Friday, 30 November 2012

Oceania Expands Culinary Tours To South Pacific

Oceania Cruises is expanding its Culinary Discovery Tours to the South Pacific in 2013, on the award-winning mid-sized luxury cruise ship Marina. Uniquely designed for each port, Culinary Discovery Tours provide guests with the opportunity to explore local food markets, vineyards and farms in small groups, side-by-side with an expert chef from the ship’s Bon Appétit Culinary Center. Participants then join the chef in the fully equipped cookery school for a hands-on cooking lesson of the regional cuisine in one of 24 workstations.

The new South Pacific Culinary Discovery Tours are offered in the Bay of Islands and Tauranga, New Zealand on the 18-day South Pacific Paradise cruise. Departing Papeete, Tahiti, on February 7, the cruise calls on 11 ports throughout French Polynesia, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia before arriving in New Zealand.

“A Chef-Insider's Food & Wine Feast” Culinary Discovery Tour in the Bay of Islands visits Kerikeri, a horticultural centre and home to Ake Ake winery for a tasting with the head vintner and a meal created from locally grown foods depending on what's fresh that day. Guests might expect a regional dish prepared with seafood from the Bay of Islands, such as Pan-Roasted Snapper with Capsicum Coulis.

The Culinary Discovery Tour in Tauranga, “Maori ‘Kai’ Cooking Demo and Kiwi Fruit,” explores a flourishing kiwi orchard followed by a trip to the lakes of Rotorua for a traditional Maori luncheon featuring native herbs and ingredients used by the indigenous people of New Zealand.

Marina also sails three additional South Pacific voyages with highlights that include overnight calls on Easter Island and Bora Bora, cruising the Tuamotu Archipelago and crossing the international dateline. Additional sailings include:

Ancient Legends – a 20-day holiday sailing between Valparaiso, Chile, and Papeete, visiting Robinson Crusoe Island, Hanga Roa (Chile), Adamstown (Pitcairn Islands) and Fakarava, Moorea and Bora Bora (French Polynesia). Departure: December 27, 2012.

Tahitian Breeze – an 11-day voyage round-trip from Papeete, with visits to Bora Bora and ports in the Marquesas Islands. Departures: January 16 and January 27.

With free air, bonus savings of up to £3,184 per stateroom and free pre-paid gratuities, guests will find exploring the exotic South Pacific with Oceania an extraordinary value. Bonus savings and free pre-paid gratuities are offered on bookings made by December 31.

The Bon Appétit Culinary Center on Oceania's Riviera and Marina features 24 fully equipped workstations. Induction cook-tops and convection ovens afford participants the opportunity to gain a hands-on cooking experience. Classes cater to all levels of aptitude, from beginner to master-chef level.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hurtigruten Launches Camping In Antarctica.

Ever wonder what it’s like to camp in an expedition tent on the frozen landscapes of Antarctica? Dreamed of following in the footsteps of great explorers such as Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott and sleeping on the ice? This winter, Hurtigruten has made possible with an extraordinary new excursion that allows guests on its Antarctica voyages to pitch tents and spend a night like no other.
The excursion is for true adventure seekers who want to indulge their spirit of discovery. In a small group of no more than 15, guests leave the ship behind and are taken ashore where they will set up camp and spend the night, equipped with outdoor equipment specially tailored to the  region, including warm winter sleeping bags and expedition tents. Each tent sleeps two people, making this a once-in-a-lifetime experience for couples and friends alike.
The special trip was developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, in order to guarantee the safety of the guests and the protection of the sensitive local environment. All guests will receive a full briefing before going ashore for the night and all the necessary equipment for the excursion is provided on board Hurtigruten’s expedition ship MS Fram, with two members of the ship's expedition team escorting the group.
After spending the night on the white continent, the group will head back to the ship for a leisurely breakfast. The exact location and day of the camping adventure during the voyage will be determined by the expedition team, depending on the weather and land conditions. This excursion can only be booked on board during an Antarctica voyage and costs from £330pp.

Explore the planet’s last untouched continent on one of the most advanced expedition ships ever built. The voyage through the Drake Passage is during Antarctica’s summer, with its incredible wildlife, including seals, penguins and whales, on full view. The10-day itinerary includes full board on the ship, local charter flights to Ushuaia and lectures. Flight packages from the UK to Buenos Aires are extra and cost from £1,392pp, including transfers and two night’s B&B accommodation in Buenos Aires pre and post-voyage. Departs Ushuaia February 13.

A voyage on November 22, as per above, costs from £3,898pp, with flight packages from £1,692pp.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line, the UK's adventure-cruise specialists.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mövenpick's New Nile Style

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is thrilled to announce new options for travellers wishing to explore the magical River Nile in Egypt. Adding five new Nile cruisers to its fleet - SS Misr, once the royal yacht of Egypt’s former King Farouk; the boutique luxury sail boat Mövenpick SB Feddya; and the long cruise vessel Mövenpick MS Hamees, as well as the Mövenpick MS Darakum and Mövenpick MS Sunray - the Swiss hotel company is now the largest international operator on Egypt’s River Nile, with a total of eight boats.

The SS Misr is undeniably the fleet’s flagship and is the only internationally managed steamship in Egypt. Built in the United Kingdom nearly 100 years ago, it is a ‘floating time capsule’ from the reign of King Farouk, who converted it to his private yacht in 1938 and used it especially for his birthday celebrations.

On-board facilities include a swimming pool on the sun deck with recreation and bar, reading and play rooms, a large restaurant and lounge, bar, gift shop and a clinic to add to the guests’ care and comfort.

The five new vessels all now fly the Mövenpick flag alongside the existing Mövenpick MS Royal Lotus, Mövenpick MS Royal Lily and Lake Nasser cruiser Mövenpick MS Prince Abbas, to give the company an unrivalled variety for travellers looking for that unique blend of Egyptian warmth and hospitality infused with Swiss service and heritage. 

For more on Nile river-cruising, be sure to contact The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury river-cruise experts.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Follow Us To - Hawaii!

Yes, our latest cruise adventure is a big one - all the way to Hawaii with Norwegian Cruise Line and Virgin Holidays. We will be heading to the Aloha Isles this weekend and taking a full 7-day cruise on the Pride of America around the four main islands, Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai.

And, of course, we will be blogging 'live' (Internet connection permitting) as we go, providing some great insight into this exotic part of the world and the unique Cruise Norwegian style (home of Freestyle Cruising, of course).

We fly out to Honolulu and have a night at the deluxe Modern Honolulu Resort on Waikiki Beach before boarding the 2,000-passenger ship the next day, heading out for a full week's Hawaiian voyaging. We have an overnight call at Kahului on Maui, giving two days to explore this island, then have two different ports of call on the Big Island, Hilo and Kona.

Finally, we head for the Garden Island of Kauai, where we have another overnight stay in Nawiliwili, ensuring we get full value for our visit there (where the fabled Waimea Canyon is one of the main attractions).

We return to Honolulu on the final day but our adventure doesn't stop there - oh no! We have a day and a night to enjoy the highly-rated Kahala Resort (complete with its resident dolphins) and then two nights to check out the brand new Disney's Aulani Resort, thus ensuring we get plenty of time to explore Oahu AND kick back at two of the island's finest hotels.

It is sure to be a great trip, with lots of eye-catching photos - and even more reasons to book a cruise! So stay tuned and be sure to Follow us here at Time Spent at Sea (and on Twitter at @WorldofCruising), and make sure your subscription is fully up-to-date for our Winter edition - featuring Hawaii!

Now Booking - Galapagos With Silversea!

Luxury expedition cruise specialist Silversea has opened the books for its 2013 and 2014 Galápagos programme.

Its year-round schedule of 7-day expedition voyages aboard the 100-guest, all-suite Silver Galapagos will begin operating in late September 2013. The two voyages will be as follows:

Western Itinerary: Saturday to Saturday, round-trip from Baltra Island 
Silver Galapagos will trace a path across the western, southern and eastern islands, including Santiago, Bartolomé, Isabela, Fernandina, Floreana, San Cristóbal, and Santa Cruz.

North Central Itinerary: Saturday to Saturday, round-trip from Baltra Island
Silver Galapagos will encompass the north-east, central and south-east islands of Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Seymour Norte, San Cristóbal, Española, and Plazas Sur.

Fares start at £3,550 per person, based on double occupancy.

This new schedule will offer adventurous travellers the chance to discover a wild, pristine paradise that has long been regarded as a natural laboratory of evolution. Through complimentary expeditions, guided by an experienced expedition team (certified by the Galápagos National Park Service), Silversea guests will be able to experience up-close encounters with an abundance of wildlife including sun-basking land iguanas, giant tortoises, blue and red-footed boobies, colourful marine iguanas, sea lions, penguins and Darwin's famous finches.

The programme will also offer the opportunity to swim and snorkel in tranquil clear waters, witness unique highland ecosystems, hike through lush mangrove forests and across volcanic fields, explore natural lava tunnels, watch for wild flamingos (in season), read cave inscriptions from the 1800s, and learn about conservation efforts at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

In true Silversea Expeditions style, guests of Silver Galapagos will enjoy full-scale exploring from an enclave of luxury at sea, including spacious, ocean-view suites, gourmet cuisine, butler service and a selection of all-inclusive shipboard amenities such as complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship and all gratuities.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line, Ltd, the UK's luxury adventure-cruising specialists.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Grab A Fab New Year Bargain With Seabourn

Small ship luxury cruise line Seabourn is offering some great value cruises in the New Year with 7-day cruises from just £1,615 per person, perfect for exploring some of the Caribbean’s hottest destinations or even the cultural wonders of Arabia and Eygpt.

Take your pick from:

7-day Caribbean Hideaways – Seabourn Legend
Departures: Jan 26, Feb 2, Feb 9
Route: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands, round-trip
Ports of Call: Marigot, St. Martin; St. John's, Antigua; Terre-de-Haut, Guadeloupe; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Prickly Pear Island, BVI; Gustavia (St. Barts).
Prices from £1,615pp per person, based on an Ocean View Grade Suite.

18-day Wonders of Arabia and Egypt – Seabourn Pride
Departure Dates: April 5
Route: Dubai to Athens
Ports of CallKhasab, Oman; Salalah, Oman; Safaga, Egypt; Aqaba (for Petra), Jordan; Sharm el Sheik, Egypt; Sohkna (Cairo), Egypt; Enter Suez Canal at Suez; Daylight transit Suez Canal; Exit Suez Canal at Port Said; Piraeus (Athens).
Prices start from £2,499 per person, based on an Ocean View Grade Suite.

Prices are per person and based on two people sharing a suite, fully inclusive of all tips and gratuities, fine dining, open bars and fully stocked mini-bar.

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Mississippi Cruise - Epilogue

Concluding our recent - and hugely enjoyably - cruise along the Mississippi with American Cruise Lines on their new Queen of the Mississippi riverboat...

Now we're home again, it's good to look back on the 7-day trip and pick out some of our highlights from the journey, which is certainly an extremely different experience from anything else we've done cruise-wise.

Sailing down the sluggish river to the cheerful sound of the calliope is definitely one of those unique moments, while the sheer camaraderie and conviviality of the whole voyage really stands out.

The slow-paced nature of the journey was highlighted by a series of low-key, if quite charming, ports of call. Alton, Cape Girardeau and Paducah were all well worth a day's visit, but Columbus and New Madrid could easily have been combined, or missed out altogether, as they were barely a two-hour diversion.

On board, the new Queen of the Mississippi is absolutely charming, a modern reinterpretation on the classic river steamers of the past. Cabin space is excellent and the public rooms all a joy to spend time if, if lacking in the one large entertainment Saloon that boats of the past boasted.

The food was unfailingly excellent; a tad below five star but always appetising and well-presented and features like the soups and sandwiches were real stand-outs. The offering of half-portions at both lunch and dinner was also appreciated, as it's easy to over-eat in these slow, sedentary situations. The small on-deck exercise area did provide a bit of relief in this aspect, though!

The provision of free tea, coffee and snack stations in the public rooms was very notable and another highly pleasant feature. Certainly no-one went hungry and the ability to get a good-quality espresso or latte whenever required was much appreciated in these days of some cruise lines charging for small-scale incidentals (as was the free wi-fi throughout the vessel).

Service was unfailingly friendly and efficient, if lacking in a little polish with their lunch and dinner service. The young American staff are all bright and personable, but a little schooling on the proper way to serve formal meals (and not taking away unfinished plates!) would be a good idea.

The voyage was certainly a journey through small-time America, showcased at either end by the cities of St Louis and Memphis, and benefitting hugely from finishing in the Tennessee music setting. The shore excursions were all well thought out and well priced (from just $15-$65) and the provision of free shuttles at many points was definitely welcome.

And the presence of the onboard 'Riverlorian' was a master-stroke in terms of providing the necessary educational and informational content of the cruise, making the journey one of gentle learning and discovery in truly delightful surroundings.

Having never sailed with American Cruise Lines before, it was an absolute pleasure being in their company and, with so many other voyages around the country on offer - notably to Alaska and along the Snake and Columbia Rivers in the north-west - there is certainly much more to explore in future.

And I think we may well do that...

Simon Veness

Saga Sapphire’s 2013 Epic Journeys To The sun

You have to love a good, flowery PR intro - and this is one of the best, from Saga Cruises....

As long as man has existed, he has been drawn to the different seasons as the earth revolves around the sun and the phenomena which surround this celestial sphere. As the latest jewel in Saga’s fleet, Saga Sapphire will shine brightly next year as she travels to destinations where the sun and earth come together in an incredible spectacle of nature, or where the warmth of the sun is sure to delight sun worshippers.

In search of the Northern Lights
- Watch nature’s own theatre unfold above you
Seeing the aurora borealis is a jaw-dropping and mystical moment. This extraordinary voyage to the far reaches of Norway passes through Viking heartland and across the Arctic Circle. Along the way, passengers can explore Norway’s picture-perfect scenes of remote villages, majestic glaciers and peaceful fjords. A selection of optional winter activities include dog sledding, snowmobile safari and an overnight stay at the Alta Igloo Hotel, which is made entirely from ice and snow – even the beds!
A few Superior Cabins are still available on this very special trip, which departs March 12, for 16 nights. Prices start from £5,519 per person.

Land of the Midnight Sun
- Head North to the Arctic for the ethereal glow of the night time sun
This unforgettable journey unveils the awe-inspiring landscapes of the Arctic Circle as passengers sail far north to the ‘top of the world’. In Norway, gaze upon sparkling fjords, waterfalls, glaciers and mountains then explore the country’s most captivating cities and fishing towns. A highlight of the trip is the journey along the ice barrier besides spellbinding glacial scenery to Magdalena Bay, one of the most remote ports in the world. Find blue ice packs towering like icy skyscrapers as you travel as far north as you can without an icebreaker. Passengers and crew will be on the lookout for walrus, Arctic fox, reindeer and bowhead whales. 
Cruise departs on June 19, for 15 nights, and prices start from £2,671 per person.

Africa and the Solar Eclipse
- A journey of epic proportions to 0°latitude and 0°longitude
Join the voyage of a lifetime as Saga Sapphire navigates the coastlines of Spain and Africa to view a phenomenon which occurs only once every 19 years. This total eclipse will be special as it will cross both the Equator and the Greenwich Meridian at 0°latitude and 0°longitude. On November 3, the Captain will position the ship for passengers to witness a hybrid eclipse of the sun. From this incredible vantage point (weather permitting), guests will observe in awe as the sun shrinks from view, giving a new meaning to “sun-downer” cocktails on deck.
Departing October 18 for a 28-night voyage, prices start from £4,292 per person.

For bookings, don't forget to contact The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's cruising specialists, on 0800 008 6677.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

More Great Offers From Regent

Luxury all-inclusive line Regent Seven Seas send in some great periodical special offers and here's another selection that should definitely be worth perusing.

Take your pick from:
Eastern Caribbean – Miami round-trip 
Seven Seas Navigator, 10 nights, sailing Jan 27, Feb 26, Mar 22; now priced from £2,999 pp (based on two people sharing an H category suite). Highlights: Miami, Nassau, San Juan, St Barts, Antigua, St Lucia, St Maarten, Miami. Also with up to 37 FREE excursions. 

Western Caribbean – Miami round-trip
Seven Seas Navigator, 10 nights, sailing Apr 1; now priced from £2,999pp. Highlights: Miami, Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize City, Santo Tomas, Roatan, Costa Maya, Miami. Also with up to 56 FREE excursions. 

Rome to Barcelona
Seven Seas Mariner, 7 nights, May 15; now priced from £2,099pp. Highlights: Rome, Florence/Pisa, Portofino, Monte Carlo, St Tropez, Marseille, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona, also with up to 52 FREE excursions.

Vancouver to Vancouver
Seven Seas Navigator, 7 nights, May 22; now priced from £2,299pp. Highlights: Vancouver, Wrangell, Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Cruise the Inside Passage, Vancouver, also with up to 57 FREE excursions.

Vancouver to Seward
Seven Seas Navigator, 7 nights, June 12; now priced from £2,699pp. Highlights: Vancouver, Cruise the Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Cruise Hubbard Glacier, also with up to 41 FREE excursions.

Copenhagen to Stockholm
Seven Seas Voyager, 7 nights, July 18; now priced from £2,299pp. Highlights: Copenhagen, Berlin, Tallinn, St Petersburg (overnight), Helsinki, Stockholm, also with up to 39 FREE excursions.

All cruises include FREE flights and transfers, 1-night pre-cruise Luxury Hotel Package, unlimited shore excursions on every cruise and all-inclusive onboard, with fine dining, premium spirits and fine wines, gratuities and entertainment.

For bookings, follow this link to the Cruise Line, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Friday, 23 November 2012

St Petersburg, Venice & A Total Eclipse With Star Clippers

Tall-ship specialist Star Clippers has launched its 2013/14 brochure, showcasing romantic and exciting sailing voyages in the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Central America on the line’s three head-turning sailing ships, Star Clipper, Star Flyer and Royal Clipper

The schedule features St Petersburg in Russia, the classic port of Venice and even a total eclipse of the sun in November, 2013.

Baltic Cruises on Star Flyer
Star Flyer will offer a wide variety of cruises in the Baltic, varying from a three-day taster voyage for the Hamburg Sailing Parade, a spectacular gathering of tall ships, to a 13-night Grand Voyage, from Hamburg to Stockholm, taking in unusual ports around Sweden’s beautiful southern coast. There will be also be six 10 and 11-night round-trip voyages from Stockholm, via St Petersburg, where the ship overnights. 

Prices: from £702pp, cruise-only, for a four-night Northern Europe sample cruise on August 24, Hamburg to Texel (Netherlands), Ijmuiden and Ostend. Or, for a longer, flight-inclusive stay, sail round-trip from Stockholm on July 8 from £2,799pp, including flights, transfers, two nights in a four-star city centre hotel, a Stockholm Pass and 11 nights’ full board on Star Flyer, which sails to St Petersburg for an overnight in port. 

For the second half of the 2013/14 winter season, Star Flyer will reposition to Cuba to offer a series of seven-night cruises from the historic southern town of Cienfueguos, calling at Trinidad, Cayo Largo, Archipielago de los Canarreos and the Cayman Islands.  

Prices: from £1,305, cruise-only, round-trip from Cienfuegos, departing February 16, 2014.

Mediterranean Cruises on Royal Clipper
The 227-passenger Royal Clipper will sail an assortment of western Mediterranean cruises, with a series of seven-night round-trip Rome cruises in May, June and October, calling at romantic and beautiful ports on the Italian mainland as well as Sicily and the Aeolian Islands. In late June, July and August, the ship will operate 10 and 11-night cruises between Rome and Venice, followed by four new round-trip Venice sailings in September, calling at ports in Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia.  

Prices: from £619pp, cruise-only, for a three-night taster cruise from Venice to Rovinj, Croatia and Piran, Slovenia, departing September 4. 

Royal Clipper winters in the warm Caribbean, alternating between Windward Islands and Grenadine Islands itineraries from her base in Barbados

Prices: from £1,105pp, cruise only, for seven nights, round-trip Bridgetown, departing December 7 and calling at St Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts, Iles des Saintes and Martinique. 

Transatlantic voyages – and a Total Eclipse
All three ships offer transatlantic crossings as they move from one cruising area to the other each season. These represent a chance to escape the stresses of daily life and to commune with the sea and the stars, to read and to mingle with fellow travellers. Take the Westbound crossing on Star Flyer on October 26 from Las Palmas to Barbados for a good chance to viewing the Total Solar Eclipse on November 3, which will be visible in the north Atlantic.  

Prices: from £822pp, cruise-only, 15 nights. 

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Welcome, Cruise Guy!

World of Cruising magazine is excited and proud to welcome aboard (or welcome back!) Stewart Chiron as our latest special guest contributor, starting with our Winter edition next month.

Stewart, better known on TV and Radio as The Cruise Guy, is a long-time cruise expert and proponent, dating back more than 20 years. He is one of the world's most-quoted cruise aficionados and is frequently called up by the major News channels for all things to do with cruising and cruise ships.

He's a regular contributor on trends and deals for leading news organizations, like ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, WGN, Good Morning America, CNBC, Travel Channel and CNN. He appears in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Huffington Post, and The Miami Herald

He is also quoted in magazines like Money, Newsweek, Family Circle, Smart Money, Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Tom Parsons' Best Fares, and Frommer's Budget Travel. And, from our new Winter edition, he will feature in World of Cruising as well!

Stewart (left, with Love Boat skipper Gavin MacLeod) was actually involved in the early days of the magazine 15 years ago and continues to be a great source of information and insight, hence The Cruise Guy column will be a lively, chatty place to get his opinion on the latest news of the day and learn even more about this fascinating business as he frequently rubs shoulder with the movers and shakers throughout the industry.

He says: "As a founding member of World of Cruising Magazine, I’m excited to be back on-board, sharing the inside track with some of the most informed, discerning cruise readers in the world. Brand new ship deliveries are slowing down, so stay-tuned as cruise industry tries to keep us stimulated."

It is just another reason to make sure you have your subscription up to date - and be ready for the next edition of the world's leading cruise publication. 

New Solo Fares From Crystal

Deluxe all-inclusive specialists Crystal Cruises are offering exceptionally low single occupancy fares on an increased number of cruises to more destinations in 2013. 

Solo travellers now have a choice of a different worldwide cruise in almost every month from April to November, with single supplements from just 10 per cent. That means travellers can save as much as £500 on a private, deluxe outside stateroom on 10 varied cruises of seven to 18 nights. 

This offer applies to all new bookings made by December 31 for the following 2013 cruises in a deluxe stateroom with picture window:

  • 12th April: Kobe to Vancouver – 18 nights for £4,042 cruise only 
  • 9th May: Rome to Istanbul – 9 nights for £2,966 fly/cruise 
  • 23rd May 23: New York to Reykjavik – 12 nights for £4,267 fly/cruise 
  • 25th June: Stockholm to Copenhagen – 10 nights for £4,013 fly/cruise 
  • 6th July: Istanbul to Rome – 7 nights for £2,485 fly/cruise 
  • 20th July: Stockholm to Copenhagen – 10 nights for £4,010 fly/cruise 
  • 30th July: Copenhagen to Stockholm – 10 nights for £4,010 fly/cruise 
  • 2nd September: Dover to Barcelona – 9 nights for £3,141 fly/cruise 
  • 2nd November: Rome to Lisbon – 13 nights for £3,745 fly/cruise 
  • 23rd November: Miami to Rio de Janeiro – 16 nights for £4,209 fly/cruise

For bookings, follow this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury cruising specialists.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Along The Mississippi - Part 8

Concluding our magical journey along the Mississippi on the new Queen of America of American Cruise Lines. Final stop, Memphis...

It isn't quite our final morning on the river but we are due to sail into our final port of call at 11am today, Memphis, Tennessee, the end of our 414-mile journey from St Louis, which has been so captivating and different almost every mile of the way.

After the usual cheery breakfast in the Dining Salon, Riverlorian Jim provides an outline view of The River City and Memphis itself hoves into sight by 10am on a glorious autumn morning. Sadly, with the river level rather low, we have to moor upstream at Mud Island rather than in the heart of the city itself, so it's not quite walkable distance. But, ACL have laid on buses to take everyone into the downtown area, and we take advantage of the 15-minute ride to get our first view of the home of Elvis and BB King.

Happily, the bus drops everyone off at the main entrance to Beale St, the heart of Memphis' music district, and we are immediately wowed by the sense of history and sheer musical style of the place. Sadly, we don't have time to try any of the cafe's - and the Memphis ribs - but we do spend some time looking through the great music shops and the famous Schwab's general store, as well as a few other stores.

We get several great recommendations for live music and make a promise to return here when we have a LOT more time to spare. Just the sounds coming from the Memphis Music store are enough to whet our musical appetites and this is clearly THE place to be in the evening.

For now, we have an afternoon city tour and trip to Graceland booked, so we need to catch the bus back to the Queen at mid-day. It is our final lunch on board, but a memorable one, with a main choice of Herb Marinated Chicken Caesar Salad or a Grilled Reuben Sandwich, both of which hit the spot for us. Then it's off to Elvisville...

We weren't quite sure what we'd make of the home of one of the world's most iconic musicians. Neither of us have ever been Elvis fans and, apart from knowing something of his story, we were relatively ignorant of his Memphis roots. Which is probably why Graceland (the mansion itself, rather than the rather tacky array of attractions and gift shops around it) was such a compelling visit.

We really did gain a useful perspective on the young musician's life and, while it completely glossed over his later years, it was a compelling, as well as quite haunting, perspective. We had around two hours of the three-hour tour here but we could have done with at least another half-hour to see a bit more. Needless to say, true Elvis fans will probably need all day!

Back aboard, it was time for one last Cocktail Hour with our favourite staff, Elizabeth and Theo, pouring the drinks, and then off to dinner with a table-full of our favourite companions from the week. Tonight's speciality was Surf & Turf, with beef tenderloin and lobster tail, and it again lived up to the fairly high standards we'd come to expect of the Galley (along with another great soup course).

Happily, The Mills Brothers (or the new version, at least) were back for another encore performance in the Magnolia Lounge, and this seemed to provide an extremely fitting conclusion to the week - a touch of nostalgia and touch in fairly gentle fashion.      

Tomorrow morning we just have time for breakfast, then it's off to the airport at 8.30am for the flight home, but we will be taking some great memories with us, and a real thirst to see more of this kind of river-cruising in future.

Next up - Mississippi epilogue. 

The Magic Of Papua New Guinea With Orion

Orion Expedition Cruises’ award-winning voyage to Papua New Guinea has two departures next year, providing the most rewarding and civilised way to see this fascinating part of the world. The itineraries commence and conclude in Cairns, Queensland, seamlessly incorporating a charter flight direct to or from the ship in Rabaul for boarding or disembarkation.

Bypassing the main towns, as Orion does, many villagers have only been exposed to the modern world through the workings of missionaries and occasional traders. Yet step ashore with members of the ship's specialist expedition team and you will be greeted with broad smiles and warm welcomes from gentle villagers – an eye-opening introduction to a way of life far removed from our Western world.

On these deluxe Orion voyages, guests encounter primitive tribal cultures (and perhaps purchase superb indigenous artwork and carvings), see unique flora and fauna and enjoy snorkelling and fishing in warm indigo and cobalt blue waters, home to some the world’s most prolific marine and coral life.

The 11-night Papua New Guinea Cultural Highlights voyage departs on March 16 and 17 and travels between Rabaul and Cairns, visiting the Sepik River, Watam Village, Madang, Tami Islands, Tufi, Kitava, Samarai and Kwato Island and Alotau. 

Book by November 30 and save £1,750 per person, with prices from £5,635, including 11 nights onboard Orion, all meals, entertainment and educational programmes, use of the ship’s sporting equipment and facilities, Zodiac excursions, port and handling charges, tender transfers, government fees and taxes and free charter flight between Rabaul and Cairns. 

For bookings, follow this link to the Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury adventure-cruise specialists.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tauck's Rhone Revels

Tauck's fabulous new 'A Taste of France' river cruise on the River Rhone celebrates and explores the rich culinary traditions of the country and offers a novel way to appreciate the local food and wine.  

The 10-day itinerary begins in 2013 and starts with a two-night hotel stay and exploration of local food culture in Paris, followed by a seven-night cruise through the Rhone Valley aboard Tauck’s exclusive MS Swiss Emerald riverboat. 

It opens with guided culinary-themed sightseeing in Paris and a two-night stay at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe. Guests will enjoy a Tauck-exclusive, hands-on introduction to French sauces with a tasting at the new Alain Ducasse culinary school, Ecole de Cuisine. They will also attend a workshop and blind tastings highlighting “The Joy of Chocolate” led by Chloe Doutre-Roussel, author of “The Chocolate Connoisseur,” and visit the former haunts of chef Julia Child and learn about contemporary Parisian life during a walking tour of the Left Bank.

Other culinary-themed experiences include:

  • A market visit in Provence with local chefs, who will buy ingredients and prepare regional specialties for tasting, such as tapenade, anchoiade and stuffed tomatoes Provencale.
  • A visit to Lyon’s famous market, Les Halles, with tastings of local meats and cheeses.
  • A memorable Provencal evening featuring dinner, local wines and entertainment in the shadow of Pont du Gard, the incredible Roman aqueduct.
  • A wine tasting in Beaujolais.
  • A demonstration of French culinary techniques at a cooking school operated by a three-star Michelin chef. 

Included in the $5,390 price per person (double occupancy basis) are all sightseeing, activities and shore excursions, two nights' hotel accommodations in Paris, all gratuities, complimentary wine with onboard meals, all taxes and port charges, airport transfers and luggage handling.

The stylish Swiss Sapphire was launched in 2006 and recently enhanced with new décor and other improvements. As with Tauck’s other riverboats, she accommodates just 118 guests to ensure a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, compared to other lines that accommodate up to 160 passengers on ships of a similar size. 

For more info, follow
this link to The Cruise Line Ltd, the UK's luxury river-cruise specialists.