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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Announcing the Maiden Voyage to the North Pole of the World’s Newest, Largest and Most Sophisticated Icebreaker, 50 Years of Victory


Quark Expeditions, world leader in polar adventure travel, has chartered the nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory for expeditions to the North Pole in 2008.

Twenty years in the making, Victory, the largest Arktika-class vessel ever built, has a spoon-shaped bow, and an all-new automated digital control system. A stainless steel ice belt 18 feet wide enables crushing through ice up to 9.2 feet thick. Two nuclear reactors produce 75,000 horsepower for a top speed of 21.4 knots in open water. Victory is equipped with a helicopter for aerial sightseeing and shore transfers.

Commissioned in 2007 as a working vessel, Victory has been newly outfitted as an expedition ship with ample public space: Aft Saloon, Forward Lounge, a bar and polar library. The Aft Saloon converts from a day-time presentation room to a place to socialize in the evening. A shop, gym, indoor pool, two saunas and massage services provide other diversions. There are 64 cabins in five categories, all with facilities en suite and a window that opens to an ocean view.

Only 128 people will be able to claim that they stood on top of the world during Victory’s maiden voyage to the North Pole. Compare that to the number of people who can say they were there when the Red Sox won the World Series or Italy won the World Cup! This rare opportunity for travelers can never be repeated. The maiden voyage runs from June 23 to July 8, 2008. The 16-day voyage starts at US$22,900 per person for a Standard Twin cabin.

In addition to a champagne celebration on the ice at 90 degrees N, the expedition will include shore landings in Franz Josef Land. The archipelago is the most northerly land mass in Eurasia. The islands are a known habitat of polar bear, walrus and vast colonies of seabirds.

Quark Expeditions will operate two other expeditions to the North Pole aboard Victory in 2008: July 6 – 21 and July 19 – August 4. The July 19 – August 14 departure is 17 days in duration to accommodate a viewing of a total solar eclipse. Cabins for all three voyages can be booked through Quark Expeditions by calling 1-800-356-5699 or +1-203-656-0499. More information about the vessel can be found at www.quarkexpeditions.com

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Rocky Road to Egypt's Ruins

David Ellis


Uploaded by Genkaku to hxu.huTHE ancient tombs of many of Egypt's most famous rulers, with their treasure-troves of sculptures, paintings, hieroglyphics and carvings, are amazing enough in themselves, but the fact that they were ever discovered in the first place is nothing short of a miracle.

Hidden among rocky ravines in a sea of shifting sands on the edge of one of the world's most inhospitable regions, they were first found in the early 1700s in what has become known as the Valley of the Kings, one of Egypt’s major historical centres in a land that appears almost awash with significant temples, monuments and statues.

And while finding the great tombs, that were created over a 500 year period between the 11th and 16th centuries BC, was an astonishing feat in such an environment, it was the very nature of the arid climate that helped preserve the great treasures of rulers like Tutankhamun, Ramses the Great and Tutmose III.

The descent beneath the desert sands to the hidden tombs, with their sculpted and painted walls telling the story of each ruler, is a stunning surprise for the visitor, with the extreme temperatures in the region and the total lack of rain, wonderful insurance against damaging moisture.

Colors of paintings that relate the story of each Pharaoh’s rule and the way of life at the time, are as bold, strong and as vibrant as if done in recent times rather than over 3000 years ago – and even graffiti left by raiding Turks centuries ago remains in perfect condition.

And interestingly, while called the Valley of the Kings, its tombs also contain the remains of several of the Pharaoh’s wives, children and related noblemen.

Along with the remains of Egypt’s most gigantic temples and monuments in nearby Luxor on the edge of the great River Nile, the Valley of the Kings – that was World Heritage listed in 1979 – represents some of the ancient Egyptians' greatest artistic achievements.

Karnak temple with its 60-odd hectares of ancient architecture is probably the most awesome, with parts of it in immaculate condition despite having been built several centuries B.C.

And if you think Karnak a wonder in daylight you'll be even more surprised by the spectacular sound and light show that is conducted at the temple around dusk every evening.

Strategically placed spotlights see columns and walls silhouetted vibrantly against a cloudless sky, creating one of the world's most remarkable spectacles.

As these spotlights track around the temple, the history of the buildings and the manner in which they were constructed over 18 dynasties, lost and then recovered, is narrated over loudspeakers... but be warned that the narration is not in English every night.

In Upper Egypt - along with Luxor - the main centres of history are Aswan and Abu Simbel, which are all easily accessible by air, train and road links, but can also be reached at a more relaxed pace by using one of the dozens of cruise ships that ply the Nile between Cairo and Aswan.

To permit easy access along the river most vessels have a draught of only a metre or so and generally take a leisurely four or five days to travel from Luxor to Aswan, although shorter or longer trips can be arranged.

The cruises can be joined as a self-contained package holiday or included in holidays which also offer a few days in Cairo or Alexandria and Aegean or Red Sea beach resorts.

While there are frequent air services from Aswan to Cairo a good option is the overnight train that departs Aswan punctually at 5 p.m. each day and offers a superb view of the Nile Valley and wonderful desert sunsets as it races north to the capital.

While not to be compared with the Orient Express or South Africa's Blue Train, the Nile train has comfortable sleeping cabins, typically local meals and a licensed club car where the after-dinner entertainment includes an exotic presentation of belly dancing.

(A RANGE of package deal holidays to Egypt are available in Australia through Icon Holidays, that can also add tours through Turkey and Greece. All itineraries include first class accommodation and first class cruise vessels. Phone Icon at 1300-853-953.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Seadream Yacht Club gets another best service award

20 March 2008

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB WINS "BEST SERVICE" CRUISE AWARD

SeaDream Yacht Club, operator of the elite mega yacht cruisers
SeaDream I and II, was today named "Best Cruise Line for Service" at
ITB, the world's largest tourism industry fair currently being held in
Berlin.

The award, sponsored by the German-speaking market's top cruise
guidebook - Kreuzfaht.Guide – was judged by a jury of seven senior
German travel journalists and the guidebook's authors.

Accepting the award, SeaDream's Senior Vice President Worldwide Sales
and Marketing, Bob Lepisto said: "We are especially delighted to
accept this great accolade for two compelling reasons.

"First, at SeaDream service to our guests is always uppermost in our
minds. We believe that the enjoyment of the travel experience begins
and ends with guest service, something our dedicated staff strives for
on a daily basis.

"And second, this honor is highly important to us because it comes
from the German marketplace which constantly increases in importance
for us."

SeaDream Yacht Club has been the recipient of many awards and
accolades from authoritative travel organizations and publications in
North America, UK, Australia and elsewhere.

These include sharing the top Five Star Club award in the
authoritative Berlitz Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships 2008 guidebook.
Berlitz guide author Douglas Ward created a special category "Utterly
Exclusive" for only three vessels he said were above luxury.

Of the three, two were SeaDream I and II. Conde Nast Traveler Magazine
named SeaDream Yacht Club the "World's Best Small Passenger Shipping
Line" for 2006. Additionally, SeaDream scored higher than any other
cruise line---large or small---in this reader's poll--- and was the
only cruise line rated in the top 100 "World's Best Travel
Experiences."

Travel + Leisure Magazine named SeaDream World's Best Small-Ship
Cruise Line in its 2007 reader's poll. Further, Cruise Magazine,
leading UK travel publication, named SeaDream I "World's Best Small
Cruise Vessel for 2006. In 2007 SeaDream was also named one of the
"World's Best Value" travel experiences by authoritative Travel +
Leisure.

I

For information about SeaDream I and II's sailings in the
Mediterranean and Caribbean see travel agents or visit
www.seadream.com

Monday, March 17, 2008

NAME’S THE GAME WITH HAUMANA TO YOURSELVES

BOOK all 12-cabins aboard the luxury motor catamaran Haumana in Tahiti for family, friends, club-mates or the company, and you'll not only have Haumana to yourselves, you can rename her whatever you like while you're aboard.

Haumana carries just 24-guests in her 12-cabins as she sails 3- or 4-night cruises – or a week with both these options combined – across the extraordinarily beautiful Rangiroa Lagoon in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

Guests who choose to charter can also fly their own flag during their unique holiday, that includes all crew, all onboard dining, at least one 4-star French beach picnic at shady tables set up in the shallow waters of an uninhabited island, wines with lunch and dinner, and all soft drinks throughout the cruise.

Activities can include fun fishing tournaments, beach games, watersports and snorkelling competitions to identify fish species, corals and other marine life, and escorted beach- and bush-walks.

If you'd like to give Haumana a try before going for a full-yacht charter, Coral Seas Travel have 3-nights costing from $5349pp twin-share and 4-nights from $5929pp twin-share, including return air and taxes from Sydney, transfers in Tahiti, 1-night pre- and one post-cruise at the Radisson Plaza Resort in Papeete, all meals, wines with lunch and dinner and non-alcoholic drinks.

Details – including prices for an all-of-yacht charter – on 1800 641 803, in Sydney 8236 9900 or www.coralseas.com.au

RARE CRUISE LINKS ANTARCTICA, AFRICA, INDIA THE MED AND UK

Cruiseco is giving free air and discounts of up to 27% on an extraordinary adventure cruise next February aboard the 4-star Discovery between South America, Antarctica, the Falkland Islands,
South Africa, India, North Africa, the Mediterranean and Harwich (London.)

This 108-day cruise that departs Buenos Aires on February 8 2009 to join Discovery in Ushuaia is priced from $27,250pp twin-share including the exclusive Cruiseco discount and free return air from mainland capitals.

For those with less time, it can be broken into sectors as short as 58-days between Buenos Aires and Istanbul or Athens, Cape Town and Istanbul, Athens or Harwich, or Mumbai and Harwich; these sectors arepriced from as low as $14,995pp twin-share.

Discovery has 3-restaurants, 6-bars, gymn, health and beauty centre, two pools, a theatre for destination lectures and movies, show lounge featuring nightly entertainment and classical concerts, deck games and internet centre.

Bookings for these cruises that are exclusive to Cruiseco need to be made 90-days before departure or until sold out; phone 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist agency Australia-wide, or visit www.cruising.com.au

(Discovery will also sail a 50-day itinerary from Cairo to North Africa, South America and Antarctica on November 1 this year pricedfrom $14,850pp twin-share, including a 30% discount and free return air from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ESCAPE WINTER WITH HALF-PRICE FIJI ISLAND CRUISE

A 6-night cruise into Fiji’s spectacular Mamanuca and Yasawa-I-Rara islands in our coming winter months is selling through ecruising.travel for the price of just three nights, saving up to $1200 a couple.

The super-value offering starts from just $2099pp twin-share including return air from Sydney, all onboard dining, a huge range of onboard and shore-side activities, and a night pre- and post-cruise at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island.

Blue Lagoon Cruises will sail these intimate and luxurious Gold Club cruises on select dates to August this year, with port charges, taxes and cruise fuel surcharges included; air taxes are additional.

Cruises begin with complimentary Champagne and Captain’s Welcome Dinner while sailing out of Lautoka, with activities over ensuing days including coral viewing and snorkelling, bush and beach walks, visits to local schools, villages and craft markets, onboard dancing and other entertainment.

Dining highlights include Theme Nights, a dinner ashore under the stars, a beach party and island feast, and a traditional “Yaqona” (kava) ceremony.

For full details phone1300 369 848 and quote product ID 5265 or visit www.ecruising.travel

TRUE TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

TRUE TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC

david ellis

ALTHOUGH he died eleven years ago, the name James A. Michener is still
as synonymous with the South Pacific today as it was when he put pen
to paper 60-odd years ago and chronicled the lives of Bloody Mary,
Nellie Forbush, Emile de Becque, Atabrin Benny and a host of other
wartime misfits.

Yet few know that this remarkable author of more than 40 books that
sold over 75 million copies, had to use a nom de plume in 1947 to have
his original classic, Tales of the South Pacific accepted.

Nor that the same publisher rejected his second manuscript, citing a
"lack of any literary potential."

Tales of the South Pacific of course went on to become a household
name, with the stage show and movie of the same name still enchanting
audiences to this day, four decades after Mitzi Gaynor first Washed
That Man Right Out Of her Hair.

And the book won Michener the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

In January 1992 Michener and I "Returned to Paradise" to his beloved
Vanuatu, where as an American Navy Lieutenant in the 1940s he worked
on the island of Espiritu Santo amongst the characters whose lives he
later made famous in Tales of the South Pacific.

Regrettably the tail-end of Cyclone Betsy prevented our cruise ship
from landing us on Santo, but the ever-positive Michener said just
sailing-by was a fair enough alternative.

Had we landed, he would have found the island still sprinkled with
relics from the war years he spent there: two of its three wartime
airstrips are still there but largely now overgrown, Bloody Mary's
trade-store stands forlornly next to a concrete slab that's all that's
left of Michener's own Santo digs, and the strangely octagonal-shaped
home of Tales' French planter, Emile de Becque is occupied to this
day.

And in the jungle the wreckage of wartime planes, trucks and supply
sheds lay vine-enshrouded and rusting – while off-shore he would have
seen the brooding volcanic Ambae Island that he dubbed Bali Hai in
Tales.

None of Tales' characters were figments of Michener's imagination; all
existed, he just changed their names to protect their anonymity.

The most famous, Bloody Mary did run a questionable trade-store
business, and did have one of the few government-issue ice-making
machines on Santo, and she did drive an American Marines' jeep…
'acquired' under circumstances that Michener, at one time an
Intelligence and Supply Officer, told me "did not bear thinking
about."

A feisty Tonkinese from now-North Vietnam, Bloody Mary was a
descendant of cheap labour brought into the-then New Hebrides by
planters, and one of the few who stood up for herself.

After the war, Michener returned to his job as a text book editor in
New York and in his spare time completed Tales of the South Pacific,
but as his company would not accept manuscripts from employees, he
submitted it under the nom de plume David Harper.

When it was accepted, Michener 'fessed up that he was 'David Harper'
and that he had a second manuscript for consideration. A superior
enraged that Michener had duped him, refused to even look at the
manuscript, so in his lunch hour Michener took it to another
publisher.

When he told them who he was, the managing editor welcomed him like a
long lost brother – and accepted his manuscript sight-unseen. Puzzled,
Michener asked why all the fuss, and was told the radio had just
announced that Tales had won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

He signed-over his manuscript – Fields of Fire – and when he returned
to his employer found they'd had a miraculous changed of heart, and
now wanted to buy his second work.

Michener's response was curt, and at 41 years of age he resigned to
start one of the greatest writing careers the world has known.

He churned out over 40 books and enormously wealthy, but with no
children, Michener and his third wife, Mari – who preceded him by
several years – gave over US$100m to universities, libraries and
charities.

James A. Michener died aged 90 on October 16 1997 after requesting
that his dialysis machine be turned off.

(Guided tours to sites made famous in Tales of the South Pacific are
available on arrival on Santo; see travel agents or phone Coral Seas
Travel on 1800 641 803.)

………………….

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

JAMES A. Michener on his 1992 "Return to Paradise."

BLOODY Mary's trade-store still stands forlornly on Santo today.

Friday, March 14, 2008

High above the Arctic Circle

Aurora's 14-day Across the Arctic Circle voyage journeys to a world teeming with life and wrapped in awe-inspiring natural beauty. We invite you to join us as we discover the hidden secrets of the Scottish Isles, Norway and Spitsbergen.

This unique adventure begins in Aberdeen, Scotland, where you'll visit nature reserves and astounding archaeological digs like the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Jarlshof. Heading north to the gateway of Norway's breathtaking fjords, explore quaint fishing villages perched beneath towering cliffs and watch for whales as you cross into the Arctic Circle and enter the land of the midnight sun. Sailing across the North Atlantic, the expedition then heads for Spitsbergen, an Arctic wonderland and home to polar bears, walrus, reindeer and millions of migratory land and sea birds.

Daily shore excursions and explorations using Zodiacs and sea kayaks, provide access to the best wildlife encounters and photographic opportunities.

Read our passenger's voyage log.

Travel is aboard Polar Pioneer, and limited to only 56 passengers. This 14-day expedition departs on the 3rd of July, 2008.


Arctic 2008 Brochure download and request

Our experienced reservations staff can organise a personal itinerary for you, including airfares, accommodation and pre and post voyage travel options.

To reserve your berth or for further details, contact us on +61-2-9252-1033 (1800-637-688 within Australia) or email Aurora at auroraex@auroraexpeditions.com.au

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A WINEMAKER’s LOT: DAYS OF WINE AND ROSÉS

david ellis

FORTY something years ago as an inquisitive teenager, Bill Calabria
had his first drink.

It wasn't long after that he had his last drink – in fact it was that night.

There's probably nothing much unusual about a young bloke having a
session on the grog and finding it wasn't for him, but what is unusual
is that Bill went on to become one of Australia's most respected
winemakers, something rather rare in an industry not exactly
over-endowed with non-drinkers.

But in Bill's case it wasn't a dislike of the stuff, but rather a
necessity: he suffers a very rare allergy to the acid in grapes.

And he admits he still sometimes turns down a drink with a bit of
reluctance. "But it makes me crook," he says. "Even my own stuff!!!"

Bill Calabria is Chief Winemaker at his family-owned Westend Estate
Wines in the NSW Riverina city of Griffith, an operation founded up by
his mum and dad back in 1945.

"They came out from Italy in 1927 and headed straight to the Griffith
area where they knew about the large Italian population of fruit,
vegetable and grape growers there, and bought five acres (2ha) of
farmland.

"Because they were used to a splash of talkative red or white with
their meals, Dad grew grapes to make their own wine – he made the
first lot in Mum's laundry tub, and then built a tin shed to make it
on a regular basis," Bill says.

"It was pretty good, but in some ways pretty much as rough as his tin
shed," Bill laughs. "In those days, though, people weren't too fussy
and Dad's seemed to be better than some other local plonks.

"Soon neighbours started calling around to buy a barrel or two, and he
also started getting orders to put barrels on the train for Italians
living in Sydney and Melbourne."

Bill says that by 1945 his dad had refined his winemaking techniques
and was making very acceptable reds, whites and ports. "It was made
from whatever grapes Dad could get his hands on, so could still be
pretty boisterous

stuff… in those days true-blue Aussies drank beer, Pommie migrants
Scotch and gin and tonic, and it was only we weird foreigners who
drank wine."

As he grew up Bill worked on the family farm and his brother in the
Calabria Winery. "But somehow we swapped, and I ended up in the winery
and my brother on the farm," he says.

It was a fortuitous swap for today's Aussie wine lovers. Bill keeps
production limited to 400,000 cases so that he and his winemaking team
of Bryan Currie and Sally Whittaker can keep totally hands-on control
of what they are making.

And despite making wines that now sell in thirty-three countries
around the world, and are quaffed from NSW Parliament House to onboard
Lufthansa Airlines and the world's highest-rated boutique cruise ships
SeaDream I and SeaDream II, his Westend Estate is still very much a
family affair.

"My wife Lena, our three sons Frank, Michael and Andrew, and our
daughter Elizabeth are all involved in the company," Bill says with
pride.

Bill changed the name of the company from Calabria Wines to Westend
Estate Wines in 1974 when he determined to make even higher quality
wines that reflected the individual character of the various varieties
of grapes that grow in the Riverina.

And he's fiercely proud of his region, being quick to point out it has
risen from a bulk winemaking area to one that now produces wines that
are lauded around the world. "The days of the Riverina being no more
than a mass maker only of cask and flagon wines have long since gone,
and makers here are getting medals for their wines at the most
respected international shows."

In typical Bill Calabria fashion he plays down his own accolades, but
we can tell you that last year alone his Westend Estate wines garnered
235 trophies and major medals in Australian and international wine
shows.

So for a non-drinker, how's he know what he's making? He shrugs. "You
don't have to swallow wine to know whether it's good or bad."

You'll find Westend Estate on Brayne Road in Griffith; their cellar
door tasting facilities are open 7-days; phone (02) 6969 0800.

…………………….

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

TOP drop: Bill Calabria eyes a barrel sample of a Westend Shiraz just
before bottling.

ALL in the family: the Calabria family taste the fruit of their
efforts outside Westend's Estate's Griffith winery.

CELLAR Door at Westend is open 7-days for tastings and purchases.

……………….

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Latest Alaska cruise ship also the smallest

There are a variety of cruise ships this summer in Alaska but the newest may also be the smallest.

American Safari Cruises' new luxury yacht, the 36-guest, 145-foot Safari Explorer, will make its first Alaska port call 30 May in Juneau. That will mark the start of its eight-day, seven-night roundtrip cruises from the Alaska capital.

Now undergoing a multi-million-dollar renovation in Seattle, the Safari Explorer is the cruise line's fourth luxury yacht. It offers an active spa environment with a licensed masseuse for complimentary massages, yoga classes, a dedicated fitness area, on-deck hot tub and sauna.

"The 'real' spa is the natural one, of course, the great Alaska narrow waterways and islands for kayaking and guided hiking," said Tim Jacox, vice president of sales and marketing.

In common with other American Safari Cruises vessels, the new yacht carries double sea kayaks and motorized shore boats for close-up exploration of the Alaska wilderness.

The Safari Explorer will cruise from Juneau through 5 Sept. The itinerary focuses on wildlife – whales, sea lions, bears – and glaciers, including up to two days in Glacier Bay National Park and a full day hugging the fjord walls of Endicott Arm to view the rarely visited Dawes Glacier.

Following the Alaska season, the yacht will debut in Hawaii with inter-island itineraries.

Report by David Wilkening

Monday, March 3, 2008

Seadream: Purchasing Patterns and the World Economy

PUCHASING PATTERNS AND THE WORLDWIDE ECONOMY

SEADREAM YACHT CLUB ASKS HARD QUESTIONS

AND SURVEY DRAWS REVEALING RESPONSES

Questions and Answers on the Economy, Recession, Stock Market Volatility,

Economic Stimulus Package and Future Spending Patterns

MIAMI, Feb. 26---In the face of the barrage of unsettling economic news worldwide and dire predictions of its impact on discretionary spending patterns, SeaDream Yacht Club, award-winning purveyor of ultra luxury seagoing vacations, surveyed its customer base recently and came away with some conclusions that knocked its socks off.

SeaDream's President and CEO Larry Pimentel stated today that although the upscale operator has been experiencing near100 percent utilization of staterooms aboard its twin mega-yacht cruisers SeaDream I and II, this has occurred at the same time that dire predictions about the economy and their possible influence on spending patterns has dominated the news. "Hence, we surveyed the top 5000 of our most active guests. They concluded that upscale travelers will not be greatly affected by economic bad news and will continue to travel.

Middle income travelers are likely to be highly affected." he said.

Specifically, the opinion survey of SeaDream's past passengers indicated conclusively that a sizable majority of upper income households (65.3 percent) will continue to travel as usual for rest, recreation and other leisure pursuits.

34.2 percent stated some travel would be curtailed and only .06 percent said upper income households would curtail all travel.

But middle income households will be more circumspect about future travel according to the survey and a sizable percentage will curtail some or all leisure travel plans. Only 5.5 percent felt the group would travel as usual. 83.2 percent will curtail some travel and 11.3 percent would curtail all discretionary travel.

The opinion survey by Miami-headquartered SeaDream Yacht Club---which operates the 100-passenger SeaDream I and II on scheduled sailings and full ship charters in the Caribbean and Europe---drew responses from more than 26 percent of a 5000 person database of affluent, past passengers with a minimum household income of $250,000 per year.

The opinion survey showed further that while travel for the upper strata would not be greatly affected, other discretionary spending would be severely curtailed. Perhaps not surprisingly home purchases and jewelry took the biggest hit. Logically, with housing---that distressed section of the economy--- many respondents expressed the belief that home purchasing would be at the top of the list of dramatically curtailed spending.

But it was the opinions of these affluent responders on such high profile issues as the economy, recession, stock market volatility, the U.S Government economic stimulus package and perceived problems that may be exacerbating them that was perhaps the most startling to SeaDream officials.

When confronted with a statement saying that the economy worldwide is fragile and unsettled and then asked if they believed the U.S. and other parts of the world are sliding into a recessionary period, more than 70 percent said "Yes."

When asked if such a recession would be short term or long term, almost 80 per cent (79.6) answered "Short Term."

When asked if stock market volatility was "just an inevitable swing." 78.3 per cent replied "Yes."

The question "Will the stock market correct itself?" drew 57.2 per cent yeses with a majority stating it would correct itself but "Only after several years of volatility."

When asked if the U.S. Government intervention with an economic stimulus package would cause the stock market to correct itself and a recession avoided, 70 percent of respondents answered "No."

A further question on the economy drew a decisive response: "There are those who believe that frequently economic issues are overblown by the media and that this has the effect of exacerbating problems," 77.8 per cent agreed.

Commenting on the survey that was sent to recipients early last week and tabulated and interpreted Friday, Pimentel stated: "The economy and how it might affect future purchasing patterns has so dominated the public's thinking with 'round-the-clock reports and opinions by all types of media, that we were compelled to go out to our past guests for their opinions.

"We did this in spite of the fact that our continuing review of our own business has shown that the year 2007 was an outstanding one for us and our 2008 bookings are even better---well ahead of those at this time last year. And, of enormous interest to us is that as we look forward 2009 shows even greater positive response to our product.

"Nevertheless, just as with astute businesses in all sectors of the economy, we at SeaDream are always looking forward---far forward. Focused vision is a critical aspect of our financial planning.

"This survey will help us stay focused on our future and may help marketers of other types of travel products, as well as other discretionary product categories," Pimentel concluded.

Editors' Please Note: SeaDream Yacht Club has also conducted a similar survey of its travel agent sellers of SeaDream I and II. Results will be announced when the agent survey is tabulated and interpreted.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Voilà! ecruising.travel Makes French Connection






Leading Australian on-line cruise travel agency, ecruising.travel, offers Australian cruisers a new dish on the menu – French.

Marseilles-based La Compagnie des Iles du Ponant (Ponant Cruises) was founded in 1988 and is the premier French-flagged cruise line operating three vessels of remarkably different configuration.

“After a distribution change, we needed a new Antarctic cruise line and we discovered this fantastic French operator,” said ecruising.travel managing director, Brett Dudley, “and these beautiful ships are sure to recreate some of that famous French romance.”

The flagship, Le Ponant, is an intimate but modern, three-masted luxury sailing yacht thoroughly spoiling 64 privileged passengers on mainly Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Red Sea itineraries. C’est magnifique.

The sleek and futuristic Le Levant, could be James Bond’s newest plaything and looks perfectly at home in Monte Carlo or Saint-Tropez. At 100 metres long and with just 45 outside twin cabins, she is trim, taut and très chic. Currently operating Mediterranean voyages with Caribbean and Central America coming soon.

The grande dame, Le Diamant, is a classic expedition vessel built for both comfort and the rigours of Arctic service. At 8000 tonnes she carries 226 passengers to the far corners of the globe including the Arctic, Antarctic, South America, British Isles and the Mediterranean. Pour une grande aventure.

Prices for Le Diamant’s 15-day 2008/09 Antarctic cruise via South Georgia and the Falklands start at A$5799.00pp. Airfares to Ushuaia, Argentina are additional.

For further information please contact Brett Dudley, managing director, on 1300 369 848 or e-mail brett@ecruising.travel
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