Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Captain Cook Cruises Combining the Best of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands

Captain Cook Cruises is combining the best of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands by announcing that for the first time since beginning operations in Fiji, its new Fiji cruise ship MV Reef Endeavour will be offering pick-ups for guests staying at Mamanuca Island resorts.

MV Reef Endeavour will moor off Honeymoon Island near Castaway Island at 1800 every Saturday night allowing Mamanuca Island resorts guests to transfer to the vessel for a 3 or 7 night Yasawa Islands cruise.

Plantation, Musket Cove, Lomani Island resort, Malolo, Liku liku, Castaway and Mana Island Resort have all offered guest's complimentary boat transfers to MV Reef Endeavour.

The new pick ups allow visitors to Fiji to experience the very best of both the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands.

"We are delighted MV Reef Endeavour's sophisticated navigation systems and faster cruising speed have allowed us to add even more value to our Fiji cruise itinerary including a return to the Mamanuca Islands" said Joint Managing Director Jackie Haworth.

The new pick ups allow visitors to Fiji to experience the very best of both the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands.

The 3-Night Southern Yasawa Island Cruise departs Denarau Marina every Saturday and Early Booking Savers (EBS) fares start from $959.00 per person. The 7-Night Yasawa Island Cruise departs every Saturday from Denarau and EBS fares are available from $1999.00 per person twin.

Captain Cruises also offer a 4-night Northern Yasawa Island cruise with EBS fares available from $1199.00 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, day spa and library.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit

Tourism boost for Christmas Island - Virgin Blue flights start TODAY

"This is the biggest boost to tourism the island has ever seen," declares Linda Cash, of the Christmas Island Tourism Association.

Commencing today, Virgin Blue will operate two weekly direct flights between Perth and Christmas Island on a modern Embraer E-190 Jet Aircraft, and a third weekly service via the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Flights to the remote Australian Territory dubbed 'Australia's Galapagos' will carry up to 104 passengers and cut the flying time to and from the mainland by over an hour compared to previous air services.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said "We're confident our new services will further stimulate tourism to this most remarkable jewel of the Indian Ocean."

 "Virgin Blue's new service to Christmas Island is a win, win, win for both the local community and tourists - increased seat capacity, less time in the air, and most importantly better value," says an ecstatic Ms Cash.

Standard economy fares ex-Perth to the Indian Ocean getaway start from just $464 one-way on the net –  significantly cheaper than fares offered by previous carriers to the island.

Another enormous benefit for travellers is that they can book through to Christmas Island with connecting flights from all over the extensive Virgin Blue network.

"This increase in accessibility means that people who have only ever dreamt of travelling to our shores for our famous crab migration, our whalesharks, our seabirds, our rainforest can finally explore our natural wonders" exclaims Ms Cash.

Although the first flight isn't scheduled to land on the Christmas Island tarmac until 1620-hours this afternoon, Virgin Blue's flights to the island are already having a positive effect on the local tourism industry. "Island accommodation and tour operators are reporting that the phone is already ringing off the hook with enquiries," explains Ms Cash.

The secret is finally out. Discover Christmas Island before the rest of Australia does.

For more information on Christmas Island, check-out

No, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke – Virgin Blue really are flying direct to Christmas Island! For more details, including detailed schedules and fares, visit 

Did You Know? Christmas Island is home to more than 35 species that exist nowhere else on the planet. These include the island's bright red land crabs which, after witnessing, celebrated naturalist Sir David Attenborough recently named as one of his top ten nature experiences … ever!

Christmas Island – A Natural Wonder

Join Bill Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg at "Life Ball" July 17, 2010

Vienna's Life Ball is Europe's largest and most spectacular annual charity event dedicated to raising support for the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS.  Celebrating the beauty of life and the diversity of world cultures, Life Ball reinvents the great Viennese Ball tradition with glamorous, outlandish performances and inspirational speeches. In 2009 the event raised  1.496.000 Euros.

This year former United States President Bill Clinton and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg are the first two VIP guests announced to be joining the festivities of Life Ball. In previous years Life Ball has welcomed Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria, Elton John, Liza Minilli and many others.   

Those interested in attending are being encouraged to book before it sells-out, as is the case every year. To ensure the Asia-Pacific region is represented at the event, the Life Ball Foundation has given Sydney based travel company Hautes Vacances a guaranteed ticket allocation. (For those in Vienna wishing to attend, they need to enter a lottery system to be able to purchase tickets).

Hautes Vacances is offering packages including 2 or 3 nights accommodation, some meals, transport, special events, city tours, and Life Ball tickets from $1450 per person, and will also book airfares to Vienna for attendees.  

Web: ,

Have A Tipple And See The Sights With The Paris Pass

Like a drop of vino? Test your knowledge of the grape at the French Wine Fair (8-9 May) and see some of the best sights Paris has to offer with the Paris Sightseeing Pass.

As professionals and enthusiasts gather to taste some of the country’s best vintages, take the opportunity to tickle your taste buds with the Paris Pass, which gets you free entry in to the O’Chateau Wine Attraction where you can test three different wines and learn from experts.

The Paris Sightseeing Pass also gives access to over 60 top attractions including the iconic Arc de Triomphe, entry to the world-famous Musée du Louvre and the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Users have priority access at the busiest sights to avoid queues, a free guidebook, and many additional deals, discounts and free offers. A Paris Sightseeing Pass includes a metro pass giving you unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER within central Paris.
A two-day Paris Sightseeing Pass costs €89 for adults, €45 for teens (between 12 and 17 years) and €24 for a child (between 4 and 11 years).
A four-day Paris Sightseeing Pass costs €126 for adults (€63 for teens and €32 for children), and a six-day option costs €154 for adults, €72 for teens and €41 for children.
Check out all the activities on offer with the Paris Sightseeing Pass at The website includes a map tool to plan visits, details on all the included attractions, and full details of exclusive special offers including restaurant deals.
For more information and to buy a Paris Sightseeing Pass visit, call +44 (0)1664 485 020.

The Westin Melbourne Sees Green

The Westin Melbourne has today unveiled a new initiative that now offers the option to offset the carbon emissions generated from hotel stays or business events.

The Make a Green Choice program has been developed in association with green partner, Climate Friendly and provides guests and clients the option to pay a tailored offset fee which is then invested in projects to reduce greenhouse gases.

Hotel guests can now consult a specially created Offset Calculator via the hotel’s website to identify how their choice of accommodation room type and length of stay impacts on the environment. The option to offset their hotel stay is then provided with each booking.

Additionally, event organisers will be presented with a personalised carbon emission offset estimate based on the style and nature of their meeting, event or seminar. After extensive research into the lifecycle of carbon emissions associated with typical events, The Westin can now project the amount of carbon an event emits and provide clients the option to offset their activity.

The Westin Melbourne’s General Manager, Richard Bussiere says the Green Choice offset program is the next step in the hotel’s long term strategy for reducing its overall carbon footprint.

“We’re all looking for ways to make a difference in our daily lives to reduce the impact we have on the environment – so we’re hoping our guests and clients will see there’s an easy way to make a difference by partnering with The Westin Melbourne,” says Mr Bussiere.

“With tools we’ve developed such as the Offset Calculator and the ability to project carbon emissions associated with events, there are now some simple measures guests and clients can take to make their business activities carbon neutral,” he adds.

As part of the Green Choice program, The Westin Melbourne has also undertaken significant steps to reduce their carbon footprint with assistance from environmental experts, Carbon View.

“From the amount of water and electricity we use, to recycling and reduction strategies as well as sourcing local produce, our commitment has enabled us to reduce our base line carbon footprint measurement by 285 tonnes in the past three years,” adds Mr Bussiere.

In addition to the offset options with hotel stays and meetings, The Westin Melbourne has also announced the ‘Make a Green Choice’ accommodation package. Guests can sleep easy from just $304 per night with the carbon offset charge for their stay included in the package along with luxurious overnight accommodation and gourmet buffet breakfast for two. This offer is valid until 23rd September 2010.

More information at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


As the first Banyan Tree property in the Americas, Banyan Tree Mayakoba has solidified its place along Mexico’s exquisite Riviera Maya coast as a premier destination for travelers seeking respite and a rejuvenating getaway. Celebrating its first anniversary this March, the resort reflects on a year of outstanding performance, awards and all-around success.

Recognized as an exceptional destination by guests and industry professionals, Banyan Tree Mayakoba has already been showered with multiple awards and accolades during its first year. Among TripAdvisor’s 2010 Travelers Choice’ Awards, the resort received five nods; including the No. 1 ranking in the category Top 10 Hotels for Romance in the Caribbean & Mexico. Banyan Tree Mayakoba also made its mark on several top U.S. travel publications, including a spot on Travel + Leisure’s venerable “It List,” highlighting the 45 best new hotels for 2009. Finally, the resort was honored with two Annual Boutique Design Awards for Best Lobby and Best Spa.

From March 1 – 15, guests who book a reservation online can take advantage of the resort’s “Karma” promotion. For every booking of two nights or more, guests receive resort credit equal to one night’s stay, up to US$1,860. Complimentary credits can be used to offset charges for spa treatments, dining, and purchases at retail galleries. The limited-time “Karma” promotion applies only to online bookings arranged March 1-15, 2010 at for stays from April 1-June 30, 2010.

As a leader in Asian hospitality and holistic wellness, Banyan Tree designed the Mayakoba property with innovative features to offer new experiences to discerning travelers. The property boasts five different villa types to cater to various market segments ranging from honeymooners and couples, to larger families and intimate groups of friends. In addition to the assortment of rejuvenating massages and beauty treatments inspired by traditional Asian remedies, the world-renowned Banyan Tree Spa also brought The Rainforest experience to Mayakoba, which offers spa patrons a choice of eight hydrotherapy treatments. Juxtaposed with Mayakoba’s tropical mangroves, lush lagoons and natural surroundings, the resort is truly a “Sanctuary for the Senses”.

Specially catering to couples seeking additional sparks of passion during their stay, Banyan Tree Mayakoba’s dedicated Romance Director is ready to help enhance each romantic getaway to create truly indelible memories for lovebirds. The resort’s chefs are also available to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience with a meat or seafood barbeque freshly grilled by the pools of individual villas.

Despite the difficulties for tourism in Mexico during 2009, Banyan Tree Mayakoba was able to rise above the external circumstances and provide world-class amenities and unparalleled services to guests. The property’s attention to detail has set it apart as a luxurious retreat and a place where pampering is never overlooked.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba's best available rates begin at US$565++ per night per villa for 2010. For reservations and enquiries, please contact Banyan Tree Mayakoba at +52 984 877 3688, toll-free from the United States at 1 800 591 0439, or log on to the website at

There's nothing like Australia! New TA Campaign

Source: Travel Daily

Federal tourism minister Martin Ferguson has just officially launched Australia's new global tourism marketing campaign.

The promotion aims to harness the power of advocacy by the Australian people, with the first "invite" phase kicking off on 15 Apr by allowing consumers to tell the world about what is so great about Australia.

Photos uploaded to a special website will be geo-tagged to create a searchable online resource which TA md Andrew McEvoy described as the "ultimate insider's guide to Australia".

In May the second "inspire" phase starts, with the creation of an integrated campaign with print, online and video content incorporating some of the consumer submissions of their favourite Australian holiday experiences.

The third "engage" phase will encourage trade partners to join with TA to promote Australia to the world.

More information in today's Travel Daily.

Luxury Travel Magazine Gold List Awards 2010 Announced

David Hickey, Managing Director, Luxury Travel Magazine and Susan Borham, Editor-In-Chief, Luxury Travel Magazine. Photo Roderick Eime

The Luxury Travel Magazine Gold List Awards were held today at the Sheraton on the Park ballroom. The winners of the awards sponsored by Bentley, Virtuoso, Preferred Hotel Group, Ethiad, Sheraton on the Park, Five Star PR, and EvoTV were as follows:

Best overseas City: Paris France

Best Australian Hotel: Palazzo Versace Gold Coast

Best Overseas Hotel: Peninsula Hong Kong

Best Australian Resort: Hayman

Best Overseas Resort: Likuliku Fiji

Best Australian Boutique Property: Jonahs Whale Beach

Best Overseas Spa Resort: Chiva Som, Thailand

Best Australian Spa: Angsana Resort and Spa QLD

Best Australian Golf Resort: Hyatt Regency Coolum

Best Overseas Golf Resort: St Andrews Links Scotland

Best Australian Ski Resort: Thredbo NSW

Best Overseas Ski Resort: Whistler Blackcomb Canada

Best Family Resort: Sea World Gold Coast QLD

Best Luxury Travel Professionals: Abercrombie &Kent

Best Luxury Cruise Line: Silversea

Best Luxury Cruise Ship: Large - Cunard QM2

Best Luxury Cruise Chip: Small - Silver Whisper

Best Business Class Airline: Qantas

Best Luxury Airport for Duty Free: Dubai

Best First Class Airline: Singapore Airlines

Best Luxury Rail Journey: Great Southern Rail Australia - the Ghan and the Indian Pacific

Best Luxury Eco Tourism: Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa QLD

Favourite Luxury Brand: Chanel

Which newly opened hotel/resort would you most like to visit?: Wolgan Valley

Orion III is very likely for 2013

by Louise Goldsbury, Editor, Cruise Weekly

Orion Expedition Cruises is yet to debut Orion II in Asia, but plans are already underway for a third ship.

Australia's Orion Expeditions has had such success with the impending launch of its second ship that a third vessel is set to be added within the next three years.

Speaking exclusively to Cruise Weekly, Sarina Bratton, Orion’s founder and managing director, said: “The way things are going, I absolutely expect we will do.

“I have already had some discussions with ship owners and we normally have to work two to three years in advance,” she said.

A launch of Orion III in 2012 was “maybe a bit early, but maybe 2013”, Bratton revealed.

The proposed destinations for a third ship remain under wraps while the company pushes ahead with next year’s program on the new Orion II.

The brochure for 2011 cruises in the Russian Far East and Asia will be released in late April or early May.

Options include Kimberley expeditions with complimentary flights over the Bungle Bungles; three first-time Orion voyages – ‘West Papua and Maluku’, ‘Exploration of the Antipodes’ and ‘Antarctic Centenary’; Tasmanian food and wine cruises; Lord Howe Island and Aotearoa; Christmas in New Zealand’s fjordland and sub-Antarctic islands; Orion II’s cruises of the Inland Sea of Japan; the Russian Far East; a circumnavigation of Borneo; and eight voyages to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Meanwhile, a “smattering of space” is still available this year on the original five-star, 100-passenger Orion for cruises in Australia.

The most immediate opportunities are for ‘Wild PNG & Bismarck Archipelago’, departing 07 April; ‘Tropical Reefs & Culture’ on 28 April; ‘Art of Arnhem Land’ on 04 May; and several Kimberley cruises between May and September 2010.

“The way things are going, I absolutely expect we will do”

“We have got the most exciting destinations on offer in the Asia Pacific – whether you’re interested in the wilds of Borneo, the cultural aspects of Cambodia, Vietnam or Japan, the remote wilderness of PNG or our brilliant experience in the sub-Antarctic, we’ve got it covered,” Bratton said.

Details of all 2010 and 2011 voyages are available at

Monday, March 29, 2010

CRUISE 5-STAR ON ORION INTO ONE OF OUR “LAST FRONTIERS” has a series of 10-night fly/cruises later this year aboard the boutique expedition ship Orion along one of Australia's "last frontiers," taking guests from Darwin to Broome with such unique diversities as flight-seeing the world-famous Bungle Bungle ranges, getting up-close to Australia's most spectacular waterfalls, and wetting the line for reef and feisty surface fish.

The packages represent savings from 30- to almost 50-per cent on ecruising's five sailings on May 11, June 20, July 20, August 9 and September 6 – and also include a free hotel night in the historic pearling town of Broome post-cruise.

After departing Darwin, Orion visits Jaco Island, Wyndham for the Bungle Bungles, King George River and Falls, Vansittart Bay, the Hunter River for the Mitchell Falls, Montgomery Reef and Raft Point, Talbot Bay for the unique Horizontal Waterfalls, Cape Leveque and the Lacepedes and Broome.

Regional expert lecturers and onboard expedition leaders escort guests on shore excursions, while there are kayaks and snorkelling equipment for when Orion is at anchor, and the opportunity to bottom fish for Golden Snapper, Parrot Fish and Rock Cod, or troll for Trevally and Queen Fish.

Return air from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide, all onboard gourmet dining, entertainment and educational programs are included in the price that starts from $9449pp twin-share – or from $8999 for those who've sailed previously on Orion; gratuities are neither required nor expected.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

King's Cup Elephant Polo comes to a close

Audemars Pigeut Triumphs over King Power to Win the Ninth

King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament 
This year's annual King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament held in the idyllic surroundings of the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort provided spectators with nail biting matches, a beautiful setting and a great cause to rally around.  

From March 22nd to March 28th, twelve elite teams from all around the world descended upon Chiang Rai in the North of Thailand and battled it out for the championship of this unique and increasingly-competitive sport. The real winners, however, were the elephants themselves – over US$300,000 has been raised since the tournament started in 2001 to help provide protection and support for the embattled Thai elephant. 

Expanding in popularity, The King's Cup Elephant Polo has gone from a small two day event with six teams into a week long extravaganza with the 2010 tournament featuring twelve teams from four continents, encompassing forty players from a least fifteen different countries.  

As anticipated by the experts, the finale pitted King Power against the Audemars Piguet team. A close game until the second half, where Audemars Pigeut's superior polo-skills and greater reach eventually won out with the team coming from behind to take the overall tournament.  

King Power look set for a win early in the game by firmly planting the first goal of the game in the first thirty seconds but it was the unbeatable performance and teamwork of team captain Peter Prentice and brothers Uday and Angad Kalaan that took the Audemars Piguet team to a resounding four point win over Kings Power; the final score being 10 to 6.  

To top everything off, a gala dinner held during the tournament garnered 1.8 million Baht for the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre and the National Elephant Institute, the official beneficiaries of the annual event. 

Final Results (Placing) of the King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament:

1. Audemars Pigeut
2. King Power
3. Mercedes Benz
4. SOCO International
5. Four Seasons Tented Camp
6. Veuve Clicquot
7. PricewaterhouseCoopers
8. TAT
9. KBank
10. IBM
11. Anantara Golden Triangle

The on-site Elephant Camp at Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa's 160 acre lush jungle setting plays host to the annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament.  The game, which showcases the skillful grace of its rescued elephants, has become Thailand's 6th largest annual tourist event according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.  The 2010 event, to be held on 22nd March, promises to enthrall spectators for the 9th year running, thanks to all our valued sponsors.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Viva Macau halts operations

Viva Macau has had its Air Operator Certificate revoked by the Civil Aviation Authority of Macao SAR (AACM), meaning the airline is no longer able to operate.

It is understood Viva Macau cancelled services on March 26 because of “fuel payment issues” and didn’t cooperate to help passengers, according to a statement on the government’s website. Air Macau has ended a sub-franchise contract with Viva Macau at the request of the government.

“The government was greatly concerned with the negative impacts of the Viva Macau incident towards passengers and the community,” the statement said, citing Chan Weng Hong, president of the AACM.

In addition, Hong said legal actions will be taken regarding the $28.5 million loan granted to the low-cost carrier between 2008 and 2009. No further details were given on this matter.

Viva Macau’s online booking site was still in operation last Friday and Saturday despite the government being aware of the carrier’s financial conditions.

AACM has urged Viva Macau to terminate its commercial activities including online ticket sales.

Calls to Viva Macau chief executive Reg Macdonald were not returned in time for publication.

Mother's Day Cruises from Captain Cook Cruises

Mother's Day Cruise Magic!

Surprise Mum this Mother's Day with a special breakfast, lunch or dinner cruise on the picturesque Sydney Harbour with Captain Cook Cruises.

What could be a better way to start Mother's Day than on a relaxing Sunday Breakfast cruise? Breakfast includes a delicious hot and cold buffet selection including tea and coffee.  The Sunday Breakfast cruise departs from No 1 King Street Wharf at 9.00am and from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 9.30am.

The Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise features fresh Sydney rock oysters, ocean king prawns, succulent fish and mussels, plus a wide range of non-seafood and vegetarian dishes to satisfy every mum's taste. A full commentary of the sights of Sydney Harbour is also provided. The Seafood Buffet cruise departs at 12 noon from No 1 King Street Wharf and at 12.30pm from Jetty 6 Circular Quay.

The Sunday Breakfast cruise is $49 per adult and the Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise is $72 per adult. As a Mother's Day bonus, one child under 15 years is free with every paying adult.

If you want to give mum a break from the kids you can't go past the Mother's Day Top Deck Lunch Cruise. Indulge mum in a premium three course Australian a la carte menu including tea and coffee, with personalised service and ambient music, with a free upgrade to guaranteed window seating whilst seats last.

The three-course Top Deck lunch cruise departs Jetty 6, Circular Quay at 12.30pm and from No.1 King Street Wharf at 12 noon and is $82 per adult.

Cruise the harbour under the glow of the city lights on the Mother's Day Starlight Dinner Cruise.  Enjoy a three-course a la carte dinner menu and an open bar of still and sparkling wine, beer, house spirits and soft drinks all for just an amazing price of $79 per person, normally $118.

The five star Mother's Day Gold Dinner is the ultimate 7 course dining experience that mum will never forget. The Gold Dinner includes priority boarding from Circular Quay at 6.30pm, a welcome Captain's Cocktail Reception, visit to the Wheelhouse, exclusive Sky Deck seating, sophisticated lounge entertainment and a deluxe 7-course degustation menu with specially selected vintage Australian wines served to compliment each course plus an open bar of house spirits, beer and soft drinks. 

Dinner cruises depart on Sunday May 9 from Jetty 6, Circular Quay at 7.00pm with Gold Dinner priority boarding at 6.30pm and from No.1 King Street Wharf at 7.30pm. The Mother's Day Gold Dinner is $185 per person with a free upgrade to window seating whilst seats last.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit


Thursday, March 25, 2010

APT lines up luxury ship for Russia cruising

APT & AMAWaterways takes its Europe river cruising standards to Russia

After creating a fleet of eight European riverships, the APT-AmaWaterways partnership is turning its attention to Russia with the 212-passenger ms AmaKatarina scheduled to enter service in 2011.

It will be the most luxurious vessel sailing the Volga-Baltic Waterway, according to APT General Manager Marketing, Debra Fox.

"The vessel is being stripped entirely and converted from a 400-passenger vessel to a 212 passenger ship and brings our Russian cruise product up to the standards of our Europe product," she said. "We can ensure the ship is perfectly tailored to meet the high standards passengers expect from APT … all our trademark exclusive features and culturally-enriching tours."

"We're striving to achieve uniform high standards across our product; it's what our brand stands for," she said.

After AmaKatarina's inaugural sailing on May 10, 2011, she will sail 14 11-night voyages for the 2011 season, between Moscow and St Petersburg.

The ship boasts 24,025 square feet of space dedicated to 106 cabins, 76 of which feature balconies. Passengers can choose from 10 luxurious cabin categories spanning four decks. This includes 4 different suite categories -- ranging from 280 to 432 square feet. On average ms AmaKatarina's staterooms are 43% larger than other vessels on the Russian Waterways, and all staterooms feature a bathroom with a separate shower area, which is very unusual for Russian riverships.

Public areas include a restaurant, panorama lounge, theatre, sauna and bar.

At the end of their cruise, passengers can also choose to add a 15-day Trans-Siberian Adventure from Moscow to Vladivostok onboard the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, the world's most famous rail journey.

In Europe, this May, APT launches ms Amabella and in 2011 ms Amaverde will become the eighth APT-AmaWaterways vessel in their fleet.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit or see a travel agent.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fiji continues strong start to 2010

-          Australian figures for February increase by 24.8 per cent 

-          International figures up by 11.5 per cent

24 March 2010 – Topping off a strong January performance Tourism Fiji visitor arrival statistics released this week show Australian visitor arrivals for February have again increased substantially.

A total of 12,777 Australians visited Fiji in February, a 24.8 per cent increase over the 10,239 figure recorded for the same period in 2009.

Tourism Fiji regional director Australia Paresh Pant said the destination's ongoing success from this market could be attributed to an intensive east coast TV advertising blitz launched in mid-January offering a range of all inclusive holiday deals.

The strong Australian result helped take Fiji's international visitor tally to 35,010 for February, an 11.5 per cent increase over the 31,386 achieved for the same period in 2009 with most of the destination's key source markets showing positive growth.

This includes a 20.9 per cent increase from the New Zealand market.

The national tourist office also recorded strong results from several emerging Asian markets where its strong promotional efforts in recent months are beginning to pay off.

While base figures remain relatively small from China, Taiwan and South Korea, respective visitor arrivals increases of 111.2 per cent, 92 per cent and 44.3 per cent demonstrate strong potential for Fiji from all three markets.

Released by Tourism Fiji 


And the (Kimberley) Quest begins in 2010...

After spending the last four months exploring Sydney, northern New South Wales and Queensland and playing host to past passengers, travel agents, media and interested clients, the Kimberley Quest II is back in familiar territory cruising the Kimberley as she begins her maiden voyage for the 2010 season.

Proving to be as spectacular as predicted the Kimberley is certainly putting on a great show.

Alive with colour and new life, the rugged gorges are engulfed with water cascading over their ancient escarpments. Masses of delicate flora flourish and dominate the landscape which is complemented by an abundance of bird life. Back to accommodating just 18 passengers, those onboard are enjoying the intimacy that only a small vessel can provide.

The unforgettable sights and breathtaking scenery are once again revealing what is described as 'the ultimate Kimberley experience'.

Cabins are still available for 2010. For more information visit

The North Pole Debate Still Rages

In September 1909, the American adventurer Frederick A Cook announced that he and two Eskimo companions had just returned from the North Pole after a journey of nearly two years. His bold claims were immediately met with derision by another US veteran of the ice, Robert E Peary. He claimed his own expedition was the first, reaching the Pole on 6 April 1909, conveniently overlooking his Negro manservant, Matthew Henson, who possibly reached it ahead of Peary. More than 100 years later the claims of both these egotistical self-promoters raise serious doubts despite debates supporting both efforts.

Last year, to celebrate the anniversary, British explorer Tom Avery recreated Peary's trek using replica equipment and dog sleds and actually completed the trek in less time despite a much thinner ice pack.
In truth, any claim about a journey to the North Pole during this era must be doubtful because of the elusive nature of the objective and the inherent inaccuracies of the instruments of the time.

William Mills, the late keeper of collections at the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), author of 'Exploring Polar Frontiers: A Historical Encyclopedia' and a regular polar traveller himself, noted:
"Neither Cook's nor Peary's claim has been conclusively disproved, and both have their defenders, but informed consensus is against both claims. Commander Richard Byrd's claim to have made the first aircraft flight to the Pole on 9 May 1926 is similarly controversial and recent evidence suggests that in fact he turned back about 100 miles south of the Pole, though again he too has his defenders. If Cook, Peary, nor Byrd is to be believed, the first to see the Pole were those on Roald Amundsen's airship Norge on 12 May 1926. However, it was the Soviet's 1948 aircraft landing that is generally considered to be the closest to the exact geographic goal."

Despite these other attempts, the most sensational "northing" occurred on 17 August 1977 when the Soviet nuclear icebreaker Arktika became the first surface vessel to reach the Pole.

Today, the Arktika's sister ship, 50 Let Pobedy (50 Years of Victory), makes annual sorties to the exact location of the geographic North Pole thanks to modern satellite navigation. Unlike Peary, Cook or Henson, expeditioners authenticate their achievement with a certificate and can immediately silence any dinner party detractors.

Reaching the North Pole in 2010

Peregrine Expeditions operates a nuclear-powered icebreaker from Murmansk, Russia to the North Pole. There is one departure this year, on 9-23 July. The vessel carries a maximum of 128 travellers in cabins with facilities and outside views. The cost is US$22,690 per person twin-share, plus airfare from Helsinki to Murmansk at US$1650 per person.

For further information, contact your travel agent or Peregrine Travel Centre, call 1300 854 500, or visit

Monday, March 22, 2010



Tuesday 23 March 2010: Pacific Blue, Virgin Blue’s New Zealand-based international airline, will this evening launch its first international service from Cairns to Auckland, heralding a new era in choice and fare competition on the trans-Tasman route, as well as boosting tourism to Far North Queensland.

The airline will operate twice weekly return flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays and has committed one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the route, boosting seat capacity by 79% across ‘the ditch’.

Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey said the new service had already stirred up competition on the route with Pacific Blue attracting solid load bookings into the middle of the year and competitors dropping their fares.

“By the way bookings are currently trending we’re very confident this new, affordable direct service will continue to grow in popularity in both directions,” he said.

Pacific Blue’s everyday low lead-in fares start from $349* one way on the net, more than 13%^ cheaper than fares previously available in the market.

“Since we announced our intention to commence services we are not surprised our competitors have seen it necessary to suddenly drop their fares”, Brett Godfrey added.

As New Zealand’s largest and busiest business and shopping orientated city, Auckland ‘The City of Sails’, is the gateway to New Zealand’s North Island ski fields, North West wine district and the spectacular natural wonders of Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands and the Summit of Rangitoto.

The city also boasts the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, the 328 metre tall Sky Tower, the popular Queen Street shopping hub and a vibrant and cosmopolitan wining, dining and social scene.

Pacific Blue and Blue Holidays currently have some exciting travel packages in the market to entice Queenslanders to chill out in Auckland this winter with up to 30% off regular prices.

BLUE HOLIDAYS ‘Rydges Auckland’ FOUR NIGHT DEAL from $809 per person:

Four nights accommodation for the price of three at Rydges Auckland, including return Pacific Blue flights from $809 per person ex Cairns. On sale now until 30 April 2010, for travel from 1 April 2010 – 31 August 2010. For bookings and full terms and conditions see or call 13 15 16.

Yangtze River Cruise Lines Veering Towards 5-Stars

As the Yangtze River Cruise business matures after completion of the Three Gorges Dam project, visitors are looking for luxury. In a country where the terms "4-star" and "5-star" are thrown around loosely and often defined by the supplier, if you want luxury, best to go to the top level. Also it's wise to read reviews online.

Currently there are 12 5-star river cruise ships operating out of Chongqing, and there are eight more five-star luxury ships to be launched in the next 3 years.

"With such a modern fleet of luxury river cruisers it's a great time to indulge in a Yangtze river cruise. We find many of our guests want this experience as part of their longer, multi-city China tour. We can offer a cruise from any supplier as part of a tour package," says Judy Huang, Travel Manager at The China Guide ( ).

The better cruise lines offer gourmet food (Western and Chinese) and luxurious accommodations. There are activities on board including Chinese painting, kite flying, acupuncture, massage, tai chi, dumpling making and other traditional Chinese activities.

Cruises are generally 3 or 4 nights, depending on if you are going up or downstream between Chongqing and Yichang. You can also do a 7-day river journey between Shanghai and Chongqing.

"There are a lot of cruise lines to choose from, and they aren't always honest about their quality," adds Judy Huang. "We help clients make the best decision for their budget based on our experience. Aside from some excellent 5-star ships, there are also some less expensive ships that give a good experience as well. Since we have been doing this for years, we are familiar with all the cruise lines.

"The China Guide ( ) can help you plan a Yangtze River Cruise and can even make it part of a custom China wide itinerary.

New Jungfrau rail pass

Rail Plus has released a new Jungfrau VIP Pass which provides three days unlimited rail travel around Switzerland's Jungfrau region, including a trip up to Jungfraujoch, at 3454m the highest rail station in Europe.

The price is $195 adult and $70 child (5-15 years; children under 5 travel free).

The pass is valid for three consecutive days unlimited travel on the Jungfrau Railways network which includes the cogwheel, funicular and mountain top railways in the regions of Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.


Blue Lagoon value adds Yasawa cruises with FJD200 bar credit

Fiji's iconic Blue Lagoon Cruises is offering a FJD200* bar credit plus a complimentary bottle of champagne and fruit bowl per cabin on all three, four and seven day Yasawa Island cruise programs booked before 21 April 2010.

Valid for travel until 16 June 2010 the special offer must be booked via Travel Experiences & Magic!, telephone toll free on 1300 669 489 

All Blue Lagoon Cruises' programs are fully inclusive of breakfast, lunch and dinner plus morning and afternoon tea.

Cruise activities include daily shore excursions and water-based activities ranging from bush walks, snorkeling safaris, fish feeding, fishing and glass bottom boating.

Cultural experiences include a 'Lovo' feast on Blue Lagoon Cruises' private island of Nanuya Lailai plus visits to remote villages and Kava ceremonies.

Prices start from AUD450.00* for a three-day/two night cruise per person twin share.

Four-day/three-night cruises are priced from AUD600.00* per person twin share while seven-day/six-night prices start from AUD1725* per person twin share.

*Conditions apply. Please note prices do not include international airfares or beverages (other than tea or coffee).


Coral Princess Cruises Banishes Single Supplements on the Great Barrier Reef.

Coral Princess has banished the bane of the solo traveller – the ubiquitous 'single supplement' – on its three, four and seven-night Great Barrier Reef cruises.
Single travellers can opt for their own private cabin aboard Coral Princess II at no extra cost, a saving of up to $965 on the 7-night cruise. Coral Princess cruises weekly between Townsville and Cairns over three nights, or over four nights departing Cairns and travelling north to Lizard Island and return. The cruises can be combined as a seven-night voyage.

Coral Princess Cruises pioneered small-ship cruising on the Great Barrier Reef, exploring remote islands and reefs normally off-limits to island-based tourists, where snorkelling or SCUBA diving on pristine stretches of coral reef is a matter of simply diving overboard.

The cruises show off some of the world's best snorkelling, swimming and coral viewing spots en route, such as Thetford Reef and Sudbury Reef. The three-night voyage visits Dunk Island and cruises through the Hinchinbrook Channel, while the four-night cruise stops at Cooktown and Lizard Island.

Coral Princess II accommodates a maximum of just 44 passengers and is equipped with a glass bottom boat and inflatable zodiacs for daily reef and shore excursions to deserted coral cays; to wander in ancient rainforests or to explore historic sites. There's even a BBQ on Coral Princess's own private island – Pelorus – with no one in sight but fellow Coral Princess passengers.

Qualified marine biologists and a SCUBA diving instructor are also on board to explain the natural history and biodiversity of the area, making a snorkel or SCUBA dive in the sparkling blue waters even more fascinating. 

The offer is open for new bookings by genuine solo travellers for all departures in 2010 and until further notice. Prices start at $1 496 per person on the three-night cruise ex Townsville or Cairns, or $1 896 per person for the four-night cruise from Cairns to Lizard Island and return, with weekly departures year round. Prices include accommodation, all meals, lectures and services of expedition staff on board, group transfers, activities and excursions during the cruise, and landing fees.

For further information and reservations contact 1800 079 545 or visit

Enjoy the Royal Easter Show and a North Shore Mini Break with Urban

If you’re Sydney-bound this April for the Royal Easter Show, you’ll find a relaxing, contemporary destination to lay your head at Hotel Urban St Leonards.

The North Shore’s best-kept secret, Hotel Urban if offering a Royal Easter Show Package which includes accommodation in an Urban King room and entry to the Show for as little as $207 per night (for two adults and a child).

Hotel Urban is a holidaymakers dream – a stylish, modern property with beautiful surroundings, a gourmet eatery, and slick facilities, all without the nightmare parking and congestion of the CBD. Your Easter Show mini-break will be effortless thanks to the hotel’s thoughtful extras, which include fluffy robes and slippers, an outdoor putting green, in-house gym, and luxury evo amenities in every bathroom.

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is one of the biggest dates in the city’s calendar – attracting around 900,000 visitors, the event runs from 1 – 14 April 2010 at the Sydney Showground and features activities for all the family including agricultural displays, live music, food tasting, fashion shows, and carnival rides.

Call 02 9439 6000 or visit to book your Royal Easter Show package.

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney Offers Easter Family Fun

This year, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney invites families to celebrate the Easter holiday with special Easter accommodation packages, chocolate workshops and Easter buffet meals in Café Mix.

Easter Eggs-Travaganza Package

Featuring Easter treats for everyone in the family to enjoy, the Easter Eggs-Travaganza Package offers guests a fun-filled Easter getaway.

Priced from A$325 per night and valid from 2 to 5 April 2010, the package includes:

Overnight accommodation for two adults and up to two children in the same room
Buffet breakfast in Café Mix for two adults and up to two children
Easter eggs on arrival
Complimentary chocolate workshop with Easter egg hunt (available on 3, 4 and 5 April 2010 only)
Complimentary use of children’s DVDs
One complimentary rollaway bed
Children’s robes and slippers for the night
Overnight parking
Complimentary use of the Health Club
Free broadband Internet access

Easter Eggs-Traordinary Spa Package

For an indulgent Easter escape, guests can enjoy the Easter Eggs-Traordinary Spa Package filled with chocolate eggs and pampering spa experience.

Priced from A$413 per night and valid from 26 March to 14 April 2010, the package includes:

Overnight accommodation for two adults and up to two children in the same room
Buffet breakfast in Café Mix for two adults and up to two children
Easter eggs on arrival
CHI Vanilla Bean Body Massage for one adult
Complimentary use of children’s DVDs
One complimentary rollaway bed
Children’s robes and slippers for night
Overnight parking
Complimentary use of the Health Club
Free broadband Internet access

Rates quoted are per room per night, including GST, and subject to availability.

For further information and reservations, please call (02) 9250 6000, e-mail or visit

Chocolate Workshops
Parents can spoil their children with the exciting chocolate workshops, which include Easter egg making classes, chocolate egg displays and an entertainment lounge with chocolate snacks and soft drinks. The whole family can learn the art of making the perfect Easter egg from Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney’s leading pastry chefs and take home their own creations. Priced at A$20 per adult and A$10 per child or A$50 for a family of four, the chocolate workshops are exclusively available from 3 to 5 April 2010.

Easter Eggs-Travaganza Buffet
Guests can head to Café Mix and enjoy a gourmet Easter Eggs-Travaganza buffet meal, featuring chocolate eggs and bunnies, Easter favourites and a chocolate fountain. Priced at A$34 per child and A$68 per adult, the buffet is available for lunch and dinner from 2 to 5 April 2010.

For further information and reservations, please call (02) 9250 6206 or e-mail

Get Star Struck With BridgeClimb

BridgeClimb are providing an exclusive opportunity to experience a Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Earth Hour.

Led by Fred Watson, the astronomer in charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, climbers will have the rare opportunity to watch in awe from the top of the Bridge as the lights switch off in Sydney and the city’s sky illuminates with stars.

Earth Hour is on Saturday, 27 March from 8:30pm – 9:30pm, when homes and businesses across Sydney will switch off their lights to show their support for action on climate change.

Watson will provide expert guided commentary on astronomy for the climbers without the usual light pollution that makes it almost impossible to stargaze in the beautiful city of Sydney.

“Light pollution is caused by inefficient artificial lighting illuminating the sky so that fainter astronomical objects, like stars, are hard to see or disappear altogether,” the award winning Watson said.

Watson then went on to comment that “"The main thing is to…get away from places where there is a concentration of light, so Earth Hour will be the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of our city’s night sky at its best".

This exclusive Climb will be on The Bridge Climb and will start at 6:45pm. Tickets are $188 each, with limited spots available. To take advantage of this rare opportunity, please call the ticket hotline on (02) 8274 7777.

To book a climb at another time on one of our three amazing climbs, The Bridge Climb, The Discovery Climb or our newest climb, The Express Climb, please visit

Ghost Tours and Island Luxury – What’s New in Tropical Townsville

An exclusive Magnetic Island beachfront retreat and a ghost tour that’s a real scream are just two of the newest ways to stay and play in and around tropical Townsville.

Magnetic Island continues to live up its barefoot luxury factor with a new luxury retreat on beautiful Horseshoe Bay offering a world of seclusion and pure indulgence. Lotus House is an exquisite beachfront house catering for up to six adults featuring three spacious bedrooms with ensuites, exotic tropical gardens, spa bath, an oceanfront temperature-controlled swimming pool, expansive upper deck offering uninterrupted sea views and in-house chef options.

Back on the mainland, hear ghostly tales, tour haunted locations by lantern light, detect spirits of the past and stay overnight in a haunted house with Townsville Ghost Tours. Board the ghost bus and discover underground dungeons, secret tunnels, cellars, mineshafts, churches, old hospital sites and cemeteries. With a variety of day and night tours on offer you’ll learn how to use a GMF Ghost Meter, hear ghost tales of the past and see Townsville like you’ve never seen it before. Take your experience to the next level and sped the night in a haunted 1890’s house or participate in a murder mystery night based on real people and events. Townsville Ghost Tours operate on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and bookings are essential.

For something a little more peaceful, spend Sunday afternoon cruising on the Ross River Dam with Pop Sullivan Tours and Cruises. Relax onboard the MV Kathleen Mary with some nibbles and drinks as you spot turtles and birdlife and take in the beautiful wetlands of Lake Ross.

Q Resorts Itara Townsville Apartments are brand new self- contained serviced one-bedroom apartments in the city centre. The four and half star apartments feature contemporary open plan living, swimming pool, BBQ area, secure underground parking and high-speed broadband internet.

The Townsville region is also celebrating the recent win of two prestigious 2009 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. Noorla Heritage Resort, Ingham took out the Best Standard Accommodation category and Hidden Valley Cabins, Paluma was named the best Hosted Accommodation. Noorla is an elegant, fully-restored Italian Art Deco building an hour north of Townsville offering a range of accommodation including heritage rooms, camping sites and backpacker rooms. Hidden Valley Cabins, located one and half hours north-west of Townsville, is renowned as Australia’s first carbon neutral resort and tour company to operate on 100 per cent solar power.

For more information on holiday ideas in the Townsville region visit

Getting There

Townsville is a two hour flight from Brisbane. Virgin Blue offers direct flights to Townsville from Rockhampton, Brisbane and Sydney. Qantas and Jetstar also fly direct from Brisbane and Sydney with connections available from around Australia.

Traveltrain’s Tilt Train also provides two services a week.

Magnetic Island is easily accessible via a 20 minute ferry ride from the Townsville Breakwater terminal.

Win A Trip to Korea and Feast Like a King

Korea Tourism Organization launches its ‘I Love Korean Food’ campaign on the city streets this week in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The JC Decaux Citylights campaign will highlight Korea’s unique cuisine and offer Australians a chance to win a trip to Korea for two to experience a taste of royal cuisine.

The prize includes a trip for two to Korea with return airfares and deluxe hotel accommodation for three nights as well as a royal banquet for two at one of Seoul’s famous royal cuisine restaurants.

Contestants are requested to name three dishes on the table featured in the poster and visit the site to register their entry and to discover more about the wonderful world of Korean cuisine. The competition runs from 22nd March to 31st August with the winner announced on Friday, 3rd September, 2010.

Korean food is one of the main reasons for many travellers to visit Korea and royal cuisine has become of much greater interest in recent years due to popular drama series like Daejanggeum (The Girl in the Palace) which have focused on royal cuisine. In turn, all Korean food has become more popular and Korean restaurants are popping up everywhere.

Dining at a royal cuisine restaurant is a special occasion where you can sample elaborate dishes such as Sinseollo (a type of casserole dish cooked at the table) and Gujeolpan (the fancy nine section dish) which has eight kind of foods eaten inside a small wheat pancake).

Korea will host some major food festival events this year with the Korea Food & Tourism Festival taking place in Jeonju from 21-27 October, 2010 and the famous Gwangju Kimchi Cultural Festival taking place in Gwangju from 15-24 October, 2010.

Korea has numerous food festivals specialising in certain food products eg. ginseng, mushrooms, seafood, rice and rice cakes as well as famous tea festivals, rice wine and liquor festivals.
To enter the contest go to and make your mouth water with the wide array of dishes on the table! You can also request a detailed guidebook to Korea together with ‘The Wonderful World of Korean Food’ guide and recipe book.

Learn more about Korean cuisine by visiting the official travel website for Korea and click on ‘Food’.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time to Jump Aboard Aurora Expeditons

Dear Expeditioners,

It's been a while now since I was last in touch with you and already this season's Antarctic Peninsula voyages are coming to an end.

Last month we hosted a Scottish Heritage Evening at our Sydney office, so thanks to all of you that joined us in making it such a fantastic evening! Special guest Kerry Farmer from The Australian Society of Genealogists advised us to how to trace our Scottish ancestry while Andrew Derbidge, Cellar Master for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society shared his insights (and humour) on Whisky appreciation.

Our information nights have been such a success that we are planning to host more evenings around Australia so keep an eye out on the Aurora website events page or email us to register your interest.

Next month I will be on board our new vessel, Oceanic Discoverer to undertake some research for new itineraries in the Kimberley region. As we also use the Oceanic Discoverer for our Papua New Guinea voyages, it will be the perfect opportunity for me to experience the vessel first hand. I look forward to updating you on my experiences next time!

Best wishes,

Joanna Schuetz
Sales Manager
Aurora Expeditions

Silversea committed to growing Aussie market

Expedition ship, Prince Albert II

Ultra luxury European liner, Silversea Cruises have reaffirmed its dedication to the Australian market, which delivers 15 per cent of the company’s business and is its fastest growing market, according to visiting Chief Operating Officer, Ken Watson.

Mr Watson, in Sydney earlier this week, said this region was one of the most profitable markets for the cruise line, with more Australians requesting higher-end Suites resulting in the highest daily rate.

Silversea Cruises is also the only luxury cruise line in the region to have a dedicated sales office in Sydney, which Mr Watson said was further proof of its dedication to the region.

In 2011, Silversea’s Silver Shadow will launch a 30-day Circumnavigation around Australia, which Mr Watson said was already 60 per cent full, mainly with Australian guests.

“We try to be the best ultra luxury European cruise line,” Mr Watson said, adding that “being European differentiates us from other American brands”.

Silversea are also heavily promoting its specifically designed Expedition ship, Prince Albert II, of which Australians represent 20 per cent of its customers.

For more information on Silversea’s 2010/11 voyages, visit:


A conference of cruise-specialist travel agents in Canberra has been shown something of the diversity in size of cruise ships now available to holidaymakers.

After hearing about the merits of ships big, ships small, ships medium-size, European river cruisers and Asian river-adventure boats, this picture was shown of the truly Big and the Small

It's Royal Caribbean Line's brand new Oasis of the Seas (225,282 tonnes, 5,400 passengers and 2,165 crew) dwarfing SeaDream Yacht Club's SeaDream I (a tiny 4,300 tonnes and just 112 passengers and 95 crew) as they shared a berth in St Thomas in the Caribbean this month.

Machu Picchu reopens in April

By Charlie Mills

Finally, the Inca ruins site at Machu Picchu will reopen to international visitors as of April 1st. This reopening comes following a closure of two months caused by flooding. This is good news for this area, which makes a lot of money off the tourists that come from all over to visit these ruins.

Officials from PromPeru, the nation’s tourism body, did go on to confirm the reopening of the site. The reopening is made possible thanks to the repairs being successful to the rail links. These rail links had been damaged in the flood earlier this year.

The nearby Vilcanota River overran its banks back in January. It destroyed the rail and road links to the site. This had a severe impact on tourism to the area and even stranded many tourist at the site or many days. The tourists finally had to be airlifted out of the area by helicopter.

It took a long time for officials to airlift everyone out of the area for many reasons. First of all, bad weather continued to make it impossible to fly helicopters into the area. Second, many hikers, who had started on their joinery to the site many days before continued to show up at the site long after the flood waters had destroyed the link to the area. During this time, people had to deal with a very small supply of food and water.

Originally, repairs to the tracks were not expected to be done until mid-April. However, favorable weather conditions have allowed work to be completed way ahead of schedule. PeruRail will recommence its Vistabome train service to Agus Calientes on March 29th. However, Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu will not reopen to tourists until April 1st

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Byron at Byron Mid Week Special

click for larger image

OMG! Announcing Cruise West's New Blog

Generated by Guests & Crew Around the Globe

Seattle, WA (March 15, 2010) – Travel the world via Cruise West's ( new Voyages of the Great Explorers blog.  Guests, Captain and crew will share daily stories and observations at sea with daily posts from the line's inaugural world cruise, Voyages of the Great Explorers that departed Singapore on March 6, 2010, aboard the 60-suite Spirit of Oceanus.

Cruise West invited guests to become bloggers on each of the 24 voyages associated with the world voyage.  Encouraged by a free camera and Internet time, the line has had a good response from willing guests.  Follow the journey online or book one of the voyages and join in the adventure.  Blog submissions will also be posted to the line's Facebook page where consumers and travel agents are encouraged to become a fan, and Twitter via the hash tag #VOGE.

Sample Blog submission from a visit to Langkawi Island, Malaysia -- "Today we cruised up the Kelim River to visit a fish farm where we walked among the floating 'ponds' to see various species of the fish they raised and then we were treated to a demonstration of the spitting fish, a wild fish from the river. The fish spits at its prey, causing the prey to fall in the water and its eventual demise. Very amazing."

Blogs from around the world in the coming months may include "TISWLOOTW" (Today I saw whales leaping out of the water), or "ICBTSTCOB" (I can't believe the spectacular temple complex of Borobudur), or "TFISGIMNL" (The food is so good I may never leave)!

Cruise West (, the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, invites guests to book one or multiple segments of the 2010 or 2011 world voyages.  Each of the 24 meticulously crafted itineraries from Asia to the Mediterranean, Europe to the Americas and throughout the South Pacific, offers the most discerning and well-traveled guests an array of distinctive choices and authentic experiences.  Savings are still available.  For further details, visit, call 800-296-8307 or contact a travel professional.

Fiji remains on full alert as Cyclone Tomas approaches

Nadi, Fiji islands – With tropical Cyclone Tomas expected to make landfall within the next 12 hours, Tourism Fiji had advised heavy winds, high seas and strong wind generated by the cyclone are now being experienced in the destination's north-eastern division.

However the national tourist office has advised while the region remains on high alert, the organisation has to date not received any reports of tourists being endangered or tourism plant suffering structural damage.

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto said his Nadi-based team was remaining in regular contact with resort and hotel operators on Vanua Levu, Taveuni and Savusavu, the key tourist areas in the north-eastern area of Fiji.

While the region was experiencing heavy wind and rain squalls, no damage to date had been reported.

In instances where electricity had been shut down for safety reasons, most resorts and hotels were maintaining their own power via generators.

All resorts in the region – and in fact across the entire destination – have been on full alert since Friday and are fully equipped with food, water and emergency medical supplies and communication equipment.

Mr Tuamoto said events taking place in the north-east were a far cry from the situation in the resort areas located in western Fiji.

These, he said, included the big island of Viti Levu and the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands, which, while maintaining a high degree of vigilance, were generally experiencing fair weather.

Disruption to services in these areas, he said, had been limited with the exception of local cruise schedules and inter-island ferry and flight services.

While all major airlines servicing the destination from Australia and New Zealand have cancelled services today (Monday), full services are expected to be resumed tomorrow (Tuesday) following individual airlines' assessment of the situation when the cyclone will have passed through the region.

Continental Airlines has rescheduled all its Guam-Nadi services.

Air Pacific services ex-Honolulu and Los Angeles to Nadi have been delayed for 24 hours.

(Full details of all Air Pacific services can be viewed at the airline'travs website located at

Korean Air Seoul-Nadi services are still on hold until Wednesday.

All domestic inter-island air services to Savusavu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Lavuka, the Lau Group, Mana Island and Malololailai have also been cancelled until further notice.
Intra-island services between Nadi and Suva have also been cancelled until further notice.

"All of Fiji will continue to remain on high alert until the full extent of the situation has been revealed, most likely by first thing tomorrow morning," Mr Tuamoto said.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Experience the Classic Moscow to St Petersburg Tour

8 day / 7 night tour from Moscow to St. Petersburg offering three, four or five star options including accommodation, daily breakfast and more.

Classic Moscow to St. Petersburg Tour

DURATION: 8 days/7 nights

DATES OF OPERATION: 1 January - 31 December 2010

Hotel option: Izmailovo 3* in Moscow and Morskoy Vokzal 3* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $2316 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $2017 per person twin share, $2435 per single
Hotel option: Cosmos 4* in Moscow and Pulkovskaya 4* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $2548 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $2316 per person twin share, $2992 per single
Hotel option: Savoy 5* in Moscow and Grand Emerald 5* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $3478 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $3131 per person twin share, $4616 per single

INCLUSIONS: accommodation at the hotel in Moscow for 3 nights with breakfast; accommodation at the hotel in St. Petersburg for 3 nights with breakfast; transfers by comfortable bus, European language guide during the tour, lunches at restaurant "Vanilla Sky", in Sergiev Posad and at Pushkin, all the entrance fees and first class train ticket from Moscow to St. Petersburg (1 night).

Tonia at Gateway Travel for the full itinerary and availability.

Kids Cruise Free this Easter School Holidays

Take the kids on a Sydney Harbour cruise for free during the Easter school holidays with Captain Cook Cruises. Children aged 0-14 years who are accompanied by an adult cruise for free on selected dining and sightseeing cruises.

'Kids cruise for free' applies to the Sunday Breakfast cruise, Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise, Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise, Hop On Hop Off Harbour Express and Harbour Highlights cruise.

The Sunday Breakfast cruise includes a delicious hot and cold buffet breakfast including seasonal fresh fruit, selection of cereals, yoghurt, bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, chipolatas, croissants, rolls, fruit juice, tea and coffee and is $49 for adults and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.

The Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise features fresh Sydney rock oysters, ocean king prawns, succulent fish and mussels, plus a wide range of non-seafood and vegetarian dishes to satisfy every taste. A full commentary of the sights of Sydney Harbour is also provided. Adults are $72 each and children less than 14 are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

The Breakfast cruise departs every Sunday from No 1 King Street Wharf at 9.00am and from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 9.30am. The Seafood Buffet departs daily at 12 noon from No 1 King Street Wharf and at 12.30pm from Jetty 6 Circular Quay.

The famous Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise includes morning and afternoon tea and takes sightseers to the beautiful upper reaches of Middle Harbour, past magnificent waterfront homes, beaches and parklands and incorporates all the Main Harbour attractions.

The Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise departs daily from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 10am and 2.15pm and is $49 per adult and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.

Hop from one Sydney Harbour famous attraction to another with an all day 'hop on hop off' pass with the Harbour Express. Featuring live commentary the Harbour Express visits Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, Watson's Bay, Fort Denison, Shark Island, Luna Park and Darling Harbour.

The Harbour Express departs every 45 minutes from Jetty 6, Circular Quay and Pier 26, Darling Harbour and adults are $38 each and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.  An additional National Park fee of $7 applies to Fort Denison and Shark Island.

Featuring live commentary the Harbour Highlights Cruise is a great way for those short of time to see all the Harbour's main attractions. The Harbour Highlights Cruise departing daily at 2.30pm from Jetty 6, Circular Quay and is $29 per adult and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit

Oman has so much to offer both the young and the young at heart

From the great sandpits of the deserts, the stunning wildlife and natural wonders, to the friendliness of the Omani people and the modern comforts of its luxury hotels, The Sultanate of Oman offers so many ingredients for perfect family holidays.

Begin your trip in the elegant capital Muscat, a location which provides an abundant choice of the world's most exclusive five and six-star hotels, all of which hold the needs of younger travelers close at heart.

Just a few names include The Al Bustan Palace, The Grand Hyatt and Shangri La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, where children will love the thrill of floating down the Lazy River. Inspired by the centuries-old falaj system that brought fresh water to remote Omani villages, the Lazy River winds for a delightful half-kilometre between the resort's Al Bandar and Al Waha hotels.

Choose between pool side play and relaxation – or indeed one of the many beautiful beaches, or heading out to explore the fascinating sights and sounds of the Old Town. The location for where much of the city's rich heritage has been preserved, here children and adults alike will be able to step back in time into old world Arabia.

Walk in the area around the Sultan's palace and see remnants of Muscat's original clay wall and three access gates – Bab al Matha'eeb, Bab al Saghir and Bab al Waljat, which for centuries fortified the capital.

In addition to exploring highlights such as the magnificent Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, children will love the interactive Oman Children's Museum. Located near Qurum Nature Park, off of Sultan Qaboos Street in Muscat, the museum has 45 exhibits and is visited by around 50,000 visitors annually.  

With many hands-on displays, the museum addresses the scientific ways of human life with the exhibition section divided into three parts: The Human life, Physics and Observation which investigates the progression of science through the ages.  

Take the family on a 4WD trek and just 190km out of the capital, you will come across the Wahiba Sands, one of the world's most fascinating and beautiful desert formations. Covering an expansive distance of 180km from north to south, 80km from east to west and exceeding 150 metres in height, Oman's ancient desert is pure magic, especially when the shifting golden hue dunes are dappled in early morning sunlight.

Children will thrill at the excitement of seeing gazelle, white tailed mongoose and Bedu tribesman who for centuries, have herded the region's goats, sheep and camels.

Overnight 'glamping' is sure to delight children of all ages at Desert Nights. A true reflection of Oman's authentic Arabic style and just a two hour drive from Muscat, Desert Nights offers an oasis of untamed spectacular open spaces within the beauty of the Wahiba sands. Sprawled across 10-acres of silken sands, luxurious Bedouin-style tents await those who seek the ultimate desert adventure, as well as the ultimate in personalised service.

At Desert Nights, children will love to experience the true spirit of Arabia as they take a ride on a camel, or for older children, a ride on a quad bike across the sand dunes.

The north-east of Oman boasts the enchanting region of Ash Sharqiyyah, with its diversity that beckons visitors from far and wide. The Sharqiyyah coast stretching from Tiwi, Sur and Ras Al Hadd in the east to Barr Al Hikman and Masirah Island in the south abounds with coral reefs, rare turtles and dolphins.

Taking a boat trip and witnessing the wildlife at first hand will be a highlight of family holidays in these regions.

Meanwhile, the pristine beaches of the sparsely inhabited Ras Al Hadd coastal region are a safe haven for the breeding habitat of the green sea turtles. The nesting season is anywhere from July to December when hundreds of turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs.

The government has set up a reserve to allow the public to view this amazing spectacle, with the area  limited to the beaches at Ras Al Jinz. The Ras Al Jinz Scientific and Visitors Centre is located in the Ras al-Jinz Sea Turtle and Nature Reserve. Established in 1996, it covers a total protected area of 120 square kilometers.

Watching the turtles dig their nests and lay eggs, or watching the young turtles hatch and then make their hazardous dash for the sea will be a lasting memory of a visit to Oman for any child.

For further information, please contact:

Mona Tannous, Manager, Sultanate of Oman Tourism, Australia/NZ,

      Level 6, 117 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000 , Ph: 02 9286 8930 Email:  Website:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chimu Adventures Offers 25% off Antarctica Expeditions

Latin America and Antarctica specialist Chimu Adventures is offering 25% off the MS Expedition Antarctica cruises.

The special is valid for all departures in the 2010/2011 season and all expeditions such as the classic 11 day voyage and the longer 20 day 'Spirit of Shackleton' route.

Director of Chimu Adventures, Greg Carter, believes the deal gives people the opportunity to pick up a real bargain in getting to Antarctica. Carter claims, "with the 25% off discount, prices are starting from around $AUD 3775 for the 11-day classic expedition. This is really unbeatable value!"

The offer is available for bookings made before 30th April 2010 and is commissionable for agents.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sydney Airport Australia’s worst four years in row

Image: Sydney Airport Corporation Limited

Written By: eGlobal Travel News contributing editor William Sykes

Sydney Airport, Australia’s main international gateway, has been ranked the worst for customer satisfaction among the country’s five biggest airports – for the fourth consecutive year.The airport is a privately owned monopoly and airport users have long criticised its prices. A bottle of mineral water can cost nearly A$6 to take aboard a plane. Bottles of water cluster around airside newsagents to tempt the thirsty. The “no liquids” rule means passengers can’t bring drinks with them through security.

Now, Australia’s consumer watchdog, the Government-run Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a report showing that in 2008-09, Sydney Airport actually managed to increase its profit while passenger numbers fell. Its aeronautical revenue rose by A$23 million, or 5.4 per cent, to A$446 million – yet passenger numbers plunged by 500,000 – or 1.4 per cent – to 32.7 million.

The ACCC concluded that the airport had enjoyed persistent increased profits by allowing its quality of service to fall at the expense of airlines and passengers.

The performance of Sydney Airport was “of greatest concern,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel declared. “The indications are that Sydney Airport has increased profits by permitting service quality to fall below that which the airlines reasonably expect. Airport users, including passengers and airlines, rated Sydney Airport last amongst the monitored airports for the fourth consecutive year and it appears that investment in the international terminal has been slow. And while Sydney Airport was the only airport to report a fall in passenger numbers, its revenue and profit margins still increased.”

Airlines aren’t happy with Sydney Airport either. The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA), representing international airlines flying to and from Australia, hears constant complaints about the way Sydney Airport is run. Airports typically charge airlines on a per passenger basis for using their facilities, and charges are often set in advance for several years at a time. Sydney Airport recorded the highest average prices at $13.63 per passenger, compared to the lowest of $7.96 at Melbourne Airport.

“While airlines lowered their airfares to attract business in the current global economic slowdown, the airports appear to have enjoyed the security of guaranteed prices as well as benefiting from the airlines’ efforts to encourage travel,” Mr Samuel said.

Formerly in public hands, Sydney Airport was sold in 2002 by the Howard Government to the Southern Cross Consortium, led by Macquarie Bank, for a fraction less than A$5.6 billion. The airport is still backed by Macquarie Bank. MAp Airports (formerly known as Macquarie Airports) and other entities related to the bank have stake in Australia’s largest airport exceeding 80%.

Parking fees at the airport draw regular fire, while rail travellers are incensed that the cost of getting to and from the airport greatly exceeds that of any other comparable rail journey in Sydney. That’s because the rail line is in private hands while the rest of the system belongs to the NSW State Government. Consumer calls last year for the NSW Government to renegotiate the contract with the private company that runs the airport and surrounding stations have come to nothing. The high cost of the rail journey ($15 one-way to Sydney) deters passengers. If travelling as a family or group, it’s cheaper to catch a train to a nearby publicly owned station, such as Hurstville, and catch a cab the rest of the way.

Price-gouging over airport car parking is another source of consumer ire. The price of short-term parking has almost doubled over the past financial year, from $28 to $50 for four hours. ‘‘Car parking revenue was considerably above operating expenses over the whole reporting period,’’ the ACCC said. Other big airports in Australia also use their monopoly situation to change extortionate parking fees. “The ACCC has observed that some airports may affect the cost or convenience of potential alternatives to on-airport parking, which could contribute to the high margins reported for on-airport car parking.”

Sydney Airport management has reacted predictably to the criticism. It has challenged the methodology used by the ACCC and it claims things have changed since the report was released. Passengers are now “appreciating the improved travel experience that is being produced by the ongoing upgrade’’ according to an airport spokesman.

THAI Advises Passengers Travelling From Bangkok To Allow Extra Travel Time

In the view of the Political Rallies from the 12th March 2010 onwards, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited has an Operational Plan prepared for the situation. Passengers are reminded to spare time to get to Bangkok Airport early.

Mr. Piyasvasti Amranand, THAI President, said that due to the political rallies starting from Friday 12 March 2010 onwards, for passengers' convenience and as there may be traffic congestions, THAI requests passengers traveling by THAI on domestic routes to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport three (3) hours prior to the flight time and those traveling on international routes to arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport four (4) hours prior to the flight time.

THAI's Ticket Offices on Larn Luang and Silom Road will be closed on Saturday 13 March and Sunday 14 March 2010. Passengers may contact and purchase tickets at the THAI Headoffice on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road as following details:

Saturday 13 March 2010 Opening hour 08.00 – 17.00 hrs

Sunday 14 March 2010 Opening hour 09.00 – 13.00 hrs

Furthermore, THAI will temporarily close the THAI Contact Center at Larn Luang during the political rallies and will transfer THAI Contact Center staff to THAI Headoffice until the situation is back to normal. THAI apologizes for any inconveniences caused.

For more information on traveling information, flight schedule and reservation, please contact THAI Contact Center at Bangkok 0-2356-1111, 24 hours or at or

For Australian travellers, THAI reservations 1300 651 960 or Australian online offices are closed Sat/Sun but staff are reviewing the Bangkok situation.

See for updates and check DFAT's Smart Traveller site for traveller information :

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