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Friday, 29 March 2013

List of pettiest cruise passenger complaints

Lyle Ratliff  / Reuters
Passengers cheer after disembarking from the Carnival Triumph
cruise ship after reaching the port of Mobile, Alabama.
Now they have something to complain about. Lyle Ratliff / Reuters
A cruise agent has revealed some of the most unusual complaints it has received in the past year.

Following the widely documented debacle with the Carnival Triumph back in February, cruise companies appear to be seeing the funny side of things again.

Online cruise travel agency www.bonvoyage.com has revealed a top ten list of the most bizarre complaints received from their customers during the last 12 months.

Cruise-liner staff are famously cheerful even in the most adverse of situations, but this proved too much for one Yorkshire couple. They complained that the excellent staff compelled them to spend “a lot more money than planned in tips”, for which they then attempted to claim compensation.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Deal of the Week - Compagnie du Ponant's L'Austral in Europe

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Save up to $1,170 on board Compagnie du Ponant's L'Austral in Europe in 2013

Explore down narrow, cobble-stoned streets, atop rugged mountain cliffs just off the decks of your cruise ship. Escape all the pressures of civilisation without missing out on any of its pleasures. Days ashore are invitations to adventure, education and the pure pleasure of seeing things you've only read about before. Visit castles, museums and galleries. Explore ancient cities through winding canals. From glorious gardens and gilded theatres to famous boulevards and fabled landmarks, you're in for a picture-perfect experience. Save $1,170 on a 7-nights onboard L'Austral departing 16 October 2013 from Marseille to Lisbon in a Superior cabin from $3,308* per person twin share

Renowned for a dazzling kaleidoscope of capitals and cultures, the Eastern Mediterranean offers a whole other world of tranquil seas, mythical pasts, mountains emerging from the deep, medieval villages and sun-drenched beaches. The birthplace of Greek and Roman legends where some of the finest architectural masterpieces were created, the countries which border this legendary sea enjoy a uniquely mellow way of life; all conceal magnificent treasures, some famous, others forgotten.

Slip through the silky turquoise water of the Aegean Sea, sailing between a string of islands posed on the surface like a necklace of precious stones. Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Delos, all are ports of call with a unique charm, a palette of blues contrasting against the brilliant white villages. Save $1,170 on a 7-night onboard L'Austral departing 12 July 2013 from Istanbul roundtrip in a superior cabin from $3,308* per person twin share

For bookings or more information contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au

*Conditions: prices subject to availability and are capacity controlled.

 


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Cruiseco offers a saving of up to $1,000 for music lovers



 

 

Cruiseco, the leading supplier of cruising options in Australia and New Zealand, is offering an unbeatable value-add for music-loving cruisers.

Guests who make a new booking to travel onboard Cruisin' Country 3 can extend their cruise experience by seven nights and enjoy Cruise n' Groove for an extra $1,000 per person, twin share. Guests onboard Cruise n' Groove will experience the stunning scenery of tropical islands including Noumea and Isle of Pines aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas. This generous offer provides a saving of up to $1,000 for an inside cabin.  Guests who have already booked Cruisin' Country 3 or Rock the Boat 3 musical charters are also eligible to take advantage of the offer. 

Amber Wilson, National Marketing Manager at Cruiseco explains that musical cruises are proving more popular than ever before.

"Cruise n' Groove is the latest addition to Cruiseco's range of music cruises.  This charter is something new that we know our guests will love.  It's the perfect chance for guests to enjoy their favourite singers and bands from yesteryear whilst cruising the South Pacific.  Guests aboard Cruise n' Groove will see acts including The Temptations, The Supremes, John Paul Young, Marcina Hines and The Village People," says Wilson.

Book now to receive this special offer before it runs out.  Prices below are for Cruise n' Groove, per person, twin share (when booking either Cruisin' Country or Rock the Boat).

·        Inside cabins now $1,000 per person, based on twin share
·        Outside cabins now $1,400 per person, based on twin share
·        Balcony cabins now $2,000 per person, based on twin share

This seven-night musical charter aboard Rhapsody of the Seas departs Sydney on 5 October 2013. Terms and conditions apply.  Please see the Cruiseco website for full details.

Visit www.cruising.com.au or call (02) 9492 8520 for further information and to find details of your local Cruiseco agent. 

·        Cruiseco is a unique travel organisation, offering a wide range of worldwide cruise holidays from over 50 different cruise line products, offering breadth of product and a wide selection of exotic destinations.
·        The company provides a benchmark of excellence in professional knowledge on cruising holidays, offering unique and exclusive options to exotic and exciting destinations.
·        There are 216 specialist Cruiseco agents in travel agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand.  These agents have been selected for their expert and first-hand knowledge of the cruise industry.  As Cruiseco agents, they receive extensive training.
·        Cruiseco is the only company in the industry to offer Qantas Frequent Flyer Points on every cruise purchased.


Double the savings with Royal Caribbean - offer ends 31 March!

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Due to popular demand, Royal Caribbean extended its annual Early Bird Sale for an extra four weeks, offering a whopping double the savings on 2013/14 summer season sailings.  But be quick! Get your pick of sailings and book before the sale ends on Sunday 31 March 2013.  Prices for all 55 cruises will increase by up to $250 per person from 1 April.

 

With three ships to choose from, including Australia's largest and most innovative cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas, and local favourites Rhapsody and Radiance of the Seas, this Early Bird sale offers a wide range of enticing holiday options ranging from two to 33 nights.  Itineraries include cruises to Tasmania, Tropical Queensland, Around Australia and New Zealand, and South Pacific Islands such as New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji, all departing from Sydney, Fremantle, Singapore and Honolulu.

 

New itineraries are also on sale, including a seven-night Tasmanian Explorer cruise on board Rhapsody of the Seas.  Starting from only $895 per person, this cruise departs from Sydney on 12 December 2013, calling at Melbourne and Burnie, plus an overnight stay in Hobart.  This comes to as little as $128 per day, with all meals, accommodation and most entertainment included in the fare. 

 

Second to none, Royal Caribbean offers the best in worldwide cruising standards as the World's Leading Cruise Line, as awarded in the 2012 World Travel Awards.

 

To make your booking visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au or call your travel agent.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Voyager of the Seas stellar debut season

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Australia's largest cruise ship says farewell until summer 2013/14

As Australia's largest and most innovative cruise ship, there's nothing small about Voyager of the Seas, so it's no surprise that when she officially ended her Australian season on Saturday, Royal Caribbean closed what was a stellar debut season.  The ship arrived in Singapore - her final destination for the Australian summer – at the end of a 14-night cruise and carrying 3250 passengers.

With the capacity to hold more passengers than any other cruise ship based in Australia, Voyager of the Seas made waves when she first arrived in November last year, being the first single ship to bring more than 3,000 guests to Sydney.  For the 2012/13 summer cruise season, Voyager of the Seas welcomed onboard a whopping 40,000 guests, 85 percent of which are from Australia and New Zealand, and all cruises sailed full.  She also hosted over 1,600 travel agents on famil trips as well as agent visits in ports all around Australia.

"As far as debut seasons go, we really couldn't have asked for a better welcome for Voyager of the Seas down under.  The response to her here in Australia has just been phenomenal, and judging from the feedback from our guests and trade partners, they can't wait to see her again for the 2013/14 summer season," said Adam Armstrong, Commercial Director at Royal Caribbean Cruises Australasia.

"Voyager of the Seas is a big ship, and her size and calibre was only previously available in the Caribbean or Europe.  This has meant big things for Australia.  Across her season she brought approximately $25 million to Sydney's economy alone, and a total of approximately $40 million to the Australian economy. "

Voyager of the Seas certainly adopted the Australian charm this summer season, sailing with many Australian senior staff, including Aussie Hotel Director Colin Clarke and Executive Chef Andrew Norman.  Australia was also won over by never-before-seen concepts at sea, including Australia's first floating ice rink for Australia, and a Royal Promenade –the ship's "main street" offering food, shopping and entertainment options.

Sailing from Sydney and Perth, Voyager of the Seas will return for the summer 2013/14 cruise season, with four new itineraries and two additional sailings – a 10 percent extension from her maiden season.  Some programme highlights include a 14-night cruise from Singapore to Sydney on October 24, 2013, which begins with an overnight in Singapore and calls at Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang), Malaysia, Darwin and Brisbane, and a new two-night weekend sampler cruise departing from Sydney.

Fares start from $2025  per person for a 14-night Asia repositioning cruise on Voyager of the Seas, departing Singapore on 24 October 2013; add Sydney to Singapore flights from just  $49 per person.

For additional information or to make reservations, contact your travel agent, call 1800 754 500 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au or www.celebritycruises.com.au. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.

The lights go down on Rhapsody of the Seas, but only for an Earth Hour

 

Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas participated in Earth Hour while she was docked at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal on Saturday night.
 
Along with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, the 78,500 tonne ship dimmed its lights from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.
 
Rhapsody of the Seas along with harbour ferries and other vessels in the harbour all blew their horns at the  commencement of Earth Hour, at 8.30pm sharp.
 
Captain Rob Hempstead , the captain of Rhapsody of the Seas made an announcement to all guests and crew explaining the event and the ship's desire to participate. Cruise guests got into the spirit and assisted by turning off their cabin lights and closing their window curtains.
 
Rhapsody of the Seas then departed on her 11-night Queensland cruise at 10pm.

 


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Princess Announces that its Two Newest Ships will Offer European Cruises in new 2014 Program

Princess Cruises Opens 2014 Europe Season for Sale

Princess Cruises has opened its 2014 Europe cruise season for sale, including the debut of Regal Princess which will set sail on its inaugural cruise in June from Venice.

In total, five ships – including the line's two newest vessels – will sail on a variety of cruise itineraries throughout the Mediterranean and Northern Europe next year.

A sister ship to the upcoming Royal Princess, Regal Princess, will debut on June 2, 2014 with a seven-day inaugural voyage from Venice to Barcelona including calls in Kotor in Montenegro, Rome, Florence/Pisa, and Toulon in France, for Provence. The ship will then sail on a 10-day Mediterranean & Aegean cruise, followed by a season of Princess' signature Grand Mediterranean cruises, with two itinerary choices.

Other highlights of the season include Royal Princess sailing on the line's popular Scandinavia & Russia cruises, featuring two days in the dramatic city of St Petersburg; more sailings than ever before to the British Isles aboard Ruby Princess and Ocean Princess; and a variety of seven-day sailings in the Mediterranean aboard the intimate Ocean Princess.

Fares for the 12-night Grand Mediterranean sailings on Regal Princess start from $2319* per person twin share while the 7-night Greek Islands interlude on Ocean Princess starts from $1479* per person twin share.

"With Regal Princess' debut we will have our two newest and largest vessels sailing on our most popular routes in Europe," Princess Cruises executive vice president Jan Swartz said.

"Throughout the season, whether passengers want to explore the diverse cultures and expansive history of the Mediterranean, visit the favourite ports of the Baltic Sea on a Scandinavia and Russia voyage, or conveniently circle the British Isles, they can do so in an environment of a relaxing retreat onboard one of our ships."

The 2014 Europe program features five ships sailing on 94 departures on 48 itineraries to more than 120 destinations:
  • Regal Princess will debut with Princess' signature 12-day Grand Mediterranean itinerary between Venice and Barcelona, with two itinerary options
  • Royal Princess will sail for the first time on the line's popular 11-day Scandinavia & Russia cruises, featuring two days in St Petersburg, Russia
  • Ruby Princess will be based in Southampton for 12-day British Isles cruises as well as one North Cape & Summer Solstice cruise
  • Emerald Princess will also be based in Southampton for sailings to the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, and the Canary Islands
  • Small ship Ocean Princess will feature cruises to both Northern Europe and the Mediterranean including eight-day British Isles cruises, a series of seven-day interlude sailings in the Mediterranean, and new Black Sea and Holy Land voyages, all of which can be combined for a longer voyage.
Passengers wanting to visit the best of the Mediterranean – a popular destination for Australians – now have a choice of two itinerary options on the line's signature 12-day Grand Mediterranean cruises onboard Regal Princess – both feature an overnight stay in Venice, plus calls in Rome, Florence/Pisa, Naples (for Capri & Pompeii), Athens, Mykonos, Kusadasi (for Ephesus) and Toulon (for Provence). One version of the cruise features a call at Istanbul and the other calling at medieval Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Additional options in the Mediterranean include seven-day voyages onboard the intimate Ocean Princess, 11-day sailings to the Holy Land or Black Sea on Ocean Princess, and 14-day Mediterranean Medley cruises from Southampton aboard Emerald Princess.

Maiden calls for the season include Alta in Norway; Salerno in southern Italy and Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Princess also offers a selection of European cruisetours which combine certain sailings with a fully-escorted land tour, including a new Paris and the French Countryside holiday option.

Passengers can also choose to explore Ireland's Ring of Kerry; the imperial treasures in Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin; or the remarkable Swiss Alps and Lake Como.

Regal Princess and sister ship Royal Princess are new-generation ships for Princess Cruises. Among the special features found on board the 3600-passenger vessels will be a greatly expanded atrium, the social hub of the ship; a dramatic over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed walkway extending more than eight metres beyond the edge of the vessel; plush private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on the water; the new Princess Live! television studio; a pastry shop; a special Chef's Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms.

For more information, visit a licensed travel agent, call 13 24 88 or visit www.princess.com.

*subject to availability, conditions apply

Holland America Cruise Deals

Holland America Line

Unbeatable Europe cruise deals.

Holland America Line, the Europe cruise experts are on sale with incredible offers celebrating 140 years of premium cruising across the globe.

Book your Europe cruise holiday through Travel the World by 29 March and benefit from a range of amazing offers:

§  Exclusive onboard credit of up to $340 per stateroom on select sailings in oceanview staterooms
§  Unbeatable savings fares of less than $130 per day
§  Free onboard bonuses including Bon Voyage Sparkling Wine and Pinnacle Grill dinners
§  Onboard, spacious accommodations, gourmet meals and a wealth of activities combine with timeless elegance, modern amenities, and intuitive service - all adding to your dream cruise holiday!

Itineraries on sale:

11-night Ancient Mysteries, Istanbul to Athens onboard the ms Noordam departing 26 August 2013. Oceanview from $1,499* per person – Receive a $340 per stateroom onboard credit plus FREE Bon Voyage Sparkling Wine and a Pinnacle Grill Lunch for two.

22-night Adriatic and Roman Explorer Collector Voyage, Rome roundtrip onboard the ms Noordam departing 09 October 2013. Oceanview from $3,096* per person – Receive a $340 per stateroom onboard credit plus FREE Bon Voyage Sparkling Wine, Pinnacle Grill Dinner, Pinnacle Grill Lunch and US$ 50 Beverage Card for two.

10-night Gems of the Baltic, Copenhagen roundtrip onboard the ms Eurodam departing 21 May 2013. Inside from $1,499* per person -  Receive a $340 per stateroom onboard credit.

19-night Mediterranean Serenade, Venice to Barcelona onboard ms Nieuw Amsterdam departing 24 September 2013. Inside from $3,199 per person - Receive a $340 per stateroom onboard credit.

These offers are subject to availability and space is limited. Call Travel the World by 29 March on 1300 950 622or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au to secure your stateroom and departure date of choice.

 *Conditions apply. Ask for details at time of booking.

About Silversea Cruises

Silver Shadow visits Sydney

Silversea Cruises, which is chaired by Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, is recognised as an innovator in the luxury cruise line industry, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard its intimate, all-suite vessels: Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, Silver Whisper and Silver Spirit - all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance. With the inclusion of the expedition ships Silver Explorer and Silver Galapagos (debuting late 2013), Silversea Cruises' itineraries encompass all seven continents and feature worldwide luxury cruises to both polar regions and over 500 fascinating destinations in between.

In Asia Pacific, Silversea has been voted "Best Luxury Small Ship Cruise Line" by Australia's Luxury Travel & Style Magazine every consecutive year from 2006 to 2012 and Silver Whisper or Silver Shadow have also won the Gold Award as Best Small Cruise Ship in each of those years. Silversea has won similar awards from readers of Australia's Cruise Passenger Magazine. In the US, Silversea has been voted "World's Best" by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler (nine times) and Travel + Leisure (seven times), and awarded "Best Cruise Line for Luxury Small Ships" by Luxury Travel Advisor (2011).

Follow Silversea on Twitter, Facebook and the Silversea Blog.

About Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Allure of the Seas meeting Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 22 innovative ships, calling on more than 270 destinations in 72 countries across six continents. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. Royal Caribbean provides a world-class holiday experience with a wide range of signature onboard amenities, entertainment, and award-winning family programming. The cruise line has a 40-year history of giving guests the Royal Advantage – the most innovative cruise ships, exciting itineraries to popular destinations, and world-renowned friendly and engaging Gold Anchor Service. Royal Caribbean has been voted “Best Cruise Line Overall” for ten consecutive years in the Travel Weekly Readers’ Choice Awards.

RCL Cruises Ltd Australia commenced operation in December 2008 as the Australian arm of global cruise holiday company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. The company offers three cruise brands in Australia and New Zealand: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. In 2012/13, Royal Caribbean International will become the largest cruise operator in Sydney, with three ships sailing in the region: Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. This is in addition to two Celebrity Cruises ships, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium.


For additional information or to make reservations, contact your travel agent, call 1800 754 500 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au or www.celebritycruises.com.au. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.

See all posts about Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean has Europe on sale for 2013


Enjoying the never ending Aussie summer but dreading the upcoming cooler months?  Why not prolong summer and book a European cruise during the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Royal Caribbean has a number of enticing European cruises on sale for 2013, ranging from a seven-night Greek Isles cruise on Splendour of the Seas, starting from $695* through to  longer cruises, such as a 12-night Mediterranean Greek Isles cruise on Serenade of the Seas, priced from $1,235*.

A Royal Caribbean cruise fare conveniently covers your accommodation, meals including room service, and entertainment, such as live music, comedy and contemporary stage shows.  Whether you are cruising at sea and enjoying rock climbing, mini golf or just relaxing by the pool, or whether you are strolling through some of Europe's legendary cities and experiencing diverse cultures, a Royal Caribbean cruise offers as much fun, excitement or pure relaxation as cruisers want or need.

The seven-night Greek Isles Splendour of the Seas cruises departs from Venice, and calls at Dubrovnik (Croatia), Corfu, Santorini, Athens and Katakolon, (all in Greece) before arriving back in Venice. Regular departures are available from May 18 through to November 1, 2013.

The 12-night Mediterranean Greek Isles cruise, on Serenade of the Seas, has departures from May 19 through to November 3, 2013. The cruise departs from Barcelona, and calls at Cannes, Florence/Pisa, Rome (Citavecchia), Athens (Piraeus), Ephesus, Santorini, Naples before arriving back in Barcelona.

For more information and prices, call 1800 754 500 or visit www.royalcaribbean.com.au 

*Prices are per person in AU dollars, based on twin occupancy and include all taxes (which are subject to change) and onboard gratuities or tips. Prices are subject to change and availability.

Carnival cancels cruises

Carnival cancels a dozen cruises following fleet-wide review
Carnival Triumph passengers take to the decks to escape the conditions inside
Carnival Cruise Lines has cancelled 10 sailings on and two European cruises on Carnival Sunshine as part of its fleet-wide comprehensive operational review prompted by technical problems on three of its ships.

Passengers already booked on the affected cruises will receive full refunds, reimbursement for non-refundable travel costs and a 25% discount on a future cruise.

The cruise line said it was making "significant investments" to enhance the level of operating redundancies and the scope of hotel services that can run on emergency power. Earlier this year, passengers on the Triumph were stranded at sea for five days when the ship lost power.

Carnival Dream and Carnival Legend have subsequently suffered power shortages.

Carnival is also further improving each ship's fire prevention, detection and suppression systems.

"Given the necessary lead time to source needed materials and implement the enhancements, Carnival will extend the current out-of-service period for these two ships," it said.

Carnival Triumph will not return to service until June 3 and Sunshine, which is currently undergoing a multi-week dry dock to complete a comprehensive full-ship makeover, will now enter service on May 5.

"We sincerely regret canceling these cruises and disrupting our guests' vacation plans," said Gerry Cahill, Carnival Cruise Lines' president and CEO. "We are fully committed to applying the recommendations stemming from our fleetwide review and to make whatever investments are needed despite the difficult decision to impact people's vacations.

"Our team of experts has worked virtually around the clock to determine the best set of solutions and rapidly develop an effective implementation plan for both of these ships. Moving forward, we will have the ability to source materials and schedule improvements much more expediently, thus minimizing the scheduling impact on other vessels.

"I would like to provide continued assurances that all of our vessels have fully effective safety systems, equipment and training in place. Additionally, our ships receive regular inspections from the United States Coast Guard and other regulatory authorities.

"The changes we are implementing are focused primarily on improvements to better support continued power and hotel services should unexpected issues arise.

"In addition, we are applying new learnings and making enhancements in the area of fire suppression and extinguishing.

"Going forward, the review will focus on the balance of our fleet. While this process will take time, it is our highest priority and has the full support and resources of Carnival Cruise Lines and Carnival Corporation."

Carnival Triumph operates year-round four- and five-day Mexico cruises from Galveston, Texas. Four-day cruises visit Cozumel while five-day cruises call at Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.

Carnival Sunshine is scheduled to operate a series of nine- and 12-day Mediterranean cruises May 5 to October 20, either round-trip from Barcelona or sailing between Barcelona and Venice.

The ship will sail on a 16-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to New Orleans November 17, positioning the vessel for a special six-day Caribbean cruise followed by the launch of year-round seven-day Caribbean service from New Orleans.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Huge Savings on Basque Country to the Panama Canal Cruise Package

Celebrity Infinity
Big Savings On Transatlantic Cruise

SAVINGS of more than $6000 per person are now available through ecruising.travel on a 41-night voyage on a Celebrity Infinity trans-Atlantic crossing England to the U.S., plus an on-board credit of up to $900 if you book by April 10.

The complete air, land and sea package of 45 nights is now available from $6499 per person twin share and includes return economy air fares with Qantas from all capital cities as well as two nights’ pre-cruise at the St Ermins Hotel in London and two nights in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt before flying home.

The itinerary departs on October 10 with the cruise departing Harwich and making day visits to Le Havre (Paris) and La Rochelle in France, Bilbao, Vigo and Gijon in Spain before calling at Nassau in the Bahamas and Miami, Florida.

The ship then sails to Colombia and through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico before arriving in San Diego.

The package also includes meals and entertainment aboard the luxurious Celebrity Infinity, plus use of the swimming pools, spas and sauna. Other facilities include fitness centre, extensive library, Fortunes casino, AquaSpa centre and much more.

Transfer, air taxes and port charges are included in the price.

More information from ecruising.travel on 1300 369 848 or check-out www.ecruising.travel

Queen Mary 2 Makes Maiden Visit to Milford Sound

Photo by James Morgan/Cunard

Cunard's magnificent flagship Queen Mary 2 made history on Saturday March 16, becoming the largest ship to visit Milford Sound in New Zealand's stunning World Heritage-listed Fiordland National Park.

Measuring 345 metres long and reaching 62 metres above the water, the 151,400-tonne liner cruised the waters of Milford Sound as part of her maiden circumnavigation of New Zealand.  

Queen Mary 2 is carrying more than 2500 guests on her 12-day journey around New Zealand which will end in Sydney tomorrow (March 19).

Queen Mary 2 remains the biggest  ship to sail to New Zealand.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

P&O Cruises Puts Moreton Island on the Cruise Map


P&O Cruises has become the first cruise line to visit Queensland's beautiful Moreton Island with the arrival of Pacific Jewel on Saturday (March 16) as part of a four-night SeaBreak from Sydney.

The passengers were greeted by Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry and Tangalooma Island Resort Director David James, before heading off to experience the Island's many attractions including dolphin feeding, canoeing and snorkelling. Passengers were also able to experience the spectacular Champagne Pools and Honeymoon Bay, sand-duning, quad bike tours and bird-watching.

The visit by the 1950-passenger Pacific Jewel was the first of six calls planned for Moreton Island in 2013 which are expected to inject more than $1 million into the local economy. The four-night P&O SeaBreaks featuring a visit to Moreton Island have already proven to be some of the most popular itineraries offered by the cruise line.

Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said she was thrilled to be introducing Australians to one of the undiscovered gems on Queensland's coastline.

"Moreton Island is literally on our doorstep and we're delighted to be giving close to 12,000 interstate visitors the opportunity to experience its beauty for the first time in 2013," Ms Sherry said. "The response from our passengers has been overwhelmingly positive and I know they will return home to spread the word about what an exceptional discovery Moreton Island is."

Queensland Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey said the creation of a new destination at Moreton Island showed it is "full steam ahead" for the cruise industry in Queensland, which is Australia's second biggest cruise state, after New South Wales.

"The addition of Moreton Island to the Queensland cruise map is another win for the state's economy," Ms Stuckey said.

"The most recent available figures show that the cruise industry generated an estimated $590 million for the Queensland economy in 2011-12, including $336 million in direct expenditure.

"Cruising has been the fastest growing segment of the Queensland tourism market during the past year, and the Newman Government is happy to support innovative experiences like the P&O Cruises' visit to Moreton Island."

Tangalooma Island Resort's David James said tourism and business operators in the Moreton Bay and Islands group were excited to welcome P&O Cruises' passengers to the region.

"We are thrilled to showcase Moreton Island's spectacular natural beauty and leisure experiences to our P&O Cruises guests," Mr James said. "No doubt, many will be surprised that a treasure like this exists so close to home."

Celebrity Cruises Sale: Picking your next cruise holiday as easy as 1 2 3 with Celebrity Cruises


Three special offers to choose from on all worldwide sailing on Celebrity Cruises

If you are dreaming of a luxurious, relaxing and indulgent holiday this year, Celebrity Cruises offers a modern luxury style of cruise holiday in every continent of the world.  Now a Celebrity cruise holiday has been made even sweeter thanks to their 1 2 3 Go Sale.

Holidaymakers can select one of three special offers for any Oceanview booking or above made by the 15 April 2013 on all Celebrity Cruises worldwide sailings departing between June 2013 and March 2014 (excluding Celebrity Xpedition).

Those who fancy exploring Europe by sea have it even sweeter – they can choose up to two of the below special offers for any Europe sailing departing between June 2013 and March 2014 and booked by 15 April 2013.

Celebrity Cruises' three exceptional offers are:

  • Free "Classic Beverage Package" for two - Valued at $US88 a day, guests can pair Celebrity's delectable cuisine with their favourite beverages. The offer includes beers up to $US5 per serving; spirits, cocktails and wine by the glass up to the value of $US8 per serving, all soft drink selections, freshly squeezed and bottled juices, premium coffees, specialty teas and non-premium bottled water. Server gratuities are also included.
  • Free gratuities - Representing a value of up to $US210 per stateroom based on a 7-night sailing, the offer covers tips for stateroom attendant, waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter gratuities. Guests can relax on their cruise, knowing tips for Celebrity's attentive staff are covered.
  • Bonus onboard credit of up to $US300 per stateroom and available for guests to use towards shore excursions, specialty dining, wine tastings, spa treatments, boutique items, or any other onboard purchases. Onboard credit amount varies by length of cruise: three to five night sailings receive $US100; six to nine night sailings receive $US200; and $US300 for cruises of 10-nights and over.
Fares start from $1,949 per person for an Oceanview stateroom onboard Celebrity Solstice for a 12-night Auckland to Sydney sailing, departing 10 December 2013. This sailing offers a savings of up to $490 per person and allows guests to choose one of the three specials from the 1 2 3 Go Sale.

Sail the Mediterranean for 12-nights, with an overnight stay in Venice onboard Celebrity Equinox from $2,049 per person for an Oceanview stateroom. Roundtrip from Barcelona and departing 8 October 2013, this sailing calls at Nice (Villefranche), France; Florence, Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples and Venice, Italy; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik, Croatia, with guest also able to select two of the exceptional offers from the 1 2 3 Go Sale.

All prices are per person in Australian dollars based on twin occupancy and inclusive of all taxes and fees. The Celebrity 1 2 3 Go Sale applies to new and individual bookings of Oceanview stateroom and above, on all Celebrity worldwide cruises of three nights or longer departing between 1 June 2013 and 31 March 2014 (excluding Celebrity Xpedition). All worldwide Celebrity Cruises bookings (excluding Celebrity Xpedition) can choose one of the three offers, and Europe bookings can choose up to two of the three offers. Bookings must be made between 15 March 2013 and 15 April 2013. Some further terms and conditions apply.

For further information or to book a cruise, see your local travel agent, phone 1800 754 500 or visit www.celebritycruises.com.au.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

This Weeks Great Deals from ecruising.travel

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NEWSLETTER #649 - 14 Mar 2013
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Hi Cruisers,

Another big week in cruising with Celebrity announcing one of their best sales yet with the '123GO' offer! Make a new booking in an Oceanview category or higher stateroom between 15 March and 15 April 2013 and choose from the following three exciting options: Free Beverage Packages, Free Gratuities, or Onboard Credit. Plus if you book a Celebrity Europe sailing, then choose two of the three options! Choose your offer and save your way! It applies to new bookings only.
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Click here to see all the applicable sailings! Or click here for domestic cruises (Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific)
*See below for full terms & conditions*

A great way to take full advantage of this offer is with this rather special 45 night package on board Celebrity Infinity from London all the way across the Atlantic & through the Panama Canal to San Diego. Departing Harwich in England, you begin with 2 nights accommodation at St Ermins Hotel, London before transferring to the port to board your ship for an unforgettable 41 night cruise.

The first leg of your journey starts with an immersive wine focused cruise around the Bay of Biscay. Your first stop is a 2 day call at Le Havre (Paris) followed by the historic port of La Rochelle where you'll spend another 2 days in port. You'll then head to Bilbao in Spain for yet another 2 day stop and then on to Vigo and Porto in Portugal, returning to Essex for a day in port at Harwich.

You'll then have the opportunity to revisit some of your favourite ports as you cruise to La Rochelle again, visit Gijon and re-visit Vigo in Spain. A final European call is made at Lisbon before you head west across the Atlantic with a whole week at sea to make use of all the facilities or just relax. Things will start to heat up as you stop in at Nassau in the Bahamas and on to Miami for a day.

You're now ready to tackle the Panama Canal as you head first to Cartagena in Colombia and then Colon in Panama. The next day you'll spend transitting the famous Canal during daylight hours - a spectacular experience! Next up is Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala and Vallarta & Cabo San Lucas in Mexico before disembarking in San diego for a 2 night stay at the Grand Hyatt before your flight home. Along with Qantas flights, we've also included transfers. As you are essentially doing 3 cruises, you can get $900 OBC as well a drinks package for the first 12 nights. Sounds like a good deal to me! from only $7,259.00 for an Oceanview or $8,719.00 for a Veranda! Click here for details

In other exciting news this week, we have just introduced a book-online facility for Holland America (cruise only) sailings. All you have to do is point, click & pay and you could be off on a cruise on board Oosterdam or Volendam. It's that easy! Click here for details

Star Cruises' recently refurbished SuperStar Gemini (formerly Norwegian Dream) will be sailing from Hong Kong to Shanghai 1 April and we've got a great last minute deal! This 7 night packge has you flying Qantas in to Hong Kong where you'll spend a night at the Marco Polo Hongkong Hotel before boarding Gemini for a 5 night cruise. Along the way you'll visit Keelung (Taipei) and Ishigaki, an Island near Okinawa before disembarking in Shanghai where you'll spend a night at the Fairmont Peace Hotel before your flight home. A great last minute Easter getaway from just $2,239.00 for an inside or $2,489.00 for a balcony! Click here for details

Also with Star Cruises is this 9 night package visiting Burma. Departing 26 May & 11 Aug 2013, you'll begin your holiday with a 3 night stay at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang before boarding SuperStar Virgo for a 6 night cruise. You'll visit Krabi in Thailand on your way to Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma) before a last stop in at Phuket on your way back to Penang. We've included transfers as well as return flights with Singapore Airlines from only $2,749.00 for an inside or $2,899.00 for an oceanview! Click here for details

Seabourn is offering FREE upgrades and $500 Onboard Credit on selcted sailings for a very limited time. Why not join the six star Seabourn Quest on this 15 night package along the French Riviera from Monaco to Barcelona departing 27 August 2013. You begin by flying in to Nice airport and transferring down the road to Monte Carlo where you'll be spending 2 nights at the Fairmont Monte Carlo prior to joining your new home for the next 10 nights.

Cruising the Riviera in all inclusive luxury, you'll call at Le Lavandou in France, San Remo in Italy, Provence & Sete in France and then on to Ciutadella, Ibiza, Cartagena and Valenica in Spain before disembarking in Barcelona for a 3 night stay at the Hilton Diagonal Mar before your flight home. Along with transfers, we've even thrown in a Barcelona City Sightseeing pass. Buy an Oceanview Suite for $7,469.00 and get a free upgrade to a Veranda Suite! Click here for details

Just a quick reminder - you have until Friday 15 March 2013 to book a range of domestic cruises on P&O, Princess and Carnival Spirit and you will receive up to an additional $100.00 Onboard Credit plus half price deposit on selected cruises!

Brett & the ecruising team


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

MSC Cruises to become the world’s third largest cruise line

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The much anticipated launch this month of the MSC Preziosa will push MSC Cruises into the world's third spot for passenger capacity.

It will be the first time the family-owned cruise line has reached such a high position, closing in on first and second placeholders Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean International with an annual capacity of 1.45 million guests across its 12 ships.

"We see it as a very significant milestone," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

"When you consider MSC Cruises is a family owned company, it's a great achievement to be positioned so high against such public listed corporations," she said

"MSC Cruises has come such a long way since launching the first cruise ship, the now decommissioned MSC Melody, in 1997.

"In fact, since 2003, we have had an exciting time launching another 11 ships with the MSC Preziosa, about to be officially unveiled."

The newcomer, to be the fourth member of the cruise line's ever-expanding Fantasia class, will be christened by the MSC Cruises' godmother, screen legend Sophia Loren, in a gala event in the Italian port of Genoa on Saturday, March 23.

The delivery of the MSC Preziosa will see MSC Cruises increase passenger capacity to 1.45 million on 12 ships this year, a 9.4 percent capacity increase over 2012, leaving such cruise lines as Costa Crociere, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line in its wake.

MSC Cruises' "bronze medal" ranking is based on data received from the 2013 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

By market, MSC Cruises is expected to have over 50 per cent of its capacity in the Mediterranean, 14 per cent in South America, 12.5 percent in Northern Europe, and the remainder in Africa, the Caribbean, Canary Islands and Red Sea.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502 (Australia), 0508 4278473 (NZ), www.msccruises.com.au



Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Oceania Cruises' Ship Marina Sailed into Sydney Harbour Today

Marina, Oceania Cruises' award-winning cruise ship, has sailed into Sydney Harbour for the very first time today after making her debut in ports Melbourne and Hobart.   Marina will be docked at Circular Quay until the 15th of March when she sets sail on her next voyage "Jewels of the Pacific" 25-nights to French Polynesia via New Zealand and the South Pacific.  The ship that redefined the upper-premium cruise market brings a new level of luxury cruising to Australia with her world-class cuisine and unparalleled service.

Elegant yet contemporary in style, Marina exclusively features the first hands-on cooking school at sea, Bon Appétit Culinary Center; the first namesake restaurant at sea of Master Chef Jacques Pépin; the first Ralph Lauren Home furnished Owner's Suites and luxurious accommodations by Dakota Jackson; the first Wine Spectator wine program; and the first Lalique grand stairway.

Carrying 1250 guests, Marina boasts 10 gourmet dining venues, a selection of bars and lounges, a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness centre, swimming pool and hot tubs.

Oceania Cruises sails to Australia with several prestigious awards recently received at the 2013 Cruise Critic Cruisers' Choice Awards in the U.S. and the U.K.  Marina was honoured with three top awards in the U.S. for Best Dining, Best Public Rooms and Best Cabins and won Best for Fitness in the U.K.

For more information visit OceaniaCruises.com. Guests can book through their travel agent.

About Oceania Cruises:

Oceania Cruises® offers unrivalled cuisine, luxurious accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 330 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard two pairs of mid-size sister ships: the 684-guest Regatta and Nautica, and 1,250-guest Marina and Riviera.

About Prestige Cruise Holdings:

Prestige Cruise Holdings (PCH) is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. PCH manages select assets in Apollo Management's cruise investment portfolio and is led by Chairman & CEO Frank J. Del Rio and President & COO Kunal S. Kamlani. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with over 6,400 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.

 

 

Cruiseco's Cruisin' Country 3 & 4




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Rhapsody of the Seas at Circular Quay (R Eime)

Cruiseco, the leading supplier of cruising options in Australia and New Zealand, has launched two more, seven-night cruises tailored for country music lovers.

Guests of the affectionately named Cruisin' Country will cruise onboard the luxurious Rhapsody of the Seas.  Guests can expect to be entertained by some of the most celebrated artists in country music whilst experiencing the beautiful surrounds of the South Pacific islands.  Amber Wilson, National Marketing a Manager at Cruiseco says that Cruisin' Country 3 and 4 are the only country music cruises currently offered in the region.  

"This series of country-themed cruises are unique, allowing guests to see a wide selection of country artists perform live. Country music fans can listen to their favourite award winning country artists and visit exotic destinations at the same time. What a fantastic holiday combination."

Cruisin' Country 3 will feature a star-studded country music line-up including

Lee Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley, Adam Harvey, Gina Jeffreys, Amber Lawrence, McAlister Kemp, plus many more. Cruisin' Country 3 departs Sydney on 12th October 2013. Prices for Crusin' Country 3 are per person, based on twin share, and start from $2,127.

Cruisin' Country 4, which will depart Sydney on 5th October 2014, will headline The Bellamy Brothers and feature country music performers Kasey Chambers, John Williamson, Graeme Connors, Beccy Cole, Shane Nicholson and many more.

Prices for Cruisin'Country 4 are per person based on quad share and start from $1,434 or twin share from $1,956.  To receive early bird offers for Crusin' Country 4, book before 31st March 2013. Early bird prices are based on per person, twin share and start from $1,760. Prices for both cruises include seven nights cruising, all meals, entertainment and gratuities onboard, port charges and government taxes.

Entertainment performances will be held in: the Majestic Broadway Melodies Theatre; the Shall We Dance Lounge; the Centrum; the Viking Crown Lounge; and the Schooner Bar & Pool.  Cruisin' Country cruises also offer line, clogging and square dancing lessons, open mic sessions, comedy shows, plus song writing, guitar and bush poetry workshops.

For full details and the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist travel agent, visit www.cruising.com.au or call (02) 9492 8520.



Sunday, 10 March 2013

MSC Cruises has a hot Caribbean cruise


MSC Divina

HOT for 2013-2014 is a series of Western Caribbean cruises aboard the new MSC Divina, prices starting from $699 per person, twin share.

Book a seven-night cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean, also on the MSC Divina, and prices begin at $719pp, twin share.

And for cruise fans who want to merge the two for a 14-night Grand Caribbean experience, prices begin at $1318pp, twin share.

All itineraries begin and end in Miami between November this year and March, 2014, the Western Caribbean cruises calling on such fascinating destinations as the Mexican island of Cozumel, Georgetown in the Hayman Islands, Falmouth in Jamaica and the Bahamas.

The Eastern Caribbean cruises feature visits on St Maarten, San Juan as well as the Bahamas.

Cruises of 10 and 17 nights are also available, the latter priced from $1617pp, twin share.

"These packages allow you to take advantage of our fabulous new ship cruising – to amazing destinations," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

Details: Phone MSC Cruises on 1300 028 502, or visit www.msccruises.com.au

Friday, 8 March 2013

Azamara returns to Europe in 2013 with more inclusive amenities and free upgrades.

Verandah staterooms for the price of Oceanview on select Europe sailings

Azamara Club Cruises clearly strikes a chord among travellers through its distinctive longer stays, more overnights in port to offer guests the opportunity for night touring.  And the cruise line's 2013 Europe season will mark a crescendo in Azamara's evolution as the best choice for truly experiencing the destination, with four new compelling reasons to sail in Europe this summer.

1 - New Night Tours

Beginning March 27 and May 15, newly refurbished Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest will respectively launch AzAmazing Evenings, exclusive, custom-designed evening events which give guests the opportunities to enjoy and explore cultures that intrigue them. The inclusive night touring experiences are tailored, intimate and authentic to the destinations where they take place.

2 - New Inclusions

Azamara's upcoming Europe season also marks the added inclusion of boutique wines, international beers and select spirits, as standard, in the price of every Azamara cruise. These are in addition to the existing range of inclusions – soft drinks, bottled water, specialty teas & coffees, self-service laundry, shuttle transportation to city centres and tips for housekeeping, dining and bar staff – worth up to $750 per person on a 14-night cruise.

3 - New Verandah Upgrade Offer

Guests eager to experience Europe anew can now take advantage of a brand new limited-time offer: free upgrades from an Oceanview cabin to a Verandah stateroom on 28 of Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest's 2013 Europe sailings. But bookings must be made by 31 March 2013.

4 - Newly Refurbished Ships

Both Azamara Club Cruises ships have recently undergone ship wide refurbishments ready for the 2013 season. The extensive facelift included a new "Azamara Blue" hull, the addition of a new champagne and caviar bar, a Chef's Table concept featuring three wine degustation menus, as well as ship-wide refreshments including new carpets, upholstery, colour pallets, sun loungers and verandah furniture. The Spa and fitness centre was also revitalized with a new steam room, showers, and state-of-the-art Life Fitness cardio equipment, while the Casino Bar was expanded and enhanced with new furniture.

"Travellers should not miss out on Azamara's 2013 European season, where guests will be the first to enjoy our unique AzAmazing Evenings and even more onboard inclusions," said Edie Bornstein, senior vice president of Marketing and Sales for Azamara Club Cruises. "Our longer stays and more overnights in port will provide guests the opportunity to not only see, but join in the celebration".

The cruise line's twin jewel-box ships will sail European waters through to November 2013, calling at familiar favourites such as Monte-Carlo, Ibiza and Santorini, as well as some of the less-trodden gems such as Sochi, Russia, host to the 2014-Winter Olympics; Cassis, France; and Propriano and Palamos, Spain.  For an even more culturally-rich experience, guests can combine two, three or more consecutive voyages that repeat nearly no ports and multiply their choices of AzAmazing Evenings and destination immersion.

All 2013 Europe sailings are available for booking now, with lead fares starting from $2,739 per person for a free upgrade to a Verandah stateroom onboard Azamara Quest's seven-night Cote D'Azur to the Tagus sailing. Departing 23 May 2013from Nice, France and sailing to Lisbon, Portugal via Barcelona, Valencia and Granada (Motril), Spain and Gibraltar, United Kingdom, this sailing also includes an overnight stay in Barcelona with an AzAmazing Evening of flamenco dancing and a tour of Codorniu Cava winery which has been producing Spain's famous sparkling Cava wines since the 16th century.

For more information or to book an Azamara Cruise, contact your travel agent, visit www.azamaraclubcruises.com or call 1800 754 500. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit www.cruisingpower.com.


Thursday, 7 March 2013

New Med Cruises for Queen Elizabeth in Cunard's 2014 Program


Cunard's Queen Elizabeth

Cunard has announced its new 2014 program, offering a range of new itineraries designed for international travellers, including Mediterranean cruises on Queen Elizabeth.

Cunard President and Managing Director Peter Shanks said the breadth of cruises would appeal to guests from markets around the world including Australia.

The program commences in the northern spring after Cunard’s three liners finish their 2014 world voyages and features new Mediterranean itineraries, a twist to Queen Mary 2’s Transatlantic crossings and a Three Queens event to celebrate Queen Mary 2’s 10th birthday.

“Our new 2014 itineraries offer added variety and innovation to our loyal Cunarders as well as appealing to today’s luxury traveller,” Mr Shanks said.

“By offering the best in cities and destinations, along with the outstanding luxury experience of a Cunard ship, Cunard is a compelling holiday choice for 2014. Our unique international appeal creates a cosmopolitan flavour on board, which appeals to the growing number of luxury travellers around the world who are looking for a discerning holiday experience”.

Queen Elizabeth’s first full season in the Mediterranean, an increasingly popular cruise destination for Australians, will include departures from June to November 2014 from Venice, Rome and Athens.

Travellers will be able to choose from 7, 14 and 21-night cruises, with the voyages visiting a selection of 25 different ports, offering a mix of famous cities, iconic sights and intimate islands. Cruise options will include overnight stays in Istanbul and Venice and maiden calls to seven ports including Elba, Kotor and Palermo.

With the popularity of Transatlantic crossings on Queen Mary 2 continuing to grow, the flagship liner will undertake 18 crossings between Southampton and New York during 2014. These will include new eight-night crossings, with some to include a call to the famous port of Halifax, and two “Birthday Crossings” on May 9 and May 16 to celebrate Queen Mary 2’s 10th anniversary.

Meanwhile Queen Mary 2 and her younger sisters Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria will meet in Southampton on May 9 for a Three Queens event to celebrate Queen Mary 2’s anniversary.

As well as the Transatlantic crossings, Queen Mary 2 will offer four New York cruises focused specifically on the North American market, including Canada and New England itineraries.

Meanwhile, Queen Victoria will be based in Southampton for the northern summer and will offer a variety of strong itineraries to the Fjords, Baltic, Iceland, Britain, Black Sea and Atlantic Isles, as well as a Round Britain cruise coinciding in Liverpool on the 100th anniversary of the first sailing of Cunard’s Aquitania on May 30.

The new itineraries go on sale worldwide on April 9. Full details will be released in each market over the next two weeks. For more details on Cunard visit www.cunardline.com.au, phone 132441 or see a licensed travel agent.

This Weeks Great Deals from ecruising.travel


Hi Cruisers,

Queen Mary 2 arrived into Sydney this morning and the sun finally appeared for her arrival. I know we need the rain but hey, I've seen enough of it for a while! Aurora is on QM2 today for lunch and an inspection so I'm sure you'll read her report in next weeks edition.

Speaking of newsletters, we had a problem with our image server last week but we've moved the location of this now so you should not have any more problems... technology!

On my flight back from Melbourne last week, we circled for an hour waiting to get into Sydney airport. I'm sure Julia doesn't circle around waiting to land; my prediction is they'll build a 2nd Sydney airport around the same time we stop using conventional aeroplanes!

Now on with the newsletter... Ian went on Solstice earlier this week, below is his story and photos.

For my next ship inspection it couldn't have been more different. To go from the Queen Victoria to the Celebrity Solstice is about as far apart as it comes in the world of big ship cruising. The former is all about old world elegance of the past, the latter is bright and modern, with all the mod cons of today and into the future. The options these days for cruising are far ranging and this gives the public great options to choose from. I can see why almost every Solstice cruise is sold out for the rest of the year.

Clients who have never tried Celebrity or even cruising at all are jumping on the bandwagon. It's a sure thing, and such great value now the prices are coming down. Celebrity are known as a 5 star cruise, so you need to compare the ship with a top of the line 5 star hotel, then you might be coming somewhere close. Every area of this ship is in impressive. Being so new it's in great shape in all areas. Our group of agents were very impressed as we walked through the public areas and incredible speciality restaurants. When we got to the cabins, particularly the Celebrity Suites, many of our group were crying out wow! I was personally impressed with all the bars, and varied adult areas, many of which have perfect sea views. So much so I've booked a cruise for myself!

 


Masai Magic is selling well, this really is a trip of a lifetime. QM2 speaks for itself but the ground arrangements are first class, as good as you'll get anywhere and with a company you know will deliver. Why not join us and take advantage of the free upgrades, click here for details.

Star of the Rockies is almost sold out, we have a few spaces left in Gold Leaf, if you've been thinking about it, better get onto it! Click here for details.

Diamond Princess will be headed down our way 14 November 2014 and we have some amazing new fares on the Singapore to Sydney sector! This 20 night package starts with a night at the Shangri La Singapore before you join your ship on a 19 night voyage. You'll cruise to Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Phu My (Ho Chi Minh City) & Benoa (Bali) before bidding farewell to Asia.

Arriving in Australian waters, you'll visit Darwin and Port Douglas, arriving in Sydney for a spectacular daytime arrival, followed by a night in port. We've also included transfers in Singapore and, don't forget, that cruising back to Australia means you don't have to worry about airline excess baggage charges so you can shop as much as you like! From less than $120.00 a day - $2,339.00 for an inside or $3,149.00 for a balcony! Click here for details

This is your last chance to join Queen Mary 2 on her current world voyage. There is an extremely limited number of cabins available from Fremantle to Cape Town departing 26 March 2013. After emabrkation, this 17 night package begins with a week at sea so you'll have plenty of time to soak up the magic of the worlds most famous oceanliner.

First stop after crossing the Indian Ocean is Port Louis in beautiful Mauritius followed by your arrival in South Africa with stops at Durban, Port Elizabeth & Cape Town, where you'll be saying farewell to your ship after an overnight stop in port. You'll then be spending 2 nights at The Westin Cape Town before your flight. We've included a oneway flight back to Perth, but ask us about flights back to other cities. Priced at just $4,669.00! Click here for details

Here's a couple of new itineraries on Radiance of the Seas' next local season. First is this 8 night Queensland cruise departing 19 January 2014. You'll visit Newcastle, Airlie Beach and Brisbane before returning to Sydney. Second is this 7 night cruise to Tasmania departing 27 January 2014. Oddly enough, your first port of call is Newcastle before you head south to Hobart with a final stop at Melbourne on the way back to Sydney. Queensland from $1,009.00 or Tasmania from $999.00!
Click here for Queensland
Click here for Tasmania

Discover more of Europe on board Ruby Princess with this 29 night package from Barcelona to Rome departing 12 October. You'll begin with 3 nights hotel accommodation at the Hilton Diagonal Mar in Barcelona before boarding Ruby Princess for a 24 night cruise on the Mediterranean, Adriatic & Aegean Seas. You'll visit Toulon in France, Livorno, Rome & Naples in Italy.

Cruising through the Ionian Sea, you'll call in at the island of Mykonos on the way to the Aegean where you'll be stopping at Istanbul, Kusadasi & Athens. You'll then be off to Venice for a 3 day visit. This is followed by Dubrovnik in Croatia, Corfu, Katakolon in Greece as well as another stop in Athens, Mykonos & Kusadasi.

You'll then drop in at Santorini & Naples on your way to Rome where you'll disemabark and head to the Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese for a 2 night stay before your flight home. We've also included transfers in Barcelona and Rome from only $5,829.00 for an inside or $7,229.00 for a balcony!
Click here for details

Spoil yourself on board Seabourn Odyssey with this huge 45 night package from Istanbul to Singapore departing 5 October 2013. Begin your life of luxury with a 2 night stay at the Ritz Carlton Istanbul before you join the 6 star all inclusive Seabourn Odyssey for 41 nights of pure indulgence and as always with Seabourn, you'll visit some places that the bigger ships don't often visit.

Your first port of call is Myrina on the island of Nisos Limnos, this is followed by Izmir & Cesme in Turkey and then Patmos, Santorini, Naousa & Athens in Greece. Stop in at Haifa & Ashdod before transiting the Suez Canal calling in at Hurghada in Egypt, Aqaba in Jordan followed by a 2 day visit to Safaga (Valley of the Kings). Next you'll be visiting Salalah & Sur in Oman, Dubai, Khasab & Khor al Fakkan.

Moving toward Asia you'll find yourself on the Indian Sub-continent where you'll spend 2 days in Mumbai and call in at Mangalore & Cochin before crossing the Bay of Bengal with a final stop in Phuket. You will then disembark in Singapore where you'll spend 2 nights at the famous Raffles hotel before your flight home and back to reality. As well as included transfers, for a limited time, if you book an Oceanview Suite, you get a FREE upgrade to a Veranda Suite from $14,899.00 for a 45 night experience! Click here for details

Brett & the ecruising team

"The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea"

Isak Dinesen

Islands made for cruising. Réunion for dramatic scenery



Snapshots of the world's best island cruising destinations.

By Roderick Eime

Characterised by an aggressive, still active volcanic landscape, Réunion is the Hawaii of the Indian Ocean with towering, thickly wooded peaks and a couple of decent beaches.

Almost overlooked by its better publicised Indian Ocean neighbours, Mauritius and Madagascar, Réunion is small enough to be romantic and civilised enough to offer a comfortable, European style experience. After all, it is part of France, yet with a sultry and tropical Creole flavour.

Réunion's interesting, predominantly French colonial history, serves as a fascinating counterpoint to the jaw-dropping terrain on this 2500 square kilometre island. A 'must-do' among the serious trekking community, it is mentioned in the same breath as the Himalayas and New Zealand, with the three "cirques" (natural amphitheatres) providing stunning venues for energetic strolls. The Cirque de Salazie, the Cirque de Cilaos and the Cirque de Mafate each evolved from the original Piton des Neiges volcano (3000m) that formed the island. There is also fascinating hiking around the still-active Piton de la Fournaise, a shield volcano on the eastern end which rises more than 2631 metres.

Most of the population is arranged around the coastal perimeter, but three tiny villages form superb little micro-destinations on their own; Cilaos, Salazie and La Nouvelle (in the Cirque de Mafate), which is only accessible only by foot or helicopter.

There are around thirty cruise visits to the island annually with P&O, MSC and Silversea the most regular. The main port is Pointe des Galets.

Official tourism site: www.reunion.fr/en/

Islands made for cruising. Sicily for food and wine.


Palermo market


Snapshots of the world's best island cruising destinations.

By Roderick Eime

Sicily is one the best Mediterranean island destinations, even if you don't consider it a gastronomic attraction. You'll enjoy fabulous food with lashings of rich history and culture against a stunning natural backdrop. Strolling through any of the local food and produce markets is an experience in itself as you are confronted with beautifully presented fish, fruit, vegetables and even packaged delights. Sicilians love their food and wine and you'll find their passion translates into the many restaurants, cafes and bars.

Acclaimed food and wine author, Sally Hammond, author of "Just a Little Italian" explains why she loves Sicily.

"Sicily has been over-run and colonised by many nations over its long history. Ancient Greeks and Romans, Goths, Vikings, Turks, Spanish and North Africans have all had a hand in the mixing pot which now constitutes Sicilian cuisine.

"So in western Sicily you'll see signs announcing couscous is being served that day, in the south, it's almond granita (a flaky ice) and a sort of brioche for breakfast, and some of the best chocolate, while everywhere there are food markets that would be at home in the Middle East.

"In the countryside expect to see prickly pear laden with red fruit on the roadside and olive and orange groves. Sicily is a fragrant, colourful, absolutely delicious island."

Palermo and Messina are the popular ports, but cruises also stop at Catania. Well serviced by all the major cruise lines like MSC, Costa Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, and NCL.

Official tourism site: www.italia.it/en/discover-italy/sicily.html

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Islands Made for Cruising: Cuba

A street in Trinidad, Cuba. Trinidad has been one of
UNESCO's World Heritage sites since 1988. (Wikimedia)

Cuba for Romance and Music

By Roderick Eime

The incurably romantic Caribbean island of Cuba is one of the last true Communist redoubts of the 21st Century and has captured the imaginations of artists, poets and musicians for as long as we can remember.

Cuba is almost always in the news. The legendary revolutionary, Fidel Castro Ruz, who turned 86 this year, is clearly on a short countdown until his ultimate term expires. Even with his poor health and advancing years, the old revolutionary still wields surprising power.

The resilience of the Cuban revolutionary Government has created a nation that almost stands still in cold war time. With his imminent passing, and especially since the withdrawal of Soviet aid, Cuba will inevitably be drawn into the broader world economic community.

Cuba's attraction as a tourist destination is due in part because of the world’s curiosity with this stubborn regime. But Cuba, in its own right, is a vibrant and exciting destination blessed with idyllic beaches and fascinating early Spanish history dating back to Columbus. More recent figures like Ernest Hemingway, Desi Arnaz, Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan reinforce the romance and passion of the island. Cuba's rich musical heritage has reached world popularity with musicians such as the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban Allstars.

Glenn A Baker, popular music historian and social commentator says, “There is a constant, inescapable sensuality to the entire Cuban experience. For all the crumbling decay, the tarnished and faded glamour, and the shortages and sacrifices of a country whose economy virtually collapsed when the Soviets cut off the drip-feed more than a decade ago, there is nothing dormant or moribund about the place.

“Take Latin vibrancy and pride, wind it up a few notches with classic Cuban machismo, stir well with history, intrigue and uncertainty, garnish with a siege mentality, serve warm with Spanish style and you have the very core of the Caribbean, its only truly essential destination.”

The best place to relive the Cuban music made famous by the original Buena Vista Social Club, is Salón 1930 ‘Compay Segundo’ at the Hotel Nacional.

Fancy a toast to old Ernest? Saunter down to La Bodegita del Medio in Empedrado Street, in the old Havana district for a mojito made to Hemmingway’s own recipe. How do you know this? It’s written on the wall in his handwriting.

While it’s still tough for Americans to visit, all that will change eventually, even though Cuban ports lack the infrastructure to accommodate cruise vessels of the size Americans like to cruise on. Instead, small and medium ships from lines such as Fred.Olsen, Hapag Lloyd, Variety and Voyages of Discovery are among the lines that visit Cuba from non-US ports. Australians have no such problem visiting Cuba except when accessing funds, so taking cash is the way to go. American Express? Forget it.

Most cruise ships will visit Havana, but Variety’s 8-day “Sights and Sounds of Cuba“ will also visit Casilda/Trinidad, Cienfuegos (a World Heritage site since 1988), Playa Giron, Juventud Island or Cayo Largo and Bahia de Corrientes, ports that occupy most of the western half of the island. The romance of this forbidden fruit is further enhanced with the use of their 49-pax, 3-masted schooner, “Panorama”.

Interested? Try this itinerary from APT

Spirit of the Spanish Main
(15 days) Embark on a Caribbean adventure from the Bahamas to Belize. Step back in time as you roam the streets of Cuba, unwind on the powder-white beaches of far-flung islands, and explore ancient ruins of a lost empire.

Australia ready for Astor

Astor

All hands on deck as Australia prepares for Astor

Brochures now available for Fremantle-based premium cruise ship

The owners of the 620-passenger cruise ship Astor have left Australia confident in their decision to base the premium vessel in Fremantle for the next three summers.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) UK announced early last month that it will be sending Astor to Fremantle for the 2013-14 Summer, the first of three seasons that it will be based Down Under. There are 15 itineraries being offered during her inaugural season.

After a week-long visit that included Sydney, Perth and Fremantle, Mr Christian Verhounig (Chairman and MD of CMV UK) said: ``We are genuinely encouraged by the positive response that we received from members of Australia's travel industry of our decision to bring Astor to Australia. There appears already to be much anticipation surrounding her arrival in December.
``Our visit has left us more confident than ever in our decision to base a premium vessel in Fremantle for the next three Australian summers.
``Our discussions with key industry stakeholders also confirmed our belief that Australia's growing number of cruise-goers are ready to have a greater standard of vessel than they have ever seen based in their waters.''

Mr Nicolas Tragakes (Chairman of Global Maritime Group), Mr Verhounig and Mr Alexios Tsokos (CEO CMV USA) also oversaw the launch of operations of the CMV Australia office, in Sydney.

The purpose of the visit was to:
       Launch CMV Australia's website, www.cmvaustralia.com, which includes information about everything you need to know about Astor;
       Deliver Astor's 2013-14 summer brochure to travel agents;
       Open CMV Australia's sales office in Sydney;

The national sales office for CMV Australia is located at:
Suite 206, Level 2, 506 Miller Street, Cammeray, NSW.
Phone: Reservations – 1300 307 934.

Media wanting a copy of Astor's 2013-14 Australian summer brochure can contact Brad Elborough on 0417 175 434 or be.comm@yahoo.com.au.

SAVER FARES: ** For a limited introductory period, CMV Australia is offering generous early booking deals for Astor's inaugural 2013/14 summer cruising season. Saver Fares offer discounts of up to 25% on full published fares, applicable to a limited number of twin and single cabin bookings made prior to May 15, 2013. This discount is not applicable to the New Year's Eve celebration cruise.

Visit: www.cmvaustralia.com

About ASTOR
Length – 176.5m / Width – 22.61m / Draught – 6.1m
Gross tonnage – 20,606 tonne
Cabins / suites / premium suites – 247 / 39 / 3
278 international officers and crew

·          The ASTOR was built in Germany in 1987 and underwent an AUD$18.6 million refurbishment in 2010 to the cabins and public areas. She has cruised in Europe for the demanding German market for the past 10 years.
·          The ASTOR has seven passenger decks and is a premium, fully stabilised and air-conditioned cruise liner with a maximum capacity of 620 guests.
·          The ASTOR boasts the impressive Waldorf Restaurant, which offers traditional cruise two sitting, fixed-time dining options. Alternatively, passengers can opt for the more informal experience of the sun-drenched Übersee Club Bistro.
·          The ASTOR has five lounge areas - the theatre style ASTOR Lounge, for some truly sparkling entertainment from the highly acclaimed show-team; the elegant Captain's Club, a perfect venue for pre-dinner cocktails with the resident pianist; the intimate Hanse Bar which leads onto the stylish Sonnen (Sun) Terrace Bar, with wonderful panoramic ocean views; and the Poolside Bar.
·          A popular feature of the ASTOR is the Sports Deck, with a volleyball court, half court tennis, jogging track, golf practice facility, big board chess and space for yoga.
·          Other facilities include the ship's Library, the Card Room, an internet café, a shopping arcade featuring a boutique, jeweller, perfumery and the Wellness Centre, which offers hairdressing and beauty treatments, an indoor swimming pool, ocean view fitness and exercise equipment, and sauna and massage facilities.
·          There is an outdoor, plus an indoor swimming pool, two whirlpools and, in keeping with her heritage, a traditional walk around promenade deck. There is a very good selection of comfortable modern cabin accommodation from Standard to De Luxe with 70% of cabins having an ocean view and with individually controlled air-conditioning.

ASTOR 2013-14 Australia highlights

4 nights Wine, Food and Fitness Cruise
Sails from Fremantle on Monday, December 16, 2013. Routing – Fremantle, Albany, Bunbury, Fremantle.

35 nights Grand Round Australian Circumnavigation
Sails from Fremantle on Tuesday, January 28, 2014. Routing – Fremantle, Kangaroo Island, Adelaide, Hobart and Port Arthur, Melbourne, Eden for Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Lombok, Komodo Island, Broome, Fremantle.

About CMV
CMV is an established UK-based independent cruise line and is part of CMV Holdings London Ltd with as associate North American sales office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. CMV Australia will be structured as a sales office to support the new Australian cruise operation in conjunction with the Global Maritime Group, CMV's majority shareholders.
With an annual program capacity of 45,000 passengers, CMV specialises in operating traditional smaller ship cruises of distinction. Serving the British and international English-speaking cruise markets, the renowned passenger flagship MARCO POLO operated alongside the popular 800 passenger OCEAN COUNTESS from six UK ports to mainly European destinations over the past three years. In 2013, Ocean Countess will be replaced by the upgraded 700 passenger DISCOVERY under a long-term charter arrangement as a joint venture partnership will All Leisure Holidays Ltd, part of the highly respected All Leisure Group PLC.
Marco Polo and Discovery are operated under charter by CMV, who has a wealth of cruise industry expertise spanning almost four decades and is a member of the prestigious Passenger Shipping Association and ACE - the Association of Cruise Experts. CMV's international head office is based in London in Purfleet Essex, close to the port of Tilbury.
All holidays featured in all CMV's brochures are financially protected by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Cruise arrangements not including air travel are financially protected with the Association of British Travel Agents 9ABTA Number: V9945) and cruise arrangements including air travel are financially protected with the Civil Aviation Authority (ATOL No. 4619)
For more information, visit Cruise & Maritime Voyages at www.cruiseandmaritime.com.