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Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Spice up your life on Ecruising’s The Culinary Dream through Asia journey



Foodies and gourmets, rejoice, and get ready to satisfy your epi-curious itch on Ecruising's ultimate gastronomic odyssey – The Culinary Dream through Asia Rail and Sail journey.

Departing on 27 February 2019, this mouth-watering 24-night itinerary takes in some of southeast Asia's most celebrated food destinations as well as a 2-night train trip aboard the iconic Eastern & Oriental Express, hosted by celebrity chef, Luke Mangan, and a 15-night cruise from Myanmar to Indonesia.

Your journey begins in Singapore where you will have 2 nights to explore the city's famous Hawker stalls at your leisure, before boarding the Eastern & Oriental Express. Over the next 3 days, join Luke for a series of tours and cooking demonstrations as he shares his passion for Asian cuisine, and immerse yourself in the tranquil scenery of rural Malaysia and Thailand, before arriving in Bangkok on 3 March 2019. Highlights en route include stopovers in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar in Malaysia's Perak Province, visits to Thailand's notorious River Kwai Bridge and the Thai-Burma Railway Museum, a bicycle tour through Thai rice paddies and cooking classes.

From Bangkok, you'll fly to Yangon in Myanmar where you spend one night before boarding Silver Discoverer on 5 March 2019 for an exciting 15-night Silversea Expedition – taking in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands and a semi-circumnavigation of Sumatra and Java.

One of India's most remote territories, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are slowly opening up to tourism and the cruise offers an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the Islands' indigenous tribal communities. Relax and explore some spectacular beaches or, if you are feeling more energetic, snorkel with an astonishing array of sea creatures including snappers, Napoleon wrasses, moray eels, nudibranchs, eagle rays, stingrays, star fish, lionfish, and many more.

Entering Indonesian waters, cruise highlights include a stopover in Banda Aceh on Sumatra's tip, with its solemn monuments commemorating the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami; an immersion into the traditional farming and fishing lifestyle of Indonesia's picturesque Simeulue Islands; astonishing demonstrations of agility from the Nias Islands' famous stone jumpers; and a visit to a traditional matrilineal Minangkabau village in West Sumatra's lush highlands.

Also on the itinerary are visits to Java's UNESCO World Heritage site of Ujung Kulon National Park; the awe-inspiring volcano of Anak Krakatoa rising dramatically from the Sunda Strait; the stunning Karimunjawa Marine National Park with its 27 islands surrounded by dazzling corals; the Great Mosque of Sumenep built in 1763; and the active volcanos of Mount Semeru and Mount Bromo in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.

Disembarking in Bali on 20 Mach 2019, spend the final 3 nights of your journey discovering the unique and exotic flavours of Balinese cuisine. Visit the famous Gianyar Night Market, indulge in a traditional Megibung dining experience and try your hand at making local dishes at a Balinese cooking class, before flying home to Australia on 23 March 2019.

Departing on 27 February 2020, prices for Ecruising's 24-night The Culinary Dream through Asia Rail and Sail journey start from $15,359 per person twin share, including all accommodation, return economy class airfares from Australia, transfers, and all meals and selected beverages aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express and on board Silver Discoverer.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Norwegian Jewel comes home after massive refurbishment


Norwegian Jewel’s Second Local Season Underlines Norwegian Cruise Line’s Ongoing Investment in and Commitment to the Asia-Pacific Region



Fresh from a multi-million-dollar, bow-to-stern refurbishment Norwegian Jewel has returned Down Under, arriving in Sydney over the weekend for the official commencement of her 2018/19 local cruising season.

Norwegian Jewel underwent refurbishment last month as part of the company’s Norwegian Edge® fleet refurbishment program, reaffirming the company’s commitment to elevating the standard of excellence across the fleet. Local and international guests alike will experience the spectacular transformation during Norwegian Jewel’s second Australia and New Zealand season, in which she will take in the beauty of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific before travelling back to Asia to embark upon several sailings in the region.

Norwegian Jewel’s entrance into the local market in 2017 has been a game changer for the Australasian cruise sector, due to the brand’s unrivalled freedom & flexibility, world-class dining, award-winning entertainment, immersive itineraries, extensive on-board activities and wide range of accommodation options - from solo studios to interconnecting rooms and balcony suites, to the exclusive The Haven by Norwegian®.

“Local cruisers have really embraced Norwegian Jewel, and with thanks to our valued trade partners, bookings since her first Australasian season have exceeded all expectations. 2018/19 will be Norwegian Jewel’s second local season – with a third already confirmed for 2019/2020 – reflecting Norwegian’s long-term commitment to strengthening our presence in Australasia,” Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

“Norwegian Jewel’s return to local waters also enables us to showcase to local cruisers and the industry Norwegian’s commitment to the continued enhancement and elevation of its fleet as part of our Norwegian Edge® program. We’re delighted to be the first to be able to show off her re-designed staterooms, refurbished restaurants, bars and lounges and new-look public spaces to our expanding local market. The Australian hit ‘Velvet’ will also be making its debut at sea onboard Norwegian Jewel, with this headline show being another exciting first for our region,” continues Mr Odell. “Norwegian Cruise Line’s consistency of product offering across the entire fleet is unrivalled, making Norwegian Jewel a wonderful local showcase for our many international cruise offerings, including Hawaii and Europe.”

Azura main dining room (supplied)

Guests aboard Norwegian Jewel can truly ‘feel free’, with no set dining times, no pre-assigned seating and no strict dress codes. Onboard amenities include 16 high quality dining options, unrivalled for a ship of her size, ranging from Teppanyaki and sushi to French, Italian, Brazilian and pub classics, as well as a choice of 15 bars and nightclubs, boutique shopping, a library and video arcade. Outdoors, there are swimming pools, hot tubs, jogging tracks, a basketball and tennis court, as well as the Mandara Spa, and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

With Norwegian renowned for award-winning entertainment, Norwegian Jewel returns with two new Broadway-quality shows for guests, ‘Rock You Tonight’, packed with 70s hits from the likes of Queen, Journey and The Who, and exclusive Australian hit musical ‘Velvet’, featuring disco classics, circus acrobatics and cabaret. The refurbished ship also boasts two new venues - The Pit Stop, an All-American vintage-inspired bar; and late-night hotspot, Bliss Ultra Lounge.

During her 2018/19 season, Norwegian Jewel will embark upon scenic Australia and New Zealand voyages, including a 16-day itinerary departing Sydney on December 20, visiting Eden, Burnie, Akaroa Napier, Tauranga and Auckland. In January, Norwegian Jewel will set sail on a 13-day Australia and South Pacific voyage where she’ll visit some of the most beautiful ports in the world including Isle of Pines, Lifou and Airlie Beach. February 2019 sees Norwegian Jewel heading to Southeast Asia, and in March she will depart Singapore on a 12-day adventure exploring exotic ports including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi en route to Hong Kong.

For more information or to book a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, please contact a travel professional; call Norwegian in Australia on 1300 255 200 or in New Zealand on 0800 969 283; or visit www.ncl.com



Saturday, 1 December 2018

Seabourn - the last word on luxury at sea




Words: Ian MacTavish

Not many of us live right beside the sea. My wife and I certainly don’t. But you’d have to be a long way from any coastline to be unaware of the growing numbers of lovely large white vessels moving in and out of ports around the world.

With their decks buzzing with excited passengers looking forward to a short or long cruise they represent the fastest growing sector of the travel industry.

Cruising has never been more popular and the corners of the world served by sea-lanes have opened up for so many in the last twenty years.

The lure of the oceans.

Any cruise has a number of immediate attractions over land-based travel.

You don’t have to pack and unpack. No need to book in and out of hotels, or find transport every other day. You have a very short walk to all you want. Food. Drink. Pool. Deckchair. Spa. Dancing. Casino. Theatre.

After sunset, after a sleep, you see a new part of the world, a fresh discovery, appearing over your balcony rail every morning.

To top it off there is the romance of the sea ... something so reassuring in the humming and the gentle movement of the hull beneath you.



Which size cruise fits you?

Talk to your friends. We did because we seemed to be the last to take to the seas.

We listened to stories of the latest megaliners, fabulous craft the size of villages, with thousands of people and unbelievable facilities.

Some of our mates love large hotels. Huge spaces, bars everywhere, the buzz of crowds. But we’ve always liked intimate, boutique gems and that steered us towards the company known for it’s smaller ships.

OK you may miss out on water slides or surfing pools, but on a ship with less than 300 suites you can go into smaller ports, and mingle with a compact selection of like-minded travellers.

Thinking smaller for bigger rewards

Seabourn is right at the top of the luxury cruise lines.

No point in hiding. We found it among the most expensive.

But wow, what an experience!

Not only did we not want for anything, but the levels of personal service and the added touches were also above and beyond anything we had experienced before. The ratio of crew to guests is one of the highest.

Even in the space of ten days, we got to know by name most of the crew serving us day by day. They come from all over the world and cheerfully give you an interesting insight into their backgrounds. They remembered many of our preferences such as seating for meals and favourite snacks. 

Seabourn Encore: Pool deck.

How Seabourn defines luxury.

We met the Cruise Director on the second day out and had a couple of conversations with him. He had been with the company for 27 years, starting as an onboard entertainer. We asked how his systems work so well; his most telling statement was: “We make things personable. We encourage guests to chat with us and each other. Temporary friends maybe, but it generates an atmosphere you won’t find on a larger ship or hotel”

That’s how it is. Intimate, informal and individual.

Crewmembers are always ahead of you, anticipating what might make your day even better.

In your chosen bar, the barman remembers your favourite drink, and it appears. No need to run up a tab or settle up on the last day. It’s all included.

Need another bottle of champagne in you suite’s fridge? It’s all included.

Choice of some of the world’s fine wine at dinner. It’s all included.

An evening concert and dinner ashore. All included

Feels so gooooood!

Comfort you take for granted. Our suite’s ensuite had twin basins, a separate shower and bath (a tub on a softly swaying ship is a great experience), piles of fluffy towelling and shelves filled with products from Molton Brown of London.

A huge bed. Balcony, fridge, lounges and a table for dining in, which we did one night, each course brought as it was prepared.

The restaurant meals are amazingly good, especially at Restaurant2, which we made sure we booked as soon as we boarded.

My wife is tapping me on the shoulder to mention The Spa. It’s mainly a girl thing, and they deserve every hour of it. Emerging radiant, she says nowhere has treated her so well. The sheer choice of luxurious pampering is amazing. Just look at the brochure.

How to sum up the Seabourn Experience.

We haven’t been on all the ships at sea. But it is difficult to imagine anything that could top our Seabourn adventure.

For us it was sunshine, sipping and sightseeing in a Mediterranean summer. You might choose quite another part of the world. The oceans await you. Your horizons may be very different. But I bet onboard you’ll fall in love with what we did.

All in all, we did many things we had done before but with a level of perfection thanks to the sparkle of the Seabourn team. With their proven tradition of ultra-luxury, we would step onboard any of their ships, anywhere in the world in a heartbeat.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Silversea sailing to Cuba

#Silversea #ThisIsSilversea

Departing from the United States for the first time in Silversea's history, the voyages are now available for reservation.


Ultra-luxury cruise leader Silversea has launched a new collection of voyages to Cuba, enabling guests of all nationalities to discover the remarkable destination. Departing for Cuba from the United States for the first time in the cruise line's history, the 17 voyages will unlock authentic experiences for Silversea's guests, showcasing the best of the country through immersive land excursions in various destinations.

Available to book now, five voyages will immerse Silversea's guests in the country's delights in 2019:

·        Silver Wind will inaugurate the collection of voyages to Cuba when she sets sail on 14 February 2019, on a 7-night voyage from San Juan to Fort Lauderdale. The itinerary will include visits to the Cuban cities of Havana and Santiago de Cuba, and the Bahamian island of Bimini.

·        Silversea's recently lengthened Silver Spirit will depart San Juan on a 10-night voyage on 22 February 2019. An overnight in Santiago de Cuba will be complemented by calls in Cienfuegos and Havana, as well as stops in George Town, Key West and Bimini, before finishing in Fort Lauderdale.

·        Departing San Juan on 31 March 2019, Silver Wind will unlock Santiago de Cuba and Havana on overnight calls, as well as Cienfuegos, on a 10-night voyage. The itinerary will also incorporate George Town in the Cayman Islands and Bimini.

·        Also aboard Silver Wind, a 9-night round-trip voyage from Fort Lauderdale - departing 10 April 2019 - will call in Santiago de Cuba overnight and Havana, in addition to Bimini, Nassau and Port Canaveral.

·        Concluding the selection for 2019, a 14-night sailing aboard Silver Whisper will depart Fort Lauderdale on 22 November 2019. The round-trip voyage will feature a visit to Cienfuegos, plus overnight stays in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, offering ample time for guests to experiences the local way of life. The itinerary also includes calls in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize City and Key West.

In 2020, another 12 voyages are scheduled to unlock authentic Cuban culture for Silversea guests. These voyages will be opened for bookings in the near future.

Silversea guests will be treated to a host of carefully curated people-to-people experiences, designed to enable travellers to delve deeper into Cuba's stunning natural beauty and a number of the country's cultural and historical highlights. Following is a small sampling of shore excursions in each of the offered destinations, with additional bespoke experiences to be revealed in the coming weeks.

Havana

In the Cuban capital, guests will have the chance to learn about key landmarks on a panoramic driving tour, escorted by a knowledgeable local guide. They will be able to explore the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Havana on a walking tour, with rum and cigar demonstrations and tastings. They'll also be able to cruise along the waterfront in vintage 1950s American cars; be enchanted by the Latin rhythms and captivating dancers of the iconic Tropicana Cabaret; savor inspired musical performances at La Zorra y El Cuervo, the city's legendary jazz club; and travel beyond the city to the World Heritage-listed Viñales Valley, renowned for its stunning landscape and tobacco cultivation.

Santiago de Cuba  

Often described as Cuba's cultural capital, Santiago de Cuba impresses with its wealth of interesting attractions, from colorful colonial buildings, churches and a UNESCO World Heritage-listed fortress to eclectic museums, and charming parks, gardens and UNESCO World Heritage-listed old French coffee plantations. Guests will have opportunities to connect with local culture at historic sites of interest, gaining insight into the Cuban Revolution and the Spanish-American War. They'll also be able to delve into the Cuban traditions surrounding tobacco and rum, and much more.

Cienfuegos

Situated on a gorgeous natural bay, the breathtaking beauty of Cuba is on full display in Cienfuegos. Originally home to French settlers, the city offers a culturally diverse charm, highlighted by a World Heritage-listed city center that brims with elegant, neoclassical buildings. From here, guests can embark on an exploration of UNESCO World Heritage-listed colonial Trinidad, with its cobbled lanes and striking architecture; experience a local cultural community project and the first and only art gallery in the mountains; or marvel at the cascading waterfalls, natural pools and lush mountains of El Nicho, a pristine park named after its signature waterfalls.

"Since opportunities have opened for Americans to enjoy travel to Cuba, we have eagerly awaited this moment," said Roberto Martinoli, Silversea's CEO. "Cuba is a remarkable island and we are delighted to offer our guests the opportunity to discover the most authentic sights, sounds and flavours of its culture, as they connect with its people on thoughtfully orchestrated voyages."

Adam Armstrong, Silversea's managing director for Australia and New Zealand says: "We are thrilled to announce the addition of Cuba to our 2019 and 2020 voyage collections. Cuba is arguably the fastest growing destination in the Caribbean, and one that many luxury travellers are eager to explore, knowing that they can be uniquely enriched by a fresh perspective on the people, traditions and natural wonders of this island nation."

Aboard Silversea ships, guests enjoy ocean-view suites, sumptuous cuisine, and the personalised service of a butler. Enriching the experience are such all-inclusive amenities as complimentary premium wines and spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks served throughout the ship; an in-suite bar, stocked with guests' preferences; an in-suite 24-hour dining service; and unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi.

For more information, please visit: https://www.silversea.com/cuba-cruises.html

Four new ships for MSC - but smaller


The first of this highly-innovative new generation of ships will come into service in Spring 2023



MSC Cruises and Fincantieri today announced the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the construction of four ultra-luxury cruise ships for a total value in excess of EUR 2 billion.

The ships, the first of which will be delivered in Spring 2023, will have gross tonnage of approximately 64,000 GT and will feature 500 cabins. The remaining three ships will come into service one per year over the following three years.

The ships will feature the best and latest environmental technology and other cutting-edge maritime solutions at sea. They will also showcase highly-innovative design as well as introduce ground-breaking options for guest comfort and relaxation.

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman, said: “It is off the back of the great success of our ship-within-a-ship luxury concept that our guests asked us to enter into the ultra-luxury segment, as a natural evolution of the MSC Yacht Club. These ships will be able to offer unique itineraries, thanks to their size, and the guest services will be taken to another level, including our personalised MSC Yacht Club butler service, available 24/7.”

Mr Vago continued, “I am especially pleased to be able to further extend our partnership with Fincantieri through this new order. The award-winning Seaside and Seaside-Evo class have already been recognised as ground-breaking and innovative designs. We are now introducing another new class, which will establish a new standard of ultra-luxury at sea with ships that will showcase the quality and highest standards that are associated with Made in Italy.”

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated: “It is with pride that two great brands – an Italian one and one with a strong Italian DNA -, well-known all over the world, today announce an important construction program. We are extremely satisfied that, to launch a new class of ships in the luxury segment, MSC Cruises has recognized that our design will help them create a new generation of ships that will be cutting edge both in terms of safety and technological content and with particular attention paid to passenger comfort. With this project Fincantieri can count on 53 cruise ships in its order book, confirming its position as absolute market leader”.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Silversea opens 2020-21 bookings with Silver Moon


Highlights of the new itineraries include complimentary flights & transfers on most voyages, the debut of Silver Moon, and greater variation in remarkable destinations around the world.




Silversea Cruises opens bookings to the general public for 191 remarkable new voyages, which will unlock 572 destinations in 84 countries from summer 2020 into winter 2021. Complimentary air and transfers will be included on virtually all of the newly announced itineraries, while a number of other highlights will enable Silversea's guests to travel deeper like never before.

Included for most voyages in the new collection, complimentary round-trip economy-class flights and transfers will simplify the travel experience for guests. The new addition will enable guests to travel the world with complete peace of mind: a smooth end-to-end service will make for a seamless connection; full protection covers guests against unforeseen mishaps; and reservations can be made with ease via my.silversea.com or by calling the reservation team. Also available are business-class air upgrades from as low as AU$699 each way. For guests not utilising the air offer, a generous air credit is available. Exceptions and market-specific conditions may apply.

The new collection of itineraries will enable guests to get closer to the authentic beauty of the world with unprecedented variety, increasing the cruise line's ultra-luxury offering in a number of remarkable destinations. Highlights of the collection will include:

Enhanced options in Northern Europe will comprise four ships and 29 voyages: in Iceland, Silversea will offer more immersive experiences on both classic and expedition voyages, including a 9-day circumnavigation aboard Silver Wind, departing Reykjavik on 29 June, 2020; in the British Isles, extended programs will unlock more incredible experiences, with voyages departing from the iconic Tower Bridge; while an exciting new North Sea Capitals voyage will offer overnights in Oslo, Hamburg, Amsterdam, and London.

New deep travel experiences in Alaska and the Russian Far East, with three ships and 21 voyages from which guests can choose. As in 2019, the cruise line's flagship, Silver Muse, will spend a full summer deployed in Alaska in 2020. Silversea's Silver Explorer will cruise in the Sea of Okhotsk, one of the least visited areas in the Russian Far East, on an 18-day voyage from June 2020.
A return to the Canary Islands on two voyages (departing 16 April and 25 September, 2020) and Istanbul on two different itineraries (departing 30 May and 2 August, 2020). 

Maiden calls in: El Hierro, Spain; Fishguard, Wales; Nordfjordeid, Norway; Siglufjörður, Iceland; Durres, Albania; Klaksvik, Faroe Islands; and Patreksfjordur, Iceland.

An increased polar offering, with two ships and 10 voyages and 83 destinations in the Arctic, and 11 itineraries and 26 destinations in Antarctica (including East Antarctica and the Ross Sea). Unprecedented voyages to New Zealand's sub-Antarctic islands and Australia's Macquarie Island (all UNESCO World Heritage Sites) will enable guests to view vast colonies of penguins and thousands of seals; visits to Churchill and Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada, will take guests to the 'polar bear capital of the world' and the home of the world's largest beluga whale population, respectively; and concurrent crossings of the Northwest and Northeast Passages will unlock unique, life-defining experiences.

Greater variety in the Mediterranean with five ships and 54 voyages on offer, including a 37-day, 28-port grand voyage and an extended Grand Prix voyage.
An extended season in the Galápagos Islands.

More overnights than ever before, which will allow guests to spend longer in some of the most amazing destinations in the world. Every voyage over seven nights in Europe and Canada and New England will benefit from an overnight in strategically selected ports.

An additional highlight of the new summer 2020 itineraries, Silversea's Silver Moon will set sail on her inaugural voyage on 6 August, 2020: the ship will depart Trieste, Italy, for Civitavecchia on an 11-day cruise. The sister ship of Silversea's flagship, Silver Muse, Silver Moon will benefit from a number of onboard enhancements. One of five Silversea ships in the region in the summer of 2020, she will cruise in the Mediterranean for her maiden season, until November, when she will cross the Atlantic to Fort Lauderdale.

"For discerning travellers who are in search of rare and authentic moments, these new itineraries offer a unique array of carefully curated, life-enriching experiences," says Adam Armstrong, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand. "With the introduction of free air and transfers on virtually every voyage, visits to over 570 spectacular destinations worldwide, and the debut of our brand-new Silver Moon, this is the perfect time to book a luxury cruise holiday with Silversea to discover the authentic beauty of the world."

Browse Silversea's new collection of voyages for summer 2020/winter 2021: https://www.silversea.com/2020-2021-new-itineraries.html

Monday, 1 October 2018

SeaDream Mediterranean cruises for 2020





SEADREAM Yacht Club has announced a unique new program of sailings in the Mediterranean in 2020 that will mix forever popular major ports of call, together with a fascinating grab-bag of smaller, less-crowded gems on the French and Italian Rivieras, in the Greek Isles, along the Spanish coast and across the Adriatic Sea that are all largely inaccessible to the bigger cruise giants.

And as well sailings range from five to eleven nights, which make them particularly popular in the Australian market, and are designed to also provide SeaDream’s 56-couples (served by 95 crew) with the opportunity of combining two sailings into longer back-to-back voyages without ever visiting the same ports of call twice.

Amongst new ports on these sailings will be Ikaria in Greece that’s one of the world’s “Blue Zones” in which residents enjoy longevity and good health through a diet heavy with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, olive oil and antioxidant herbal teas – coupled with a habit of stress-relieving and heart-resting mid-afternoon naps.

Other new Mediterranean ports for both SeaDream I and SeaDream II in 2020 will be Vis in Croatia whose beaches featured in the 2018 movie “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” Santa Maria de Leuca on the southernmost tip of the “heel of Italy’s boot,” and Slovenia’s medieval coastal town of Koper that’s rich in history, culture and classic architecture.

And a new port of embarkation and disembarkation from 2020 will be the Maltese capital of Valletta that is recognised as one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world and often described as “an open-air museum,” together with another first-time for SeaDream the Maltese archipelago island of Gozo with its Xlendi Bay that’s one of the country’s most popular swimming and snorkelling spots.

For full details see your favourite travel agent or visit www.seadream.com; prices include SeaDream’s award-winning cuisine, drinks with meals and from the bars, power and sail water-sports, use of SeaDream onboard golf simulator and fitness centre, port charges and taxes, and even crew gratuities.