Friday 31 January 2014

Video: Dramatic scenes as passengers rescued from sinking vessel

The Aladdin sinks rapidly leaving passengers fighting for their lives (Dennis Karlsson)
An allegedly unregistered dive boat has sunk near Phuket leaving terrified passengers scrambling for their lives.

The dive boat, MV The Flying Carpet, of Koh Chang-based Aladdin Dive Safaris, with 13 persons aboard sank rapidly after the wooden hull was holed.

Witness, Swedish diver Dennis Karlsson, said. "It was just coincidence that our boat was there and could come to the rescue, it was really, really serious. People threw themselves headlong into the water. Some disappeared under the surface. It was a very close thing for some of them and people were so grateful that the Peter Pan was there (to rescue survivors)."

Karlsson's dramatic images attest to the urgency of the rescue.

Aladdin liveaboard dive boat MV The Flying Carpet prior to incident.
19.2m with sleeping for 14 guests
Safety equipment listing includes 30 Life Jackets, Surface Markers,
Rubber Dinghy, Fire Extinguisher, O2-Unit, SOLAS Life Raft
Location of the sinking (source: Phuket Gazette)

Featured Brochure: Heritage Expeditions Expedition Cruising

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For a complete list of upcoming voyages, view the Expedition Calendar.

Paul Gauguin Cruises helps make new discoveries about the life of Paul Gauguin

m/v Tere Moana
Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the m/s Paul Gauguin, and the 88-guest m/v Tere Moana, helps make new discoveries about the life of Paul Gauguin, adding a new dimension to the world’s body of knowledge of the artist.

Dr. Caroline Boyle-Turner, an art historian and expert on artist Paul Gauguin, has been a guest lecturer on The Gauguin since 1999. Paul Gauguin Cruises has facilitated Boyle-Turner’s visits to Hiva Oa in the Marquesas to research the artist’s life. Over the past five years, Boyle-Turner has expanded her research and is writing a book on Gauguin based on her research, entitled Gauguin and the Marquesas. With the permission of the island’s mayor, Boyle-Turner was able to arrange for four teeth presumably belonging to Gauguin, found in a glass bottle in a well behind his house in Atuona on Hiva Oa, to be analyzed by scientists associated with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Ill. The scientists were able to extract DNA from the teeth, and a DNA sample was taken from Gauguin’s grandson, Marcel Tai Gauguin, for the tests.

The goal of the analysis was to determine if the teeth were positively Gauguin’s and if they held additional information about his life. The scientists discovered with 90 percent certitude that the teeth were Gauguin’s. When the ship was in Hiva Oa on January 9, a special ceremony was held aboard The Gauguin. Boyle-Turner, along with dentist Dr. William Mueller, who helped arrange the tests and interpret the results, outlined the findings of the research for guests and local press aboard The Gauguin. Boyle-Turner then returned the teeth to the mayor of Atuona, Etienne Tehaamoan, who spoke about the economic importance of visits by The Gauguin to Hiva Oa and praised the ship as being one of the most regular visitors to the island. Following the ceremony, the Atuona dance group performed.

Gauguin’s teeth will be on display at the Centre Paul Gauguin, a cultural center in Atuona honoring the artist and showcasing exhibits and reproductions of his work. The center can be visited when the ship is in Hiva Oa on The Gauguin’s Marquesas, Tuamotus & Society Islands itineraries which depart April 12 and October 25 in 2014, and August 29 and November 21 in 2015. Virtually undiscovered for centuries, the remote Marquesas afford a true glimpse of the Polynesia of old. On this one-of-a-kind itinerary, The Gauguin visits four islands in the Marquesas, the diving mecca of the Tuamotus archipelago, and the exquisite Society Islands. The voyages begin and end in Papeete, Tahiti, visiting Fakarava in the Tuamotus; and Omoa, Fatu Hiva; Atuona, Hiva Oa; Hapatoni, Tahuata; Tiaohae, Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas; along with Huahine, Bora Bora, Taha’a (Motu Mahana), and Moorea in the Society Islands. Cruise fares start at $6,795 per person and include airfare from Los Angeles.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Sarina Bratton awarded Order of Australia (AM)

Media Release from Compagnie du Ponant Australasia

Sarina Bratton AM


Sarina Bratton, a leading travel industry figure with a stellar reputation gained for her role in pioneering luxury international cruising in the Australian market, has been awarded an Order of Australia in the Australia Day Honours announced today.

Mrs Bratton, who lives on Sydney’s northern beaches with her husband Ray and daughter Bianca, has been made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry, and to business.

She said today it was an “enormous honour to be recognised with such a prestigious appointment”.

“I have long been an enthusiastic believer in, and supporter of, the potential of the international cruise industry from an Australian perspective,” she said. “To have been able to play a role for more than three decades in the development of this industry has been a huge and satisfying pleasure”.

Following an impressive 14-year career with Cunard Line, ultimately as Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific, Mrs Bratton founded the first of her two cruise companies, Norwegian Capricorn Line, in 1997, in a joint venture between Australian interests and Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line. The company was acquired by Star Cruises in 2000.

Often referred to as Australia's "First Lady" of cruising, Mrs Bratton, four years later, pioneered luxury expedition cruising in the Asia Pacific region when she founded market-leading five-star Orion Expedition Cruises. Mrs Bratton served as Managing Director of the company until early 2013 when she sold her remaining shares in the company.

Her passion for small ship luxury cruising, as well as her acknowledged international reputation, knowledge and expertise in this fast-emerging cruise vacation category, led to her appointment late last year as Chairman Australasia for the luxury French yacht and expedition cruise line, Compagnie du Ponant. She was also appointed Special Advisor to the company’s Marseilles-headquartered executive board.

In her new Sydney-based role, Mrs Bratton spearheads Compagnie du Ponant's international development, with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region, as both key destinations and source markets. Future plans for the company include the positioning of a new expedition ship in and around Australia from late 2015 for a program of itineraries featuring Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands. The company will also heavily promote accessibility to other unique global expedition destinations with its existing expedition sister ships L'Austral, Le Boreal and Le Soleal and its spectacular sailing ship Le Ponant.

The high point of a career that has taken Mrs Bratton from a nationally ranked sportswoman in three fields (diving, gymnastics, trampoline) to the first female founder of a shipping line has been her achievement in creating Australasia’s only world-class, five-star expedition cruise line rated as a world leader in sustainability and environmental conscience.

Mrs Bratton’s business acumen has led to several senior board directorships within Australian state and federal governments, including the State Transit Authority (NSW), Australian Maritime Safety Authority (deputy chair), Sydney Paralympic Organizing Committee (Prime Minister’s nominee) and the Australian Trade Commission. She has also served as a non-executive director of Australia’s former premium eco-accommodation provider, Voyages Hotels and Resorts; was the Founding Chair of the International Cruise Council Australia (now CLIA Australasia - Cruise Lines International Association) and Non-executive Chairman of a private equity backed Australian experiential tourism operator.

In 2008, Mrs Bratton was the recipient of the NSW Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Services category of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In 2006, she was honoured with the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award for her entrepreneurship and vision. Also in 2006 she was recognised in the inaugural Australian Travel Innovators Award for “enhancing the way Australians, and the world, travel”. She was awarded the Commonwealth Government’s Centenary Medal in 2003 for her business leadership contributions and in 2000 was entered into the Business Woman’s Hall of Fame.

Saturday 25 January 2014

New Burma river cruises from Pandaw

Two New River Expeditions in Burma

Only possible on the Latest Ultra Shallow Draft Pandaws

RY Kalay Pandaw
The RY Kalay Pandaw, entered service last month in Mandalay, and the RV Kindat Pandaw, launching next week in Rangoon, both draw not more than 75cm or 2.5 feet making them the shallowest draft passenger vessels in Burma. These are ships that can go where no other ships can go. As the river silts up making going north of Mandalay more difficult. Other operators build larger and larger ships, Pandaw is going smaller and smaller.

The loveliest of rivers. In the past this was only offered during the monsoon due to water levels. The river carves its way through mountains and forests and stops are at delightful unspoilt little towns. The tiny Kalay will ply the Upper Chindwin weekly between Monywa and Homalin. Monywa is under three hours from Mandalay and the car transfer is included with the cruise. Homalin is now connected by scheduled flight with Rangoon, Inle and Mandalay. Kalay with only five cabins, one of which is the luxurious ‘Owner’s Cabin’, sails every Saturday.

The Kindat will sail weekly between Mandalay and Bhamo, the most northerly navigable point on the Irrawaddy, 1000 miles from Rangoon and close to the China border. Highlights will be passage through the 3rd and 2nd defiles, not to mention visits to enchanting local towns, most favourite being Katha, once home to George Orwell and the setting for Burmese Days. Bhamo is now a big trading town with a strong Chinese influence. We will then continue in the Kindat, if water conditions permit, or by local boat to enter the awesome 1st defile with its cataracts and towering gorges. There are now direct flights to and from Bhamo to Mandalay, Inle and Rangoon. Kindat with only twenty cabins sails every Sunday.

Pandaw has scheduled these sailings around the airline time tables so it will be possible to book these two expeditions back to back making a fourteen night adventure with one night in Mandalay in between. Guests would fly Rangoon Homalin, sail down to Monywa, then transfer for one free night in Mandalay and the next day joining the upstream cruise to Bhamo and fly back from Bhamo to Inle or Rangoon.

Friday 24 January 2014

APT Ganges River Cruises

Inline images 1
APT Offers Enticing India Deals

To celebrate the launch of its new collection of luxury small group holidays to India, APT is offering three strictly limited special deals.

For example, book the 14-day Spirit of India from Delhi to Kolkata, priced from $9,695, and your companion will fly to India for free, including air taxes of up to $780 per person.

Commencing with a six night land journey from New Delhi to Agra, Jaipur and Kolkata, you'll stay at opulent, world-leading hotels every step of the way, including the two of Asia's leading award-winning resorts: The Oberoi Amaravilas in Agra, with its palatial suites and views of the Taj Mahal from every single room; and The Imperial Hotel in Delhi, best known for its contemporary colonial style and highly acclaimed restaurant.  

This is followed by a seven night Lower Ganges River cruise sailing aboard the brand new RV Ganges Voyager luxury river ship on a roundtrip from Kolkata to Murshidabad. A visit to Mother Theresa's house, shopping at shore-side bazaars, visiting local villages and participating in a local game of cricket and stopping at various temples are just a few of the cruise highlights.

Other sightseeing highlights include APT Signature Experiences such as the chance to participate in the royal sport of Elephant Polo in Jaipur; exploring the lanes of Old Delhi by rickshaw; a dazzling Bollywood extravaganza at Delhi's Kingdom of Dreams; and the chance to explore Kolkata's flower market.

Included are all flights within India; five star accommodation throughout; the services of an APT Tour Director; 44 meals eating at gourmet hotel restaurants; all tipping, airport transfers, sightseeing and porterage; and complimentary drinks with meals on board the cruise.

Other SuperDeals include 'Fly Business Class, including taxes' from $5,695 per person and a special saving of up to $2,000 per person on APT's Colours of Sri Lanka & India Small Ship Cruise. Deals are valid on all bookings until 31 May 2014 or until sold out. Terms and conditions apply and offer is subject to availability.

For further information call APT on 1300 278 278, visit or see your local travel agent.

Into the heart of St Petersburg and Helsinki with SeaDream

SEADREAM Yacht Club has a highly tempting return-sailing from Stockholm to St Petersburg on June 21 this year aboard the world's Number 1-rated boutique vessel SeaDream I, including 2.5 days berthed just a few hundred metres from the centre of this extraordinary "open air museum city" founded by Peter the Great in 1703.

Equally enticingly the current price that starts from just US$4124pp twin-share is less than half the originally-advertised, including all 5-star dining with wines at lunch and dinner, drinks from the open bars, nightly cocktail gatherings, use of a 30-course golf simulator, fitness centre and power and sail water-sports (where permitted,) crew gratuities and port and government charges.

SeaDream I will also visit Helsinki, again berthing in the centre of this pocket-sized city, Tallinn in Estonia with its two "old towns" easily explored on foot, and Mariehamn in the Aaland Islands where she'll berth near the historic 4-masted museum-ship Pommern, that for years pre-WWII carried wheat from Australia to England.

For full details of this return-sailing from Stockholm on June 21 this year, see travel agents or visit; the mega motor-cruiser SeaDream I has just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew.
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Thursday 23 January 2014

Luxury Seabourn Quest voyage to Antarctica

Luxury Journey to the Seventh Continent

Cruise from colourful Valparaiso in Chile to the flamboyant Buenos Aires in Argentina on board the elegant Seabourn Quest, part of a luxury expedition cruise package now available from cruise specialist

The voyage departs on December 20 and includes extensive scenic cruising through Reloncavi Sound, Gulf of Corcovado, Chilean Fjords, Amalia Glacier, Canal Sarmiento, Glacier Alley and Beagle Channel.

A highlight of this special cruise is the five day Antarctica experience, which consists of five planned Antarctica landings via Zodiacs that hold a maximum of 100 people. This ensures guests receive an up close and personal experience ashore exploring the spectacular landscape and wildlife.

Onshore visits will also be made at Puerto Mont, Castro and Punta Arenas in Chile, Ushuaia in Argentina, Grytviken in South Georgia and Montevideo in Uruguay. Whilst on board you can take part in special guest lectures, photography workshops and other exclusive amenities and activities to enhance your cruising experience.

The package also includes return economy air fares from Australia, three nights at the Ritz Carlton Santiago, three nights at the Alvear Palace Buenos Aires, 24 night Seabourn suite accommodation, all gourmet meals and complimentary open bar on board, Santiago and Buenos Aires city tours, air and port taxes as well as all airport transfers.

Prices start from $21,799 per person twin share for Sydney, Gold Coast and Perth passengers, from $22,129 from Adelaide and from $22,149 for Melbourne passengers. Prices are subject to change due to the airfare component of the package.

The voyage is on sale until February 28. For more details contact on 1300-369-848 or visit

Communication breakdown aboard Akademik Shokalskiy?


Communication breakdown on board the Akademik Shokalskiy blamed for the ship being stranded in Antarctic ice over Christmas

A failure to respond to an order from the ship's captain may have played a critical role in the operational fiasco that led to the stranding of the Akademik Shokalskiy in thick Antarctic sea ice on Christmas Eve.

read full story

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Silversea confident of sales despite short lead time


Clipper Odyssey soon to re-emerge as Silver Discoverer

Luxury cruise line Silversea has reported strong sales of its voyages aboard new expedition ship Silver Discoverer despite the tight lead-in time, with the vessel’s April launch only announced in September.

read full story

Monday 20 January 2014

Special Deals on Toum Tiou I and Toum Tiou II

Toum Tiou

Special Deals on Toum Tiou I and Toum Tiou II

Here is a summary of the sizzling hot deals discounts for Toum Tiou and Toum Tiou II

Do Hurry before the cabins are taken up.

Toum Tiou I

-      Feb 21 – 28, 2014 REP-SGN – (5 cabins available) - 10%

-      Mar 15 – 22, 2014 SGN-REP – (6 cabins available) - 20%

Toum Tiou II

-      Feb 9 – 16, 2014 REP-SGN – (8 cabins available) - 10% upper deck and 25% main deck

-      Mar 2 – 9, 2014 REP-SGN – (5 cabins available) - 10%

-      Mar 9 – 16, 2014 SGN-REP – (2 cabins available) - 10%

-      Mar 16 – 23, 2014 REP-SGN – (8 cabins available) - 10% upper deck and 25% main deck

Contact our office for inquiries and reservations -

Mawsons Huts: Shiver me Timbers

Extract from Aurora Expeditions The Expeditioner

A meager wooden hut erected on a prime corner of Hobart’s waterfront could easily be mistaken for a dodgy kit home, yet its baltic pine walls carry a weight of Australian Antarctic history. The hut, painstakingly recreated, is a full-scale replica of Douglas Mawson’s winter quarters at Cape Denison, Commonwealth Bay, Antarctica.

The 1911–14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by Douglas Mawson, was the first major Antarctic scientific expedition. Steam Yacht Aurora departed Hobart for Antarctica just a stone’s throw from the site of the replica hut. As fate would have it, the site Mawson selected for his main Antarctic base proved to be the windiest location on earth at sea level. The anemometer frequently recorded gales of 150 kilometres per hour, with a record 325 kilometres per hour that brought down one of the radio masts. For much of 1912, Mawson and his seventeen men were confined to cramped living conditions in the winter quarters hut. Outside, blizzards raged incessantly.

David Jensen AM, Mawson’s Huts Foundation Chairman and CEO, explained that the replica project has been four years in the planning. ‘The lead carpenters have both worked on the actual huts in Cape Denison. They’ve tried to replicate every little join and niche throughout the whole hut. The timber is from the same source in Scandinavia, exactly the same dimensions, and has been imported to Australia by the same agent who supplied Mawson.’

The two divisions in the main living area are Mawson’s cubicle where he slept and worked, and Frank Hurley’s pint-sized darkroom behind the kitchen. Serendipity played a part during the fitting-out of the replica hut: the Metters stove, matching the original, was found on a Tasmanian farm, its pieces scattered across a paddock. One of the original sledges used in the expedition was retrieved from a rubbish tip and donated to Mawson’s Huts Foundation.

For the uninitiated, the modest hut may seem a curious departure from the usual waterfront architecture. As a representation of the birthplace of Australia’s Antarctic history, its significance is lofty.

On 2 December 2013, the replica hut was officially opened to an enthusiastic crowd, 102 years to the day since a bustling gathering crammed Hobart’s Queen’s Pier to farewell the departure of Douglas Mawson’s Australasian Antarctic Expedition.

Charles Lindall, David Jensen and Peter
Charles Lindall: Mawson Loyalist

When it comes to historic Antarctic explorers, Charles Lindall is a through-and-through Mawson loyalist. Charles is also a ‘repeat offender’, having sailed with us three times now, to both Commonwealth Bay and the historic huts of the Ross Sea. On 2 December Charles did us proud as our representative at the opening of the Mawson’s Hut replica in Hobart. Charles, who painstakingly built his own miniature of the hut, was in admiration of the full-sized replica. ‘The timber inside has been aged and brilliantly fitted out similarly to the original. Authentic artifacts are interspersed with convincing copies of bedding, equipment and tools from one hundred years ago. The effect is amazing, and folk were overheard to utter feelings of the presence of those expeditioners from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.’ For Charles, the opening coupled as a happy reunion with former Aurora shipmates, volunteer tradesmen who built the replica, and winterers from the Australian Antarctic Division. Charles also reconnected with staff from our 2011 Mawson’s Centenary voyage, and our inaugural 2005 Mawson’s Antarctica voyage.

Saturday 18 January 2014

Blount Small Ship Adventures’ Spring Cruises

Watch The Southern Flowers Bloom

While cold air may be spreading throughout the country, spring is on the horizon, and there’s no better way to experience the season’s beautiful weather and blooming flowers than onboard a small ship river cruise.

This spring, Blount Small Ship Adventures will bring back two of its most popular itineraries that explore the charming port towns of the South, ‘Southern Antebellum’ and ‘Mississippi & Tenn-Tom Waterway.’

The 8-day, 7-night ‘Southern Antebellum’ cruise showcases some of the South’s most iconic port cities, including Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, and Amelia Island, FL. Highlights of the itinerary, which has departures on the Grande Mariner May 1, 11, 20 and 29, include onboard presentations on Savannah’s rich history and diverse local bird population, and Jekyll Island’s coastal wildlife and regional conservation.
To further entice travelers to see the blooming flowers along the Atlantic Coast, guests can save 40 percent on spring sailings of the ‘Southern Antebellum’ itinerary, with savings of up to $1,440 per person.

For travelers seeking a longer introduction to southern hospitality, the 16-day, 15-night ‘Mississippi & Tenn-Tom Waterway’ cruise begins and ends in New Orleans, with stops in some of the most historic and culturally rich ports of the South, including Mobile, AL, Columbus, MS, Memphis, TN and Baton Rouge, LA.
Guests can enjoy an authentic local musical performance in Columbus, dance to the spirited tones of a bluegrass band in Pickwick, TN, and learn the secrets to making a great southern meal from a chef at the world renowned New Orleans School of Cooking, who will offer an onboard culinary demonstration. Sailings depart April 10 and 27 onboard the Grande Caribe, and travelers who book now can save 30 percent, up to $1,980 per person.

All Blount cruises include three meals daily with menus that are fresh, creative and often reflect the local cuisine, refreshments and snacks 24 hours a day, with complimentary wine and beer during lunch and dinner. Blount cruises also feature a BYOB policy, with mixers and set-ups for cocktails available throughout the day.


Thursday 16 January 2014

Save on SeaDream Yacht Club's Northern Europe

EXPLORE the rich history and breathtaking landscapes and waterways of Northern Europe with boutique 5-star SeaDream Yacht Club this coming northern summer, including overnights in harbours along the Baltic coast, throughout the Norwegian fjords and in Russia's St Petersburg.

SeaDream will offer this region from June to August, with seven to 14-day voyages that start with 11-days from Hamburg to Stockholm on May 31; mega motor-cruiser SeaDream I will sail this itinerary that passes through the Kiel Canal, visits centres including Tallinn and Helsinki, St. Petersburg for 3-days/2-nights with such optional excursions as the Hermitage Museum or the renowned Jacobson Ballet School, and will have a night and a day at sea.

By contrast, SeaDream I is able to dock in locations larger ships cannot reach, and depending on itineraries chosen this can mean the quaint  islands of Saaremaa in Estonia and Finland's 6000-isle Aland archipelago.

Other itineraries can include Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Sweden.  And on visits to Oslo there's a complimentary land excursion to the Hadeland Glassworks factory owned by SeaDream Yacht Club's founder, Mr Atle Brynstad.

Fares begin from US$4,124pp twin-share share including all 5-star dining, selected premium wines, spirits and beers from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, use of a 30-course golf simulator, fitness centre, power and sail water-sports (where permitted,) crew gratuities, and port and government charges.

Full details
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Akademic Shokalskiy back on schedule

From Heritage Expeditions:

The Akademic Shokalskiy has arrived in port and will undergo provisioning and required inspections after clearing into New Zealand. Heritage Expeditions have been informed by the ship owners that the intention is to continue with the planned itineraries the ship is chartered to perform after all inspections and provisioning are completed.

Monday 13 January 2014

$25,000 Reward: RV Saigon Pandaw

RV Saigon Pandaw
For information leading to the recovery of the RV Pandaw Saigon

It was originally reported that the vessel had sunk while under tow, but it is possible the near-new ship was stolen en route from Vietnam to Singapore.

In an appeal to maritime and travel industry contacts, Pandaw founder Paul Strachan wrote: "I expect you will have heard rumours that the Saigon was stolen in an act of piracy rather than sunk. I cannot comment. But we have offered a reward for any information that might lead to its recovery. Please pass the reward notice to any contacts you might have, particularly in Indonesia. Meanwhile, we have investigators working on the ground."

Zegrahm Expeditions 2015 expedition lineup


Australian-flagged Oceanic Discoverer forms part of the Zegrahm 2015 line-up
Zegrahm Expeditions announced its 2015 expedition lineup, which includes 39 unique adventures. The iteneraries will span all seven continents with 19 overland adventures and 20 small-ship cruises aboard eight vessels – Caledonian Sky, Isabela II, Island Sky, La Estrella Amazonica, Oceanic Discoverer, Sea Adventurer, Sea Spirit, and Variety Voyager.

By small ship, Zegrahm is offering several new itineraries, beginning with Insider’s New Zealand: Milford Sound to Auckland, February 4-20. This voyage showcases the natural history and culture of both the North and South Islands, plus visits off-the-beaten-path Tiritiri Matangi Island and Waiheke Island. From February 7-27, the company’s Philippines expedition will visit destinations within this 6,000-plus-island archipelago. Travelers will cruise up a subterranean river in St. Paul National Park; snorkel or dive in the region’s waters; and search for over 600 species of birds, among other highlights. Then, from March 11-28, Zegrahm will trace nearly 3,000 miles of Coastal Brazil with Buenos Aires & Montevideo. This 18-day journey offers snorkeling at the Abrolhos Marine National Park and the Ilhabela Islands, visiting a small seaside artist community and exploring Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Zegrahm is offering a number of overland adventures. Veteran expedition leader, Mark Brazil, reveals Wild Southern India’s wildlife from January 1-17. In the company of Zegrahm co-founder, Jack Grove, travelers will have the unique opportunity to explore Cuba on an 11-day adventure from January 15-25. Guests will enjoy the country’s Zapata Wetlands, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that is home to 171 species of birds. And, on the March 19 to April 3 Oman: Jewel of the Arabian Gulf expedition, travelers can view the landscapes and architecture of the country.

These new expeditions will be complemented by a number of signature voyages from Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands, Ultimate Galápagos, and Circumnavigation of the Black Sea to Snow Monkeys and Cranes of Japan, Classic Botswana, and Iran: Wonders of Persia.

Friday 10 January 2014

Berlitz star ratings and expedition ships - do they fit the model?

Hapag-Lloyd's HANSEATIC - the only expedition ship rated five-star by Berlitz
The first thing anyone should know about ‘star ratings’ and expedition ships is that they don’t fit the model devised by Douglas Ward for ranking conventional cruise ships.

Instead of chandeliers and waist-coated service staff, investment goes directly into passenger enrichment. Knowledgeable and tertiary-qualified guides, expedition equipment (Zodiacs, diving kit etc) and the costs involved with operating small groups in remote and inhospitable environments with little or no infrastructure make small ship adventure cruising an expensive business. Passengers invariably come for the destination-focussed experience, not the all-night buffet or cabaret shows.

So when you see a lowly star-rating against any of these ships which are booked to near-capacity all year round, don’t equate this with the quality of expedition experience offered.

And if you want to toss around ‘five-star’ as some in the industry are prone to do, then you must be talking about Hapag-Lloyd’s Hanseatic, far and away the world’s top expedition ship – as far as Berlitz is concerned at any rate – and the only one to achieve their five star rating.

Berlitz Rated Expedition and Adventure Cruise Ships


Silver Explorer
Hebridean Princess
Caledonian Sky
Corinthian II
Le Boreal
Firty Years of Victory
Tere Moana
Celebrity Expedition
Le Ponant
Clipper Odyssey
Galapagos Explorer II
Sea Spirit
Ocean Diamond
Akademik Ioffe
Polar Pioneer
Clipper Adventurer
Spirit of Enderby
NG Endeavour
Wilderness Adventurer
NG Explorer
NG Sea Bird/Sea Lion



5 Star
4.5 star
4.5 star
4.5 Star
4.5 star
4.5 star
4 star
4 Star
4 Star
4 star
4 star
4 star
3.5 star
3.5 star
3 star
3 star
3.5 star
3.5 star
2.5 star
2 star
2.5 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
2 star
1.5 star

Source: Ward, Douglas (2012-09-15). Berlitz: Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2013 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (Kindle Location 28488). APA. Kindle Edition.

Cruiseco Pandaw Burma cruise

Burma Unlocked - An Unforgettable Experience

Discover intriguing Burma on an 11 night Luxury Fly, Cruise & Stay Holiday.

Ocean Cruising 53: Burmese Days

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Launch of the RV Kalaw Pandaw

New Ultra Shallow Draft Ship for River Recces into Lost Burma

Pandaw are delighted to announce the launch of their latest ship in Yangon on the 2nd of January. This new K class vessel has a design draft of just 80cm and will be able to go where no other river cruise ship can go in Burma – far up the Chindwin and high up the Irrawaddy year round.

As more and more river cruise ships are announced, mainly for the now congested Pagan to Mandalay sector, Pandaw are maintaining their edge going further and deeper into the real Burma. As other ships get bigger and bigger Pandaw ships get smaller and smaller!

Pandaw is going back to how they started nearly twenty years, offering real river recces, utterly pioneering experiences into areas that have never seen tourists before.

In order to keep weight down there are just two decks with only twenty deluxe staterooms, a choice of indoor or outdoor bistro-style dining and all the traditional touches that make the Pandaw experience special.

The hull and steel work was completed with machinery installed in three months and outfitting will be completed by May well in time for deployment up river in July. The Kalaw’s sister ship, the Kindat Pandaw will be launched from the same yard in three weeks.

Stranded ice ships freeing themselves under own power.

Reports just in that both the Akademik Shokalskiy and the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon) sent to rescue it have managed to break free under their own power.

from ABC:

A Russian research vessel stuck in thick Antarctic ice for a fortnight has finally managed to break free.
The Akademik Shokalskiy became trapped on Christmas Eve in frozen seas with 52 passengers and 22 crew on board.

The passengers were eventually airlifted off after spending Christmas and New Year's Eve stranded aboard the ship in Antarctica's Commonwealth Bay, but the Russian crew remained on board, waiting for a change in conditions.

full story

Ralph Grizzle lives his dream with a trip to Antarctica ‪#‎cruise‬ ‪#‎adventure

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Icebreakers to rescue Akademik Shokalskiy and Xue Long

China commits to build bigger ice-breaker after rescue fail Ipswich Advertiser

Now the Shokalskiy, Aurora and Xue Long are trapped and awaiting help from an American behemoth - Polar Star - that will arrive on the scene next ...

See all stories on this topic »

US Cutter Heading to Antarctic to Free Russian, Chinese Vessels Voice of America

Fifty-two passengers who were stranded on board the Shokalskiy were airlifted by helicopter on January 2 to the Australian icebreaker Aurora ...

See all stories on this topic »

Voice of America

Sunday 5 January 2014

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Why the Akademik Shokalskiy rescue will be a boost for expedition cruising

Passengers disembark from a Chinese helicopter during the rescue (Yahoo!7)

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success." – Ernest Shackleton

It may seem like a contradiction, but the recent rescue of 52 stranded scientists and passengers from the beleaguered Akademik Shokalskiy near Mawson’s Huts will surely lead to a surge in enquiry from would-be adventurers.

Ernest Shackleton’s famous century-old recruitment advertisement bears testament to the attraction of danger, even possible death, in the quest for adventure and discovery.

If you believe the advertisement as fact (many don’t) the story goes on to tell of more than 5000 hopeful applicants applying for the few places available.

More recently, Prince Edward (as seventh in line to the British throne and chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Award) commented on the tragic death of schoolboy, David Iredale, who died in December 2006 in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, while accepting the Duke’s challenge.

"All the trustees were convinced that (Iredale’s death) was the end of it, that it (the Award) would never go any further," Prince Edward said. But the publicity had a surprising reverse effect. In the days following the news, enquiries skyrocketed.

"Suddenly the award, which was new and its reputation among young people was: 'Wow, this is serious. You could die doing this.'

"The sense of adventure, the sense of excitement, that it gave you that sort of risk element, the sense that it (death) is possible,” said the Prince, perhaps a little insensitively.

About the same time (November 2007), in another part of Antarctica, the famous MV Explorer (aka ‘the little red ship’) originally commissioned by Lars Eric Lindblad in 1969, hit multi-season ice, punched a “fist-sized” hole in its double hull and sank. Fortunately without loss of life or injury to any of the 154 passengers, but the circumstances were hairy nonetheless.

Now, I’ve never been able to substantiate this, but I heard from sources close to the action that Bruce Poon Tip (high profile owner of the ship and then GAP Adventures, now G Adventures) was justifiably concerned about how the fallout from the event would effect his otherwise highly-respected business.

But join the dots and you’ll see what I mean. Instead of scaling back or closing down his cruise department, GAP rushed to find a replacement vessel (M/S Expedition) to fill both the existing forward bookings and waves of new enquiry.

Let's not forget this time last year, solo yachtsman, Alain Delord, was rescued by the luxury expedition ship Orion, north of the Shokalskiy's current position. While the publicity was similarly enormous, not all passengers appreciated the expensive detour.

Other recent Antarctic and expedition cruise dramas: Polar StarOrion II : NG Sea Lion : Marco Polo : MV Ushuaia : Ocean Nova

Already there are signs that existing expedition cruise operators are sensing an approaching tsunami of enquiry.

Stewart Campbell began his career as an Antarctic expedition leader in the early 1990s and is intimately familiar with the region where the Akademik Shokalskiy found itself beset. He was also involved in a similar rescue in the region almost 20 years ago. Campbell now runs his own online expedition cruise agency,

“Traffic to my site spiked 100-fold as the news broke,” says Campbell, whose company is an agent for the operators of Akademik Shokalskiy and dozens of other similar vessels, “that traffic has settled down now, but still remains at 10 to 20 times what it was prior to the event.”

Other expedition cruise agencies and operators are likely to be experiencing similar surges in web traffic. The sales conversion ratio of that traffic is yet to be determined, but bookings are sure to grow.

When one thinks of ships and ice, it automatically raises comparisons to the RMS Titanic disaster where more than 1500 passengers perished in the icy waters due to inadequate safety procedures – among many other factors.

In a scene reminiscent of Shakleton's Endurance, Akademik Shokalskiy
is beset by ice in Commonwealth Bay.

“There are always risks in expedition travel, but the Shokalskiy, her crew and the voyage organisers are all extremely experienced and I would certainly say those risks were calculated and 99 times out of 100 the ship should have had no issues in fulfilling the expedition itinerary,” explains Campbell. “It was just an unfortunate combination of circumstances with wind, ice breakouts and nature's power!

“People contemplating a trip to Antarctica should not be put off - the vast majority of cruises to Antarctica explore the Peninsula area which has far lighter or zero sea ice coverage during the summer. Risks of being trapped in ice like this are really very minimal.”

But do prospective adventurers really want the path of least risk? Maybe the wild and unpredictable seas around East Antarctica and Mawson’s Base at Cape Adare are just the ticket? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, the profile and demand for expeditions to Antarctica will not be harmed one bit.

Roderick Eime is a specialist expedition cruise writer and has been sailing aboard the world’s fleet of small adventure vessels since 1998. He travelled to Mawson’s Huts in 2010, just before ice made future landings impossible. He is the editor of The Adventure Cruise Guide ( and webmaster of

Saturday 4 January 2014

Alaska with Lindblad: Pristine and precious

This story appeared in print editions of Melbourne's Herald Sun and Brisbane's Courier Mail.
At time of writing the story had not appeared on line.

Latest news on Akademik Shokalskiy rescue

News 11 new results for aurora shokalskiy
Akademik Shokalskiy leaders have mixed emotions upon rescue Sydney Morning Herald
Akademik Shokalskiy leaders have mixed emotions upon rescue ... beset Akademik Shokalskiy, arriving on board rescue vessel the Aurora Australis ...
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52 Passengers Rescued From MV Akademik Shokalskiy as Snow ... Guardian Liberty Voice
The twin-rotor helicopter – featuring a vibrant red and white aesthetic – ferried passengers of the Akademik Shokalskiy to the Aurora Australis over a ...
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Passengers Taken Off Deep-Freeze Ship 'Akademik MarineLink
Passengers Taken Off Deep-Freeze Ship 'Akademik Shokalskiy' ... research vessel 'Akademik Shokalskiy' to the icebreaker 'Aurora Australis', informs ...
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Antarctica rescue: Xue Long calls for help after becoming stuck ... Sydney Morning Herald
AMSA said it had placed the Aurora Australis on standby to assist, only ... to transfer the group from the Akademik Shokalskiy to ice near the Aurora.
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Passengers rescued from Antarctic Akademik Shokalskiy ship
The Shokalskiy has been trapped since 24 December. ... The passengers were taken to an ice floe next to the Aurora Australis and then ferried on to ...
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Chinese Xue Long Ice-breaking Attempt Unsuccessful: AMSA
The Masters of both Russian vessel Akademik Shokalskiy and Chinese vessel Xue Long agreed this morning that further assistance from Aurora ...
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Global warming research on ice San Francisco Chronicle (blog)
But there was too much thick ice and the Xue Long could not reach the Shokalskiy. Then the Australian Aurora Australis tried to come to the rescue, ...
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Akademik Shokalskiy: Antarctica Ship Rescue Vessel Snow Dragon ... The Inquisitr
The Akademik Shokalskiy apparently doesn't have any luck since the ... A second Australian icebreaker ship called the Aurora Australis came within ...
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Australia's maritime authorities stand down after Antarctic rescue Sydney Morning Herald
With Shokalskiy's 52 passengers now safely on the Aurora Australis, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said it had stood down the rescue ...
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Antarctic mission: Akademik Shokalsky has routine day, Chinese ... The Voice of Russia
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has told the Aurora ... with freeing the scientific expedition on the Akademik Shokalskiy, which has ...
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Chinese Ice-Breaking Ship Trapped Following Australian Rescue ... University Herald
Snow Dragon carried a helicopter to the site of the stranded Akademik Shokalskiy vessel and took 52 passengers from the nearby ice to the Aurora.
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