Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Virgin Island Cruising


If you’re interested in Caribbean history and are keen to learn more about the cultural and historical sites of the British Virgin Islands whislt spending time on board Cuan Law, the largest sailing trimaran in the world, an exclusive tour with Virgin Islands History Tours could fit the bill. Virgin Islands History tours have just announced dates for two exclusive 6 night charters from 14th – 29th July & 8th – 14th December 2013 where guests will have a chance to visit old fortifications, sugar mills, great houses, a copper mine and dive a shipwreck along with enjoying excuisite food and time to relax on board whilst sailing through the beautiful British Virgin Islands.

Originally hailing from the UK, Dr. Michael Kent BA (Hons) MA PhD, historian and archaelogist, holds over fifteen years experience leading tours through the British Virgin Islands and will personally escort these two exclusive tours. Dr. Kent co-wrote the first ever course in Virgin Islands history which he still teaches today as a Principle Lecturer at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the BVI. He also serves on the board of the Old Government House Museum on Tortola. Mitch (as he’s affectionately known) is passionate about sharing his knowledge of BVI heritage and for many years has worked hard to preserve historical landmarks across the islands. He also used to be a PADI dive instructor and has led hundreds of tours to the RMS Rhone and is currently finishing a book on the ship.

Mitch has carefully planned these tours to ensure guests are treated to an informative, educational and enjoyable experience in the BVI. Guests are welcomed on board the impressive Cuan Law and given a chance to settle into their new surroundings before Dr. Kent meets everyone and provides an overview of the week’s activities. Cuan Law will then sail to Norman Island offering those on board a spectacular view of the ‘Sir Francis Drake Channel’. A presentation of the history of the BVI and ‘Norman Island’ will follow acquainting guests with some of the sites they will be visiting in the days ahead. During the tour, guests will learn about some of the native trees and plants, snorkel around ‘ The Caves’ that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write ‘Treasure Island’ and sail around a group of Islands known as ‘The Indians’.

During the trip, Cuan Law will anchor at ‘Peter Island’ for a night where guests will enjoy a delicious dinner followed by a presentation on the famous wreck of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ship ‘Rhone’ which sank at Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867. The next morning Cuan Law will sail to ‘Salt Island’ and anchor in ‘Lee Bay’ opposite the abandoned village. Certified divers will then have a chance to be given a guided tour of the RMS Rhone wreck site whilst other guests can take a snorkelling tour of the stern section of the wreck. Cuan Law will later move to ‘Virgin Gorda’ and anchor whilst guests receive a presentation on the history of the island that was once home to a number of famous Buccaneers. Guests will be taken ashore to Virgin Gorda where they will be driven to the ruins of ‘The Copper Mine’ National Park which was operational during the 1860’s. Following a tour of this unique monument, guests will be driven to ‘Nail Bay’ where the remains of a beautifully preserved sugar works nestle within the landscape of this exclusive resort. Guests will be treated to a beach picnic and BBQ at ‘The Crawl’ beach and have a tour of the world famous ‘Baths’, a geological anomaly which still baffles scientists today!

On the final day of the charter, guests will take an island tour of Tortola where they will experience spectacular views of the north shore from the ridge road and see the famous painted wall upon which over a dozen local artists have painted local scenes of Tortolan life in the past. Guests will visit the ‘Mount Healthy Windmill’, the only one of its kind built in the BVI during the plantation era, the famous ‘Cane Garden Bay’ and ‘Callwoods Rum Distillery’. They will also have a chance to take a private tour of the ‘Old Government House Museum’.

Cuan Law will be home to guests during these special charters where accommodation is spacious and comfortable. Boasting ten double staterooms, each can be set up to suit individual needs with double or twin beds. When you hear the ship’s bell ring you know it’s time to partake in a culinary adventure and dining aboard Cuan Law is an experience to remember. Meals are served on the spacious teak aft deck with the ocean and islands offering a spectacular backdrop.

Rates: Virgin Islands History Tours (www.vihistorytours.com) offer these two exclusive charter tours taking place between 14th – 20th July and 8th – 14th December 2013 (6 nights, max 18 guests) from £2,500 per person.

What’s Included: Price includes all guided tours and hikes, optional evening presentations on the places being visited the following day, safari bus transportation during the tours, ferry fare to St. John, gourmet sandwiches during the St. John tour, entry fee to all of sites visited, lunch at Old Government House Museum on Tortola. Six nights, seven days accommodation in two person cabins, twin or queen, with private bathroom. Three meals per day and hors d'oeuvres and snacks. All hot and cold drinks including alcoholic drinks and wine with dinner. Local taxes. Gratuities to crew. Transfer from airport, ferry or hotel to and from Cuan Law. Fuel for diesels, generators and tenders. No fuel surcharge. Use of all sporting equipment and scuba tanks, air, weights and snorkeling gear except as detailed below. Instruction in water sports excluding diving. Use of tenders, driven by crew at all times. Full service from the crew. Wifi. Dockage.

Monday, 29 April 2013


A new ship, Le Soléal, special offers (25% off selected cruises), and a year of special events to mark the occasion...

This year, Compagnie du Ponant, the luxury yacht cruise company, market leader for polar destinations and five-star expedition specialist, is celebrating its 25th anniversary with 25% off on a selection of eight cruises in Asia, Mediterranean, Great North, South America and Russia, and an exceptional series of celebrity on board guests throughout the rest of the year. The Anniversary Offer is valid for reservations made between 25 April and 25 May 2013 for cruises on Le Boréal, L’Austral and Le Soléal (each offering 132 staterooms and suites), and three-mast Le Ponant (32 staterooms).

Each of the 132-cabin, elegant and intimate, yachts offers spacious suites, impeccable service and excellent food and wine – plus their small size allows them to reach destinations that larger ships cannot, and offer its passengers to sail in the company of experts & historians as guides & lecturers who are passionate about their subjects.

In April 1988, with a dozen officers from the French Merchant Navy, current CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvée embarked on this adventure by building the company’s first ship, the famous three-mast Le Ponant. What became as a dream is now a flourishing reality, with the addition of three prestigious vessels to the fleet, sisterships Le Boréal, L’Austral and Le Soléal which is launching in Venice at the end of June 2013.

An experienced bilingual crews, attentive service and exceptional itineraries in elegant surroundings are Compagnie du Ponant’s key selling points – with a modern and innovative fleet that has been sailing the world’s oceans for 25 years.

To mark the occasion, various events and offers have been organised throughout the year:

25 YEARS: -25% OFF a selection of cruises
A 25% discount on a selection of cruises, giving opportunities to discover the company’s yacht-style cruising philosophy – with exceptional destinations and moorings inaccessible to larger ships, gourmet cuisine and impeccable.

Access treasures of the world by sea – discover the new “Ponant Discovery” extensions – more than a cruise it is a sea voyage...
This season, Compagnie du Ponant has launched a while array of new itineraries in the Arctic (LE SOLÉAL will cross the famous North West Passage this summer) and Asia. It has now introduced “Ponant Discovery” extensions, to offer guests the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the culture and treasures of countries – the Atacama Desert, Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu, Easter Island and Galapagos are amongst many dream destinations now accessible on these “cruise-voyages”.

Special guests
Throughout the year, and to celebrate its 25th anniversary, many very special guests will be honouring Compagnie du Ponant with their presence on board. They include: famous opera singer, Ruggiero Raimondi; ex-government minister and philosopher, Luc Ferry; poet, writer and musicologist, Alain Duault; child psychiatrist,  Marcel Rufo; singer and song writer, Hugues Auffray; comedian, actor and singer, Michel Leeb; jazz violinist, Didier Lockwood; Breton singer and harpist, Cécile Corbel; the troupe from the musical Mamma Mia; soprano and actress, Inva Mula… and many other surprises.

For more information or to book, visit www.ponant.com or call 0800 980 4027

Heritage Adventures Debut in Alaska and on the Columbia & Snake Rivers

Heritage Adventures Debut in Alaska and on the Columbia & Snake Rivers
With Un-Cruise Adventures
Travel credit savings offered on 2013 inaugural season voyages

Launching in August 2013, Un-Cruise Adventures’ 88-guest S.S. Legacy sails back through history bringing alive the stories and characters from Alaska’s Gold Rush of ’98 and the Lewis and Clark Expedition westward through Oregon and Washington.  Guests receive a travel credit savings up to $1,088 per couple on cruise fares for the inaugural season in Alaska in August 2013 and on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in fall 2013 when booked by June 15, 2013.

The S.S. Legacy, a replica Victorian-style steamer, joins the fleet after extensive renovations restoring the ambiance of an elegant coastal steamer and adding modern conveniences. Period décor includes carved wooden cabinetry and deep rich colors and patterns. Six different stateroom categories include twin, double, queen and king beds, all with view windows and private bath.  Public spaces include an elegant Klondike Dining Room, Grand Salon with dance floor, wine bar and rollicking Pesky Barnacle Saloon. Wellness amenities include two hot tubs, sauna, massage room, fitness equipment and yoga on deck.

“Heritage Adventures marry the joy of exploring a scenic destination with the appeal of connecting with our nation’s history,” said Dan Blanchard, CEO and principal. “Living history will take on a new meaning with the on board programming developed for the S.S. Legacy voyages.”

Heritage Adventures, a new style of adventure for the line, focus on the history of the destination with a Legacy Leader coordinating a program on board and ashore. In addition to guest speakers and educational presentations, surprising elements entertain and transport guests back in time—crew in period costumes, John Muir or Teddy Roosevelt strolling on deck. Included shoreside tours visit points of historical interest.

Two 11-night sailings between Seattle and Juneau (and reverse) kick off the S.S. Legacy’s inaugural year.  The August 11 and August 22 cruises visit San Juan Islands and Friday Harbor, WA; Canada’s Inside Passage; Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Frederick Sound, Sitka, Icy Strait, Glacier Bay National Park, Haines and Skagway, AK.

Highlights include guided tours in port, whale watching, viewing glaciers in Glacier Bay, discovering native Tlingit culture and exploring scenic waterways by Victorian-style steamer. Legacy Leaders weave the colorful stories from Alaska’s history and the Gold Rush of ‘98 into activities throughout the voyage. Rates start at US$7,895 per person, double occupancy with up to $1,088 per couple travel credit savings available for the celebratory inaugural season.

From September through November and March through May, weeklong cruises depart roundtrip Portland, OR to explore the history and scenery of the Columbia and Snake Rivers.  Areas visited include the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Clarkston, Hells Canyon, Walla Walla, Washington Wine Country, The Dalles and Astoria. 

“The Columbia and Snake Rivers offer one of America’s truly great calm water, scenic, historical and technological experiences, rivaling the popularity of river cruising overseas,” said Blanchard.  “The S.S. Legacy introduces a new dimension to river cruising with its inclusive nature and authentic portrayal of historic events.”

Highlights include scenic cruising through the Columbia River Gorge; a visit to Multnomah Falls; transiting eight sets of locks and tour of the Bonneville Dam Visitor Center; jet boat into Hells Canyon; Fort Clatsop; Fort Walla Walla; downtown Walla Walla or Whitman Mission; Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria; Maryhill Museum and Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and a private wine tasting at a Washington winery. Rates start at US$3,195 per person, double occupancy with up to $530 per couple travel credit savings for early bookers.

A Heritage Adventure aboard the S.S. Legacy includes all shoreside tours, fresh and innovative meals, a massage, premium wine/beer/spirits, transfers and port fees and taxes.  On board amenities include flatscreen TVs/DVD players and iPod docking stations in all staterooms. An elevator connects three public decks. To book an Un-Cruise Adventure or to request additional information, contact your travel agent or the company directly at 888-862-8881 or email sales@un-cruise.com

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Choose from a variety of pre, post and land-based excursions to enhance your voyage

 Fancy getting up close and personal with Norway’s longest and deepest Fjord? How about fishing for giant king crab in the Barents Sea? Or how about a scenic rail journey which includes climbing almost 900 metres while covering a distance of only 20 km? Hurtigruten offers both of these experiences as part of its pre and post-trip excursion programme this summer, all under the warming Midnight Sun. Guests wishing to enhance their trip and see even more that Norway has to offer can opt to add these at either beginning or end of their chosen voyage.

During the popular summer months, the land of the Midnight Sun really comes into its own. This is a natural phenomenon, found at latitudes north of the Arctic Circle, were the sun stays above the horizon for 24 hours. Brilliant sunshine through the clear Arctic air bathes the shores, fjords, mountains and bays in fiery reds, soft pinks and golden yellow colours. At this time of year you have all the time in the world to explore with day and night sightseeing the norm and going to bed is not necessary!

24-hour daylight provides energy for the flora and fauna and also the Norwegian’s themselves, so make the most of your voyage with some added experiences either end of the trip!

Sognefjord in a Nutshell – from £145pp - The Sognefjord, with its deepest point at 1,308 meters, extends more than 200 kilometres into the interior of Southern Norway. It boasts dramatic yet charming landscapes and those who visit it consider it claim it to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. This round trip from Bergen takes a full day combines a boat journey through Sognefjord, a trip on the famous Flåm Railway to Myrdal and then returning to Bergen by train. This route can also be booked in the opposite direction. Available on any trip beginning or ending in Bergen, between May and end of September. Priced from £145pp.

Summer King Crab Fishing– from £146pp – Head off to the best fishing grounds in the Barents Sea on a fishing boat. Here everyone joins in and together huge cages full of king crabs are pulled from the water. Back on shore the tasty catch of the day is prepared and served for lunch in a cosy fisherman’s cottage – a true delicacy. The tour is offered to those starting or ending their voyage in Kirkenes and is available from mid-May to mid-October. Priced from £146pp.

Norway in a Nutshell - £121pp – One of the most popular independent tours in Norway. This full day trip takes a bus, train and ferry through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. It includes the train from Bergen to Voss, a bus journey to Gudvangen with views of magnificent waterfalls, a fjord cruise to Flam and then the Flam Railway back to Myrdal. The Flam Railwav will climb almost 900 metres while covering a distance of only 20 km. In Myrdal you will transfer to the Bergen Railway, one of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys back to Bergen. Available daily, year round and priced from £121pp.

Classic Voyage North – from £1143pp (1 June to 31 July) – A seven-day Classic Voyage North from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes by the Russian border costs from £1143pp and includes half board on the ship. Flights are extra. For more information call Hurtigruten – 0844 448 7601 www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Aurora Expeditions brings home the Alexandra Shackleton

Expedition cruise company Aurora Expeditions is proud to be supporting the recent ‘Shackleton Epic Expedition’ by returning the vessel used in the re-enactment, the Alexandra Shackleton, to its native homeland in the UK.

The replica of Shackleton’s original lifeboat, the James Caird, is currently on board Aurora Expeditions’ ship, the Polar Pioneer, heading north along the Argentinean coast as the ship makes its way north to start its 2013 tour of the European Arctic. The public can monitor the progress of the Alexandra Shackleton’s journey home by visiting the Polar Pioneer tracker here.

Aurora Expeditions also supported the ‘Shackleton Epic Expedition’ by repositioning the 22.5-foot (6.9m) boat down to Antarctica in November last year.

“We couldn’t have embarked upon the Shackleton Epic Expedition without Aurora’s incredible support to safely transport our boat, Alexandra Shackleton to Antarctica. She was delivered safe and sound to Arctowski Base, King George Island giving us time to conduct sea trials and prepare her for the 800 nautical mile crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia. And now Aurora is playing another vital role to transport her back to Europe where she’ll go on display at different events around the UK and hopefully in the USA and Australia in the future.” Tim Jarvis AM, Shackleton Epic Expedition Leader.

In 2014 Aurora Expeditions is offering Shackleton enthusiasts the opportunity to pay their respects on a pilgrimage to Shackleton’s final resting place in South Georgia. Experience hikers will also have the opportunity to join the ‘Shackleton Crossing’, an option to attempt to cross the jagged peaks of South Georgia from King Haakon Bay to Stromness – the final route of Shackleton’s epic and life-saving expedition in 1916.

Aurora Expeditions 20 day ‘In Shackleton’s Footsteps’ departs 11 March 2013 on board the 54-passenger Polar Pioneer. Prices start from US$12,415 per person.

A range of other exciting expeditions to South Georgia and the Antarctica Peninsula will depart from November 2013 through to March 2014. For more information contact Aurora Expeditions on +61 (0) 2 9252 1033 or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Cruise into culture with Swan Hellenic

Join Swan Hellenic (www.swanhellenic.com/0844 822 0679) on a cultural cruise to the Baltic to master your painting skills, learn how to take the perfect picture and experience a world class ballet performance.

Art and photography masterclasses will be held on board mv Minerva’s Baltic Splendour cruise for those wanting to harness their creative flair, whilst ballet fans will be treated to a classical recital at the renowned Mariinsky Theatre as part of a two night stay in St. Petersburg.

Passengers can also explore the Winter Palace of Catherine the Great made out of over 150 kilos of gold and enjoy a trip to the historic port town of Elisnore, home to Kronberg castle - the setting of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, Hamlet.

The 16-day Baltic Splendour cruise starts from £2,450 per person (Saver Fare price, based on two people sharing an inside cabin). Cruise departs from Portsmouth (England) and calls at Warnemunde (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St. Petersburg (Russia) – overnight x2, Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Elsinore (Denmark) before returning to Portsmouth. Price is based on 21 May 2013 UK departure.

Price includes relevant transfers, a tailor-made programme of shore excursions, talks by eminent Guest Speakers, meals and entertainment on board, all gratuities and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. A supplement for some shore excursions may apply. Cabin numbers may not be allocated at time of booking. Robert King will be running art workshops and Charlie Waite will be running the photography classes on board.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Hurtigruten prides itself in bringing is guests closer to the local communities and now anyone visiting Greenland this summer will be accompanied by Greenlandic painter and musician, Miki Jacobsen. With his performances, Miki will introduce the world of Greenlandic painting, national music, traditional mask dancing and stories from the world of the Inuit to MS Fram guests, offering unique insights into the country’s cultural history.

Born in 1965, Miki Jacobsen represents the new generation of artists in Greenland. His works reflect the country’s history, culture, identity and diversity. Greenland's culture and nature are great sources of inspiration for me,” says Jacobsen, who also lives in Greenland. “I’m delighted to share my passion for this country and its people with the guests of Hurtigruten.”

Miki Jacobsen’s summer as an artist on board MS Fram supports Hurtigruten’s objective to show its guests at first hand the culture and traditions of the region they are travelling through. It is the perfect addition to the ships existing social events programme in Greenland which includes guests being invited by local families to partake in a traditional ‘kaffemik’, the Greenland version of a cup of coffee and learn more about their way of life. In Uummannaq, there is a welcome by local school children and the chance for them to mingle with guests and when the ship docks in the Ittileq township guests, crew and locals join together for a traditional football match that sees sport bringing together different cultures.

Disco Bay & Southern Fjords – Glaciers and Ice– from £3356pp – This 12-day expedition starts in Disco Bay and visits the less visited the southern parts of Greenland before making its way to Iceland. Available on 31 May 2013, the voyage costs from £3356 per person and includes 11 night’s full board on the ship, return flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq, transfers, landings and lectures by expedition team. Flights from UK to Copenhagen are extra and can be booked by Hurtigruten. Based on two sharing. Price based on unspecified inside cabin.

For more information call Hurtigruten – 0844 448 7601 www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Monday, 22 April 2013


Journey Highlighted By Exclusive Visit to Islands of Haida Gwaii  Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic is continuing its tradition of delivering some of the rarest and most fascinating natural and cultural experiences available anywhere on land and sea today with “A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia and Haida Gwaii.”
The 15-day/14-night voyage begins in Seattle, and will feature the travel world’s most comprehensive expedition in the Pacific Northwest. The adventure begins with a cruise through British Columbia’s forested Gulf Islands, where guests can search for orca whales or embark on their own kayak adventures. From there the voyage heads along the Inside Passage of British Columbia, where things get even wilder thanks to an abundance of whales, dolphins, bears and other wildlife, with countless bays and inlets just waiting to be explored by kayak.
Cultural and natural discovery are next on the destination menu with a rare visit to Haida Gwaii, an island chain so rich in biodiversity that it is known as the “Canadian Galapagos.”  Formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, Haida Gwaii is only a 45-minute flight from Vancouver, but feels like another world altogether. It is a place where, for hundreds of years, culture has meant turning toward nature instead of away from it. Home to the world’s largest black bears, Haida Gwaii’s waters are teeming with life, and there are at least thirty-nine subspecies of animals and plants found nowhere else in the world.
Thanks to special permission from the Gwaii Haanas Archipelago Management Board (comprised of representatives from the Haida Nation and the Canadian Government) National Geographic Sea Lion and National Geographic Sea Bird will be the first ships carrying more than 22 passengers to visit the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site in more than two decades.  In this wild region, guests will visit the ancestral Haida village of SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or K'una (Skedans), see an original collection of ancient totem poles at the Haida Heritage Museum, and learn about the spiritual beliefs and respect for nature integral to Haida culture.
Lindblad guests will get a rare glimpse into the art, history and culture of the region thanks to two onboard Haida interpreters, meet local artisans in the ancestral village of Old Massett, and a traditional dance demonstration and feast.
From there it is on to Alaska, as guests cruise past glacially-carved cliffs and kayak in the stillness of Misty Fiord’s forested backwaters. Alaskan wildlife will again be on full display as the expedition heads into Frederick Sound and Chatham Strait, where naturalists will join guests on deck to take in the antics of orca and humpback whales and Steller sea lions. Or, if it is some solid ground you are looking for, you can head for the shore and enjoy a hike along a peaceful forest trail, or a visit to the fishing village of St. Petersburg, known as “Alaska’s Little Norway.”
The spectacular fjords of Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness feature a range of breathtaking sights including waterfalls cascading from glacially carved walls, an up-close look at the majestic Dawes or South Sawyer Glacier and a chance to head out on a Zodiac cruise that will deliver an unbeatable view of sculpted icebergs.
The dynamic culture and history of Alaska comes alive in a visit to Juneau and the Alaska State Museum, plus a chance to get your own front row seat to the ice-carved valley of Mendenhall Glacier.
Thanks to a special park permit, guests will get to spend an entire day in the spectacular Glacier Bay National Park. There, amid the enormous structures and expansive wilderness, they can learn about the legend of the lore of the region by a native Tlingit interpreter. Or they can be on the lookout for Steller sea lions, puffins and mountain goats while basking in the stillness of the area – a stillness sometimes broken by the thunderous sounds of tons of ice calving into the sea.
After a day featuring kayak and hiking opportunities among the forested islands of southeast Alaska, the scene shifts to beautiful and culturally-rich Sitka. This final day excursion comes complete with the picture-perfect Saint Michael’s Russian Orthodox Cathedral, and the Raptor Rehabilitation Center for close encounters with eagles.
Throughout the voyage, learn from the most knowledgeable and experienced expedition team of naturalists, including a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor and an undersea specialist who reveals vibrant, seldom-seen marine life.

Want to go deeper into geography photography?  The September 6, 2014 voyage is a specially designated photo expedition with renowned National Geographic Photographer and marine biologist, Flip Nicklin, one of the world’s leading photographers of whales.  The voyage will feature outings timed to take advantage of the best light—aboard Zodiacs for up-close encounters with marine mammals, or on photo walks. Plus, unique “share and learn” opportunities like onboard photo clinics, one-to-one critiques and inclusive laptop gallery events to see each other's shots.
On the May 4, 2014 departure, Jon Waterhouse, National Geographic Fellow and the executive director of British Columbia's Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC), an international treaty organization comprised of seventy Native Tribes and First Nations, will share his passion for the biodiversity and cultural riches of Alaska and British Columbia.
 A Remarkable Journey to Alaska, British Columbia and Haida Gwaii will feature departures from Seattle on the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion on May 3 and 4, 2014 with special photo expeditions with a National Geographic photographer departing on September 6 and 7, 2014 and traveling in reverse order from Sitka to Seattle. Rates begin at $9,990 per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin. 
For more information or to book your Lindblad Expeditions experience today, visit www.expeditions.com, call 1-800-EXPEDITION or call your travel agent.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Galapagos Small-Ship Cruises. Just for Families

Galapagos Small-Ship Cruise Operator, Ecoventura,
Designates Ships and Departures Just for Families
 Ecoventura (http://www.ecoventura.com) that operates an environmentally friendly fleet of small expedition yachts in the Galapagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers family departures in this family-friendly region.

Throughout the year Ecoventura sprinkles departures exclusively for families into its schedule.  This means that ages 7 to 17 and also college age 18-21 traveling with their parents and siblings can enjoy being with their peers on the cruise.

Cruise rates start at $3750 per person double, with discounts of 25 percent for ages 7-11 and 15 percent for ages 12-17.  As of early spring, there was space on the following designated family departures: June 16-23, June 30-July 7, July 7-14, July 14-21, July 28-August 4*, August 11-18*, August 18-25*, and August 25-September 1. Departures marked with * are currently on promotion with 5 to 15 percent discounts on adult fares.

Other family groups that Ecoventura regularly caters to include multi-generational families who often request full or half vessel charters.

“Our family departures are exclusively for families, the majority traveling with children age 12-21. This means that adult passengers sans children will never be assigned to a family departure cruise, thus precluding the often incompatible mix of families and adult couples often found on larger vessels or with companies that operate just one ship,” explained  Doris Welsh, spokesperson.

Family trips are faster paced with snorkeling, kayaking and evening activities. A 2013 activity enhancement includes an al fresco lunch while anchored in a calm bay so that guests can remain in their bathing suits and snorkel or kayak from the yacht after lunch. One evening includes Zodiac transportation for passengers who would like to visit the island town of Pto. Ayora to stroll around town at leisure, shop and absorb local culture.

“We assign guides best suited and popular with teens and their families to our family-designated trips,” she added, noting that the growing demand for family-only departures accounts for one-third of the company’s overall business. On school holidays, at least one yacht (and most often two) is designated for families. Her team looks at the break-down of ages and assigns the identical 20-passenger yachts accordingly. Each yacht has 10 twin or double cabins, of which two have an extra upper berth accommodating triples. These sell out first on family departures.

Ecoventura is also about responsible tourism, protecting the natural environment while also giving back to the local community. Recent company projects have focused on providing scholarships and career development for local high school students though the non-profit Ecology Project International (EPI).

Ecoventura believes that education of local teenagers is the key to preserving the Galapagos for future generations. Working through EPI, Ecoventura helps sponsor the cost of 12 scholarships for one course/module for local students age 16-17 from the islands of Isabela, San Cristobal and Santa Cruz to study conservation and ecology-related issues. Students spend 50 hours in the field directly involved in conservation actions concerning invasive species and the health and release of turtles into the wild. Guests are encouraged to contribute. A $400 donation makes the course possible for one student. www.ecologyproject.org/donate.

About Ecoventura: Ecoventura is a family-owned company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with sales offices in Quito and Miami. In operation since 1990, the cruise company transports 4,000+ passengers annually aboard its fleet of three identical, 20-passenger first-class motor yachts, Eric, Flamingo and Letty, and the 16-passenger luxury dive live-aboard the MV Galapagos Sky. Departures are every Sunday from San Cristobal offering two unique seven-night itineraries.

To reserve a cabin or private charter, or to receive a copy of Ecoventura’s 2013 catalog please call toll-free 1.800.633.7972, or e-mail info@galapagosnetwork.com. To access

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Adopt a Polar Bear when you visit the Arctic with Aurora Expeditions in 2014

Photo David Young
Australia’s very own Polar Experts, Aurora Expeditions, have released their 2014 European Arctic program of popular ship-based adventures, promising to ‘adopt a polar bear’ on behalf of each passenger booked on their voyages to Spitsbergen and Greenland next year.
The new ‘adopt a polar bear’ initiative will support the WWF wildlife adoption program, assisting to conserve the Arctic’s rich biodiversity and maintaining a healthy environment for the Polar Bears; specifically targeting the bears in the Svalbard archipelago, the region that Aurora Expeditions visit each year. Each passenger will receive a complimentary polar bear adoption pack, including certificate and updates on how the donations are being spent throughout the year.
Aurora Expeditions will offer five departures in 2014 on board their 54 passenger, ice-strengthened ship, Polar Pioneer. Two itineraries will highlight the Arctic regions of Spitsbergen and Greenland, whilst a third will capture the intriguing scenery and culture of the remote Scottish coastline.
Remember, it pays to book early. Not only will you have a greater choice of cabin categories, you’ll also have the chance to save up to $1300 per person with Aurora Expeditions 10% EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT if you are one of the first 10 bookings on each departure made before 30 June 2013. Terms and conditions apply.
Wild Scotlanddeparting 15 June to 25 June 2014
Traverse the wild Scottish coastline and enter a world of booming sea caves, puffins, basking sharks and playful dolphins. History haunts the beautifully preserved Stone Age villages, ancient abbeys and abandoned castles. World Heritage-listed St Kilda and its rocky outliers are home to breeding seals, some of Europe’s largest seabird colonies, fantastic sea stacks and derelict crofts. The Orkneys offer insight into WWII and a wee dram of Scotland’s finest. Birders find paradise in the Shetlands, where Viking influences prevail.
Spitsbergen Odyssey - departing 20 July to 30 July 2014 & 30 July to 9 August 2014
Circumnavigate the untouched wilderness of Spitsbergen, located halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Soft summer light bathes the land, alive with green moss and tiny flowers. Zodiacs carry us to noisy cliffs of breeding birds, while the seas are tumbled by whales, bearded seals and walrus. We cruise the fjords and coast keeping watch for the mightiest inhabitant of all – the Polar Bear.
Jewels of the Arctic: Spitsbergen, Greenland & Iceland – departing 9 August to 22 August 2014 & 22 August to 4 September 2014
Combine the best of Spitsbergen and Greenland, with a taste of Iceland. Search for Polar Bears on Spitsbergen’s rugged northwest coast of mountains, tundra and spectacular fjords. Cruise past the world’s largest national park along Greenland’s remote east coast and feel the immensity of the icecap, fantastic icebergs and a fairy-tale landscape of magnificent granite spires. The local Inuits welcome us and share their unique culture.
Why not enjoy the ultimate Arctic experience and combine ‘Spitsbergen Odyssey’ and ‘Jewels of the Arctic’ for a 24 day in-depth exploration above the Arctic Circle. Book both departures to save 15% - that’s a saving of up to $3,500 per person! Discount not valid with any other offer.
Added Arctic Adventure
Sea kayaking in the Arctic offers a truly unique perspective of this amazing polar wonderland. Exploring by kayak is an ideal way to surround yourself in the sights and sounds of the Arctic. We paddle among massive icebergs and brash ice, and observe wildlife in an unobtrusive manner. Paddlers will have the option to kayak as often as possible during the voyage, weather conditions permitting, as well as have the opportunity to make shore landings. A kayaking surcharge applies.
Find out more about Aurora Expeditions 2014 voyages to the European Arctic and Scotland by calling 1800 637 688 or visit www.auroraexpeditions.com.au to order or download a brochure for the complete list of 2013 and 2014 departures.  

Friday, 19 April 2013

Swan Hellenic announces early booking offers for 2014/15

Swan Hellenic  announces early booking offers for 2014/15

Celebrate British company Swan Hellenic’s (www.swanhellenic.com, 0843 3161 715) Diamond Anniversary by joining a replica of the cruise line’s first ever voyage.

Marking the company’s 60th year of cruising, the 15-day ‘Swan’s Hellenic Celebration’ cruise follows the route of the first itinerary where just 128 passengers travelled with four classical history experts around the Greek islands in August 1954. The closely replicated itinerary includes visits to Nauplia (Greece), Delos (Greece) and Santorini (Greece) and undertakes a transit of the 21.3 metre wide Corinth canal which Swan Hellenic’s ship Minerva can access due to her small size. Prices start from £2,395 per person.

The Diamond Anniversary itinerary is on sale now and coincides with the announcement of the cruise line’s 2014/15 programme featuring itineraries to destinations including the Baltic, Black Sea, Adriatic, Mediterranean, India and the Far East.

To celebrate the launch of the 2014/15 programme, Swan Hellenic is also offering passengers a 10% discount on selected cruises, 5% on all other newly launched cruises, up to £200 free on board bar credit and a complimentary return chauffeur service on selected cabins.

The 2014 season commences with a circumnavigation of South America. Highlights include a visit to Lima (Peru), a daytime transit of the Panama Canal, scenic cruising in the Chilean Fjords, Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and sailing down the Amazon River. Passengers can enjoy the full 84-day winter voyage around South America from £11,765 per person or join a shorter segment of the cruise such as the 25-day ‘Wonders of the Andes and Atacama’, calling at ports including Salaverry, Lima and General San Martin (Peru) and Arica (Chile) from £4,295 per person. Alternatively, passengers can sail down the Amazon on the 15-day ‘Amazon Adventure’ cruise from £2,095 per person.

During summer 2014, Minerva will return to her UK homeport of Portsmouth (UK) to offer a total of seven no-fly sailings to countries including Scandinavia, Finland and Iceland. These include a one-off itinerary to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings and the centenary of the start of World War One. The 13-day ‘Reflections of France’ cruise includes a visit to Ypres (France) and the In Flanders Fields Museum, as well as a special service of remembrance held on the 6 June – the 70th Anniversary – as the ship sails off the coast of the Normandy beaches. Prices start from £1,995 per person.

Fly-cruises are available from July 2014 allowing passengers to explore the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Aegean in the late summer. In November 2014 Minerva will head to the Far East, sailing to India, Oman, Burma and Indochina. Highlights include the 16-day ‘Travels in Indochina’ sailing over the Christmas and New Year period, calling at Kuantan (Malaysia), Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Nha Trang (Vietnam) and Halong Bay (Vietnam). Prices start from £2,995 per person. 

Further highlights of the new 2014/15 programme include partnership cruises designed in conjunction with the National Trust and RHS (Royal Horticultural Society). Examples include:

·         The ‘Treasures of the British Isles’ cruise in partnership with the National Trust from £2,305 per person. The 15-day cruise departing on 1 July 2014 circumnavigates the British Isles and visits six National Trust properties including Tudor Speke Hall and Victorian Lanhydrock House. National Trust Guest Speaker, Adrian Tinniswood joins the Guest Speaker panel on this cruise.

·         The ‘A Scandinavian Spring’ cruise in conjunction with the RHS, from £1,825 per person. The 12-day cruise departing on 28 April 2014 calls at Oslo (Norway) and Copenhagen (Denamark) and allows passengers to explore the gardens of Scandinavia and transit the Kiel Canal on board Minerva. Rosie Atkins from the RHS Council joins the Guest Speaker panel and all passengers receive complimentary RHS membership when booking this cruise.

Renowned for its calibre of Guest Speakers, the 2014/15 programme includes Professor Mark Horton FSA, presenter of BBC’s Coast programme; Nigel McGilchrist, author of the series of cultural guides to the Greek Islands; Professor Sir Ghillean Prance FRS VMH, botanist and former director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; and Professor Andrew Hopkins, NADFAS Guest Speaker and Associate Professor at the University of L’Aquila.

All brochure prices include return flights to/from the UK (for fly cruises), transfers, a comprehensive selection of inclusive shore excursions in every port integrated with a talks programme from a panel of eminent Guest Speakers who uncover the stories behind the destinations visited. All gratuities on board on ashore are included in the fare – there are no hidden extras and entrance fees to all places of interest featured in the shore excursion programme are also included.

Bookings made before the 31 May 2013 on selected cruises departing between 28 April 2014 and 19 December 2014 will benefit from early booking offers of up to 10% off brochure price as well as an additional £200 on board bar credit for higher rated balcony suite cabins (categories A-D), or £100 on board bar credit for outside cabins (categories F-I). 

For more information and to book visit www.swanhellenic.com

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Visit Madagascar, Albania and Namibia and Northern Lights!

Visit Madagascar, Albania and Namibia – 19 new ports of call for Voyages of Discovery in Summer 2014 and Winter 2014/15

Up to 10% off and £200 on board credit for early bookings

Discovery-led cruise line, Voyages of Discovery (0843 221 499 / www.voyagesofdiscovery.com) is sailing to 19 new ports of call across ten countries, including a full circumnavigation of the African continent, as part of the new Summer 2014 and Winter 2014/15 cruise programmes, launched today. Plus, those who book early can take advantage up to 10% off and complimentary on board credit offers.

A variety of cruises to destinations such as the Baltic, the North Cape, India, Africa and Iceland, with new ports of call including Antsiranana (Madagascar), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Sarande (Albania) and Husavik (Iceland), are available across 18 months’ worth of itineraries featured in the cruise line’s two new brochures.

The new Summer 2014 programme, launched in the new year-round brochure, features four ex-UK cruises sailing from Portsmouth between May and June 2014. History and heritage fans can book a partnership cruise with the National Trust - the 14-day National Treasures of the British Isles – including especially themed shore excursions and an exclusive performance by the renowned Cardiff Arms Park Male Voice Choir, or enjoy a two night stay in St. Petersburg to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the famous Hermitage Museum on board the 16-day Classic Baltic cruise. Those who like to keep active can join a specialist ‘Footloose’ walking cruise – Natural Wonders and Wildlife – to explore the contrasting landscapes of Iceland and the Faroe Islands by foot.

Other highlights of the Summer 2014 programme include:

·         15-day Summer Solstice and the North Cape cruise, from £1,519 per person. Passengers can witness the midnight sun, visit the Lofoten Islands and the medieval Nidaros Cathedral. Price is based on a 14 June 2014 UK departure when booked before 31 May 2013.

Those looking to guarantee themselves some Winter sun in 2014/15 can celebrate Christmas and New Year on the other side of the world on board the East Africa and Indian Ocean Gems cruise, from £2,024 per person when booked before 31 May 2013, as mv Voyager sails around Africa.

Other highlights of the Winter 2014/15 programme, as featured in the brand new Preview brochure, include:

·         The 16-day In Search of the Northern Lights cruise from £1,614 per person. As well as a chance to see the impressive Northern Lights, highlights include an overnight stay in the Ice Hotel, dog sledding and a visit to the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø. Price is based on a 1 March 2015 UK departure when booked before 31 May 2013.

·         The 14-day Natural Wonders and Total Eclipse cruise from £1,614 per person. Passengers are able to visit Norway in Winter giving them the best chance of witnessing the total solar eclipse. Guests will also be able to visit some of the most remarkable waterfalls, geysers and hot springs in the region and bathe in the Blue Lagoon. Price is based on a 16 March 2015 UK departure when booked before 31 May 2013.

Bookings made before the 31 May 2013 on all newly launched cruises (departing between 4 May 2014 and 16 March 2015) will benefit from early booking offers of up to 10% off as well as an additonal £200 on board credit on balcony suite cabins (category SC or above), or £100 on board credit for outside cabins (categories FB – JS).

Guests can enjoy recently refurbished ship mv Voyager’s newly enhanced features including three restaurants offering a range of dining options including al fresco dining, the refreshed library area and the Lookout Lounge which provides panoramic views from the front of the ship. Almost 90% of the cabins are outside cabins and 30 have balconies.

All Voyages of Discovery Standard Fares include return flights from the UK on fly cruises, all relevant overseas transfers, on board gratuities, service charges, meals and entertainment, and the Guest Speaker programme on board the ship.

For more information and to book call 0843 221 8499, visit www.voyagesofdiscovery.com,

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


Journey to ‘the end of the world’ this year and visit the magnificent North Cape - Hurtigruten’s best-selling excursion.  More than 54,000 guests took a trip to the famous rock plateau in 2012 making it the top-selling excursion once again.
Hurtigruten guests flocked to the northernmost point of Europe on both the ‘North Cape’ (from £98pp) and ‘Breakfast at the North Cape’ (from £129pp) excursions, with the natural attraction being the spectacular plateau that rises a dramatic 307 metres straight up from the Arctic Ocean. The North Cape and Hurtigruten have always been closely linked. After the shipping company expanded the route all the way to Kirkenes in the early 20th century, just a few years after its foundation some 120 years ago, the ships also started to pass the North Cape and passengers could admire the famous rock plateau from the ship. Later, after completion of the road to the North Cape Plateau in the fifties, the trip to the North Cape was included in the Hurtigruten shore excursion programme. Its appeal has remained untarnished ever since.
Tromsø, Norway’s biggest city north of the Arctic Circle, also proved to be a major draw for guests, with almost 21,000 of them attending the ‘Midnight Concert in the Arctic Cathedral’ (from 44pp), the second best-selling excursion. In third place was the ‘A Taste of Vesteralen’ tour (from £64pp), with more than 17,000 participants. This tour explores the beautiful and dramatic scenery of the Vesterålen islands on the diverse bus tour from Harstad to Sortland.
Hurtigruten guests have a wide and diverse excursion programme to choose from, whatever their itinerary, whenever they sail. A total of 45 different excursions are offered on the 12-day Classic Round Voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. The maximum number and selection depends on the time of year.
Classic Round Voyage – from £1642pp – Take the 12-day Classic Round Voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. Starting at £1642pp from 15 April to 31 May, the price includes full board on the ship. Flights are extra and can be booked via Hurtigruten from £450pp. Based on two sharing.

For more information call Hurtigruten – 0844 448 7601 www.hurtigruten.co.uk

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

New itineraries and new ships for AmaWaterways in 2014


AmaWaterways has launched its 2014 brochure with a range of exciting new itineraries and new ships. By 2014, the award-winning river cruise line will have 17 river cruisers across 22 itineraries including sailings on the Rhine, Seine, Danube, Main, Rhone, Douro and Moselle in Europe, as well as the waterways of Russia, the Mekong in Indochina and exciting new cruise-and-touring holidays in Africa. Prices from £1,599 per person, cruise-only, and AmaWaterways is offering 10% per person off all bookings for 2014 voyages in Europe (including Russia) made by the end of April 2013.

Two new ships for 2014

AmaWaterways will launch two new ships in 2014, AmaSonata and AmaReina, sisters to the popular, 164-passenger AmaPrima and AmaCerto (pictured). Both vessels will feature twin balcony staterooms and suites, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs culinary creations, complimentary fine wine and beer at lunch and dinner, multiple dining venues, a heated pool with swim-up bar, massage and beauty salon, fitness centre, free Internet and Infotainment in every stateroom and a fleet of bicycles for guests to borrow and enjoy. AmaSonata will travel the Danube and Rhine Rivers on seven itineraries, while AmaReina will be dedicated to the Enchanting Rhine seven-night itinerary.

D-Day: The 70th anniversary

AmaWaterways will continue to feature seven-night round-trip Paris itineraries on the Seine in 2014, with special events and excursions during the month of June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

New Africa adventures

AmaWaterways has introduced new itineraries based around the boutique, 28-passenger Zambezi Queen, which sails the Chobe River in southern Africa.

Stars of South Africa includes three nights in Cape Town, a four night safari cruise on Zambezi Queen, two nights at Victoria Falls, one night in Johannesburg and finally, three nights in the magnificent Kruger Park.

Rivers and Rails of Africa includes three nights in Cape Town, a four-night safari cruise and two nights at Victoria Falls, followed by two nights on the Rovos Rail luxury train and one in Johannesburg.

Golden Trails of East Africa includes one night in Johannesburg, a four-night safari cruise on Zambezi Queen, two nights at Victoria Falls and one night in Johannesburg before flying to Nairobi for a six-night tour of East Africa, including Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti.

For more information about AmaWaterways’ luxury river cruises contact AmaWaterways on freephone 0808 223 5009, www.amawaterways.co.uk