Wednesday 30 April 2014

New Mekong cruiser launches


Luxurious Mekong River cruises between Vietnam and Cambodia aboard the new cruiser, Mekong Prestige II, are available from Australian tour company, Active Travel.

Mekong Prestige II
Seven-night cruises from Saigon to Siem Reap, or vice versa, are available from October, 2014, to April, 2015, with fares including local beer and wine with meals, onboard gratuities and daily shore excursions featuring temples, rickshaw and ox-drawn carriage rides, remote silk weaving towns and floating villages.

Launched in late 2013, the Mekong Prestige II accommodates 64 passengers and boasts a sundeck with whirlpool, restaurant, lounge and fitness room, with all cabins offering French balconies.

Active Travel, which specialises in Asian river cruises, has 28 all-inclusive departures available aboard the Mekong Prestige II from October this year to April next year, with fares starting at US$1790 per person, twin-share. Flights are extra and can be booked through Active Travel.

Australians who make a booking before May 31, 2014, can choose a bonus cabin upgrade to the next category or a 10 per cent discount on the fare.

For details, visit or call 1300 783 188.

Monday 28 April 2014

Aranui Adds Bora Bora to Revamped 2015 Program

Aranui 3 in Bora Bora (Lionel Gouverneur)
Bora Bora’s impossibly blue lagoon is set to become a regular highlight for Tahiti’s freighter cruise line Aranui, which has added the famed Society Islands to its 2015 program.

For the first time, every 14-day Aranui roundtrip cruise from Papeete will call at Bora Bora as well as French Polynesia’s mysterious Marquesas Islands and the pristine Tuamotu atolls.

The announcement follows the cruise line’s first scheduled call to Bora Bora on Good Friday this month, with this year’s program also including one more visit to the island in December.

Aranui’s Regional Representative Australia New Zealand Laurent Wong said there had been such an overwhelming response to this year’s Bora Bora visits that it made sense to add the island to all of the cruise line’s 17 departures in 2015.

“The new program will take guests to three very different yet equally stunning French Polynesian archipelagoes – the Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands – and show off some of the most naturally beautiful and untouched islands in the world,” Mr Wong said.

Next year also marks the last chance for Australians to cruise on the popular Aranui 3 which is due to retire after 12 years cruising the region. The 256-passenger Aranui 5 is scheduled to commence service in late 2015.

A highlight of the 2015 program is the chance to experience the four-yearly Marquesas Art and Culture Festival with a special 15-day itinerary in December including a visit to Hiva Oa during the event.

To include the new Bora Bora calls, the 2015 itineraries have been slightly modified but still feature the same Marquesas ports with guests able to walk in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, Herman Melville, Jacques Brel and Paul Gauguin on Nuka Hiva, Ua Pou, Ua Haku, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva and Hiva Oa. The Aranui will still call at Rangiroa in the Tuamotus but Takapoto has replaced Fakarava.

Ultimate Cruising has all-inclusive packages priced from $8599* per person twin share for a standard cabin on Aranui’s May 16, 2015 departure including shore excursions, all main meals, complimentary wine with lunch and dinner, return economy airfares from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne with Air Tahiti Nui, four nights’ accommodation at Manava Suite Tahiti with breakfast pre and post cruise, taxes and all transfers in Tahiti plus to and from home within 35km of the airport. Book via 1300 485 846 or visit

Aranui 3 accommodates around 200 passengers in air-conditioned cabins including suites with private balconies and deluxe and standard twin rooms.

The freighter line dispenses a lifeline of food, fuel and other staples to remote island ports while passengers disembark and explore lush Garden of Eden landscapes on a range of complimentary excursions including hikes and 4WD tours. The new Bora Bora visits will include a picnic lunch on a secluded beach with optional activities such as a lagoon excursion, manta ray experience and a helicopter ride. Throughout the journey, guests enjoy the comforts of a cruise ship from a spacious sundeck to a freshwater swimming pool, a gym and a library.

For more information on Aranui visit

*Subject to availability, conditions apply. Prices are in $AUD, per person twin-share. Single occupancy attracts a 50 per cent surcharge.

Rare voyage to the high Arctic aboard classic vessel


An in-depth exploration of Svalbard with Henrik Løvendahl

Adventure Associates is offering a rare 9-day expedition of the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, the wildlife capital of the High Arctic, on board the historic 12-passenger ice-strengthened Swedish vessel M/S Malmö.

The M/S Malmö is a classic vessel built in 1943 for the Swedish National Maritime Administration and has been heritage listed since 2004. With just 12 passengers, it is more like travelling on a private yacht and offers an entirely different experience and perspective to that of larger and more conventional vessels. The compact size of the ship and the small number of passengers allows for a great degree of flexibility and wildlife viewing.

This special voyage is designed to offer travellers a quality exploratory wildlife program, aiming to spend as much time ashore as possible. The voyage will focus on the fjords and islands of North Spitsbergen, which offer abundant bird life and the chance to encounter polar bears and reindeer.

Prices for the Svalbard Explorer Voyage start from $9490 per person twin-share. This once-only voyage departs on 29 July 2014.

Danish-born Henrik Løvendahl is a highly qualified expedition leader and dive guide having worked in both the Arctic and Antarctic for the past 20 years. Henrik has also led trekking and mountaineering trips in the Himalayas and recently spent a winter in Svalbard working as a dog handler and dog sled guide. His love of the ocean and the extremes of the planet has resulted in a wealth of knowledge about the landscapes, ice, wildlife and history of these special places that he delights in sharing with guests.

For further information and bookings phone (02) 8916 3000 or visit

Philip Game cruises the Mekong on an unusual vessel


MV 'Mekong Islands' (P Game)
One of the world’s great rivers is often overlooked. Rapids and waterfalls – accidents of geography – render the mighty Mekong largely useless as an artery of trade and commerce, thwarting the heroic efforts of French colonists and empire-builders in the late 19th century.

The Mekong delineates the border between Thailand and Laos for much of its length before crossing Cambodia, then fans out across southern Vietnam before flowing into the South China Sea. Alongside its banks this great artery sustains perhaps 60 million people, drawn from more than one hundred ethnic groups, including most Lao.

Read full story

Friday 25 April 2014

New Fiji Cruise Brochure unlocks secrets of remote Fiji


201820A holiday cruising the picturesque waters of Fiji and experiencing true Fijian culture is now easier than ever to plan with the release of Captain Cook Cruises Fiji’s new “Fiji Islands Small Ship Cruising” 2014/2015 brochure.

The 12 page brochure includes accommodated cruises around the Yasawa Islands, Fiji’s remote north and Lau islands, wedding and romance packages, functions and events, day cruises and Tivua Island stays.

“With six accommodated cruises, a variety of function and event packages, four wedding and romance packages, day cruises and a private Island stay to choose from, there really is something for everyone,” says Jackie Charlton, Managing Director, Captain Cook Cruises Fiji.

“Our three, four, seven and eleven night cruises are designed to offer passengers authentic and personal experiences.

Our Small ship MV Reef Endeavour takes guests to remote islands and villages where larger ships cannot get to and mainland resorts cannot access, for a true authentic Fijian experience,” continues Ms Charlton.

For those staying on the mainland Captain Cook Cruises Fiji provides a taste of what their cruises offer with the Tivua Island Day Cruise.

“Our day cruise gives passengers the chance to sail on Fijian waters aboard tall ship Ra Marama or sailing catamaran Fiji One and enjoy their own private Island for the day. They can swim, snorkel, kayak, get a massage or just laze on the beach,” said Ms Charlton.

New for 2014 is the 11-night Lau Islands Discovery cruise taking passengers on a voyage of discovery to a part of Fiji rarely seen by tourists – the Lau Islands and Kadavu.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Hurtigruten’s New Line-up of Summer Expedition Land Excursions


Allow Guests To Experience the Arctic From a New Perspective
Polar Bear Watches and Glacier Hikes Put Explorers in Touch With Nature

Travelers looking to explore the arctic landscape in novel and exciting ways are in luck with Hurtigruten’s new summer land excursions. Guests of the Hurtigruten expedition ship MS Fram in Greenland, Iceland and Spitsbergen can disembark the ship and experience land excursions that put them in touch with hard to reach environments, including camping trips in the wilderness with a polar bear watch; kayak tours among massive icebergs; glacier hikes on the eternal ice; and fishing excursions in the polar sea. Excursions run from $40 to $410 per person and can be booked through travel agents or with Hurtigruten at 877-301-3117.

Travelers to Spitsbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, can experience a night in the wilderness with an exciting twist—a 24-hour polar bear watch. Participants in the “A Nansen Night – Camping in the Arctic” excursion ($410) spend the night on land, camping in tents and sleeping bags specially equipped for the Arctic. Spitsbergen is known for it’s polar bear population, and thus, each participant takes a one-hour shift watching for polar bears with the expedition team throughout the evening. After this exciting night in the wilderness, adventurers return to the MS Fram where a hearty breakfast awaits.

Another special treat awaits adventurers in Spitsbergen—a glacier hike ($75). Participants are equipped with climbing spurs and secured in teams with a rope, so no prior experience in ice climbing is required. The day hike is not only exhilarating, it also offers epic views along the way of the imposing icy landscape of Spitsbergen.

Anglers will enjoy fishing like the locals with the exiting “Fishing and Cooking with the Crew” excursions ($160) in Spitsbergen and Greenland. Together with the crew of the MS Fram, participants embark on a small boat to the best fishing areas of the region in order to test their fishing skills. After a day of reeling in the local catch, participants are invited to join the head chef of the Fram in the kitchen to help prepare the fish, which is served for dinner that evening.

Adventurers looking for tranquility and a chance to get up-close-and-personal with the icy terrain will want to try the kayak tours available in Greenland, Spitsbergen and Iceland ($160). Alongside experienced guides, participants paddle together in a small group through the polar sea, past ice floes and icebergs. These kayak excursions are an ideal way to experience the arctic landscape front and center - a completely different perspective.

Travelers who feel the genuine explorer spirit and want an intense experience with nature should try one of a variety of hikes offered on expedition voyages ($40-$150). The expedition team of the MS Fram has a collection of hikes in all destinations that bring participants to the most stunning and untouched places. These trips call for the desire to go beyond the ordinary and fair level of physical fitness, and difficulty levels vary depending on location.

Hurtigruten’s explorer voyages take guests to Greenland, Iceland, Spitsbergen in the summer months and Antarctica in the winter. Each adventure is a voyage through pristine environments that are only accessible by ship. Explorer voyages take guests to places that are out of reach for all but the hardiest and most dedicated of travelers, where they can explore another world of cultures, ecosystems and history, from the comfort of the MS Fram, a deluxe ship built in 2007. The MS Fram, which holds only 276 guests, is designed for sailing in polar waters and is the perfect size for optimum nautical maneuverability and was built with one mission in mind: to bring her guests closer to nature, wildlife and unforgettable experiences.

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition voyages, sailing to the most remote of destinations, including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen as well as year round along Norway's coast and Europe in the spring and fall. The company’s fleet of 12 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.

Monday 21 April 2014

Aurora Expeditions Offer Complimentary Inclusions to Celebrate New Antarctic Gateway


To celebrate their inaugural Antarctic season using the Chilean gateway of Puerto Williams, Aurora Expeditions are offering guests aboard their small ship expeditions all manner of complimentary inclusions.

Aurora passengers currently enjoy all shore excursions, landing fees, gumboot hire and an educational program presented by expert guides as part of the voyage price; however to celebrate the launch of their Chilean gateway, Aurora have added numerous complimentary additions. These include a stylish new polar jacket to wear on the icy continent and take home after the trip and a hardback photo journal to remember the voyage through daily accounts and beautiful photographs, providing the perfect memento of their Antarctic experience.

Passengers joining expeditions via the nature haven of Puerto Williams will also enjoy a complimentaryguided tour of the town; before taking in a spectacular scenic flight over the Beagle Channel and granite spires of the Dientes de Navarino Mountains as they make their way to or from Punta Arenas, Chile (see map below)

A selection of itineraries will maintain the traditional Antarctic gateway of Ushuaia as a departure or arrival port, allowing passengers to experience both sides of the Beagle Channel.

Aurora Expeditions group size of 54 remains one of the smallest in the region, and their team of experts collectively bring over 150 years of Antarctic expedition travel experience to provide passengers with a unique and personal adventure.

As the pioneers of many adventure activities in Antarctica, Aurora offer a range of activities includingscuba diving, polar snorkelling, kayaking, photography, camping and ice climbing.

Free inclusions will also be offered throughout the newly launched 2015-16 Antarctic season, click herefor voyage dates and prices. Prices for the 2014/15 Antarctic season start from US$7,100 per person based on a triple cabin for a 10 day cruise including one night’s accommodation in Punta Arenas.

For more information call Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688 or +61 (0) 2 9252 1033.

APT Redefines Russian River Cruising With the Introduction of MS Anastasia


Award-winning river cruise line APT has announced it is introducing a newly refurbished Russian river cruise ship in 2015, which it promises is the most luxurious vessel to grace Russia's waterways by far. The MS Anastasia is currentlyundergoing a multi-million dollar refit and refurbishment ready for her maiden APT voyage on 10 May 2015.

Highlight features include:

· Five unique dining locations including:

§ Indochine by Luke Nguyen – featuring a French-Vietnamese fusion menu created exclusively by celebrity chef and APT Ambassador, Luke Nguyen;

§ Zhivago's Chef's Table Restaurant – guests can watch through the glass-enclosed kitchen as their chef prepares a degustation-style meal in a private dining room. Accompanied by free-flowing wine, each guest will have access to the restaurant twice while cruising at no extra cost;

§ Louisa & Roberto's Italian Restaurant – offering traditional Italian-inspired fare;

§ Tsar's Caviar and Champagne Bar – a selection of fine sparkling wines are complemented by an elegant menu of featuring caviar, salmon and more (a surcharge applies to all menu items at Tsar's)

§ Café Volga – a selection of freshly made-to-order café-style dishes.

· An expansive Sun Deck, offering unparalleled views and:

§ An outdoor lounge with ice cream bar where guests can relax in the shade and enjoy gelato and drinks; and

§ Heated pool and two hot tubs, also situated on the sun deck.

· The Anastasia Spa with a sauna and gym as well as a massage, hair and beauty salon.

· The Hermitage Lounge which serves as the heart of the ship, features a plush lounge area, bar and breathtaking views by day and transforms to a magnificent showroom by night.

· 24-hour tea and coffee bar offering European teas, lattes and cappuccinos all day, every day.

· Outside balconies on 70 percent of suites, with all suites benefitting from features such as: comfortable queen or twin-size European beds; a mini fridge and complimentary bottled water daily; satellite flat-screen television; spacious ensuite with a hairdryer and toiletries; large wardrobe with full length mirror; individual climate control; laundry and pressing services; and daily servicing.

According to APT's General Manager Marketing and Sales, Debra Fox, the MS Anastasia takes luxury travel through Russia to a new dimension, translating APT's European river cruising experience to this popular destination:

"For the first time Russia's rivers will be graced by a vessel that exudes five star luxury and sophistication. We want the experience on the ship to be as unforgettable as the sights our guests will see on the shore. This is an exciting and groundbreaking development for this destination and one that APT is proud to be leading."

APT is offering river cruises aboard the Anastasia as part of several itineraries for 2015, including the 14-day Russian Waterways from Moscow to St Petersburg via the Volga, Svir and Neva Rivers. It is also possible to combine the Russian Waterways river cruise with a rail journey aboard the world-famous Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, travelling from Vladivostok to Moscow.

Priced from $7,795 per person, twin share, highlights include: Moscow sightseeing, such as a tour of Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral and the Armoury museum within the walls of the Kremlin; visits to the Golden Ring cities of Uglich and Yaroslavl, as well as Goritsy. Other features include Lake Onega and Europe's largest Lake, Ladoga. In St Petersburg visits to the Catherine and Peterhof Palaces, along with a folklore show and hydrofoil ride over the Neva Riva, complete the tour.

APT 'Signature Experiences' include a the chance to explore the open air museum of wooden architecture on Kizhi Island, where guests will see the World Heritage-listed Church of the Transfiguration built in 1714; and a spectacular ballet performance in St Petersburg at the world-famous Hermitage Theatre.

As well 14-day luxury Russian river cruising at its finest aboard the Anastasia, also included in the price is: all meals on board at all restaurants ; the widest choice of staterooms and suites in Russia, many featuring outside balconies; all Freedom of Choice™ sightseeing and Signature Experiences; tipping, airport transfers and porterage; and all soft drinks, wine and local beer with lunch and dinner onboard the cruise.

To book an APT River Cruise aboard the MS Anastasia in 2015 call 1300 196 420, visit or see your local travel agent.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Celebrates Centennial Of Shackleton's Legendary Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition

2014-15 Antarctic Season dedicated to Frank Hurley, Endurance Expedition Photographer

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is bringing to life one of the most storied expeditions in modern history, with exciting enhancements to the 2014/15 voyages to celebrate the Centennial of Sir Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.

Guests aboard National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion on the 2014-2015 voyages to Antarctica will learn about the exploits of Shackleton and his men on their ill-fated attempt to traverse the continent by foot, and the examples of leadership and survival that continue to be taught throughout the world today. As expedition photography is an integral part of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, the season will be dedicated to Shackleton's expedition photographer, Frank Hurley, whose remarkable images have left a stunning record of the ultimate expedition adventure.

One of the experts in this field is National Geographic photographer and writer Kim Heacox, the author of Shackleton: The Antarctic Challenge. Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic and Heacox have created an exclusive onboard Centennial event: an entertaining multi-media presentation that uniquely captures the spirit of Shackleton and the crew that set sail with him on the Endurance in 1914, and that brings Hurley's artistry into focus like never before.

Guests will have the chance to take to the ice themselves, hiking, kayaking, and taking Zodiacs into the beauty of the Antarctic alongside naturalists and historians who will recount the saga. A National Geographic photographer is on hand aboard every voyage to offer tips and advice in the field, as guests aim for their own memorable Antarctica shots influenced by some of Hurley's most iconic images.

Each guest will receive a custom-designed parka that combines vintage-style expedition wear with high-tech fabrication for maximum comfort, and comes with a Centennial badge designed just for the occasion that will commemorate the once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Lindblad-National Geographic guests will also have the chance to toast Shackleton, Hurley and their fellow explorers with the same whisky favored on the original voyage. In February 2007, the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust uncovered two crates of Mackinlay's Rare Old Highland Malt, remnants of the 25 cases Ernest Shackleton ordered to provision his 1907 Nimrod expedition. Whyte and Mackay have issued a limited release of the whisky, and the ships have been provisioned with the legendary malt.

Travellers will start their own learning adventure long before boarding their voyage thanks to Alfred Lansing's acclaimed book Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, which will be complimentary to guests prior to departure.

All Antarctic voyages throughout the season will feature an array of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic 'Global Perspectives Guest Speakers' who will add relevant insight and personal experience to the expedition community. They include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Larson, whose latest book is An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackelton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; Jared Diamond, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, scientist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author; Kendrick Taylor, Chief Scientist for a project investigating climate change and the Antarctic ice sheet; Joe McConnell, environmental scientist; Fen Montaigne, journalist and author of Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica, and Peter Hillary, of mountaineering royalty, who has summited the highest mountain on each of the seven continents and established a new overland route to the South Pole.

Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent: 12 days/11 nights aboard National Geographic Explorer. Rates begin at $12,350 AUD per person in a category 1 cabin based on double occupancy. Departures are Nov. 29; Dec. 9, 19, 29, 2014; Jan. 8, 18, 28; Feb. 7, 2015.

Antarctica, South Georgia and The Falklands: 22 days/21 nights aboard National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion. Rates begin at $20,720 AUD per person in a category 1 cabin based on double occupancy. Departures on the National Geographic Explorer: Nov. 9, 2014; Feb. 17, 2015; on the National Geographic Orion Dec. 27, 2014; Jan. 26 & Feb. 15, 2014.

For more information on Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, or to book, visit, call 1800 EXPEDITION (1800 397 334) or see your travel agent.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Launches Its 2015-2016 HANSEATIC International Expedition Cruises Brochure

  • Eleven international (English/German) expedition itineraries
  • Exceptional expedition voyages to Antarctica, Chile, Greenland, Arctic and the Amazon
  • Greenland: cruising the Scoresbysund
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has introduced to the international marketplace its 2015-2016 HANSEATICExpedition Cruises brochure, offering eleven, adventurous and enriching itineraries operated in English and German on board the world’s only 5-star* expedition ship. From 2015/16 Hapag-Lloyd Cruises will offer international expedition cruises on board the HANSEATIC only. The sister expedition ship BREMEN, 4-stars plus*, will be marketed in the German-speaking markets only (charter on request).

In 2015-2016 the HANSEATIC, will be travelling on routes to Antarctica, Chile, Greenland, the Arctic and the Amazon and voyages ranging from 15 to 20 days. All cruises will be operated in English and German, ensuring English-speaking passengers feel comfortable from the moment they step on board. All documentation will be in English in advance of the cruise and on board the crew are fluent in English, daily programmes, menus, lectures, announcements and zodiac tours will be conducted in English; and English shore excursions can be arranged at ports of call.

The 5-star* HANSEATIC was built to provide intensive exploration in the most elegant surroundings for a maximum of 175 guests. The design of the ship – with a low draught of just 4.8 metres, maximum length of 122.8 metres, and the highest ice class for passenger ships – allows HANSEATIC to travel to destinations previously inaccessible to a cruise ship.

Discovering Antarctica

The Earth’s Most Southern Continent: Glaciers, icebergs, deep fjords and bays offer the setting for an unforgettable Antarctica expedition. In addition to observing bird colonies, seals and thousands of penguins, guests will also have the opportunity to explore the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, bath in the hot springs on Deception Island and sail through Drake Passage:
“Antarctica Expedition – the Miracle of Life in a Cold Wasteland”: This 18-day itinerary on the HANSEATIC is from 22 January - 9 February, 2015, from Ushuaia/Argentina round-trip, with stops at the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands, South Shetland Islands, and Antarctic mainland, rates start at €11,410 ($13,700, £8,900) per person, including charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, cruise-only. Cruise: HAN1502

Expedition Chilean Fjords: A Land of Contrasts

Snow-covered peak, imposing glaciers and bizarre volcanoes, the Chilean fjords are one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world and a dream destination.
“Majestic Nature at the end of the World”: This 17-day itinerary is from 28 February – 17 March, 2015, from Ushuaia/Argentina (includes a charter flight from Buenos Aires) to Callao/Lima/Peru, sailing through the Strait of Magellan and calling at capital Valparaiso, rates start at €8,480 ($10,180, £6,620) per person, including charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, cruise-only, Cruise: HAN1504

Travelling on both sides of the Arctic Circle

An intensive expedition between the shores of Iceland to Greenland’s wild fjords and mountainous coastline. Guests can view captivating colonies of birds and diverse plant species; call at informative museums while ashore in Greenland, enjoy natural history walks and see the impressive show of gigantic, towering ice masses in Disko Bay.
“Fire and Ice in the Arctic Circle” Trip Details: a 15-day itinerary departing Reykjavik/Iceland on 30 June, 2015, concluding in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on 15 July, rates start at €8,250 ($10,730, £7,020) per person, cruise-only. Cruise: HAN1513
“Welcome to the World of the Inuit”: This 17-day itinerary is from 13 September – 30 September, 2015, from Kangerlussuaq/Greenland to Hamburg/Germany, sailing through Prins Christian Sund and the Skjoldungen Sound. A true Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ premiere is cruising the Scoresbysund, the world’s largest fjord system: The HANSEATIC promises unforgettable panoramas with mountains more than 2,000 m/ 6,561 ft. high and calving glaciers. Rates start at €8,800 ($11,550, £7,550) per person, cruise-only. Cruise: HAN1518

The Amazon – Expedition cruise “On the River of Life”

Unforgettable impressions await guests in the awe-inspired nature of the greatest rainforest in the world, the Amazon. Guests will step into the zodiacs of the HANSEATIC and discover, along narrow and winding waterways, the power and magic of the gigantic river, which defines the rhythm of South America.HANSEATIC’s small size and shallow draught enables her to travel the more than 4,000-kilometre-long passage from the mouth of the Amazon in Belem/Brazil to Iquitos/Peru and back.

This expedition features passing through the Breves Channels in the Amazon Delta.
Cruise Details: This 16-day itinerary is from 10 - 26 April, 2016, from Iquitos/ Peru (includes a charter flight from Lima) to Belem/Brazil, rates start at €8,490 ($11,040, £7,220) per person, including charter flight from Lima to Iquitos, cruise-only. Cruise: HAN1606

Expedition Travel At Its Best

Both expedition ships HANSEATIC - and BREMEN - are well equipped for travel in difficult waters, holding the highest ice class ranking for passenger vessels (E4). Also shallow drafts and high manoeuvrability allow the ships to enter waters larger cruise vessels cannot reach. Guests explore the world’s best-kept secrets in zodiacs (small motorized boats) with only 10-12 guests. On-board experts include a team of experienced scientists, expedition leaders and specialists who guide landings and offer guests the rare opportunity to observe plant and animal life up close. However, what makes these expedition adventures standout for guests is the security of knowing that highly experienced captains are guiding the vessels and have together already travelled to the Arctic and Antarctica more than 200 times.

* According to the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2014

For more information on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ exciting destinations and itineraries visit

For Reservations: +49 (0) 40 3001 4580 (English-speaking hotline) or for local Agents

Cruise the South Pacific with Silversea's Silver Discoverer


Discover some of the South Pacific’s most beautiful islands as you set sail from Cairns to Auckland on this 18-day luxury cruise on board Silversea’s Silver Discoverer.

With 14 ports of call, guests will have the opportunity to relax on white sandy beaches, witness an array of incredible wildlife and encounter each island’s distinct traditions of craft, song and dance.

Departing Cairns on 3 November, 2014, Silver Discoverer will visit islands in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, before sailing to the archipelago of Vanuatu. While in Vanuatu, guests can explore the rich island heritage of Luganville, bathe in the freshwater springs at Champagne Beach and experience the unique black shores of Ambrym. Sailing into New Caledonia, ports of call will include Lifou and Île des Pins, before Silver Discoverer voyages to Norfolk Island, a birdwatchers paradise. Heading south, Silver Discoverer will then navigate the Bay of Islands, a maritime adventure playground commonly regarded as New Zealand’s “birthplace”, before reaching Auckland, with guests disembarking on 21 November, 2014.

Prices are per person starting from AU$14,250 per person in an Explorer Suite double occupancy. Silversea’s fares include all shore excursions hosted by an expert expedition team; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with dishes inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; and all gratuities.

This voyage is subject to availability. Terms and conditions apply. For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Sea of Cortes - Image Gallery


Rikki Swenson 
Here's a selection of images from National Geographic photo instructor, Rikki Swenson, who travelled with editor, Roderick Eime, on the Sea of Cortes itinerary. See more of her and husband Jack's work at

Sunday 20 April 2014

Discovering Baja California - a whale of an adventure


It's a pretty safe bet that if you asked most Australians, or indeed anyone, whereabouts in the world was the Sea of Cortes, you'd get more blank looks than correct answers.

Also known as the Gulf of California, it is bordered to the west by the peninsula that is the Mexican state of Baja California and to the east, the mainland states of Sonora and Sinaloa. With a coastline of approximately 4,000 km, it encloses 160,000 sq km of gorgeous ocean.

Conventional, big ship cruise lines like Royal Caribbean head south from the US to the very tip of the peninsula and the flourishing resort city of Cabo San Lucas, but a few smaller expedition cruise lines like Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic turn the corner and head north into the Gulf proper.
Since 2005, the coastal region and the 244 islands and islets have been inscribed by UNESCO on their World Heritage list.

“Almost all major oceanographic processes occurring in the planet’s oceans are present in the property, giving it extraordinary importance for the study of marine and coastal processes. These processes are indeed supporting the high marine productivity and biodiversity richness that characterize the Gulf of California.” [see full entry: ]

Playful bottlenose dolphins captivate Zodiac-cruising guests of
National Geographic Sea Bird on a Baja California expedition. (pic: Lindblad)
They're not kidding. The Gulf of California is teeming with marine life or all kinds. It seems every day we are seeing whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions and seabirds of numerous species. Had I been here a few weeks earlier, I might have seen the majestic California gray or Humpback whales before they left for northern waters. But others like the mighty sperm and fin whales have resident populations that just hang here year round feeding on the abundance of food delivered by the favourable currents and submarine terrain working in happy unison.

I'm told it was a young Sven Lindblad who came down here in the late '70s and immediately recognised the value of the region and its suitability for expedition style travel which his family were already famous for. Now, more than 30 years on, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic set the benchmark for small ship exploration here with the twin, 62-guest vessels, Sea Bird and Sea Lion.

Guests are immersed in a daily ritual of wildlife spotting, Zodiac cruising, shore excursions, snorkelling, kayaking and, in between times, shipboard lectures and enrichment. It's a non-stop naturalist's cavalcade often compared to the Galápagos.

The season runs from December to April annually, but guests need to be mindful of the migrating species like Blue, Humpback and Gray whales if this is what they hope to see. The Grays, for example, are all but gone by mid-April and on their way north to places like Puget Sound in Canada.

For details of Lindblad's Sea of Cortes explorations, visit and to make a booking, see specialist expedition travel agency, Wild Earth Travel

Wednesday 16 April 2014

News from Ponant - new itineraries



For the first time in 25 years, COMPAGNIE DU PONANT’s cruises are available to take bookings more than a year in advance. The new itineraries for Summer 2015 will be on sale from 15 April 2014: 70 cruises are programmed from April to October 2015 in the Great Arctic North, Northern Europe and the Baltic, East and West Mediterranean and Japan.

Moored as close to protected sites as it is possible to be while enjoying five-star comfort and service, passengers travel in the company of enthusiastic experts, historians and lecturers as their guides.

Much more than a cruise, an authentic travel experience awaits them, be it a Five Star Expedition in the Arctic or Alaska, a coastal cruise along Mediterranean shores or a themed cruise.


Beginning with the Summer 2015 departures, COMPAGNIE DU PONANT passengers will enjoy a host of extra benefits due to an advantageous pricing policy:

The Open Bar will be included on all itineraries. From embarkation throughout the cruise, unlimited complimentary drinks will be available, including a wide selection of fine wines, champagnes, spirits, mineral water and soft drinks.

There are also exclusive new advantages for Ponant Yacht Club members: free excursions, internet package, discounts, upgrades, and more.

A 50% discount will apply to Wi-Fi connection rates.


Two new destinations are on offer for the Summer 2015 season:
Alaska, which completes the Arctic offer from Compagnie du Ponant already present in the Russian Arctic, Spitzbergen, the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, Greenland and the Great Canadian North.

Japan, which in addition to the autumn sailings is also on the programme during hanami, the cherry blossom season.

Advice & Reservations
Australia 1300 737 178 or +61 2 8459 5000 - Or your local travel agent and specialist tour operators

Hurtigruten launch NEW 2015/16 Norway & Explorer

combined brochure with new competitive pricing structure

Hurtigruten has launched its main 2015/2016 brochure with some extremely competitive prices to drive early bookings. The company has reduced many of its voyage-only fares and has included Explorer and Coastal voyages in one main brochure for the first time in several years.

Kathryn Beadle, Managing Director commented "We want to drive early bookings and ensure our customers receive great value for money. Wherever possible we have reduced our prices and if you make comparisons with our main 2014 brochure, some are up to 30% less. Our product is unique, so it is difficult to make comparisons with traditional cruise lines, but the new pricing structure reflects our determination to offer value for money in a competitive market".

For example, for a six day Voyage South from Kirkenes to Bergen the voyage lead-in price is £763 per person/twin share on full board basis, departing in April 2015. The price for the same voyage in the 2014 edition brochure was £988 per person/twin share.

The brochure combines both the Explorer and Coastal products for the first time since 2010.

Kathryn Beadle continues "We believe that having a combined brochure will be beneficial to agents and will make cross selling between the products much easier. Combine that with our current price reductions and we are expecting 2015 sales to get off to a strong start".

The programme is now on sale.

 To request a copy, contact Discover the World on 1800 623 267 or email

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Seven-day Bali-Komodo-Flores Cruises

Two Beauties Ply Indonesian Waters
On AdventureSmith Explorations’
Seven-day Bali-Komodo-Flores Cruise

Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations has engaged two ocean-going beauties for its new Sailing Indonesia: Bali, Komodo & Flores Cruise.

From now through mid-September, the nearly weekly departures of this seven-day cruise alternate between Katharina, a 14-guest, traditional Indonesian “Phinisi”, an elegant and speedy yacht built in 1995 of iron wood, and the 28-guest Ombak Putih, a traditional Indonesian schooner custom built from Iron wood by Buginese ship builders . Her keel was laid in Batulicin Kalimantan in 1995, and she became operational in 1997.

Katharina’s overall length is 40 meters. All cabins offer necessary amenities including private bathrooms, individually controlled AC and storage space including a safe. This vessel is manned by an all-Indonesian crew of 12 and a captain.

The Ombak Putih at 42 meters long offers 12 comfortable cabins. With approximately 400 square meters of public space divided over two main decks, the Ombak Putih offers both open and covered space in abundance, allowing for privacy and serene relaxing. The cabins offer private bathroom, portholes, individually controlled air conditioning and ample storage space including safety deposit box. Fourteen dedicated crew members coming from all regions of the archipelago assist the captain.

Included in the per person (double occupancy) seven day rate from $2,380 are accommodations, all meals aboard the ship, transfers in Flores, non-alcoholic beverages, limited laundry service, guided shore excursions, and use of snorkeling gear and sea kayaks/canoes.

Although cruises aboard these vessels aren’t recommended for under age four, the ships are child friendly. The side railings are adjusted to a higher level than normal for traditional Buginese schooners. Children under 12 years are charged just 25 percent of the cruise fare if they share a triple cabin with their parents. Children above 12 will be charged 50 percent of the cruise fare if they share a triple cabin.

Optional but always-inclusive activities include trekking, cultural tours, snorkeling, swimming and nature exploration. Other activities may include beach volleyball with the crew and fishing (a simple spool of fishing line and hooks are available on board). Although scuba diving is not offered on board, with advance notice arrangement can be made through local dive shops.

Few areas in Asia can match the cultural and natural diversity found in the Lesser Sunda Islands: towering active volcanoes, jungle-clad mountain ranges and dry savannah lowlands, all teeming with wildlife. The itinerary visits quiet coastal villages, megalithic cultures, colorful markets and a world of kaleidoscopic beauty underwater. Guests over seven days will possibly spot the famous Komodo dragon, snorkel in a pristine coral reef, make a wish at the stunning salt-water lake in Satonda and explore some of Indonesia's most beautiful deserted beaches.

Indonesia's Eastern islands are a tourism frontier with over 17,000 islands in the middle of the coral triangle where 70 percent of all marine species in the world are inhabitants.

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. In 2012, owner Todd Smith joined the ranks of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious 14th Annual Travel Specialists List as the world’s expert on small ship expeditions. A distinction he received again in 2013. For information, availability and 2014 reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit

Monday 14 April 2014

SMH: Fore-warmed is fore-armed

Be toasty: The Antarctic landscape holds fascinating fun.
Be toasty: The Antarctic landscape holds fascinating fun.
Ten things y-you should kn-n-now b-b-efore t-t-taking a c-c-cold-c-c-climate c-c-cruise, writes Lynne Whiley.
I've danced across ice and snow, stones and bits of bone in the Antarctic, singing One Republic's Counting Stars out loud. It's a big continent and I didn't care if anyone saw or heard me as I was keeping my toes warm.

Read more:

Hurtigruten doubles up on Greenland Summer 2014 savings

Hurtigruten Brings the Dream Closer to Reality with its Summer Greenland Voyages Special -

New 10% Special Discount can be Combined with Current 35% Savings Offer

Prices as Low as $5,925 for 13-Day Adventure

Travel trends come and go but one of them remains forever true – many travelers dream about experiencing places they can often only read about in a book or magazine. Hurtigruten is making it easier this summer for one of those dreams to become reality with a Greenland savings offer of up to 35% off its regular fares – equal to as much as $4,205 per person. And for the two "Glaciers and Ice" departures in June and July guests can take an additional 10% off – saving up to 43% and resulting in an unheard of fare of $5,925 per person, double for the 13-day adventure.

There has never been a better time for travelers to see for themselves why Greenland has been one of the focal points of the climate change debate for years as well as be awed by the stunning beauty, the 5,000-year-old culture and the uniqueness of this ice-capped island. All while comfortably ensconced on the company's 318-guest, deluxe expedition ship MS Fram. The offer is good for new bookings on any of the three summer 2014 itineraries with the only deadline being space available. Discounted fares range from $5,925 to $8,578 per person, double. Flights are available from the US, starting as low as $1,200.

 "Glaciers & Ice" is a 13-day journey that visits historical places from the Viking era as it makes its way around southern and eastern Greenland as well as spending two days exploring the Iceland's Reykjavik, and Grundarfjörður, one of Iceland's most diverse and scenic fjords, and an overnight stay in Copenhagen. A two-night pre-voyage option in Reykjavik includes breakfasts, a full-day Golden Circle Tour, and a visit to the well-known Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and is priced at $563 per person.
 The 11- and 14-day "Arctic Wilderness Adventure" focuses on Disko Bay, first discovered by the Viking Eric the Red in 985, and the rarely visited settlement of Upernavik, where giant icebergs, fjords, wildlife and spectacular landscapes are sure to impress. "National Park Expedition" is a true rare adventure as its 15- or 16-day route spends seven days exploring Northeast Greenland National Park, the world's largest park and only visited by about 500 people per year – as well as spending time exploring Iceland and Spitsbergen.

 Excursions are led by degreed experts, who also offer lectures onboard about various aspects of life in Greenland – culture, climate change effects, industry, etc. Highlights include spending a night sleeping on the ship's deck, watching icebergs in the night's soft light and enjoying hot chocolate; fishing with the officers and crew during the day and enjoying the catch at dinner; kayaking the arctic waters; visiting cultural-historical museums and local handicraft workshops; and sharing a "kaffemik" in the home of a local Itilleq resident.

 Hurtigruten is a world leader in exploration travel, sailing to the most remote of destinations as well as year-round along Norway's coast. 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, itineraries, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Hurtigruten's visitor-friendly website,; by phone at 800-323-7436; or fax at 888-524-2145. For sales support, group rates and agency incentives, contact Hurtigruten Sales Support at 877-849-3424.

Lindblad Orion event evenings: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane


Join Lindblad Expeditions for a relaxed information event as we reveal our new 2014-15 Explorations brochure.

The fleet of 10 expedition-style ships visit all 7 continents and offer over 40 unique itineraries ranging from seven to twenty-one nights. In 2015, National Geographic Orion begins a momentous year of discovery that takes her, literally, around the world. From Madagascar to the Maldives, Sri Lanka to the Seychelles, these itineraries offer the best new discoveries in expedition travel. The event will also feature destinations such as The Kimberley, Galápagos, Antarctica, Arctic, Alaska, Borneo and the South Pacific.

Please join us for light refreshments and an engaging event where you will meet members of our team.

Wednesday 7 May 2014
Harbourview Terrace, Taronga Centre, Taronga Zoo
Bradley’s Head Road, Mosman NSW
RSVP by 30 April 2014

Tuesday 13 May 2014
RACV City Club
501 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC
RSVP by 6 May 2014

Thursday 5 June 2014
MODA Events Portside
Level 2, 39 Hercules Street, Hamilton QLD
RSVP by 29 May 2014

Events start at 2pm and 5pm.
Please arrive at 2pm for 2:30pm presentation and 5.00pm for 5:30pm presentation

To reserve your place, call 1300 361 012, email or contact your travel agent.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Un-Cruise Adventures Releases 2015 Schedule of Adventure Cruises in Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii and Pacific Northwest


Un-Cruise in Alaska

Un-Cruise Adventures released its full 2015 schedule of small ship adventure cruises with 15 itineraries in Alaska's Inside Passage, Mexico's Sea of Cortés, Hawaiian Islands, Columbia & Snake Rivers, coastal Washington and British Columbia.   New in 2015, the line has increased its cruises visiting Glacier Bay in Alaska and the number of cruises offered on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Travelers choose between three expedition vessels, three yachts and one replica coastal steamer carrying 22-88 guests on voyages focusing on adventure activities in scenic, often remote, destinations or river cruising entwined with living history. 
 “For 2015, the S.S. Legacy will remain on the Columbia and Snake Rivers during the summer season to significantly increase our river cruise departures there,” said Captain Dan Blanchard, CEO. “It's an inclusive experience with living history programming on board plus premium shore excursions  that guests would normally pay extra for in each port. We've had 14 years of experience on these rivers, and this combination is a winner.”
 Columbia & Snake Rivers
The 88-guest S.S. Legacy, a replica coastal steamer similar to those that have a long history of plying the river, will sail 32 departures on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers with cruises departing from April through November 2015.  Weeklong river cruises sail roundtrip Portland, Oregon with a focus on living history—Lewis and Clark's Expedition, Oregon Trail, Native Americans, early pioneers and entrepreneurs.  A Heritage team on board brings history to life through lively presentations. Highlights include a jet boat tour into Hells Canyon, Multnomah Falls, Bonneville Dam, private tasting at a Washington winery, Fort Walla Walla, Maryhill Museum, Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, Columbia River Maritime Museum, Fort Clatsop and transit of eight locks. A series of four wine themed cruises are scheduled for late summer 2015. Inclusive cruises offer a comprehensive historical perspective on board and ashore with guided tours in each port combined with innovative meals; premium wine, beer and spirits; all taxes and fees; transfers; hot tub, sauna, yoga on deck, exercise equipment and massage for wellness. Rates begin at US$3,195 per person, double occupancy.
Glacier Bay National Park stars on many Alaska adventures in 2015 with 87 out of 115 Alaska cruises visiting the park for two days of in-depth exploration including hiking and kayaking inside the park.  Three yachts—Safari Quest, Safari Explorer and Safari Endeavour—and three expedition vessels—Wilderness Adventurer, Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Explorer—sail four itineraries from homeports of Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, Alaska.  Weeklong cruises visit few if any ports with more time outside in remote wilderness to see nature and wildlife up close. Itineraries are easily combined to create two or three week adventures. In spring and fall, each vessel sails a 12-night itinerary between Seattle and Juneau (and reverse).  Rates begin at US$1,895 per person, double occupancy.
 Mexico's Sea of Cortés
The 84-guest Safari Endeavour sails 21 weeklong cruises roundtrip from San José del Cabo, Baja, Mexico from January-April and November-December.  Two itineraries offer travelers land and sea explorations in the remote and marine-life rich sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Desert hiking,  a convivial nighttime bonfire ashore, a mule ride into the arroyo, whale watching, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff excursions and snorkeling with sea lions are included on both itineraries. Other highlights may include a trip to Magdalena Bay to see gray whales and calves up close, port calls in Loreto and La Paz and encounters with gentle whale sharks.  Dolphins, blue-footed boobies, flying mobulas and other creatures make frequent appearances. The inclusive Mexico cruise includes all activities; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; hot tub, sauna, exercise equipment, yoga on deck and a massage for wellness; transfers; and all port charges, taxes and fees.  Rates begin at US$2,995 per person, double occupancy. 
The 36-guest Safari Explorer yacht offers 20 island adventure cruises between Moloka'i and Hawaii, the Big Island (and reverse) from January-April and November-December.  Weeklong cruises explore four islands—Hawaii, Maui, Lana'i and Moloka'i.  Guests enjoy a full complement of water sports activities—kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and skiff excursions.  Highlights include night snorkeling with Giant Pacific Manta rays, exclusive cultural tours on Moloka'i and snorkeling in Kealakekua Bay near Captain Cook's monument. A flexible schedule allows time for encounters with dolphins, whales and green sea turtles. The inclusive Hawaiian Islands cruise offers the convenience  and ease of exploring four islands and surrounding waters by yacht with all amenities included--adventure activities, guided shore tours, innovative meals and all beverages; a massage, yoga on deck, exercise equipment and sauna for wellness. Rates begin at US$3,595 per person, double occupancy.
 Coastal Washington and British Columbia
The 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer expedition vessel sails a weeklong itinerary in spring and fall exploring shorelines and islands in Washington State—South Hood Canal, Port Townsend, Deception Pass, Lopez Island, Orcas Island, Friday Harbor and Sucia Island. The 22-guest Safari Quest yacht explores Washington's San Juan Islands and British Columbia's Harmony and Gulf Islands with extended time in Princess Louisa Inlet in spring and fall. Highlights include a visit to Victoria; High Tea and tour at Butchart Gardens; visit to Friday Harbor, WA; and Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet. Both Pacific Northwest cruises depart roundtrip Seattle.  Rates begin at US$1,695 aboard the Wilderness Adventurer and US$3,695 on the Safari Quest, per person, double occupancy.
 On cruises aboard the yachts and expedition vessels, guests can be as active as they like and activities include hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and skiff excursions.  Expert naturalists provide interpretation on guided excursions ashore and at sea.  Aboard the S.S. Legacy river cruise, a Heritage team provides entertaining and informative interpretation along the route and shore excursions are included in each port.
 Fresh, innovative cuisine is served on all vessels.  Select theme cruise dates are available for photography and marine biology interests. Kids in Nature departures cater to families with children younger than 13 years. Charters and group incentives are available. To book or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or Un-Cruise Adventures at 888-862-8881 or  
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