildlife in bird colonies and seal rookeries scattered along the remote coastline, watching a brown bear hunting for salmon or the drama of sighting a pod of orcas, will be the highlight.

Orion II's specialist expedition team and specialist lecturers will enhance your time exploring this fascinating region of snow capped mountains and active volcanoes, wildlife, abandoned military bases and traditional onion-dome churches.

Discover how it's not just what Orion does, it's the way it's done that sets the benchmark for expedition cruising. Reach for the vodka!

10 nights Natural Treasures of the Russian Far East /Orion II - 31 May 2012 or reverse itinerary 10 June 2012 - from $9,360 per person for an ocean view Ocean Suite.

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:


Introducing Four Seasons Explorer Maldives

Four Seasons Explorer, the 39-metre (129-foot) three-deck
catamaran takes a maximum of 22 guests on a marine and
cultural adventure into the undiscovered Maldives.
Surround by azure waters, unrivaled dive sites and pristine white-sand beaches, you can be forgiven for not focusing on food. But with chefs borrowed from Four Seasons Resorts on board, you can have a world class culinary experience without stepping foot on land.

Each new day aboard Four Seasons Explorer features a revolving menu of delicacies from India, the Maldives, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Enjoy them in our air-conditioned interior or watching the sunset from al fresco seating.

And every bite you eat will feature the freshest ingredients available—many culled from the very water that keeps Four Seasons Explorer afloat. And if you decide to stop off on an uninhabited beach for a barbecue, you can count on the freshest meats and vegetables possible.

Or if you’d like to take part yourself, feel free to cast a line off our dhoni boat for bottom-line fishing, or right off the vessel by handline. And whenever you catch something, our chef is happy to prepare it any way you desire; paired with a wine from our extensive list of fine vintages.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Launches Redesigned Homepage

  • New Navigation Tools Makes Searching Simple
  • Enhanced Images Throughout the Site
  • Special Section for Travel Agents
The Hapag-Lloyd Cruises website, at, has undertaken a comprehensive facelift. The homepage will now reveal new user friendly tools, as well as a redesigned visual appearance. The new appearance of the homepage now presents clear information for current cruise guests, potential cruisers, journalists and travel agents.

Along with the website relaunch, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will also be introducing its new family brand, “Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – Great Moments. Truly Exclusive” online. Large-scale images of the worldwide destinations of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises now dominate the visual appearance of the new homepage, enabling users to develop a feel for the various cruise themes and voyages of the fleet.

The new horizontal navigation bar on the homepage divides the available information up among six main menu items: “Ships,” “Cruises,” “Expedition,” “Finder” and “Contact & Services,” allowing visitors quick access to specific information and consultation.

Like in the past, travel agents will continue to be professionally supported with information in the separate "Agents Near You" section, which now also appears in the new design.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

A Burmese odyssey on Irrawaddy river

by Terry Sweetman /

THIRTY pairs of tangled sandals, boots and sneakers are scattered about the deck, coated in village dust and Irrawaddy mud. An hour later they are as clean as a whistle and lined up outside the appropriate cabins. The Pandaw II It’s an introduction to service experienced while cruising Burma’s river road to Mandalay on the Pandaw II - practical rather than fawning and friendly rather than subservient.

Black Sea Treasures Cruises Open for Reservations

Gateway Travel have just launched their 2012 Black Sea Treasures Cruises online. Cruise from Istanbul to Odessa or Odessa to Istanbul with departures available between June and September 2012. Cruise prices range from $3025 pp in lower deck inside cabins to $3897 pp twin share in main/upper deck outside cabins for these 8 day / 7 night cruises.

Inclusions: Accommodation in double or twin cabins with private SH/WC & air conditioning, Full board: American buffet breakfast and two main meals daily, Regular (filter) coffee, tea and water free all day, Use of fishing equipment (subject to availability), English Speaking Cruise Escort, Port charges (Aud 425 additional, payable in Australia) and VAT.

Call now on (02) 945-3333 or enquire via to book.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

New Captain Cook Cruises 'Pamper Me' Fiji Cruise

Learn about fashion and beauty on Captain Cook Cruises first 'Pamper Me' Yasawa Islands Cruise onboard the MV Reef Endeavour. This four night indulgent cruise departs Port Denarau on Tuesday 12 June, 2012. Special guests include New Zealand fashion experts Cheryl Polwart and Karen Matich along with Debra Sadranu of Senikai Spa who will be holding fashion and beauty workshops for passengers.

As well as cruising the Yasawa Islands, visiting Fijian villages, swimming at white sandy island beaches, snorkelling colourful reefs and experiencing the warmth and friendliness of local Fijians, passengers will have the chance to share life changing fashion and beauty tips with fashion and beauty experts

Cheryl Polwart and Karen Matich from Polwarth Design have dressed New Zealand women for the last 27 years and will hold fashion workshops that will challenge passengers comfort levels and inspire them to break rules and push boundaries. They will also preview the 2013/14 summer fashions. Polwarth Design Workshops will include:
  • How to lose 5 kilos without putting on your running shoes!!
  • Body lining
  • Fashion disasters and how to avoid them
Beauty expert, Debra Sadranu of Senikai Spas will teach passengers hair and makeup tips to flatter their face, shape and personality and teach the benefits of sea minerals for eradicating cellulite and promoting weight loss. Senikai Spa's workshops will include:

Skin types and preferred products
Feel good – Detox & Elimination – the benefits of sea minerals for cellulite and weight loss and more
Look Good – Make up & Colour codes, dos and don'ts of make up application.

Captain Cook Cruises 'Pamper Me' Yasawa Island four night cruise departs on Tuesday 12 June 2012 and prices start from FJD$1809 per person twin share including all meals, accommodation, three Fashion and Beauty workshops with Polwarth Design and Senikai Spas, daily island stopovers and water activities, guided island, village and school tours, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours, tropical island lovo feast and kava ceremony, onboard entertainment and child minding (5-10yrs).

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit

Quark Expeditions Makes Plans For Its Latest Ships


by Kevin Griffin

former Ponant Le Diamant, now Ocean Diamond
In the past two years, Toronto-based TUI-owned Quark Expeditions has gone from using largely Russian-supplied tonnage to working more closely with International Shipping Partners of Miami as its main supplier of ships. Starting with the 4,200-ton 114-berth Sea Spirit, which was acquired from Cruise West just before that company’s bankruptcy, Quark has now taken on the 8,282-ton 189-berth Ocean Diamond, more recently acquired by ISP and for the time being chartered back to her previous owners, Compagnie du Ponant, for whom she operated as Le Diamant, for rthe summer of 2012.

Both Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond will be used in Antarctica, together with a third ISP fleetmate, the 4,376-ton 122-berth Clipper Adventurer, all of which will sail from Quark’s usual base port of Ushuaia, Argentina.

Akademik Ioffe
In the meantime, two of Quark’s previous mainstays, the 110-berth Russian-owned 6,450-ton Akademik Ioffe and 6,344-ton Akademik Sergey Vavilov, are moving over one at a time to be operated by Vancouver-based independent One Ocean Expeditions. These ships are no longer favoured by Quark because they have a high proportion of accommodations with shared facilities.

In her first season with Quark, 2012-13, which stretches from November through March, the Ocean Diamond will perform two 19-night cruises to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, from $9,695* per person on November 3 or $12,795 on December 26, and eight departures to the Antarctic Peninsula, from $4,295 for 9 nights or $4,795 for 11 nights.

The Sea Spirit will undertake nine cruises to the Antarctic Peninsula, a cruise to Antarctica, the Falklands and South Georgia, at the same starting fares as Ocean Diamond, plus a 13-night departure to the Weddell Sea, from $11,995, and another 14-night cruise to the Peninsula that will cross of the Antarctic Circle, starting at $12,795, and a 15-night early season cruise on October 28 that will concentrate on South Georgia, from $10,295 per person.

Clipper Adventurer
The Clipper Adventurer, meanwhile, will perform two new expedition voyages for Quark. Known as the “Antarctic Express,” this will involve two charter aircraft flying the Drake Passage to King Edward Island, where passengers will join ship, 7 nights from $7,995 per person. At the beginning of these cruises, the option will be to sail south and fly north, from $9,995 for 9 nights, and at the end fly south and sail north, from $6,395 for 8 nights, for a total of four shorter cruises that will avoid a double crossing of the Drake Passage.

The Clipper Adventurer will kick off the season with a single Antarctica, Falklands and South Georgia voyage and will also perform nine Antarctic Peninsula voyages from Ushuaia, with fares similar to the Ocean Diamond and Sea Spirit.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov
Various ships will be chosen to perform different cruises in the Arctic thereafter. For this summer, these will be offered by the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, in her final Quark season, and the chartered Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, which will be offering two cruises from Murmansk, one to Franz Josef Land, 12 nights from $12,995 per person, and one to both Novaia Zemlia and Franz Josef Land, 14 nights from $15,995. Either the Sea Spirit or Ocean Diamond will be used in the Arctic and Spitsbergen in 2013.

And speaking of Russian icebreakers, efforts are apparently also being made to bring back the Kapitan Khlebnikov for further Antarctic departures in the future as well. While we await further news from Quark, it is quite clear that they are in the course of upgrading their fleet to a higher level of comfort than in past years, with ice-strengthened cruise ships replacing the chartered scientific research ships used in the past. Both the Sea Spirit and Ocean Diamond have a reputation for having worked for more upmarket operators in their own past careers.

* Currencies quoted are USD

Top Five Regions for Whale Spotting

Small Ship Cruise Expert AdventureSmith Explorations
Selects Top Five Regions for Whale Spotting

The active travel company that secures matches between adventure-seeking clients and a treasure trove of small, expedition ships, AdventureSmith Explorations, shares five ideas on where best to cruise for whale spotting.

"These are my personal favorites where you can get up close and friendly with earth's largest mammals," explains Todd Smith, company founder and director. "But we wouldn't be responsible travelers if we didn't recognize that the goal of all whale watching should be to observe the animals without changing their behavior.  If outside presence in any way influences a whale's activity, you are too close."

Smith called an up close encounter with whales aboard a small ship, zodiac or kayak "one of the most incredible wildlife experiences of a lifetime."   His top five picks for whale watching are

Summertime (mid June to late August) southeast Alaska's Inside Passage:  Migratory Humpback whales from Hawaii and Baja return to the nutrient rich waters of Coastal Alaska to spend the summer feeding.  The combination of long days of sunlight, cold oxygen and nutrient rich water creates a bloom of plankton that is the foundation of a rich food chain whales rely on to exist.  Whales gather in feeding pods of 6 or more animals and their behavior and location becomes more predictable around food sources. One of the most amazing whale behaviors is bubble net feeding where whales work cooperatively to corral small fish in a net of bubbles. The whales then swim through the net with their mouths wide open, crashing to the surface in a cacophony of fish, whales and water. Sometimes Orca or killer whales are spotted along with Minke whales.

Summer (June to August) Arctic: Back from migration come Gray, Blue, Fin, and Minke whales. But some of the most unusual whales in the world, the Bowhead, Beluga and Narwhal, make their home in the Arctic and subarctic year-round. Because of the Arctic's extremely wild nature, it is not uncommon to find whale bones washed ashore or even polar bears feeding on a whale carcass.

Winter (December to February) Antarctica: Rich waters here attract whales from throughout the southern hemisphere. The most commonly seen species are Right, Blue, Sei, Humpback, Minke, Fin, Sperm and Killer whales. In Antarctica plentiful krill (a small shrimplike creature) provide a food source for migratory whales.

Winter (December to April) Hawaii: Many onboard naturalists migrate with whales from Alaska to Hawaii, working aboard small ships in each region. Humpback whales visit Alaska to feed; the remainder of the year they don't feed at all, or very little. Humpbacks visit the warm waters of Hawaii to mate and give birth to their calves. One of the most exciting scenes in Hawaii whale watching is a pod of males swimming, fin slapping, spy hopping and breaching in competition for a female. It is also in Hawaii when these whales sing and their songs can be heard under the water for miles. Listen carefully for whale songs while snorkeling.

Winter (January to April) San Ignacio Lagoon and Magdalena Bay on the Pacific side of California's Baja Peninsula: Here are winter calving grounds of the California Gray Whale. Close encounters are expected as these 40-ton whales (friendlies) seem to have affection for people. It is not uncommon for proud mothers and curious calves to approach zodiacs full of travelers. Also, across the peninsula, the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez are home to Blue, Fin, Pilot, Humpback and Sperm whales.

About Adventure Smith Explorations
AdventureSmith Explorations is the global leader in small ship, adventure cruise vacations. Company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness cruising that combines the comforts of a small cruise ship with the adventure of sea kayaking, hiking and exploring remote wilderness areas ashore. The company matches guests with the top names in small ship cruising as well with intimate, boutique ships that may not make the radar of most travelers.

In moving through exotic natural environments and exploring vibrant native cultures seldom associated with more mainstream cruise itineraries, AdventureSmith Explorations dedicates its efforts to small footprint, sustainable travel and has launched a carbon free cruising initiative. Its off-the-beaten-path destinations include Alaska, Baja, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Hawaii, Peru, the Arctic, Antarctica, and Australia.

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe.  P: 800-728-2875 toll-free or 530-583-1775. E: / W:

Monday 13 February 2012

Antarctic Cruise Deal - PONANT L'Austral

Limited availability offer. Cruise Antarctica onboard the luxurious L'Austral departing 29 Jan 2013. 10-nights Ushuaia roundtrip in a Superior cabin from $6,832* per person twin share. Cabin space is limited so book quick.  We can also book competitive economy or business class flights from Australia to Buenos Aires. Return Charter flight to meet the yacht from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia: $883* per person including a land program.

For further information please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit

Sunday 12 February 2012

Venture Holidays 'Free Stay' offer on Alaska small ship cruise


A free night at the historic Baranof Hotel in Juneau is a bonus for travellers joining one of Venture Holidays' cruises through Alaska on a small yacht-style ship that provides close up experiences in stunning landscapes.

The stay includes limo-transfer from the airport before an eight-day cruise from Juneau   aboard the fully renovated 86-guest Safari Endeavour.

The accommodation is included on cruises which depart between June and August 2012 when bookings are made before March 16.

Safari Endeavour has been designed specifically to take guests into areas not accessible by major cruise ships and also offers the opportunity to take hikes ashore and explore waterways on skiffs, kayaks and paddle boards.

Prices include all meals and ship activities and range from $5284 per person twin share staying in a Commander cabin for the roundtrip from Juneau.

For more details contact Venture Holidays on 1300-303-343 or visit

Friday 10 February 2012

Great Value Ukraine Cruises Released Aboard the MS Dnieper Princess

Gateway Travel have just released 2012 prices for Ukraine Cruises aboard the MS Dnieper Princess.

Cruise from Kiev to Odessa or vice versa and enjoy 11 nights with accommodation in outside cabins that all feature private bathrooms. Cruises include all meals, excursions with English-speaking guides, welcome cocktail reception and farewell gala dinner as well as Ukrainian language and cultural classes and concerts.

Prices range from $2361 per person twin share in Main Deck accommodation to $3281 per person in Junior Upper or Boat Deck Suite accommodation.

Selected dates are available from April - September 2012. Book now to avoid missing out.

Tonia Kisliakov
+ 61 (2) 9745-3333

Wednesday 8 February 2012

InnerSea Discoveries Alaska Cruises

This video demonstrates the pleasures of small ship cruises and why they are an alternative to the big ship variety.

Oceanwide adds choppers to Ross Sea

Dear Adventure Cruisers

Oceanwide Expeditions is excited to announce that we are expanding our program with Ortelius in the 2012-13 Antarctic Season.

We will offer three voyages to the Emperor Penguins in the Weddell Sea including helicopters.

We will also equip our vessel Ortelius with helicopters during our Ross Sea voyages. This is a significant and exciting undertaking.

This does require a schedule and price change to the Ortelius 2012-13 Antarctic Season.

We believe that this will offer two new spectacular programs – absolutely unique in the marketplace.

Michel van Gessel
And the Oceanwide Expeditions Team

Saturday 4 February 2012

Coral Princess Cruises launches 2012/13 New Zealand programme with savings of up to 25%

Australia and the South Pacific's pioneer of small-ship expedition cruising Coral Princess Cruises has launched their 2012/13 summer cruising schedule in New Zealand. The company's new brochure features a series of 12-night expeditions between Auckland and Milford Sound (and v.v.) aboard their state-of-the-art 72 passenger small ship Oceanic Discoverer. To celebrate the launch of the cruises, which operate between December and February annually, Coral Princess is offering earlybird savings of up to 25% on their annual Christmas Cruise, departing Auckland on 18 December 2012.

The expedition, which explores the east coast of both the north and south islands, takes expeditioners to some of the most scenic– and most difficult to access – locations that the 'land of the long white cloud' has to offer. From Auckland, the cruise takes in White Island's active volcano, art deco Napier, Gisborne's Maori culture and the scenic Marlborough Sounds. On the South Island, a whalewatching cruise is included in Kaikoura, the opportunity to swim with dolphins in Akaroa and time to explore historic Dunedin. A locally guided wildlife tour on Stewart Island and three days exploring the stunning waterways of Fiordland National Park complete the expedition. Cruising by luxury small ship allows access to areas beyond the reach of bigger ships; in Fiordland not only will guests discover Milford Sound, they will also explore Doutbful, Dusky, Breaksea and Thompson sounds.

The discounted prices for the 12-night New Zealand 'Aotearoa' cruise aboard Oceanic Discoverer start at $6,180 per person for Coral Princess Cruises past guests (25% off) and $7,004 for first time travellers (15% off) in a Main Deck (Category B) Stateroom. The reduced prices include all meals, lectures and services of the all-Australian and New Zealand expedition staff and excursions aboard a fleet of zodiacs and the unique 'Xplorer' excursion tender. The discount is available on the cruise departing Auckland on 18 December 2012, and is available until 31 May 2012 or until sold out.

Australian-owned Coral Princess Cruises pioneered small-ship expedition cruising in Australia in 1983 and operates a fleet of three small ships on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Kimberley Coast and Cape York & Arnhem Land. Further afield, there are expeditions to Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and New Zealand. The company is also currently offering savings of up to 25% on its 10 night Kimberley Expeditions between Darwin and Broome during the April 2012 "Waterfall Season".

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

Thursday 2 February 2012

New Greenland Whale Watching Tallship Voyages

led by Marine-life and Wildlife Polar Experts

What better way to encounter whales and explore the remote and spectacular Arctic wilderness of Western Greenland than on an expert-led Whale Safari?

From 7th – 14th June, Aqua-Firma Marine Scientist and polar expert Charlotte Caffrey, along with Biologist and Greenland wildlife expert, Thor Hjarsen, will be embarking on a new Disko Bay Whale Safari Sailing Voyage.

The emphasis of this voyage will be on searching for some of Greenland’s most fascinating marine species and in particular the Bowhead (Greenland Right) whale, which measures up to 20 metres in length and can be seen in large numbers in and around the UNESCO World Heritage site of Disko Bay.

Disko Bay is an area famed for harbouring the Jakobshavn Glacier - one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, moving up to 20 metres per day and producing around 10% of Greenland’s icebergs. Other whale species that one is likely to encounter in this area include minke, humpback, beluga and fin whales. With 24 hour sunlight at this time of year, the opportunities for whale and other wildlife encounters are greatly increased. The rich waters of Disko Bay attract an array of different Arctic birdlife, including long-tailed skuas, turnstones, grey phalaropes and a colony of over 10,000 breeding pairs of kittiwakes which can be observed both from on land and whilst cruising in a rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

On board a wonderful and newly-refurbished classic sailing vessel, passengers will be able to observe the prolific wildlife and magnificent glacial landscapes, explore Western Greenland’s Inuit culture and benefit from the knowledge of the expert onboard polar guides. Anchoring in remote locations will give passengers a true sense of what this wondrous Arctic region has to offer. Rigid inflatable boats will be used to access otherwise difficult to reach areas, whilst onshore treks will take passengers to the edge of beautiful lakes and welcoming hot springs and the summit of Avangnardlit, which promises breathtaking Arctic views over the Jakobshavn Fjord.

For further information about Aqua-Firma’s Greenland Voyages, please visit .

Award winning photographer joins Orion for Vietnam voyage / plus save 30%

Sue Flood
Orion sharpens the focus on Vietnam

Learn from the experts. Award winning wildlife photographer, author and filmmaker, Sue Flood, joins international photographer Nick Rains as a guest presenter onboard Orion II during a 9 night Vietnam Explorer photographic voyage.

This is an opportunity for enthusiasts of all levels to improve their photographic skills while on location in one of the world's most photogenic settings, Vietnam.

Starting in Ho Chi Minh this voyage includes 4 photogenic World Heritage sites - Hue, Hoi An, My Son and Ha Long Bay. There will be ample opportunity to experience and capture the cultural, historic and geographic diversity of Vietnam including the Saigon River, busy with sampans, exploring the traditional fishing village of Baie de Cu Mon, rarely seen by outsiders and exploring Nha Trang's Communist Party headquarters.

Nick and Sue will be holding regular workshops onboard before taking guests ashore on location along with members of Orion's specialist expedition team.

Onboard  photography workshops include professional advice and instruction on understanding and optimizing camera settings, selecting the best lens for the occasion, framing your subject and 'capturing the moment' along with instruction on the dark art of digital editing-software and printing.

Explore, experience and shoot from dawn to dusk, with internationally recognised and awarded professional photographers; then relax, compare images and enjoy superb cuisine, wines and company by night onboard Orion II.

Orion II's 9 night Vietnam Explorer photo expedition departs 30 March 2012, Ho Chi Minh City to Haiphong (for Hanoi) and includes Nha Trang, Baie de Cu Mon/Bai Nam Beach, Da Nang (for My Son and Hoi An), Chan May (for Hue), Ha Long Bay & Cat Ba. 

Special offer: Save 30%

Fares from A$5,135 (usually A$7,335) per person, twin share for an ocean view Category B suite – representing a saving of 30% if booked before the end of February 2012

For reservations, or to obtain an Orion brochure featuring Vietnam and other  itineraries to destinations stretching from Antarctica to the Russian Far East, 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:

Details of Vietnam Explorer itinerary available at

Arctic scientists warn of dangerous climate change

Source: Uni WA

The future of human kind faces dire consequences due to arguably the first signs of dangerous climate change in the Arctic, say leading international scientists from The University of Western Australia.

They say the Arctic region is fast approaching a series of imminent "tipping points" that could trigger an abrupt domino effect of large-scale climate change across the entire planet.

In a paper published in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' journal AMBIO and a parallel commentary in Nature Climate Change, the lead author and Director of the University's Oceans Institute, Winthrop Professor Carlos Duarte, said the Arctic region contained arguably the greatest concentration of potential tipping elements for global climate change.

"If set in motion, they can generate profound climate change which places the Arctic not at the periphery but at the core of the Earth system," Professor Duarte said. "There is evidence that these forces are starting to be set in motion."

"This has major consequences for the future of human kind as climate change progresses."

Professor Duarte said the loss of Arctic summer sea ice forecast over the next four decades - if not before - was expected to have abrupt knock-on effects in northern mid-latitudes, including Beijing, Tokyo, London, Moscow, Berlin and New York.

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