Friday 26 December 2014

Two Years on: The Akademik Shokalskiy stranding. What did we learn?


The icebound crew of the Akademik Shokalskiy made headlines but, a year on, the fruits of their expedition are revealed  

Alok Jha and Laurence Topham look on at the Akademik Shokalskiy
beset in ice in East Antarctica. Photograph: Andrew Peacock /Rex Features

The voyage was meant to retrace the steps of Douglas Mawson, the great polar explorer and scientist who led the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911. What happened instead captured the world’s attention, something none of the scientists, journalists and paying public aboard could have foreseen.

The Akademik Shokalskiy got stuck in ice on Christmas Day 2013 only two weeks after leaving New Zealand. A rescue mission swung into operation. Chinese, French and Australian icebreakers hurried to the scene only to be defeated by the ice floes themselves.

Read the full story:

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Quark awarded 2014 World’s Leading Specialist Cruise Line


Quark Expeditions® is thrilled to be granted the 2014 World’s Leading Specialist Cruise Line Award at the World Travel Awards™ Grand Final Gala Ceremony on December 7 in Anguilla, the Lesser Antilles. The award ceremony is widely regarded as the “Oscars of the Travel Industry.”

The esteemed World Travel Awards™ recognises and rewards excellence in the global hospitality, travel and tourism sectors, and are considered a benchmark of tourism excellence.

The awards are presented across three tiers; Country, Regional and World, with the latter category considered the top tier. They are particularly rewarding to travel industry organizations, as they represent endorsements from consumer passengers as well as travel agents worldwide.

Quark Expeditions® President Andrew White remarked, “We are delighted to be acknowledged by our travel partners and loyal passengers. As a company that is continuously striving for the highest standards of safety, innovation and guest experience, we couldn’t be happier to be recognized for excellence in the Specialist Cruise Line category.”

The 2014 award marks the third time Quark Expeditions® has earned a World Travel Awards™ accolade. In 2013, Quark was recognized as “World’s Leading Polar Expedition Operator”, and received the “Blow the Budget” award from the World Travel Awards™ Travel Experience Awards. Quark Expeditions® acknowledges and thanks its partners and passengers for voting for Quark to receive this respected distinction.

How to Book
Quark expeditions are available starting from £3,025 based on a triple on the 9 day Introduction to Spigtsbergen Expedition. For more information visit or call 0808 120 2333

Drones to be banned in Antarctica?


Travellers have been advised to check before flying a drone in Antarctica.

The International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) warns security measures essential for this relatively new activity. Tour operators may have to ban the use of unmanned vehicles out of environmental concerns.

IAATO is cautioning all potential travellers to Antarctica, who are hoping to fly a drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), to check with their travel agent or tour operator before packing their device.

Opportunities may be limited until more is known about their safe and environmentally responsible use in this last great wilderness - particularly in the wildlife rich coastal regions of Antarctica. Tour operators will either prohibit the use of UAVs altogether or only allow them to be operated under strictly defined conditions.

Both Antarctic Treaty Parties and IAATO members are concerned about UAVs in Antarctica; flying these devices is a relatively new activity.

While there are situations when UAVs might be useful, for science or ice reconnaissance for example, there are many questions still be answered about their use in terms of meeting IAATO's agreement that all their activities must be safe and environmentally responsible.

Within the Antarctic Treaty System, the unique global partnership that designates the entire continent as a natural reserve, all human activities, whether for science or tourism, have to go through an annual Environmental Impact Assessment by a relevant Competent Authority/government agency.

Planned activities that meet all relevant safety and environmental criteria are authorised and a permit granted. Using a UAV is considered a specific activity so has to be included in overall permit applications for assessment.

IAATO Executive Director, Dr. Kim Crosbie said, "Antarctica is still pristine with wildlife and landscapes that show little evidence of impact from direct human activity. To visit and operate in an environment like this comes with a responsibility to do so carefully and with minimal disturbance.

"The use of UAVs is in a state of development and, until more information is available, IAATO Member Operators and Competent Authorities are taking a precautionary approach when it comes to their operation.

The idea is to devise a pragmatic policy framework that will allow safe and environmentally responsible use under controlled circumstances." IAATO has been requested, on a consultancy basis, to present draft UAV guidelines and experiences at the next annual Antarctic Treaty Consultancy Meeting (ATCM) in Bulgaria, June 2015.

New 10-night Burma journey from Pandaw


Travel from Rangoon to Prome by coach and then onwards aboard the Pandaw II on an amazing 10-night Irrawaddy journey to Pagan and Mandalay. Departures from July 2015 to February 2016. Prices from only USD 3676 per person sharing a main deck stateroom.

E-visa now also available for arrivals in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw airports - in addition to Rangoon. See more >

Monday 22 December 2014

Captain Chad of True North and Dennis's Big Barra



I have so many fond memories and experiences from the year past, some just incredible from both an emotional and physical perspective.

I could write for hours but in the interests of brevity, my favourite Kimberley moment was a fishing expedition with Dennis whose sole aim was to catch a barra – but not just any barra - a BIG barra!

We were up early and we were treated to a complete ‘glass-off’. So we pushed up Camp Creek to where the fresh meets the salt - two dinghies with four fishers in each.

Dennis ended-up catching a massive 111.5cm thumper. Not only was he stoked beyond belief but all involved were equally entertained by the battle, the landing and best of all, the release.

Dennis and the BIG Barra
The event was also memorable because it resulted in my winning the annual crew prize for helping a guest to land the biggest barra! As a former master would say “Happy Days!”

My favourite international moment was experiencing the Sepik Soiree. The stilt village and the ‘crocodile initiations’ are incredible experiences. And, being a diver who has dived for a living, it’s always hard to go past those special moments underwater. The diving at the Hermit Islands was simply out of this world. Never before have I experienced clarity which seemed endless.

2014 was a very special year which I enjoyed immensely and, I would like to thank all of our wonderful guests for making it possible.

Best Wishes and Merry Christmas!

Captain Chad

Sunday 21 December 2014

French castaway discovered on remote Pacifc atoll


Friday 19 December 2014

Vintage cruising in Norway aboard MS Lofoten


Hurtigruten has announced a new concept on-board the fleet’s grand old lady, MS Lofoten (1964) from April 2015. This small, agile veteran of the seas has a few advantages over other ships as she can navigate waters others can’t – bringing her guests closer to the action and closer to the scenery. While the ship will operate on the traditional coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes and back, Hurtigruten are currently working on a number of new diversions and ports of call to add to the experience from April 2015.

Nearly 30 excursions are available with further exclusive activities offered. Guests will be given the opportunity to fish directly from the deck, or set pots to entice the fascinating king crab. The catch of the day will be prepared and served to the lucky fishermen at the next meal. In the evenings, all those fisherman’s tales gathered during the day, can be recounted over a game of bridge and a (complimentary) glass of sherry in the vintage lounge before dinner. Afternoon teas and quiz evenings will also be part of the new on-board experience.

A delicious 4-course dinner based on the menus of the 1960s will be created to delight the taste buds with fresh and seasonal ingredients from local suppliers along the coast.

Contact Discover the World on or call 1800 OCEANS (1800 623 267).

Singapore to Raja Ampat, Borneo and the Coral Triangle aboard National Geographic Orion


Raja Ampat (Flickr user: franklynaggerjerry)



Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced a new 17 day itinerary from Singapore to Raja Ampat, through Borneo and the Coral Triangle aboard the National Geographic Orion.

This region is known as the global centre of marine biodiversity, with more than 500 species of coral and nearly 2,000 species of fish, and is a mecca for snorkelers and scuba divers. Above ground, guests can encounter the orangutans of Tanjung Puting National Park and the giant lizards of Komodo Island, as well as the ikat textile weavings of Flores Island.

Additional experiences include:

· Meeting National Geographic grantee Dr. Biruté Galdikas on a visit to Camp Leakey, an orangutan research and conservation centre she established in the forests of Borneo

· Exploring the jungles of Tanjung Puting National Park on an all-day excursion by local boat, and interacting with orangutans and other rare wildlife at rehabilitation centres

· Visiting Komodo National park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and searching for Komodo dragons – the world’s largest living lizards – in their natural habitat

· Snorkelling and diving the colourful reefs of Raja Ampat, Komodo National Park beaches, Badas Islands and the Banda Islands

National Geographic Orion in the Kimberley (supplied)

The National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins. The interior is spacious and offers a range of modern public rooms with panoramic views. Her public rooms include a window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library at the very top of the ship.

The dining on board includes degustation menus by one of Australia’s renowned international chefs, Serge Dansereau, principal of Sydney’s The Bathers’ Pavilion. Dining is an integral part of the expedition experience, with influences and flavours that reflect the regions being explored.

This expedition departs on 9 September 2015, with rates from AUD $18,160 based on a double occupancy in a category one cabin.

To order the Explorations brochure, obtain additional information on Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic or to book, visit, call 1300 361 012 or see your travel agent.

Aurora Expeditions Antarctic expedition arrives in Puerto Williams


Leading Antarctic expedition company, Aurora Expeditions, has celebrated the arrival of its first Antarctic expedition into the small Chilean port town of Puerto Williams. This is the first time the company has used the port for its Antarctic operations, with another seven of the company's Antarctic expeditions scheduled to use the port as a starting or ending point this season.

Speaking in Puerto Williams on Wednesday, Aurora Expeditions CEO, Lisa Bolton, addressed Chilean Government and Navy members, as well as Aurora Expeditions' passengers and Puerto Williams locals, saying that this expedition represents a historical and symbolic moment, not only for Aurora Expeditions and the local community of Puerto Williams, but also for the greater Antarctic tourism industry.

"Thanks to the support of so many organisations, including the Chilean Government and Chilean Navy, Aurora Expeditions are now able to offer our passengers a wonderful alternative Antarctic gateway as well as share with them another of our planet's remote wilderness regions." said Bolton.

"We are also proud to be supporting the development of tourism in the region, to be assisting in the improvement of infrastructure, as well as providing resources to effectively and sustainably protect the island's natural assets."

Chile's Regional Director of Tourism for Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, Carla Ivelic, also acknowledged last month the important economic impact the developments will have on the Puerto Williams community, given tourism is currently worth approximately eight per cent of the region's GDP.

Already listed as one of the top 10 emerging places for adventure travellers by USA Today in 2013, Puerto Williams was added to Aurora Expeditions' Antarctic program to provide a unique nature experience for their passengers as well provide the Antarctic industry with an alternative port and gateway.

Aurora Expeditions' passengers aboard yesterday's inaugural expedition into Puerto Williams were taken on a tour to explore the town and other parts of Isla Navarino, before enjoying a 45-minute scenic flight over the spectacular granite spires of the Dientes de Navarino Mountains and completing their expedition in Punta Arenas, Chile.

Aurora Expeditions will continue to use Puerto Williams as an alternative port across their 2015-16 Antarctic expedition program. For the full program visit or call +61 2 9252 1033.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Coral Princess Cruises seek Manager- Group Hospitality & Operations

Manager, Group Hospitality & Operations

Coral Princess Cruises

Coral Princess Cruises is recognised as a pioneer in expedition cruising in Australasia, with a 30 year history of operational excellence. Last year, Coral Princess Cruises served over 5,000 customers across its fleet of 3 custom-designed small ships operating in the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, West Papua and the South Pacific. Our ships are well known for their professional service from a largely Australian and NZ crew, high quality cuisine using Australian ingredients, and itineraries featuring expert guided shore adventures.

As the company embarks on a new phase of growth, it now seeks an ambitious, detail orientated professional who wishes to step out of a pure hospitality service role, take on broader management responsibilities and help cement Coral Princess' reputation as Australia's premier boutique expedition ship operator.

  • Responsibility for the pre-cruise and on-board customer experience across our 3 ships
  • Designing and monitoring food and beverage service, and other hospitality amenities
  • Helping in new itinerary planning
  • Working with Senior Pursers to train service staff
  • Sourcing and implementing innovative new service programmes
  • Participating more broadly in company-wide business planning activities
  • At least 7 years of professional experience in luxury hospitality; marine experience preferred but not required
  • At least 4 years' experience leading service teams of at least 30 staff
  • Some experience working in Asia preferred
  • Very high attention to detail
  • Ability to handle challenges of managing multiple marine environments
  • Good business judgment

Monday 15 December 2014

Coral Princess Cruises Sold


Tony and Vicki Briggs sell down stake in Coral Princess.

Coral Princess Cruises founder and managing director Tony Briggs has just announced that Kallang Capital Holdings, a Singaporean based company, has made a "substantial equity investment" in the Australian small ship cruise line.

Briggs said the investment positions the business for future growth, with plans to add to the current range of "pioneering cruising itineraries covering the Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia's Kimberley, the South Pacific and South East Asia".

The investment will see several enhancements to the existing fleet of three vessels over the next year, commencing with a refurbishment of the 44-passenger Coral Princess II which will be completed by February 2015.

The existing Coral Princess management team, led by Mark Fifield, will remain in charge of the Cairns-based operation, and it is "very much business as usual" with all existing bookings, trade relationships and commitments to continue unchanged.

The investment is "part of a planned transition" by Briggs and his wife Vicki. Briggs remains a director of the company and they also retain a 10% shareholding in the business.

Kallang Capital Holdings is a holding company controlled by the founders of Singaporean financial services group Primepartners as well as Paul Chacko, and represents the interests of several Singaporean family offices, providing management support to "promising scaleable businesses in Singapore and across the region".

Backyard Travel's New Sailing Tour to Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago


Backyard Travel, the online boutique travel agency specializing in unique, insider tours throughout Asia, today announced a spectacular new sailing tour through the gorgeous untouched islands of the Mergui Archipelago. Situated along the southern coastline of Myanmar, the Mergui Archipelago – also called the MyeikArchipelago – is a true 'untouched paradise', with few of its 800 idyllic islands inhabited much less developed.

Mergui Islands, Myanmar

Home to the Moken people, the MyeikArchipelago opened to tourism as recently as 2007. The Moken lead semi-nomadic, sea-faring lives, spending the dry season on fishing boats and returning to land for the monsoonal months. As such, the pristine islands here remain untouched by development, nurturing richly diverse ecosystems both above and beneath the water. Some islands here are protected as a Marine National Park, replete with natural assets such as coral reefs, mangrove swamps, sea grass beds, tangled evergreen forests and sheltered lagoons.

Accommodation options in the MerguiArchipelago are understandably limited, so the best way to explore this wonderfully unspoiled region is by boat. To help travelers access this remote, largely uncharted area, Backyard Travel has launched a new boutique cruise aboard a small luxury yacht.

This 10-day sailing trip throughout the Mergui Archipelago begins in Myanmar's glittering capital, Yangon. Here, travelers have two days to take in the city's most striking landmarks, such as the Shwedagon pagoda, before heading on to the port city of Kawthaung on the Andaman coastline. From there, travelers join the skilled captain and crew of their boat before embarking on a 5-day/4-night sailing expedition of the islands.

Among the many tour highlights is a trip to Lampi Island, a protected zone with dense rainforests and white-sand beaches. Native wildlife here includes a diverse array of tropical birds, with dugongs sifting through its sea beds and monkeys chattering in the treetops. For travelers who enjoy snorkeling and beach-combing there's the reef-fringed Pila Island, home to wide beaches and crystal blue waters. And for a unique cultural experience, there's a visit to a Moken village, where visitors can get a taste of local life first-hand.

Throughout the cruise, travelers have plenty of time to relax on the deck of their luxury craft, enjoying ocean breezes, tropical sunshine and clear night skies. Gourmet meals are prepared with fresh seafood purchased from the local Moken and at night, the boat's cabins offer the ultimate in both privacy and comfort.

“The Mergui Archipelago is one of the region's last frontiers,” said Backyard Travel's General Manager Maeve Nolan. “Parts of the archipelago still remain unmapped and it's this relative isolation that has fostered some of the most bio-diverse island ecosystems in the world. A small, boutique sailing trip such as this allows travelers to visit the archipelago in a low-impact, culturally sensitive and enriching manner.”

For more information about Backyard Travel's new Mergui Archipelago tour, or for boutique tours around Myanmar, visit our webpage or send a direct inquiry to one of our Travel Specialists.

About Backyard Travel

Bangkok based Backyard Travel is an online travel company specializing in tailor-made tours to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Japan and China. For more information about Backyard Travel visit the website: or social media:




True North in PNG: The Louisiades


It seems like only yesterday that I was aboard the superb luxury expedition yacht, True North, when in fact it was nearly four years ago in the Solomon Islands when I last set (bare)foot on her decks.

Moray peeps out at me during our morning dive

The remains of the Zero fighter slowly being consumed by sand and coral

Guests ashore at Panapompom enjoy shade

Young islander and pandanus hat

True North at anchor off Panapompom Island

Not a lot has changed, just a few new faces, but Dr Andy Lewis the marine scientist and Chad the skipper are two there to greet me.

After arriving on an Alliance charter flight from Cairns to the historic Gurney airfield at Alotau, we're away in no time and among the glorious waters of PNG's Louisiade Archipelago, off the very easternmost tip of PNG.

Our first stop at Pananpompom Island is another deja vu moment. I first visited this idyllic little outpost with Coral Princess Cruise in 2006 and the tiny community is now seeing an increasing number of visits from small ships and yachts. The locals gather around us with no less curiosity than before, their warm smiles still a welcome recollection.

Sunsetters on the spit, Nivani Island (Panapompom opposite)

Young Harrison, 13, travelling with his grandfather engages in a most energetic interaction with the local boys and the stand-up paddle board becomes a focus of fun.

The day is capped of with sunsetters on the sandspit where PO Okura Shigeru would have waded ashore after ditching his Zero in May 1942 in the lagoon a few metres away from us.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic announces new experts on 2015 voyages



Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced a suite of special guests for the next year as part of its Global Perspectives Speakers Program, including new itineraries with the legendary Valerie Taylor.

The wide range of expeditions offers guests the chance to explore and personally interact with world-renowned researchers and explorers. The line-up of speakers for 2015 allows Lindblad Expeditions guests to travel with individuals known for discovering new species, diving to uncharted depths, leading primate research, and altering the course of scientific history.

The below rates are per person per night in a category one cabin based on double occupancy.

Global Perspectives Speakers onboard the National Geographic Orion:

Valerie Taylor:

Valerie Taylor
Since her revolutionary footage of great white sharks in 1973, Valerie Taylor has been a hugely influential scuba diver. She has been on a National Geographic cover and featured in live shark sequences that have appeared in the movies of Jaws, Orca and the Blue Lagoon. Taylor will join 'Indian Ocean Odyssey: Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka' departing 20 April 2015. Rates from $22,140.

Sir. James Mancham:

Learn the Seychelles history through the eyes of its founding president, Sir James R. Mancham. A visionary, award-winning peacemaker and author, Mancham played a pivotal part in settling international disputes. Mancham is widely recognised for putting the islands on the must-visit list for world travellers. He will join the two parts of the Seychelles: 'Treasures of the Indian Ocean: Zanzibar and the Seychelles' departing 9 April 2015 (from $14,770) and 'Indian Ocean Odyssey: Seychelles, Maldives and Sri Lanka departing 20 April 2015 (from $22,140).

Biruté Galdikas:

As the foremost authority on the orangutan, Biruté Galdikas has dedicated her life to educating others of the importance of this endangered animal. Since 1971, she has studied the science of these red apes through documenting their ecology and behaviour. Galdikas founded "Camp Leakey" and is the President and founder of Orangutan Foundation International. Galdikas will join three itineraries in 2015. These are 'Wild Islands of Sri Lanka, Borneo and the Andaman Sea' departing 6 May 2015 (from $23,380) 'Camp Leakey: Faces in the Forest' departing August 30 2015 (from $14,630) and 'Singapore to Raja Ampat: Exotic Indonesia' departing September 9 2015 (from $18,160).

Lawrence Blair:

Dr. Lawrence Blair has spent much of the past three decades exploring and making films in Indonesia. An expert on the culture, geography and zoology of Indonesia, he has also spent many years as a media communicator and has written, presented and co-produced the series Ring of Fire which won two Emmy awards in 1988. Dr Blair will join 'Wild Islands of Sri Lanka, Borneo and the Andaman Sea' departing 6 May 2015 (from $23,380) and 'Kimberley Expedition with the Spice Islands' departing 16 August 2015 (from $12,830).

Global Perspectives Speakers onboard the National Geographic Explorer:

Eric Larsen:

The first to journey on a summer expedition to the North Pole, Eric Larsen is known for completing more polar expeditions than any other American. Larsen's other expeditions include cycling in Antarctica, dog sledding in the Canadian Arctic and climbing Mount McKinley. Larsen will join the 'Land of the Ice Bears: An In-Depth Exploration of Arctic Svalbard' departing 16 June 2015. Rates from $10,490.

Johan Reinhard:

Johan Reinhard is famed for the recovery of Ice Maiden, an Inca mummy found on Mount Ampato. This feat was chosen by Time magazine as one of the world's ten most important discoveries of 1995. An anthropologist and high-altitude archaeologist, Reinhard has authored more than 70 publications, including six books. Reinhard will join 'Peru and Chile: Ancient Sites and Natural Wonders' departing 8 October 2015. Rates from $19,660.

Don Walsh:

Don Walsh, along with his colleague, is recognised for completing the deepest manned dive in history. An oceanographer, ocean engineer and retired Navy Captain, Dr. Walsh is author of more than 200 ocean-related publications with his explorations taking him on more than 50 polar expeditions. Dr. Walsh will travel on 'Land of the Ice Bears: An In-depth Exploration of Arctic Svalbard' departing 2 June 2015. Rates from $10, 490.

To order the Explorations brochure, obtain additional information on Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic or to book, visit, call 1300 361 012 or see your travel agent.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Discover the beauty of Greenland, Iceland, Russia and follow the Northern Lights

Experience the rugged beauty of Greenland and Iceland, the history of Russia and Follow the Northern Lights on a unique voyage. Discover Bentours using Augmented Reality-download the Stellar AR ap and using any 2015 Bentours brochure see these dream destinations come to life.

Bentours, Australia's specialist in travel to Scandinavia, Russia, Iceland and Greenland has put together these unique experiences for lovers of rugged beauty and natural wonders, amazing wildlife and fascinating history.

Venice to Croatia, Greece and Turkey on SeaDream I


SEADREAM Yacht Club has two extraordinary opportunities to explore Croatia's smaller and less-known, yet wonderfully colourful and rewarding ports, in June of next year, or six of the most captivating smaller ports of Greece in July… and enticingly with the possibility of joining both these sailings into one never-to-be-forgotten fortnight with a 10 per cent discount on the price of the second week.

Choose this outstanding two-week opportunity to make the most of a holiday to the Mediterranean, and you'll sail from Venice on June 27 2015 aboard the mega motor-cruise SeaDream I, and complete your magical holiday in Athens' port of Piraeus on July 11.

And making it even more rewarding will be overnight stays in Opatija that's been dubbed “Croatia's Monte Carlo,” Sibenik where the little streets and centuries-old architecture of the “old town” merge with the modern stores of the “new town,” Split that's one of the oldest towns in Croatia and World Heritage Site listed, and Dubrovnik regaled as “The Pearl of the Adriatic.”

SeaDream I will also make a transit of the historic and spectacular 6.3km Corinth Canal that was started by Emperor Nero in 67AD and eventually opened in 1893.

The individual week-long sailings – Venice to Dubrovnik on June 27 2015 and Dubrovnik to Piraeus on July 4 – each start from US$5,426pp twin-share including premium wines with meals and bar drinks throughout the sailing… with the fortnight-long sailing starting from US$10,352pp twin-share including a US$500 per person discount for the second week.

The mega motor-cruiser SeaDream I carries a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew. The price includes five-star cuisine, premium wines and bar drinks, power and sail water-sports where local authorities permit, a 30-international course golf simulator, state of the art fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore excursions, gratuities and port charges and taxes.

For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Antarctic Cruises with Ponant - new brochure



The world’s only French-flagged cruise line and top cruise line worldwide in polar expeditions for 15 years, PONANT’s itineraries to the Antarctic for the 2015-2016 season include, for the first time, three ships in the region plus an itinerary that includes the Sub Antarctic Islands of Australia and New Zealand.


Exploring the world’s extreme regions in five-star comfort has become a PONANT hallmark.

From November 2015 to January 2016, PONANT has three outstanding Antarctic itineraries offering a genuine polar safari experience to observe the region’s unique wildlife in its natural habitat. Aboard LE BORÉAL, L’AUSTRAL and the recently launched LE LYRIAL, luxury French-flag yachts of 122 to 132 staterooms and suites, designed for polar cruises and complying with the international “Green Ship” label, passengers gain access to protected sites only accessible to small capacity ships, limited in this region to 200 passengers.

Flexibility at all times is the approach that sets these cruises apart, with Zodiac® outings to get passengers as close as it is possible to nature, with time to linger over the region’s most emblematic sites. At any moment the ship may alter its course to admire the acrobatics of a humpback whale or land passengers on a beach to meet a particularly impressive penguin colony. It is a unique experience made all the more interesting by renowned South Pole specialists who are only too delighted to share their views and passion for these polar lands which they have been roaming for years.

Voyage examples: (current pricing, subject to increase)

Emblematic Antarctica - Le Lyrial / Le Austral

Complete immersion in the vast white world of the Antarctic Peninsula, discovering the tabular icebergs and drifting pack ice where fur seals and colonies of Gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins live.

Ushuaia - Ushuaia (11 days): 8 departures from November to January, including New Year Cruise
From 9060 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $750 Safety and Port taxes

The Great Adventure: The Peninsula & South Georgia - Le Lyrial

Essence of the Antarctic Peninsula’s white landscapes and discovering of South Georgia with its imposing glaciers and black sandy beaches, home to vast colonies of king penguins.

Montevideo - Ushuaia or v.v. (15 days to 16 days): 2 departures, November and February
From 7790 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $1050 Safety and Port taxes

The Great Austral Loop - Le Boreal / L'Austral

Highlights of three regions - Falklands and the black-browed albatross, South Georgia and king penguins, plus the majestic icebergs of the North Antarctic Peninsula - make for an unforgettable journey.

Ushuaia - Ushuaia (14, 15 and 16 night options): 4 departures November and December 2105
From 9970 AUD per person (direct flights and transfers Buenos Aires/Ushuaia included) plus $1125 Safety and Port taxes

The Sub Antarctic Islands of Australia & New Zealand - Le Soleal

Extraordinary in their primitive beauty, mostly of volcanic origins and less icy than their ‘sister islands’, this rarely visited and protected region abounds in marine, airborne and terrestrial bio-diversity, earning UNESCO World Heritage status. “The Galapagos of the Southern Ocean”.

Christchurch - Melbourne (15 nights): 1 departure in December.

From 7080 AUD per person plus $1125 Safety and Port taxes

Online Brochure

Link to new Collection - Australian version:
ANTARCTICA CRUISES: December 2015 – February 2016.

Five new voyages for Variety Cruises


Athens, Greece-based small ship cruise line Variety Cruises has announced it will launch five new itineraries in 2015 and 2016, including cruises in the Red Sea, Greece and Turkey, the Canary Islands and in Madagascar and its Mozambique Channel Islands.

New 2015 - 2016 Cruise Voyages

The Red Sea

The Red Sea Cruises will debut in 2016 on the 21-cabin Motor Yacht Harmony G, operating two 6 night / 7 day cruise itineraries in the area: the Kings and Pharaohs Cruise and the Splendours of the Red Sea Cruise, two equally fascinating cruise programs showcasing the treasures of the Red Sea and the cultural diversity of Egypt and Jordan. Variety Cruise's Kings and Pharaohs Cruise from Aqaba, Jordan to Suez, Egypt (or reverse) program includes Luxor, the ancient land of gods and pharaohs and home of the Valley of the Kings, and the Karnak and Luxor temples, Sharm el Sheikh in the Sinai peninsula and home to St. Catherine's Monastery atop Mt. Sinai and pre- and post-cruise tours in Jordan and Cairo, to unravel the amazing cultural diversity of the region.

The Splendours of the Red Sea Cruise from Hurghada to Hurghada, Egypt allows for more time in Aqaba, Jordan with visits of Petra and Wadi Rum, as well as for more swim stops to enjoy the sun and the underwater treasures of the Red Sea. For more information, please visit .

Greece and Turkey

The Aegean Mosaic Cruise is a 7 night / 8 day program from Athens to Istanbul (or reverse), with 4 sailings in 2015 and 9 sailings in 2016. Travelers sail on the 36-cabin Mega Yacht Variety Voyager, discovering both mainland port cities and islands throughout eight days. The cruise takes passengers everywhere from the exotic city of Istanbul and the fabled ancient cities of Troy, Pergamon and Ephesus to the glitzy Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, as well as off-the-beaten track islands of Patmos, Samos and Arki, where large cruise ships cannot dock. The cruise offers passengers six optional excursions and three swim stops at the most picturesque locations in the Greek islands. For more information, please visit .

The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands Discovery on the 25-cabin Motor Yacht Harmony V is a 7 night / 8 day cruise program showing this 10 islands archipelago - a perfect fit for Variety's small ships -- with tremendous bio and cultural diversity and close to perfect weather conditions. Guests will sail this new program from December 2015 to March 2016, which is the best period to visit the Canary Islands with temperatures not exceeding 71-74 degrees Farenheit and when winds are at their lowest. Passengers explore Gran Canaria, the main island, with its capital Las Palmas, cosmopolitan Lanzarote, Tenerife and La Palma or Isla Bonita. The simple wild beauty of Fuerteventura and the small and quaint island of La Gomera enchant the senses. Variety Cruises will operate 14 sailings plus an end March repositioning cruise from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Malaga, Spain. An Excursions Package including walking tours and excursions is available at additional cost. For more information please visit .

Madagascar and its Mozambique Channel Islands

Madagascar and its Mozambique Channel Islands Cruise on the 21-cabin Motor Yacht Pegasus, is a 9 night / 10 day itinerary showing North West Madagascar in a way no land tour or cruise has done so before: The Madagascar mainland portion of the itinerary includes the magnificent Diego Suarez Bay, the Ankarana Park and Amber Mountain. The itinerary also includes an island hopping portion reaching the most beautiful islands in the Mozambique channel such as Hara, Mitsio, Komba, Sakatia, Iranji and Nosy Be. The program can embark from Nosy Be or from Diego Suarez and an Excursions Package is available including walking tours and excursions. There will be a Madagascar Specialist Guide on board to educate passengers on the islands and their histories. For more information, please visit .

For more information, prices and bookings, please contact your local Travel Agent or Discover the World Cruising on 1800 OCEANS (623 267) or email

New CEO and Operations Manager at Alaskan Dream Cruises


After four years of small ship cruising through Alaska’s Inside Passage, Alaskan Dream Cruises is preparing for growth, according to a company statement.

The Sitka, Alaska-based company recently hired two new executives, including Russell Dick as chief executive officer.

Russell was also recently named by former Governor Sean Parnell to the Alaska Tourism Marketing Board, an advisory board that will make recommendations for the state’s tourism marketing strategies.

Former president and CEO of Haa Aaní, LLC, a subsidiary of Sealaska Corp., Russell serves as chairman of the board of directors for Huna Totem Corp., the Native village corporation representing Alaska Natives with aboriginal ties to Glacier Bay and Hoonah.

He holds a master’s of science in management from Stanford Graduate School of Business; a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Stanford University; and a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting from the University of Phoenix. He is a member of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan clan.

“Russell brings an incredible amount of experience to the organization and an innate understanding of what it means to share Alaska with our guests,” said David Allen, Alaskan Dream Cruises owner and president. “Alaskan Dream Cruises prides itself on offering visitors access to ‘True Alaska with True Alaskans’ and will continue to focus on sharing authentic experiences with travelers under Russell’s direction.”

Additionally, Peter Butz joins the executive team as operations manager, bringing decades of small-ship cruise line experience to Alaskan Dream Cruises. After extensive travels as an expedition leader with Lindblad Travel and Special Expeditions, Peter spent 25 years serving as the vice president of fleet operations and chief operating office of Lindblad Expeditions. He managed the growth of Lindblad Expeditions’ fleet to six vessels deployed in global operations, including Antarctica, Galapagos, the Arctic and Alaska.

Peter will oversee the operation aspects of the company, and will report to Russell as the company prepares for its fifth season. “I’m honored to be leading a team of professionals instrumental in creating the successes achieved thus far,” Russell said. “I’m inspired by the Allen family’s commitment to quality, service and creativity, which will continue to be the foundation of our success.”

Alaskan Dream cruises will offer 47 sailings ranging from 8- to 13-days aboard its three newly renovated vessels, visiting 17 ports of call throughout Southeast Alaska in 2015.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Earlybird savings on Cruiseco Adventurer Mekong sailings

Cruiseco is offering exceptional earlybird savings on a number of Cruiseco Adventurer sailings in 2015 and 2016.  Guests can choose between 11, 14, 16 or 18 night voyages on board this luxurious ship, which was designed specifically to travel along the mighty Mekong River, stopping at exotic villages, towns and historic landmarks along the way.

Laura Clarke, Manager Special Projects at Cruiseco, says this is a great opportunity to take advantage of the cruise line's unique itineraries.

"Cruiseco Adventurer, which is limited to just 60 guests, has set the benchmark for luxury cruising on the Mekong.  Regardless of which itinerary guests choose, they will have an unforgettable experience of this part of the world, creating memories that will last a lifetime.  All our itineraries are designed for travellers who want to 'feel' a country, not just 'see' one," says Laura.

Cruiseco Adventurer, designed exclusively for the Mekong River, has a number of itineraries available in 2015/16, including:

·         Saigon to Siem Reap, 11 nights.  Earlybird prices start from $3,499 per person, based on twin share; $5,699 per person, based on sole occupancy.  This voyage also operates in the reverse order.

·         Luang Prabang to Saigon, 14 nights.  Earlybird prices start from $5,015 per person, based on twin share; $7,955 per person, based on sole occupancy.  

·         Halong Bay to Saigon, 16 nights.  Earlybird prices start from $5,449 per person, based on twin share; $8,879 per person, based on sole occupancy.

·         Hoi An to Saigon, 18 nights.  Earlybird prices start from $6,009 per person, based on twin share; $9,809 per person, based on sole occupancy.

There are various departure dates available for each voyage, all of which are highlighted in the 'Authentic Asia Vietnam Cambodia 2015/2016' brochure available online.

"Many of the smaller ports visited by Cruiseco Adventurer are not locations which have been visited hundreds of times by other tourists.  Our guests discover something that is off the beaten track and truly special.  Travellers can learn about the culture and traditional rituals from the local Vietnamese and Cambodian people through our unique onshore excursions.  Highlights include Trishaw rides through villages, visiting the floating markets, and even receiving a blessing from a Buddhist monk," says Laura.

"I encourage those thinking about visiting Vietnam and Cambodia to take advantage of our earlybird fares, as space is limited and suites are selling quickly.  This part of the Asia is somewhere everyone should see, it's like nowhere else in the world," adds Laura.

Cruiseco Adventurer fares include: return airfares from Australia; a river cruise onboard Cruiseco Adventurer; extensive sightseeing with expert local guides, all transfers and gratuities for guides/drivers; breakfast daily; and local beers and wines with lunch and dinner as specified in the itinerary.

To book whilst cabins are available, or for more information, visit or call (02) 9492 8520 or visit your local Cruiseco agent.

Saturday 6 December 2014

APT Caledonian Sky in Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Luxury base: the Caledonian Sky, after a morning snorkelling among the atolls and coves of Pulau Wayag in West Papua.

Luxury base: the MS Caledonian Sky, after a morning snorkelling
among the atolls and coves of Pulau Wayag in West Papua. (Keith Austin)

To embrace the expedition cruise you must expect the unexpected and go with the flow, writes Keith Austin.

Expect the unexpected, they said. There's a limit to this frame of mind, of course. Take it literally and you'll jump in the Zodiac for a day's snorkelling equipped with an umbrella, a parachute and a box of matches.

But it was going to be a beach landing, some snorkelling and then a return from the beach to the ship; footwear seemed as useful as a parachute so I didn't take any. Who knew we would end up picking our way along a jungle path in search of an abandoned WWII landing craft?

Full story:

Hurtigruten Gives North American Guests Easier Access to Greenland via Iceland


New Itineraries Start at $6,307 and Include Time to Explore Reykjavik and Environs

Arctic fun 

Seattle, December 2014 – Hurtigruten, the leader in exploring polar regions on its specially designedexpedition ship, the MS Fram, has introduced itineraries aimed at making it easier for North  American travelers to visit Greenland next summer. While most other operators get guests to Greenland by routing them through a flight to and overnight stay in Copenhagen, Hurtigruten’s sailings in the months of June and July 2015 provide access to Greenland via flights through Iceland, reducing travel time; pricing for these trips starts at $6,307 per person, double including transport from Iceland to Greenland. Also new in 2015 is the “Experience Iceland” tour in Reykjavik, which gives visitors a three-day glimpse into that capital city and its surroundings either before or after their Greenland expedition; pricing starts at $563 per person and includes two nights at a first-class hotel, breakfast each morning, a full-day Golden Circle excursion with lunch, and an excursion to the Blue Lagoon (including the entrance fee).

There’s no better way to explore these remote areas than on a Hurtigruten voyage, during which guests have the opportunity to see Greenland’s icebergs calve into the sea, explore fjords, hike the country’s beautiful meadows and watch wildlife under the sparkle of the Midnight Sun. In addition, guests have the chance to visit isolated communities to see for themselves how man and nature interact here, with that powerful relationship being reflected in everything from language and music to clothing and food.

On the subject of Midnight Sun, Iceland also provides plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural phenomena … and an abundance of summertime activities to keep guests busy round the clock. Iceland is the land of volcanoes, glaciers and geysers, plus vast expanses of unspoiled wilderness just minutes away from the capital city of Reykjavik. On the Iceland extensions, visitors spend three days in and around the capital, including a day touring the famed “Golden Circle” and one at the Blue Lagoon.

Shore party in Greenland
Hurtigruten’s 13-day “Glaciers and Ice” itinerary is offered in both June and July. On this journey, guests visit the southwestern coast of Greenland, which is the largest island on the planet. Highlights include Disko Bay – known for its spectacular icebergs and array of arctic wildlife – and the southern fjords. Excursions include opportunities to hike, kayak or even take a helicopter ride. This voyage also includes fascinating glimpses into the history of Greenland, with emphasis on the country’s Viking culture. These itineraries start at $6,309 per person, double for the June 2 departure and $6,307 for the July 3 trip. Meanwhile, the 11- to 14-day “Arctic Wilderness Adventure” itinerary departing on June 23 unlocks the mysteries of Northwest Greenland and visits such ports as Qasigiannguit and Upernavik. Pricing for this trip starts at $7,195; the length of the trip varies, based on whether guests opt for the Iceland extension.

A Hurtigruten explorer voyage goes well beyond a simple cruise that offers some interesting land excursions. The company employs Expedition Team members who are not just expert lecturers, but also official hosts and guides. Many of these experts are residents of the areas being explored, and they offer insight into the biology, history, geology and people of these remote areas. They have lots of information to share, but they’re also full of passion and enthusiasm for these special regions. As the escorts of the shore landings and hikes, the Expedition Team helps guests make the most of their visits while teaching them how to avoid disturbing the fragile ecosystems they’re exploring.

When it comes to exploring polar waters, nobody can match Hurtigruten, a Norwegian company whose captains are the current generation of professionals immersing themselves in the philosophies and traditions of this type of exploration. The MS Fram is named for the original Norwegian vessel that became the first ship to drift across the Arctic Ocean … and the one that took renowned explorer Roald Amundsen to his starting point in Antarctica as he raced to reach the South Pole. Today’s MS Fram drew its inspiration from the originalFram, taking the most advanced technology to create a purpose-builtexpedition ship that focuses on guest comfort and safety. It boasts 127 cabins, many of which are named for polar heroes. The front of the ship is especially designed so guests can observe the marine wildlife and natural phenomena that are in abundance on these voyages.

Hurtigruten sails to the most remote of destinations as well as year-round along Norway's coast and in Europe. The company’s fleet of intimate ships, which each carry 100 to 646 guests, allows travelers to enjoy the scenery and culture of the destination in a relaxed atmosphere.

Additional information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from travel agents or Hurtigruten's visitor-friendly website,; by phone at 877-301-3117; or fax at 888-524-2145. To order brochures 24 hours a day, call 800-582-0835.

Friday 5 December 2014

G Adventures cancels cruise due to engine failure


MS Expedition (R Eime)
G Adventures has cancelled an Antarctica cruise after an engine failed on its expedition cruise ship.

The ship was berthed in Ushuaia, Argentina, when its portside engine failed unexpectedly on November 18, and G Adventures' engineers and the engine's manufacturers have been unable to fix the problem.

The line made the decision to cancel the ship's next sailing, on December 7, after being told that it was unclear whether the repairs would be completed in time.

G Adventures confirmed in a statement that all passengers on the cancelled cruise have been offered a full refund as well as discounted rebooking options of 15 percent off another Expedition cruise or 20 percent off any other G Adventures tour.

A spokesperson for the line told Cruise Critic that an update on the ship's status was expected later this week.


Thursday 4 December 2014

Cruising is a consuming passion - NG Orion

Just learned from our hotel manager, Tracy Greiner, about some of our consumption habits aboard National Geographic Orion since we left Fiji on 18 November.
  • 3000 eggs
  • 520 lbs potatoes
  • 1300 toilet rolls
  • 320 litres ice cream
  • 300+ lbs of beef
  • 520 bottles of wine
  • 500 beers
  • 1540 cans soda
  • 2500 baked cookies
and from the engine room
The ship has burned 150 tonnes of diesel travelling 3100 NM
The ship uses up to 50 tonnes of water per day, most of which is in the cabins. An estimated 20% is used in the galley and laundry. The water maker on board can produce up to 100 tonnes.

Hanging on in the Tuamotus - Rangiroa drift dive


More images:

Monday 1 December 2014

Millennium Atoll - the most pristine marine ecosystem in the world?


Sunday 30 November 2014

Flint Island - Southern Line Islands - Kiribati


Saturday 29 November 2014

News from True North - North Star Cruises

#expeditioncruising !

source: !

The TRUE NORTH's most famous cruise awaits!
This is where it all started – this is what North Star Cruises is most famous for!
North Star pioneered adventure-cruising in the Kimberley! It is still our ‘backyard’ and nobody knows the area like we do – we know about sites that others don’t and, we know how to do it all in comfort and style!
From April 2015 the flagship Kimberley Ultimate itinerary will once again offer one the worlds’ most-highly regarded holiday experiences!
But don’t miss-out – availability is already limited!
If seeing the Kimberley on the magnificent TRUE NORTH is something that you have always wanted to do – act now!
To select your preferred dates – just click HERE!

Magnificent Whale Sharks!
The Whale Sharks of Cenderawasih Bay offers opportunity to experience a truly unique wildlife encounter.
The whale shark (Rhincodon typus) is the biggest fish in
the sea! They feed predominately on plankton (although
in Cenderawasih Bay they have taken a liking to small baitfish!)
yet they can grow to more than 12 metres in length. There are
other places in the world where snorkelers can have a close encounter with these gentle giants - however we are pretty sure that nothing compares to a whale shark encounter in Cenderawasih Bay!
Channel 7 recently featured a story on the TRUE NORTH’s visits to Cenderawasih Bay – to discover more about this amazing destination watch the video HERE!
We only visit Cenderawasih Bay twice a year and availability in both 2015 and 2016 is disappearing fast! We strongly recommend making early arrangements to avoid any disappointment!
To discuss your next adventure on the TRUE NORTH contact your preferred travel representative or your adventure partners at North Star Cruises on +61 8 9192 1829.

Looking for that perfect Christmas Gift?
The TRUE NORTH's comfortable and super-practical adventure clothing offers some fantastic gift ideas for Christmas.
Click HERE to see the latest collection.
Look out for the ever-popular Mens Beige Gondwana Shorts – they have been reduced to $50 just in time for Christmas.
Contact your adventure partners at North Star Cruises to arrange THE perfect Christmas gift!
See you on the TRUE NORTH!