Wednesday 30 September 2015

New in river cruising from Insider Journeys


Insider Journeys adds 3 new river cruise ships to existing portfolio and introduces river tours to selected Small Group Journeys

Insider Journeys has launched its ‘2015-17 Asian River Cruising’ brochure with itineraries across Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India, and China. The company’s most comprehensive cruising brochure yet, the 90 page guide includes information on three new river cruise ships, the ‘Mekong Eyes’, ‘Pandaw’, and ‘RV Anawrohta’, Insider Journeys’ expanded range and its portfolio of more than 25 Asian river cruises.

As small boat specialists, Insider Journeys has introduced a new product option coupling a Small Group Journey with river cruise to serve the growing demand in the Asian river cruising market. The first such offering is its ‘Mekong & Beyond’ small group journey, which combines a complete river cruise and land tour for a 16 day two country exploration through Cambodia and Vietnam that includes 7 nights’ hotel accommodation and 8 nights’ cruising.

Additional nights cruising have also been added to the ‘Vietnam Discovery’ Small Group Journey with a night’s cruising on the Mekong as well as Halong Bay, and to the ‘Burma Revealed’ journey with two nights on the Irrawaddy.

Managing Director, Paul Hole, says Insider Journeys has combined cruise with land touring in response to passenger demand.

“Trip extensions have become very popular. In the last 12 months, Insider Journeys’ Mekong cruises have seen almost half of our passengers take the ‘Cruise Plus’ option of combining cruise and land arrangements,” says Hole.

The beautifully crafted ‘Pandaw’ ships have also been introduced into the Insider Journeys stable and their new itineraries include:

· A 15 day The Mekong: From Laos to China river cruise on the mighty upper Mekong River, from Vientiane to tropical Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan, China, with an overland side trip to Burma.

From $11,932 (AUD) per person twin share

· An 11 day Red River Vietnam river cruise on the Red River Delta cruising into Ha Long Bay. The RV Angkor Pandaw sets sail from Hanoi on a round-trip adventure that includes scenic national parks, historic villages and hilltribe communities.

From $4,618 (AUD) per person twin share

Paul Hole says Insider Journeys’ Asia River cruising portfolio has expanded rapidly over the past three years.

“We’ve continued to expand our river cruise offerings to keep up with travellers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for new experiences along Asia’s fascinating main rivers. Increasingly, passengers are discovering how river cruising throughout Asia provides a unique opportunity to gain greater access and deeper insights into a way of life that has remained relatively unchanged,” says Hole.

The small boat specialists offer cruise bookings on a range of river cruises across Asia, including the ultra-luxury of Aqua Expedition’s Aqua Mekong. River cruising itineraries are offered on the Ganges (India), the Irrawaddy (Burma), the Mekong (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) and the Yangtze (China). 

For more information and bookings, Insider Journeys’ Asia experts can be contacted on 1300 362 777 or visit

For great travel adventures and stories, follow the Insider Journeys team at, on Twitter @InsiderJourneys 

Aqua Expeditions New Adventures aboard Aqua Mekong


Aqua Expeditions has introduced exciting new adventures for guests to mark the first anniversary in October 2015 of Aqua Mekong's cruises along the Mekong River between Vietnam and Cambodia.

The leader in luxury small ship cruising, Aqua Expeditions is continually researching new opportunities for guests travelling aboard the luxurious boutique Aqua Mekong cruiser to experience fresh and novel local adventures, cultural experiences and outdoor activities which showcase the richness of Southeast Asia.

The sleek and contemporary Aqua Mekong is the only vessel on the Mekong River to operate private tenders - with the fleet of four aluminium launch boats - and bikes taking guests to fascinating local settings not accessible to other cruise companies. All excursions are limited to 10 guests per guide.

Mekong excursions with Aqua Expeditions

The adventures transport guests by boat, foot and bike, past pastoral Khmer scenes of sugar palm fronds, emerald rice fields, floating markets and families travelling by ox cart while they enjoy 'meet and greet' encounters with local villagers, artisans and learned Buddhist monks.

To bring Aqua Mekong passengers deeper than ever into this tropical landscape that has long captivated the imagination of foreign explorers, one can head out on invigorating new excursions by bicycle, tuk tuks or kayak. A unique way to observe the exotic rituals of daily life along the mighty Mekong is on two wheels, stopping to photograph catfish sellers, the planting of rice paddies or local children playing with the family's domesticated water buffalo.

Guests can hop on the bikes to explore the picturesque riverbanks of the Mekong River and stay fit cycling the flat paved and dirt trails while discovering, at their leisure, local village life.

Aqua Mekong passengers have the option of 8 to 15 kilometre biking routes to say hello to a crimson robed monk, photograph stilted Khmer houses and ornately embellished pagodas or, perhaps, enjoy an invitation from a new friend to dine in their nearby home. These all-terrain touring bikes are available for both adults and children.

One can also take advantage of eight double-kayaks throughout various locations in Cambodia. For example, kayaking in Oknha Tey, guests can paddle to see local silk-weavers at work, or kayak the Moat Khla region by Tonle Sap Lake and/or in the waterways in the Kampong Chnnang Province.

Whether it is on two-wheels, in a boat, kayak or on foot, Aqua Expeditions treats all guests with active ways to explore and discover life along the might Mekong.

Aqua Mekong cruises per person twin share in First Deck Suite commence from USD3315 for a 3-night Discovery Cruise, USD4420 for a 4-night Explorer Cruise and USD7735 for a 7-night Expedition Cruise, inclusive of all on-board meals and scheduled shore activities.

For further information and reservations, call 1800 243 152 (Toll Free) or visit

Tuesday 29 September 2015

History is made: First Antarctic cruise by Lindblad in 1966 (Time - Life)


In 1966, Lindblad Expeditions launched their first Antarctic cruises aboard a chartered Argentinian freighter.

Monday 28 September 2015

Quark Expeditions Explorers’ Collection


Bespoke Antarctica and Falkland Islands and Galapagos Itineraries

In honor of its 25th anniversary, Quark Expeditions®, the world's leading polar travel company has introduced the Explorers’ Collection, an assortment of extraordinary expedition experiences for today’s adventure traveler.

A specially curated portfolio of unique adventures, the trips in the Explorers’ Collection showcase Quark’s pioneering pedigree in expedition travel and offer unparalleled access to remote destinations, featuring unique modes of travel and one-of-a-kind accommodation.

The six special itineraries in the Explorers’ Collection are as follows:
  • Bespoke Falkland Islands and Antarctica aboard Small Exploration Boat Hans Hansson – For those interested in intimate, off the beaten path adventures, the 12-passenger Hans Hansson itineraries are ideal. Choose from a Falkland Islands circumnavigation, or a fly/cruise to the most remote coves and inlets of Antarctica to explore remote, rarely-visited areas of the world with two landings each day and longer, flexible onshore explorations.
  • Galapagos Islands aboard Small Expedition Ship Evolution – Explore the legendary Galapagos Islands and interact with sea lions, turtles and other marine life as you sea kayak, snorkel, swim or Zodiac cruise from calm waters, or hike and explore from land. Passengers will discover the diversity of life on the inner islands, as well as from the less traveled, more remote outer islands. Itineraries can also be booked with an Antarctic itinerary, for an epic Equator to Pole adventure.
  • North Pole Express: Barneo Ice Camp – This 3-day expedition features an overnight at this unique fly-in basecamp and temporary Russian scientific station. Passengers spend time in the camp as the scientists and explorers do, and board a helicopter to 90 degrees north for a champagne toast.
  • Arctic Icebreaker Expedition: Arctic Circumnavigation – On board the legendary icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, this circumnavigation travels the legendary Northwest and Northeast Passage, the Canadian High Arctic and Greenland, as passengers experience wildlife, wild lands, and the spectacular beauty of the North.
  • North Pole: The Ultimate Adventure – Board the most powerful icebreaker in the world, 50 Years of Victory, as it crushes through thick pack ice en route to the North Pole. Enjoy aerial helicopter views, search for polar bears on the sea ice, and visit remote Franz Joseph Land.
  • Arctic Watch Wilderness Lodge – At Canada’s northernmost wilderness lodge, guests can witness hundreds of beluga whales, explore the tundra, and take advantage of included adventure activities such as kayaking.
"The Explorers’ Collection caters to travelers who are seeking unique and immersive high adventure experiences," said Andrew White, Quark Expeditions® President. "The trips in the collection will continue to change annually, but will be truly exceptional in expedition travel." “We’re finding passengers are seeking out more adventure in their experiences – they want more unique and intimate ways to explore the world’s most stunning and pristine locales,” White said. “Quark is proud to offer these six trips and several unique modes of travel such as storied icebreakers, small exploration ships and extraordinary basecamps which provide really special access and optimal adventure.”

Sunday 27 September 2015

Eco-tourism in the Philippines: Pamilican, Bohol

#expeditioncruising #itsmorefuninthephilippines #diveplanit

The ability of local and indigenous peoples to work with tourism operators for their own and their environment’s benefits is an important part of sustainable tourism. Expedition cruising and eco-tourism in general is playing an important part in keeping this alive.

Local banca boat used for whale and dolphin watching tours (R Eime)
On my recent visit to the Philippines, our group took a day trip out on a local banca boat, a traditional timber and bamboo outrigger vessel used by locals throughout the 7000-plus islands. These simple boats can trace their design history back more than a thousand years and have been progressively modernised from sails to engines. They range in size from basic 4m fishing canoes to large passenger ferries up to 50m.

Tiny banca boats and canoes on the beach at Pamilican (R Eime)
Here on the tiny (1.75 km2) island of Pamilacan, about 12km offshore from the larger resort island of Bohol, we meet some of the families who exist on subsistence fishing supplemented by tourism. My guide tells me the population is around 1000 persons living in some 300 households.

The men provide labour to the many boat operators in the region as well as operating their own tiny fleet of bancas for dolphin and whale watching tours. In days past, the islanders would hunt whales and manta rays whereas today they maintain a marine sanctuary and manage nearby dive sites like Cervera Shoal, known for sea snakes, eels and massive bucket sponges.

18th century Spanish watchtower now looks over the village (R Eime)
We come ashore in the shadow of a massive 200-something year old stone structure that dates back to the Spanish occupation which, I’m told, was part of a network of five similar watchtowers used by the colonial occupiers to warn against pirates who would raid from Mindanao just to the south.

While we stroll among the few tiny huts nearby, I enjoy feeding our breakfast fruit scraps to a cheery little goat who bleats for more mango skins while chickens and roosters peck around the bases of the coconut palms to which they are tied. A lame bird hobbles away from me and I’m told he is veteran cock-fighter now enjoying something of a retirement. Pigs are also kept.

A young future mariner and his friendly goat (R Eime)

The ladies of the village offer massages to visitors both here and ashore on the beach in front of the resorts. A group of about a dozen men are net fishing a few metres from the beach.

This scene, no doubt, plays out in hundreds of similar locations throughout the Philippines and is an example of how modern eco-tourism can assist local populations, often existing on just a few dollars a day, to earn valuable funds when their traditional subsistence methods are interrupted by large scale fishing and other modern influences.

More: travelled to the
Philippines as a guest of Dept. of Tourism

Friday 25 September 2015

Go On, Play A Round on SeaDream


GOLF buffs need not fear they'll miss out on their weekly round or two when deciding on a getaway aboard boutique mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I or SeaDream II in the Mediterranean in 2016 – over a dozen sailings from May to October will include the chance to play some of the most famous courses in a broad sweep of ports along the coasts of Italy, France, Monaco, Spain and Portugal.

Opportunities include having a game or more pre or post embarking SeaDream I or II for seven or eight night Mediterranean voyages, and in some ports there's even a choice of different courses to play.

Some sailings include the possibility to play golf in a different port every day, and on others on select days; SeaDream Yacht Club arranges guest's tee times, round-trip transfers from vessel to courses, shared golf carts, and will assist with organising rental of any other equipment needed… and for those who want to get even more from their sailing, both yachts have free 36 international course golf simulators.

The cost of golf outings is additional to SeaDream's voyage prices that begin from US$4626pp twin share for 7-days including drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail water-sports in ports where permitted, onboard gratuities, and Government charges and taxes.

And while SeaDream I and II are rated the world's finest boutique passenger vessels carrying a maximum of just 112 guests served by 95 crew, there's no call for formal wear – with smart casual being the norm at dinner.

For full details see travel agents or visit


Adventure Associates' eNews - Sept 2015

Madagascar - Kashmir - Ethiopia - more

Read full newsletter - click above

Thursday 24 September 2015

Polar Tour Operators Hold First Antarctic/Arctic Field Guide Conference


The poles are combining forces in Toronto next week at a unique conference for polar field staff organized by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) in collaboration with its sister organization in the Arctic, the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).

The conference, which runs from 27-29 September, will provide a lively and interactive forum for sharing knowledge and best practice in polar guiding.

This is the first time that a field staff conference has focused on the challenges facing staff and member operators working in both Antarctica and the Arctic. Around the central mission of practicing safe and environmentally responsible travel in both regions, the agenda will focus on education, operational procedures, safety and risk management, conservation, heritage, communications and science support.

Susan Adie, Chair of IAATO’s Field Operations Committee and Expedition Operations Manager for Toronto based, G Adventures said, ‘Field staff are at the front line of our polar operations so not only are they often the first to identify issues, opportunities and future challenges, but can offer potential solutions to those as well. The outcomes from a conference like this will benefit the industry tremendously across all sectors.’

The series of talks and workshops has also attracted representatives from other organizations who work closely with AECO and IAATO including government agencies, science institutes and conservation organizations such as the WWF, Environment Canada, the Antarctic Southern Ocean Coalition and the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust. IAATO and AECO’s current contributions to citizen science will be presented and future collaborations discussed.

Bill Davis, AECO Executive Committee member and VP Operations for Quark Expeditions said, ‘In addition to covering the day to day opportunities and challenges of running of polar operations, the conference will also focus on how tourism is part of a wider global solution to protecting these great wildernesses for future generations.’


AdventureSmith Explorations Expands Antarctica Cruise Program


A rare promotion just released may help make that dream a reality.

Buy One Get One Free Antarctica Sale (One Week Only)

There has never been a better deal on Antarctica cruises than AdventureSmith’s limited “Buy One Get One Free” promotion. But interested travelers need to move fast! The one-week sale begins Sept. 21, 2015 and ends Sept. 25, 2015.

Why go now? Smaller ships plying this region’s waters are slowly being replaced by larger expedition vessels. As ship sizes increase it becomes harder to provide as intimate an experience with meaningful time ashore for all guests, said Todd Smith, founder and director of AdventureSmith Explorations, who has positioned his team as the international experts in cruising Antarctic waters by small ship.

“Antarctica has been ‘discovered’ by mainstream travelers and is on many ‘must-do’ vacation lists. The short season matched with limited departures aboard small ships mean most cruises sail at full capacity. We suggest that travelers book nine to 12 months in advance for the best selection of cruises, cabins and activities. This also helps ensure the best price,” Smith said.

The urgency to travel here now is underscored by environmental threats in addition to global warming: overfishing, invasive species, pollution, exploitation of minerals, oil and gas and even threats from too much tourism.

“People hear reports of declining penguin populations and icebergs the size of Rhode Island breaking off and feel a sense of urgency to see Antarctica now, before it becomes spoiled. It is our hope that industry and humanity will come together to address these issues and Antarctic conservation will take hold to prevent further degradation of the polar environment,” he continued.

“It is our hope that by responsibly sending travelers to experience Antarctica in person we will create an army of advocates for its protection and the larger environmental issues that affect Antarctica and the entire planet.”

AdventureSmith Explorations’ recently added Antarctic ships and cruises for the 2015-2016 season fall in line with this responsible travel. Below is a summary of the additions:


The 88-guest Ushuaia at 278 feet is among the smallest ships operating in Antarctica. Because of its size, it can bring guests closer to land. The ice-strengthened, well-appointed polar vessel offers ample deck space and an open bridge policy that invites guests to observe the navigational operations of the ship. A full complement of inflatable landing craft ensures landings twice daily to access by foot wildlife viewing opportunities on the otherwise inaccessible Antarctic coastline. Evenings after dinner, an Expedition Leader helps guests digest what they’ve seen and discusses the excitement ahead. Each trip aboard Ushuaia plans to visit at least one of the scientific stations to get an inside look into the research taking place in Antarctica. Classic Antarctica is an 11-day expedition cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands. The per-person double rate is from $5,500. Departures are from mid-November 2015 through early April 2016.

Sea Explorer

The 112-passenger, 297-foot Sea Explorer is a small luxury expedition ship offering sea kayaking and trekking expeditions on Antarctic Peninsula Aboard Sea Explorer, a 12-day Antarctic Peninsula expedition. The per-person double rate is from $6,795. Departures are November into February. Before embarkation, the Expedition Team meets guests in Ushuaia, home of Argentinean leather markets and succulent lamb dishes that make Patagonia famous. Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Aboard Sea Explorer is a 20-day expedition from $11,595 per person double. There are two departures: Oct. 29, 2015 and Jan. 30, 2016.

Sea Spirit

This 197-foot luxury ship offers all suites for 116 guests. The Sea Spirit features the amenities of a fine hotel while travelling through and experiencing Antarctica in grand style. Last Discovered Continent is a classic Antarctica itinerary that boasts one of the best staff-to-passenger ratios in the business. This is a 12-day expedition with rates from $5,995 per person double. There are four departures between mid-December and mid-January. Audience with “Kings”, also on Sea Spirit, is 21 days from $10,995 per person double. King penguins are one of the highlights of this itinerary.

Hebridean Sky

For the 2016-2017 season, Sea Explorer is being refurbished and rechristened as the 114-guest Hebridean Skyand will follow the same itinerary as Sea Explorer. The refurbished cruise ships will offer all-suite, 220-square-foot cabins. Reservations for October 2016 and into 2017 are available for the itinerary Falklands, South Georgia & Antarctica Aboard Sea Explorer (in October 2016 rechristened the Hebridean Sky). The rates for this 20-day voyage are from $13,995 per person double.

In addition to the new small ships, routes and itineraries, AdventureSmith has reissued its in-depth Antarctica Cruise Guide to help travelers decide what kind of polar experience and style of ship to book. Also on the AdventureSmith blog, Founder Todd Smith has detailed how to best choose an Antarctic cruise operator, covering things to consider like ship ice class, Antarctic Treaty compliance, experience of guides, operator conservation efforts and trip inclusions, which can vary greatly in this destination.

(AdventureSmith Explorations)

Follow AdventureSmith Explorations:

Galápagos: Conservation In Action


Conservation In Action is an annual celebration and hands-on conservation event that takes place aboard National Geographic Endeavour and National Geographic Islander in the Galápagos Islands from mid-August to mid-September. Details to come for the 2016 Conservation In Action program. Learn more at

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Scenic South East Asia River Cruising Brochure


Scenic has launched its first South East Asia River Cruising brochure which features its full collection of Mekong and Irrawaddy river cruises including a number of new Enrich experiences and Freechoice activities, three new extensions in Vietnam plus a new tour for 2017.

The 2016/2017 program signals the inaugural sailing season for Scenic Spirit which will launch on the Mekong in January 2016 - travelling over eight days between Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Siem Reap, and Scenic Aura; launching in September 2016 on the Irrawaddy and travelling over 11 days between the cities of Mandalay and Pyay.

Both ships provide a boutique and intimate environment with all balcony suites – 34 suites on Scenic Spirit and 22 suites on Scenic Aura. All suites feature separate bedroom, living room and balcony and range in size from Scenic Aura's 24sqm Balcony Suite complete with Scenic Sun Lounge up to Scenic Spirit's impressive 80sqm Royal Panorama Suite which is the largest suite on the Mekong. Scenic Spirit and Scenic Aura also boast a choice of dining venues from a la carte to casual dining, a resort style pool deck and bar area, spacious bar and lounge, Sun Deck with open air cinema, complimentary beverages, butler service for all guests plus a guest laundry. With an almost 1:1 guest­-to-­staff ratio, these ships bring an unprecedented level of luxury to the region.

The program sees the launch of a number of new Freechoice activities including a Red Bridge cooking class in Hoi An; a cycle journey around Hanoi's West Lake; art tour of Saigon; and tour of Dong Ha Hiep Island by sampan. In 2017, guests can also enjoy new Enrich events in Siem Reap including themed gala dinner and Apsara dance performance, and a tethered balloon ride over Angor Wat at sunrise.

Three new extensions allow guests to explore even more of Vietnam – Mai Chau Eco Lodge (Mai Chai and Hanoi), Veteran's Legacy (HCMC, Vung Tau and Nui Dat) and Beach Retreats (Danang, Nha Trang and Long Hai). And a new tour cruise and tour for 2017 – 22 Day Indochina Explorer and Luxury Mekong, travels from the north of Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia, along the Mekong concluding in Vietnam's capital, Ho Chi Minh City.

Scenic is offering fantastic Earlybird offers on bookings made by 31 January 2016. Book any journey to Indochina of 13 days or longer and 14 days or longer to Myanmar and fly free to South East Asia including taxes, a saving of up to $3,070 per couple.

13 Day Treasures of the Mekong, prices starting from $5,345 per person, twin share. Travel over seven nights on board Scenic Spirit and visit the colourful floating markets of Cai Be, the historic town of Sa Dec, and Cambodia's vibrant capital Phnom Penh, Plus enjoy a three night stopover in Siem Reap, Cambodia and a two night stopover in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

14 Day Mystical Irrawaddy, prices starting from $8,195 per person, twin share. Travel over 10 nights between the cities of Mandalay and Pyay and enjoy the rare opportunity to visit Asia of old. Witness the saffron clad monks of Mandalay, and visit the ancient capitals of Inwa and Sagaing, and the majestic temples of Bagan. Plus a two night stopover in Yangon and one night in Mandalay.

The new 132 page Exotic Wonders of South East Asia River Cruising brochure is out now.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Exciting new expedition cruise ship design revealed


The spectacular vessel is designed as a luxury expedition cruise vessel for worldwide operation including Arctic and Antarctic regions for itineraries up to 21 days with 300 passengers on board. The vessel is designed for unrestricted ocean voyages and strengthened for Ice Class 1A service.

Half price Antarctic cruise - limited time offer

Sea Adventurer
Always dreamed of seeing Antarctica? Well, now’s your chance. Eclipse Travel has an amazing 50% off sale on selected Antarctic expeditions for this coming season.

The 10-14 day cruises are aboard Ocean Endeavour, Ocean Diamond and Sea Adventurer, departing from Ushuaia, Argentina or Punta Arenas, Chile offering an in-depth exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula, home to fantastic ice formations and wildlife including the Weddell seal.

This fantastic sale is only available until Friday 25th September for selected travel departures from November 2015 through to March 2016, and must be confirmed immediately.

Please contact or call 1300 575 752 to make the most of this exceptional opportunity! Limited spaces available.

Monday 21 September 2015

Silver Cloud to join Silversea's expedition fleet


Silver Cloud as Expedition Ship - Artist's Rendering-Hi Res.jpg

Silversea Cruises today announced it will move Silver Cloud to its luxury expedition fleet in November 2017.  Destined mostly for polar waters, the elite 296-guest ship that launched the ultra-luxury cruise line will be converted into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment scheduled to start in August 2017.

As an expedition ship, the all-suite Silver Cloud will accommodate 260 guests and also sail on itineraries to non-polar regions.  When sailing Arctic and Antarctic itineraries, the guest complement will be restricted to 200.  Silversea is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) and the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO), and adheres to each organisation's guidelines to ensure sustainable tourism.  These include such measures as limiting the number of guests going ashore in certain areas of the Arctic and allowing for a broader range of Antarctic landing sites for expedition ships with no more than 200 guests.

"Silver Explorer's polar expedition cruises have proven hugely popular with our guests," said Karen Christensen, General Manager and Director Sales/Marketing, Australasia at Silversea. "By converting Silver Cloud into an ice-class ship for our expedition fleet, we will be better positioned to meet the increasing demand for comfortable adventure travel, particularly to the Arctic and Antarctica, destinations that are best explored by small ships specially equipped with ice-strengthened hulls."

Silver Cloud will be the only luxury ice-class expedition ship offering five dining options: The Dining Room, the Relais & Châteaux® restaurant, La Terrazza, The Grill, and in-suite dining. The ship will have the highest space ratio and highest staff-to-guest ratio (nearly one to one) among luxury ice-class expedition ships.  For the expedition team alone, there will be on average one team member guiding no more than twelve guests each.  Plus the ship will be augmented by a fleet of 18 Zodiac crafts for up-close explorations.

The luxury expedition line currently has three all-suite expedition ships, Silver Explorer, Silver Discoverer, and Silver Galapagos.  Collectively, they explore over 500 far-flung destinations, from Africa, Australia's Kimberley Coast, and the Russian Far East, to the Galápagos Islands, the British Isles, and the polar realms.

Guests are enriched by an onboard program of destination lectures, photo presentations, and daily recaps.  Exploratory excursions are complimentary, and led by a team of experts, including marine biologists, ornithologists, geologists, botanists, historians, and anthropologists.

These expedition cruises offer a comfortable, intimate and convivial onboard lifestyle where guests can feel at home as they explore secluded lands.  Guests enjoy ocean-view suites, gourmet cuisine, the personalised service of a butler, and a generous selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities, including complimentary beverages, wines and spirits, a stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, and complimentary WiFi for each guest.

Silversea's 2017 schedule will be announced in the coming days.

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Saturday 19 September 2015

Last minute expedition exclusive to

If you're looking for a close handy and thoroughly enriching South Pacific expedition cruise, our good friends at Heritage Expeditions are offering a red-hot, last minute two-for-one on their 12-day Secrets of Melanesia voyage departing Honiara on October 23 and disembarking Port Vila on November 3.

Contact Heritage Expeditions now to secure your place. Be sure to mention to claim your discount.

Experience the wonders of the Arctic Circle with Silversea Expeditions


Discover the Arctic's remote surroundings, walk across Arctic tundra and taiga, photograph the landscapes of the Midnight Sun, and observe reindeer and Arctic foxes on this unforgettable 12-day expedition voyage aboard Silver Explorer.

Departing Tromsø, Norway on 11 June 2016, Silver Explorer begins her roundtrip voyage with a visit to the Gjesværstappan Islands, where guests can venture out on Zodiacs to catch a glimpse of the numerous seabird colonies.  Travellers can expect to see Razorbills and the majestic White-tailed Eagle, which reside in the quaint two square kilometre nature reserve of the island.  Guests then travel to Murmansk, a unique destination located halfway between Moscow and the North Pole, before porting at the Sem Islands.  Led by Silversea's expert Expedition Team, guests can take advantage of the long daylight hours and explore the spellbinding scenery of the islands, learning about the unique wildlife native to this remote area along the way.

This expedition continues south, cruising along the Kanin Peninsula's coast, porting at the traditional Russian fishing villages of Shoina, Pyalitsa and Chapoma, before sailing through the seldom-seen archipelago of the Solovetskiy Islands, where guests can visit the Solovetskiy Monastery, a well preserved medieval fortress, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Venturing further into the depths of Russia's isolated regions, guests can watch for Beluga whales or delve into the fascinating history and ancient Russian culture with onboard lecturers, as Silver Explorer sails to Arkhangelsk, Morzhovets Island and Kirkenes.

Anchoring off the shores of Skarsvag, guests can admire the picturesque scenery and panoramic views, or, for more adventurous travellers, guests can join members of the Expedition Team for a challenging hike to Nordkapp, retracing the traditional route to the cape. This voyage concludes on 23 June 2016, with guests disembarking in Tromsø, Norway.

Prices are per person, starting from AU$12,350 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 ship; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; complimentary WiFi 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

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Hurtigruten's newest ship 'MS Spitsbergen'


Norwegian explorer cruise company, Hurtigruten, has announced that its newest ship will be named ‘MS Spitsbergen’ after the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago. This very northernmost part of Norway is also where, in 1896, Hurtigruten’s founder Richard With first started explorer tourism in the Arctic.

The name was chosen following a competition in which more than 15,000 suggestions were submitted from all over the world.

CEO Daniel Skjeldam commented “We find MS Spitsbergen to be a very appropriate name as it ties together our history and present-day Hurtigruten. As early as in 1896, Hurtigruten founder and tourism entrepreneur Richard With built a hotel in Spitsbergen and established “The Sport route” with sailings from Hammerfest to Spitsbergen, operated by steamship DS Lofoten. Having built on this heritage, today we are world leading operator of nature-based experiences along the Norwegian coast, in the waters around Antarctica and in the Arctic.“

Explorer tourism is a fast growing industry. MS Spitsbergen adds greater flexibility to Hurtigruten’s global operations as the company now operates two ships offering guests unique nature and culture experiences around the poles as well as 11 ships along the Norwegian coast. In the high North, Hurtigruten now offer voyages around Greenland and Iceland, as well as around Spitsbergen. In the extreme South, Hurtigruten sail guests from South America to the waters around Antarctica.

MS Spitsbergen will initially replace MS Midnatsol on Hurtigruten’s traditional coastal route when she sails down to Antarctica in Autumn 2016. In future it is expected that the new addition will alternate between the coastal route and polar expeditions.

Names from all over the world

CEO Daniel Skjeldam describes the reception of the naming contest as overwhelming. “We have been virtually flooded with suggestions. In addition to posts on the web, we have received letters and postcards, telephones and e-mails and text messages. We have even forthright been stopped on the street. Most proposals of course come from Norway, from continental Europe, especially Germany, and from the UK. But suggestions also came in from the US, Australia, New Zealand and from Asian countries. It makes us grateful and proud that people from all corners of the world feel such an ownership to Hurtigruten.”

The winner of the naming contest, who will be the captain’s guest on a special sailing of MS Spitsbergen, is Erlend Baldersheim (33) from the village of Baldersheim, close to Bergen.

The newest addition to the fleet will have a capacity of 320 guests and 180 berths. The guest area will offer stylish cabins and modern common areas, making it possible to experience the spectacular polar scenery in comfortable surroundings.

About MS Spitsbergen

· Built in 2009 by the Portuguese shipyard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (ENVC).
· Number of guests: 320
· Total bunk capacity: 200
· Gross Tonnage: 7025
· Length: 97.53 m
· Width: 18 m
· Machine: Diesel Electric
· Speed: 17.4 knots

For more information contact your local Travel Agent, email Discover the World on or call 1800 OCEANS (1800 623 267).

SeaDream Yacht Club Worlds Best Niche Cruise Line

SEADREAM Yacht Club has been acclaimed World's Best Niche Cruise Line in a world-wide vote by 12,000 members of the international luxury travel network, Virtuoso.

SeaDream Yacht Club President, Bob Lepisto said the vote had shown the travel industry's faith in SeaDream's intimate and casually elegant voyages that exemplified the company's commitment to excellence.

SeaDream Yacht Club operates the twin mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II that each carries a maximum of just 112 guests in 56 staterooms and served by 95 crew, sailing in the Mediterranean during the Northern Summer and the Caribbean from November to April.

Their "yacht club" lifestyle includes drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail water-sports in ports where permitted, a 36 international course golf simulator on each yacht, gratuities included in prices, all charges and taxes... and with no call for formal wear at meal-times, and for  smart casual attire at dinner.

For full details see travel agents or visit

Monday 7 September 2015

What happens when the lights go out?


Expedition Kitbag: Blackout Survival Kit

So if the power goes off and the lights go out at home, what do we do?

For most of us, it’s time to go looking for the flashlight, only to find there’s no batteries, or they’ve leaked inside the unit, rendering it useless. So we strike a match and burn our fingers looking for that pack of AAs we hid somewhere. Instead we find the scented candle left over from Mothers’ Day 1966 and it even if we find the matches, we know it’s going to smell like a smoldering funeral parlour.

At home, this situation is a comical inconvenience, but what if you are in a foreign hotel or a cruise ship and there is a total loss of power? What if the situation is exaggerated by a fire or other emergency? Stop laughing, it happened to me.

One of the must-pack items in my kitbag has always been a pocket torch and boy, was I glad to have it handy that night on 15th floor of the Westin Edmonton when power went out to the whole building just as I was packing to check out at 5.30am.

So when a product arrived on my desk called ‘Blackout Buddy’, I took notice.

Blackout Buddy
The 240V rechargeable, always ready emergency flashlight and nightlight
There’s actually two of these little ‘buddies’. One is a 240V night light, emergency (4hr) flashlight and blackout alert that you can leave plugged in at home or in your hotel room or ship cabin. If the power goes out the unit automatically illuminates. Endorsed by the Red Cross, it has a RRP of $25.95.

The second is a smaller, always-ready, single use emergency light that needs no batteries. The cute thing about this tiny Blackout Buddy H20 is that it is water (or any fluid) activated making it a much smarter alternative to matches or potentially explosive disposable lighters.

Just add water for up to 72 hours of light
It has a clever magnesium-oxide battery module that is free from mercury, hexavalent chromium, cadmium and lead. Just add water once a day to keep it alight for up to 72 hours. Note, that once turned on, you can’t turn it off and when it’s done, it’s done. RRP $14.95 each or $29.99 for a triple pack.

Now let’s say you need to keep an ear out for weather or fire warnings after the power has gone out. And let’s face it, no one ever has fresh batteries in the old tranny radio. So here’s the potentially lifesaving solution: the FRX1 Hand turbine radio and LED flashlight.

You can charge this little jigger via the supplied USB cable while you have power, or turn the hand crank to charge the batteries when the grid goes down. You can tune into AM, FM or good ol’ shortwave if you remember how. The sound is not Hi-Fi by any means, but more than sufficient to hear emergency warnings or listen to calming music while you wait further instructions. RRP $74.95

All these items can be purchased from Anaconda Stores nationwide or online at

Oceanwide Expeditions Cleans Shores of Svalbard


Oceanwide Expeditions completed the first “Cleaning the Shores of Svalbard” trip of the Svalbard cruise industry. The trip was an eight day voyage to the remote northern part of Svalbard dedicated to picking up garbage from the region’s beaches. An estimated 13 cubic metres of garbage was removed from three beaches in the area of Raudfjorden, the remote Rijpfjorden, and Mushamna in Woodfjorden. Each beach cleaned yielded 4-5 m3 of garbage consisting mainly of plastic of various origins, fishing rope, nets, and floats. The garbage was sorted onboard and with the assistance of Sysselmannen and the Svalbard Environmental Fund it has now been disposed of in a proper manner.

In recent years more and more focus has been on the immense quantity of garbage (in particular plastics) that is dumped into the oceans of the world. Although the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard is very remote, the Gulf Current terminates in this area bringing up many tons of garbage every year. Oceanwide Expeditions is committed to sustainable tourism and is proud to have supported the effort to make a difference.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

All-Aussie cruise line told to sack crew and hire foreigners


Proudly all-Australian: North Star Cruises
According to a report in The Guardian, Australian expedition cruise line, North Star Cruises, have been told by a bureaucrat from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to 'sack crew and hire foreigners' in order stay competitive.

This flies in the face of advice given under the previous government, where foreign-flagged vessels using majority foreign crew are required under cabotage laws to leave Australian waters when transiting between ports. Such laws are designed to protect domestic businesses from international operators governed by less stringent regulations - in this case payment and conditions of crew.

This argument came to the fore when Orion Expedition Cruises, billed as an Australian cruise company,  flew a Bahamanian flag and hired European and Filipino crew, thereby competing against Australian flagged companies (North Star Cruises and Coral Princess Cruises) on an unfair 'playing field.'

Read the full report here.

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Silversea Expeditions - New 2016 Brochure


New quick response codes enhance the reader's experience

Silversea has just released two new brochures detailing the luxury cruise line's incredibly comprehensive collection of ocean and expedition cruises sailing in 2016, when its all-suite, eight-ship fleet will visit over 800 destinations on seven continents. Both print and digital versions of the brochures can be requested by visiting

"Whether you're looking for an exciting adventure in far-off lands, or just a chance to relax and recharge, our new brochures detail a remarkable range of inspired itineraries and enriching programs that will help you create the perfect luxury holiday experience," said Karen Christensen, Silversea’s General Manager & Director Sales / Marketing, Australasia.

An elegant new 192-page brochure details Silversea Cruise's ocean-going voyages, while a separate 157-page brochure for Silversea Expeditions creatively showcases the line's expedition cruises. Both brochures feature new quick response (QR) barcodes that smartphone and tablet users may scan to access the Silversea website.

Following are a few highlights:


Shackleton Centenary Voyages, Antarctica
During January, February, and December, Silver Explorer will mark the 100-year anniversary of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's Endurance expedition with three special 18-day Antarctica voyages offering guests the chance to follow in the footsteps of the great explorer to discover the lands and waterways of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Elephant Island, and the Antarctic Peninsula.

White Sea, Russia
Sailing roundtrip from Tromso in June, Silver Explorer will feature an inaugural 12-day expedition cruise to the isolated White Sea and Kanin Peninsula in Russia's extreme north.

In a first for Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer will visit Myanmar on three voyages during November and December, offering the chance to explore the region’s pristine Mergui Archipelago and Yangon's ancient temples.

Aldabra, The Seychelles
In December, Silver Discoverer departs Male on a new 17-day expedition to the Seychelles, Maldives, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Highlighting this voyage is an inaugural visit to Aldabra, an amazing raised coral atoll that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Galápagos Islands
The expert guides of Silver Galapagos will continue to share their passion for these pristine and biologically diverse islands on two alternating seven-day itineraries exploring the north central and western isles throughout 2016.

For more information contact your travel profession or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit Both print and digital versions of the brochures can be requested by visiting

Sunsail yacht charter in Tonga


Live like royalty on a seven day Sunsail yacht charter in Tonga 

Sunsail is offering a seven-day sailing holiday in Vava’u, the ‘Friendly Islands’ of Tonga. You can expect village feasts, close encounters with humpback whales and warm tropical waters; ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving.

Here are five reasons to visit Tonga on a Sunsail Yacht Charter:

1.     Vava’u is home to the largest population of humpback whales. Visit between July and October when the adult females arrive in tropical waters from the icy Antarctic to give birth to their young.

2.     Maninita is a haven for seabirds. Whilst small white terns perform courtship rituals above your boat, there’s just as much action below the water. Venture into the cathedral-like Swallows Cave in the afternoon when the sunlight streams in, illuminating marine life; multi-coloured stalactites and 200 year-old Tongan engravings on the walls.

3.     Local villagers welcome sailors to Taunga with a feast of tropical fruit, fresh seafood and Tongan delights cooked underground in an umu pit and wrapped in banana leaves. After dinner, you can join in a live traditional song and dance or take a stroll among the coconut groves. Keep an eye out for indigenous Flying Foxes hanging from the fruit trees.

4.     To the Southwest lies Hunga Island, hone to a huge lagoon formed by the crater of an extinct volcano. The 525-acre island is a dense jungle of coconut trees, with plenty of hiking paths to cliffs and lookouts. The lagoon is a completely protected coral reef haven for whales and visitors. Take a 25 minute walk to Hunga Village to visit the friendly locals and try your hand at fishing, before retiring to your yacht to feast on the catch of the day.

5.     A short hop from Hunga Island is Vaka’eitu. Visit Blue Lagoon Resort, an eco-sanctuary with eight large fales, each constructed from local materials. After a day spent snorkeling with whales, sea stars, and tropical fish, dine ashore in the restaurant which offers vistas of the lagoon and surrounding reef. Enjoy the specialty lobster and glimpses of whales frolicking in the clear waters.

Prices start from $4,830 for a seven night holiday on a four-cabin luxury Sunsail catamaran yacht sleeping up to ten people in Tonga. Never sailed before? No problem; add a skipper for $231 per day.

Further information

Cruising to return to North Korea


As reported by Alan Lam in Cruise Business

The dynamic cruise industry in Asia may have just taken a pioneering step towards breaking down a most obstinate barrier of our times. South Korea’s Jeju Cruise Industry Association has just announced plans to launch cruises to North Korea.

Ox Cart in Nampo North Korea
Ox Cart in Nampo North Korea (Raymond Cunningham)

Departing from Jeju Island, the so-called Peace Cruise Line will call at North Korea ports of Nampo, Wonsan, Rajin and Sonbong.

Initially the cruise will be intended for Chinese tourists only, using a Chinese-flagged ship. Cruises on other non-South Korean vessels carrying South Koreans and other nationalities will follow. This will be the first time for a long time South Korean tourists will be able across the maritime border between North and South.

The project will require a substantial investment in North Korea. It is believed that the newly created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank may be a funding partner in building reception facilities.

Won Hee-ryong, the Governor of Jeju, told the Asia Cruise Forum - which has just been held on the island – that the endeavour was to serve as a “messenger of peace through tourism”.

Contrary to popular belief, cruising in North Korea is nothing new. In August 2011 North Korea launched its first cruise on board an ageing, former cargo vessel named Mangyongbong. It was deemed as the “least luxurious cruise in the world”, as the liner was rusty, the cabins were cramped and the Captain’s Table was a help-yourself buffet.

North Korean port city of Nampo has nine docks for large vessels. It is ideal for excursions to Pyongyang. Wonsan has also limited tourist facilities and has served as receiving point for visitors from Japan.

The project, if successfully launched, will attract enthusiastic clientele from all over the world, as North Korea is truly a new frontier of cruise tourism in every sense of the word.

Ski mountaineering – a new activity in Antarctica


Oceanwide Expeditions vessels m/v Ortelius, m/v Plancius, and s/v Rembrandt van Rijn are known as comfortable floating basecamps operating in the remote polar regions of Spitsbergen, Greenland and Antarctica. The ice strengthened and to highest safety standards built expedition vessels function as hubs for multi activity programs like kayaking, diving, camping, mountaineering, photo workshops, hiking and snowshoeing, and ski crossings.

Oceanwide Expeditions now proudly presents the addition of a new activity onboard m/v Ortelius in Antarctica: Ski mountaineering

At the end of the Antarctic summer the glaciers are still covered with snow and conditions are perfect for active people to go out and explore. Untouched mountain tops invite experienced ski mountaineers to indulge in this technical and strenuous activity. Ski mountaineers climb high snow-covered and glaciated peaks and viewpoints, mostly roped up in small groups. It’s a thrilling experienced for those skiers experienced enough to ski downhill individually and master sometimes steep, and potentially dangerous alpine environment. Certified mountain guides are responsible for the safety of the group, they supervise the activity from beginning to end.

Requirements for ski mountaineering

Ski Mountaineering experience, good physical condition and health is essential and must be backed up by a health statement. Participants must be able to master techniques of alpine skiing in off piste terrain (ascent and descent). Each participant is asked to submit a personal questionnaire which should highlight the ski mountaineering experience. The maximum ratio of participants per mountain guide is 8:1.

Special glacier equipment will be provided free of charge:
  • ropes
  • carabiners
  • harnesses
  • ice axes
m/v Ortelius

Participants will bring their personal protective outdoor clothes, ski mountaineering equipment. For individuals who wish to participate in this activity please enquire for a personal registration form with Oceanwide Expeditions reservation departments in Europe or USA.

Ski mountaineering is now available on multi activity basecamp expeditions onboard m/v Ortelius

OTL30, Antarctic Peninsula, 18 – 28 February 2016 ( 10 nights ) , Ushuaia – Ushuaia

OTL31, Antarctic Peninsula, 28 February – 10 March 2016 ( 11 nights ) , Ushuaia – Ushuaia