Saturday 31 January 2015

Introducing Ocean Blue Oman - traditional sailing dhow in the Gulf of Oman


Set sail on Oman’s newest luxury tourism experience.
The most authentic way to experience the history and culture of Oman’s 1000km coastline of mountains, deserts and fishing villages is from the azure waters of the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea. Ocean Blue offers visitors a choice of day trips, overnight tours and high-end private charters with their fleet of seven luxury vessels.

The latest addition is a magnificently resorted 85-foot Arabian Dhow called Ibra. Ibra offers an indulgent escape for up to 40 passengers on a day cruise or six guests on overnight adventures. The vessel is available for day charter from Shangri La Marina in Muscat as well as overnight charters capturing the charm and splendor of the Musandam Peninsula, Zighy Bay, Bandar Khairan, Jebel Sifa, Dimanyat Islands as well as Sur and Ras al Hadd.

“We offer high-end touring and catering options for guests seeking a truly bespoke experience of Oman,” says Ocean Blue Chairperson Clara Zawawi. Australian Ms Zawawi established Ocean Blue in 2007, after reinventing her late father’s fishing business.

Friday 30 January 2015

Travelmarvel Delivers an ‘Incredible India’ River Cruise Program for 2016


New brochure: India River Cruising, featuring Sri Lanka 2016

Travelmarvel is expecting another solid year for its India River Cruising following positive guest feedback which identified the inclusion of all the must-see sights, the peace of mind of being fully escorted, sailing on a brand new river ship and offering the most competitive pricing as the four pillars driving the success of its program in this destination.

Using the feedback, Travelmarvel has simplified its India River Cruising program for 2016, focusing on India and Sri Lanka and offering four itineraries, ranging from 12- to 31-days in length. With a new brochure launching today and confirmed marketing support from India Tourism as part of its ‘Incredible India’ campaign, Travelmarvel General Manager David Cox is expecting heightened interest in the product moving forward:

“Guests who have travelled on our first departures in India have praised them highly, especially so the service delivered by our tour directors who were all rated 10 out of 10. This kind of feedback is great to hear, both for us and especially for our travel industry partners as it helps them to sell this product with complete confidence. We’ve also listened to where we can improve and have subsequently made several amendments to make 2016 an even better experience. With support from India Tourism and our own investment in this destination, we are looking forward to another successful sales season for 2016.”

The most popular itinerary is the 14-day Authentic India lower Ganges river cruise aboard the custom-built 22-suite RV Rajmahal, a new vessel that first set sail in 2014. Sailing from Patna all the way to Kolkata guests will enjoy an authentic glimpse of the real India, stopping at several villages along the way. Priced from $5,495 per person, twin share, highlights include the chance to explore the Nawab’s Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad; a cycle rickshaw ride to see some of Bengal’s most unique temples; and a special lunch at award winning restaurant Oh! Calcutta. Guests also stay at Kolkata’s ultimate residence, The Oberoi Grand.

This is extended with a six night land tour of the ‘golden triangle’ cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur to create the 20-day Colours of India.

In Sri Lanka guests can choose a 12-day Spendours of Sri Lanka itinerary which takes in Negombo, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Yala National Park, Ahungalla and Colombo or combine it with the India river cruise and land itinerary to create the 31-day Sri Lanka & India Revealed.

Four EarlyBird Specials are available, including: ‘Fly Free, including taxes’ on holidays of 20 days or longer; ‘Companion Fly Free, including taxes’ on the 12-day Splendours of Sri Lanka; ‘Companion Fly Free, just pay taxes of $850 per person’ on the 14-day Authentic India river cruise; and a ‘Fly Business Class from $4,495 per person inc taxes’ on the 20-day Colours of India. Offers are subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.

Travelmarvel’s India River Cruising 2016 brochure is available now. For further information call 1300 196 420, visit or see your local business development manager.

Massive Antarctica Voyage Program


Biggest-Ever Program of Antarctica Voyages for 2015-16
Save $1500 Per Couple on Flights

Leading Australian soft adventure company, Active Travel, is marking the launch of its biggest-ever program of Antarctica voyages for the 2015-16 summer by offering AU$1500 per couple for bookings made before February 27, 2015. The program from October, 2015, to March, 2016, features a mix of new  fly-cruise itineraries designed to meet a growing demand from Australians keen to experience the great white continent.

Active Travel offers one of the most extensive range of Antarctica adventures available to Australians in partnership with long-standing polar travel specialists, One Ocean Expeditions, which Active Travel pioneered in the Australian market in 2008. Active Travel also includes free hire of polar gear for its Antarctica-bound customers, saving passengers more than $1000 each.

New for the summer of  2015-16 are three new Antarctic and sub-Antarctic ‘air and cruise’ packages from 11-15 days which include flight sectors between Chile and the Falkland Islands and South Shetland Islands to cut the time at sea, reduce the chance of cross-passage sea sickness, allow more exploration time on land and reduce the length of the tour. These include:

* An 11-day ‘Antarctic Peninsula Explorer and the Falklands’ tour, including a flight from Punta Arenas to Port Stanley in the Falklands, followed by a 10-night cruise along the Antarctic Peninsula and then a two-hour flight from the South Shetland Islands back to Punta Arenas. The package is priced from US$9795 per person, triple share, or form US$11,795 twin-share. Departures from Punta Arenas are on December 19, 2015, and January 9, February 13 and March 7 in 2016.

* A 12-day ‘Ultimate Antarctica’ tour that begins with a flight from Punta Arenas to the South Shetland Islands, followed by an 11-night cruise to the Falklands via the Antarctic Peninsula and ending with a flight from Port Stanley back to Punta Arenas. Departing Punta Arenas on December 8 and 29, 2015, and January 19 and February 23 in 2016, the package is available from US$10,045 triple-share, or from US$12,045 twin-share, including the two air transfers.

* A 15-day ‘South Georgia in Depth’ package including one flight – from Punta Arenas to the Falklands - with passengers then spending 14 nights at sea, including eight days exploring the snow-capped peaks, stunning fjords and wildlife-rich shores of South Georgia Island, famous for its massive colonies of King penguins and elephant seals which jostle for space on the foreshore. The voyage, which ends in Ushuaia, Argentina, is available from US$10,145 triple-share and from US$11,245 twin-share, including the flight transfer. One departure is available on October 17, 2015.

Akademik Sergey Vavilov
 Two Falkland Island-based cruises can also be joined to make an extensive, new 22-day ‘Antarctica in Depth’ combo tour that highlights the sub Antarctic Islands as well as the continent itself, making this one of the longest and most comprehensive cruises ever, with an unprecedented 16 days spent exploring Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. Departing Chile on December 19, 2015, the combo tour begins and ends with flights between Punta Arenas and the Falklands and includes a ‘white’ Christmas and New Year in Antarctica, with almost 24-hour daylight. Aboard the Russian, ice-strengthened ship, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, the itinerary in Antarctica includes walks ashore with naturalist guides, visits to historic huts, cruising in zodiac boats to view spectacular icebergs and witnessing an abundance of wildlife species including seals, whales and penguins. The 22-day package is available from US$20,390 per person, triple share, or from US$24,790, per person, twin-share.

In 2015-16, Active Travel will also offer its biggest-ever range of pre and post-cruise add-on trips to South American destinations such as Patagonia. Iguassu Falls, Rio de Janeiro, Peru and the Galapagos Islands.

Antarctica bookings made by February 27, 2015, will receive a flight credit of AU$750 per person, to be used towards international flights to South America booked in conjunction with the cruise through Active Travel.All Antarctica cruises are aboard the Akademik Sergey Vavilov and sister ship Akademik Ioffe. Pre/post cruise touring around South America can also booked through Active Travel.
For details of the Antarctica packages, visit or call 1300 783 188.

Thursday 29 January 2015

SeaDream Mediterranean cruise to Calabria and Puglia

HIDDEN gems in Crotone – old fortifications (foreground)
and beaches, bars and restaurants reflecting classic
Italian lifestyle in the background.  (TourismCalabria)
PUGLIA'S Monopoli: large cruise ships can't get in here, making this
rare visit by boutique SeaDream I all the more enticing. (VisitEurope)
SEADREAM in the idyllic Mediterranean. (SeaDream Yacht Club)

SEADREAM Yacht Club's boutique SeaDream I will make a rare visit this August to two of Italy's most enticingly-picturesque and sought after ports for wining, dining, shopping and beach-going – but which see few cruise ships because they lack large-scale port facilities.

Crotone in Calabria on the Ionian Sea is renowned for its classic Italian-lifestyle of small and cosy restaurants and bars, handicraft markets, centuries-old archaeological sites and sunny beaches.

And Monopoli in nearby Puglia, a region of growing interest to Italophiles, is located on the Adriatic and welcomes visitors to cobble-stoned alleyways, grottoes, seafood restaurants and bars, beaches… and has a cannon-topped castle built in the 16th century and now a cultural centre, and a hospital dating back to 1305.

SeaDream I will sail 7-days from Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, this August 8th for Croatia's medieval walled-city of Dubrovnik, visiting along the way Sorrento with the opportunity of a side-trip to Pompeii, Positano, Taormina to see Sicily's Mt Etna, and spectacular Kotor in Montenegro.

Prices start from US$5,426pp twin-share including premium bar drinks, wines, a golf simulator with 30-international courses, state-of-the-art fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore use, power and sail water-sports where permitted, crew gratuities and port charges and taxes.

Full details from travel agents or; SeaDream I carries a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew.

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

Take a photo and win a case of Veuve Cliquot

PONANT's chic, French "Yacht", 'L'Austral' is on her maiden voyage to Australia and New Zealand, you will have the chance to WIN a case of Veuve Clicquot! Simply take a photo of L'Austral when she is in any of the ports on her visit, share with your friends to get the most LIKES and you will WIN!

click image above for details

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Avalon Waterways 2016 Preview Now on Sale


Avalon Panorama cruising the Rhine.

Earlybird Savings of 10% on Europe and South East Asia River Cruises

Avalon Waterways has released a preview of its 2016 season of river cruises, offering dozens of its most popular itineraries with a 10 per cent early booking discount.

Now on sale, the 2016 preview includes 30 different itineraries on the great waterways of Europe including the Seine, Rhône, Rhine and Danube, as well as in Asia on the Mekong and Irrawaddy.

All 2016 preview cruises are available with a 10 per cent early booking discount if purchased between now and the release of Avalon’s main 2016 brochure in coming months.

Popular itineraries now on sale for 2016 include:
  • A Taste of the Danube – eight days between Budapest and Vienna from $2045* per person twin share (including discount).
  • Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches – eight days between Paris and Normandy from $2837 per person twin share.
  • Romantic Rhine – eight days between Amsterdam and Basel from $2582* per person twin share.
  • Magnificent Europe – 15 days between Budapest and Amsterdam from $5056* per person twin share.
Avalon Waterways operates the most modern fleet of river cruise ships in Europe, with an average age of around three years. Its revolutionary Suite Ships have been designed with Australian travellers in mind and provide 30 per cent more cabin space than the average competitor, with wall-to-wall panoramic windows that slide back to turn the entire suite into an open-air balcony.

For full details and bookings see licensed travel agents, visit or phone 1300 230 234.

*Prices include 10% discount, subject to availability and conditions. Offer available until the release of the Avalon Waterways 2016 main season brochure.

Invitation: Australian Geographic Society lecture - Historic Antarctic Images


Your invitation to Australian Geographic Society's lecture: Historic Antarctic Images

As part of Aurora Expeditions Shackleton Centenary commemorations we are pleased to be supporting the next upcoming Australian Geographic Society lecture: Historic Antarctic Images.

We invite you to join our onboard historian, Alasdair McGregor, as he walks you through the imagery of Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer on the ill-fated 1914 voyage of Ernest Shackleton, whose ship, Endurance, became trapped in pack ice in the Weddell Sea.

Hurley’s evocative images are testament to an incredible story of adventure, and Alasdair – also Hurley's biographer – will use a collection of the images to bring to life the challenges and hardship Shackleton and his crew confronted during the four-year ordeal.

Date: Wednesday 11 February, 2015
Where: Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of NSW
Time: 6.30pm
Cost: $25, including wine and canapés ($20 for members)

Click here to book your ticket.

For more information on Aurora Expeditions' Shackleton Centenary expeditions, click here.

Monday 26 January 2015

What's been happening in expedition cruising?


Saturday 24 January 2015

Orion Kimberley Swan song - 2015 last expedition

click to read more

This is the season to embark on the most active, in-depth, and fulfilling Kimberley expedition possible. Beginning in 2016 National Geographic Orion will head out to new destinations. (More on the exciting developments to come soon.) From Darwin in the north to Broome in the west, our expedition, experts, and ship are the best equipped to help you explore. National Geographic Orion's hospitality, amenities, and ambience will reward you daily. Also, you'll come home with the best photos of your life thanks to guidance from National Geographic photographers.

Click to read more

Thursday 22 January 2015

Kimberely Quest - last minute availability


A superior cabin on the 14 Day Ultimate Quest, 19th May - 2nd June, has just become available.

It is an opportunity not to be missed! Please contact the team if you are interested in booking this cabin, it will not last long.

More details

Lindblad ship upgrades

National Geographic Sea Lion (R Eime)
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has updated the interiors on its twin 62-passenger adventure cruise ships. Areas overhauled included all passenger rooms, the lounge and bar, dining room, spa and public spaces on both National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird

Read full story

Wednesday 21 January 2015

On Board Silver Discoverer: Scenes around Napier NZ


Napier was destroyed in an earthquake and fire in 1931 with great loss of life.
The city was subsequently rebuilt entirely in art deco leaving a wonderful legacy.
Silver Discoverer stopped for a refuel and shore excursion en route to Wellington, leaving us to explore the fascinating architecture and themed stores.

Variety Cruises six new cruise programs in 2015 and 2016


Variety Cruises, represented in New Zealand by Discover the World, has released details on new cruise itineraries in the Red Sea, the Greek Isles & Turkey, the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Archipelago and in Madagascar and its Mozambique Channel Islands.

New 2015 – 2016 Cruise Programs

Greece & Turkey

Aegean Mosaic cruise on the 72-passenger Mega-Yacht Variety Voyager.

The 7-night/8-day cruise program departing from Istanbul, Turkey to Athens, Greece or reverse, will discover cosmopolitan Santorini and Mykonos and the off-the beaten track Greek Islands of Patmos and Samos, all the way to the fabled Greco-roman cities of Troy, Pergamon and Ephesus. As for our intimate shore excursions and life on board, we are offering six optional excursions, but we still left time for three swim stops off the swimming platform of the M/Y Variety Voyager, or at remote beaches of the most amazing locations in the Aegean Sea. Sailing dates: August & October 2015 | July – August 2016


The Canary Islands Discovery on the 49-passenger Motor Yacht Harmony V

The 7-night/ 8-day cruise program offers dual embarkation, departing from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or from South Tenerife. Guests will explore Gran Canaria, cosmopolitan Lanzarote, Tenerife and La Palma or Isla Bonita. The beauty of Fuerteventura and the small and quaint island of la Gomera will enchant the guest’s senses. Exotic colours everywhere, as all the islands are volcanic, green lush flora and turquoise seas, all awaiting to be discovered during the best period to visit the 10-island archipelago. Sailing dates: December 2015 – March 2016

The Red Sea
Two new cruise itineraries in the Red Sea will debut in 2016 on the 42-passenger Motor yacht Harmony G. The Kings and Pharaohs cruise from Suez, Egypt to Aqaba, Jordan or reverse and the Splendours of the Red Sea roundtrip cruise from Hurghada, Egypt, two equally fascinating 6-night/7-day cruises will showcase the history and cultural diversity of Egypt and Jordan and the underwater treasures of the Red Sea. Some of the highlights include Luxor, the ancient land of gods and Pharaohs and home to the Valley of the Kings, and the Karnak and Luxor temples, St. Catherine’s Monastery atop Mt. Sinai. Sailing dates: January – March 2016.

Cape Verde Archipelago
The Islands of the Cape Verde Archipelago cruise on the 49-passenger Motor Yacht Harmony V Is a 7-night/ 8-day island hopping cruise program unravelling the intoxicating mixture of African and Portuguese heritage and welcoming locals. Being blessed with a pleasant year-round climate, the archipelago offers a diverse range of landscapes from verdant mountain ranges, lush hills and jungles to explore, to volcanic landscapes or wide deserted beaches. Sailing date: 18 November 2015

Madagascar and its Mozambique Channel Islands

The 9-night/10-day itinerary on the 44-passenger Motor Yacht Pegasus will show North West Madagascar in a way no land tour or cruise has done so before: The Madagascar mainland portion of the itinerary includes the magnificent Diego Suarez Bay, the Ankarana Park and Amber Mountain. The itinerary also includes a island hopping portion reaching the most beautiful islands in the Mozambique channel such as Hara, Mitsio, Komba, Sakatia, Iranji and last but not least Nosy Be. The program embarks from Nosy Be or from Diego Suarez and there will be a Madagascar Specialist Guide onboard. Sailing Dates: July 2015

For bookings, brochures or more information, please contact Discover the World on 1800 OCEANS or email

About Variety Cruises
Variety Cruises is one the leading yacht cruise lines worldwide, owning and operating a fleet of 11 Mega Yachts, Motor Yachts and Sail assisted Motor vessels, offering travellers a variety of total yachting experience. Since 1967, Variety Cruises small ships and experiential cruise itineraries embrace each destination by visiting cosmopolitan port of call or unspoilt secluded destinations in a private and relaxed environment.

Variety’s intimate ships, which carry just 44-72 guests, dock so close to where guests want to be, they simply step ashore and are amongst all the action. This means, no queues to access tenders and a flexible cruise schedule which allows guests freedom to fully enjoy each port at their own pace.

Variety Cruises cruise destinations include: Greece, the Greek Islands & Turkey, the Red Sea, the Seychelles, Madagascar and Mozambique Channel Islands, Costa Rica and the Panama, Cuba, the Cape Verde Archipelago and the Canary Islands.

Win a Trip to the Arctic as Aurora Expeditions’ Official Arctic Photographer


Aurora Expeditions, the experts in expedition cruising, has launched a new Facebook photography competition to find their next ‘Official Arctic Photographer’ to capture the majestic scenery, amazing wildlife and candid experiences of the High Arctic.

The competition is open to anyone who loves capturing unforgettable travel moments, from professional photographers, awesome amateurs or those who simply love taking a great holiday snapshot.

The lucky winner will be named the ‘Official Arctic Photographer’ and will travel on board Aurora Expeditions’ ‘Across the Arctic Circle’ expedition in June this year. From Scotland to Spitsbergen the winner will enjoy amazing sights like giant icebergs, magnificent fjords, ancient relics and wildlife such as whales, walrus and polar bears, with unlimited opportunities to snap until their heart’s content on this unforgettable 14-day adventure.

Entrants are asked to ‘like’ the Aurora Expeditions’ Facebook page ( and submit their best travel photo via the Facebook competition tab to go into the running to win an all-expenses-paid trip to the Arctic, including the expedition cruise, return economy airfares and accommodation, worth over $10,000!

Entrants are also asked to submit in 50 words or less why they should be chosen as Aurora Expeditions’ Official Arctic Photographer.

Entries will require 20 votes to make it through to the final judging stage, where Aurora Expeditions’ panel of expert travel and photography judges will choose the final winner.

To enter simply:
1. Visit to access the competition
2. Upload your best travel photo
3. In 50 words or less, share why you should be Aurora Expeditions’ Official Arctic Photographer
4. Share your entry with your friends and encourage them to vote for you!

The competition runs from 20/01/15-15/03/15 inclusive, with the winner to be advised before 28/03/15.

For full competition details visit Aurora Expeditions’ Facebook page

For more information on Aurora Expeditions’ range of Arctic adventures

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Ponant Takes Over Travel Dynamics


Last December, Ponant announced that it had acquired several key assets of Travel Dynamics International of New York, which has provided educational programs on small cruise ships since it was founded in 1972 by brothers George and Vasos Papagapitos from Rhodes, who specialised in finding group travel for university alumni associations from such illustrious institutions as Stanford and Yale Universities.

The 1998-built 90-berth Le Levant
The entire Travel Dynamics team in New York has since been invited to join Ponant Cultural Cruises and Expeditions, which will be based in New York. The new Ponant New York office will handle all Ponant bookings originating from the North American market.

Ponant already has existing partnerships in the US with Abercrombie & Kent, Tauck Tours and Gohagan & Company of Chicago. Since last autumn it has also operated the 114-berth Corinthian for Grand Circle of Boston and the company has also been active in promoting cruises on the small ships of Variety Cruises in Greece.

The company first did business with Ponant when it chartered the 1998-built 90-berth Le Levant for cruises in the Great Lakes.

Travel Dynamics’ first ship, the 130-berth Illiria
Travel Dynamics’ first ship was the 130-berth Illiria, which they operated to Antarctica and in the Canada/New England trade as well as in Europe in the early 1980s. A model of the Illiria is still on display in Travel Dynamics’ headquarters in Manhattan.

by Kevin Griffin - The Cruise Examiner

More Cruises to Pitcairn

source: Cruise Weekly

Remote Pacific nation Pitcairn Islands is hoping more cruise ships visit its shores following the completion of a new sheltered harbour, due for later this year.

A new landing area on the western side of the island is close to being finished, allowing more passengers to be tendered to shore to explore the island.

"Around 12 cruise ships per year call past Pitcairn. With the development of the new harbour many more passengers will be able to come ashore and enjoy the treasures our special island has to offer. We are hoping this will encourage more cruise companies to call at Pitcairn," Pitcairn Island travel coordinator Heather Menzies said.

For more info on travelling to Pitcairn, call Tropics Marketing in Australia on 1300 713 132.

Sunday 18 January 2015

On Board Silver Discoverer: The Antipodes

Jutting out of the Pacific Ocean like some Jurassic relic, the Antipodes poke 360m above the waterline leaving virtually nowhere to land a boat. So we didn't. That and the fact that the Antipodes are a protected bid sanctuary hosting such rare species as the Erect Crested Penguin and endemic Antipodes Parakeet, it's a big tick for twitchers. There's a campaign soon about to begin to eradicate the mice that have flourished in the harsh, but predator-free environment.

Introducing Albatros Travel and Sea Endurance

MS Quest, to become Sea Endurance from 2016
Formed in 1986 by Danish environmentalist couple, Berit Willumsgaard and Soren Rasmussen, Albatros Travel specialises in both African safaris and expedition cruises.

Soren Rasmussen
Despite Rasmussen's interest in shipping enterprises that involves many of the small expedition vessels currently in operation around the world, they have maintained Albatros Travel as a boutique adventure company marketing predominantly to Northern Hemisphere customers.

Beginning in 2016, Albatros will take exclusive ownership of the MS Quest, renaming her Sea Endurance and embarking on a series of Arctic expedition itineraries encompassing Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland.

In between, the Sea Endurance will operate exciting itineraries in the Mozambique Channel, including exploration stops at such exotic locations as Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Tanzania.

The 50m MS Quest carries just 53 passengers in 26 cabins and, Rassmussen believes, is the perfect vessel for intimate, low impact adventures in these sensitive regions.

“There is a trend to larger expedition vessels carrying more than 200 passengers,” he says, “but we believe these new ships are not ideal for operations in delicate polar regions and protected areas. We [at Albatros] are dedicated to the concept of small ships to deliver the most enriching and rewarding experiences for our clients.”

Visit the website for further details:

Ten days aboard SeaDream in the Greek Islands this July


IMMERSE yourself for an-almost week and a half in the fabled Greek Islands this July 25 when the world's highest-rated boutique passenger vessel, SeaDream II sails a 10-day roundtrip voyage from Athens, with the price including any-time premium bar drinks, wines with meals, a 30-international course golf simulator, fitness centre, mountain bikes for shore excursions, power and sail water-sports where locally permitted – even onboard crew gratuities.

SeaDream's 5-star dining either alfresco or in the elegant dining room, and smart-casual ambience rounds out this captivating itinerary that takes in the islands of Sifnos, Skopelos and Skiathos where Mama Mia! was filmed, Patmos, Paros, Santorini and Hydra, and mainland ports of Kusadasi in Turkey and Nafplion in Greece.

The mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II carries a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew, with prices for this sailing starting from US$7109pp twin-share including port charges and taxes; full details from travel agents or


SIFNOS often called The Gem of the Cyclades and renowned for its local cuisine and dining venues.

SKOPELOS and SKIATHOS both featured in the movie Mama Mia!

KUSADASI famed for its Grand Bazaar and nearby Ephesus with the House of the Virgin Mary.

PATMOS the claimed home of John the Baptist.

PAROS one of the "most unspoiled islands" in the Cyclades.

SANTORINI is famous for not allowing motor vehicles that would spoil the ambience of its waterfront restaurants, boutiques and bars.

NAFPLION offers the chance to climb 1000 steps to an ancient fortress.

HYDRA is one of the Greek Islands' most-renowned venues for markets, galleries, restaurants, boutiques and other stores around its colourful waterfront.

Thursday 15 January 2015

Private charters for Burma and Galapagos

MAJOR internet cruising operator is broadening the diversity of its already extensive cruise catalogue for 2016 by exclusively chartering two new ships to operate unique cruise-tour itineraries which have already reached 50 percent capacity.

The two luxurious vessels, currently under construction, are APT's the RV Samantha and Ecoventura's MV Origin (pic above).

Managing director Brett Dudley said ecruising is constantly searching the world for new types of cruise experiences to add to its already comprehensive choice of exclusive packages.

"These great opportunities have already proven popular with past ecruising passengers and members of our POSH Club Loyalty Program, but also have high appeal for first-time ecruising travellers who are looking for a different cruise experience."

Ecruising will use the newly built ships in its trade mark format of high-end fly/tour/cruise packages which the company is renowned for. These two new itineraries will include return economy airfares from Australia,  pre and post five star accommodation, cruise accommodation with all meals and sightseeing, land touring and transportation.

For 2016 the MV Smanatha will be exclusively charter for an 18-night cruise tour including a 14 night cruise on Myanmar's historic Irrawaddy River from Yangon to Mandalay.

The second unique opportunity will be aboard MV Origin, the most luxurious ship to sail Galapagos, for a 19-night adventure including a seven-night journey around the Galapagos Islands.

More details available from on 1300 369 848 or visit

On board Silver Discoverer in the Southern Ocean: Campbell Island Blow Out

View over Northwest Bay. Note relaxed hair and scarf!
Looking down from the high viewpoint at the end of the 3km boardwalk into rugged Northwest Bay, something was clearly wrong. We'd walked effortlessly up over 250m, through the grass tree 'forest' and over the megaherb tundra to see the nesting Southern Royal Albatross. The sun shone brightly and the view was glorious. We gathered for photos and just enjoyed the moment. What was the matter then?
Silver Discover at anchor in Perseverance Bay
Located beyond 52deg30', Campbell Island is well into the furious fifties and the daily agenda is usually a healthy dose of stiff wind, drizzle and mist. Instead, this 'walk in the park' is a rare event that has our Silversea expedition staff shaking their heads. On the last two visits here this year the walk to the summit was cancelled before the peak was reached. Violent gusts made it impossible to stay on the narrow, single-file boardwalk and pouring rain removed any pleasure in a victorious ascent.

Southern Royal Albatross on nest
Indeed, on my previous visit five years before, we revelled like kids standing at an angle while the relentless wind held us up. No such blow today. This also means that without uplift, albatross flight operations are suspended. Nesting birds instead sit serenely on their plots observing the curious mammals in red jackets come to check them out.

Landing site at old wharf
Back down on the ramshackle old wharf, near the old meteorological station, fur seals poke their heads up from the tussocks, barely interested in our passing, while young elephant seals cruise the shallow waters around Tucker Cove at periscope depth. Giant petrels, Antarctic Terns and the endemic Campbell Island shag are active all around the shoreline while in the shrub, pipits dart between branches while the super-rare snipe has made a miraculous comeback. Even more exciting, if that is possible, is the Campbell Island teal, the world's rarest duck. Tick that box too.

World's rarest duck (R Eime)
Campbell Island has a similar history to most of NZ's sub-Antarctic islands in that it was the victim of decades of human mistreatment. Feral animals including the usual cats and rats made short work of the nesting and flightless birds. New Zealand's expert parks team perfected the science of aerial baiting here before the technique was moved to Macquarie Island.

Next: Antipodes and Bounty Islands.

Pandaw New Hooghly and Ganges Cruises for 2015


Pandaw River Expeditions announces new cruise on the Ganges and Hooghly Rivers for 2015

Luxury river expedition company Pandaw has announced its new 16-night ‘The Holy Ganges and The Hooghly Rivers’ programme in partnership with RV Rajmahal. The one-off itinerary on 27th October 2015 will offer Pandaw guests an in-depth exploration of the region, from the famous Ghats at Varanasi to Kolkata.
Guests will visit the holy Dasaswamedh Ghat steps at sunset for the Varanasi Ganga Aarti spiritual ceremony and explore the city’s intoxicating street life. After a three-night land programme, guests will board the MV Rajmahal at Sujata Kuti, going ashore along the banks of the Ganges to discover Sikh temples and Buddhist monasteries along the way. Pandaw guests will also visit the famous bridge at Mokameh before sailing onto the scenic Rajmahal Hills, the childhood home of Shah Jehan, builder of the Taj Mahal.
As the RV Rajmahal enters the Hooghly River, daily excursions will take in the great Katra Mosque and stunning Nashipara and Katgola Palaces, built in 18th century Georgian style. In Kalna, cycle rickshaws will take guests to see some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, as well as the unique Shiva temple with concentric rings before travelling onto the historic city of Kolkata.
Pandaw guests will enjoy a ‘yacht-like’ feel onboard the 22-suite RV Rajmahal as well as attentive service and a crew to passenger ratio of 2:1.
In addition to the 16-night itinerary, Pandaw offers pre and post-expedition extensions in Delhi (including a day trip to the Taj Mahal) and Kolkata.
Hugh Clayson, Pandaw’s Commercial Director, said:
“Pandaw was one of the founders of river cruising in India and we are pleased to once again offer cruises on one of the most fascinating and historically-interesting rivers in the world.”

16-night Holy Ganges and Hooghly River
Join RV Rajmahal ( on a 16-night Holy Ganges and Hooghly tour and cruise from USD 5’100.- per person (based on two people sharing an upper deck stateroom). This price represents a saving of 15% - available for bookings up to 31st January 2015.
The price includes a two-night stay at the Taj Gateway Hotel, Varanasi, a one-night stay at Hotel Royal Residency in Bodh Goya and a 13-night full board cruise from Patna to Kolkata. Also included are airport transfers, excursions, crew gratuities and on board lectures.

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Vacations & Travel Magazine: Spellbound on the Sepik


On board Silver Discoverer in the Southern Ocean: The Miracle of Macca

Silver Discoverer at anchor off Sandy Bay. Kings in front.
Returning to the new, pest-free Macquarie Island after five years

It's a bit like preparing for a military operation as we are plucked by the beleaguered deckhands from the stern transom into the lurching Zodiac. Trussed up in numerous layers of Gortex and looking almost like space explorers, we endure the biting sea spray whipped up by 30kt gusts as we seat our clumsy bottoms around the inflatable tender.

We push off from Silver Discoverer and head to shore and are immediately hit by a brutal wave over the bow, drenching the first row of passengers. The enemy is not entrenched in bunkers on the beach awaiting our arrival, but rather blowing all around us like an angry bellows, whipping stinging spray into our faces and buffeting our Zodiac as if at the hand of a child's tantrum.
The Four Kings. 
Landing on the cobble beach at Buckles Bay is notoriously treacherous, but one of the few locations near the ANARE base where one is possible. In 1948 when the modern base was established, it was more out of respect for history than practicality. The site of Sir Douglas Mawson's original 1911 site was used and expanded rather than a more accessible one found with a safe harbour and solid foundation.

Silversea staff are waist deep in frothing surf as our Zodiac is quickly backed up against the stony shore. One by one, between sets of breakers, we are hauled out of the rubber craft and deposited on the beach with some relief but also a sense of excitement at having completed the tricky job of getting ashore.

Elephant seal serenade

Apart from meteorology, biology and the reception of up to 1000 visitors per year, the base hosts TasmanianParks and Wildlife Service staff who recently celebrated the total eradication of introduced pests from Macquarie Island. No mean feat in itself, the eight year project involved the team of 12 hunters and 11 dogs walking 92,000km in search of surviving pests after the end of the aerial baiting program in 2011.

The comical Royal Penguins
Alien species like horses, donkeys, pigs, cattle, goats, dogs and sheep were relatively easy to deal with. Cats took bit longer, with the last feline removed in 2000 after a decade-long campaign, but the rabbits, rats and mice proved the toughest task, requiring a combination of poisoning and hunting to reach total success. Even now, vermin patrols will be maintained for the time being to be absolutely certain.
Shalia had never seen penguins outside of a zoo.
After my first visit in 2010, the islands enthusiastic regeneration was evident with renewed vegetation regrowth covering the previously barren sections on hillsides and slopes. The four species of breeding penguin and albatross, as well as numerous other migratory seabirds,  can now nest unmolested on this southern paradise once brought to the brink by the careless and greedy hand of man.

Sunday 11 January 2015

On board Silver Discoverer in the Southern Ocean: Walk on the Wild Side of Enderby

Silver Discoverer at anchor (R Eime)

From On Board: Silver Discoverer

Location: Southern Ocean

Friday 9 January 2015

I am finally aboard Silver Discoverer, the third and most recent addition to the Silversea Expeditions fleet. She has been operating Pacific itineraries most of these last nine months including Kimberley, Indonesia, Oceania and the Russian Far East.

Built in 1989 in Japan as Oceanic Grace, this 103m ship carries 120 guests when full, but only 42 have signed up for our 16-day Dunedin to Wellington itinerary which does a wide loop beginning south to before swinging north east to take in more of New Zealand's remote territories including the Bounty and Antipode Islands.

Cliff walk on Enderby Island - hang on to your hats!

Right now, we are en route to Macquarie Island, Australia's UNESCO World Heritage-listed sub-Antarctic territory accidentally discovered by sealers in 1810 and rebuilding itself as the wildlife sanctuary it was for millions of years before man's destructive arrival.

But first we're taking a Zodiac cruise around the bays of the Snares Islands, a human-free zone for wildlife like Royal Penguins and Antarctic Terns to nest 200kms south of New Zealand. Gorgeous Bullers Albatross follow our progress, hanging on the stiff breeze like little hang gliders.

Next is Enderby Island, the most northerly of the Auckland Islands and site of a brief experiment in remote farming in the mid-19th Century. For me, it's a revisit after having first tramped the soggy and boggy coastal walk in 2011. The 12km trek around the dizzying clifftops is no walk in the park.

Magnificent Bullers Albatross (R Eime)

Sure we see the cute and timid Yellow Eyed Penguin, the elusive Red-Crested Parakeet, spot the majestic Southern Royal Albatross nesting near the board walk and run the gauntlet past feisty New Zealand Sea Lions who love to charge at us barking and looking menacing. But it's blowing like fury and half way round it starts to rain. Plus I hadn't properly road-tested my gum boots and they're giving my overwide feet painful grief so I walk the last kilometre barefoot.

After lunch, a Zodiac cruise is undertaken by those wanting more and that evening we make the big southern leap to 'Macca'. It's quite a leap too, as winds gusting up to 100knts and seas with 10m swells await us. It's a rough old night with the angry ocean hammering the hull like a giant war club and I end up on the floor more than once. It's part of the deal, I'm afraid, but Silver Discoverer ploughs on unperturbed.

Next: Macquarie Island

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Lindblad quits Kimberley - NG Orion to Europe for 2016

In a move that will surprise some members of the local cruise industry, Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic has announced that their 'Australian' cruise ship will head to Europe after the 2015-16 Antarctic season for the northern summer.

Many, including this writer, believed that the NG Orion would be committed to Southern Hemisphere itineraries including the Kimberley, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific.

Lindblad Expeditions has issued the following statement:

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has announced that following the Antarctic season in early 2016, the National Geographic Orion will set course for Europe where she will spend spring, summer and fall on a highly curated series of 22 one-week voyages.

The voyages will provide a unique take on a familiar geography, with innovative itineraries that will explore Portugal, Spain, France, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, the Baltic Republics and Scandinavia.

"A vast majority of our past guests have been to the Kimberley and the South Pacific. A ship like National Geographic Orion depends heavily on past guests, and past guests need new geographies - evident by the strength of Australian bookings for the other nine ships in our fleet. We are committed to providing past guests the most compelling opportunities available on the National Geographic Orion, and have listened to their feedback for new destinations," stated Jeremy Lindblad, Business Development Director for Australia.

The voyages will be led by an extraordinary team with a diverse scope of expertise about the countries being explored covering ancient and modern history, political science, art, viniculture and music, as well as leading active options such as hiking, biking and kayaking. Special speakers will be drawn from the top tiers of journalism, science, and world affairs to add relevant insights as part of the 'Global Perspectives Speakers' program, and each voyage will feature a National Geographic photographer. The itineraries have been designed to afford guests the option to take consecutive voyages to discover a range of destinations.

On board dining will continue to be an integral part of the experience and will feature degustation menus by one of Australia's renowned international chefs, Serge Dansereau, principal of Sydney's The Bathers' Pavilion. The cuisine will be influenced with the flavours of the region.

The 102-guest National Geographic Orion's size and level of comfort will be highly appealing for European travel. The interior is spacious and offers a range of modern public rooms with panoramic views. Her public rooms include a window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library at the top of the ship. In addition, a dedicated theatre provides a unique setting for specialist presentations, films or slideshows.