Tuesday, 31 May 2011

£2500 Tall Ship Cruise Offered In Travel Review Prize Draw


A website that features the experiences and recollections of older holidaymakers is offering a magnificent tall ship cruise in a prize draw among all `over 50’s’ posting a travel or holiday review at www.silvertraveladvisor.com during June 2011.

Silver Travel Advisor offers mature travellers free travel advice from travel industry professionals and hosts impartial travel, restaurant and days-out reviews from its thousands of members, all of whom are aged fifty or older.

The prize draw is for a week long cruise of the Greek islands and Turkey on board the magnificent `Star Clipper’, one of three historically styled full-rigged tall ships in the Star Clippers fleet. Passengers enjoy all meals, a week long itinerary of sailing to some of the least visited ports in the Med, many inaccessible by larger cruise ships, and the thrill of cruising on board one of the most head-turning ships on the sea.

Every member posting a review at www.silvertraveladvisor.com will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win the cruise for two, travelling in August 2011, and every additional travel review entitles the member to another entry into the draw.

Silver Travel Advisor’s MD Debbie Marshall said “We’re really delighted that Star Clippers are partnering us in this exciting prize draw. Silver Travel Advisor recognises the value of older travellers’ experiences by offering a forum for people to share their travel recommendations and reviews. We’re constantly surprised to read of how adventurous our members are with their holidays and we know that they’ll love the idea of a tall ship cruise”.

Giant's Causeway

This is the Giant's Causeway in Ulster. No matter how many times I go there I can never get a decent picture! This was a round Britain crusie with Zegrahm expeditions.

Have a great day now.

Monday, 30 May 2011

P-P-Pack Your Bags For The 'Penguinoliday' Of A Lifetime To The Falkland Islands


There has never been a better time to splash out and combine a home and abroad ‘penguinoliday’ of a lifetime. Visit London Zoo to see the penguins once they have settled into their new home and then take the ultimate penguin trip to one of the great penguin capitals of the world - the Falkland Islands - to see these much loved creatures in their natural habitats.

The Falkland Islands, situated 400 miles off South America, are home to 770,000 penguins including rockhoppers and macaronis (as found in London Zoo) as well as king, gentoo and Magellanic penguins. Here are some tips for spotting the BIG FIVE of the penguin world in this stunning South Atlantic archipelago:

Kings: Tall, elegant and the biggest of the Falkland Islands penguins. Take a day trip to Volunteer Point – the largest king penguin colony in the Falklands and most accessible in the world – three hours by vehicle north of Stanley, where they reside year round.

Gentoos: The largest gentoo population in the world is found in the Falklands. The gentoo penguins live on the islands throughout the year and can be seen on the mainland and many Outer Islands.

Magellanics: Known to Islanders as jackasses, because of the loud call they make (resembling the braying of a donkey) when standing at the entrance to their underground nests. The Magellanics can be seen on the Falkland Islands during the summer months (September – April).

Rockhoppers: The smallest Falkland penguin and particularly noisy and feisty, making good entertainment for visitors as they literally hop from rock to rock up steep cliff faces. The Falkland Islands hold a significant proportion of the world’s rockhopper population with their distinctive red eyes, yellow brows and vivid plumes. Rockhoppers reside on the Falklands to breed between October and April often in mixed colonies with other seabirds.

Macaronis – fiery golden crested penguins who live in the Falklands in very small numbers, usually mixing with the larger rockhopper penguin rookeries.

For further information on the Falklands Islands, visit www.falklandislands.com.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Hurtigrutens' Arctic Cruises on board the MV Fram this summer are seeing a massive surge in bookings due to the Arctic Exploration vessel Polar Star's owner Karlsen Shipping co. of Halifax, Nova Scotia being placed into receivership. The M/V Polar Star had recently undergone repairs, in the Canary Islands, after a grounding in the Antarctic on January.
 
The M/V Polar Star would have been sailing in the Arctic in September. However, with her being unable to sail anyone considering taking an Arctic cruise this summer is advised to contact Arctic expedition companies such as Hurtigruten (http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/) or for a more detailed list of operators with vacancies The Cruise Line.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Arctic Russia and the Russian Far East

Aurora Expeditions is once again pushing the boundaries of expedition travel with voyages to the Russian Arctic and Russian Far East; a land of complex history, unique cultures, inspiring landscapes and astounding wildlife.
 
Aurora Expeditions ‘Voyage to the End of the Earth’ is a 14-day adventure to the Russian Arctic departing Murmansk. Prices start from US$8,080 per person.
 
Discover a region so remote and wild, that few have ever been. The 191 pristine islands that make up Franz Josef Land were the planets last major landmass to be discovered. Uninhabited, minus a few Russian border guards, this is the realm of the polar bear, walrus, seals and the elusive beluga whale. Only accessible by sea, the region has been open to foreigners since 1991. This geological wonder really is the world’s last frontier, virtually untouched and waiting to be explored.

Last Minute offer : Receive 15% off “Voyage to the End of the Earth”
‘The Ring Of Fire’ will unlock the mysteries of the Kurils, taking you deep into a wildlife and geological wonderland. Departing Petropavlovsk-Kamchatasky, this 13-day voyage will showcase the lush valleys, lakes and rivers, and snow capped volcanoes of Kamchatka’s east coast. Brown bears feast on berries and salmon. Our fleet of Zodiacs will carry you to intimate viewings of spectacular seabird, Stellar sea lions, whales and otters and seal colonies. Prices start from US$7,250 per person.

Special offer: Receive 10% off “Ring Of Fire – Kuril Islands

Both voyages will set sail on Aurora Expeditions brand new ship, Akademik Shokalskiy. This ice-strengthened research ship was built in Finland in 1982. Fully refurbished in 2008, the ship provides accommodation for a maximum of 54 passengers as well as two dining rooms, lounge bar, lecture theatre, sauna and an ‘Open Bridge’ policy.

Aurora Expeditions’ Russian Coastline voyages are staffed by premium expedition leaders, naturalists, historians and geologists and the Russian crew are keen to show off their country’s natural beauty – delivering some of the finest expedition cruises in Russia.
Deeply committed to education and preservation of the environment, Aurora Expeditions' philosophy is to respectfully visit these wilderness areas, in turn creating ambassadors for their protection.

More information http://www.auroraexpeditions.com.au or The Cruise Line.

Image Sue warner, Courtesy of Aurora Expeditions

Friday, 27 May 2011

French Polynesian Marquesas Islands

The most remote archipelago in the world, the French Polynesian Marquesas Islands have long been an inspiration for artists, writers and adventurers who come for the region’s wild beauty and cultural heritage. Aranui 3, the only ship to sail the 2,200 mile round trip from Papeete to all six inhabited islands in the Marquesas archipelago, has just released its 2012 and 2013 dates and prices, including some special discounts.
Departing every three weeks, all year round, the Aranui 3’s 14-day adventure cruise follows in the footsteps of Paul Gaugin, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, to name just a few of its famous visitors. Famous 19th century French artist, Paul Gaugin, painted his last picture on Hiva Oa and is buried in Calvaire cemetery overlooking Atuona, capital of the south Marquesas group. The Paul Gaugin Cultural Centre was opened in 2003 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the painter’s death and features numerous reproductions of his work and writing from his famous Tahitian period.

American writer, Herman Melville, best known for writing Moby Dick, was held by a group of notorious cannibals in 1842 in the deep Bay of Taipivai on the island of Nuku Hiva. He escaped his captors to tell the tale in his first book, the best seller ‘Typee’. And in 1888, on the north side of the same island, Robert Louis Stevenson landed at Hatiheu on his voyage on the Casco. His impressions of the islands are recorded in the classic 19th century travel book, ‘In the South’Seas’.
Aranui 3 offers travel in comfort. Doubling as a cozy passenger ship as well as a cargo carrier, she features 86 fully air-conditioned cabins (including 10 large suites with balconies) and can carry over 2000 tons of freight. Two comfortable lounges, a swimming pool and gym and a full programme of lectures on Marquesan history, culture and art are all part of the experience. English is widely spoken onboard and all presentations are given in English and French.

The vessel, which has been in operation since 2003 delivers regular supplies from bulldozers and beer to boats and brake pads to the islands’ remote valleys, some of which are totally secluded and have no road access to the main villages.
While the ship’s crew loads and unloads cargo at each island destination, passengers are taken ashore by wooden whaleboat or barge and welcomed by locals with flower garlands, dancing and music. Four-wheel drive jeeps driven by locals then take participants on spectacular safaris over the mountains to explore mysterious, unspoiled jungles and to experience the fascinating and individual culture of each of the islands.

Highlights of the voyage include the restored Me'ae Te Iipona in Puamau, one of the most significant ancient temples in French Polynesia, famous for the largest stone tiki in the region after the mysterious figures on Easter Island. Visitors are also impressed by the plethora of traditional handicrafts being kept alive within the islands, such as the tapa cloth on Fatu Hiva, which is produced by islanders from tree bark and painted with the designs that their ancestors wore as tattoos.

Prices for 2012 start from £3100 (Euros 3511) per person sharing a standard twin bedded outside cabin with private facilities including all meals with wine, all land-based sightseeing excursions and taxes. However, during 2012, three departures on board the freighter-cum-passenger ship are being offered at a 10% discount: 17 March, 9 June and, for seniors aged over 60 only, 22 September, bringing the starting price down to £2805 (Euros 3183) per person sharing a twin cabin. For those planning ahead to 2013, there is a 10% early booking discount on sailings between January and March 2013 for bookings received by 31 December 2011.

Flights to/from Papeete, Tahiti are not included in these prices. Air France and Air Tahiti Nui fly to Papeete (via Paris and Los Angeles), with prices from around £1750 pp return.

For further information about adventure cruises, visit http://www.aranui.com/ or The Cruise Line






Thursday, 26 May 2011

A New ALOHA! American Safari Cruises Celebrates Inaugural Season in Hawaii with Travel Credit Incentive


36-guest luxury yacht Safari Explorer cruises Hawaiian Islands Nov.-April

Hawaii bound vacationers have an extra incentive to book an inter-island yacht cruise aboard American Safari Cruises’ 36-guest Safari Explorer. To celebrate its inaugural season in Hawaii, the line is offering guests a $150 per person travel credit for reservations made from June through July 29, 2011.

Sailing weeklong or 10-night active, adventure itineraries between Maui and the Big Island from November 2011 through April 2012, the all-inclusive, upscale 36-guest Safari Explorer visits Moloka’i, Lana’i and Molokini.

Guests who book between June and July 29, 2011 will receive a travel credit of $150 per person or $300 per couple. The credit is intended to help guests defray air costs to the Hawaiian Islands where they will embark on their adventure cruise.

“We are confident guests will be thrilled with the experience of seeing and experiencing Hawaii up close on an upscale yacht,” said Tim Jacox, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “This is a brand new vacation option in the Hawaiian Islands, and we hope the travel credit aids in the decision-making process to try an adventure un-cruise in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

Jacox says the un-cruise defines the active, up close and personal style of adventure travel that makes American Safari Cruises different from other cruise vacations. The Safari Explorer is the only small-group expedition yacht offering overnight cruises in the Hawaiian Islands.

Flexible yacht itineraries focus on the leeward side of the eastern-most Hawaiian Islands. The unstructured itinerary allows time for seeking wildlife such as Manta rays, dolphins and humpback whales. Outfitted for active adventures, the yacht’s well stocked water sports equipment includes kayaks, paddle boards, snorkeling gear, wet suits, sailboats and inflatable skiffs for up-close excursions. Guided snorkeling tours are a highlight throughout the trip. Two knowledgeable expedition leaders guide hiking and kayaking tours. Bicycles are also available for guest use on Moloka’i and Lana’i.

Exclusive cultural tours have been arranged for guests in Moloka’i including guided hikes, visiting and restoring a family’s ancient taro terraces, “talking story” with native Hawaiians and a private, authentic Hawaiian pa’ina (feast).

The Safari Explorer has an on-deck hot tub, sauna, exercise equipment, a wine library and two large-screen TVs in the main salon. Exceptional cuisine is prepared with fresh, local ingredients and the complimentary bar offers premium spirits, fine wines and microbrews. The active spa environment includes a complimentary massage and yoga classes. All staterooms offer Tempur-pedic mattresses, flat screen TV/DVD players and iPod docks. Upper category staterooms feature Jacuzzi tubs and suites have private step-out balconies.

Fares start at $4,995 for the seven-night cruise and $6,495 for the 10-night cruise, both per person, double occupancy. Itineraries feature exclusive excursions and include all from-the-yacht activities and equipment; transfers; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; and all port charges, taxes and fees. An all-American crew has a guest-crew ratio of 2 to 1 and includes Hawaii residents who have personal knowledge of the islands. To book a Hawaiian yachting adventure or to request additional information visit http://www.americansafaraicruises.com/ or The Cruise Line.


















Wednesday, 25 May 2011

WINDSTAR CRUISES UNVEILS NEW 2012 COLLECTION OF LUXURY SAILINGS

Windstar Cruises, operator of a three-ship fleet of luxury yachts, has unveiled its new 2012 collection of luxury voyages in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Baltic, Italy, Mediterranean and Greek Isles.

Windstar’s new 2012 collection of luxury voyages visit enchanting destinations and provide unforgettable experiences at exceptional values. In addition to receiving the lowest introductory pricing in years, guests who book by 30th June 2011 will receive a $200 shipboard credit per cabin. Windstar’s Foremast Members receive an additional 5% discount on all itineraries.

Flavours of the Caribbean

Features a unique collection of islands highlighting diverse countries, styles, landscapes and cultures of the Caribbean. Seven-night sailings on Wind Surf round-trip from Philipsburg, St Maarten visit Le Marin, Martinique; Pigeon Island, St Lucia; Roseau, Dominica; Falmouth Harbour, Antigua; and Gustavia, St Barts. Departures on 31st December 2011; 14th and 28th January; 11th and 25th February; and 10th and 24th March. Cruise only prices from £1,577 per person.

Passage Through Panama

Natural and manmade wonders unite on an exotic voyage encompassing Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, islands of Panama and a transit through the Panama Canal. Seven-night sailings on Wind Star from Puerto Caldera to Colon visit Bahia Drake, Costa Rica; Golfito, Costa Rica; Isla de Coiba, Panama; Panama Canal Transit; and San Blas, Panama. Departures on 31st December 2011; 7th, 21st and 28th January; 11th February; and 24th March. Cruise only prices from £1,636 per person.

Treasures of Northern Europe

Discover six of Northern Europe’s most captivating countries. Eleven-night sailings on Wind Surf between Lisbon and Oslo visit Le Havre; Dover; Antwerp; and Amsterdam. Departures on 16th July and 26th August 2012. Cruise only prices from £2,376 per person.
 
Capitals of Scandinavia

Explore the capital cities of Scandinavia while sailing from sea to sea. Seven-night sailings on Wind Surf between Oslo and Stockholm visit Stromstad; Copenhagen; Rugen; and Bornholm. Departures on 27th July and 19th August 2012. Cruise only prices from £2,497 per person.

Best of the Baltic

East and West convergence of Baltic culture, architecture and history highlighted by an overnight in St Petersburg. Eight-night sailings on Wind Surf round-trip from Stockholm visit Mariehamn; St Petersburg (overnight); Helsinki; Tallinn; and Sandhamn. Departures on 3rd and 11th August 2012. Cruise only prices from £2,949 per person.
 
Islands of Italy

Experience classic Rome and the unspoiled, intimate islands popular with Italian locals. Seven-night sailings on Wind Spirit, Wind Star and Wind Surf from Rome to Rome visit Ischia; Sorrento; Lipari; scenic cruising by Stromboli; Porto Cervo; and Porto Vecchio. Departures on 21st and 28th April; 4th August; and 6th October 2012. Cruise only prices from £1993 per person.
 
Classic Mediterranean

Discover the ancient wonders and modern lifestyles of classic Greek and Italian cities. Seven- and eight-night sailings on Wind Spirit and Wind Star between Rome and Athens visit Ischia; Sorrento; Lipari; Giardini Naxos; Gythion; and Monemvasia. Departures on 28th April; 7th July; 11th August; 27th October; and 3rd November 2012. Cruise only prices from £1,993 per person.

Greek Isles and the Mysteries of Malta

A true microcosm of the Mediterranean – Greek, Italian and Arabic and North African influences are artfully represented in the architecture, cuisine and culture of this journey. Seven-night sailings on Wind Spirit between Athens and Valletta visiting Gythion; Argostoli/Cephalonia; Butrint National Park, Albania; Siracusa; and Gozo. Departures on 30th June; 7th July; 11th and 18th August; and 20th and 27th October 2012. Cruise only prices from £2,427 per person.
 
Transatlantic Crossing

Sail across the Atlantic Ocean reconnecting, recharging and indulging in Windstar luxury on a 21-night journey on Wind Star from Colon, Panama to Hamilton, Bermuda and ending in Lisbon. Departure on 31st March 2012. Cruise only prices from £824 per person.

Windstar’s 2012 voyages are available to book now. For more information on Windstar’s 2012 itineraries, please visit call 020 7292 2369 or visit http://www.windstarcruises.co.uk/

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

 
Join the Orion Expedition team onboard the newly re-fitted Orion II for her maiden Ryukyu Islands voyage exploring from Japan through the rarely visited sub-tropical Ryukyu Islands to the Philippines and Sabah.

This 14 night voyage on 28th July 2011 features diverse elements for adventurous spirits seeking cultural experiences far removed from the predictable tourist hotspots of Asia, including two destinations unique to this voyage, Shimonoseki and Kagoshima, plus a visit to Coron Palawan in the Philippines, the first by a foreign ship.
 
Guests can try their hand at the fine art of preparing Fugu – poisonous puffer fish, warm their feet in a volcanic heated foot bath, explore an impressive cave and underground river system and remove their clothes and inhibitions in a very elegant private hot spring onsen (public bath).
 
Active volcanoes and traditional samurai castles contrast with beautiful bays and islands perfect for snorkelling and diving, while a buffalo cart ride across tidal flats, cultural performances, art galleries and exploring a little township with bars and cafes offer other dimensions to this voyage.
 
Reminders of World War II abound, including visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as a fascinating Kamikaze museum and, in Okinawa, a former Japanese Imperial Navy HQ underground tunnel command centre.
 
The significant red Shuri Castle has many ancient links to the unique system of paying tribute to both Japanese and Chinese emperors and an archaeological dig site guests may visit contains some of the oldest human remains found in Asia.
 
Orion II’s visit to Coron Palawan will be celebrated with welcoming cultural displays, performances and interaction. Guests will have time for snorkelling, relaxing in hot springs, a village visit and scenic Zodiac cruising to capture the dramatic sunset.
 
This voyage features:
 
Unique Japan content in Kagoshima and Shimonoseki
WWII History in Okinawa
Unique sub-tropical Japan including snorkelling in Iriomote
Unique Ryukyu Culture in Okinawa
Filipino culture in Baguio and Coron
Snorkelling and beaches in Puerto Galera and Coron
Volcano and hot springs in Kagoshima
Hot Springs in Coron
Exclusive art gallery access in Kagoshima
Incredible art gallery access in Baguio at BenCab
Fugu fish cuisine in Shimonoseki; Filipino banquet in Baguio
First foreign ship to visit Coron.

Lecturers in the expedition team include:

Amy Loewen - Japan expert, many years of experience leading groups in Japan
Grace Winer - expert geologist to provide interpretation on the regions stunning and active geology
Justin Friend to lecture on Filipino and Ryukyu cultures
Expedition Leader Alastair Newton with many years experience in the region.

The 14-night Ryukyu Islands Voyage of Discover departs Kobe on 28th July and visits Hiroshima, Shimonoseki, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Ryukyu Islands - Okinawa, Iriomote Island – San Fernando (for Baguio), Puerto Galera and Coron before finishing in KOTA KINABALU. Prices start from £6,680 per person including 14 nights onboard Orion II, all meals, entertainment and educational programmes, use of the ship’s sporting equipment and facilities, Zodiac excursions, port and handling charges, tender transfers and government fees and taxes.
 
For further information visit http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ 

Monday, 23 May 2011

IT’S ALL ABOVE BOARD FOR GAP ADVENTURES’ POLAR CRUISES

Whilst the fuel ban will take the wind out of the sails of larger cruise ships, Gap Adventures’ owned and operated vessel the M/S Expedition will continue to cruise the Antarctic waters.
The ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Antarctic becomes law on 1 August 2011, meaning larger cruise liners will no longer be able to ply the waters, leaving the seas and breathtaking scenery to smaller ships such as Gap Adventures’ M/S Expedition and its travellers.
From 1 August 2011, large ships that offer cruise-only trips, carry heavy fuel and more than 500 passengers will no longer be able to sail in Antarctica’s waters. Gap Adventures’ ship uses marine fuel instead of heavy diesel, and its zodiacs have 4-stroke engines rather than 2-stroke, which create fewer emissions and noise that could disturb wildlife.

Not only is Gap Adventures’ recently renovated M/S Expedition committed to responsible environmental practices, it also boasts one of the largest average cabin sizes in her class and several spacious public areas, providing an exceptionally safe and comfortable expedition experience for all her guests. Alongside a highly experienced crew, the M/S Expedition offers an impressive ratio of one expert expedition team member for every 10 guests.
The world’s largest independently-owned adventure travel company launched camping and kayaking in its 2010/2011 Antarctic itineraries, enabling holidaymakers to encounter the intimacy and power of the polar regions in ways very few people have ever experienced before.

Take a look at some of Gap Adventures’ Antarctic tours:
Antarctica Classic in Depth

Price: Was £4619 now £3969pp (save £650 on selected dates)

Duration: 13 days Departure date: Mon, 7 Nov, 2011

Price includes: 11 nights on board the M/S Expedition, 1 night’s accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia, all meals on ship, Zodiac excursions with expedition team, lecture and educational programme, waterproof boots, Antarctica destination guide book and Canada Goose expedition jacket for guests who pay for a Category 5 suite.

Spirit of Shackleton Price: £7409pp Duration: 20 days

Departure date: Wed, 11 Jan, 2012

Trip code: XVSHSXPrice includes: 18 nights on board the M/S Expedition, 1 night’s accommodation with breakfast in Ushuaia, all meals on ship, Zodiac cruises and shore landings with expedition team, lecture and educational programs, waterproof boots, Antarctica destination guide book and Canada Goose expedition jacket for guests who pay for a Category 5 suite.

For more information, visit http://www.gapadventures.co.uk/

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bequia,

This Bequia in the The Grenadines and I had just bought this necklace for Caroline from the stall. Bequia is a tiny island raely visited by the large cruise ships as they can't get close in. I had gone there with Star Clippers on a Caribbean cruise.
Stepping ashore on the wooden jetty we entered into a time warp. The small church with names of British settlers from the 18th century set into its stained glass, the crabs scuttling across the road and the children with their tartan school dresses (10% of today’s population is of Scottish descent) on their way home after netball practice all seemed to take us back to a bygone age, even the pelicans and frigate birds circling above as we waited to return to the ship added to the feeling.
Have a greta day now.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

COURT APPROVES SALE OF WINDSTAR BUSINESS AND OPERATIONS TO TAC CRUISE LLC


Windstar Cruises Continues Operating As Usual; Honouring All Fares and Reservations and Maintaining High Level of Attention To Guest Service

Ambassadors International, Inc. (“Ambassadors”) today announced that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware has granted an order approving the sale of substantially all of Ambassadors’ assets, including its principal operating unit, Windstar Cruises, to TAC Cruise LLC, an affiliate of Xanterra Holding Corporation. The sale is expected to close next week.

All of Windstar’s luxury yachts are sailing as scheduled, serving customers and guests with a high level of attention to their travel experience.

During a court-supervised competitive bidding process in compliance with Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, TAC Cruise LLC submitted a winning bid of $39 million in cash.  Windstar will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Xanterra Holding Corporation of Greenwood Village, CO. Xanterra Holding Corporation and its affiliates have operated in the hospitality and leisure industry for more than 100 years.
“Windstar emerged as a tremendous long-term opportunity due to the line’s exceptional product, loyal following and high level of guest satisfaction in the luxury travel market,” said Andrew N. Todd, CEO of Xanterra Holding Corporation. “Xanterra intends to maintain Windstar’s business and operations and to invest in Windstar’s growth following the close of the sale.”
Hans Birkholz, CEO of Ambassadors and Windstar, said, “Windstar is very pleased with the successful outcome of this sale process and expects to complete it by early next week. Windstar is excited to have its new owner join in building Windstar’s world class brand. Windstar will be well-positioned for long-term profitability and success under new ownership and we will continue to provide exceptional service and extraordinary luxury travel experiences for our guests.”

It is expected that Ambassadors’ stockholders and holders of Ambassadors’ convertible notes will not receive any distribution following the sale and these securities will likely have little, if any, value following Ambassadors’ Chapter 11 proceeding.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Up the Amazon with Aqua

Aqua Expeditions have operated the 24-passenger MV Aqua for several years now, featuring superb up-close encounters on the Upper Amazon and journeys into the amazing wildlife preserve of the Pacaya Samiria Park.

It is a rare and eco-friendly opportunity to really experience a part of the world that remains fairly remote and inaccessible for the most part, plus great service and fabulous local cuisine.

And now Aqua has a second ship offering the same level of exclusive, deluxe travel in this part of the world, with the MV Aria joining the fleet earlier this month. And, following its maiden voyage, a delighted chief executive officer Francesco Galli Zugaro emailed us this letter, which we think is worth re-printing in full to highlight their latest offering:

"It is with great pleasure that I announce the MV Aria, Aqua Expeditions' second five-star luxury river-cruiser on the Peruvian Amazon, set sail this past Friday on its maiden voyage with 21 passengers aboard including myself, my wife and three children.

Completed in just 12 months and in the most remote inland seaport of the world, this brand-new addition to our fleet features 16 sleek cabins with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, a fully air-conditioned top deck with a cool and contemporary observation lounge as well as Aqua Expeditions' signature Amazon Grill with menu designed by award-winning Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. In addition, the Aria has an exercise room and an outdoor jacuzzi with sun deck, designed to accommodate the fitness-conscious traveler.

The boat's itineraries vary slightly to complement those of its sister ship, the MV Aqua, exploring remote areas of the Amazon River and the Pacaya Samiria Reserve. The 24-crew-member Aria is staffed with four world-class nature guides and also includes an Amazon wildlife reference library and air-conditioned multimedia room.

The Aria will provide the ever-growing number of travelers who wish to explore one of the world's last great wilderness areas with a one-of-a-kind travel experience. www.aquaexpeditions.com  or World of Cruising magazine

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Uniworld Launches NEW ship, the Douro Spirit, in Portugal and Spain’s Breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Douro River Valley


This week, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ new ship, the Douro Spirit, made its debut on the ‘Portugal, Spain and Douro Valley” itinerary.

The Douro Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage region, is being increasingly recognised for its wine making and natural beauty, reflected in an impressive 80% growth in UK river cruisers in 2010 over 2009, according to recent figures from the Passenger Shipping Association. Its Port heritage dates back over 2,000 years with the oldest demarcated wine region in the world. The Douro Valley is also a cultural landscape of exceptional beauty with rambling vineyards and charming quintas clinging to the steep slopes of its valley, creating an incomparable backdrop to one of Europe’s most unspoiled regions. And this is what you can expect to see and experience from the comfort of Uniworld’s new Douro Spirit.

Every riverview stateroom and suite onboard the Douro Spirit features a French balcony, so guests can get closer than ever to the breathtaking scenery of the region’s unspoiled natural landscapes. The Douro Spirit’s common areas provide added comfort with a main lounge featuring a full-service bar and dance floor, a restaurant, a sun deck with Jacuzzi® and small swimming pool, a lovely onboard restaurant with open seating, a fitness room, a massage room, a beauty salon and a boutique. And all of this is presented on an intimate ship built to accommodate a maximum of 128 guests and provide the small-ship boutique ambience preferred by Uniworld’s experienced travellers.

Uniworld’s 11-day Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley cruise includes: three nights in Lisbon at a deluxe hotel; a 7-night cruise in a stateroom with a French balcony onboard the new Douro Spirit; all meals with complimentary fine wine, beer and soft drinks served with dinner onboard; 10 fully-hosted shore excursions by English-speaking local guides; return flights and transfers on arrival and departure days. Prices start at £2,499 per person.

For more information and to book please visit http://www.uniworldrivercruises.co.uk/

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Isle of May

Off to the Isle of May today about two miles northeast of the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. Photographing the wardens and interviewing the puffins! Is that the right way around?
Have a great day now.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Northern Lights Voyages now from £999pp - HURTIGRUTEN LAUNCHES FLIGHT INCLUSIVE OFFER

Anyone who fancies a trip to Norway with Hurtigruten later this year to search for the Northern Lights can take advantage of a new flight inclusive offer. A special package has been created that includes flights and transfers (usually, prices are exclusive of flights and these have to be added) with savings of up to 35%. Available on the 12 day Classic Round Voyage, for selected dates in October and November this is an ideal time to spot the Northern Lights. These offers are limited in number and must be booked by 30 June 2011, demand is anticipated to be very high.

A voyage with Hurtigruten offers passengers the opportunity to get closer to the shores, coastline and communities of Norway as the ships call at over 34 ports of call, many of them not visited by the larger cruise ships. The ultimate voyage journey is the full 12-day Classic Round Voyage from Bergen in the South to Kirkenes in the north, taking guests high above the Arctic Circle and back.

Classic Round Voyage – From £999 (Saving £35%) - travelling on selected dates in October and November 2011. This 12 day full voyage includes full board on the ship and return direct flights from Heathrow to Bergen with BMI. Based on two sharing.

Dates are: 1, 20, 23, 25, 31 October 2011, plus 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 22, 25, 28 November 2011
For more information call Hurtigruten – 0844 448 7601 www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Monday, 16 May 2011

Vannes, Brittany

The beauty of small ship cruising is that you can get into ports that the huge juggernaut liners can't get near.  This is Vannes a walled city is in south west Brittany. A magical place.
Have a great day now.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

In the Wake of The Vikings with Zegrahm

Zegrahm Expeditions is excited to announce a community-based partnership with W.I.L.D. Expeditions, an adventure education  youth to be stewards of the environment through life-changing kayaking and sailing experiences. W.I.L.D. Expeditions has recently begun work building a traditional 56-foot Viking ship to educate children about Viking heritage and give them additional means to explore the waters of the Pacific Northwest. In conjunction with Zegrahm’s July 2011 In the Wake of the Vikings: Scotland, Iceland; the Faroes, the adventure travel company is offering any traveler who lives in the Northwest USA and books this upcoming voyage an exclusive tour of the Viking ship in Anacortes, Washington, including the opportunity to meet the shipbuilder himself. In addition, for each of these bookings Zegrahm will donate $1,000 per booking to W.I.L.D. Expeditions to help complete the building of the ship and fund upcoming youth programs.
The building of the vessel is being completed by master shipwright, Jay Smith, who was recently featured on the History Channel special, “The Big Build: Viking Longboat.” Jay has gathered over 70 crooks from oak trees in Oregon for the ship's frames and pure Alaskan yellow cedar from British Columbia for planking. Studying with Scandinavian masters to perfect his trade, the ship will be traditionally built by hand using many of the old Viking tools.
Not only will In the Wake of the Vikings expose travelers to the unspoiled islands of the Faroes and the volcanic wonders of Iceland—two areas that are difficult to explore on your own—but Zegrahm’s expert expedition team adds an educational component by bringing the region’s cultural heritage and natural history to life. Among others, archaeologist, Colleen Batey, will share her stories of excavating Viking sites in Northern Scotland, Iceland, and the Orkney Islands, and her work with the Smithsonian on the Vikings: North Atlantic Saga exhibit. Iceland native, Ragnar Hauksson, will lecture on the everyday life of Icelanders coupled with the folklore, fairy tales, and sagas. And, expedition leader and Zegrahm cofounder, Mike Messick, will ensure that travelers make the most of their time in these northern realms with ample opportunities to explore the itinerary’s planned ports of call and several expeditionary exploits by Zodiac. Additionally, travellers will have the opportunity to:

• “Storm the beach”—via Zodiac—at Dunrobin and explore this 13th-century castle and its Versailles-inspired gardens
• Sail past seabird colonies perched on cliffs along the region’s dramatic fjords
• Take a cliff-side hike and enjoy stunning views while learning about the volcanic geology below your feet
• Tour (and taste!) Scotland’s best-known industry: whiskey
• Visit picturesque coastal villages still steeped in Viking tradition
• Embark on a thrilling snow mobile ride across Europe’s largest glacier

Zegrahm President Jon Nicholson notes, “We hope travelers will join us on this eye-opening expedition that showcases the lives of true expeditionary travelers—the Vikings—who have made such an impact on our own cultural heritage here in the Pacific Northwest. Not only will the voyage itself and the private tour of a real-life Viking ship be inspirational, but we are excited to support a wonderful organization that is enhancing the lives of youth in our area.”
To learn more about this expedition, visit Zegrahm’s Web site at www.zeco.com.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Getting worried in Antarctica

This is the one time in Antarctica I got really worried. The wind had picked up and was pushing the ice towards the ship and had we stayed where we were we would have been trapped between it and the shore.
You can see how much of the ice is below the water.  I had gone there with Hurtigruten in a modern, 5 star ice strengthened ship but the captain decided we had to get out of the Weddell Sea PDQ. It brings home to you how frail we really are as a species when nature decides to take over.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cruise guests from niche tall ship operator Star Clippers have removed 1,700 pounds of rubbish from North Friar’s Beach and Keys Beach in St. Kitts in a beach clean-op operation organised by on-board marine biologist, Mariano Peruzzo. This is the third time Star Clippers guests have take part in beach clean-ups, on this occasion joining volunteers from a local charity to rid the island’s beaches of plastics and other litter.
The marine biology team on board the flag-ship five-masted Royal Clipper have been resident for two years, carrying out research in the marine environments of the Mediterranean and Caribbean as well as leading dives, beach walks and conservation efforts and giving talks to guests.
Star Clippers’ vessels operate under wind power up to 70% of the time. All ships use very pure, high-quality low-sulphur gas oil, for which Star Clippers has been awarded the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate. And all three ships’ crews operate on a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ policy, while only eco-friendly, biodegradable products are used for cleaning on board the three ships.
Other eco-initiatives include the recent appointment of a qualified naturalist/marine biologist to accompany all cruises on the 170-passenger square rigger, Star Flyer, in its winter sailings in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, providing passengers with first-hand information about the incredible diversity of flora and fauna in the region, as well as the volcanoes and cloud forests.
On 11th December one of Britain’s most respected authors, environmental campaigners, broadcasters and botanists, David Bellamy, will be on board Star Flyer in Central America to share with passengers the magnificent experience of cruising under sail, to host a shore excursion, to mingle with guests and to give presentations about the environment. Including an additional three days land stay, the 10 night Central America holiday costs from £2239pp, with return flights from London, transfers, 3 nights’ hotel accommodation and the seven night cruise with David Bellamy, including all meals on board.
Star Flyer also carries a highly qualified dive master who will give talks on board on invertebrates, crustaceans, fish and marine mammals
Contact Star Clippers 0845 200 6145 or visit www.starclippers.co.uk.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Zegrahm Expeditions "Tours of a LifeTime"


Zegrahm Expeditions is once again thrilled to be selected for National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s “Tours of a Lifetime.” In the past, the honours have been bestowed upon the adventure travel company’s tropical, natural history-focused expeditions—Beyond Rapa Nui, Ultimate Seychelles, and Faces of Melanesia—but this year they are excited to announce that the honors were given to a brand new, in-depth cultural tour: Voyage Through the Red Sea. This 17-day expedition, aboard the Clipper Odyssey, departs November 6, 2011 and visits Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea.

This voyage combines the Red Sea’s best cultural attractions along with several opportunities to snorkel and dive, plus offers a rare glimpse into a number of hospitable countries rarely visited by Western travelers. Highlights of this tour include:

• Exploring the rose-colored wonders of Petra, the capital of the ancient Nabatean Empire and now a World Heritage Site.
• Cruising along the Nile in a traditional felucca sailing vessel.
• Visiting several exquisite World Heritage Sites in Egypt—Monastery of St. Catherine (Above) and the treasures of ancient Thebes, including Luxor, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings.
• Walking tour of Jeddah’s well-preserved old city, considered the gateway to Mecca.
• Snorkeling and diving in the shimmering waters of the Dahlak Archipelago, an area renowned for its rich marine life and scenic beauty.

To learn more about this voyage visit www.zeco.com or The Cruise Line

Monday, 9 May 2011

National Park of Grande Briere, Brittany


Southern Brittany covers the department of Loire-Atlantique and contains some superb gems for birdwatchers.  The first of these is The National Park of Grande Briere a huge reed bed of nearly 100,000 acres. The Park has a road running around it so you can call in at different places or stand at the side of the road. We got Purple Heron, Bearded Reedling, Black Kite and Cormorant within thirty seconds of pulling into a picnic area on the eastern side of the marsh.
There are tracks that can lead you into marsh but the best way to see this place is either the excellent hides on the eastern side or to take a traditional punt boat and silently glide in and out of the reeds. This will allow you to savour Marsh Harriers, White Stork, Whiskered Tern, Fan-tailed Warbler, Night  Heron and Kingfishers going about their daily business undisturbed by the noise of an engine. 

The best place to do this is Brecca on the western shore of the marsh where there is also an observation tower giving you extensive views of the reeds. Do look out for nd Bluethroat about a mile south of here on the road to St Nazaire. In short there are many roads leading down to the shore of the marsh so it pays to spend at least a whole day here from dawn until dusk.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Antarctica with Aurora

Aurora Expeditions voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula for next season are filling fast, buoyed by the popularity of their brand-new fly-sail options to Antarctica and South Georgia. Departing South America, they have been designed to reduce sea time and increase time at the destination. Also popular are their voyages with exciting adventure activities, including sea kayaking, camping, photography, climbing and scuba diving.
Next season, the Australian adventure cruise company will also celebrate the centenary of renowned Australian explorer Sir Douglas Mawson and his first Australasian Antarctic Expedition. A milestone in Australian Antarctic history, this special occasion is being marked with three 'Mawson Centenary Celebration' voyages to Mawson Huts and Commonwealth Bay, departing both Australia and New Zealand.
Aurora Expeditions, the pioneers of ship-based adventures in this part of the world, are committed to small, low-impact groups keen to experience the Antarctic in many ways, whether by walking, scuba diving, kayaking or just sitting quietly and absorbing the surrounding magnificence.The 2011/12 itineraries reflect this commitment. Voyages start from $5,900, with trips to East Antarctica from $6,500.
For more info, visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Vist the Galapgos

Here's a very timely reminder of a great way to visit the Galapagos Islands with anadventure cruise specialist.

With six superb state-of-the-art luxury catamarans operating in the islands, Haugan Cruises is owned and managed jointly by experienced personnel from both Ecuador and Europe. Their aim is to give guests a great Galapagos experience at extremely competitive prices and always in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

The pricing includes ALL of the following:

• Top quality bilingual local guide throughout the cruise:
• Dedicated onboard cruise manager
• All meals on board
• Bottled water & sodas
• Welcome cocktail
• Snorkelling equipment
• Free use of all amenities on board (laptops, etc)
• Free trip and planning service for all your needs in the region
• Free airport assistance - Mainland Ecuador (Quito & Guayaquil)
• Free airport assistance - Galapagos Islands
• Free use of airport VIP lounges (Quito & Guayaquil)
• Free transfers between boat and airport
• Free 24-hour helpline for personal assistance for your entire time in Ecuador
• Free International flight confirmation service
• Wetsuit use

For more information, visit www.haugancruises.com or contact the UK's leading adventure cruise specialists of The Cruise Line.

(Photo courtesy of GalapagosIslands.com)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

InnerSeaDdiscoveries

Taking delivery of their two inaugural cruise ships, Wilderness Discoverer and Wilderness Adventurer, new adventuring cruise line InnerSea Discoveries are now ready for their inaugural season in South-East Alaska.
A Sea an underwater bow camera, high-tech kayak launchers and iPod docks are just a few of the new features installed on the two expedition ships, which begin sailing on May 7.
Kayaking adventures will be a popular activity, with each ship carrying 28 assorted styles of Necky kayaks—stable, roomy and good for pros and novices. With multiple guided trips throughout each cruise, the ease of launching and return of kayaks is a priority. Both ships have been outfitted with custom made EZ Dock kayak launching systems, able to quickly and safely launch four kayaks at a time. Kayakers can also easily guide themselves back onto the ship using the system.
All guest cabins are above deck with large windows and feature upscale amenities to ensure a warm, inviting home-away-from-home for active adventurers. Eco-friendly memory foam mattresses are included in all cabins as either a twin, double or queen bed. Flatscreen televisions with DVD players, iPod docking stations and eco-friendly bath amenities take these expedition ships to a new level of creature comfort.
Hot tubs situated outside on deck provide a spectacular setting for guests to relax and take in the scenery. Each ship also has a sauna, exercise equipment, complimentary on-deck yoga classes, a large resource library, well-stocked DVD library and board games. A professional masseuse is part of the crew and massages are available for a fee.
Prices for the 7-night cruises start at $1,795 per person, double occupancy, and include transfers and all activities, except optional excursions. Port charges of $167 per person per week, massages, wine, spirits, beer and gratuities are extra.
Select 2011 dates are designated as Family Discoveries with a focus on activities tailored for all ages. Kids 12 years and younger receive a 25% savings on all departures and 30% on Family Discoveries voyages. To book the ‘un-cruise’ or to request additional information, contact http://www.innerseadiscoveries.com/

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Air - Cruise to Antarctica

I took this shot of Chinstrap penguins on Half Moon Island earler this year when I went with Hurtigruten sailing across the Drake Passage.
 Now there is an air/cruise "open-jaw" option between Ushuaia – Antarctic - Punta Arenas on high season dates next season.  To find our more visit http://www.antarcticdream.com/

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Dive bombed by Skua


This is what an Arctic Skua looks like when it's coming straight at you becuse you deem to walk near its nest. It got a lot closer I can tell you and made its opinion of me very clear!
This was on Mousa a small unihabited island inThe Shetlands which we visited as part of Zegrahm Expeditions "Wild and Ancient  islands of Britain" Cruise.
have a great day now.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Orion launches New 2012 Expedition Brochure

Free Flights on Selected Kimberley, Borneo & Vietnam Itineraries plus 15% Early Booking Discounts on Selected Sailings.

Orion Expedition Cruises has released an expanded range of path-less-travelled itineraries for 2012, which include free flights from the UK on selected Kimberley, Borneo and Vietnam voyages as well as early booking discounts of up to 15% on most sailings.

Incorporating the first full year of voyages for Orion II, as well as their original boutique cruiser Orion, these expeditions - well off the marine superhighway - include rarely visited destinations from polar ice cap to the tropics.

In addition to existing itineraries, Orion takes a fresh look at New Zealand with new Pure New Zealand and Bay of Islands voyages. Orion II’s new sailings feature the islands of Micronesia and additional voyages to Japan with Art of Japan and Culinary Voyage of Japan itineraries. China is included for the first time, with expeditions that includes the Yangtze Delta (Kobe to Shanghai) and Shanghai to Tawau (Yangtze, Taiwan, Philippines), while an inaugural visit to Java includes Borobudur.

Free flights are available on all Kimberley sailings between April 13 and September 10; on three Vietnam sailings departing March 12, 21, 30 and on one Borneo sailing departing February 17.

In all, 2012 will see the two purpose-built expedition cruise ships undertake 68 voyages to 17 countries and 174 destinations stretching from Antarctica to the Russian Far East, including Borneo, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, the Inland Sea of Japan, Korea, China and Micronesia (onboard Orion II). Australia’s Kimberley coast, Arnhem Land, Great Barrier Reef, the Spice Islands, New Zealand, the Sub Antarctic islands and Papua New Guinea feature in Orion’s range of expeditions.

The complete 2012 Calendar of Sailings is now on sale. Prices start from £1,630 per person, cruise-only, for a five-night Great Barrier Reef voyage on September 27 and from £4,400 per person for a nine-night Vietnam Explorer voyage, including free flights, with departures on March 12, 21 and 30.

For more info, visit http://www.orionexpeditions.com/ or the UK's expedition cruise specialists, The Cruise Line Ltd