Sunday, May 31, 2009
IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wonderous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS says that if you thought it a ridiculous waste of pocket-money rolling Jaffas down the aisle at the local Saturday afternoon flicks, consider how much it will cost to let 30,000 of the little red critters loose on a public street in New Zealand in July.
It's all part of the annual Cadbury Chocolate Festival at Dunedin that celebrates the local Cadbury factory being responsible for 75 per cent of all New Zealand's commercial chocolate production.
And it's not any old street they'll be rolled down: Baldwin Street is recognised as the world's steepest roadway, falling at an average rate of one metre in five over its 350-metre length, and at one stage one-in-three.
All 30,000 Jaffas will be numbered and sold on behalf of local charities at a dollar each, with the 20,000+ spectators who turn out for the bizarre event hoping to win prizes ranging from holidays to mobile phones (and of course chocolate hampers) for the first handful of Jaffas across the line.
The Chocolate Festival will be held in Dunedin from July 11 to 17, with activities from the Great Jaffa Roll to kids cooking events (with chocolate of course,) Choc-Art exhibitions and an evening of Chocolate, Jazz and Shiraz.
Travel agents have details.
THE first thing most would-be company owners do when musing over what to call their new outfit is to bring in the big guns of marketing, advertising, logo design and corporate law.
But back in 1946 two blokes who were to create what would become one of the world's most successful airlines, had no interest in such normal business practicalities: instead, one simply went to a Manila pub to get inspiration there, telling some foreign correspondent mates he drank with when visiting the Philippines, that he wanted a name for an airline he was planning with a business partner in Hong Kong.
Over a philosophical glass or eight the wordsmiths came up with Cathay Pacific – "Cathay" being the historic name for China, and "Pacific" because the partners wanted to one day fly to Australia.
And so an airline was born, its owners Roy Farrell, an American and Sydney de Kantzow, an Australian having known each other from their Second War flying days in Asia, and each having a vision for an airline linking China, Asia and Australia.
Both had business interests in Shanghai, but moved to Hong Kong where they paid HK$2 to register their partnership, and in September 1946 launched Cathay Pacific with a cheap surplus US Air Force Douglas DC-3 they dubbed "Betsy."
It was an instant success, and an import-export company they set up to generate airfreight business equally so – particularly de Kantzow's idea to fly fresh Sydney rock oysters to Hong Kong for luxury-strapped British expats.
To meet demand for seats and airfreight the partners bought a second DC-3 within a few months, five more the following year and two Catalina flying boats to operate to the Portuguese colony of Macao off the coast of China; in their first six months they carried 3,000 passengers and 15,000 kilograms of cargo between Asia and Australia alone
But like most airlines, turbulence lay in wait for the fledgling Cathay Pacific, and in 1948 the British Governor of colonial Hong Kong dropped the bombshell that as "foreigners" the partners could in fact not own more than 20 per cent of their own airline. They would need a British partner who would relieve them of 80 per cent.
John "Jock" Swire, head of prominent Hong Kong trading company, Butterfield and Swire liked the idea, invested the required 80 per cent and assumed an active role in Cathay Pacific's day-to-day operations.
Then in 1948, Cathay made unwanted history when the Catalina flying to Macao became the world's first victim of air piracy: a group of Chinese gunmen hijacked the plane inflight, mistakenly believing there was a cargo of gold aboard. They shot the pilot and the plane crashed into China's Pearl River estuary.
Ironically the only survivor of the 23 passengers and three crew was one of the hijackers, Wong Yu-man who was held for three years but never charged as neither Portuguese Macao nor British Hong Kong had laws covering air piracy; on release from prison in 1951 Wong died in China in what one newspaper dryly observed "appeared a suitably contrived accident."
And as a result of the hijacking, Cathay Pacific became the world's first airline to screen passengers and freight with metal detectors.
Further turbulence followed when Britain and Australia, protecting their own BOAC (later British Airways) and Qantas, restricted Cathay Pacific flights to their countries, and it was many years before both routes were fully freed to Cathay Pacific.
Another incident in 1972 once-again focused world attention on Cathay Pacific. After one of its jet-engine Convairs crashed in Vietnam, Hong Kong police charged a Thai police officer with sabotage and murder, alleging he'd put a bomb in the bag of his wife whom he had insured heavily before putting her aboard with their child.
He was acquitted and no one else was ever charged.
Today Cathay Pacific Airways operates 97 passenger aircraft and 24 freighters to 120 destinations world-wide, employs 18,800 staff globally and carries approximately 1-million passengers a month.
Pretty good results from a beer in a bar, and one old DC-3 – which, incidentally, is on display at Hong Kong's Science Museum having been sold by Cathay in 1955, and bought back 30 years later after being found still flying freight around the Australian Outback.
 BOEING 777-300ER – flagship type of Cathay Pacific's fleet of 121 aircraft.
 ONE of the airline's first two Douglas DC-3s, restored and on display in Hong Kong.
 AUSTRALIAN wartime pilot, Sydney de Kantzow (second from right) with fellow pilots before he co-founded Cathay Pacific Airways.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Location: Columbia River, Oregon
Astute readers of this column will recall some months ago I introduced the US-based adventure cruise company, Cruise West. Many readers have cruised with them too, probably in Alaska, the most popular itinerary among Australians.
Now I have the chance to sample the product firsthand and have the pleasure to report from aboard Spirit of ’98 as we cruise upstream east from Portland Oregon along the mighty Columbia River, into the wild mountainous country along the Washington State border.
Only three days into an eight night voyage, this report may be somewhat premature, but I’m already getting a feel for the ethos of this company which operates under the tagline; ‘Up close, casual and personal’.
Marcy and Kate, two highly experienced nature guides, take charge of the education, filling us in on everything from migrating salmon, hydro-electric power generation, native American heritage and European exploration, most of which is centred around the intrepid pair, Lewis and Clarke.
Our passengers on this itinerary are exclusively Americans and predominantly retired folks, but that doesn’t dissuade anyone from getting out and about. Day one was confined to the lower reaches of the Columbia around Portland and the township of Vancouver (not to be confused with BC) on the other bank. Heavy industry, including the former liberty shipyards of WWII, dominates this region.
But soon mighty basalt cliffs and the distant Mt Hood herald a landscape akin to Alaska with vast tracts of pine and timber bordering the huge waterway. The Columbia is no babbling brook; oceangoing vessels including US Navy warships regularly visit Portland, 100 miles from the Pacific coast.
Spirit of ’98, recently relocated from Alaska, is our home for these seven nights. One of Cruise West’s fleet of eight vessels, she is built to an early 20th Century theme recalling the graceful coastal steamers of the pioneer era. So convincing, she landed a part in the Kevin Costner classic, Wyatt Earp. Built in 1984, her passenger capacity is 96; ideal for the expedition task. Interior fit-out is classic wood and brass with a convincing turn-of-the-(last) century feel.
Ahead lays the Wild West town of Pendleton, famed as much for its illicit underground culture as its respected wool and trade profile. Beyond that, the Tamastslikt Cultural Center is one of the few native American interpretive centres in this region and the much-anticipated jetboat ride up Hells Canyon sounds exhilarating. Like so many comparable adventure itineraries, I’m free to be as active or docile as I like. Already I’ve climbed a one mile upward trek to the top of Multnomah Falls and explored the cavernous interior of the Bonneville Dam hydro-electric plant and ingenious salmon bypass.
River cruise or interior expedition, call it what you will, I’m learning stacks about this region and its natural and human history in an intimate, uncrowded manner that truly defines adventure cruising. If this is a sampler, I hope to report on many more Cruise West itineraries from around the Pacific and beyond.
Further information on Cruise West products at your travel agent or at www.cruisewest.com
Monday, May 25, 2009
Vanuatu's outer islands are becoming more accessible for travelers with boutique cruise company, Island Escape Cruises, announcing a new cruise departing from Espiritu Santo for a five day exploration of remote islands including Pentecost, Ambrym and Asanvari.
The luxury 10 cabin vessel will operate in Vanuatu over the winter season between May and October. There will be two five day Vanuatu itineraries to choose from – The Secrets of Bali Hai and The Tropic of Paradise. These can be combined for a ten night cruise if preferred.
The itineraries will cover remote islands, visiting the amazing land diving on Pentecost, the mystique and live volcanoes of Ambryn and the rainforests, natural swimming pools and waterfalls of Asanvari. Along the way passengers will visit the glorious beaches of Santo and anchor on the vibrant coral reef systems of the Maskelyne Islands.
Annie Niatu, general manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office says, "We are pleased that Island Escapes is opening some of the outer islands up for travelers to discover the beauty and intrigue of these islands.
The operation also shows that Espiritu Santo is really emerging as a popular island option for Australian travelers."
Since Air Vanuatu commenced direct flights from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo last year the destination has become increasingly attractive to Australian travelers. Espiritu Santo is graduating from primarily a dive Mecca and becoming a popular island paradise. The island is attracting a new cliental with more boutique style resorts opening each year.
This month Ratua Private Island will also open offering a level of sophistication that is being dubbed 'primitive luxury'. Moyyan House by the Sea has also proved popular for those looking for an island getaway close to Australia.
After a few days experiencing Espiritu Santo travelers can hop aboard Island Escape Cruises to discover the mysteries of the surrounding island's wildlife, and discover the rituals and festivals of the unique island cultures. The vessel has an expert local guide on board as well as small boats so that passengers have the freedom to discover their surrounding paradise however they choose.
Visit www.vanuatu.travel for more information on the destination
Visit www.islandescape.co.nz for more information, prices or to make a booking.
Monday, May 18, 2009
One of the more satisfying aspects of the trip for me personally was watching how everyone threw themselves into the expedition with such enthusiasm and bravado, no matter what age they were. Each time we snorkelled, without fail one of the oldest ladies on board would be the first one in the water and the last one out. She would then wade slowly on to the beach with a beaming smile from ear to ear, completely enthralled by the vast array of fish and coral on display. In contrast, one of our youngest passengers was a 16-year-old girl who was a complete hit everywhere we landed. Most of the places we had visited had never seen white children and they were completely enthralled by her blonde hair. She embraced the attention, grabbed the hands of the local children and was treated like royalty while being shown the villages we visited, always returning to the ship with more additions to her long list of new pen pals.
Being constantly inspired on board by people's willingness to explore and discover made me reflect on what it was we seek on journeys such as these. Meeting the overwhelmingly friendly people of PNG and learning more about their lives help put our own lives in perspective. But, there is more to it than that. In all of us there is a primal need to be at one with nature, a craving for wilderness that needs to be satisfied. At the same time there is a need to take time out from our normal every day lives, to feed our curiosity and learn about the unknown.
Visiting wild, untouched places like Papua New Guinea give us the chance to quite literally get back to nature, to turn our faces towards it and let it wash over us. With the world in such disarray, perhaps now, more than ever, it's time to pack your bags and refresh your soul in a way that only the world's wild places can.
Coral Princess Cruises has launched its 2009/10 program of small-ship, expedition-style cruises in New Zealand - and is offering a 25 per cent discount on its Auckland to Bay of Islands voyages for departures between December and February. The offer is available for new bookings made until July 31, 2009.
The five-night Bay of Islands cruise aboard Coral Princess's purpose-built luxury expedition vessel, Oceanic Discoverer, departs from either Auckland or Paihia, exploring the hidden coves and spectacular coastline of the far north-eastern tip of New Zealand's North Island.
Summer cruising in the Bay of Islands reveals hidden clear-water fiords and sub-tropical islets, as well as better-known sites such as the Hole in the Rock – a rock 'tunnel' etched by wind and waves; Deep Water Cove; Roberton Island and Urupukapuka – the largest of the 144 islands in the Bay of Islands.
Representing savings of up to $1,575 per couple in a Main Deck B Stateroom, prices start at $2,362 per person twin share. This includes accommodation, all meals, activities and excursions during the cruise, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers and landing fees. There are twelve departures, six each from Auckland and Paihia between December 19, 2009 and February 2, 2010.
Departing from World Heritage Milford Sound and travelling to Auckland, or vice versa, the 12-night Milford Sound cruise explores New Zealand's east coast, including the remote reaches of Milford and Doubtful Sound – described as New Zealand's most spectacular waterway. Stewart Island is renowned for its birdlife, including kiwis and penguins, and marks the southernmost point on the voyage. Heading north, the ship stops at secluded Akaroa Harbour, where it's possible to swim with dolphins, while Kaikoura is known as the best destination for whale watching.
The Tory Channel marks the entrance to the beautiful blue-green waters of Marlborough Sound, where Oceanic Discoverer's guides interpret the history and natural attractions on guided walks. The trip also takes in Art Deco Napier, historic Gisborne, the active volcano on White Island and there's time to explore the beaches and caves of the remote Mercury Islands, before ending the trip in Auckland.
The Milford Sound voyage departs on February 8 and 20, 2010 and costs from $7590 per person, twin share in a Main Deck B stateroom. Prices include all meals, accommodation, excursions, transfers and port taxes.
Carrying a maximum of just 72 guests, Oceanic Discoverer provides all the comforts and facilities of larger cruise ships. But Oceanic Discoverer is small enough to access remote bays and islands that larger vessels can't reach.
For further information, call 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
CLOSE to a million people a year visit the replica of Shakespeare's old Globe Theatre in London's Thames-side Southwark, either to just gawk or to take-in a performance.
Probably only a few ever ponder its history, one that's as contorted as anything the Bard himself could have penned – and he was certainly no slouch when it came to matters of intrigue.
That history goes back nearly four-and-a-half centuries to 1576 when the forerunner to the original Globe Theatre was built in nearby Shoreditch by actor-entrepreneur James Burbage, who uninspiringly for an actor simply called it the Theatre.
Shakespeare was one of its early troupe of resident actors called The Chamberlain's (later The King's) Men; the Theatre flourished for twenty years until Burbage died in 1597, and the owner of the site grabbed it in lieu of alleged unpaid land rent.
The King's Men moved to another playhouse, and between Christmas and New Year's Eve 1598, doubtless fuelled by voluminous good cheer and with the landowner at his up-country estate, moved-in and demolished the Theatre.
They stored the pieces for a year before rebuilding it in Southwark as The Globe, with the deceased Burbage's sons selling shares in the new enterprise: Shakespeare who was now both a writer and actor for The Globe, bought 12.5%.
Actors had an enormous work-load, some memorising 5000 lines covering thirty parts for a different play for every day of the week, except Sundays, Christmas and Lent which they got off.
And as most of the public at the time could neither read nor write, a black flag would fly over the roof of The Globe signifying a tragedy was being performed that day, a white flag for a comedy, and a red one for an historical play.
Then during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry the Eighth in 1613 the audience got more for their entry Penny than they'd expected: a stage cannon set fire to the thatch roof, and The Globe burned to the ground.
A replacement theatre was built on the site, but soon after England's Puritan Parliament ordered its demolition and its foundations buried to remove all traces of The Globe, slamming it as "a very great annoyance to noblemen and gentlemen, with all manner of vagrants and lewd persons attending, and with drums and trumpets greatly disturbing ministers and parishioners at Divine Service."
It appeared The Globe theatre had finally succumbed forever, but fast-forward 300-years to the 1960s, and not to an Englishman but to an American Shakespearean actor and movie director, Sam Wanamaker who embarked on a twenty year campaign to have a new Globe Theatre rise in London.
Wanamaker's research put the foundations of The Globe under a derelict brewery, warehouse and row of brothels ear-marked by the London Council for demolition.
But the Council had little interest in Wanamaker's idea of a new Globe rising on the historic site, preferring instead a slab of concrete the size of a football field for a garbage recycling plant.
Wanamaker persevered with his campaign to have the Council reverse its decision, and during this time found parts of the original Globe Theatre under an adjacent Heritage listed house – which the Council again put off-limits to him because of its Heritage listing.
Eventually he won his fight with a new Council giving the go-ahead for the new Globe Theatre, rather than a recycling plant, to rise 230-metres from the original; sadly Wanamaker died four years before the Queen officially opened it in 1997.
And like the original, the remarkable 'O' shaped building is made of oak without a single bolt or nail in it, everything instead being mortised and dowelled, with walls of original-style lime plaster over oak lathe-and-staff, and a thatch roof.
The stage extends from the rear of the 'O' with a pit area before it in which "groundlings" (dubbed "stinkards" on hot days in Shakespeare's time) stand during performances, while there are also three levels of seating galleries.
But the new theatre holds only 1700 compared with the original's 3000; regular tours include a Shakespeare Exhibition, a history of the original Globe, and another of the infamous inns, 'stews' (brothels,) bear-baiting and pit-dog fighting arenas that once surrounded it.
Travel agents can include tours or performances in UK packages. www.shakespeares-globe.org
 THE new Globe Theatre: a garbage recycling plant had been planned on the historic site amid London suburbia.
 A SHAKESPEAREAN performance inside the new Globe.
IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wonderous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS finds that between them, every fortnight the fifty aircraft of Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service fly the equivalent of a return trip to the Moon.
And on an average day, their onboard medical crews treat 717 patients, hold 39 clinics and evacuates 99 emergency patients.
All this of course doesn't come cheap: it costs $180m a year to run the service, the money coming from Federal, State and Territory governments, commercial contracts, private donations, philanthropic grants, private trusts, events and fundraising.
If you'd like to help towards this with a donation, or get more information, contact Deb Hunt, RFDS (02) 9941 8888 or email@example.com or visit www.flyingdoctors.org.au
WING-NOTE: AN early flying doctor at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory always carried a bag of old bolts with him, and when returning from the Outback with a patient would fly directly over the local mission station hospital... the number of bolts he dropped on the hospital roof would let the duty matron know whether the incoming patient needed a car or an ambulance to get to the hospital from the airstrip, and the kind of attention - from minor to major - they were going to require.
The mission station is still there, complete with the thousands of dings in its corrugated iron roof.
(Source: By Mark Tré - Cybercruises.com)
Changes Among the Expedition Ships
Meanwhile, there have been a number of changes among the operators of the smaller expeditions ships.
After the absorption of INTRAV and its Clipper brand and Australia's Peregrine Adventures into the Quark brand under TUI, a recent announcement has been made that Peregrine will be reinstated as an operator, responsible for marketing and operating the 104-berth Akademik Sergey Vavilov.
Basically, this will leave Quark with the 112-berth icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov and three passenger ships, the 122-berth Clipper Adventurer, 112-berth Lyubov Orlova and 68-berth Ocean Nova, and Peregrine with the adapted scientific research ship. The 48-berth Akademik Shokalskiy, meanwhile, will not return to the Antarctic in 2009/10 even though she was originally scheduled to.
Former Peregrine manager Andrew Prossin last year set up his own company, One Ocean Expeditions in Vancouver, and in 2009/10 will operate five Antarctic departures with the 108-berth Akademik Ioffe, which previously worked for Quark. Last season, One Ocean worked with Oceanwide Adventures of Flushing.
The addition of One Ocean means that five of these adventure companies now operate from Canada. GAP Adventures, with its new 116-berth ship Expedition, and Cruise North Expeditions, which operates the Lyubov Orlova in the Canadian Arctic each summer, are both located in Toronto, as is Patrick Shaw, president of Quark Expeditions, whose reservations offices are located in Stamford, Connecticut.
Meanwhile, Polar Star Expeditions, which operates the 96-berth icebreaker Polar Star is based in Halifax. Ironically, Prossin and Shaw, along with Cruise North boss Dugald Wells, all worked for the pioneering Canadian operator Marine Expeditions before that company went out of business in 2001, victim of a spike in the price of fuel that brought down the affiliated World Cruise Company.
In the United States, as well as Quark in Stamford, Lindblad National Geographic, with their 148-berth National Geographic Explorer, and Travel Dynamics, with the 100-berth Clelia II and 114-berth Corinthian II, are both located in the New York area, with Lindblad and Travel Dynamics both having offices in Manhattan.
Cruise West are also using the Corinthian II, a sister ship of their own Spirit of Oceanus, for a dedicated 18-night Antarctic, Falklands and South Georgia departure of their own on February 8, 2010. New fleetmate Clelia II has just been acquired and was upgraded to Ice Class in Piraeus this spring. She will now alternate her winters in the Antarctic with summers in the Great Lakes.
Outside of North America, operators include Hapag-Lloyd Cruises of Hamburg, with the 138-berth Bremen and 168-berth Hanseatic, Silversea Expeditions of Monaco, with the 120-berth Prince Albert II, and Oceanwide Expeditions of Flushing, with its 112-berth Plancius, 84-berth Antarctic Dream and 53-berth sister ships Professor Molchanov and Professor Multanovskiy, and in Australia, Orion Expedition Cruises, with the 106-passenger Orion and Aurora Expeditions, with its 100-berth Marina Svetaeva and 56-berth Polar Pioneer.
New Zealand's Heritage Expeditions meanwhile operates the 48-berth Spirit of Enderby. One little ship that will not return, however, is the 100-berth Andrea, now under arrest in Split.
All of these ships carry only 100 or so passengers and are equipped with zodiacs for landings to observe local wildlife, the area's spectacular scenery and to visit research stations. And while the 50-berth ships are slowly disappearing, several of these ships, such as the National Geographic Explorer, Expedition, Clelia II and Plancius, are new to the scene, while Corinthian II, Ocean Nova and Prince Albert II are also fairly recent additions, so there is still a wide choice for the consumer.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"Early Booking Saver fares are great value for money all year round. Even during the peak holiday seasons, our passengers can usually secure a fantastic fare when they book at least 2 months in advance." Said Jackie Haworth-Charlton, Joint Managing Director, Captain Cook Cruises.
All Yasawa Island Fiji cruises offer a truly cultural experience and passengers will visit unspoilt Fijian villages and handicraft markets, experience a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast, tour a village school and visit a village church and experience the beautiful sounds of the children's choir singing.
As well as being immersed in Fijian culture there is plenty of time for relaxation and appreciating the beautiful marine life while snorkelling over amazing coral reefs, lazing on warm white sandy beaches, basking in crystal clear waters or diving in spectacular blue lagoons.
Passengers can even take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji's coral reefs.
Stay on-board and be pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the spa or pool or grab a drink at the pool bar.
Dining is another vital ingredient of these amazing cruises. Whether it is an alfresco luncheon, a casual barbecue or table d'hote dinner, all food is prepared on board from fresh local and imported produce and cultural on-board entertainment adds a special flavour to the mix
The three-night Southern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Saturday at 2.00pm and guests will discover the beauty of the Southern Yasawa Island group including the islands of Waya, Naviti and Viwa and the friendly warmth of its people. Early Booking Savers (EBS) fares start from $900.00 per person twin share
The four-night Northern Yasawa Cruise departs Denarau on Tuesday at 2.00pm. Guests will visit the private island of Tivua and cruise the spectacular passage from Yaqeta Island to the Yasawas northern reaches and EBS fare is available from $1200.00 per person twin share
The seven-night Yasawa Islands Cruise combines the three and the four night cruises for the ultimate in Fiji Yasawa Islands experiences and EBS fares start from $1995.00 per person twin share.
Prices include all meals on board, guided village and island tours, glass bottom boat excursions, on board entertainment and use of the ship's facilities including swimming pool, spa, pool bar, sun deck, sauna, cocktail bar and library. Diving and Day Spa services are available at an additional price.
For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises +61-2-9206 1100, (Aust), +679-670 1823 (Fiji) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.captaincook.com.fj
Monday, May 11, 2009
The Whitsundays are a group of 74 tropical islands in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland Coast, approximately 1000km north of Brisbane and 250km south of Townsville. Fantasea Adventure Cruising is based on the mainland at Shute Harbour, providing the main access point to the islands and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
From the rainbow colours of the coral and marine life on the Great Barrier Reef, the soft silica sand of Whitehaven Beach and the crystal clear waters of the Whitsundays, Fantasea Adventure Cruising offers travellers the most choices of discovering the beauty of the Whitsundays. With an extensive timetable, a wide choice of cruises and regular daily departures from Shute Harbour, Daydream Island Resort and Spa and Hamilton Island Marina and Airport, visitors can see it all.
Its day trips to Reefworld, Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsunday Islands aboard a large air-conditioned catamaran provide a lasting holiday memory for the whole family.
At Reefworld, the largest Australian-owned offshore facility on the Great Barrier Reef, visitors can experience the wonderful colour and beauty of the reef from the safety of a dive platform, from a semi-submersible submarine or an underwater observatory. With change rooms, fresh water showers, large open sun-decks and extensive shaded areas. Optional extras include scuba diving (PADI) for both first time and certified divers, guided snorkel tours with reef interpreters and helicopter scenic flights over world-famous Heart Reef. Club Seahorse, a free kid’s club, provides entertainment for young children and allows parents to enjoy some time together. Reefworld at Hardy Reef is a healthy platform reef which allows for sheltered and protected snorkelling and swimming conditions year round. The Great Barrier Reef full day cruise includes morning and afternoon tea, a daily lunch selection based on local produce including seafood, carved meats and salads.
From Reefsleep, located 51 nautical miles from the coast on Hardy Reef, a fortunate few can admire the intensity of the stars, witness the vibrancy of the reef at night and marvel at the spectacle of an orange-lit sunset. Two days and one night spent aboard the Reefworld platform provide a totally unique opportunity to unwind in the solitude and peaceful tranquillity of Reefsleep.
A maximum of six guests at any one time are accommodated in either a king room for two or bunk room for four with their own personal Fantasea host catering to their needs. A Reefsleep experience includes an alfresco dinner with wine under the stars, an early morning snorkel or dive, full breakfast and two buffet lunches
Voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world and a Whitsunday icon, the four hour Whitehaven Beach cruise enables visitors to wander along seven kilometres of pure white, glistening silica sand, enjoy the unspoiled, natural beauty of the beach and go swimming in its turquoise waters.
Fantasea Adventure Cruising has an extensive ferry schedule with regular services from Shute Harbour, Hamilton Island Marina, Hamilton Island Airport and Daydream Island Resort and Spa. Our schedule is designed to transport passengers to and from all arriving and departing flights from Hamilton Island Airport. Or hop on a ferry on the mainland and spend a day exploring the island resorts.
Fantasea Adventure Cruising is an advanced eco-certified operator offering a genuine eco-tourism experience. Eco tourism is ecologically sustainable tourism with a primary focus on experiencing natural areas that foster environmental and cultural understanding, appreciation and conservation. Fantasea Foundation is the marine research arm of Fantasea and is involved in monitoring reef health and the impact of Fantasea activities on the Great Barrier Reef and assists with monitoring the Marine Park for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Association (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
Based at Newstead, Brisbane on the Brisbane River the MV Fantasea Ammari is an all inclusive boutique cruising experience available for corporate or private charter.
The 60 metre cruising catamaran offers 4 decks and 32 cabins for a maximum of 64 guests overnight or 200 guests for a day or evening function. The elegant Ammari offers cruising options on the Picturesque Brisbane River or to Moreton Bay which covers over 3,400 square kilometres. Moreton Bay is an ecologically significant marine park that offers some of the largest sand islands in the world, is home to over 70 pristine beaches, numerous freshwater springs, inland lakes, and many species of native Australian wildlife.
For enquiries contact Steve Neale, Sales & Marketing Manager on 61 7 4967 5430, email email@example.com or Karen Maher, Sales Executive on 61 7 3852 0983, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover the World Marketing has officially been appointed to handle the sales and marketing for Hurtigruten Cruises in Australia and New Zealand.
"We are very excited about working with Discover the World Marketing for the first time," said Kathryn Beadle, Sales & Marketing Director for Hurtigruten Cruises. "They have a real appreciation of the cruise industry and were an obvious choice to market our unique product."
According to Jenny Adams, CEO for Discover the World Marketing, "Our goal is to increase the visibility of this unique cruise line, that remains an integral part of the Norwegian coastal life, by targeting people who have cruised before and those who are looking for a trip of a lifetime." "The cruises are suited to people who are more adventurous, have a love of the outdoors and especially enjoy wildlife. Our team, headed by Managing Director Richard Cranmer in Australia, has extensive cruise line experience."
Hurtigruten is famous for its Norwegian coastal cruises that literally hug the coast and travel in and out of the most spectacular fjords in the world and prides itself on its specialists' knowledge about wildlife and environment. It has also expanded its coastal hugging philosophy to create cruises to such destinations as Antarctica, Greenland and Spitsbergen. The Hurtigruten fleet consists of 14 purpose-built vessels that have been specifically designed for the waters in which it operates. It also has a fascinating history that started delivering mail, cargo and passengers through Norway's fjords more than 115 years ago.
Discover the World Marketing has more than 27 years of experience operating a unique and truly global network consisting of 83 offices in 55 countries. Regardless of size, Discover offers simple, manageable and effective solutions to fit any company's needs and budget.
Bought as a replacement for the ill-fated Explorer, which sank in Antarctica in November 2007, Expedition, which meets the requirements of Swedish/Finnish Ice Class 1B, is the former Viking Line ferry Alandsfarjan and sailed from Portsmouth on 1 May on a 13-day ‘Britain & Ireland in Bloom’ cruise, on charter to UK operator Nobel Caledonia.
This is the vessel’s first cruise after a 10-day Azores cruises was cancelled due to main engine problems. The cruise ex-Portsmouth has calls at Alderney & Sark, Herm & Guernsey, St. Michael’s Mount and the Helford River, St. Mary’s & Tresco, Waterford, Bantry Bay, Clifden, Portrush, the Isles of Islay & Gigha, Colonsay & Iona, Siel & Craignure, and Oban where the cruise ends.
The conversion of Expedition in Finland has seen the former 1972-built ferry transformed into a modern polar expedition cruise vessel with accommodation for 120 passengers in triple and double cabins, as well as higher end doubles and suites. Singles are available in all cabin categories and all cabins are outside facing. Onboard facilities include the Polar Bear Pub, Expedition Lounge/Albatros Bar, dining room capable of accommodation all passengers in one sitting, a Barbecue deck, a 360° observation deck and a fitness centre/sauna. Toronto-based G.A.P. says that Expedition is one of the first polar vessels to be fully 2010 compliant with the new International Association of Antarctic Cruise Operators (IAATO) environmental recommendations.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
But now it's not just for Zoe: when they mentioned what they were planning to friends and business associates, Dan and Alysa got so much response they turned their holiday with Zoe into a full-time business: Pet Airways that will carry pets-only to join their owners on vacation.
Initially they'll be servicing New York City, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles from July, but plan more cities for their pampered "Pawsengers" that are carried in what's normally the Beechraft's pressurised passenger compartment, with seats and overhead lockers removed.
Holidaymakers fly on regular airlines, and their pets follow aboard Pet Airways in carriers supplied by their owners to ensure both owners and pets are happy with the way their dogs and cats travels.
And pets are offered drinks in the Paws Lodge before flights, staff ensure that pets relieve themselves before boarding, and a "Pet Attendant" travels with them so they're not distressed while flying.
Did someone say "only in America…."
WHEN travel agent Jenny Williams sets off for a cruise with one of her regular groups of mature-age singles travellers, she goes with a Be Prepared attitude worthy of the finest in the Scouting movement.
Because amongst the many accoutrements a good travel agent always has tucked away in their travel bag, Jenny also has a few dozen pairs of industrial-strength ear-plugs – and a roll of yellow ribbon.
A travel agent specialising largely in the cruise market for some 38-years, Jenny in more recent times has been putting together and escorting group-cruise holidays for singles in the 45-to-65 age group, and sometimes even a tad older.
"I love travelling with them because they're mature, love life and have fun – and they're too old to be head-bangers, and too young to qualify for the blue rinse set," she says of her clients, who come from all walks of life: professionals, office workers, farmers, retirees, once an aircraft salesman and another time a Qantas pilot.
"Some are divorcees, some have lost a partner, some have simply never married and enjoy travelling in the company of others – we even have some who come with us because their partners don't want to cruise," Jenny says.
Her cruises have been mainly to the South Pacific and Asia, and while she normally takes around thirty singles, last February she merged her group with another group of 250 holidaymakers a fellow agent had organised aboard Sun Princess for 13-nights to New Zealand.
Jenny gets as much information as she can about each of her cruise-goers so she can match them as best as possible with those of the same sex to share cabins. "Best of all, as they're sharing they're not having to pay those dreaded single supplements," she says.
"Where I can, I organise for those from different capitals cities to meet together before we sail so they get to know something of each other… quite often its at these gatherings that they find out who have common interests and decide whom they might like to share with.
"It usually works out very well – but of course there's always the odd reason for those ear-plugs, and everyone says they in fact work really well!"
Jenny says the death of Diane Brimble on an Australian cruise ship in 2002 gave her business a bit of a jolt. "What happened to poor Diane saw bookings for singles simply melt away, but if anything when the shock wore off we rebounded stronger than ever – I think because of our being organised and escorted aspect."
Currently she's putting together a group to join a 14-day "Cruise, Blues & Rock & Roll" tour to New Zealand aboard Dawn Princess in February next year. "This is right into our age group, with music of our era performed by such Australian greats as James Reyne, Joe Camilleri, Russel Morris, Lisa Edwards and Mike Brady and Band," she says.
And in July 2010 she's booked space for an Aussie singles group for a 17-night luxury cruise aboard Dawn Princess again, this time from New York to the Caribbean, through the Panama Canal, Mexico and Los Angeles.
"I don't hold clients' hands," Jenny says. "While we have dinner together every night as a group, I leave them to do their own shore excursions, shopping and socialising by day, but am always there on board as a 'friendly face' if they have a query or need."
And while she says these aren't "view mat" ("view to matrimony") cruises, she's had two weddings result from her cruises, and says two other couples are now in permanent relationships.
Which brings us to that roll of yellow ribbon she always carries with her. "Yes, sometimes those of the opposite sex do find each other attractive during a cruise, and discover they might want to spend some more-personal time together.
"So if you come back to your cabin one day and find who you are sharing with has borrowed a bit of my yellow ribbon and tied it to the door handle, its a signal for you to go and have a drink and come back later!!!"
To learn more of Jenny's upcoming group cruises for singles, or individual cruise itineraries, phone Delphinus Cruises on (03) 9783 5119 or check-out www.cruisedelphinus.com.au
 JENNY Williams: "Mature age singles are fun to travel with… too old to be head-bangers, and too young for the blue rinse set."
The replica colonial-era riverboat, Orient Pandaw will carry just sixty guests in thirty staterooms, sailing the swift-flowing Rajang River from Sibu to Kapit, the wild Pelagus Rapids, Song, Sarikei, Tanjung Manis and back to Sibu.
Cruise prices will include all meals with a choice of both Western and Asian cuisine, local beers and spirits, soft drinks, tea and coffee, gratuities, and daily guided shore excursions; prices will begin from US$4995 per cabin twin occupancy and from US$3255 single use. Air will be additional.
The brand-new Orient Pandaw will give guests the chance to walk remote villages of one-time Iban headhunters, trek jungle paths, travel by longboat amidst an abundance of wildlife and tropical flora, and discover historic forts, palaces and other colonial vestiges from an era of rule under Britain's white Rajas.
Or just sit back on the sundeck and take it all in from there.
For full details see travel agents, phone Pandaw Australia (02) 8080 5622, email email@example.com or visit www.pandaw.com
ADDITIONAL CRUISE INFORMATION: Prosperous Chinese shop-house communities that give a glimpse of what Singapore and Bangkok would have been like a half-century or more ago, will also be found on these cruises, often side-by-side with modern bars, café's and shops.
And traditional songkat textile and weaving workshops, tropical fruit plantations, pepper farms, logging camps, schools and river stations will be included in daily shore excursions, with of opportunities for jungle walks.
(Pandaw River Cruises, the largest river cruise company in Asia, also operates similar replica-colonial era riverboats to the Orient Pandaw on Cambodia's and Vietnam's Mekong, the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in Myanmar, and the Hugli and Ganges Rivers in India.)
Friday, May 8, 2009
On an average South Pacific or New Zealand cruise, passengers and crew on P&O's Pacific Sun chomp and slurp their way through 80 tonnes of food and drink, including 50,000 eggs, a tonne of bacon, 2.8 tonnes of chicken, 2.5 of rice, 1.5 of pineapples, a tonne of lettuce, 375kg of coffee, 5000 litres of milk and 7500 tea bags.
Then there's the few tonnes of beef, nearly as much lamb and veal, a tonne or so of fish, potatoes by the truckload, enough soup to fill a milk tanker, more fresh fruit and vegies to cut up than you'd like to think about, and enough breakfast cereals to keep the average family regular for a year.
And to clean the 13,000 plates, 10,000 glasses and 15,000 pieces of cutlery needed to down all this every day, a bank of 29 dishwashers is in service almost around the clock.
|Malmaison Prison Hotel Oxford|
IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wonderous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS says you can now sentence yourself to a night in a centuries-old prison in the grounds of William the Conqueror’s circa 1071 castle in Oxford. The Malmaison Hotel has 94 suites that have each been created by knocking out the inner walls of three former prison cells in the defunct gaol, making sleeping quarters in two of them and a separate ensuite in the third; the hotel has a bar, brasserie and plenty of 4-star facilities. And old lags who once did time here would doubtless get a chuckle out of knowing that guests who decide to lock themselves up for a night's prison experience – doors to suites are the original heavy steel jobs and there are still bars on the windows – pay $347 a night for the privilege. For a bit extra there’s the “Guvnor’s House” that has four-poster beds and a mini-cinema; if you want to do time here, see travel agents.
It was back in 1500 when ships of many nations were stopping off in what is now South Africa to take-on water and whatever food they could barter, that a Portuguese bloke came up with the idea of putting mail for delivery back home, or from whence they'd recently come, in an old seaman's boot under a tree in what is now Mossel Bay; ships heading in the opposite direction would clear the boot and deliver its contents to the countries to which it was addressed
The first letter left this way by Pedro de Aitade, a naval commander, was addressed to the King of Portugal. It was found a year later in the boot by the Third East India Fleet, and doing the right thing, they had it delivered to Portugal and the King.
Today a large stone replica of the original boot stands on de Aitade's original boot site – 509 years after he left the first letter there in 1500 – and mail posted in this boot-shaped Post Box is franked "Post Office Tree Mossel Bay."
MOST hail it China's greatest building job since the Great Wall was started in the 7th century BC and took two-thousand years to finish.
But while the Three Gorges Dam has so far taken just fifteen years of hard yakka and has another two to go, it's also attracted its fair share of doomsayers, self-anointed structural genii and general ratbags.
A massive 2km-wide barrier of steel and concrete across the great Yantze River in China's south-east, the dam has already cost over AU$50-billion and will soak up another $10b before doing everything its being built to do: generate a whopping 22,500MW of electricity, control flooding in the lower Yangtze in wetter months, and release water to these areas in drier times.
In the process of building this gargantuan wall that's 101-metres high, 115 through at its base and twice as wide as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its approaches are long, over 1.24 million people had to be re-located to newly-created towns and cities as their original communities slowly drowned under a spreading 23-trillion litres of water.
And thousands of cultural and historical relics were also moved to the safety of higher ground – while one 200-year old temple and a rare, attached 9-storey wooden pavilion had another dam built around them, leaving them sitting on what's now an island within the growing 1000-sq kilometre reservoir.
The doomsayers and their hangers-on have been having a field day knocking all this, pointing out that 1300 archaeological sites have been lost forever under the dam's 100-metre deep waters, and claiming that with the pressure of so much water behind it, the dam will one day burst like an over-ripe lychee and wipe out millions living along the Yangtze below it.
Or that in a good earthquake the whole lot will come tumbling down with the same catastrophic results, while Siberan Crane will lose their winter-holiday wetlands on the Yangtze, the river's population of indigenous sturgeon will be virtually wiped out by human intervention in the natural flow of the river, and that its dolphin population will go the same way.
The idea of a dam across the Yangzte is nothing new: Sun Yat-sen, the "Father of Modern China" first came up with the idea in 1919, twenty years later the Japanese invaded China and drew up plans for a Yangtze Dam, America also thought about one at War's end, and in 1949 when the Communists took over China they also got their engineers to mull over the idea.
But it wasn't until 1992 that work finally started on the Three Gorges Dam.
As well as river-flow control, the 32 massive generators in the biggest hydro power-station in the world will produce a third more electricity than the combined output of every power station in NSW. This alone is expected to save over 100-million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year from China's notorious coal-fired power-stations, while by controlling river flows and depth, shipping costs on the Yangtze have been reduced by 25% and river freight capacity increased six times.
And interestingly it's created a whole new industry: river-cruising, with around a dozen tourist-ships now operating on the Yangtze. One international company, Viking River Cruises sails 12- to 17-night luxury cruises between Shanghai and Beijing, including with some voyages, side-flights to see the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors.
These cruises offer a chance to see vast areas of China up-close and personal with daily shore excursions to cultural, historic and religious sites, a local zoo to see the pandas, modern shopping centres contrasting with village markets, and a school sponsored by Viking Cruise Lines at which the kids sing Chinese songs and encourage visitors to put on their own impromptu singalong of national anthems or folk-songs.
Our Jolly Swagman usually gets a good work-out.
There's also an inspection of the dam and the locks that move vessels 100-metres between the lower Yangtze and its upper reaches behind the dam.
Viking's guest suites have balconies, dining is exceptional with a mix of Western and Chinese cuisines, there's an Observation Lounge and Bar, Sundeck and Bar, gym and onboard entertainment.
For fly/cruise details on Viking Century Sun's cruises on the Yangtze being sold exclusively to Australian guests, phone Cruiseco on 1800 225 656 or visit www.cruising.com.au
 CHINA'S Three Gorges Dam – biggest building job since the Great Wall
 LOCKS raise and lower freighters and cruise ships over 100m between the Lower Yangtze and the Upper Yangtze behind the dam
 VIKING River Cruises' Royal Viking Sun amid China's spectacular Three Gorges
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Cruising with Coral Princess has just become even better value. For new bookings made by June 30, 2009 on a range of destinations and departures, Coral Princess Cruises is offering a second cruise on the Great Barrier Reef, valued at up to $4392 per couple, for free.
Book a cruise with Coral Princess to explore the Kimberley, Papua New Guinea, Melanesia or Across the Top of Australia on selected departures between September 2009 and March 2010 to receive a complimentary three- or four-night Great Barrier Reef cruise.
The second cruise can be taken at any time in the next year, or can be passed on to family members as a gift that will earn a lifetime of brownie points!
Coral Princess's 72-berth Oceanic Discoverer is small enough to reach remote bays, islands and villages that other inaccessible to larger ships, yet large enough to offer the comfort and facilities of bigger vessels. The ship was purpose-built by Coral Princess Cruises to offer first-class, nature-based adventure cruises to some of the world's most remote and fascinating regions including Papua New Guinea, the Kimberley coast and the isolated islands of Melanesia. Shore and boat excursions are guided by naturalists and experts who interpret the natural, cultural and historical highlights of the region.
Coral Princess Cruises pioneered the concept of small ship expedition cruising on the Great Barrier Reef over a quarter of a century ago, and has since become Australia's most awarded small ship cruise operator. It remains wholly Australian, family-owned and staffed.
Prices start at $6450 per person in a twin share cabin on the 11-night Across The Top of Australia cruise between Darwin and Cairns. The Kimberley or Papua New Guinea 10-night expeditions start from $7750 per person twin share and 13-night Melanesia cruise from $10500 per person twin share. Prices include accommodation, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers, activities and excursions during the cruise, and landing fees. The free Great Barrier Reef cruise offer is available on a select range of departures for each of these destinations.
For further information and reservations call 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralprincess.com.au
Monday, May 4, 2009
Compagnie du Ponant announces savings of up to AU$739 on select itineraries booked by 30 May 2009
Sydney, 4 May 2009: Escaping to warmer climes has never been more tempting thanks to a spectacular special announced by Compagnie du Ponant and Travel the World. Savings of up to AU$739 per person on select cruises to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas are available for bookings made before 30 May 2009. Explore enchanting isles, secluded coves and ports steeped in history as you sail the turquoise waters surrounding France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia or Montenegro onboard luxury yacht Le Ponant.
Navigating the Italian 'boot' and some of Croatia and Slovenia's most charming ports, the 10-night Italian Avventura cruise sails from Nice to Venice. While-away the hours at the Italian seaside resort, wander winding streets and terraced gardens or marvel at the volcanic Aeolian Archipelago. Croatia holds the magnificent St James Cathedral - a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listed site - medieval ruins and picturesque villages. Departing Nice, France on 17 July 2009, Le Ponant will call at Giglio, Amalfi, Lipari, Brindisi and Bari (Italy), followed by Sibenik (Croatia), Koper (Slovenia) and Venice (Italy). Cruises start from AU$8,109, with savings of up to $739 per person.
Dramatic panoramas, rustic villages and Renaissance relics await on the Corsican Delights, Tuscany & Liguria itinerary. The 7-night Roundtrip from Nice sails to the beautiful island of Corsica, home to the Citadel of Calvi, and the Bonafacio marine nature reserve. On the Isle of Elba in the Tuscan Archipelago, you'll visit Napoleon's home of exile, whilst Viareggio is ideally situated for a day trip to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance. The ports of Portovenere and Portofino offer medieval architecture and magnificent views favoured by the Italian jet-set. Departing Nice on 10 July 2009, this cruise stops at Calvi-Corse, Porto-Corse, Bonifacio-Corse (France), Civitavecchia, Portoferraio, Viareggio and Portofino (Italy). Cruises start from AU$6,263, with savings of up to $435 per person.
For those with their sights on the East, the 7-night Croatia & Montenegro: Dalmation Colours cruise features some of the Dalmatian Coast's most awe-inspiring attractions. Over three thousand years old, Croatia's Zadar hosts the Adriatic's oldest Roman Forum, whilst cosmopolitan Split is fortified by ancient city walls protecting the temples and palaces within. Dubrovnik is rich in architectural heritage dating back to the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque eras. The medieval townscape of Kotor is best explored by foot, as you circumnavigate the city walls. Departing Venice (Italy) on 27 July and 3 August 2009, Le Ponant calls at Zadar, Split, Hvar, Dubrovnik (Croatia), Kotor (Montenegro), Mljet, Korcula, Sibenik (Croatia) and Venice. Bookings start from AU$6,089, with savings of up to $608 per person.
Guests onboard Le Ponant can relax in the yacht-like atmosphere of Campagnie du Ponant's most intimate vessel. With just 32 cabins, the elegant touches onboard include two sophisticated restaurants and lounges, a sun deck and luxuriously furnished cabins.
All cruise fares are per person, twin share and include meals, a welcome aboard cocktail party, gala dinner and entertainment. This offer is valid for new bookings made by 30 May 2009.
For further information about Compagnie du Ponant or to make a booking, please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au.
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