ISSUE 53 SPRING 2017
The sky’s the limit
Viking Cruises’ newest ship Viking Sky
The perfect antidote to crowds and queues
Dr amatic polar encounters Cruising heats up in the world’s coldest places
PRESENTED WITH THE COMPLIMENTS OF:
New ship National Geographic Quest will cruise Alaska and Central America
Over five decades at the forefront of adventure travel, and Lindblad continues to lead. WORDS: RODERICK EIME
hen anyone mentions adventure and expedition cruising, the first name to come to mind is invariably Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic. Regarded by the travel industry as the modern pioneers of expedition cruising, the New York-based company celebrated 50 years since its groundbreaking first tourist cruise to Antarctica. Since then, Lindblad has partnered 8 SPRING 2017
with the National Geographic Society (from 2004) and expanded its operations to 13 ships and dozens of unique itineraries in every corner of the globe. The stalwart cruise line, among the best expedition leaders in the business, has always boasted adventurous itineraries and industryleading enrichment programs. So much so that when any new contender enters the realm of expedition cruising, Lindblad is the benchmark by which it needs to measure itself. In 2013, Lindblad acquired the Orion Expedition Cruises along with luxury vessel National Geographic Orion. Built in Germany in 2003, it became the newest vessel in the
fleet at the time. Since then, the 2005-built National Geographic Endeavour II has been acquired for full-time Galapagos duties. Each accommodates around 100 guests only. Just this year, Lindblad proudly launched the first of its two newbuild vessels in many years, with National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture set to replace the much-loved pair of National Geographic Sea Bird and National Geographic Sea Lion on itineraries in Alaska and Central America. Built at the same US shipyard as the vessels they will replace, the identical pair will also accommodate 100 guests (up from 62) as well as introduce greater comfort and more
The Observation Deck provides the best view of each sunset
Cruise Line Profile | FROM THE BRIDGE
Guests can hike in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica
The onboard lounge makes the most of the view
Spot the endangered scarlet macaw
amenities. Six sets of cabins will be connected, allowing families and groups to mingle in private, while a designated mudroom is added for expedition gear. Based on decades of experience, all Lindblad vessels are designed for exploration and guest enrichment and as such come equipped with all the goods for making this happen. There are Zodiacs, kayaks, paddleboards, snorkelling equipment, and even underwater video cameras and hydrophones— all of which enhance guests’ understanding and knowledge of the delicate environments in which they travel.
The ‘clean slate’ design of Lindblad’s two new ships means the many lessons learned over the year, and the many years of feedback from delighted guests, have been applied to the construction. Cabins range in size from 13–17 square metres across five categories and three decks. Step-out balconies are available in 22 of the 50 larger cabins, along with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors for superb viewing and lots of natural light. Dining on National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture will follow the same format with a large, single-sitting,
Based on decades of experience, all Lindblad vessels are designed for exploration and guest enrichment and as such come equipped with all the goods for making this happen.
unreserved space where you can share a meal with expedition leaders and gain some bonus insights. As onboard all Lindblad ships, food is consistently fresh, healthy and delicious, made from locally sourced and sustainable ingredients wherever possible. Weather permitting, some meals will be served on the expanded sundeck. These two new vessels herald an exciting growth phase for Lindblad - National Geographic and will prove to be an exciting addition to the fleet. They’ll be sure to attract—and retain—a whole new genre of travellers who have come to expect a splash of luxury with their expedition. Additionally, National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture will takeover the popular expedition cruising grounds of Alaska and Central America. Costa Rica features high on the list of nature lovers and scientists > SPRING 2017 9
THERE’S NO TIME TO BE BORED
in a world as beautiful as this. The world is a stunning work of art, and on your Uniworld cruise, you’ll experience the picture-perfect highlights while traveling onboard our unique boutique ships. With more than 80 Exclusive Excursions, ultra-inclusive amenities, and the most professionally trained staff on the rivers, it’s no wonder we’ve earned the distinction of the most awarded luxury river cruise line ever.
Cruise Line Profile | FROM THE BRIDGE
Many cabins on National Geographic Quest and National Geographic Venture feature floor-to-ceiling sliding doors
Specialist guides make the experience even better
Keep an eye out for whiteheaded capuchin monkeys
Thinking travellers and students come from all around the world to see rare flora and fauna like birds, monkeys, sloths, big cats, amphibians and even insects. Watch the red-capped manakin perform its mating dance
because the little republic has a strong environmental record and a stable government that understands the value of sustainable tourism. Thinking travellers and students come from all around the world to see rare flora and fauna like birds, monkeys, sloths, big cats, amphibians and even insects. Lindblad’s 7-night Costa Rica and the Panama Canal itineraries run annually from November to March, transiting the famous 80-kilometre technological achievement that links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. From there the ship voyages to Costa Rica where the tiny, but renowned, Manuel Antonio National Park awaits with 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds.
Upon arrival at the remote Osa Peninsula, National Geographic Quest anchors and guests go ashore to explore the much larger Corcovado National Park where horseback riding, hiking, swimming and animal spotting occupy the day. The park is Costa Rica’s jewel as much for its beautiful scenery as natural preservation. National Geographic described it as “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity”. Furthermore, within the park is the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline—a rare sight anywhere in the world, let alone Latin America. Guests will quickly understand why this vanguard adventure travel company has earned and maintained its enviable reputation. n
CRUISE ITINERARY Lindblad Expeditions - National Geographic’s 7-night Costa Rica and the Panama Canal cruise from Panama City to San José on National Geographic Quest departs January 6, 2018. Ports of call include Panama City, Colón, Gatun Lake, Panama Canal, Coiba Island, Golfo Dulce, Manuel Antonio National Park and Herradura. Fares start from AU$8,240 per person, twin share.
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OrientCALLS Asia is now the fastest-growing cruise region in the world, which is great news for cruise-hungry Australians looking for new experiences. WORDS: RODERICK EIME
he mystique of ‘the Orient’ has bewitched seafarers for centuries. The ancient, exotic cultures, tastes, smells and spirituality has enticed Western adventurers since the time of Magellan and Da Gama, and the landscape and people have inspired poets and storytellers from Rudyard Kipling to George Orwell. Intoxicating and mesmerising, it’s no wonder that the world’s premier cruise lines are being drawn into the region’s balmy embrace. Since 2013, the number of Asian port calls has doubled, demonstrating both guest and cruise line desires, and world-class infrastructure is being built to accommodate the growing demand. In the last few years alone, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai have introduced space-age terminals exclusively for cruising as they battle it out for the lion’s share of the cruise ship visits. Other top-ranking ports in Asia include Jeju Island and Busan in South Korea, Taipei in Taiwan, Da Nang in Vietnam and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. This virtual explosion of cruise tourism throughout Asia, driven in part by the growing financial freedom of the Chinese, has created a whole new world of possibilities for Australians looking beyond the commonplace South Pacific and Mediterranean offerings. Spurred on by this new interest, 60 ships from 31 cruise lines, such as Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean are just some of the heavy-hitters sending their ships down our way to connect us with Asia. What’s more, Asia’s regional cruise lines—many of which began as floating casinos overnighting at sea—are now cruising more 24 SPRING 2017
Experience a traditional tea ceremony in Japan
Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki offer culture and reflection, while Osaka is considered a culinary, shopping and entertainment capital. conventional itineraries with shore excursions conducted to familiar formats. Hong Kong’s Star Cruises is a good example of this. As a destination, Japan has always led the region in terms of port calls; Fukuoka (aka Hakata) is the most popular, closely followed by Naha, Okinawa.
Most port calls in Japan are by ships making ‘transit calls’ as part of an existing itinerary rather than start or finish ports, which means that the ships are coming and going regularly, moving from port to port around the many scenic locations of Japan. Of all the countries in Asia, Japan presents arguably the widest choice for shore excursions, and with good reason. As anyone who has been to Japan will tell you, it is among the safest countries in the world to travel. Public transport and civic infrastructure work with meticulous precision, the streets are immaculately clean and petty crime is almost unheard of. For the first-time visitor, any port or city in Japan is a dazzling experience. Despite their tragic 20th-century histories, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki offer culture and reflection, while Osaka is considered a culinary, shopping and entertainment capital, and it is the gateway to the UNESCO-listed city of Kyoto, mercifully spared destruction during World War II. Fukuoka is Japan’s busiest cruise port with sights such as Fukuoka Tower and scenic Ohori Park as well as the Tenmangu Shrines. Kobe, another historic international city, has a superb maritime museum right on the wharf. Apart from Japan, it seems that both local and international cruisers have their hearts set on China, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia in the main, while lesser ports such as Yangon, Colombo and Phuket are gaining popularity, especially with small and mid-size cruise ships. Given that the majority of the current cruise itineraries in Asia are 7-day ‘snapshots’, the opportunity to join a comprehensive, 19-night cruise in and out of Tokyo on Princess Cruises’ > Diamond Princess is one to shortlist.
Cruise Region Focus | FROM THE BRIDGE
Cherry blossom season is magical SPRING 2017 25
FROM THE BRIDGE | Cruise Region Focus Nebuta festival lanterns light up Aomori
Busan’s beautiful Haedong Yonggungsa temple
Diamond Princess cruises Japan
Experience the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing in Tokyo
Since 2013, the number of Asian port calls has doubled, demonstrating both guest and cruise line desires. On this itinerary, Diamond Princess circles around Japan, doubling back on interesting ports like Aomori and Tokyo, and swings west to visit Vladivostock in Russia and Busan in South Korea. This time of year Aomori’s iconic Nebuta festival will be in full swing and giant washi paper lanterns, often created in the shape of mythological figures, will parade the streets each evening. Purchase a traditional dancing costume from one of the local shops to join in the festivities! After cruising onwards to Tokyo and Akita, Diamond Princess returns to Aomori for the final day of the festival, when a two-hour-long fireworks display lights up the waterfront. 26 SPRING 2017
In Sakaiminato, make your way to the observation room at the top of Yumeminato Tower for magnificent 360-degree views. Seafood lovers will enjoy a walk through nearby Sakaiminato Fish Centre, renowned for its large hauls of crab and maguro tuna. Back in Tokyo, it’s a thrill to go shopping in one of the distinctly themed neighbourhoods, like Akihabara where you can indulge your inner geek with gadgets, manga and J-Pop culture. This 19-night exploration of Japanese culture and folklore, with side serves of Russia and South Korea, is a standout itinerary in every sense. But it’s just one of many excellent cruises on offer in Asia today. There’s sure to be many more to come. n
CRUISE ITINERARY Get a taste of Japan on Princess Cruises’ 19-night Grand Japan with Nebuta & Summer Festivals return cruise on Diamond Princess, departing Tokyo on July 27, 2018. Ports of call include Hakodate, Vladivostok (Russia), Aomori, Akita, Sakaiminato, Busan (South Korea), Kochi and Tokushima. Cruiseco’s package fares start from AU$5,690* per person, twin share and include return International Economy Class airfare from Australia to Tokyo; a 2-night pre-cruise stay at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo, including breakfast; and port charges, fees and taxes. * Subject to availability at time of booking. Book with a Cruiseco travel agent by November 30, 2017 to receive an exclusive US$300 bonus onboard credit pe
A MOST UNCOMMON
With one of the biggest small ship fleets in the business, UnCruise Adventures offers the perfect antidote to crowds and queues—as well as amazing destinations. WORDS: RODERICK EIME
he peculiar company name of UnCruise Adventures came about when owner and founder of the small ship cruise line, Dan Blanchard, wanted to express a way to separate his particular philosophy of cruising from the vast fleet of massive liners crowding the waterways around his primary area of operation, Alaska. The purpose is, as he puts it, “to break away from the masses ... to engage, connect, and explore unique places, oneself, and with others on a most uncommon adventure.” Positioning himself and his company as something of a maverick, Blanchard has, like so many others, nevertheless followed the lead of industry veterans like Lindblad with
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small ship, inspirational voyages in regions like Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Sea of Cortés, Central America and Hawaii. With a heritage reaching back to 1996 under the name of American Safari Cruises, then InnerSea Discoveries and finally UnCruise, the small ship line has gradually expanded its fleet to eight vessels, many picked in the closure of Cruise West in 2010. Guest numbers range from 22 (Safari Quest) to 88 (SS Legacy) across the fleet with all vessels offering inclusive alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, meals and excursions. Most ships also offer massage and wellness services, fitness equipment and watersport kit like paddleboards, snorkels and kayaks.
One of the standout ships is certainly the SS Legacy, built as a replica of a century-old coastal and river steamship reminiscent of the pioneering era. You could easily imagine James Garner in a big Stetson playing cards and smoking a cigar at any of the tables in the dining room or lounge, typified by ornate wood panelling and period furnishings. The universal theme on board all UnCruise ships is a convivial, relaxed atmosphere with personalised and attentive crew. Forget formalities and kick back in comfy clothes suitable to the conditions. You’ll quickly find all guests are onboard for the same purpose, namely to learn and discover all about the marvellous environment in which you’re cruising.
UnCruise Adventures cruise in tune with the environment
Small Ship | FROM THE BRIDGE Explore Princess Louisa Inlet by kayak
The universal theme on board all UnCruise ships is a convivial, relaxed atmosphere with personalised and attentive crew.
FACT FILE Enjoy meals with a view on Safari Quest
Whether it’s the ancient Polynesian culture of Hawaii, the primary rainforest of Costa Rica or the incredible grey whales of Baja California, these astonishing discoveries will enrich and uplift everyone onboard.
British Columbia’s Yachters’ Paradise, Seattle return cruise Compared to a cruise onboard one of the big ships, the compact Safari Quest is like being on a week-long shore excursion in your own private superyacht with close friends or family. On UnCruise Adventure’s 7-night British Columbia’s Yachters’ Paradise return cruise from Seattle, Washington a maximum of 22 guests will selfishly explore the tiny alcoves
and waterways of British Columbia and the Strait of Georgia, investigating Princess Louisa Inlet by kayak and hiking to scenic Chatterbox Falls, all the while keeping an eye out for orcas, eagles and the rare Dall’s porpoise. Renovated in 2013, Safari Quest is crewed by nine staff dedicated to your enjoyment on board and of the abundant scenic and natural wonders in this special region of the Pacific Northwest. are outfitted with heated bathroom tile floors, private bath with shower, air conditioning, memory foam mattresses, flat-screen TV/DVD and iPod docking station for your own tunes. Safari Quest is a great example of a small ship delivering a big experience. n
Cruise line: UnCruise Adventures Vessel: Safari Quest Maximum guest capacity: 22 Crew: 9 Entered service: 1992; renovated in 2013 Facilities: Four decks offer a salon, bar, library and sun lounge with hot tub and fitness equipment. Yacht is equipped with kayaks, paddle boards, skiffs, hiking poles and hydrophones for listening to below-surface sounds. All cabins are outfitted with heated bathroom tile floors, private bath with shower, air conditioning, Tempur-Pedic® memory foam mattresses, flat-screen TV/DVD and iPod docking station.
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