Monday 28 July 2014

Island Escape Cruises new 2015 brochure


Island Escape Cruises present their new 2015 Brochure covering the New Zealand and Vanuatu cruising and charter season giving you the best of the best available.

Some points to note are the addition of a dedicated Solo Cabin for passengers travelling alone, the addition of a fantastic 9-night Spirit of Vanuatu cruise plus a new Secrets of Auckland series that explores the world-class vineyards and beautiful beaches within Auckland's Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

A large percentage of departures are now booked as private charters. As such pricing for a whole ship charter is shown in the brochure. The team will assist you to arrange every aspect to ensure any charter is tailored to meet every desire.

Early Bird savings are $1,000 per couple and you are encouraged you to book early and save.

Download the 2015 Brochure HERE. Or see for all details.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Job: Product Operations Specialist - Expedition Cruising

A&K are currently hiring for this position.


Summary: The Product Operations Specialist supports the Expedition Cruise product and product operations team’s work to meet A&K USA's overall strategy and commercial goals. The Product Operations Specialist compiles and manages data and information for internal use and provides the internal sales and operations support for the execution of all Expedition Cruise charter programs.

Find out more

Saturday 26 July 2014

WIN an iPad Mini – Cruise Passenger Magazine 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards

This post removed as per publisher request

Alaska for Beginners


It’s no wonder that Alaska is attracting Australians in record numbers. The vast wilderness, huge range of activities for all tastes and budgets and the sheer sense of adventure is a wonderful attraction for outdoor-loving Aussies.

This story and much more in Cruise Passenger Magazine

African Idol: Cruise West Africa


The mysterious, once forbidden lands of West Africa are slowly opening to adventurous travellers. Roderick Eime traces slaves, pirates and ghosts from Cape Town to Dakar. With G Adventures.

Thank you to fans of Blue Lagoon Cruises


For loyal fans of Blue Lagoon Cruises. This special offer is just for you. Book your September 4 or 7 night cruise NOW and receive cruising rewards valued at over FJ$1,000. Learn more:

AFR: Sail away to the most isolated paradises on earth


Locals in dugout outriggers pay a visit on True North’s PNG cruise.
Travel 1000 kilometres south-west along PNG’s barely chartered east coast,
passing through some of the world’s least-visited islands.  Photo: North Star Cruises

Great 'executive summary' of expedition ships by Craig Tansley for the AFR

Read the full story

Thursday 24 July 2014

Explore the Arctic Wilderness with Hurtigruten on an overnight husky or snowmobile adventure


If you fancy staying in a remote Arctic wilderness lodge, and making your way there by husky or snowmobile, Hurtigruten can now make that possible with the launch of two new overnight tours.

The two trips can be added to Hurtigruten voyages starting or ending in Kirkenes (northern Norway) between 5th January and 5th April 2015.

Follow the route of the Finnmark dog race on an overnight husky tour

After meeting your dog team, you will set off on a 30km trip into Europe's last wilderness - following the same tracks as the famous Finnmark Dog Race.

After a brief stop for some snacks and a rest (for both you and the dogs!), you will complete your journey to the wilderness camp, far away from any traffic or bright city lights.

Enjoy fresh king crab (a local speciality) for dinner and make use of the warm sauna before retiring to the peaceful lodge for the night. Early next morning you will start the day by feeding your team of huskies and enjoy your breakfast, while the dogs tuck into theirs, before heading back to Kirkenes in time for lunch.

Experience an overnight snowmobile adventure

Take a thrilling snowmobile safari along a frozen fjord to the remote Pasvik Valley where your wilderness cabin awaits. After a delicious dinner made with local ingredients, you can spend the evening watching the skies for the magical Northern Lights.

The following morning you will enjoy a hearty breakfast and get back on the snowmobiles for a tour along the Russian border, before heading back to Kirkenes.

Hurtigruten's  seven day 'Classic Voyage North' from Bergen up to Kirkenes currently costs £889 per person departing on a choice of dates in January 2015 (Including the departure on 13 January on the MS Richard With). The price is based on two people sharing an inside cabin on full board basis.

The overnight husky tour costs £1,227 per person, while the snowmobile tour costs £1,330 per person.

For more information email Discover the World on  or call 1800 OCEANS (1800 623 267).

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Murray River Cruising with Captain Cook Cruises [video]


The Murray Princess is a large paddlewheeler that operates on the Murray River in Australia. It is a luxury vessel that offers cruises along the river, allowing passengers to take in the scenic beauty of the area and learn about the history and culture of the region. The boat is equipped with comfortable cabins, a dining room, and a lounge area, as well as a sundeck and a spa pool. The Murray Princess is known for its friendly crew and relaxed atmosphere, and is popular among travelers looking for a unique way to explore the Murray River. (AI generated text)


Tuesday 22 July 2014

Lindblad all but sold out


by Louise Goldsbury, editor, Travel Daily Cruise Update

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is “stronger than it’s ever been” with more than 95% occupancy for the first half of 2014 across its fleet, including the Asia-Pacific’s National Geographic Orion, the company has said.

Jeremy Lindblad, business development director, Lindblad Expeditions-Australia, told TD Cruise Update that NG Orion has fewer than 40 cabins available
this year in total.

Cruise winners hailed ROYAL Caribbean Cruise Lines was named Best Cruise Operator - Australian Based Operation at the sell-out National Travel Industry Awards on Sat night.

RCI vice-president Asia-Pacific Gavin Smith thanked the industry for its support and hailed sales manager Peter McCormack and his team as “the leading voice in sales in the travel industry.”

The winner of Best Cruise Operator - International Based Operation was APT, which had a huge night, also taking out the awards for Best Tour Operator - Domestic and Best Tour Operator “This means that we are more than 96% full for the year on this ship,” he said.

Lindblad also reports “more than double” the number of Australian pax booked with the company from 2013 to 2014.

“While these guests are travelling with us across all 10 vessels, the majority still occupy the National Geographic Orion,” he said.

“The sky really is the limit in terms of anticipated sales growth for the next six to 12 months here, and we are excited to continue developing itineraries that cater to our Australian passengers,” Lindblad added.

National Geographic Orion was renamed and upgraded with new exploration tools and an expanded expedition team in Mar this year.

Itineraries include the Coral Sea: Papua New Guinea to Fiji; Fiji to Tahiti; Tahiti to Easter Island; Treasures of the Indian Ocean: Zanzibar and the Seychelles; and Indian Ocean Odyssey: Seychelles, Maldives & Sri Lanka.

See for more information.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Crystal cruises to sail Northwest Passage in 2016


The “World’s Best” Crystal Cruises is introducing a new expedition-style voyage traversing the Arctic Ocean via the legendary Northwest Passage – one so mysterious and remote (500 miles north of the Arctic Circle), that explorers spent centuries seeking the passage, until it was first completed successfully by Roald Amundsen just over 100 years ago.

Crystal will be the first luxury cruise line to ever navigate the route, maneuvering through 900 miles of majestic waterways lined with spectacular glaciers, towering fjords, and vast unspoiled landscapes away from mainstream civilization and tourism, north of mainland Canada. Beginning August 16, 2016 in Anchorage/Seward, Alaska, the award-winning Crystal Serenity will sail for 32 days from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean/New York City.

Crystal Serenity in Antarctica

“Crystal’s inaugural Northwest Passage offers guests the opportunity to begin a new story of thrilling adventure, all the while indulging in the world’s very best luxury vacation experience,” said Crystal President Edie Rodriguez. “The voyage combines intrepid adventure, the great outdoors, and immersive cultural experiences with Six-Star service as only Crystal can deliver.”

Crystal’s Executive Vice President Thomas Mazloum spearheaded the strategic planning of the itinerary, with the help of Expedition Voyage Consulting by EYOS Expeditions, providers of bespoke expeditions to the most remote regions on Earth in safety and luxury.

“From reviewing operations with Canadian officials to meeting with Inuit elders of the Arctic who have provided their backing, our team has spent almost two years diligently gathering the field experts, information, resources, and support to ensure an epic experience that is exceptionally rewarding and safe for guests and crew, and respectful of local lands and cultures,” says Mazloum. “During this voyage, speakers will enlighten guests on information regarding climate change, and how it has impacted this passage. With the recent retreat of polar ice, the time is right for us to lead the way within the travel industry, as Crystal has done throughout our 25-year history.”

Following in the footsteps of intrepid explorers, the once-in-a-lifetime journey through once-unpassable waterways marks Crystal’s maiden expedition-style itinerary and a break from many cruising traditions. Approaches to itinerary scheduling, destination visits, onboard offerings, and safety standards are all new or enhanced, with major changes including:

A flexible itinerary: Extra “surprise” days are built into the schedule to allow unplanned “calls of the wild” for polar bear-viewing, whale-watching, glacier-cruising, scenic helicopter flights, and/or seeking out the best wildlife and weather on the advice of local specialist guides.

New adventures ashore: Crystal will introduce “Wilderness Adventures” that take guests across polar tundra, up ice-strewn fjords, and into scenic coves to explore areas in and near maiden ports-of-call. Travelers will also be able to respectfully visit the small, remote communities and uninhabited, unscheduled spaces/lands/waterways en route – often with champagne waiting at the other end. Although some excursions will only be determined “in the moment” based on circumstances and environment, Crystal will spend the next two years planning a plethora of excursions and “Arctic safaris” involving kayaks, Zodiacs, a helicopter, ATVs, fishing, hiking, climbing, golfing at the world’s northernmost nine-hole course, and even possible camping and/or overnighting away from the ship. Voluntourism opportunities to help local lands and communities will also be offered complimentarily to guests and crew via the line’s “You Care. We Care.” program.

New enrichment: A 14-person expedition team of experts in a variety of subjects -- including a local Arctic guide, scientists, and accomplished wildlife and landscape photographers -- will not only provide lectures on subjects such as the science and history of the area, but also offer hands-on seminars and workshops, host dinners with guests, guide wildlife watching from the ship, and accompany excursions, where appropriate.

Respect & understanding of the local culture: Guests will be given a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in the lifestyles of these small and remote communities during port visits, with activities created in partnership with the communities. Designed to show modern life today in the Arctic, as well as the rich cultural heritage of the region, visits will include demonstrations of local arts and crafts, Arctic sports, traditional drum dancing and throat singing, and tastings of local foods, such as Arctic char and bannock bread.

Onboard experience, expedition-style: Embracing the spirit of expedition, Crystal’s usual onboard atmosphere of rest and relaxation will be relaxed even further with wardrobe (complimentary parkas, boot rentals, outfitter recommendations, and no “black tie optional” nights) and cuisine that, although still gourmet, is modified to reflect the locale and limited ability to re-supply goods and store waste during the month-long voyage.

Ports-of-Call: Kodiak, Dutch Harbor, and Nome*, Alaska; Ulukhaktok*, NW Territories; Cambridge Bay* and Pond Inlet, Nunavut; Ilulissat*, Sisimiut*, and Nuuk, Greenland; Bar Harbor, Maine; Boston, Massachusetts; Newport, Rhode Island, and New York, New York. (*=maiden call)

Waterways: North Pacific Ocean; Bering Sea & Bering Strait; Chukchi & Beaufort Seas; Amundsen Gulf; Dolphin & Union Strait; Coronation Gulf; Dease Strait; Queen Maud Gulf; Victoria Strait; Larsen Sound; Franklin & Bellot Straits; Peel Sound; Parry Channel; Barrow Strait; Prince Regent Inlet; Lancaster Sound; Croker Bay; Navy Board Inlet; Eclipse Sound; Baffin Bay; Davis Strait; Labrador Sea; North Atlantic Ocean.

Enhanced safety and environmental standards: Crystal Serenity and its escort vessel will be using low-sulphur Marine Gas oil fuel, exceeding environmental regulations. The escort vessel will carry additional safety and environmental protection equipment, as well as personnel specifically trained in its use. In addition, it will serve as a platform for a helicopter and zodiacs, and be manned by a crew highly experienced in all aspects of operating safely in this unique area.

The first call in the Canadian Arctic is planned for the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, a settlement of just a few hundred people on the shores of the Amundsen Gulf, just 1,400 miles from the North Pole. “The community is very pleased to see the thought that has been given to ensure that the experience for the passengers, as well as the residents, is positive and beneficial,” said William Bennett, Senior Administrative Officer of the Hamlet of Ulukhaktok.

With the new cruise comes a new booking process. A 20% initial deposit will be required to secure all bookings, with $500 of the deposit being non-refundable. Starting July 17, the initial booking window will only be available to guests who have sailed with Crystal before (i.e., Crystal Society members). Non-members may add their name to a waitlist, and remaining space, if any, will open to the public on September 2. Crystal Adventures will open for pre-reservation 18 months in advance of the cruise.

All-inclusive “Book Now” fares start at $19,755 per person, double occupancy, with an additional Crystal Society savings starting from $495/person and $3,000 included in savings if booked by August 29, 2014.

Crystal Cruises’ passion for taking care of guests in an inviting environment of extraordinary space, quality and choices has earned the company more “World’s Best” awards than any other cruise line, resort, or hotel in history.

Thursday 17 July 2014

New Travel Indochina’s 2014-16 Asia River Cruise Portfolio


Travel Indochina’s 2014-16 Asia River Cruise Brochure

Travel Indochina’s 2014-16 Asia River Cruise Portfolio sets sail amid strong growth and new product announcements

Travel Indochina has launched its 2014-16 Luxury Asia River Cruise Portfolio contained in its expanded 84 page guide amid extremely strong growth in the sector and with a partnership announcement that it will be handling all Australian Travel Trade bookings for the newest small ship luxury cruise in Asia, Aqua Expeditions’ Aqua Mekong.

In the three years since establishing the product suite, boutique small ship Asian River Cruising has become Travel Indochina’s second most important market segment following the company’s core Small Group Journeys, registering 130% growth in the last year alone.

Managing Director, Paul Hole is buoyed by the growth in the sector which offers travellers a unique opportunity to gain greater access and deeper insights into a traditional way of life along Asia’s most iconic waterways.

“Having personally shared the experience of sailing on small boats along the Mekong, I’m more resolute than ever to bring this style of travel to travellers who prefer this style of exploration,” explains Hole.

“We’ve been sourcing more exclusive experiences as we develop an increasingly extensive product suite of quality cruise experiences and carefully crafted itineraries to meet our travellers’ demand, and importantly with a flexibility of offerings between tailor made and scheduled departures and itineraries.”

“We’re especially excited to announce our partnership with Aqua Expeditions for the Aqua Mekong, which will set a new standard of small boat luxury on the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia. Aqua Mekong has the aesthetics and facilities equal to the most sophisticated five-star hotel, features world class cuisine designed by Asia’s top ranked chef, David Thompson and offers its own deck mounted tenders to provide on shore excursions into the heart of Mekong life, culture and nature. Luxury of the likes of this ship has never been seen by Australian river cruise aficionados unless they have been lucky enough to travel on Aqua’s Amazon based vessel.”

Travel Indochina’s newest guide to Luxury Asia River Cruising, which incorporates Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India and China, includes cruise itineraries and details for boutique small ship river cruising along the Mekong, Yangtze, Ganges, Irrawaddy and Chindwin. The only dedicated brochure in the market with such a large range of boutique river cruising options across Asia, the 84 page ‘Guide’ to cruising provides detailed ship information covering cabin selections, cuisine, on shore excursions, itinerary highlights with pre and post touring options, deck & cabin plans and dates and prices for a range of departures to help travel agents and travellers identify the most appropriate cruise.

In addition to the Aqua Mekong, Travel Indochina’s cruise portfolio also includes the addition of two other cruise ships due to launch in late 2014 and early 2015; Haimark Luxury Expeditions’ Irrawaddy Explorer and Ganges Voyager I. Plying Burma’s Irrawaddy River and India’s Ganges River respectively, these two new cruise ships exude comfort and elegance while offering British-colonial era inspired luxury with quality service delivered by exceptionally high crew to passenger ratios.

Travel Indochina offers exclusive charters and preferred partnership sailings on the following Cruise Ships:

Aqua Mekong (Aqua Expeditions), Mekong River (set to launch September 2014)
The Jahan (Heritage Line), Mekong River
Jayavarman (Heritage Line), Mekong River
The Luang Say Lodge & Cruise, Northern Mekong
The Vat Phou Cruises, Southern Mekong
Mekong Sun, Upper Mekong
Irrawaddy Explorer (Haimark), Irrawaddy River (set to launch September 2014)
RV Paukan 2007, Irrawaddy River
Sanctuary Ananda, Irrawaddy River
Belmond Road to Mandalay (Belmond), Irrawaddy River
Belmond Orcaella (Belmond), Irrawaddy River and Chindwin River
Ganges Voyager I (Haimark), Ganges River (set to launch January 2015)
Victoria Cruises fleet, including Victoria Jenna, Victoria Anna, Victoria Katarina, Victoria Sophia, Victoria Selina and Victoria Lianna, Yangtze River
Yangzi Explorer, Yangtze River


About Aqua Mekong

Setting a new standard for small luxury cruising up and down the Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia, the Aqua Mekong is the only ship on this stretch of the river to offer a fully equipped fitness centre, library, screening room, outdoor evening cinema, observation deck and a top deck river facing infinity edge style pool.

The ship features 20 Design Suites measuring 30m2 and facing the Mekong River. Eight suites have private balconies and 12 panoramic windows with 4 metre sofas to leverage the view.

Guests dine on world class indigenous cuisine created by Asia’s top ranked chef, David Thompson, as Executive Chef. Incorporating the Mekong’s diverse culinary traditions, the on board chefs offer guests cooking classes to share Aqua Mekong’s inventive and authentic dishes. Cultural and environmental lectures are also offered on board.

Uniquely, Aqua Expeditions has invested in four deck mounted launch speedboats to provide twice or three time daily on-shore excursions. Four professionally trained guides lead guests deep into the Mekong’s tributaries and on foot among Khmer pottery villages, remote Vietnamese mountain monasteries and the cultural treasures of Phnom Penh. There are also ten bicycles aboard the Aqua Mekong to allow guests to ride along the riverbanks.

Inaugural Sailings

Inaugural Phnom Penh – Saigon 8 Day / 7 Night Aqua Mekong Encounter with 3 night cruise accommodation departs 28 September 2014, from $4,395 pp twin share

Inaugural Saigon – Siem Reap 12 Day / 11 Night Aqua Mekong Luxury Expedition with 7 night cruise accommodation departs 01 October 2014, from $8,868 pp twin share

About Travel Indochina

Travel Indochina has been operating Small Group Journeys and tailor-made holidays to Asia since 1993. Offering journeys to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, China, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Burma, Mongolia and Bhutan, Travel Indochina has seven offices across its Asia destinations, Western tour guides and English-speaking local guides.

Travel Indochina’s idea is simple – to explore and share the essence of Asia’s history, culture, natural beauty and, most importantly, people. The company has a commitment to responsible travel and a belief that travel is an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, cultures and wealth.

For more information and bookings, Travel Indochina’s Asia experts can be contacted on 1300 365 355 or online at

For great travel adventures and stories, follow the Travel Indochina team at, on Twitter @travelindochina or check out our photos on Flickr

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Big names in small ships win T+L awards


Winners of small ship and river cruise lines at Travel + Leisure Best of 2014 awards

Tauck ms Savor
Tauck's latest Inspiration-class river boat, ms Savor, launched in June. World's best?
Click to enlarge. Read Full report at T+L

Monday 14 July 2014

Aurora Expeditions at the Antarctic Tourism Talks in Chile

Puerto Williams
Puerto Williams. (Flickr user: guideviaggi)

Aurora Expeditions has been a major contributor during important talks in Chile this month to discuss the country’s tourism development and planning. The tourism expansion includes opening Chile’s access to Antarctica after last year’s launch of Aurora Expeditions’ new Antarctic itineraries that include departures from Puerto Williams, the country’s most southerly port.

Aurora Expeditions’ Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Bolton, attended the talks in Santiago, Chile on 3 July 2014 as part of a collaboration organised by the Chilean Navy.

“I am delighted to be able to be a part of, and assist in, the development of Chile as a new Antarctic gateway, helping to support and sustainably develop the growth of the Antarctic tourism industry.”

“This coming Antarctic season will be Aurora Expeditions’ first in operating expeditions in and out of Puerto Williams. The Chilean Government, from both tourism and naval sectors, has made a strong commitment and investment in the region, which for us as a tour operator, means we’ll be able to run smooth operations in and out of the Chilean port.”

“Puerto Williams really offers a perfect starting or ending point for Antarctic expeditions, with its wealth of nature and amazing mountains backdrop, as well as it’s vicinity to Cape Horn – a place that every Antarctic passenger hopes to get a glimpse of.”

In conjunction with the Chilean Tourism Minister, the Director of Public Works, and other companies interested in providing support services to the region, Bolton was involved in discussing topics such as tariffs, increased airport capacity and fuel supply, as well as collaborating with other public services in the region.

Aurora Expeditions will begin to operate expeditions in and out of Puerto Williams from this coming 2014-15 Antarctica season. There is still opportunity to join Aurora Expeditions’ inaugural voyage into Puerto Williams. The ‘Spirit of Antarctica’expedition will depart from Ushuaia on 6 December and finish in Puerto Williams on 17 December 2014. Prices start from US$8,700 per person and include a tour of Puerto Williams and a flight to Punta Arenas.

For more information please contact Aurora Expeditions on +61 2 9252 1033 or visit

Exploring Ancient Turkey by Sea with Peter Sommer Travels


Yacht sailing Aegean

Archaeological tour specialist Peter Sommer Travels is set to explore some of the most remarkable ancient sites of the Mediterranean this September on a series of spectacular yacht expeditions in Turkey.

Four upcoming itineraries will travel through magnificent coastal scenery aboard traditional gulets, wooden schooners, visiting picturesque villages, unspoilt coves and fascinating ancient ruins.

Each expedition caters to small groups of no more than 16 guests, travelling at a lazy pace along Turkey’s south-west coast. Hosted by expert guides with academic backgrounds in history, art and archaeology, they combine the remarkable past of the ancient lands with an idyllic journey and a chance to sample the region’s superb food and wine.

The eight-day expeditions cost £2125 per person twin share (approx A$3870) and include:

Cruising to Ephesus - beginning in Bodrum, this cruise heads north to the stunning ruins of Ephesus, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Mediterranean. En route it visits sites including the ancient harbour of Iasos, the sanctuary to Zeus at Labraunda and the great oracular temple at Didyma. August 30 to September 6, 2014. Max 14 pax.

Cruising the Carian Coast – from Mediterranean to Aegean – sailing west from Göcek to Bodrum, this cruise offers a mix of fantastic ancient sites like the monumental wonders of Knidos and Kaunos, plus spectacular landscapes on one of Turkey’s least-developed stretches of turquoise coast. September 6 to 3, 2014. Max 16 pax.

Cruising Western Lycia – exploring a superb mountainous coast and its extraordinary culture, with plenty of opportunities to swim in crystal waters. Discover the world’s best preserved Roman lighthouse at Patara, the stunning ancient site at Xanthos, and the beautiful villages and ruins at Kekova. September 13 to 20, 2014. Max 14 pax.

Cruising the Carian Coast – Aegean to Mediterranean - heading east from Bodrum to Göcek, visiting the rock-cut temple tombs of Kaunos and the beautifully preserved marble city of Knidos. This itinerary offers a perfect combination of magnificent ancient sites, quiet coves, beautiful walks and glorious swimming. September 20 to 27, 2014. Max 14 pax

Specialising in small-group expeditions, Peter Sommer Travels offers more than 20 different expert-led land tours and gulet cruises among the ancient sites of Turkey, Greece and Italy.

The company is headed by archaeologist and documentary maker Peter Sommer, who in 1994 walked 3,200km across Turkey retracing the route of Alexander the Great. He later worked on a BBC documentary, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, and created a 19-day tour of the same name, cited as one of the world’s ten best educational holidays by National Geographic Traveller.

For full details and bookings contact Peter Sommer Travels in the UK on 0011 44 1600 888 220, email or visit

*Tour prices include transport, accommodation, most meals, crew and guide services, and all entrance fees and tips on excursions. Excludes airfares.

Silversea Expeditions debuts specialised photography voyages

Chukotka (Sergey Frolov)
Puffin, Talan Island (Sergey Frolov)
 Kamchatka (Sergey Frolov)

Silversea is preparing to set sail on its first specialised photo Expedition voyage on board Silver Discoverer, departing 31 July, 2014.  With only two exclusive photography itineraries, the first unique, round trip voyage will depart from Nome, USA, exploring the remote Russian Far East.  The second photography expedition departs Dunedin, New Zealand, on 22 December, 2014, visiting New Zealand's Sub-Antarctic islands, some of the world's greatest biodiversity 'hotspots'. 

Led by award-winning photographer, David Wright, guests on board the photography voyages will embark on a memorable journey throughout these remote parts of the world.

Karen Christensen, General Manager & Director of Sales/Marketing, Australasia, says Silversea is pleased to offer guests this rare opportunity on board Silver Discoverer.

"Our Expeditions team strive to create fascinating voyages that offer unlimited photographic opportunities. Having a renowned photography expert like David Wright on board two of our upcoming voyages will no doubt enhance our guests' on board experience," says Christensen.

Embarking on one of the world's great journeys through the Russian Far East, guests will visit Kamchatka, a geothermal wonderland and home to the giant brown bear, volcanoes and geysers.  Guests will also be on the lookout for a myriad of wildlife including spouting whales, frolicking seals and a huge population of nesting and migratory seabirds.

Silver Discoverer's New Zealand voyage will also offer plenty of photo opportunities with guests visiting a number of the country's Sub-Antarctic Islands with protected reserves that are home to 126 species of birds including the wandering albatross and 17 species of penguins such as the Yellow-eyed penguin.

With over 25 years of professional experience, Wright has been awarded with an Emmy and BAFTA for his work, and has also worked with the BBC, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

"David's extensive knowledge and experience will provide guests with expert tips on image composition as well as assisting guests with camera settings to ensure the best possible image is captured," says Christensen.

2014 Photo Expedition Voyages on board Silver Discoverer:

9412: Nome, USA Roundtrip 14 days, departing 31 July 2014. Fares from AU$12,350pp.

9421: Dunedin, New Zealand Roundtrip, 16 days, departing 22 December 2014. Fares from AU$16,150pp.

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

Julie Goodwin hosting her third Murray River Celebrity Cooking Cruise


MasterChef winner, Julie Goodwin, will be working with Captain Cook Cruises once again with the release of her third four-night Murray River Celebrity Cook Cruise, departing Monday, 9th March 2015.

Julie will be holding three cooking demonstrations on board the paddlewheeler Murray Princess and hosting a three course dinner for passengers. The dinner menu will be selected by Julie and prepared by the Captain Cook Cruises’ kitchen.

Julie first hosted a specialist Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises in 2013 and again in 2014 and according to Richard Doyle, Head of Sales and Marketing at Captain Cook Cruises, the decision to invite Julie back on Murray Princess for a third cruise was an easy one.

“We are delighted to welcome Julie back for her third Murray River cruise in March 2015. Julie’s previous cruises were such a huge success it was any easy decision to have her return for a third.”

“Past passengers made it very clear how much they loved Julie’s food and wanted her to return. The opportunity to meet and chat informally with Julie throughout the cruise was a major highlight.” Continues Mr Doyle.

Julie is looking forward to the cruise.

“I had such a great time cooking on the paddle wheeler, PS Murray Princess, when I was asked to do a third cooking cruise I immediately said yes. I’m looking forward to meeting even more passengers on this cruise and having a lot of fun cooking in the kitchen with them. I also can’t wait to return to the beautiful Murray River.” Says Julie Goodwin.

From past experience Captain Cook Cruises warns that the cruise may sell out quickly, and booking early is recommended.

“With only 120 places available, the 2014 cruise sold extremely fast. Food and wine lovers wishing to combine their passion with a visit to the Murray River and the opportunity to meet Julie Goodwin, will need to be quick.” Says Mr Doyle.

The four night Murray River cruise allows passengers to discover the beauty, history and culture of the Murray River between Mannum and Blanchetown, South Australia.

Each day features exciting day trips to historic river ports, Aboriginal archaeological sites, a working sheep station and woolshed, a native wildlife shelter and vineyard and cellar door tasting.

The scenery is picturesque as the Murray Princess cruises past towering limestone cliffs, through ancient gorges and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests.

The four night Celebrity Cook Cruise with Julie Goodwin departs from Mannum, South Australia on Monday, 9th March 2015 at 4.30pm, returning to Mannum on Friday, 7thMarch at 9.00am. Scenic coach transfers are available from Adelaide. Cruise prices start from AU$1229per person, twin share.

Passengers have the option to extend to seven nights by including the three night Discovery Cruise departing Friday 6th March. The seven night package includes a free Barossa Valley day tour and is priced from $1849 per person.

All prices include all meals, accommodation, three cooking demonstrations by Julie Goodwin, a hosted dinner with Julie, Captain’s dinner, most tours, scenic coach transfers from Adelaide or onsite car parking and all on-board facilities including the use of spa, sauna, gym, sun deck, two bars, two lounges, single sitting dining saloon and entertainment.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises on T: +61-2-9206 1111or visit

About Julie Goodwin

In 2009, a record-breaking 4million Australians tuned in to watch Julie Goodwin become the first ever winner of ‘MasterChef’. Viewers loved her honesty, sense of humour and humble cooking style, and when her first cookbook, Our Family Table, was published, Julie became one of Australia's best-selling authors; her book held the number one slot in the book charts for over 10 weeks. In 2012, Julie dusted off her MasterChef apron for charity in ‘MasterChef AllStars’, raising an incredible $15,000 for Oxfam in the process. Julie writes a regular column in Australian Women's Weekly and released her latest cookbook Gather in March 2013, which celebrates the family-focused style of cooking she loves. Her next book is due out in October.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Cruising in the Canadian Arctic 'Problematic'

Hapag-Lloyd Bremen at Pond Inlet (University of Ottawa)

The Canadian Arctic is one of the most 'cumbersome, expensive and problematic regions in the world' for expedition cruise operators, according to the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

More than 35 different Canadian authorities require over 50 applications and permits from cruise operators to visit the Arctic. This keeps visitors and economic activities away from Canada, AECO said in an open letter to stakeholders involved with permitting requirements or the political framework behind the requirements.

Numbers for the Canadian Arctic are very low. According to figures provided by AECO, 1,650 passengers visited in 2013, up from 1,200 in 2012 and the highest number recorded in nine years. In 2005, there were 550 passengers.

In contrast, last year approximately 45,000 passengers cruised to Svalbard and 20,000 to Greenland.

AECO said Canada has a great deal to offer tourists from all over the world and expedition cruise operators would like to continue to bring visitors and economic activity, but more cooperation from Canadian authorities is needed.

One Ocean's Akademik Sergei Vavilov is a regular visitor to the Canadian Arctic (R Eime)

The association complained that the list of permitting requirements 'seems to be ever-increasing.'

It listed 52 permitting, licensing, clearance, inspection, review, certification, impact, registration and reporting requirements that may be applicable when operating in the Canadian Arctic.

Jackie Dawson, Canada research chair in environment, society and policy and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, is working on an article that argues this situation limits economic development and local entrepreneurship opportunities and essentially yet unintentionally undermines some of the work being conducted by the same institutions that are implementing the permits.

Lack of clarity puts operators at risk of non-compliance, AECO added.

According to Hans Lagerweij, president and ceo of Toronto-based Quark Expeditions, 'No Canadian body has been able to provide a complete list of requirements and/or a list of permitting authorities, so operators could easily oversee one or more requirements, which could result in a company unintentionally being non-compliant.

'This complete lack of clarity is a serious concern for all operators,' Lagerweij said. He suggested one solution could be a central permitting body or office.

'As an organization representing Arctic expedition cruise operators, we strongly urge Canadian authorities to start a process in order to streamline the complex, time-consuming, expensive and unclear permitting situation that is the reality in the Canadian Arctic today,' AECO executive director Frigg Jørgensen said.

Jørgensen believes that if things don't change, this will lead to a long-term loss of tourism and tourism-related business for Canada, and operators will continue to take their business elsewhere, as they've done in recent years.

Jørgensen expressed the hope that Canadian authorities will consult the industry to streamline and possibly even reduce the high number of requirements and learn from other similar regions such as Greenland and Svalbard.

Based in Longyearbyen, Norway, AECO represents approximately 40 international companies that operate almost 30 vessels in Svalbard, Greenland, Canada and the Russian Arctic. Among them are Abercrombie & Kent USA, Lindblad Expeditions, Noble Caledonia, Poseidon Expeditions, Seabourn and Silversea Cruises.

True North 2016 Sailing Schedule


The TRUE NORTH’s 2016 sailing schedule is now available

Here are just a couple of comments that recently appeared on our Facebook page:

"TRUE NORTH - a boat like no other. An experience like no other, a journey to remember for ever and ever!" - Miriam Tier

"TRUE NORTH is the benchmark for small-ship expeditions!" - Jane Barry

Click HERE to review both 2015 and 2016 sailing schedules

Contact your preferred travel representative or your adventure partners at North Star Cruises

2/6 Carnarvon Street
Broome, Western Australia 6725

Phone (08) 9192 1829



Captain Cook Cruises welcomes new hospitality member


Captain Cook Cruises are delighted to announce the appointment of a new Hospitality Manager aboard MV Reef Endeavour. He comes to us with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Clinton Perkins is a small ship veteran with a love of the islands. He is a New Zealander with a keen sense of heritage and adventure.

"My aim is to contribute to the growth and development of Captain Cook Cruises Fiji by sharing my internationally gained knowledge and experience with all team members achieving the highest level of guest satisfaction. Only good things can come from combining luxury and passion"

The Reef Endeavour family bid a fond farewell to Florian for now. His energy and passion for the "village" that is Reef Endeavour and the destinations we visit will be sadly missed. We hope he will return again in the future.

Introducing Pearl Seas Cruises USA


Pearl Seas Cruises, the newest small ship cruise line in the United States, has developed a new style of luxury small ship cruising, starting with its 210-passenger flagship, the Pearl Mist. The brand-new luxury ship features the latest technology in safety, navigation and communication and the finest luxury accommodations and amenities. Starting in 2014, Pearl Mist will operate various Great Lakes, Canadian Maritimes, New England and Caribbean cruises.

To learn more about Pearl Seas Cruises, visit or call 800-983-7462.

New Ponant Appointment


Eva Robert
Eva Robert CdP Australasia appointment

Compagnie du Ponant Australasia adds French influence

Monique Ponfoort, Vice President of French expedition and luxury cruise line Compagnie du Ponant Australasia, is delighted to announce further expansion of the Sydney office with the arrival of Eva Robert, fresh from Ponant Marseille, France, to fill the role of Marketing Manager - Australasia.

Announcing Eva’s appointment, Monique referred to her 5 years Ponant cultural and product insight, experience in implementing online & offline marketing campaigns, managing CRM software, databases and customer life cycles.

“Important attributes as we build Compagnie du Ponant in this market” said Monique. “Eva benefits from a strong culture of tourism, in particular, luxury travel. Eva has already imbued a French touch to our Sydney office and we are confident her French charm, in combination with her marketing expertise and in-depth product knowledge, will help establish Compagnie du Ponant presence here in Australasia.”

Eva Robert can be contacted directly at Compagnie du Ponant on 02 8459 5007 / 1300 737 178 or

Compagnie du Ponant Sydney Office: 02 8459 5000 / 1300 737 178 or email

Friday 11 July 2014

Cruise USA with APT - companion bonus


Queen of the West paddlesteamer

Cruise through the USA with APT and Your Companion Will Fly Free

To celebrate the launch of its new USA 2015 brochure, luxury cruise and tour operator APT is offering a special companion fly free deal across a range of its itineraries.

For example book APT’s new 18-day Columbia and Snake River Cruise with Western Wilderness, departing April to August 2015, and your companion will fly for free, including air taxes, offering a saving of up to $2,625 per couple.

Priced from $11,495 per person, twin share, guests spend a night at The Nines in Portland before boarding their seven night Columbia and Snake river cruise sailing aboard the iconic Queen of the West paddlesteamer. As well as discovering over 11,000 years worth of the region’s cultural history, during the cruise guests can visit the active stratovolcano of Mount St Helens; hike along a paved trail to admire the country’s second largest waterfalls; choose to explore the heart of Washington State’s wine country, savouring the wines at Kiona Vineyards; and visit a world-class art collection.

The cruise is followed by a ten night luxury land journey travelling through Montana, Wyoming and Utah to Nevada. Accommodation highlights include a two night stay immersed in the wilderness at Yellowstone National Park; two nights at the Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa in Jackson Hole; a night each at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City and at the Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel; and two nights at the world famous Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

As well as enjoying outstanding accommodation, guests also board a private tram in Zion National Park for a tour by a local ranger; travel to Cirque du Soleil’s LOVE show in a sophisticated limousine; and watch a rehearsal by the Grammy and Emmy award-winning Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Travelling exclusively with APT guests, the price includes 40 meals inclusive of three gourmet meals a day and complimentary beer and wine at lunch and dinner during the cruise; all sightseeing; dedicated APT Tour Director; and all gratuities and airport transfers.

Bookings must be made before 28 November 2014. Offer is subject to availability and terms and conditions apply. For further information call APT on 1300 196 420, visit or see your local travel agent.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Hurtigruten’s MS Fram new excursion

(Dominic Barrington)

Polar Bear watch & other adventures

Hurtigruten’s expedition ship MS Fram is offering some exciting new excursions starting this month, including a camping trip in the Spitsbergen wilderness, during which passengers will take turns in an overnight polar bear watch.

Participants in the "A Nansen Night – Camping in the Arctic" will be provided with tents and sleeping bags designed for the polar regions, and will spend the night far away from any sign of civilisation, in this remote area of Arctic Norway

The small excursion group will pitch the camp together and, due to the high risk of polar bears, each participant takes a one-hour shift of polar bear watch together with the expedition team. After this exciting night in the wilderness, the next morning it's back on board the MS Fram where a hearty breakfast awaits the adventurers.

The experience is overseen by local experts, with the highest regard for the safety of those participating in the excursion. The ‘Polar Bear Watch’ is designed to add to the customer experience and is operated in addition to the stringent safety measures already in place.

The excursion is bookable locally and costs approx £250 per person (subject to local exchange rates).

There are a limited number of cabins available on the ‘Circumnavigating Spitsbergen: In the realm of the Polar Bear’ itinerary on several departure dates this Summer. The seven night voyage departing on 23 July 2014 costs £4,236 per person, based on two people sharing an outside cabin. The price includes the voyage on full board basis and one night in a hotel in Longyearbyan (including breakfast and lunch) as well as landings and a range of activities.

Other new excursions for passengers on the MS Fram this Summer include:

Kayak tours - paddle through the polar sea, past ice floes and icebergs in Greenland, Spitsbergen or Iceland.

A glacier hike in Spitsbergen - participants are equipped with climbing spurs and are secured with a rope in teams. The glacier hike offers fantastic views over the imposing ice landscape of Spitsbergen.

Fishing and cooking with the crew - keen anglers can try their luck in the rich fish stock of the Arctic waters and are then invited into the kitchen by the head chef of the Fram, who helps them with the preparation of their catch, which is then served for dinner. This excursion is available in Greenland and Spitsbergen.

For more information email Discover the World on or call 1800 OCEANS (1800 623 267).

Wednesday 9 July 2014

SeaDream summer escape to a paradise sans crowds

 SEADREAM Yacht Club have just the answers for those looking for holiday escapes this coming summer that are laid back, amid a magic and outdoors aura that Australians love – yet are fully 5-star stylish in an exclusive wrapping away from the crowds.

They're aboard the mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II, that each carry a maximum of just 112-guests in 56 staterooms, offer a 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio, and will be sailing the Caribbean with calls at both some of its best-known islands, and conversely some of its smallest and most spectacular that larger cruise ships simply cannot access (and which means there are no such things as queues.)

Between November this year and April 2015 you could find yourself using SeaDream's complimentary diversity of power and sail water-sports facilities off stunning and often private beaches, enjoying a barbecue lunch with drinks included and hiking, snorkelling and scuba away from the crowds on a private island, or having local oarsmen float you by small boat down a "tunnel of flora and fauna" amid one of the region's most stunning natural getaways.

Caribbean sailings start from US$3391pp twin-share for seven days, with prices including award winning cuisine, premium wines and bar drinks, power and sail water-sports, 30-international course golf simulator, state of the art fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore excursions, gratuities and port charges and taxes.

For full itineraries and sailing dates see travel agents or visit


[] THE Nature Isle of Dominica with the chance to use SeaDream's own onboard complimentary Wave-runners, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other water-sports facilities off stunning beaches – or being rowed by oarsmen in a small local boat through an aptly-described "tunnel of flora and fauna."

[] NORMAN Island that's a privately-owned 240ha paradise for hiking, snorkelling and scuba diving away from the crowds.

[] ANEGADA in the British Virgin Islands, a paradise of stunningly beautiful, quiet and secluded beaches with amazing snorkelling.

[] TERRE-de-HAUT in the Iles des Saintes often called "one of the most picturesque locales in the world."

[] UNION Island in the Grenadines whose Clifton Harbour has a unique man-made island with a bar offering mountain and National Marine Park views.
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Star Clippers Caribbean sailings discounted


Explore the Swashbuckling history of the Caribbean with 35% off Star Clippers Caribbean sailings

Star clippers is offering up to 35% off the regular price of each of the four different seven nights itineraries in the Caribbean until 30 July.

There are four different seven night itineraries that Star Clippers operate in the Caribbean - two out of Barbados - Windward and Grenadine Islands (on the flagship Royal Clipper) and two out of St Maarten - Treasure and Leeward Islands (aboard Star Clipper). They all are weekly departures from November 2014 until March 2015.

Take in destinations such as Anguilla, where you can wander up the beach to Johnno’s, a bar adorned with posters of Ella and Miles. Then there is the eerie beach boulder field called the Baths whose nearby island of Jost Van Dyke has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and by afternoon it becomes one of the most lively after the flow of rum from the Soggy Dollar Bar.

Discover Nevis, an island dotted with old sugar plantations, some of them now charming inns, many with interesting histories and where the diving is definitely out of this world. Dominated by the perilously steep cliffs of Mt. Scenery, this small Dutch island didn't even have a road around it until 1951. Guadeloupe looks like a butterfly from the air. Its giant wings are actually two islands, separated by the Rivière Salée, a natural salt water channel. Basse Terre, the southern or leeward part of Guadeloupe, is lush and rugged, dominated by La Soufrière. This 4,800-ft volcano has a stream of boiling water gushing from the top, reminding you that this is still very much alive.

These are just some of the places Star Clippers' graceful ships will take you to whilst the waves gently lap against a wind driven hull and the dolphins play in the curling bow wave. Come aboard for the romance of sailing aboard the largest true fully rigged sailing ship. Feel the elation of those mariners of long ago as thousands of square feet of sail unfurl above you.

Prices for the seven night Caribbean cruises start from $1845 per person twin share and include all meals, tea and coffee onboard, water sports, activities and port charges and gratuities. The 35% off discounted price is valid until 30th July 2014 with weekly departures from November 2014 until March 2015.

For more information visit

Zegrahm sailing to Oman in 2015


Zegrahm Expeditions announced a brand-new itinerary in 2015, Oman: Jewel of the Arabian Gulf. This 16-day expedition explores the major port cities of Muscat and Salalah, follows ancient caravan routes across desert sands and visits natural wonders, from Oman’s green sea turtles and frankincense orchards to subtropical forests and date palm oases.

Highlights of this expedition include:
  • Discovering the architecture of Muscat and visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque complex.
  • Exploring three UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Land of Frankincense, the Archaeological Sites of the Bat Tombs, and the Aflaj Irrigation System.
  • Spending three days in southern Oman, including seaside Salalah and its surrounding mountain regions.
  • Observing endangered green sea turtles return to the beach where they lay their eggs.
  • Visiting Nizwa, Oman’s ancient capital, and touring two ancient fortresses.
Persian Gulf expert, Tony Walsh, will lead this expedition which takes place March 19 – April 3, 2015 and is priced from $10,980 per person.

For more information, visit

Windstar Cruises’ Private Events Coming To All 2015 Voyages


Windstar Cruises - Wind Star - Wind Spirit

Starting in 2015, all Windstar Cruises’ itineraries will feature a spectacular onshore private event, created exclusively for Windstar guests. These complimentary events are crafted to give guests an in-depth and authentic local experience that compliments their voyage. Private events include activities such as an after-hours tour and dinner under the stars in the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus or a private ballet performance in the famed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

“We curated these Private Events with the local experience in mind. Our product managers toured the regions sampling cuisines, talking to locals, visiting the UNESCO sites to create the best experience possible,” said Hans Birkholz, Windstar Cruises’ chief executive officer. “Our guests gain an even deeper involvement into the local culture.”

Windstar debuted its first exclusive private event on its Dreams of Tahiti voyage in May. The event, included on all 2014 sailings through the South Pacific, features an evening of entertainment with music and a dazzling performance by local fire dancers on a secluded island or “motu.” The evening also includes a dinner of local Tahitian cuisine with tender suckling pig slowly steamed in a traditional ”ahima’a” earth oven.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

T+L Top Small Ship Cruise Line

m/s Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, the m/s Paul Gauguin, and the 88-guest m/v Tere Moana, which sails Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America, is pleased to announce that it received the award for "Top Small-Ship Cruise Line" from the readers of Travel + Leisure in its 2014 World's Best Awards.

"We are thrilled to be acknowledged as the world's best small-ship cruise line, which is particularly special this year, as we celebrate our fifth anniversary," said Diane Moore, President of Paul Gauguin Cruises. "Thank you to the readers of Travel + Leisure for this prestigious award. It's a testament to our talented staff who provide exemplary service to our guests and deliver extraordinary experiences aboard our voyages every day."

Paul Gauguin Cruises also received the Travel + Leisure "Top Small-Ship Cruise Line for Families" award for 2014, the second year in a row the line received this accolade.

The magazine's esteemed annual readers' survey reveals favorite cities, hotels, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, airports, and more. Cruise ships were rated in categories of cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, and value.

Paul Gauguin Cruises has been honored by other notable names in travel, including by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler as one of the "Top 20 Small Cruise Ships" in 2013, by Travel Weekly with a Gold Magellan and two Silver Magellan awards in the small-ship category, by Porthole Cruise Magazine for "Best South Pacific Itinerary," and by Cruise Critic for service, dining, entertainment, embarkation, cabins, public spaces, value, and shore excursions.

Monday 7 July 2014

Seabourn assembles expedition team


Seabourn Quest
Seabourn Quest
Seabourn has assembled an expedition team for its 2014-2015 “Ultimate Antarctica & Patagonia” voyages aboard Seabourn Quest beginning November 2014. The 17-person team will bring knowledge of the “White Continent” and expedition travel to ensure guests have the ultimate experience during the four 21 to 24 day voyages.

There will be opportunities for guests to explore the region up close, including a complimentary Zodiac landing each day to selected Antarctic locations, digital photography coaching, and opportunities for wildlife sightings from the ship and on the shore, and guidance from the expedition staff. The cruises will also host guest speakers as part of the line’s Seabourn Conversations enrichment and entertainment program.

The expedition team consists of naturalists, scientists, cultural and historical experts and other lecturers who will share their knowledge for Antarctica. (see full list below)

"We are proud to offer a very experienced expedition team that grasps the significance of Antarctica and its diverse landscape, wildlife and climatic conditions," said Seabourn President Richard Meadows. "With their expertise and dedication, our team will create an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime Antarctic journey for our guests.


Expedition Leaders:

Robin West
Chris Srigley
Ignacio Rojas
Klements Putz

Digital Photography Coaches:

Pat and Rosemarie Keough


Dr. Juan Pablo Seco Pon
Dr. Sean Todd
Professor David Walton
Dr. John Ford
John Fonseca
Dr. Cathy Hickson
Alex Borowicz
Brent Houston
Charles Lagerbom
Dr. Jason Hicks
Paul Lasarski
Dr. Ingrid Visser
Martin Greene

Naturalists & Zodiac Drivers:

Mary Thurber Martin
Rory M. Martin
Greg Horn
Matt Dolan
Andres Arrosamena


Saturday 5 July 2014

Three more European river boats for Tauck

The innovative Loft Staterooms on Tauck’s new Inspiration-class ships
feature a raised platform with views that start just above the water line. (image: Tauck)

by Theresa Norton Masek, Travelpulse

Tauck, which introduced two new river ships in Europe this year, will add three more vessels by 2016. The company in April will introduce the Esprit, the fifth vessel in the 118-guest Jewel Class, and two more 130-passenger Inspiration Class ships in 2016.

The new Esprit will operate on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, offering 14-night cruises between Amsterdam and Budapest, and seven- and 12-night voyages between Basel and Amsterdam.

Tauck’s river cruise expansion plans were disclosed by CEO Dan Mahar during a meeting with the media held onboard the new Savor, which was christened June 21 in Bingen, Germany.

Tauck first chartered a riverboat in 1991 and built the first ship to its own specifications, the Swiss Emerald, in 2006. The Savor is the second in the new Inspiration Class of ships, introduced by the Inspire, which entered service in April.

The new vessels, built in partnership with Scylla AG, a Basel, Switzerland-based ship builder and operator, will help Tauck meet the fast-growing demand for river cruises.

“They sell out very fast,” Mahar said. “We’re typically 75 to 80 percent sold by December for the following year. We were definitely at that point last year. We’re about 40 percent sold for 2015 already now.”

And demand is highest for spacious suites. “The new ships have a whole top deck of suites, and they sell out first,” Mahar said. “It’s the number-one thing people buy.”

That presented a challenge, however — how to push sales of the staterooms on the lowest level, which usually are below the water line and have just a narrow strip of a window near the ceiling. “The lower deck cabins are the toughest to sell,” Mahar said. “Every riverboat company will tell you that.”

Tauck met the challenge on the Inspiration Class by designing the innovative Loft Staterooms, which add a high ceiling with a huge window that actually opens. The platform and window are raised above the water line, while the bulk of the cabin and bathroom are below water. Five steps lead up to the platform, which has a table and two chairs and a view from just a foot or two above the water line. The middle part of the huge window opens with a push of a button, as do the window’s drapes and sheer shade.

The result is an airy 225-square-foot stateroom flooded with natural light. The cabins above on the second level also measure 225 square feet but are configured in an L-shape to accommodate the raised ceilings in the Loft Staterooms below. The section of the upper-level rooms is like a foyer and doesn’t feel like space was taken away to make room for the loft one deck below.

The design, which premiered on the Inspire, was never done before and was “pushing the envelope,” Mahar said. “It was harder initially to understand, but now people love being so close to the water.”

Mahar said he expects the river cruise segment to continue growing. “Demand still exceeds our supply,” he said.

European rivers aren’t in danger of overcapacity yet, he said. “The market will continue to evolve to accept additional capacity, and towns are building more docking facilities,” Mahar said. “If you add another 10 riverboats, it’s still not as large as one ship being launched on the ocean side. Market demand will continue to increase.”

He pointed to the Nile River in Egypt, saying that more than 350 riverboats ply the 100-mile or so section between Aswan and Luxor. “In Europe there are thousands of miles [of rivers] so I think there’s still quite a bit of opportunity for capacity expansion. That doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges … but many towns, villages or cities see this as an economic development opportunity.”