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Ocean cr u i s i n g

by Roderick Eime

Ghosts of the Deep You’d be forgiven for having a double take on any offer to cruise the Titanic, but this one is for real. Since 1987, RMS Titanic Inc. has owned the salvage rights to the wreck and is now part of Premier Exhibitions, the company staging the display currently housed at the Melbourne Museum. Constructed in Finland in 1987, two Russian MIR submersibles operated by the Russian Academy of Sciences and are to be deployed in 2012, the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking, to conduct passenger dives to the wreck. Sydney expedition cruise company Adventure Associates has places on the 11-hour roundtrip to the wreck in conjunction with Deep Ocean Expeditions, who have been taking divers to the depths since 2001. Australian Mike McDowell launched Deep Ocean in 1998 but is perhaps best known as founder of benchmark expedition cruise company, Quark Expeditions. Before you rush for your Visa card, the 13day program will leave you very little change from US$60,000 and you’ll spend just seven hours in contact with the wreck itself

Mix me a TuiTai darling When you think of cruising in Fiji, you will most likely recall the big ships of P&O or Princess disgorging hundreds of camera-toting tourists onto the wharf at Suva or Port Denarau. That might not suit everyone, so TuiTai Expeditions offer a relaxed, intimate alternative. Sailing from the remote port of Savusavu on Vanua Levu, TuiTai heads out to the rarely visited islands of Rabi, Taveuni, Qamea and Kioa to experience authentic Fijian hospitality and some of the best diving, surfing, hiking and kayaking anywhere. TuiTai is the only operator in the South Pacific featured in National Geographic’s annual survey the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Cruise West, and then what? It’s not all smooth sailing for leading US small ship operator Cruise West. Their much-vaunted 335-day world cruise aboard Spirit of Oceanus was rudely interrupted in Newfoundland recently, and the 120 passengers put ashore. Then the reservations office shut for ‘restructuring’, leaving many passengers in limbo. It has since been revealed that the 1991-built Spirit has been purchased by Danish consortium TN Cruise K/S, placed under fleet management with Florida-based ISP and renamed Sea Spirit. Apparently the vessel will be available for long-term charter along with other ISP expedition vessels, including Clipper Odyssey, Corinthian II and Ocean Nova. Meanwhile, Cruise West’s USflagged ships will continue their itineraries until at least October. Now the question is, will Sea Spirit become the new Orion III? For now, Orion is tight-lipped.

Soren Larsen rides again In June 2009, the 60-yearold all-wood brigantine Soren Larsen was heading to Cook Islands in rough weather when she was hit by a huge rogue wave that smashed her deck and tore away the wheelhouse. After two drama-filled days, she arrived back in New Zealand and immediately went in for major repairs in Whangarei. The good news is that Soren Larsen is back on the water and well under way on her new Pacific Islands program, retracing the wakes of the most famous maritime explorers. Normally booked out months in advance, the new program still has limited vacancies for this year’s last voyages and some for 2011

Amazon Adventure In August I was invited to join one of Aqua Expeditions’ seven-day cruises on the Amazon, starting from the remote Peruvian river port of Iquitos. The wild rainforest and incredible biodiversity makes the Amazon the perfect venue for expedition cruising, and the smaller the vessel the better. Despite her rather unconventional looks the 24-passenger MV Aqua is the last word in luxury cruising in this part of the world, with just 12 spacious suites and a doting crew to make sure there’s an icy Pisco Sour waiting for you after that sweaty jungle trek. You’ll be introduced to many endangered species and eco-systems along the way, and meet indigenous tribes who still survive off the bounty of the forest. Forget your insect repellent? Just crush a handful of termites and rub it on.

Island Escape New Zealand’s glorious scenery and coastal waters have been luring sailors for centuries, but now you can enjoy them without suffering the hardships endured the likes of Cook and van Diemen. MV Island Passage is a 500-tonne luxury catamaran catering to just 24 passengers. Don’t be fooled by her austere ‘workboat’ exterior, inside are ten immaculately appointed staterooms and living areas. A few last-minute specials are on offer for her November 5-night Marlborough Sounds Gourmet Wine and Food cruise, plus last places are going for the Luxury Golf Afloat Cruise, departing 29 January.

Roderick Eime regularly covers the small ship and adventure cruise scene for numerous magazines and newspapers and is the editor of

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Ocean Cruising 34  

Adventure and small ship news from Ocean Magazine Issue 34

Ocean Cruising 34  

Adventure and small ship news from Ocean Magazine Issue 34

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