Friday 29 May 2015

Venture through Greenland’s rugged wilderness with Silversea Expeditions


Experience astonishing Greenland, one of the world’s most spectacular wildernesses, aboard Silversea Expeditions’ luxurious Silver Explorer, as she sails through spectacular fjords and iceberg-strewn seas on this 12-day voyage.

Departing Reykjavik, Iceland on 15 August 2015, Silver Explorer crosses the Denmark Strait, which connects the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, before cruising through the enchanting Skoldungen Fjord, where humpback whales and orcas frequent. Guests will then sail to the placid waters of the dramatic waterfall-surrounded Prince Christian Sound. Sailing along the breathtaking western coastline, Silver Explorer ports in numerous picturesque and remote harbour towns including Nanortalik, Qaqortoq and Hvalsey, where guests will uncover the many wonders of Greenland, including its fascinating Viking history and unique Inuit culture.

Silver Explorer continues her adventure to Nuuk, Sisimiut and Ilulissat. Here, guests can witness the Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the famous Qilakitsoq mummies or take an optional helicopter excursion over the magnificent Icefjord. This voyage concludes in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, with guests disembarking on 27 August 2015.

Book this Silversea Expeditions voyage by 30 June 2015 and select a two-category suite upgrade or 50% savings on a second suite.

Prices are per person starting from AU$11,550 in an Adventurer Suite based on double occupancy. Silversea Expeditions’ fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; and all gratuities.

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

Monday 25 May 2015

Star Clippers announces a return to southeast Asia for winter 2016/17

Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers will operate a winter season in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore from December 2016 to April 2017. This marks the line’s return to the region for the first time since March 2010.

The 170-passenger Star Clipper will end its summer season in the Mediterranean and sail via the Suez Canal and Sri Lanka to its winter home port of Phuket, where it will operate seven-night round trip cruises on two different routes from 2nd December 2016, as well as some voyages to Singapore.

There are two itineraries, northbound and southbound, as well as seven departures that either begin or end in Singapore. Star Clipper will explore the many islands scattered off the coast of Phuket, accessible only by water, with some of the most beautiful beaches and dazzling marine life in the world. There will be numerous opportunities for sunbathing, snorkelling, other watersports, exploring on foot and taking photo safaris in the ship’s Zodiacs. Ports of call include:

Northbound from Phuket

Ko Surin National Marine Park, a cluster of five forested islands with exquisite beaches and spectacular underwater life

The Similan Islands, an archipelago of coral and granite with crystal-clear water and diverse wildlife

Ko Rok Nok, an uninhabited island with incredible reefs

Langkawi in Malaysia, with beautiful beaches and temples

Ko Kradan, a laid-back beach resort

Phang Nga Bay, offering spectacular scenery of forested limestone towers and hidden coves

Southbound from Phuket

Ko Butang, with gorgeous beaches and world-class snorkelling

Penang, with diverse colonial heritage

Ko Adang, a tiny, unspoiled island in the Tarutao National Marine Park

Ko Rok Nok, an uninhabited island with incredible reefs

Phang Nga Bay, offering spectacular scenery of forested limestone towers and hidden coves

The Similan Islands, an archipelago of coral and granite with crystal-clear water and diverse wildlife

Mikael Krafft, Owner and President of Star Clippers says: “We have been waiting a long time to resume these popular itineraries and are now returning to Southeast Asia to explore beaches, islands and anchorages not visited by any other cruise ship. We know from 15 years of past experience, when we based a ship in this region every winter, how popular these voyages are with nature-lovers and those who enjoy the sensation of sailing on a graceful tall ship in the tropics.”

Meanwhile, Star Flyer will continue to operate in-depth Cuba voyages from Havana and Cienfuegos for the winter of 2016/17, interspersed with longer cruises taking in St Maarten and the Panama Canal. Royal Clipper will sail from Barbados all season, exploring the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands, with two extended 14-night voyages to the ‘ABC Islands’ (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and extended voyages to accommodate Christmas and New Year.

Star Clippers’ winter 2016/17 programme goes on sale in June 2015.

Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognised as one of the premier speciality cruise lines.

Passengers can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar on deck and a comfortable piano bar and are large enough to offer first class accommodation and dining, but small enough to call into intimate ports, untouched by large cruise ships.

The two smaller ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, take 170 passengers each, with a crew of 74, while Royal Clipper carries 227 with a crew of 106. A fourth ship will be delivered in the second half of 2017, carrying 300 with a crew of 150.

For more information: and 1300 295 161

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

Sunday 24 May 2015

Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea: 7-night Southern Cyclades cruise


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

Saturday 23 May 2015

From aboard Star Clipper: Ancient Kaunos, Turkey.


Shore Excursion: Kaunos River, Turkey

Recommended for me by cruise director, Peter Kissner, this excursion involves embarking on one of the local boats with a guide to venture along the passage through the reeds to the ancient city. Kaunos was a city of ancient Caria and in Anatolia, a few kilometres west of the modern town of Dalyan, Muğla Province, Turkey.

Local excursion boat
In the high season, as many as 12,000 guests can visit this delicate ecological region daily using as many as 500 of these excursion boats. Each of these little vessels seat 10-20 passengers. I'm told electric boats are planned to replace these using shielded propellers.

Our guide is Şan (pron: Shon) whose family have been local fishermen for generations. Like so many places around the world, locals have been displaced by big greedy satellite-guided boats from who-knows-where which appear out of nowhere and haul in great loads of fish before disappearing and leaving fish stocks all but empty. 

Şan at home on his beloved river
Şan now supplements his family's income considerably by guiding in the mid-year season. As a former Greenpeace activist, he is more than willing to share some of the challenges the community faces in dealing with the combined issues of ecological threats, mass tourism and development. Already one major resort development has been thwarted and replaced by more manageable, low rise construction which is seeing people from all over Europe and the UK buying up the relatively cheap properties and spending months at a time in wider Dalyan region.

The reed beds and marshlands are breeding and feeding grounds for loggerhead turtles which, I'm told, travel all the way from Mexico to lay their eggs. The clear, filtered waters also sustain mullet in sufficient quantity to maintain a small local fish farming industry that has been developed over many years.

The village of Çandir supports about 100 families and appears to be thriving on the back of tourism. Şan expects the Arab countries to be supplying the next wave of tourists. 

Rock tombs of Kaunos
Further along the river we go ashore to see the ancient ruins of the old port which contain remnants of both Greek and Roman periods with some portions dating back as long ago as 2500BC. There's an amphitheatre, a windmeter and stunning rock tombs above the town which to the untrained eye would look for all the world like those in Petra, Jordan. 

Greek-Roman amphitheatre
Before we head back to Star Clipper, some guests go ashore on the sand spit for a bit of beach time, while elsewhere there are kayaks and paddleboards provided by the ship's watersports team.

Today's alternative shore excursion was to the local mud baths which also included a bit of interpretation along the same river, but I'm content in my choice and have benefited enormously from genuine local insight from Şan and feel the satisfaction of an authentic local connection.

Rod travelled as a guest of Star Clippers and Cruise Express.

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

Meet the cruisers: Kathy and Steve

Kathy and Steve from Newcastle NSW aboard Star Clipper
One of the great things about about cruising on any ship is meeting new people.

Here on Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea, it's still possible to meet adventurous Aussies enjoying one of the great cruising playgrounds of the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey.

Kathy and Steve are early retirees who sold their business near Newcastle and are now enjoying the fruits of their labour.

This active and energetic couple have made several cruises including P&O, Hurtigruten, Royal Caribbean and even a crewed yacht voyage in the Whitsundays. But it's this small ship variety that clearly appeals to them most.

"The Star Clipper experience is definitely a couple of rungs up the ladder from what we've done before," says Steve.

As is so often the case, Kathy is the one who will does the research and budgeting.

"I was looking for our next adventure and came across Star Clippers," says Kathy, "there was a bit of a deal being offered by the agent, so I rang them and locked it in. We are also extending with another small ship cruise in Croatia."

The pair are unanimous in their praise for Star Clipper's dining and activities programs. Even with a little more than 100 fellow guests, they say the extended time in ports delivers a real "seen there" experience as opposed to simply being there.

"Even though we are price conscious travellers," says Kathy,"we're more likely to go the small ship route in future. We don't feel we have to do exactly what our friends are doing and really travel to please ourselves."

And what's next on their adventure list?

"Oh, Antarctica for sure, we're just working out which ship offers the best package."

More converts to the fast-growing small ship cruise market. Happy sailing Kathy and Steve.

Star Clippers to Build the World’s Biggest Square Rigger


Tall ship sailing specialist Star Clippers has announced that it has started building a fourth ship to add to its fleet of graceful square-riggers; its first new-build since the launch of Royal Clipper in July 2000. The new vessel, yet to be named, will be the biggest and most ambitious to date and will be launched in the second half of 2017, carrying 300 passengers, measuring 8,770 tons and powered by more than 6,350 sq m of sails.

The new ship will technically be a five-masted, square-rigged barque. While the company’s flagship Royal Clipper is modelled on the legendary German sailing ship Preussen, the new member of the fleet will be a near-replica of the even more dramatic France II, commissioned in 1911 and the largest square rigger ever built. Just as the original France II eclipsed Preussen more than a century ago as the world’s largest square rigger, the Star Clippers new build will replace its sister, Royal Clipper, as the largest ship of its kind afloat today.

Mikael Krafft, founder and owner of Star Clippers, says: “We have already built the five-masted full ship Royal Clipper, which is very much influenced by the Preussen. This time, we intend to build a ship inspired by France II, an ambition I have had for a long time. The ship’s rig will be identical to France II and dimensions will be very similar, although we have added various features that will make this the most magnificent passenger sailing ship afloat.”

As well as the generous deck space only found on a sailing ship, the new vessel will have three pools, one that funnels sunlight through the ship’s atrium into the elegantly appointed dining room. There will be a watersports platform in the stern for use when the ship is at anchor and a variety of cabin grades, including 34 suites with balconies and four luxurious owner’s suites. A restaurant in the light-filled atrium will accommodate all passengers for open-seating dining. Regular guests will be delighted to discover their favourite hallmarks of all Star Clippers ships, such as the cosy library, the bowsprit net and the popular, al fresco Tropical Bar, where evening entertainment takes place. While the ship will have ecologically sound, high-tech engines, it will, like its sisters, rely on wind power and its sails wherever possible.

The new ship will be delivered in the second half of 2017 and will initially sail the company’s most popular itineraries in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Sales are expected to open in 2016.

Fast facts:
Shipyard: Brodosplit shipyard, Split, Croatia
Tonnage: 8,770 grt
Hull: Steel
Passengers: 300 in 150 cabins
Crew: 140
Sail: area 6,350 m2
Rig: Five-mast barque
Facilities: Three pools; massage and beauty treatments; watersports platform with equipment; library; function room; piano bar; Tropical Bar; deck bar; sports bar; open seating dining
Cabins: 150 cabins including 34 suites with balconies plus four owner’s cabins.

Star Clippers operates three of the world’s largest and tallest sailing vessels. Visiting ports often untouched by larger cruise ships and offering passengers the activities, amenities and atmosphere of a private yacht, Star Clippers is recognised as one of the premier speciality cruise lines.

Passengers can enjoy the romance of sailing on board a true tall ship in a relaxed atmosphere with high standards of service provided by an attentive crew. All three ships have expansive teak decks, swimming pools, informal dining, a convivial Tropical Bar on deck and a comfortable piano bar and are large enough to offer first class accommodation and dining, but small enough to call into intimate ports, untouched by large cruise ships.

The two smaller ships, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, take 170 passengers each, with a crew of 74, while Royal Clipper carries 227 with a crew of 106.

Company history

Star Clippers was founded in 1989 by Swedish entrepreneur and classic boat connoisseur, Mikael Krafft, initially operating two identical four-masted barquentines, Star Flyer, which set sail in 1991 and her twin, Star Clipper, launched in 1992. At 115.5 m long, with 3.365 m² of sails apiece, and carrying up to 170 passengers and 74 crew, both are modern, high-tech, re-creations of the classic clipper sailing ships that dominated the oceans of the world in the 19th century.

The vessels were the first sailing clippers to be built since 1910 and heralded a renaissance of a golden age of sail. In 2000, Krafft added a third vessel, Royal Clipper, a fully square-rigged vessel with 42 sails. Royal Clipper holds the Guinness World Record as being the biggest five-masted ship in the world.

Biography: Mikael Krafft

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, on January 13, 1946, Mikael Krafft, the owner of Star Clippers, grew up in the port of Saltsjobaden in the archipelago adjacent to Stockholm. His area was home to one of the finest yacht builders in the world, the Plyms Shipyard.

“Every little boy was interested in boats,” he says. “Nearby, there was a shipyard that had built sailing yachts for the Tsars of Russia. I used to play there. One day, a beautiful sailing yacht was launched for the head of Fiat, the Italian car manufacturer. I can still smell the varnish and the word. Someone said, ‘That one's going to sail like a clipper’. I was curious. I started to learn about clippers. When I was 10, most boys were into football, but I read books about clipper ships.”

His first job was carrying varnish and mixing wood stain for the old-timers at the yard who would tell him tales of the great sailing ships that once dominated the high seas. Those stories often included the records set for speed and beauty by Pommern, a four-masted steel barquentine, anchored as a national historical museum at the Swedish-Finnish Island of Aland, in the surrounding Baltic archipelago.

By the time Krafft was 10, his father had given him an 18-foot (5.5m) wooden sailboat and his lifelong fascination with sailing was underway. It was only a matter of time until he started sailing his boat across the open seas to Aland, without a compass. The island was 20 miles away, halfway to Finland. The towering masts of Pommern waited for him at crossing's end, guarded by museum watchmen, at Mariehamn.

The guards were not swift enough to stop a determined young sailor from climbing her rigging. He returned again and again, learning every foot of the great ship.

Krafft graduated from the University of Stockholm with a degree in Maritime law and studied further in France. He practiced law in both France and Sweden. In the late 1970s, he became the Managing Owner of a small Swedish shipping company, the L. Jeansson Company, founded in 1875. This company purchased the Ragne Shipping Company as well as the ship brokering company Scandocean.

In 1986, Mikael Krafft sold his interests in Sweden. He, his wife, Ann, and their two children, Eric and Marie, moved for a time to Brussels. He founded the White Star Group of Belgium, which was mainly involved in major real estate developments within the Benelux countries.

Since the early days, Krafft has been a passionate sailor. As his business interests developed, he also took the opportunity to become the owner of one beautiful sailing ship after another, each built by Swan of Finland and usually modified to his ideas.

The yacht he built was a total custom vessel, delivered in 1986. This was the 128-foot staysail schooner Gloria. He also launched Doriana in 2005, a magnificent, 39-metre schooner, lovingly restored under Krafft’s watchful eye.

The idea to form Star Clippers came during a leisurely Caribbean cruise, while anchored one sunset off St Martin in 1987 aboard Gloria. Suddenly, as Krafft recalls, "All the pieces came together." His long nourished clipper ship dream fell into place: he would build not one but two, and thus have a viable business proposition, a real cruise line. He knew in his heart passengers would rally to the concept of comfortable sailing on traditional major clipper ships, built to uncompromising yacht safety and appearance standards.
Three years of intense research followed, some of it studying carefully preserved original plans for ships of the mid-19th century. There were mountains of design modifications to make because of the availability of materials not existent long ago, and scores of engineering innovations.

Construction started in 1990 at a fine Belgium shipyard, the Belgium Shipbuilders Corporation Yard at Ghent. The result was 360-feet (115.5m) Star Flyer, commissioned in May 1991, followed a year later by her identical twin, Star Clipper. “Star Flyer and Star Clipper are actually much bigger than most clipper ships were,” says Krafft. “Technically, they are rigged barquentines, with a full mast square rigged and the remaining masts rigged for and aft.

“I wanted them to have the feel of a private yacht, which is why the cabins are like those on my own yacht.”

Star Clippers was so successful that in 2000, Krafft launched a third ship, Royal Clipper, modelled on the legendary five-masted tall ship, Preussen, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the world’s biggest square rigger. “I had always been fascinated by Preussen,” says Krafft. “It was bigger and beamier than the clippers, and unique, a highly developed sailing machine. I had a model of it when I was younger. I thought, ‘One day, I will build that’.”

2015 sees plans afoot to build a fourth ship, modelled on the tall ship France II. Krafft continues to run Star Clippers, alongside his daughter, Marie; his son, Eric. His wife, Ann, is also instrumental in the company. Star Clippers’ headquarters are in Monaco.

For more information: and 1300 295 161

Friday 22 May 2015

Explore the South Pacific with Silversea Expeditions

Explore the tropical paradise of the South Pacific with Silversea Expeditions

Experience the undeniable beauty and fascinating underwater wonderland of the South Pacific over 12 days on a speciality Scuba-Diving Expedition voyage aboard Silver Discoverer.

Departing Lautoka on 14 October 2015, Silver Discoverer sails through the breathtaking isles of Fiji, porting in Levuka, Leleuvia, Taveuni, the Lau Islands and Fulanga, each laced with ribbons of white sand and sapphire-blue lagoons.

Continuing her journey, Silver Discoverer uncovers the wonders of Tonga, the Cook Islands and the stunning islands of Bora Bora and Tahiti in French Polynesia. Here, guests have the opportunity to go swimming, snorkelling or scuba diving in tranquil crystal clear waters and observe the vibrant marine life of colourful reef-fish, sea-cucumbers, rays, reef-sharks and sea turtles. Onshore, guests can explore the ancient marae stone temples or hike to traditional villages through lush-green rainforests and extinct volcanos, all the while learning about jungle medicines or spotting tropical birds including noddies, frigatebirds and boobies.

This voyage concludes in Papeete, Tahiti with guests disembarking on 25 October 2015.

As part of Silversea Expeditions’ speciality scuba diving voyage programme, guests that meet the scuba diving requirements* are offered the opportunity to explore some of the world’s most spectacular diving locations. The programme is complimentary, however space is limited.

Book this Silversea Expeditions voyage by 30 June 2015 and select a two-category suite upgrade or 50% savings on a second suite.

Prices are per person starting from AU$12,850 in an Explorer Suite based on double occupancy. Silversea Expeditions’ fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; and all gratuities.

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

*Silver Discoverer scuba diving requirements:
  • All guests must hold an Advanced Open Water Dive License or equivalent;
  • Guests must obtain Medical Dive Travel Insurance;
  • Certification must be active and logbooks must show evidence that each guest has been diving within 12 months prior to the cruise;
  • All guests must pre-register with Silversea prior to the cruise; and
  • Guests must bring their own SCUBA BCDs, regulators and dive equipment. The ship will provide weight belts and tanks.

The Seychelles cruises aboard Variety Cruises M/Y Pegasus featured amongst the 10 Best Cruises on Small Ships in THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK


The Seychelles cruises aboard Variety Cruises M/Y Pegasus named by THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK as one of the 10 best cruises on small ships Variety Cruises' seven-night cruise around the Seychelles islands, operated on a year-round basis by the 21-cabin M/Y Pegasus, is featured amongst the 10 Best Cruises on Small Ships in THE TIMES and THETIMES.CO.UK.

“It is with great honour that we receive such recognition from THE TIMES” said Mr. Lakis Venetopoulos, President of Variety Cruises. “It was back in 2012, when the M/Y Pegasus launched her inaugural island-hopping cruise across the Seychelles islands. The effort and hard work of our team and our partners to establish the niche small ship cruise product in the Seychelles, have
positioned the company as the best way to explore the stunning Seychelles islands by sea.”

About Variety Cruises

Variety Cruises is the fastest expanding company in the Small Ships niche market and has, since 1968, been offering travelers from all over the world the ultimate Small Ship Cruise experience in Greece.

Variety Cruises’ upscale Yacht and casual Motor Sailers provide an intimate and relaxed environment; a comfort filled starting point for the discerning travelers as they visit well known and unique ports of Greece. Variety Cruises’ experiential itineraries embrace each destination by allowing guests ample leisure time in each port to discover the local nightlife, culinary traditions and culture.

Variety Cruises’ ships dock right in the heart of the destination and offer multiple swim stops right off the vessel in secluded bays, always combining the world's most famous destinations with the off-the-beaten track locales inaccessible to large cruise ships.

Cruise destinations for 2015 and 2016 include Greece and the Greek Islands, Turkey, Seychelles, Costa Rica and the Panama, Cuba, as well as brand new visits to the Canary Islands, the Cape Verde Islands and our return to the Red Sea.

Thursday 21 May 2015

World's largest sailing ship to be announced


Here aboard Star Clipper one of the worst kept secrets is the imminent announcement of the newest ship planned for the Monaco-based, all-sailing fleet.
Rumoured to be a 5-masted barque of 166m length and carrying up to 300 passengers, the vessel is reportedly under construction in Split, Croatia and set to be delivered in February 2017. 

The name of the new ship is not yet known, but whispers of Imperial Flyer, Majestic Flyer and even Galactic Flyer have been heard.

Currently the Swedish Krafft family-owned company operates the world's largest true passenger sailing ship, the Royal Clipper. Launched in 2000, it measures 134m with a mast height of 54m and carries up to 227 guests on journeys that include an Atlantic crossing under full sail.

The forthcoming news will also carry details of the fleet redeployment which is likely to include news of Star Clipper's return to SE Asia in 2016. Once a regular in the Andaman Sea, Star Clipper will now most likely be deployed for the whole year, encompassing itineraries in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
For more details, visit

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Monday 18 May 2015

From aboard Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea

IMG_1380 editor, Roderick Eime, is aboard the tall ship, Star Clipper in the Aegean Sea.

Built in 1991, the 112m 2298GRT Star Clipper and its sister ship, Star Flyer, carry just 170 guests and 72 crew. These elegant, four-masted barqentine carry 36000square feet of sail which they use at every opportunity. In fact the ship can sail at up to 17 knots under ideal conditions and perhaps just 10 knots under power.

In an introduction to tall ship sailing by our cruise director, the ebullient Peter Kissner from Bavaria, we're told that the dramatic oil paintings depicting the intrepid vessels with every sail hoisted leaning into a stiff breeze and surrounded by angry white-caps is a work of artistic licence. Apparently the best performance is obtained with just a fraction of full sail and the ship in an almost upright position.

“But, of course,” Peter says with a German chuckle, “this is not so attractive for the artist! A ship leaning at 20 degrees or something is fun for about 10 minutes, then you want to cry.”

While the Star Clipper has every modern navigation aid and convenience, the sails must all be unfurled manually, preserving the tradition of a proper Sailing Passenger Vessel (SPV). This, we're reliably informed, is in contrast to some of the other fancier ships with fully computerised rigging and flat hulls which he describes scathingly as “cruise ships with sails”. Duly noted.

The only compromise to modern needs is the ability to unfurl the main sails automatically as maritime regulations will not allow sailors to climb the rigging after dark.

Some other fun facts worth knowing is that the ship can heel a full 110 degrees before risking capsize and that instead of conventional stabilisers, the sails perform the same task in conjunction with 200 tonnes of passive ballast.

I'm looking forward to the opportunity to climb the rigging myself and get hands-on with some of the deck duties and maybe even take the helm.

Rod is sailing as a guest of Star Clippers and Cruise Express

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

Thursday 14 May 2015

Five overnight stays in ports on SeaDream's ten days Rome to Venice

IF 2016 is to be your Special Year and the Mediterranean your dream of where it's to be, let SeaDream Yacht Club make it all the more so with a 10-day sailing aboard the mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II from Rome to Venice – uniquely with five overnight stays in ports in Italy, Montenegro and Croatia.

And this rare opportunity features an elegantly casual lifestyle, because although 5-star there's no call aboard SeaDream II for jackets, ties or formal wear.

Departing Civitavecchia (Rome's port) on July 23 2016 for a day in fabled Capri, SeaDream II will have an overnight stay in the medieval Italian city of Amalfi, a day in Taormina on Sicily that's dominated by the active Mt Etna volcano, and then a whole day and a night for relaxing at sea.

This is followed by a day and an overnight in the walled town of Kotor in Montenegro, an afternoon and overnight in Croatia's Dubrovnik that's considered one of the "ten best Medieval walled cities in the world," little Korcula Island that's long been a SeaDream guests' favourite in the Adriatic, Hvar in Croatia for an overnight at this island of vineyards, olive groves and orchards, and a morning to explore Chioggia at the entrance to Venice.

Overnights in ports provide the opportunity to experience these interesting places by night and is something guests particularly enjoy.

The 10-day sailing ends with SeaDream navigating her way through Venice's famed St Mark's Square and Grand Canal, one of the few passenger vessels small enough to be able to do so, and a final overnight aboard in the centre of this 5th century city of 118 islands.

Prices begin from US$7109pp twin-share including 10-nights' ocean-view accommodation, wines with lunch and dinner, open bars with premium brands, gratuities, use of power and sail water-sports where locally permitted, mountain bikes for shore explorations, a golf simulator, and all port charges and taxes.

For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit

For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Pandaw launches 2016/17 program with generous early booking savings

Luxury river cruise company, Pandaw  ( has announced the details of its 2016/17 programme, with early booking discounts of up to 20% and no single supplements for cruises booked before 31st July 2015, on selected departures up to April 2017.

Pandaw's fleet of 13 stunning colonial-style river ships offer exceptional all-inclusive value with a choice of unique itineraries in Burma, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China, with all meals, shore excursions, crew gratuities and drinks included in the price*.

New for 2016/17 – The Upper Mekong: 14 nights from Laos to China

Pandaw is the only river cruise operator to offer expedition cruises exploring the undiscovered Upper Mekong River from Vientiane to Jinghong in China (or vice versa). New for 2016 the Laos Pandaw offers a 14 -night cruise from September 2016 to April 2017 with overnight stays in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Chiang Saen (for the Golden Triangle) and Jinghong. Cruise only prices start from usd 5355 per person sharing a main deck stateroom.

Travellers can combine this new expedition with Pandaw's 'Classic Mekong' cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap (or vice versa), thus exploring the length of the Mekong in one great adventure. Passengers booking before 31st July 2015 will receive three nights in Siem Reap, including one full day excursion to Angkor Wat, free of charge.

Classic Asia river journeys

Pandaw's 2016/17 portfolio also includes cruises perfectly suited to the first-time river cruiser in Asia. Options include:

'Classic Mekong'

Pandaw pioneered cruising on the Mekong and operates seven-night itineraries from Saigon to Siem Reap aboard the beautiful Mekong Pandaw. Visiting charming villages, the Tonle River wetlands and Wat Hanchey with highlights to include an overnight stay in Phnom Penh. Cruise only from usd 1560 per person.

'The Irrawaddy'

For a full exploration of the Irrawaddy this 14-night cruise travels from Rangoon to Pagan and onward to Mandalay aboard the elegant Pandaw II, taking in the Irrawaddy Delta, Prome and a fabulous overnight stay in Pagan. Cruise only prices from usd 4576 per person.

'The Golden Land'

Alternatively a 10-night cruise from Mandalay to Rangoon on the Pandaw II, includes an overnight stay in Pagan and visits to U Bein Bridge, Ava and many charming villages. Cruise only prices from usd 3112 per person.

'Mandalay Pagan Packet'

For the best value introductory cruise the seven night Mandalay Pagan Packet offers passengers the opportunity to explore Burma's ancient capitals, charming villages and the temples of Pagan. Cruise only prices from only usd 1534 per person.

River expeditions 'off the beaten track'

The new programme also highlights Pandaw's smaller ships whose low draughts enable them to explore off the beaten track. Options include:

'Pagan & the Upper Irrawaddy'

A 10-night adventure north from Pagan to Mandalay and onward to Katha (the location for George Orwell's novel Burmese Days) and the scenic Irrawaddy Gorges. Cruise only prices from usd 3600 per person.

'The Chindwin'

This seven-night itinerary explores the villages and colonial history of the famous Chindwin River aboard the newly built 10 stateroom Zawgyi Pandaw. Highlights include scenic forested hills and Sitthuang where the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company steamers were scuppered in 1942. Cruise only prices from usd 2800 per person.

'Halong Bay & the Red River'

Sailing on the Angkor Pandaw,  this 10-day itinerary travels from scenic Halong Bay to Hanoi and on in to the remote and undiscovered Northern Vietnamese towns and villages. Cruise only prices from usd 2600 per person.

For more information and to book visit To see the entire product over view for 2016-17 go to

Note: all prices are per person and include 20% early booking discount, based on 2 people sharing a twin main deck stateroom. Local soft drinks, local beer and local spirits are included on every Pandaw-owned cruise.

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Murray River cruise on paddlewheeler PS Murray Princess


Discover Australian nature, history and culture at its best with a Murray River cruise on the iconic paddlewheeler PS Murray Princess and take advantage of great specials during autumn and winter.

Locals and tourists can receive a huge 25% discount, plus a bonus $100 gift voucher per person when booking some cruises on the four-storey paddlewheeler to explore the Murray River and South Australia’s riverside ports.

“It’s certainly the perfect time of year to book a PS Murray Princess cruise to enjoy great savings and visit the famous Murraylands region in style,” SeaLink South Australia General Manager Donna Gauci says.

Cruises onboard the PS Murray Princess offering a 25% discount on fares, plus a bonus $100 gift voucher per person on 25 May, 15 June and 22 June 2015 include:

The four night Murray River Outback Heritage Cruise specially priced at $950 per person twin share (normally $1266) includes all meals, shore side tours, guided nature walks, Captain’s dinner and cocktail party, live entertainment, coach transfers from Adelaide or free car parking at Mannum.

The seven night Murraylands & Wildlife Cruise specially priced at $1416 per person twin share (normally $1888) provides a unique historic and nature based adventure through ancient gorges and red gum forests, past towering sandstone cliffs, exploring historic ports, local vineyards and nature trails.

This cruise includes all meals, shore side tours, guided nature walks, Captain’s dinner and seafood buffet, live entertainment, Barossa tour and wine tastings, coach transfers from Adelaide or free car parking at Mannum.

Guests can also enjoy a massive 25% discount on three, four and seven night cruises onboard the PS Murray Princess during the Winter Sun Sale for travel between 25 May until 31 August 2015 and include;
  • Three nights from $695 per person twin share departing from Mannum with free coach transfers from Adelaide every Friday (normally $926).
  • Four nights from $950 per person twin share departing from Mannum with free coach transfers from Adelaide every Monday (normally $1266).
  • Seven nights from $1416 per person twin share departing from Mannum every Friday and Monday with free coach transfers from Adelaide (normally $1888).
“The PS Murray Princess is an unforgettable experience to explore South Australia’s spectacular River Murray where guests can enjoy the great variety of flora and fauna, take a nature walk and learn about the indigenous culture, food and wine of the famous Murraylands region,” Ms Gauci says.

There are many other exciting PS Murray Princess cruise discounts on offer on including Christmas in July, Early Booking Saver Fares, Summer Sun Sale, New Year’s Eve and Loxton Cruises.

“Now is the time to plan and book a holiday on the Murray River. Not only can you make great savings but it’s a trip that can easily be combined with other tour options such as Kangaroo Island and the Barossa Valley,” Ms Gauci said.

The PS Murray Princess is a majestic paddlewheeler which caters for up to 120 passengers with private cabins and staterooms, bathroom ensuite facilities, spa and sauna, gym, bar, dining and a two storey lounge area where guests can view the huge paddlewheel turning.

Murray Princess’ highly-trained South Australian specialists offer friendly and knowledgeable advice. To find out more call 1300 729 938 or visit

Saturday 9 May 2015

PONANT - Last Minute Savings on Antarctica Cruises


Up to 25% off select 2015 departures
Have you dreamed of discovering the legendary "White Continent"? Antarctica holds the promise of a unique journey through an icy vastness where the sun hesitates between day and night. The silence is broken only by the crackling of ice pans or the clinking of ice in your cocktail glass.

For a very limited time, enjoy savings of up to 25% on select 2015 departures. Join either L'Austral or the brand new Le Lyrial on an expedition like no other. Your all inclusive voyage includes your zodiac trips ashore, an open bar throughout the ship and private charter flights to or from Ushuaia.

from: $12,120* pp twin share  

Friday 8 May 2015

Drones banned on Arctic cruises : AECO


Bans use of UAVs in the Arctic

Footage like this now a thing of the past for Arctic expeditioners
Cruise passengers travelling with members of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), will not be allowed to bring and use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) when visiting the Arctic.

This is a decision made by AECO’s members and involves that the general use of UAVs will be prohibited for cruise guest travelling with AECO’s members. AECO’s members can for special purposes, e.g. when involved in research - or film projects, decide to allow for the use of UAVs.

Use of UAVs increases throughout the world. This development comes with a risk of disturbance of people as well as wildlife. Noise might be an issue and a UAV can also represent a risk of littering if it gets out of control and is lost. Travelers to pristine Arctic areas enjoy unique nature and wildlife experiences, remoteness and silence. AECO finds that some of these values may be at risk if the general use of UAVs is allowed to continue to increase in the Arctic.

“We do not want guests to use UAVs to try to get closer to wildlife and risk disturbance of animals, birds or other guests”, says AECO’s Executive Director Frigg Jørgensen. “It would also be very unfortunate if an UAV is lost and cannot be retrieved from Arctic nature areas”, she adds.

Prohibition on use of UAVs is only one of many areas where AECO’s members have committed to stronger environmental - and safety regulations than the legal requirements ( Because a ban has been decided by AECO and implemented by AECO’s members it will be applicable for most expedition cruise passengers in the Arctic. The greater majority of all expedition cruise operators that cruises in Svalbard, Greenland, Canada, the National Park of Russian Arctic and Jan Mayen (25 operators with 30 vessels) are members of AECO, and only a few are not. Approximately 17.000 passengers will visit the Arctic onboard a vessel operated by an AECO member in 2015.

Thursday 7 May 2015

More Aranui 5 details revealed


Laurent Wong, regional representative Australia and New Zealand for Aranui Cruises, has unveiled more details of Aranui 5 under construction at Huanghai Shipbuilding in China’s northeastern Shandong province.

The 125mtr long passenger-freighter will now launch in 2016, replacing Aranui 3 which will be retired after more than 12 years servicing the remote Tuamotu and Marquesas archipelagoes.

There will be no Aranui 4 as the number is considered unlucky by the owners, the third generation Tahitian-Chinese Wong family.

Aranui 5 will have capacity for 260 passengers in a range of accommodation options, from the operator’s first single staterooms to new premium and deluxe categories.

The new cruise freighter will have a Marquesan-inspired decor, with Paul Gauguin prints and original paintings by Erhard Lux, a German artist who lives part-time in Moorea.

Air-conditioned public areas include a restaurant, disco, conference rooms, lounges, library, fitness room, spa, a video and computer room and a boutique.

There will be a swimming pool with a whirlpool and four bars, including the Sky bar on an open deck.

The 14-day roundtrip cruises from Papeete visit Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa and Ua Huka in the Marquesas and Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus, as well as the Society Island of Bora Bora. The ship delivers food, fuel and other staples to the remote ports while passengers disembark for a range of complimentary excursions, including hikes, 4WD tours, a visit to the Paul Gauguin museum and a picnic on a secluded beach in Bora Bora.

‘With the introduction of Aranui 5 in 2016 we will offer a more comfortable and luxurious way for cruisers to discover a vast area of French Polynesia,’ Wong said.

Fares include complimentary wine with lunch and dinner and introductory discounts are available until August 31 for the first five voyages of 2016, with a superior deluxe balcony cabin priced from A$7,397 per person twin-share. A premium balcony suite starts from A$8,506.

Source: Seatrade Insider

Windstar Star Breeze christened


At a christening ceremony in Nice, Windstar Cruises introduced Star Breeze, its second new all-suite power yacht. Travel influencer, Wendy Perrin, served as the godmother at a celebration prior to the inaugural cruise through France, Monaco and Italy.

Wendy Perrin, TripAdvisor's first 'travel advocate' and the founder of, broke a bottle of champagne over the bow in front of 250 guests, media, trade partners and representatives of Windstar parent company Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

Perrin was joined on stage by Windstar ceo Hans Birkholz, Capt. Krasimir Ivanov and Father Jean Marie.

'The driving force to Windstar’s success is our unwavering commitment of providing a personal, yacht-style vacation. Our ships are small, our ambience casually elegant, our service personal,' Birkholz said.

The 212-passenger yacht joins the fleet after an $8.5m, three-week renovation in Genoa. The former Seabourn ship received a stem to stern transformation, including overhauls of every public space, dining venues and suites.

After its inaugural voyage, Star Breeze will continue to cruise in the Mediterranean for the summer season. Following an ocean crossing in the fall, the ship will embark on Windstar’s newest Caribbean itinerary, 'Icons of the Dutch Caribbean,' before sailing in Panama and Costa Rica for the winter season.

Source: Seatrade Insider

New Pandaw Expeditions on Red River and Halong Bay in Vietnam


Single Supplements Waived and Discounts up to 20% on New Pandaw Expeditions on Red River and Halong Bay in Vietnam

Single supplements have been waived and discounts of up to 20 per cent offered on nine new, deluxe river expeditions in northern Vietnam encompassing the beautiful Red River and famous Halong Bay with its 1500 dramatic limestone islands.

Available for bookings made until May 31, 2015, through Australian travel agency, Active Travel, which specialises in river cruises, the discounted, 10-night Pandaw river cruises operate between September, 2015, and October, 2016.

The new ‘Red River and Halong Bay’ sailings aboard the 32-passenger, colonially styled, RV Angkor Pandaw, which is hand-crafted in brass and teak, will set a course from Viet Tri near Hanoi along the Red River which has been a key trade route between Vietnam and China for centuries. The route along the upper stretches of the wild river takes passengers deep into highland Vietnam with its remote and sleepy tribal villages and rugged mountain scenery.

The itinerary then heads downstream along the little-known Da, Duon and Kingh Thay rivers in the fertile Red River delta region, with a visit to the bustling capital, Hanoi, where guests are taken on an excursion including the notorious Vietnam war prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, a water puppets show and the 1000-year-old Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucius. Sailing past emerald green rice paddies, more authentic, craft-making villages are visited on the journey towards Halong Bay where the vessel anchors in a sheltered bay on the final and tenth night before a spectacular sail around the iconic bay the next day, visiting limestone caves and floating villages and schools.

The 10-night packages include land transfers from and to Hanoi, excursions, cooking classes and cultural performances onboard the vessel, local beer and spirits, soft drinks, a welcome cocktail, farewell reception, fruit and flowers on arrival, spa-branded toiletries, kimonos and slippers in staterooms and refreshing drink and cold towel after tours ashore.

A discount of 20 per cent and no solo supplements are available on RV Angkor Pandaw’s Red River and Halong Bay sailing on January 18, 2016, with fares starting from US$2600 per person (including the discount) for twin-share or solo passengers. A 15 per cent saving and no single supplements are available on a February 7, 2016, departure, with fares from US$2762.50 (including the discount) twin-share or solo. And a 10 per cent discount and no single supplements are also available for departures on September 30, 2015, and January 8, February 27, March 8 and 18, September 29 and October 19 in 2016, with fares from US$2925 (including discount) twin-share or solo. The deals are valid for bookings made before May 31, 2015, and are available until sold out. Airfares to Vietnam are extra.

For details, visit or call 1300 783 188.

click to visit site

Wednesday 6 May 2015

APT aims for new cruise market with Small Ship Program


Small ship cruising is attracting a growing number of clients as more and more Australians fall in love with its intimate yet adventurous cruise style, according to award winning cruise operator APT.
Launching a new look brochure for its all inclusive 2016 Small Ship program, APT’s Chief Marketing Officer, Debra Fox, says the company is gearing up for another successful sales season for this unique product, “There is only one way to sail into the heart of a culture or destination and that is aboard a really small cruise ship. Due to the size of our ships – all three carry an average of 100 people - we are amongst just a few operators that can really take people off the beaten track for a more detailed exploration of their destination, whether that’s aboard one of our boutique style cruises, or in more exotic settings on our expedition cruises. Both formats are in demand amongst our guests, who are falling in love with this more intimate cruise style.”
APT’s new Small Ships – Exploring the World 2016 brochure showcases a choice of 24 fully all-inclusive small ship cruise holidays to a range of exotic and inspirational destinations, including the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Asia, the Kimberley and Antarctica. New features for 2016 include a new itinerary and three new extended cruise and land combinations.
In response to demand for cruising the Japanese coastline APT has added an exciting new itinerary, the 15-day Sailing the Japanese Isles is priced from $9,995 per person, twin share, and sails from Osaka to Manila.  In a discovery of Japanese culture and heritage, guests will learn about the many age-old traditions, explore some of Asia’s most pristine archipelagos that are only accessible by small ship and enjoy some of the best snorkeling in the world in the Philippines.
With more guests looking to extend their time in Europe, APT has also introduced three new extended itineraries, adding land journeys to complement the small ship cruises already offered in the destination. These new itineraries are the:
-          23-day Italian Sojourn with Adriatic & Aegean Odyssey – guests enjoy a six night land journey including Rome, Florence and Venice prior to boarding 14-night Boutique Collection Cruise from Venice to Istanbul, sailing the coastlines of Croatia, Montenegro, Greece and Turkey aboard APT’s MS Island Sky. Guests then spend two nights in Istanbul post-cruise.
-          34-day Ultimate Britain & Ireland Adventure - APT combines an indepth 22-day land tour of England, Scotland and Ireland with an 11-night coastal cruise of the British Isles, including Western Scotland, aboard APT’s latest new small ship, the newly refurbished MS Hebridean Sky. Highlights include staying at 5-star Scottish Mansion, Cameron House; exploring wild and uninhabited islands with dramatic coastlines; and exploring Ireland’s capital and some of its many castles.
-          20-day Scandinavian Wonders & Majestic Norwegian Fjords – A seven night land journey of Denmark, Sweden and Norway precedes a twelve night cruise from Tromso to Leith aboard the MS Hebridean Sky, sailing the Norwegian coastline and its stunning Fjords. Highlights include a private tour of Stockholm’s Vasa Ship Museum, with a special dinner in the museum’s Ship Hall; the chance to travel on the scenic Flåm Railway and in Bergen, enjoy a private recital of Edvard Grieg’s masterpieces.
Guests can choose from two distinct cruise styles - Boutique Collection Cruising which will focus on a particular region or a theme; and Expedition Collection Cruising, whereby guests are taken off the beaten track by APT’s ten-strong Expedition Team of expert guides and lecturers, led by an Expedition Leader.
All cruises sail aboard one of APT’s own fleet of three ‘Sky’ ships, the MS Caledonian Sky, the MS Island Sky and the MS Hebridean Sky and include all tailor made, handpicked shore excursions with local guides.
The APT fleet is unique in that each vessel carries just 114 guests, all of who stay in elegant suites with outside views; and due to the size of each ship, they can dock in ports inaccessible to larger vessels. Onboard features include a library, sun deck, alfresco dining restaurant, beauty salon and ten Zodiacs that enable all guests onExpedition Collection Cruises to travel off the ship to shore together.
APT’s Small Ship Cruises are fully all inclusive, offering complimentary beverages available all day while onboard as well as meals, sightseeing and free Wi-Fi in cabins within one price.
Four SuperDeals are on offer in the new APT Small Ships 2016 brochure. A ‘Fly Free – including Taxes’‘Fly Free, just pay taxes of $950 per person’‘Companion Fly Free’ and ‘Airfare Credit’.
In addition, APT is introducing a new Early Payment Discount whereby guests will save $1,000 per couple when they book and pay for their cruise 10 months prior to departure.
APT is also offering a new Travel with Friends & Save offer – guests who travel with five friends on the same date will save $500 per person.  Both new offers are combinable with all APT SuperDeals, which are valid until 31 October 2015.
See your local travel agent, call APT on 1300 196 420 or visit for further information. 

*Price is inclusive of APT’s new Early Payment Discount. 

True North - Archipelago Adventure - Video

#expeditioncruising editor, Roderick Eime, was aboard the award-winning Australian vessel, True North, for an exploration of the Louisiade Archipelago of PNG. Stories will soon appear in popular press. Check back here soon.
More info:

This video was produced by True North crew and given to passengers as a memento.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

US small ship cruise line, Grand Circle, heading down under


The former Orion II, now with Grand Circle Cruises as Corinthian
[Cruise Weekly] US TRAVEL group Grand Circle Corporation is set to expand its cruising operations into Australasia, with a new vessel to be based in southeast Asia, Cruise Weekly can exclusively reveal.

From next year, the vessel will be based in SE Asia, operating cruises to northern Australia as well as Borneo and Vietnam.

The company is seeking to appoint a “regional manager - small ships” for the region.

“We are also keen to hear from prospective Australian vendors and experienced expedition team
members who are interested in being considered for positions onboard the new ship,” Grand Circle Cruise Line vice-president small ships Joel Katz told CW.

Grand Circle Travel was founded in 1958, and is a large US operator, offering “distinctive international vacations for older Americans”.

It’s a family of brands, including Grand Circle Cruise Line which runs river cruise and small ship voyages via a fleet of 50-250 pax vessels either fully owned or privately chartered and operated exclusively for the company.

Other brands in the family include Overseas Adventure Travel, Grand Circle Small Ship Cruises and the philanthropic arm Grand Circle Foundation.

The new Regional Manager - Small Ships - SE Asia/Australasia role will be responsible for the development of “new programs for our new South-East Asia based small ship operation,” working with regional managers to deliver day-to-day land operations and create a team of on-board program directors.

The company is seeking someone with a strong Asian travel or tourism background, ideally in small ships or expedition cruising.

The company’s Sydney based regional general manager David Thomas confirmed that the expansion would involve a small ship to operate in northern Australia, also cruising into PNG and Indonesia with itineraries commencing from next year.

He said the operation would be primarily targeting Grand Circle’s strong base of US clients.

Further details of the ship and itineraries are expected to be released in the coming months.

Source: Cruise Weekly

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