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Tuesday 22 December 2015

Crystal Esprit Christened in the Seychelles, Ready to Set Sail

Crystal Esprit Christened in the Seychelles

Ready to Set Sail

Luxury yacht launches Crystal Cruises' next chapter

Crystal Cruises, the world's most awarded luxury cruise line, has officially welcomed Crystal Esprit to its fleet of ultra-luxury vessels, as the sleek yacht was christened in an elegant ceremony held at Eden Island Marina in Mahé, Victoria, Seychelles.  Crystal's president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez, welcomed a distinguished audience of local dignitaries, yacht guests, travel partners and professionals and executives from the line's new parent company, Genting Hong Kong (GHK), for a day of celebration, as Crystal Esprit marks the beginning of one of the most significant brand expansions in luxury travel and hospitality history.

On hand to christen Crystal Esprit was the yacht's godmother, Lady Gaenor Anne Meakes, fiancée of Mark Richards, one of the world's most awarded and recognised yachtsmen. Richards serves as chief executive of Grand Banks yachts, based in Australia, and is an eight-time champion skipper of the 628-mile Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race. Lady Meakes christened the yacht with the traditional breaking of Champagne against the hull – specifically a bottle of Louis Roederer, Cristal Brut, 2004.  The evening culminated with an elaborate fireworks display at sea.

"To say today is a special day is an understatement," said Rodriguez. "Since joining Crystal just over two years ago, a personal goal of mine has been to see Crystal realize the next step in continuing to pioneer luxury travel and hospitality; and today I am seeing that dream fulfilled." She went on to personally thank GHK Chairman and CEO, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, for his and his company's support of her vision for Crystal's future.

Crystal will, indeed, pioneer the luxury travel and hospitality industry far beyond the reaches of ocean cruising, as the line is poised to launch Crystal River Cruises in 2016 and 2017, with five luxury river yachts – more than double the originally planned number – gracing the waterways of Europe include the Rhine, Seine, Danube, Main, Garonne, and Dordogne Rivers. Crystal Luxury Air will take off with all-first-class outfitted Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking guests on multi-week journeys to far-off destinations not typically served non-stop by major airlines.

About Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is the world's most awarded leading luxury cruise provider, having earned more "World's Best" awards than any other cruise line, hotel, or resort in history. In July 2015, Crystal embarked on the most significant brand expansion in the history of luxury travel and hospitality, which will introduce three new classes of cruising – Crystal Yacht Cruises (December 2015), Crystal River Cruises (July 2016), Crystal Exclusive Class Ocean Cruises (late 2018) – and Crystal Luxury Air (late 2017).

For More Information

For additional information contact
Wiltrans International on:

1800 251 174 (Australia)
0800 446 376 (New Zealand)

Monday 14 December 2015

Grand Aegean & Adriatic Explorer gives 24 Mediterranean nights at the perfect time of year

Winter in the southern Mediterranean is a delight – very much the right place at the right time, less crowded and all yours to explore.

Cruise Traveller ( has chosen that time of year for a sparkling new cruise holiday lasting 24 nights and called 'Grand Aegean and Adriatic Explorer'.

A fly-free offer gives free round-trip airfares from Australia to join the ship in Athens and return home from Venice. Transfers are included and the itinerary visits brilliant places away from the tourist beat.

The ship is MS Minerva, operated by Swan Hellenic. This boutique-size vessel carries no more than 350 passengers. There's a wide choice of included shore excursions.

'Grand Aegean and Adriatic Explorer' is available from A$9655 per person twin share, with FREE flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth to Athens and return from Venice. It's valid at that rate until 31 January 2016 unless sold out beforehand.

The cruise-holiday gets underway on 14 November 2016 with a flight from Australia to Athens to join MS Minerva. The ship boasts all the refinements of an intimate country house hotel, conveying guests in style and comfort to some the world's most fascinating destinations.

There is no shortage of those on this itinerary. The ship stays overnight in Kusadasi (gateway to the ancient city of Ephesus), Athens, Dubrovnik and Venice. You can perch on the peaks of Meteora, known for monasteries set on awe-inspiring heights. Get to know Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great. A two-night stay in Istanbul gives time to discover its highlights including the Ottoman Blue Mosque. An extended stay in Piraeus includes a visit to Ancient Corinth where St Paul preached and lived for two years.

MS Minerva transits the narrow Corinth Canal and sails along Kotor Fjord to the medieval walled town of Kotor in Montenegro, one of the best preserved and most memorable medieval towns in the Adriatic, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Also listed by UNESCO is Dubrovnik, a masterpiece of cream-coloured stone. Sibenik in Dalmatia is another gem, offering some of the most memorable surroundings on the Croatian coast.

As well as a full exploration of Venice, Minerva offers a phenomenal variety of complimentary shore excursions. They are available on each day of the cruise and all are all covered by the fare.

Choices range from the Royal Tombs of Vergina to Aphrodisia and Nysa in Kusadasi, the Montenegro Riviera and Dubrovnik's Lokrum Island. Enjoy a tour of Split, a city on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast where date palms line a seafront esplanade in front of the Roman Emperor Diocletian's palace – a structure so well preserved that about 3000 people live within its walls today. Explore Istria and marvel at the Doges Palace and St Mark's Square in Venice.

An integrated program of talks by guest speakers aboard ship adds in-depth knowledge to the explorations. Another bonus is being able to forget about tipping – all gratuities, both aboard and while touring ashore, are covered in the upfront price. Entrance fees to places of interest visited are covered too, as are all shipboard main meals, including Welcome and Farewell Cocktail Parties followed by Gala Dinners.

For more information, contact:

Cruise Traveller, Boutique Voyage and Cruise Specialists

Freecall 1800 507 777 or (07) 5575 8094.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Mediterranean cruise, Barcelona, Rome and Milan from $4899 from Australia

A boat cruise on Italy's Lake Como joins in-depth guided tours of Barcelona, Rome and Milan to add special flair to a new 18-night holiday centred on a 12-night Mediterranean cruise. The price has just been reduced and you can book until the end of March 2016, unless sold out or withdrawn from sale.

The latest exclusive offer from Worldwide Cruise Centres involves a Mediterranean cruise aboard ms Oosterdam, one of Holland America Line's premium Vista-class ships.

Called 'Roman Walls to Northern Lakes' and very competitively priced (starting from A$4899 twin share per person, a reduction of A$100 on the previous price), the holiday lasts 18 nights and includes hotel stays and tours in Barcelona, Rome and Milan (two nights each), as well as the ms Oosterdam cruise.

The Barcelona and Rome tours come complete with special arrangements that skip the queues to some of those cities' best-known attractions. The stay in Milan includes an excursion to the village of Bellagio, with its tiled roofs, stone staircases, cypress groves and lakefront boat moorings. A cruise on Lake Como, against the backdrop of the snow-capped Rhaetian Alps, is the perfect highlight.

The centrepiece of 'Roman Walls to Northern Lakes', the 12-night ms Oosterdam cruise from Barcelona to Rome, visits Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malaga, Alicante, Mallorca, Marseilles, Corsica, Monte Carlo and Livorno, gateway to Florence and Pisa.

'Roman Walls to Northern Lakes' includes flights from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth to Barcelona, returning from Milan.

The holiday departs Australia on 8 July 2016 with a flight to Barcelona, one of Europe's most popular cities, where you'll spend two nights in a four-star hotel.

Full-day sightseeing Barcelona sightseeing, concentrating on artists and historic heritage, includes Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's fabulous cathedral. A special dispensation lets you skip the tourist queues and discover the magnificent interior. See also the elegant Passeig de Gracia, home to the most famous Gaudi houses, Casa Batllo and La Casa Mila.  The Olympic Village, the beach, the Gothic quarter, La Rambla pedestrian mall – all are covered.

Embark now on ms Oosterdam. The ship's centrepiece is a magnificent Waterford crystal globe, prominently displayed in a three-story atrium. ms Oosterdam amenities include The Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine; Greenhouse Spa & Salon; Vista Dining Room, Pinnacle Grill and Vista Show Lounge. All shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) are included.

Ports of call are fabulous. From Moorish-inspired Cadiz, sail to Gibraltar, Britain's Mediterranean outpost, known for its lively troop of Barbary apes. The Spanish seaport of Malaga, one of the world's oldest cities, is where Picasso was born. Bask in the warm, Spanish vibes of Mallorca, then explore shops and cafés of the beachfront Explanada de España at Alicante in sun-soaked Valencia, before sailing on to Marseilles, capital of the South of France. Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon, leads to opulent Monte Carlo on the Riviera and Livorno on the Tyrrhenian Sea, gateway to Florence and Pisa.

Disembarking in Rome, your home for the next two nights (staying in a four-star hotel) you'll see a lot of the city in one day. The tour starts at the Colosseum, where you will skip the queues and learn of gladiators and of the mock sea-battles staged by Nero. Wander the streets and piazzas of the city, taking in sights from the Spanish steps to the Piazza Navona with its Bernini Fountain.

By first-class train now, journey from Rome to Milan. Your two nights in a four-star hotel in Milan include daily breakfast, as with all hotel stays in 'Roman Walls to Northern Lakes'.

From Milan, a day trip to the Italian Lake District visits Lake Como and the village of Bellagio, almost impossibly photogenic. Bellagio has since ancient times been a centre for the production of silk. A walking tour of the city with local guide includes a visit to the Cathedral, with its gothic facade and interior tapestries. A boat cruise sets the seal on a superb day.

Time to explore Milan at your leisure before jetting back home to Australia.

To find your local Worldwide Cruise Centres agent go to:

Monday 7 December 2015

'Big Apple to Big Kahuna': New York, Hawaii and two American cruises

 'The Big Apple to the Big Kahuna' – that's New York and Hawaii. This great 23-night, fly-double-cruise-and-stay holiday offers those two classic American destinations and a lot more: seven-night cruises around New England and Hawaii respectively aboard Norwegian Gem and Pride of America, plus hotel stays and tours.

Like a lot of great adventures, 'The Big Apple to the Big Kahuna' starts in New York.

This cruise-holiday offering, exclusive to Worldwide Cruise Centres (, includes a flight from Sydney to New York. On return, you'll stop in Hawaii.

'The Big Apple to the Big Kahuna' also includes five nights at a three-star hotel in New York City, a seven-night Canada and New England cruise aboard Norwegian Gem (round-trip from New York), a visit to the top of the Empire State Building, four nights accommodation in a three-star hotel in Honolulu's celebrated Waikiki Beach area, the Big Kahuna VIP Luau feast at Honolulu Ridge historic estate, and a seven-night cruise exploration of the Hawaiian Islands aboard Pride of America.

Much more is included, such as ship's gratuities on both cruises, so you can forget about that quaint American custom of shipboard tipping.

'The Big Apple to the Big Kahuna' costs from A$7199 twin-share per-person, valid for sale at that rate until the end of January 2016, unless it sells out earlier.

It gets underway with a flight from Sydney to New York on 1 September 2016.