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Saturday, 18 May 2013

Moose and Marsupials. Two great cruises unite South Pacific and Alaska


A double cruise aboard two fine Holland America Line cruise ships this year explores Alaska’s renowned Inside Passage and visits Los Angeles, Hawaii, Samoa, Vanuatu and Noumea before sailing back to Australia.

It’s part of a holiday from CruiseAway (cruiseaway.com.au) that also ventures into Canada’s Rocky Mountains on a two-day tour and spends five nights in Vancouver.

Rocky Mountaineer
‘Moose and Marsupials’ (as the holiday is named) uses Holland America Line’s ms Zuiderdam and ms Volendam. The latter ship will visit Australia this October, providing the perfect means of sailing back home across the Pacific after this great North American adventure.

‘Moose and Marsupials’ lasts over five weeks – 37 nights, to be precise. It costs from A$5599 twin share per person, valid at that rate till 30 June 2013 or until sold out, whichever comes first. That’s a reduction of A$400 on the previous price levels.

This fly-double-cruise Canada and Alaska adventure begins on 12 September 2013 with a flight from Sydney to Vancouver. Your hotel is the Rosedale on Robson in the heart of Vancouver’s entertainment district. Accommodation is in a deluxe suite, with time to explore one of North America’s most livable and scenically dramatic cities.

Then board ms Zuiderdam for a fabulous seven-night round-trip into the dramatic fjords of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Despite the snow-capped mountains, the region’s mild, maritime climate makes it prime habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoise and whales. Highlights among these forested islands include the historic town of Juneau at the foot of mountain peaks, the Klondike gold-rush settlement of Skagway, Ketchikan with its totem poles and phenomenal Glacier Bay, where bears forage and 16 tidewater glaciers plunge into icy fjords.

All shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) and most onboard entertainment is covered. ms Zuiderdam amenities include The Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine; Greenhouse Spa & Salon; and Explorations Café powered by The New York Times.

After another night in Vancouver, set out along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway on a two-day Discover Whistler mini-stay. The journey to Whistler includes free entry to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, focusing on the culture of two local indigenous nations. The Rocky Mountaineer rail trip back, from Whistler to Vancouver, is one of Canada’s great rail journeys, taking in the magnificent scenery of Howe Sound and British Columbia’s coastal mountains.

Your Whistler accommodation is the gracious Fairmont Chateau Whistler alpine resort, located dramatically between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

Two more nights in a deluxe suite at the stylish Rosedale on Robson hotel give you time to relax in Vancouver. Perhaps saunter the cobblestone streets of Gastown, the city’s oldest neighbourhood, full of artists’ studios and boutique designer shops in refurbished heritage buildings.

The main cruise of the holiday is now about to begin – 24 nights from Vancouver to Sydney aboard ms Volendam, a ship known for flowers, art and fine dining. First port of call is Los Angeles, with time to visit Hollywood, Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or those famous LA shopping malls.

Four days at sea gives time to explore ms Volendam. Artwork aboard runs from pre-Columbian sculptures to Renaissance-era Italian fountains. Dining can involve five-course menus or you can opt for vegetarian or low-carb choices. Take time to explore the lounges, bars, Lido Pool and Frans Hals Show Lounge. Once again, all shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) and most onboard entertainment is covered in the price.

Next stop Hawaii – first at Hilo on the Big Island, then a full day in Honolulu to visit Pearl Harbor, stroll Waikiki Beach or do as you will. Onward to Pago Pago (pronounced pango pango), capital of American Samoa.

On the other side of the date line lies Suva, Fiji, for a full day to shop, take it easy, maybe sip kava. ms Volendam also visits Port Vila in Vanuatu and Lifou on the Loyalty Islands – perfect beaches on a far-flung archipelago. Then visit Noumea, capital of New Caledonia. Perhaps find a café, sip a Pernod; contemplate practicing your French.

The next stop is super-special. Try to rise early to catch dawn arrival in Sydney, ending your holiday on a serene and beautiful note.

For details, contact Cruiseaway 1300 887 590 www.cruiseaway.com.au

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