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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FOOD CACHE FOR 1911-14 AUSTRALASIAN ANTARCTIC EXPEDITION FOUND AFTER NEARLY 100 YEARS


A food depot established by the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by the legendary Sir Douglas Mawson, has been discovered nearly 100 years later by a small team of explorers led by Greg Mortimer, founder of Aurora Expeditions.

The cache is at Madigan Nunatak (Nunatak is the Antarctic term for a rocky peak surrounded by ice), named after Cecil Madigan, a geologist with Mawson’s AAE who established the food store in case of emergency for sledging parties.

Found this week, it is 70 kms east-south east of Cape Denison which was the AAE’s base for two years and which is now being conserved by the Mawson’s Huts Foundation which currently has a team of eight working on Mawson’s Huts for the next four weeks.

Mortimer, the managing director of Aurora Expeditions and a member of the first Australian team to climb Mt Everest., flew by helicopter from his ship the Marina Svetaeva, which is carrying 100 passengers on an Antarctic cruise to Mawson’s Huts. On board is a grand-daughter of Madigan, Julia Butler.

Attempts to find Madigan Nunatak in the 1980’s failed with ice covering the rocky peak and only a long bamboo pole protruding from the cache sighted in 1985.

“I have been trying to get to Madigan Nunatak for years” said Mortimer from onboard the Marina Svetaeva. “This year we were in the right place at the right time.”

“It was a tiny ridge in the white expanse of the polar plateau about 2400 feet above sea level. We observed a cairn surmounted by a tin consistent in shape and construction with kerosene tins associated with the AAE” he said. “The tin contains at least three calico bags held in place by a rock. One contains white powder, probably flour and the other a brown substance, possibly pemmican (a food mix favoured by the AAE on sledging parties).

The long bamboo pole which marked the spot for the AAE still remains but now lies on the rocks.

The Mawson’s Huts Foundation team which was landed by a Marina Svetaeva eight days ago is carrying out an extensive works programme which includes locating the first aircraft ever taken to the Antarctic and fitting out a special laboratory to conserve the thousands of artefacts left inside the hut when the AAE left for home in December 1913.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coral Princess Abolishes Fuel Surcharge


Coral Princess Cruises has announced that fuel surcharges for all its voyages will be abolished for departures on or after February 1, 2009. Coral Princess was one of the last cruise operators, world-wide, to impose a surcharge in August, 2008 and has moved quickly – in light of reductions in diesel fuel costs - to be one of the first cruise operators to lift it.

“We’d like to thank our industry partners for their understanding with regard to the necessity of implementing the surcharge back in August. We’re of course extremely pleased that fuel prices have returned to some sort of normality and, in appreciation of our partners’ loyalty, we have removed the surcharge at the first opportunity,” said Tony Briggs, Founder and Managing Director of Coral Princess Cruises.

The removal of the surcharge is effective for all existing and new bookings for cruises departing on or after February 1, 2009. The surcharge will remain in place for departures up to and including January 31, 2009.

With regard to all existing bookings due to depart on or after February 1 2009, in coming days the company will issue revised invoices reflecting the abolition of the surcharge.

For further information and reservations visit www.coralprincess.com.au

Into the Blue (1950)

A fascinating British documentary about the development of civil airlines immediately after the Second World War.



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thailand: Hua Hin

Where can travellers escape to for a beach resort retreat that’s budget friendly as well as being known as ‘fit for royalty’? Thailand’s Hua Hin of course.

Literally fit for royalty, Hua Hin is the summer getaway for Thailand’s ruling monarchy and elite. About two to three hours away from Bangkok by coach, many locals also now use the beachside resort town for their weekend holidays.

With development throttled by Royal Decree, and no building to go up beyond three stories unless it has special permission, Hua Hin has managed to retain its traditional laid-back, seaside character.

The ‘oldest’ resort town in Thailand, it still only sees around 90,000 residents calling the area home, and without an airport connection, there’s a tranquillity to the area not seen in more built up regions like Phuket.

Hua Hin’s idyllic white-sand beaches are a sight to behold, running 5kms long, it is rumoured to be one of the reasons why King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) built his summer palace, Wang Klai Kang Won “Far from Worries”, in 1928.

Hua Hin, can not only boast to be the holiday town of the Royals, but also has another claim to fame. The township and surrounds is home to the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand.

In this backdrop of relaxation, the ‘spa culture’ in Hua Hin is worth a mention. Whilst Thailand is renowned for its wellness tourism, the spa experience is forefront in a complete Hua Hin itinerary.

Home to arguably the world’s best spa, consistently named in CondĂ© Nast’s top three and awarded Luxury Travel’s Best Spa in the World in 2008, Chiva-som has seen a whole slew of the rich of famous step through their doors. Said to be Hollywood’s favourite spa property, Chiva-som doesn’t come without a price tag.

Of course, unwinding in Hua Hin doesn’t have to bankrupt a travellers account, with most hotels and resorts offering either an in-house spa or access to spa facilities – or travellers can be a little more adventurous and try out the array of massage parlours in the township.

The Hua Hin night markets are worth a quick glimpse as well, while not as bountiful as Bangkok’s block-wide sprawls, they have a character of its own – and many locals believe that souvenirs such as silk and carvings can be gotten here cheaper than in the capital; of course, bargaining is essential.

From relaxed three-star beach front properties, to the decked-out five-star locations that are almost a township to themselves, Hua Hin has a property to suit every budget – with even the higher end of town ‘cheap’ compared to average global rates.

For business travel, Hua Hin can cater small to medium sized events without a hitch. With bigger properties able to room guests in the hundreds, plenty of meeting space, and outdoor and wellness activities galore; Hua Hin would suit a wide range of needs.

With spectacular sunrises over the water, and the steep backdrops of the Prachuap Khiri Khan in the distance, Hua Hin is the perfect traditional Thai beachside experience away from the modern day Rat Race.

Monday, December 15, 2008

CRUISE UK TO “ICE AND FIRE” OF ICELAND

An unusual 14-night cruise opportunity from England to Ireland, Scotland and Iceland and back to England in June of next year, features travel aboard the luxury small ship Spirit of Adventure – with organised shore excursions included at most ports of call.

Just 350 guests will share this unique experience on Spirit of Adventure that sails from Liverpool on June 18 for Dublin, Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, Ullapool in Scotland, Iceland’s Seydisfjord, Akureyri, Isafjord, Reykjavik and Heimaey, Cobh for Cork in Ireland, Falmouth (England) and Portsmouth.

With full- or half-day excursions led by local guides at most ports visited, this cruise provides an ideal opportunity to explore many fascinating towns inaccessible to larger liners, and to take-in the legendary “Ice and Fire” of Iceland’s glaciers, snow-capped peaks, steaming mud-pools and geysers.

Cruiseco – a consortium of 150 cruise-specialist travel agencies Australia-wide – is selling this fortnight-long cruise from $6940pp twin-share… but if you are a quick-decision maker you can save over one-third on this and pay from $4170pp if you book before January 31; the price includes all onboard gourmet dining, entertainment (including late-release movies on deck under the stars,) guest lecturers, guided excursions, and onboard gratuities.

For full details including best-possible air prices to join this cruise, phone 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist, or visit www.cruising.com.au.

Cruise Weekly Comment: Marina Svetaeva

If Orion, True North and Oceanic Discoverer are the flirtatious, glamour girls of the expedition cruise fleet, then Aurora's Marina Svetaeva is the motherly, buxom babushka. What she lacks in marble bathrooms and brass banisters is more than compensated for in sheer sea-going confidence.

Purpose-built in Poland's famous Gdynia shipyards for polar work twenty years ago, she has undergone several refits and modernisations, including the addition of a twin-hangar helideck for airborne operations.

Despite her modest appointments and utilitarian fit-out, Marina Svetaeva is the sort of vessel you know will deliver when the going gets tough. Cross off boutique, salon and Jacuzzi and tick enclosed lifeboats, stabilisers and heavy ice rating. Don't choose Marina Svetaeva for "cruising", her no-nonsense demeanour is not about luxury, pampering or degustation menus. Instead you can be assured of a seriously robust vessel built with the rigours of polar work in mind and the likelihood of a full, well-planned and comprehensive itinerary backed by Greg Mortimer's world-famous team at Aurora.

Next to benchmark operators, Quark Expeditons, Aurora's Ross Sea and Commonwealth Bay Antarctic itineraries should be on your shortlist for deep south adventures.

Blue Lagoon extends 15 per cent discount plus free cabin upgrade offer


Fiji's Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a 15 per cent discount plus a free cabin upgrade on all 'Club' and 'Gold Club' Yasawa Island cruises booked from now until 28 February 2009.

With travel validity extended to 31 August 2009, the discount applies to all three and four-day 'Club Cruises' and all four and seven-day 'Gold Club' cruises.

The discount means pricing for a three-day/two-night 'Club' cruise now starts from AUD479* per person twin share.

Prices on 'Club and 'Gold Club' cruises include all meals and cruise activities. These range from daily shore excursions and snorkeling safaris to fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast, visits to remote villages, Kava ceremonies and a day spent at Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai.

*Conditions apply. Please note cruise prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea and coffee). A daily fuel surcharge of FJD25 per person also applies.

See www.bluelagooncruises.com for full itineraries.

For cruise reservations telephone Blue Lagoon Cruises in Lautoka, Fiji, on + 679 666 1622, facsimile + 679 666 4098 or via email on reservations@blc.com.fj.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ice Rating: What does it mean?


For ships to navigate polar regions, they must have what is called an "Ice Rating". As you'd expect, there are several standards: American, Russian, Swedish, German etc. So be careful to compare like classes when assessing a ship's ability.

One must also bear in mind that an "icebreaker" is a special ship design altogether. As the name suggests, icebreakers are designed to smash through solid sea ice while other (conventional) ships are simply "ice strengthened" and it is their rating in this regard that is most important.

For serious ice work, ships need to be rated 1A or 1A Super. This means they can work with an icebreaker in the heaviest conditions. Then progressively down to 1B, 1C and Class II, the lightest rating.

Some examples of familiar ships:
  • MV Orion - Class 1A (Germanischer Lloyd E3)
  • Marina Svetaeva - Class 1A
  • Lyubov Orlova - Class 1C
  • MS Hanseatic - Class 1A Super (Germanischer Lloyd E4)

For the marine engineers among us, here is a heavy technical document to explain it. Here is the easier Wikipedia page.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Renowned West Australian Photographer to join TRUE NORTH cruise


Roebuck Bay, Broome (c) Christian Fletcher

North Star Cruises Australia is delighted to confirm that Christian Fletcher will be joining Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 13a & b in 2009.

You are probably aware of Christian's enviable reputation as a landscape photographer and you probably also appreciate that the Kimberley presents as the ultimate panorama. Accordingly, we are sure that you will be interested to note that Christian will not only be providing instruction on how to capture that perfect image – he will also be conducting tutorials in software refinement and, printing techniques.

A one-stop opportunity to work with a revered professional; with nothing but stunning material to work with and, relaxed how-to instruction on everything from shot selection to the ultimate in presentation.

If you've got the shutter-bug – don't miss this one!

The cruise will depart Broome on the 29th of August and the 'split cruise' format offers complete flexibility. Guests can embark in Broome and remain onboard for the entire 2 week cruise disembarking in Wyndham and taking advantage of our courtesy coach transfer to Kununurra. Alternatively, guests can embark/disembark mid-cruise in the Hunter River taking advantage of our light aircraft/helicopter transfers from/to Kununurra (included).

Don't miss out – early indication is that this will be a very popular departure – contact our adventure partners now to secure your cabin!

For more information on Christian visit: www.christianfletcher.com.au

Email: cruise@northstarcruises.com.au URL: www.northstarcruises.com.au

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kayak in the Realm of the Polar Bear with Aurora Expeditions


Additional voyage announced for 2009

Life explodes in the High Arctic in mid-summer, and sea kayaks are a superb way for an in-depth exploration of this pristine wilderness - one of the most ruggedly spectacular places on Earth.

Paddling on glassy seas around icebergs, against a backdrop of towering mountains and glaciers, provides an unrivalled opportunity to get up close and personal with the abundant wildlife that inhabits this region. Spitsbergen is one of the best places in the world to see polar bears, as well as walrus, reindeer and millions of migratory birds.

Aurora Expeditions has announced a fifth departure to this land of the midnight sun in 2009, which includes a kayaking option.

The 11-day ‘Circumnavigation of Spitsbergen’ voyage will depart from Longyearbyen on 3 July 2009 travelling aboard the ice-strengthened expedition vessel Polar Pioneer. Limited to a group of just 56 people, each cruise has a team of experienced naturalists and historians that will guide passengers through the dramatic landscapes, unique cultures and abundant wildlife that capture the essence of the High Arctic.

Aurora’s unrivalled knowledge of weather and ice conditions helps chart the best possible course and in true expedition style, their flexible approach to each day is designed to take maximum advantage of unexpected opportunities.

Prices start from A$5,790 per person triple-share, including all meals on board, Zodiac excursion ashore and a complete team naturalists, historians and expedition staff. The all-inclusive price for the sea kayaking option costs an additional A$990.

For further information contact Aurora Expeditions on (02) 9252-1033 (1800-637-688 within Australia) or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Monday, December 8, 2008

“Make Us an Offer” on Galapagos Islands


Adventure tour operator Boundless Journeys is getting into the online auction game again. The company’s popular Galapagos Islands nature cruise, scheduled for February 19-28, 2009 has a few spaces available and the company is allowing bidders to “Make Us an Offer”.

Says company President Matt Holmes, “our travelers have been thrilled in the past by the opportunity to make a bid on a dream trip that may previously have been out of their reach price-wise. It really is a win-win situation; we get to fill a couple of vacant slots, and our guests get to take advantage of an amazing deal.”

Just how amazing? Competition for the few spots is typically fierce, but winning bids are often between 25-40% below the listed price of the trip. “It wouldn’t be a viable policy to do it for every trip, but now and then there is a perfect opportunity to share a really good deal with our guests,” adds Holmes.

To bid on the February 19-28, 2009 departure, simply e-mail your offer to info@boundlessjourneys.com, or call 1-800-941-8010. Detailed itineraries are available online at www.boundlessjourneys.com.

To be in the loop on future “Make Us an Offer” opportunities, subscribe to Boundless Journeys’ e-news list. You’ll receive one or two e-mails per month, containing auction offers and general travel news. To join the list, simply visit http://www.boundlessjourneys.com/moreinfo/newsletter.html and request to be added.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

AUSSIES’ MAKE SEADREAM A CARIBBEAN COUP

david ellis

MODERN-day pirates may have guests ducking for cover on cruise ships off Somalia, but when a baker's-dozen Aussies decided on a brief "commandeering" of the world's Number One motor-yacht in the Caribbean last month, fellow guests didn't go running for cover – they went running for their cameras.

SeaDream I had just sailed 4952km across the Atlantic from Tenerife in the Canary Islands, and had dropped anchor off sunny St Barts in the French West Indies when the Aussies sprang their Caribbean Coup.

Gathering at the ship's stern they swiftly lowered the official Norwegian flag, and in a flash had a 2-metre Australian one fluttering in its place - providing unique photo-opportunities aboard SeaDream I and on surrounding pleasure boats as well: it's not every day luxury cruisers are seen in those parts with the Aussie flag flapping from their flagstaff.

After a Champagne toast down our flag came and that of Norway (SeaDream Yacht Club is Norwegian-owned,) run-up again by SeaDream's security officer – one of only two deck officers who knew of the "surprise" event: the other was the Captain, who'd quietly given his approval.

The thirteen Australians were the third biggest group after Americans and British amongst the-just 91-guests on board, and also the most Aussies ever to make the annual 11-night relocation from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean where SeaDream escapes the Northern Winter.

And despite dire predictions from doomsayer mates, passengers on the boutique 4,300 tonne SeaDream I – and that included this writer – were not tossed around on a wild and stormy Atlantic: SeaDream's mega-motor-cruisers travel well south, missing the stormier conditions of the North Atlantic.

Apart from rain showers on the first day that prevented dining on deck, breakfasts and lunches were taken outdoors under shade-covers for the remaining 10-days, and the open-air Top of the Yacht Bar became a late-morning focal point for flutes of Champagne, rainbow cocktails in voluminous glasses, beers from Europe, America and Mexico, and wines from around the world (that are all included in the holiday price.)

A 3m swell eased after the first few days and from then-on it was much like lake sailing… in fact, so smooth was it towards the end that Captain Bjarne Smorawski had to reduce speed to avoid arriving ahead of schedule into our first Caribbean port, St Maartens.

And again despite the doomsayers, there was plenty to keep us occupied on our eight non-stop days across the Atlantic: a Handwriting Analyst and People Profiler, and an Astronomer each gave several talks to interested guests, while poolside was the place to chin-wag, read a book, or take a nap in the sun (and raise a languid hand to have your favourite drink miraculously appear – and your stewards clean your sunglasses and mist you with cool water if they deduced signs of fatigue in these gruelling conditions.)

And then there was the food, oh glorious food: Chef d'Cuisine, Tomasz and Pastry Chef Garfield (dubbed "The Pound A Day Men") offered sensation after sensation from traditional breakfast favourites through internationally-inspired luncheons, evening cocktails and dinner – always a particularly grand 5-star affair with Starters (Gratinated Escargots with Aubergine Compote and Champignon de Paris amongst the choices one night,) Middle Courses (Cream of Mushroom Soup infused with Truffle Oil another,) Chef's Main Dishes (decisions decisions: Grilled Lobster Tail, Roast Baby Lamb Loin or Duck L'Orange one evening,) and Garfield's sinful desserts that might include Chocolate SoufflĂ© with Baileys Sauce….

For the Pound A Day guilty there were brisk morning walks around the top deck (that also raised funds for Miami's Children's' Bereavement Centre,) Tai Chi and Stretch Sessions, Yoga, golf on the 50-course Simulator, a state-of-the-art Fitness Centre, an optional-cost Spa, and less physically-demanding quizzes, trivia sessions, Black Jack lessons and Sundowners at the Top of the Yacht Bar to prepare one for the evening's pre-dinner Cocktail Party…

And yes, we survived to hopefully do it all again…

(The 55-couples/95-crew SeaDream I sails 11-nights from San Juan to Lisbon on May 3 2009 with prices from US$3527pp twin-share, inclusive of all 5-star dining, drinks from the open bars and wines with meals, nightly Cocktail Parties, use of a 50-course golf simulator, gratuities, port charges and taxes. See travel agents or visit www.seadream.com for more information including 2009's Mediterranean itineraries.)

                                                        ………………….

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] CARIBBEAN coup – not every day the Aussie flag flutters from a luxury ship in the Caribbean.

[] SEADREAM I slips by an idyllic Caribbean isle.


(PHOTOS: Malcolm Andrews and SeaDream Yacht Club)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

MV Ushuaia runs aground in Antarctica

The 84-passenger Ushuaia, an ice-strengthened vessel that spends five months a year in the region, was near the entrance to Antarctica's famed Wilhelmina Bay when the accident occurred, a spokesman for the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators tells USA TODAY.

No one was injured in the grounding but the ship's officers plan to move passengers to another vessel before they try to "refloat" the Ushuaia.

"An initial assessment of damage indicated that while there was no imminent danger and no threat to life, it would be precautionary to transfer passengers to another vessel," the Association says in a situation report sent to USA TODAY. Still, they added, the ship is stable.

Another expedition ship, the Antarctic Dream, was seven miles away when the incident occurred and already has arrived on the scene. Several other ice-strengthed expedition ships including the National Geographic Explorer, Professor Multanovskiy and Polar Star also are nearby and have offered assistance should it be needed.

Several Chilean Naval vessels also are en route, and the Association, which has been in contact with the Ushuaia's crew, says they plan to transfer passengers to the Chilean Naval vessel Achiles on Friday.

The Association says the Ushuaia leaked a small amount of light oil when it ran aground, but the leak has since been sealed and oil barriers have been deployed to contain further spills.

Originally built for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970, the 2,923-ton Ushuaia is one of several dozen small expedition ships that operate adventure cruises to Antarctica each year during the brief Antarctic summer -- the period from late November until March when the ice around the continent melts back enough to allow visits.

The often-spartan voyages, which appeal to well-heeled adventurers from around the globe who pay $4,000 per person or more for the chance to see one of the most remote and untrammeled regions on Earth, have grown in popularity in recent years. But several recent incidents also have raised concerns about the trips, which offer the chance to see everything from giant icebergs to penguins and whales.

Just last year two expedition vessels, G.A.P. Adventures' Explorer and Hurtigruten's Fram, were damaged by icebergs. The Explorer eventually sank.

The IAATO statement on the incident says the Ushuaia was sailing nearly full with 82 passengers on board, including 12 Americans, 2 Canadians, 11 Australians and 7 residents of the United Kingdom. Passengers from nearly a dozen other countries including The Netherlands, Germany, Italy and China also are on board.

Captain Trevor Haworth Retires


Today, Captain Cook Cruises founder Trevor Haworth announced that he will be retiring as Executive Chairman after 38 years.

“After thirty eight years building the business and delivering reliable, quality products, I have made the decision to retire as Executive Chairman of the company. I will, however, be taking on the role of non-executive Chairman.” Says Captain Trevor Haworth.

With Captain Haworth as non-executive Chairman and his children Anthony Haworth and Jackie Charlton retaining their positions as Joint Managing Directors, Captain Cook Cruises will remain a family owned company.

In a decision to further grow the business, Mr. Nick Hortle has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company. Nick has many years of business experience including general management roles at some of Australia’s largest NFP service providers and as a partner at KPMG Chartered Accountants.

“It has been a real privilege to have been a part of the development and growth of inbound tourism into Australia over the past 38 years,” says Captain Trevor Haworth.

“I am confident Captain Cook Cruises, under Nick’s command and supported by Jackie and Anthony, will continue to prosper and grow”.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

MYPLANET LAUNCH 2009 CRUISES TO TWO OF NATURE’S RICHEST HAVENS

They are two of the world’s revered cruise destinations – the vast, stunning beauty of Antarctica, and the warm waters of the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador – and both are two of nature’s richest havens.

“When you talk of the Antarctic, and of the Galapagos Islands, you are speaking of the two destinations in the world where the true wonder of nature can be experienced right before your eyes – they are fascinating places that leave such a strong impact on visitors,” MyPlanet general manager Sandy Greenwood said.

In its latest brochure ‘Antarctica & South America 2009’ MyPlanet has highlighted these two specific regions which are both in strong demand from the Australian market, and introduced three styles of travel to suit individual budgets – comfortable expedition, superior expedition and luxury expedition.

New for 2009 is the luxury Orion Expedition Cruises which will operate ‘luxury expeditions’ from Hobart to New Zealand and the Sub-Antarctic Islands and deep into the Antarctic. The luxury ship, with a choice Staterooms and Suites spread over six decks, includes 24 hour room service, all meals, landings by zodiac boats, lectures, and complimentary expedition parkas.

Its 14 day ‘New Zealand & Sub Antarctic Islands’, priced from $10,160, visits Macquarie Island renowned for its Royal, King, Gentoo and Rock Hopper penguins, the volcanic Campbell Island with its crested penguins, albatross and black browed mollyhawks, the Auckland Islands with their Hooker seal lion colonies and rare yellow eyed penguins, then on to Stewart Island and the stunning Fjordland of New Zealand.

New also is Orion’s 21 day ‘Scott & Shackleton’s Ross Sea Antarctic’, priced from $20, 795, which crosses the Antarctic Circle to journey deep into the vast Antarctic waters. From Hobart its crosses the Ross Sea with landings at such remote locations as Cape Hallett with its giant glaciers and mountains, Cape Terra Nova Bay discovered by the Scott Expedition, the massive David Glacier and the bleak Inexpressable Island visiting Scott’s Hut built in 1911, and Shackleton’s Hut - both still preserved by their freezing environment. It is then onto the remote Possession Islands where the 1899 British Expedition’s Borchgrevink hut still, remarkably, stands. From there it is back to Invercargill in New Zealand via Snares Island.

Then there is the popular ‘Superior Expedition’ cruises aboard the Hurtigruten ship MS Fram with accommodation ranging from ‘Inside Cabin’ through to ‘Outside Cabin’, ‘Mini Suites’, ‘Suites’ and ‘Grand Suites’. “This is a very comfortable eight deck cruise ship,” Greenwood said. All rooms have private facilities, all meals are included, landings are by Polar Cirkel boats, there is a complimentary expedition parka, specialist lectures onboard plus a tour of Buenos Aires. Flights from BA to Ushuaia are included.

Cruises include the 12 day ‘Antarctic Peninsula’ priced from $7650, ‘An Emperor’s Antarctica’ priced from $10,150 for 16 days and ‘Shackleton’s Antarctica’ -21 days from $9860.

The ‘Comfortable Expeditions’ are aboard the Quark ships Akademik Shokalskiy and the Ocean Nova.

These expedition style ships have shared, private, superior and suite accommodation all with private facilities, all meals, Zodiac boat landings, an expedition parka and lectures.

New in this category for 2009 is the 20 day ‘Antarctic Quest via The Falklands & South Georgia. Priced from $17,389 it explores all the extremes of the south – the icebergs, waterways, glaciers, mountains and rich wildlife in what is an incredible journey.

Also memorable is the 12 day ‘Antarctic Voyage’ through the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula - visually stunning with icebergs, pods of whales, glaciers and remote icy bays and inlets. It is priced from $9756.

And then there are the famed Galapagos! These are the 74 islands 1000km off the Ecuadorian mainland that inspired Charles Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ and helped map the world’s evolution.

The 6 day ‘Quito & the Galapagos Islands’ cruise, priced from $3680, is aboard a superior class ship with all meals and sightseeing plus return flights ex Quito included. Aboard the yacht MV Galapagos Legend visitors explore the second largest marine land in the world come into contact with a melting pot of unique species including marine iguanas, giant tortoises and seals.

‘Galapagos in Depth’ is a six day adventure/scientific expedition that is described as “the ultimate” Galapagos experience. The cruise, priced from $4595, visits Rabida Island with its sea lions, flamingos, marine iguanas, birds and fur seals, the lunar landscape of Bartomele Island, the Charles Darwin Research Station, the wildlife of Punta Suarez, the volcanic sands of Floriana and renowned Black Turtle Cove with its green turtles and golden rays.

“In the Galapagos you really commune with nature; it is all around you –the wildlife, and the beauty of the islands, is unforgettable,” Greenwood said.

For further information contact MyPlanet, phone1800 221 712 www.myplanetaustralia.com.au

MyPlanet Australia the leading travel company for Scandinavia, Russia, the Baltic’s, the Arctic, Antarctica and South America celebrating 30th Anniversary in 2009 has launched its cruise and tour program for 2009-2010 season. The program is a smorgasbord of independent and escorted travel, comfortable expedition, superior expedition and luxury expedition cruises, rail and sightseeing tours all year around. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd operates as a retail arm for MyBentours; a wholesaler and cruise specialist for Australian and New Zealand travel industry. MyPlanet Australia Pty Ltd (trading as MyBentours and MyPlanet) is the General Sales Agent (GSA) for Hurtigruten Group, Icelandair and Gota Canal in Australia and New Zealand. MyPlanet is locally operated and globally connected as part of TUI Travel PLC

Cruise Weekly Comment: Tahiti

From Expedition and Adventure Cruising

How could you possibly dismiss Tahiti as an adventure cruise destination?

Drenched in popular folklore thanks to the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, Tahiti has associated itself with almost everything romantic and adventurous. Heartthrobs Mel Gibson, Errol Flynn, Marlon Brando and Clark Gable all played the lovable rogue seaman, Fletcher Christian, a real-life character who threw away his life as a Royal Navy officer to elope with a beautiful Polynesian woman.

Instead of hard-edged exploration and discovery, Tahiti earns its adventure status for its emotive allure and pure hedonistic escapism. Just as the crew of the Bounty discovered in 1787, life on this pristine tropical island was infinitely more preferable than one of harsh servitude in the English Navy.

Today, luxury cruise operators such as Haumana, Nomade Yachting (formerly Bora Bora Cruises) and Aranui 3 offer a range of sun-soaked itineraries to transport you back to the time of the goggle-eyed limeys, smitten by the warm weather and affectionate locals.

While Haumana and Nomade offer boutique relaxation and escapism, Aranui embraces the true adventurer as it takes passengers on its dual-purpose 14-night journey to the remote and exotic Marquesas where artists like Paul Gaugin and writer Herman Melville found inspiration for their works.

You can explore all these possibilities at the one-stop-shop: www.ultimatecruising.com.au
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