Thursday 26 November 2015

From aboard Coral Expeditions I, South-East Tasmania.


Weather: Strong winds 35-40 knots. Sea: 3-4m swells.

Coral Expedition I. 35m, 50-passenger catamaran cruises at 12 knots.
At anchor near Woodbridge showing new 'navy grey' hull.
With stunning ocean scenery, precipitous sheer cliffs, fascinating wildlife and rich history, the remote southernmost reaches of Tasmania have been crying out for a dedicated small ship cruise product for years.

Cruise ship visits to the delightful capital city Hobart are nothing new, and the shore-side offering has been growing steadily over the years to the point where a new dedicated cruise ship terminal is now in operation within an easy stroll to the city centre. Many of the traditional cruise ships offer comprehensive shore excursions to the wine regions or historic Port Arthur. Even simple city walks are enriching with precincts like Salamanca Place offering all manner of interesting diversions for casual visitors.

Yet beyond the reasonably accessible city limits lies a whole other world of possibilities.

Recherche Bay, Cockle Creek, Bruny Island and the surrounding national parks to the south are full of great places to visit. While ashore, we take a vigorous hike to the lookout at Fluted Cape on South Bruny Island, to take in the wild scenery and meet a few of the locals like the Swift Parrot and wallabies who live in the park. In the village below, the Bligh Museum is a wonderful, if compact, trove of memorabilia dedicated to the early explorers of the region, particularly William Bligh who anchored here along with the French around the end of the 18th Century.

Enjoying the view from Fluted Cape
The 'holy grail' for expedition ships in this region however is remote Port Davey in the far Southwest National Park. Accessible only by ship or light plane, Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour contain natural treasures that send conservationists and nature lovers into a frenzy. Listed by UNESCO primarily for its rare temperate rainforests and wild rivers, the vast rugged area includes many rare and threatened species of flora and fauna, perhaps even the last redoubt of the legendary Tasmanian Tiger.

Tender landing passengers (dry) directly onto beach near Cockle Creek

Since the late '90s, the more adventurous small ships have attempted to make Port Davey a feature of Tasmanian itineraries. I'm told the first exploration by a modern expedition vessel was by Clipper Odyssey, closely followed by Akademik Shokaleskiy in February 1999 with Clipper Odyssey venturing beyond Port Davey into Bathurst Harbour.

In 2006, Strahan-based small ship operator, World Heritage Cruises, also added Port Davey to their portfolio of overnight Gordon River voyages in the brand new, 24-passenger catamaran, MV Explorer. Ultimately that company withdrew overnight voyages and the ship was sold overseas, deciding instead to stick with their tried and tested day cruises on Macquarie Harbour.

Orion Expedition Cruises followed in early 2006 with the 100m MV Orion, making numerous attempts to enter Port Davey during their west coast season, not always successfully. By 2008, Tasmania was off the menu.

As this was my first time back aboard a Coral Expeditions (formerly Coral Princess Cruises) vessel for several years, it was encouraging to see the company's first all-new ship in tip-top trim. New company owners have injected much needed funds into the fleet upgrade program which will see on-going improvements to all three vessels. Coral Expeditions (formerly Coral Princess) was launched in 1988 to replace the aging Fairmile-class launch and herald a new era for the company which has grown to the three-vessel fleet it is today.


Anyone familiar with Tasmanian waters will tell you things can get pretty hairy with weather blowing straight in from the Southern Ocean. The west coast in particular gets more than its fair share of battering and one of the chief reasons the south west coast remains virtually uninhabited is thanks to this inhospitable treatment.

And here we are on the verge of summer, rugged up against biting winds and chilly temperatures. When the warming sun makes an appearance, it's a delightful respite, like the day it graced us for our hike to Fluted Cape. However the seas have not been kind, with winds whipping up an uncomfortable swell and Captain Nathan of Coral Expeditions I has (so far) delayed our westward attempt in the hope the oceans settle sufficiently to allow a reasonably comfortable passage.

Expedition cruising, as you've read here and elsewhere many times I'm sure, is all about flexibility of itinerary. Because of the nature of the destinations attempted, ships are always at the mercy of the elements, predominantly wind, ice and tides. As such, passengers must bring with them an attitude of preparedness and not be dogmatic about schedules as it will always be the captain's call whether any passage is safe (or not) to attempt.

Voyage plan. (click to enlarge)

Consequently, if you are keen on sampling Coral Expeditions new Tasmanian itinerary, keep your fingers crossed for Port Davey by all means, but be mindful that conditions may well prevent the ship from making the 250km+ roundtrip from South East Cape. Either way, there will be plenty to see and do in the relatively calmer waters of the south-eastern region.

More information:

Sunday 22 November 2015

New expedition ship being built in Croatia


Update January 2016: it can now be revealed that the vessel is being built for Australian company, Scenic. [more] has learned that a new contract has been awarded to Croatian shipbuilder, Uljanik, for a 237-passenger, 10,000GT luxury cruise ship for delivery in 2018.

Based on those dimensions, the new ship would be the same general size as Ponant's current fleet the latest of which, Le Lyrial, was built by at Fincantieri's Ancona (Italy) shipyard.

Uljanik has not disclosed the identity of the purchaser, but new ships are also expected from Lindblad and Seabourn in 2018. [Stop Press: Lindblad reveals newbuilds]

Other designs fitting this broad category include:

STX France’s Project Ulysseas, a 145m, 200-passenger design revealed in March this year.

Knud E Hansen’s expedition ship design with 150 cabins and heavy-duty, ice-rated hull.

Sunstone Project Unlimited, first muted as far back as 2007 is a US design for a hi-tech ice class expedition ship.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Tales from the Arctic. Aaron Russ explores the Northwest Passage.


Aaron Russ - Wild Earth GM

Aaron Russ, Wild Earth Travel's General Manager, can often be found leading expeditions on board small ship cruises around the world. He has led well over 100 small ship expeditions to the world's most interesting regions, with a particular favourite being the Polar Regions.

Aaron is always keen to share his experiences with our community of interested travellers. Read an excerpt of his trip report below to hear more about his experiences leading an expedition across the Northwest Passage, where Polar Bears hunted Beluga Whales, indigenous people generously shared their local traditions and the jawdropping scenery continued to amaze.

Aaron also recently led expeditions around Svalbard, read his Svalbard Trip Report here.

I have previously had the opportunity to explore the Canadian Arctic and Greenland extensively in the course of my time as an Expedition Leader, but I knew that this voyage would be different. Sailing from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Nome. Alaska we will complete a full transit of the NorthWest Passage sailing from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean via the Canadian Archipelago and northern coast of Alaska. This epic voyage following in the footsteps of the great Norwegian Explorer, Roald Amundsen, is a 22 day voyage that sees us traversing nearly 5000nm and a third of the globe through one of the most isolated regions on earth.

We fly into Greenland on a specially organised charter flight from Montreal, leaving behind the late summer heat and landing just north of the Arctic Circle in Kangerlussuaq. Our ship Le Boreal waits at anchor in the fjord and with all aboard we depart for the 100+ nautical mile journey to the open ocean. Along the way we pass vast acreages of tundra where the occasional Musk Ox can be seen grazing in the distance. In total our group is just shy of two hundred passengers, spread across 4 spacious decks of Le Boreal. While this is a larger group by expedition standards at no time does the ship seem crowded and with a staff or 18 and crew of 145 every detail is taken care of.

To read more about Aaron's epic Arctic adventure, click here.
Click here to view Wild Earth Travel's small ship cruises throughout the Northwest Passage.
To view more of Aaron's images from the Northwest Passage, click here.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Fire aboard Ponant Le Boreal. Passengers evacuated. No injuries reported.


Reports reaching us from various sources suggest a fire has broken out aboard Ponant's luxury expedition ship, Le Boréal, apparently in the engine room as it approached the Falkland Islands.

Royal Navy helicopter plucks passengers from the deck of Le Boreal

There were no injuries to passengers or crew from the fire, which was "of a technical nature" and has been extinguished, the line says.

View of liferaft from Port Stanley rescue helicopter.
Pilot Scott Robinson lifted 25 persons from this raft.
Rescue crew member, Terry Mooney, comments on Facebook: "a fire in the engine room, everyone evacuated except 11 crew, it is now under tow. 2 RAF and 1 Bristow winching and 2 BIH evacuating the people to MPA. fire and emergency services out assisting with the evacuation of people. busy day."

Ponant says passengers were transferred to sister ship L’Austral,  also was in the region, and are being taken to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands to be repatriated to their homes. The remainder of the Le Boréal sailing has been cancelled.

Royal Navy River Class Patrol Vessel HMS Clyde, was diverted to assist in the operation (MoD)
The Falkland Islands government later reported that all passengers from the Le Boreal's life rafts had been safely transferred to L'Austral, which was sailing for Stanley. The remaining 78 (mainly crew and 12 pax) who were transferred to land by SAR helicopters have now arrived in Stanley by coach via Mount Pleasant.

Le Boreal is now anchored safely with captain and skeleton crew on board.
More at Cruise Critic 

- this report will be updated as news comes to hand

PONANT announces new destinations for 2016 - 2017

Extraordinary voyages that include South Africa, Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands for the first time, plus new itineraries in the Pacific, Latin America and Asia

French Luxury & Expedition cruise line PONANT has just released an expansive brochure featuring an enticing range of itineraries for sailings between September 2016 and May 2017.

The 140 page brochure, available through travel agents or direct from PONANT in Sydney, is also available for download

For the first time PONANT ships will visit South Africa, voyaging from Cape Town to Durban, visiting the rarely visited Scattered Islands in the Mozambique Channel, and on to the idyllic islands of the Seychelles archipelago.

The brochure details a selection of 62 luxury voyages, 28 designated as Expeditions, with itineraries that include Japan, Vietnam, Australasia, Java, Borneo, Tahiti and Melanesian islands, east and west coasts of South America, the Caribbean, Africa and Antarctica.

Varying between 7 and 17 nights, but mostly of 10 nights duration, those with wanderlust can sign on for extended voyages - Grand Voyages that feature a 79 night itinerary wending from Hong Kong to Auckland; 45 nights from Panama to the Antarctic Peninsula; 51 nights from Milford Sound to Osaka, including Indonesia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Sub-Antarctic Islands; or 54 nights from Ushuaia, Argentina, crossing two oceans and including visits to remote British Overseas Territories, Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale Island and Gough Island, en-route to the Seychelles Islands.

Whether it be dramatic Fogo, 'the island of the volcano'  in Cape Verde, mythical Easter Island, far flung South Georgia and the Falkland Islands, the eco-systems of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers,  or the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay, the voyages in this brochure will entice potential travellers interested in engaging, adventurous voyages, as well as those seeking a luxury cruise, happy to just settle back and relax, complimentary drink within reach.

Extend the holiday experience with well conceived shore excursions and land-based pre-cruise options. In South Africa, visit Zulu villages in Phezulu Reserve, while Pumba Private Reserve provides the chance to see the famous Big 5 (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant). From Pisco, South America, take a flight over the extraordinary Nazca Lines, an archaeological enigma of gigantic size. Visit the beautiful temples of Prambanan and Borobudur in Java or experience the biodiversity of the Kinabatangan River, home to Proboscis monkeys and endangered Orang-Utans. In Cambodia, the Kingdom of Angkor awaits your pleasure. The brochure provides more tempting options.

PONANT's luxurious small ships: L'Austral, Le Soléal, Le Boreal and Le Lyrial, represent the youngest fleet in the world. With a maximum of 132 staterooms and suites (just 122 on Le Lyrial), enjoy the difference PONANT offers, including, for traditional sailors, cruising the Caribbean or Cape Verde islands under sail onboard the classic three masted yacht Le Ponant.

Enjoy French ambiance and style in luxurious surroundings with the amenities of large ships and the benefits of small ship cruising - access to lesser visited places, travelling in the company of like-minded fellow guests, attentive crew, chic surroundings - the feeling of being on your own private yacht rather than a floating mega mall.

Some voyages are designed as pure luxury cruises, perfect for relaxing holidays in style, while others have the added designation of Expeditions, taking advantage of the ships' compact size and manoeuvrability to probe hidden waterways, before launching Zodiac expedition craft for adventurous close-up opportunities. Throughout these cruises, specialist lecturers will enhance the experience, while Expedition voyages will also have a specialist expedition team on hand to guide, inform and enhance the experience.

All is revealed in the brochure.

Email to request your copy of the PONANT 2016 to 2017 voyages brochures and start planning.


•  Please note that all pricing exampled below is per person, twin share. Pricing is yield managed, reflecting current advance purchase Ponant Bonuses, many at 30% savings, currently available. 14 voyages feature special Single Traveller fares. Fares are yield managed and prices will increase as space is sold.

62 Itineraries range from 7 to 72 nights, many including Complimentary Excursions

From A$6,380 pp twin share for a 12 night Christmas voyage - The Mysteries of Melanesia - Cairns to Port Vila: 16th December 2016, L'Austral. Twin share, Deluxe Stateroom, private balcony, deck 3. (25% Ponant Bonus Fare)

From A$5,600 pp twin share for a 12 night cruise - Cordillera & Andean Secrets -   Valparaiso to Guayaquil: 18th March 2017, Le Boreal. Twin share, DeLuxe Stateroom, private balcony, deck 3. (30% Ponant Bonus Fare)
From A$5,360 pp twin share for a 7 night cruise - Cape Verde - Praia to Praia: 12th November 2016, Le Ponant. Twin share, Marie Galante Stateroom, Ocean View cabin, (30% Ponant Bonus Fare)

From A$9,370 pp twin share for a 15 night Expedition cruise - Scattered Islands & Seychelles - Durban to Mahe: 2nd April 2017, Le Lyrial. Twin share, DeLuxe Stateroom, private balcony, deck 3. (30% Ponant Bonus Fare)

From A$38,200 pp twin share for a 79 night Grand Voyage cruise - Hong Kong to Auckland: 13th November 2016, L'Austral. Twin share, Prestige Stateroom, private balcony, deck 4. (Ponant multiple voyage Bonus Fare applied)


Details of all PONANT 2016 - 2017 voyages including itineraries, pricing, pre cruise options and shore excursion highlights are available at:

Contact your travel agent, or PONANT on Australia: 1300 737 178 or + 612 8459 5000 / New Zealand: 0800 44 32 62, or email to request a copy of the 2016 - 2017 brochure                          

Further information available on the website:

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Quark's Ocean Endeavour hits ice. Forces cancellation of sailing.

Quark Expeditions Inc. had an incident involving the ship Ocean Endeavour near the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica (Lat/Lng:-62°21.0239‘, -62°18.6631‘) at approximately 3:30 AM local time Sunday 15 November.

Ocean Endeavour sustained some damage above the water line to the aft port side of the vessel after encountering ice. There are no passenger or crew injuries, and there has been no damage to the environment. The Master of the vessel performed temporary repairs to ensure safe passage north to Ushuaia for arrival as scheduled tomorrow 17 November.

Due to this unexpected incident, the Ocean Endeavour will need to undergo repairs and a Maritime Authority inspection. Consequently, Quark has made the difficult decision to cancel the Nov. 17, 2015 departure.

Passengers booked on the sailing are being given a full refund, and the company will also cover flight costs not reimbursed by travel insurance, up to $500 per person. If passengers want to rebook for the current season, Quark will move them to other Antarctica sailings, including those that are longer, at no additional cost, or rebook for next year at the same price they paid this year.

Source: and Cruise Critic

Thursday 12 November 2015

Lindblad celebrates 50 years. Memorabilia search.



Renowned expedition travel company searches for memorabilia to mark the first non-scientific mission to Antarctica and birth of a new travel category

In 1966 Lars-Eric Lindblad led the first ever citizen-explorer expedition to Antarctica - at the time it was almost as extraordinary as a lunar launch would be today. It also marked the creation of the category of expedition travel.

Lars-Eric opened up remote regions of the world and countless opportunities for so many, helping them to experience and think of the planet differently. In 2016 Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic will honour Lars-Eric’s vision and courage in a myriad ways as they mark the 50th anniversary of these two major milestones.

Their efforts begin with a search for memorabilia from Lindblad voyages in the 60s or 70s – from the legendary first expedition to Antarctica in 1966 to other remote parts of the world. The search is on for:

· Expedition photos – ideally with Lars-Eric Lindblad and/or his expedition team

· Vintage ship photos or photos aboard the ship

· Original voyage documents including vintage luggage tags, patches, pins or other collectibles: jackets, t-shirts etc. plus any short Lars-Eric stories/anecdotes

· Postcards or letters from people on Antarctica or other voyages

The collection of memorabilia will be used in a multitude of ways, including being featured (with credits) in the updated version of Lars-Eric Lindblad’s autobiography, Passage to Anywhere that will chart the history of expedition travel from 1966 to now.

To share your materials, send negatives and/or collectibles via tracked mail (please insure any items of value to you) to: Lindblad Expeditions, c/o Rebecca Orman, Level 2, 8 West Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060. Small digital files should be emailed to; and large digital files can be uploaded to Items will be photographed and returned via tracked mail.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Aranui 5 Arrives in Tahiti


Aranui Cruises’ new ship Aranui 5 has arrived in its new home - Tahiti.

With the dramatic peaks of Moorea in the distance, the 126-metre long freighter cruised into Papeete for the first time yesterday to a traditional water jet welcome from local tug boats.

Aranui 5 will now spend a month in port making final preparations for its maiden voyage on December 12.

The inaugural cruise coincides with the Marquesas Art Festival - held in the far-flung archipelago once every four years - providing guests with a rare double thrill of local ceremonies at each maiden port as well as a spectacular celebration of Polynesian culture and tradition during the ship’s call to Hiva Oa.

Aranui’s Regional Representative Australia New Zealand Laurent Wong said he was thrilled Aranui 5 had arrived in time for the arts festival.

“Guests travelling on our maiden voyage will truly have the trip of a lifetime as the first to enjoy the luxurious comfort of our new freighter as well as experiencing the Marquesas during a time of brilliant colour and activity,” Mr Wong said.

“Aranui 5 has been a long time in the making and we are so excited that she has finally arrived in her new home.”

The custom-built dual-purpose vessel replaces Aranui 3 and will continue to dispense cargo to ports across the Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands while passengers disembark and explore the islands.

With capacity for 254 passengers, Aranui 5 offers a range of accommodation options, from the operator’s first single staterooms to new premium and deluxe categories, styled in a natural colour palette, with Polynesian flourishes including Marquesan-inspired décor and Paul Gauguin prints.

To cater to the demand for balcony cabins, more than half of the ship’s rooms (60) feature a private balcony - five times more than offered on Aranui 3.

The new cruise freighter also offers suites with king beds, airconditioned public spaces including a restaurant, two conference rooms, lounges, a library, a computer room, a boutique, a swimming pool with a whirlpool, a fitness room, a spa and four bars, including the popular Sky bar.

Aranui’s 14-day roundtrip cruises from Papeete visit Nuku Hiva, Ua Pou, Tahuata, Fatu Hiva, Hiva Oa, Ua Huka in the Marquesas, Takapoto and Rangiroa in the Tuamotus and the famed Society Island of Bora Bora. The freighter line dispenses a lifeline of food, fuel and other staples to remote island ports while passengers disembark and explore 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.

Packages for Aranui 5’s April 30, 2016, departure start from $6363* including all meals, excursions and wine with lunch and dinner onboard.

n.b Aranui 5 replaces Aranui 3 as the number 4 is considered bad luck by the third generation Tahitian-Chinese family who own the cruise company.

For more information or to book visit or call 03 9449 3778.

*Subject to availability, conditions apply.

Seabourn Launches New Kayak Excursions in Antarctica


Ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn is bringing its guests even closer to the majestic and unspoiled natural wonders of Antarctica with new Ventures by Seabourn kayaking excursions.

Launching directly from Seabourn Quest’s fold-out watersports marina, guests will have the unique opportunity to explore Antarctica’s exceptional scenery and wildlife close up and at sea level.

Led by qualified guides, Seabourn guests can paddle amidst glistening white-blue icebergs, penguins, curious seals and other wildlife in specially designed cold climate dry suits. In addition to Antarctica, Ventures by Seabourn optional kayak excursions will also be offered at South Georgia Island and Port Stanley (Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas).  

“The wildlife and wonders of Antarctica never fail to amaze, and Ventures by Seabourn allows our guests yet another up close and personal opportunity to experience its natural beauty,” Seabourn Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales John Delaney said.

“With our knowledgeable world class expedition team leading the kayak adventures, it’s an off-ship excursion that guests won’t want to miss and will never forget.”

Introduced to Seabourn Quest this year, Ventures by Seabourn is an informative, educational and exhilarating way for guests to enhance their cruise experience. The optional excursions are guided by knowledgeable and experienced expedition teams of scientists, scholars and naturalists who are part of the vessel’s Seabourn Conversations program. In Antarctica, Seabourn Quest’s kayak guide will be Matt J. Dolan, who has kayaked the entire Inside Passage from Seattle to Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska – a journey that encompassed more than 2000km and a feat few have accomplished.

Beginning November 29, 2015, Seabourn Quest returns to Antarctica for its third season of four 21- to 24-day voyages between Valparaíso, (Santiago) Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Each includes days exploring the Chilean coast and fjords, Beagle Channel, Glacier Alley, the breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park, the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, Montevideo and six days of cruising and landings on the Antarctic Continent in uncompromised Seabourn luxury. An extended 24-day itinerary departing December 20, 2015, will include two days exploring the sub-Antarctic wildlife Eden of South Georgia, renowned for its beauty and its vast, teeming rookeries of king penguins and other seabirds, as well as breeding elephant and fur seals.

Fares for the 21-day Antarctica cruise on Seabourn Quest departing Buenos Aires on November 28, 2016, start from $19,500* per person double occupancy.

*Subject to availability, conditions apply

For more information see a licensed travel agent, call 13 24 02 or visit

Silversea 2017 Expedition Cruises



Silver Discoverer in sub-Antarctic

Silversea's luxury expedition fleet will expand to four ships in November 2017 when Silver Cloud joins Silver Explorer, Silver Discoverer, and Silver Galapagos.  Over 100 expedition cruises will explore the world's most fascinating and remote regions.  Featured among dozens of inaugural calls are such places as Ampangorinana, Nosy Komba (Madagascar); Aride Island, Seychelles; Maheshkhali Island, Bangladesh; Makura Island, Vanuatu; Isle of May, Scotland; and Grimsey Island, Iceland.

Fresh from an extensive refurbishment and conversion to an ice-class expedition ship, Silver Cloud launches a series of Antarctica voyages in November and December, featuring itineraries from 10 to 19 days, and sailing mostly roundtrip from Ushuaia.

Silver Explorer in Greenland
Silver Explorer's schedule retains its ever-popular expedition cruises to Antarctica, South and Central America, the British Isles, Northern Canada, Greenland, and Arctic Norway.  Of special note is a 15-day expedition (7719) focused on Greenland and the Canadian Arctic.  Sailing 31 August 2017 from Kangerlussuaq to St. John's, this voyage features a rare visit to Canada's remote Torngat Mountains National Park, renowned for its spectacular natural scenery.

Silver Discoverer's six expedition cruises along Australia's Kimberley Coast from March to May highlight an exotic program that encompasses Madagascar, Seychelles, Indonesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Russian Far East, and remote Alaska.  On the schedule is a new 16-day, Colombo-to-Kolkata sailing (9704) departing 11 February 2017, to explore the Andaman Islands and make the first-ever cruise ship visit to Bangladesh, with explorations of Chittagong, Maheshkhali Island, and the Sundarbans, one of the world's largest mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Silver Galapagos will again operate year-round voyages exploring the pristine and biologically diverse islands of the Galápagos.

For all-inclusive at its most inclusive, Silversea is leading the way.  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, onboard gratuities, and complimentary WiFi for each guest.

Voyages for Silver Muse, scheduled to debut in early 2017, will open for reservations in the coming weeks.

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

Experience an extraordinary Diving and Wellness expedition around Australia and Indonesia


Embark on a thrilling exploration of the iconic top end of Australia and the exotic islands of Indonesia on this 14-day specialty scuba-diving and wellness expedition aboard the luxurious Silver Discoverer.

Departing Cairns on 04 October 2016, Silver Discoverer sails to Lizard Island and Ribbon Reef in the picturesque Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site, where guests can explore the stunning submerged ecosystem and encounter spectacular marine life, with Silversea Expeditions' first-class diving and snorkelling expedition team. Silver Discoverer then sails to the secluded and uninhabited island of Little Boyndong Reef a nesting site for Pied Imperial Pigeons.  While here, guests are offered the opportunity to enrich their travel experience with an onboard lecture from Silversea's expert marine biologist who will introduce guests to the many inhabitants of the reef.

Silver Discoverer continues her journey along the rugged coastline of northern Australia porting at Thursday Island, before travelling to the treasured havens of Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island, Seven Spirit Bay and Tiwi Island.  Here, guests can marvel at the traditional Aboriginal rock art, experience a totem dance and discover local cultures, with the rare privilege of a visit to the ancestral Arnhem Land, granted by Tribal Elders. Anchoring in the majestic capital of the Northern Territory, guests can visit the George Brown Botanic Gardens or the Crocosaurus Cove, join a "heritage walk" around the harbour or soak up the sun at the famous Mindil Beach.

Silver Discoverer then sets sail toward the breathtaking Indonesian islands of Alor, Kabaena and Sulawesi.  Guests can explore the spectacular reefs with a diving or snorkelling adventure, enjoy a traditional cultural performance at the hilltop village of Takpala, or relax on the white sandy beaches whilst admiring the breathtaking landscapes of ancient volcanoes.  Within these rarely visited locations, guests will be welcomed by a village Chief, view stilt houses and view a myriad of endemic bird species such as the Sulawesi Serpent Eagle.  An overnight tour to Tana Toraja allows guests to explore Torajaland, where the "Stonehenge of Indonesia" awaits, as well as hanging graves and the rice barns that belonged to the area's royal family. This voyage then concludes in Balikpapan, Indonesia, with guests disembarking on 18 October 2016.

As a speciality scuba-diving* expedition, experienced divers onboard are afforded the opportunity to see the top diving sites together with our Expedition Team and Dive Masters. Aboard Silver Discoverer, a team of experts which includes marine biologists, environmentalists, ecologists and geologists will be on hand to share their extensive knowledge of the region.  A dual scuba and wellness voyage is also designed to improve your well-being by providing a complete onboard programme of Yoga and stretching classes, spa treatments and daily healthy menus.

For all bookings received and paid for in full before 10 December 2015, guests can take advantage of Silversea's 10% early booking bonus.  Prices are per person, starting from AU$15,250 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.

*The exact days and dive locations are determined by tides, local conditions and the onboard Dive Masters.  Space is limited and guests must prove their requirements of diving certification.

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

Seadream's unique sail into ancient Greece and Albania

A whole 9-days indulging the luxury lifestyle of world-leading mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II in June of next year, will embrace a half-dozen Greek ports and islands renowned for their archaeological treasures including sites for some of the earliest Olympic Games, historic Byzantine period ruins, and tiny little-known tourist gems in the renowned Cyclades Islands.

You'll quickly have such names rolling off your tongue as Delphi, Olympia, Sparta, Paros, Parikia, Sifnos, Hydra… and come home boasting of transversing the 6.4km Corinth Canal begun by Emperor Nero in 67AD, but not completed until 1893.

There's even a day at Sarande that's one of the greatest classical cities on the Albanian Riviera, with an optional visit to the nearby 2,500 year old ruins of UNESCO-listed Butrint.

SeaDream II that has just 56 staterooms for a maximum 112 guests served by 95 crew, will sail this unique 9-day roundtrip voyage from Athens' port of Piraeus on June 18 2016. Its priced from US$6548pp twin share, including drinks from the open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail water-sports where permitted, onboard gratuities, and Government charges and taxes.

And there's no call for formal wear – smart casual being the SeaDream norm at dinner.

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

For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Aurora Expeditions' Kimberley Coast Cruise - offer


Four-Night Broome Eco Beach Escape for Just $100 with an Aurora Expeditions' Kimberley Coast Cruise
Aurora Expeditions' is offering travellers who book on one of their 2016 Kimberley Coast cruises before 31 December 2015 the chance to add a Deluxe Broome Eco Beach escape at the award-winning Ramada Eco Beach Resort for just $100 per person. Travellers will enjoy four nights in a superbly appointed eco villa, with plenty of time to relax and unwind in this spectacular Kimberley setting either before or after their Aurora Kimberley cruise.

Located just an hour's drive south of Broome in the pristine and untouched Kimberley wilderness, the four-night Eco Beach escape offers accommodation in an eco garden-view villa, daily continental breakfast and return Broome transfers, as well as a great range of nature-based activities (surcharge applies) to complement their Kimberley Coast experience.

For those opting to start their journey with the Eco Beach stay, they will be transferred back to Broome to set sail aboard the 44-passenger Coral Expeditions I (formerly known as Coral Princess), to discover the remote and astounding Kimberley coastline between Broome and Darwin. Those starting the expedition in Darwin will have the choice to enjoy their Eco Beach stay at the end of their trip.

Each 11-day Kimberley Coast expedition offers exciting exploration of the region such as the Wandjina and Gwion Gwion rock paintings on Bigge Island, the marine life of Montgomery Reef, a thrilling Zodiac ride through the Horizontal Falls and much more. Each shore landing is made via a purpose-built landing craft, the Explorer, for easy transfer from ship to shore.

Led by Kimberley specialist and co-author of Our Year in the Wilderness, the inspirational account of a 12-month experience living off the land in West Kimberley with his wife Susan, Mike Cusack shares his unprecedented knowledge of the area throughout the voyage including an optional day trek to the old Kunmunya Mission where he and Susan spent their challenging year.

Aurora Expeditions' team of expert naturalists interpret the environment during landings and through talks and lectures on board. Also available in 2016 is a complimentary art program led by Australian artist and author, Alasdair McGregor, inviting budding artists to bring their pens and pencils to capture the colours of the Kimberley.

Aurora Expeditions' 11-day Kimberley Coast expeditions start in Broome on 23 May and 13 June 2016 or in Darwin on 3 June 2016. Prices start from AU$7,790 per person, twin share and include shipboard accommodation and meals, daily shore landings, educative talks and lectures, transfers and a memento photobook.

Travellers who book on one of Aurora Expedition's 2016 Kimberley Coast departures before 31 December 2015 will have the chance to add an exclusive Deluxe Eco Beach Escape offer for just an extra $100 per person. The offer includes 4 nights accommodation at Ramada Eco Beach Resort in an eco garden view villa, daily continental breakfast and return Broome transfers. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information contact Aurora Expeditions on 1300 061 490 or visit

Costa Rica and Panama 'Nature, Nests and Nautica of Central America'


The Nature, Nests and Nautica of Central America. Costa Rica land tour follows Panama cruise

Central America is one of the world's richest habitats for untamed wildlife. Nature lovers are amazed by sloths, howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-faced capuchins and butterflies flitting through lush, primary rainforest.

Cruise Traveller is offering a way to experience this incredible part of the world in depth next October. A new holiday features a cruise operated by Un-Cruise Adventures, using an ideal, boutique-size ship.

The cruise is followed by a 10-night exploration of Costa Rica's diverse natural wonders – a small-group tour that presents adventure in comfort.

'The Nature, Nests and Nautica of Central America' holiday lasts 19 nights and concentrates on Panama and Costa Rica. The ship is Safari Voyager, carrying no more than 64 guests in 33 cabins. Safari Voyager, fully refurbished this year, comes complete with personal comforts, window-lined lounge with 270-degree views, cosy library and elegant dining room.

'The Nature, Nests and Nautica of Central America' costs from A$13,729 twin share per person. That includes:

return flights from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne to Panama City and back from San Jose (Costa Rica);
  • a seven-night cruise from Panama City to San Jose aboard Safari Voyager;
  • a 10-night small-group tour in Costa Rica, including stays in resort spas and nature reserve hotels.
All meals are included during the cruise (as are premium spirits, fine wine, craft beers and non-alcoholic beverages). All breakfasts and many main meals are included on the 10-night Costa Rica expedition.

The holiday gets under way on the right note on 28 October 2016 with a flight to Panama and a night's stay at the Bristol Hotel Panama City, an excellent property and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group. After breakfast next day, set out to join Safari Voyager.

For more information, contact:

Cruise Traveller, Boutique Voyage and Cruise Specialists
Freecall 1800 507 777 or (07) 5575 8094.


New cruise line in Myanmar announces maiden departures


The Strand Cruise, a new river cruise line in Myanmar, has announced details of two Christmas and New Year 2015 maiden voyages between Bagan and Mandalay, as well as a special launch offer valid for sailings from January-March 2016.

During the Christmas and New Year 2015 sailings, each passenger booking at published rates can be accompanied by a companion sharing the same cabin on a complimentary basis. The two departures are scheduled for December 22 and 29, 2015, and follow The Strand Cruise’s regular four-night itinerary on the Ayeyarwady River between Bagan and Mandalay, with added inclusive experiences for its 54 guests, as well as a Golden Age of The Strand Christmas Day gala dinner or New Year’s Eve party. The first ten cabins booked on these two December sailings will also receive a complimentary hot air balloon ride over the ancient temple site in Bagan. Rates for the Strand Cruise’s four-night maiden voyages in December are from $3,592 per person and for each passenger making a booking, their companion sharing the same cabin will travel on a complimentary basis.

Following its two maiden voyages, the ship will commence its regular schedule on January 4, 2016, offering three-night sailings from Mandalay to Bagan departing every Friday and four-night sailings between Bagan and Mandalay departing every Monday. There is a special launch offer available for sailings from January to March 2016 of 20 percent off the high season rate. During this time, the three-night journey between Mandalay and Bagan will be from $2,592 (usually from $3,240) per person based on double occupancy, and the four-night journey between Bagan and Mandalay will be from $2,874 (usually from $3,592) per person based on double occupancy.

Shore excursions will take in Myanmar's major landmarks, uniquely offering a visit to the U-bein bridge on both north- and south-bound departures, and an exclusive mooring overnight at Ava on the four-night itinerary, allowing Strand Cruise passengers access to the temple of Maha Aungmye Bonzan after the crowds have departed from 5 p.m. until the following morning, when the monks of Ava will join passengers for a farewell.

Rates quoted include all excursions and activities as described in the set itinerary, three meals during full sailing days, breakfast on day of disembarkation, soft drinks and local beer, house wine during meals, port charges, English speaking guides (alternative language guides can be provided on request subject to availability), satellite Wi-Fi in all cabins and public areas and complimentary international daily newspapers available on guest’s digital tablets.

Passengers booking one of the two Strand Suites will have added extras included in their rate, including a one-hour spa treatment of their choice, a night at The Strand Hotel pre- or post- cruise and private airport transfers between The Strand Cruise and the airport.


Hurtigruten announces upgrade of coastal fleet



Hurtigruten has announced a refurbishment programme that will see four of its coastal ships under-going a total makeover in 2016. The company is already undertaking a total refurbishment of the newly acquired MS Spitsbergen.

They have also announced plans to operate MS Spitbergen as an additional ship on the Norwegian coastal route next summer, before she officially takes the place of MS Midnatsol in autumn 2015.

"We are a first mover company and we are now reinventing the Hurtigruten experience. By combining tradition, innovation and sustainability, we aim to ensure the position as world leader in nature-based explorer travels in polar waters", says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.


MS Polarlys will be the first ship to be refurbished in January 2016, during a 22 day programme of round the clock works. Upgrading of MS Kong Harald, MS Nordkapp and MS Nordnorge will follow.

The ships will be fitted with a modern Scandinavian interior, reflecting the coastal landscapes of the Arctic.

"The interior will reflect the breath-taking coastal landscapes we sail past. We have made it stylish and yet unpretentious. The colors are earthy and from the coast and the sea. Many of the materials are natural, such as wood, slate and leather" says Magnus Zetterberg, Managing Director of Hurtigruten UK.

All common areas of the ships will see changes with the reception areas, cafes, bistro areas and the aft deck all to be renovated.

One of the highlights of any Coastal voyage with Hurtigruten is the local Norwegian cuisine served in the restaurant, with menus changing every day to reflect the specialties of the area the ship is sailing through. The new, stylish restaurants with a modern Nordic feel will provide an ideal setting for the menus. A range of fresh pastries baked on board will be served and a new feature will be barbecue stands out on deck.

Facilities on MS Spitsbergen will be similar to those already offered across the fleet and she will offer suites with a private balcony and full length windows - offering passengers their own private space from which to watch the northern lights or midnight sun.


Passengers will not have to wait long till they can enjoy the newest addition to the fleet, as it has been confirmed that her refurbishment will be completed in time for her to operate from 8 May.

For the first few months of operation, MS Spitsbergen will plot a parallel route alongside the MS Lofoten. However, while MS Lofoten will follow her regular schedule, MS Spitsbergen will not stop overnight, leaving her more time to spend in selected ports during the daylight hours. All of the regular excursions such as rib boat rides, whale watching, horse-riding and sea eagle safaris will all be on offer.

She will also be the latest ship to offer Hurtigruten's new Coastal Expedition concept, with a lecture programme, regular hikes and expedition team on-board. The new product, which was announced earlier this year, will operate on three other coastal ships from 1 January 2016.

Prices for MS Spitsbergen will be the same as for the rest of the coastal fleet with the Classic Voyage North starting from £968 per person (for the 8 May departure, based on 2 sharing an inside cabin on full board basis). Flights are not included.

From September, MS Spitsbergen will take the place of MS Midnatsol, who is heading south to Antarctica for the winter season. At that point she will operate the traditional Hurtigruten schedule, as a working ship.

A 12 page brochure with details of her inaugural season has been produced to support the launch. An electronic version can be downloaded here:

The renovation work is being undertaken by the Norwegian Fosen Yard, who won the contract following an international tender process.

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

Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising and is represented in Australia by Discover the World.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: Mystical Ambrym and the Rom Stomp

From editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in Vanuatu

Monday 2 October 2015. Ambrym, Vanuatu. Village of Ranon.

Another bright, but dry morning greeted us on our early morning arrival at the mystical island of Ambrym, a derivation of the word 'Yam' from the days of James Cook's visit in the 1770s.

Renown for magic and sorcery, the island maintains the 'kastom' dances of the men who are the keepers of magic here. Our first demonstration is the unexplained disappearance of the truck that was to transport us up the steep hill to the village, leaving many of us including this writer, with the task of trudging up the rough track. Yes, many of you will agree the exercise is a much-needed tonic in my case.

After a bit of preamble, the dancers took to the arena, another rough circular space surrounded by eerie totems and rough-hewn seating for our tired bottoms.

The so-called 'Rom' dancing is a rhythmic stomp that sends the scantily clad chaps into a bit of a state. Their feathers and penis wraps bobbing along to the percussive beats. Surrounding the men are characters dressed a bit like raffia Christmas trees with large stylised headpieces representing the spirits surrounding us even now.

The dusty performance wraps up with a bit of ritual retail and some lovely carved pieces are picked up for transport to distant lands. Just hope they are magic-free idols. Some look a bit scary.

This landing is our last before arrival in Port Vila, so we head back to Spirit of Enderby with a bit of extra spring in our wobbly knees and begin the task of packing for the big journey home.

More info: and

In conclusion, my thanks to the team at Heritage Expeditions for the invitation and great experience as well as the tourist boards of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and their respective airlines, Fly Solomons and Air Vanuatu.

Monday 2 November 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: Santo Supreme

From editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in Vanuatu

Sunday 1 November 2015. Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu.

Arriving at the largest island in Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo (or just Santo) was like a return to civilisation. Champagne Beach was an unusual sight without hordes of cruise ship tourists cavorting all over the place and with motor vehicles, roughish roads, its own substantial produce market and cellphone coverage, the provincial capital, Luganville, is a genuine frontier town.

Built in 1942 as a US military forward supply base, Luganville is the setting for James Michener's famous semi-fictional account, 'Tales of the South Pacific' with many of the landmarks still identifiable after all these years. It would have been a sprawling, bustling tropical hive of activity during those years with aircraft, ships and thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen coming and going constantly.

The great monument to the waste of war and the ludicrous machinations of politics, Million Dollar Point, was one of our stops. While didn't get to see the piles of debris beneath the surface, the rusting axles and vehicle bodies strewn along the beach is sufficient reminder of the enormous amount of machinery, vehicles and stores dumped into the sea when negotiations with the returning British/French administrators collapsed.

Our cultural enrichment came at the local Magic Water Cultural and Music Experience where a glimpse of traditional ni-Vanuatu life was demonstrated. Kava, open fire baking and kastom dances were performed. Most intriguing, however was the 'water music' where women wade into a large plunge pool and create music by thrashing around in the waist-deep water. After several visits to Vanuatu over the last decade, it was the first time I'd ever seen this peculiar recital.

A fitting finale to the day's events was a visit to the glorious 'blue holes' a series of spring-fed, gin-clear streams that have a mystical rejuvenating effect on those who swim there. I certainly left with a big smile on my face.

More info: and
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Sunday 1 November 2015

Secrets of Melanesia: Twitchers in Paradise

From editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in Vanuatu

Saturday 31 October 2015. Vanua Lava, Banks Island Group, Vanuatu. Village of Sola.

Early on a balmy, lazy Saturday morning, our Zodiacs puttered up to the beach in front of the 'Sola Yaith Club' and were met by the local commodore, Robert. The only yacht club on Vanua Lava, it has neither a marina nor bar. Instead, a little lean-to is fitted with a few rudimentary tables and chairs, with rough hewn benches in front to savour the glorious view out across the bay. Two visiting yachts are moored in the bay, one flying the French flag has sailed from the Caribbean.

One of the key selling points for any Heritage Expeditions journey is their intimate focus on natural subjects including flora and fauna. Birds, in particular. Numerous birding groups from around the world call on the Russ family expertise and their experienced guides like, Adam Walleyn.

So here I am on 'Spirit of Enderby' again infiltrating a squad of dedicated and committed 'twitchers' in search of additions to their 'life list' of bird species.

One of the species keenly sought by the team on every landing is the White Eye (genus Zosterops) and its unique species like the Malaita White Eye (Zosterops stresemanni) which, ironically does not have the trademark white eye patch. The other getting our spotters all atwitter is the family Myzomela, a group of small colourful honeyeaters usually recognised by their bright red heads and breasts. It's these poor little birds whose plumage is sought after for the Nendo red feather money. The birds, I'm told, are captured in a sticky sap trap and the required feathers removed before the bird is released. Whether the plucked honeyeaters survive this invasive procedure is not clear.

Immediately ashore at Sola, the detachment is straight into action with telescopes and Swarovski binoculars trained skyward in the hope of finding Vanuatu's endemic white eye and honeyeater. The Tanna Fruit Dove was a bonus.

Serious birding is only for the committed twitcher with many early starts, often pre-dawn, to ensure optimum sighting opportunities.

A comic series of events ensued as I sought a local SIM card for a sniff of real Internet. A local chap found a spare card for me which I traded a dynamo radio. He seemed pleased.

More info: and

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Secrets of Melanesia: Giant bats and a lingering French mystery

From editor, Roderick Eime, aboard Heritage Expeditions 'Spirit of Enderby' in the Solomon Islands 

Friday 30 October 2015. Vanikoro, villages of Usili and Buma. (updated 6 Nov 15)

It was here that the ill-fated expedition of French explorer, Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, foundered on the reefs in 1788, creating an earlier equivalent of the Sir John Franklin mystery. Searches by d'Entrecasteaux found no trace of the men or ships and it wasn't until 1826 when some relics were discovered by the British. Reports of survivors living on Vanikoro for several years exist in local oral history. The wreck of one ship, La Boussole, was located off the NW shore in 1964 and a monument exists to this day.

Today, Vanikoro continues to enjoy the same splendid, self-sufficient isolation, free of many modern influences like cell phone coverage and motor vehicles. As with many similar islands, power is only obtained via newspaper-sized solar cells for lighting . All that, however, is likely to change dramatically sooner rather than later as a logging camp has set up around the corner.

The world's largest bat, Pteropus tonganus
Our little flotilla of Zodiacs explored the sizable lagoon, patrolled by the world's largest bat, the giant Pacific flying fox (Pteropus tonganus), which can span up to 2m. Eek! Venturing into a muddy channel amid the ancient mangrove forest, much to the delight of the birders, a superb collared kingfisher even followed us for a while as we negotiated the dense, creepy landscape.
A brief village visit was conducted, with mandatory dancing and the little isolated community, which I'm told, hasn't seen any sort of visitor for 25 years, looked at us with much amusement. A little distressing for some of us was the suckling piglets tethered tightly by a leg and out of reach of other pigs. The poor little mites squealed in discomfort as the tight bindings cut into their tiny feet. One particularly unhappy animal was cut free in the hope that the villagers might consider a more humane way to raise them.

This island is our last landfall in the Solomons as Spirit of Enderby heads toward our final destination of Port Vila in Vanuatu.

More info: and

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