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Expedition Cruise News & Views

Why you need expert help for expedition cruising

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on December 22, 2016

Getting expert help is essential when planning your expedition cruise to an isolated destination on the far side of the planet.

I can think of no other form of travel where expert advice and assistance in planning and undertaking your trip is so vital.

Expedition cruise companies are not like major cruise lines where you simply book a cabin and turn up at the Circular Quay wharf at 2:00 PM to go aboard. On those cruises everything is pre-programmed and you spend ten days cruising the same old islands and ports where dozens of cruise ships visit every year. It all works like clockwork

But, just making that 2:00 PM boarding time on an expedition cruise can be quite an undertaking.

These voyages often involve complicated airline bookings and transfers and the experts at Expedition Cruise Specialists go out of their way to ensure it all runs smoothly.

 

 

The other major factor is that Expedition Cruise Specialists are able to hand pick the very best ships and expedition cruise itineraries  available worldwide. They use their expertise to give you “the best”.

Once you get aboard these ships and settle in, you will be enjoying and experiencing the very best that expedition cruising can offer.

If you book directly with an overseas operator, you have the problems of language differences, currency, “extra costs”, priority bookings, cabin allocations and peace of mind to worry about.

Booking the trip of a lifetime should be enjoyable and relaxing from the start, not fraught with persistent concerns about whether it is all going to "work".

As a professional travel writer with 30 years experience in circling the globe, I can testify first hand to the need for expert advice and assistance.

If you place yourself in the hands of a tour operator overseas, even the simplest plans can go awry. For example, a tour operator in the Caribbean arranged for me to fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico at 8:00 PM one steamy night in May.

My ship wasn’t due to leave until midnight, which seemed to give me plenty of time to get to the wharf. The only problem was, nobody could find my luggage. I was speaking English to people who only spoke Spanish. There was lots of arm waving, yelling and people running madly about looking for my bags.

Finally, I had to leave and head for my ship and sail without my bags. Luckily I carry my camera gear in a carryon bag, so I could still do my work.

The bag turned up overnight and was flown to my first port of call which averted a disastrous trip.

I can give you a thousand stories on what can go wrong if you leave yourself in the hands of an overseas operator. Suffice to say, I never travel these days unless the trip is organised by experts that I trust.

 

 

Now, I could be regarded on something of an expert on world travel, but the amount of information I could provide you with is nothing compared to the expertise available from people like Vicki Briggs and Andrew Castles at Expedition Cruise Specialists. Vicki and her husband Tony founded and operated Australia's original expedition cruise line - Coral Princess Cruises - for almost 34 years and now through Expedition Cruise Specialists they're making their expert advice and insider knowledge available to you.

They know so much about this type of cruising that you would be crazy, not to work with them in planning your cruise.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

Different Boats for Different Folks

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on December 14, 2016

I am often asked by cruise fans to explain the difference between expedition cruising and normal cruise ships.

“That’s easy,” I explain, “expedition ships go where normal cruise ships can never go.”

I then go into a long monologue about the joys of expedition cruising, but it mostly seems to fall on deaf ears.

You see, these are “normal” cruise passengers who believe the Isle of Pines or Mystery Island are about as wild and isolated places as you can ever visit on a cruise.

I doubt they will ever take the plunge and go on an expedition cruise. And mores-the-pity, because in their ignorance they are missing out on so much.

 

 

Expedition cruise ships are, by necessity, much smaller and compact than major cruise ships. They lack the bars, spas, water parks, shops and vast entertainment and restaurant venues of “normal” cruise ships.

However what they lack in size, they make up for with luxury and exclusive features.  If you click your way through our website you will quickly get an idea how luxurious these boats are. I always explain this type of vessel  as: “like having your own private luxury cruise ship”.

They are designed for community cruising, they are laid back and friendly and it is always easy to find a chair at a table on the back deck and join in the conversation.

Expedition cruise operators know what their guests are seeking and they provide that unique experience for them.

Clients on board expedition cruise ships as a rule love to join in activities and love to explore and discover.

They are self reliant people who are more interested in learning and being participants than sitting back and being entertained by Broadway shows.

Their “entertainment” is provided by the lecturers, historians and naturalists who accompany each cruise.

 

 

I find this laid back, exclusive type of cruising to be very intoxicating. You can nip down and make yourself a cup of coffee. Within a couple of minutes you are deep in conversation about the day’s exploring with a fellow adventurer.

There are no crowds, no queues, no pushing and shoving or standing for hours waiting to get off the ship. When the time comes to go ashore, you simply walk down and sit in the explorer boat or zodiac and you are whisked away to some exotic mysterious destination.

 

 

Expedition cruising as a tourist activity started back in the 1960s when Swedish American Lars-Eric Linblad chartered ships from scientific and government sources. He took them to the most isolated areas of the world including Antarctica.

This gave travellers a unique insight into places they could only dream about visiting in the past.

And they were so successful that he was able to order the construction of a small ship which could travel to all parts of the world in reasonable comfort. This was the Lindblad Explorer and it became the trendsetter in adventure cruising. To use an old saying: “he never looked back”.

Lecturers and experts loved this type of cruising because they were able to share their expertise and spread the word while travelling along in relatively luxurious conditions, a far cry from some of the old spartan scientific vessels of the time.

So, if you have undertaken normal cruise ship holidays and find something lacking or you are looking for a more exciting fulfilling adventure, try expedition cruising, it will change your life forever.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

A Million Smiles in Papua New Guinea

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on December 09, 2016

Papua New Guinea may be our closest neighbour, but for most Australians it is an unknown land shrouded in mystery and intrigue.

A majority of Aussies will never visit our neighbour across the Torres Strait because they haven’t been educated in its amazing beauty and friendly people. And until recently, cruise ships simply did not go there.

That is a shame, because I would place it in the top three cruising destinations I have ever visited. The other two are also close to home: the Kimberley and the Solomon Islands.

 

 

Far from being a land of mystery, New Guinea is more a tropical Garden of Eden with much of it still untouched and unspoilt by mass tourism. The people of New Britain and the many islands dotted throughout the Bismarck Archipelago are very similar to those in Vanuatu and Fiji.

As you go ashore you will be greeted by waving, smiling, happy people. You will be led to chairs placed carefully under a giant tree or beneath a veranda of palm leaves.

Then the dancing will begin. And oh, what a treat you are about to see. You will be in the company of gentle people, ever attentive, ever caring, ever wanting to share their world with yours.

Traditional dancing is the national pass time in Papua New Guinea. Mass drums, bamboo xylophones, whistles and cacophony of sound overtake you as the dancing begins.

Then comes an amazing performance of waving arms and legs all choreographed into a visually, stunning display. Divine costumes and head ware worn by locals all add to the excitement. The dancers range from the elderly right down to young children who are being educated in the local traditions. They are fully absorbed in dances that tell the story of their village their region and their life.

 

 

On virtually every island, you will be greeted by traditional dances. The strange thing is, no two dances are the same. The islands may be close together but because they were so isolated in the past and, to some degree, still are isolated, they have managed to develop performances that are unique to each region.

Our cruise began in fascinating Rabaul, always shrouded in fallout from the constantly erupting Mount Tavurvur, rated one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes. In 1994 it destroyed old Rabaul in a massive explosion and has been playing up ever since.

Leaving the harbour at sundown with the mighty sunset painted in a multitude of stunning reds, oranges and purples was possibly the greatest departure of my career.

Next day we arrived at remote St Michael's School just off the coast of New Britain and it is here that I fell in love with PNG and its people. They were genuinely excited to see us, to dance with us and to share everything they had. The elaborate headware had to be seen to be believed.

We then sailed across the vivid blue Bismarck Sea to Madang and then up the mighty Sepik River. Coral Discoverer has a shallow draft and this allowed us to travel further up this wild region than any other cruise ship.

 

 

Once again, the people of the Sepik were overwhelmingly friendly towards us. They were just as interested in learning about us as we were about them.

I have to admit at being slightly nervous about going ashore in an isolated native village where the people live completely off the land and the river. However,  we were met by thousands of smiling people who were really excited about us coming to their village.

I could go on and on about PNG, but suffice to say it is one of the greatest unspoilt tourist regions anywhere on earth and the only way to see it properly is on an expedition cruise.

If you are really keen to cruise PNG may I recommend our New Guinea packages now available from Expedition Cruise Specialists.

You can talk to one of our experts to gain valuable insights into the various packages available.

The next departure is a 12-night Papua New Guinea Frontier Lands expedition aboard Coral Discoverer departing Cairns for Rabaul on 4 October 2017.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

Antarctica - one of the great expedition cruises

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on November 30, 2016

Of all the great expedition cruises available in our world of amazing adventures, Antarctica tops the bill.

Nowhere else on earth can you come as close to experiencing what it would be like to visit another planet as you can in Antarctica.  The frozen world of the great southern continent is ever changing, ever beautiful, ever terrifying.

Just when you are silently watching penguins at play on the water’s edge, your whole world is suddenly shattered by the roar of a glacier tearing itself apart as it meets the ocean.

It is this unique challenge of the region that has drawn explorers, scientists and adventurers to its shores for more than a century. Its mysteries lay hidden under the white world that enshrouds it all year round.

But it wasn’t always so. When Antarctica was closer to Australia, the ice continent was covered in massive forests.  As the gap between the two great lands widened, the seas grew colder and so did Antarctica’s climate.

Today it is perpetually covered in ice and snow, held prisoner by the cold currents of the Southern Ocean.

When you take an expedition to Antarctica you will be one of a select few who visit its shores each year. It is estimated that only about 35,000 travellers make the trip annually, using two different routes.

 

 

Most head to the bottom of South America via Argentina or Chile and cross the Drake Passage, taking two days to reach the ice. 

 Many expeditions also visit the Falkland Islands and the stunning South Georgia where Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried at the former whaling station known as Grytviken.

The other route departs Australia / New Zealand and is much more challenging.  If you choose to travel from Hobart or New Zealand, it takes about seven days to cruise to the Ross Ice Shelf. It is the more isolated of the two routes and can only be reached by genuine ice breakers.

If the weather is kind, you will get to see Scott’s hut on Ross Island which has been frozen in time since 1912 with more than 8000 items, including food, still on the shelves.

Shackleton’s hut is also on this island and Mawson’s hut is at Cape Denison.

Now, there are a few things you need to be wary of when booking an Antarctic cruise and this is why you need to chat with the experts at Expedition Cruise Specialists.

 

 

Firstly, you will find larger cruise lines advertising a cruise to the Antarctic, but they only view the ice from a distance; they don’t go ashore. A good guide is to remember only 100 passengers per cruise are allowed ashore at any given time.

Since 2011, all ships operating in the area must use lighter grade distillate fuel which protects the environment. This meant that a lot of the heavy oil burning ships operating south of latitude 60 could no longer cruise in the region. Some cruise ships have since introduced a load of the legal fuel on board which they can use in the restricted zone.

However, they still don’t risk entering the ice flows or taking passengers ashore. If one of these ships became stuck in ice, it would be a major disaster.

On a genuine expedition cruise you will have access to a ship that can handle icy conditions and heavy weather, a fleet of zodiacs, professional grade equipment and expert guides and lecturers. Before departure they will advise you on clothing requirements and take down details of any medical problems or dietary needs you may have.

You will be in good hands and if you are lucky, you will see penguins, orcas, seals, whales and a wide variety or birdlife. November through to April is the best time to see penguins.

Lastly, if you are keen to go next year may I recommend you talk with the Expedition Cruise Specialists as soon as possible and begin planning the ultimate expedition cruise.

Click here to see Expedition Cruise Specialists' list of recommended Antarctica expeditions.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

The Great Barrier Reef; Jewel in Australia's Crown

Posted by Dallas Sherringham on November 25, 2016

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is the world’s greatest living natural wonder and every adventurer should experience it at least once in their lifetime.

And by experiencing it, I mean you have to get out there and immerse yourself in all its treasures. It is on the bucket list of adventurers from around the world and most have it high on their list of list of “must sees”.

The first time I saw it from the air, I was stunned by its amazing colours and its immense size. From the air the reef looked like giant opals set in a vivid blue ocean; a true jewel in Australia’s crown.

Like many Australians, I never fully appreciated what we have right here in our own front yard. Many normal  tourists 'do' a day trip out of Cairns or Townsville and get to see the reef for a couple of hours. And those sections of the reef have been mangled and partially destroyed by generations of day visitors.

The only way to truly appreciate it is on an expedition cruise out of Cairns. You see, the Great Barrier Barrier Reef is the only adventure where you are part of a living landform with millions of corals, plants, fish and sea life.

 

great barrier reef cruise aboard coral expeditions II

 

An expedition ship like Coral Expeditions II takes you right to the heart of the reef. It backs up next to an unspoilt, pristine reef far from the tourist crowds. You simply snorkel off the back platform which is lowered into the water to allow easy access.

For the more adventurous you can go SCUBA diving and for those who aren’t so experienced at water activities, you can take a ride on the glass bottom boat. In fact, you don’t have to be particularly fit to do a trip like this: most people can do it and enjoy it.

This type of cruise also allows you to visit isolated places like Pelorus Island and Lizard Island. Now, sitting on the beach at Lizard in the warm tropical air with the Coral Sea glistening in front you is one of life’s great pleasures.

You walk out into the warm water and snorkel on to a ribbon reef, one of many in the area. The sheltered blue lagoon at Lizard is one of the best you will experience anywhere in your travels.

At Pelorus Island, you can snorkel right off the beach on to the stunning fringing reefs and then go exploring the pristine and fragile environment ashore. Pelorus is the northernmost island of the Great Palm Island Group.

 

great barrier reef live aboard cruise

 

Once again, it is one of the many little known treasures of this region. On my cruise, we had a barbecued feast cooked on the beach by the ship’s captain.

The longer cruises visit historic Cooktown, once the busiest port in Queensland outside Brisbane.

Life on board Coral Expeditions II is very relaxed and informal. After a day of exploring breathtaking wonders, you sit around on deck in the late afternoon chatting excitedly with your fellow guests.

Then you enjoy a sumptuous a la carte dinner with enlightening conversation. I was particularly moved by the enjoyment of overseas visitors who saw our Reef as the Holy Grail of world exploration.

There is something life changing about seeing the reef in such a unique way and in sharing that experienced with a special group of friends.

So do yourself a favour and don’t put it off any more... go see our unique natural treasure and I guarantee you will be amazed.

 

Dallas Sherringham is a media professional, world traveller and regular contributor to our blog.

 

Two FREE Nights at Palm Cove's Reef House

When you book your 3, 4 or 7 night Great Barrier Reef cruise before 31 March 2017 (for departures before 30 June 2017), Expedition Cruise Specialists are throwing in two FREE nights accommodation at Palm Cove's beautiful Reef House hotel and spa! 

This great deal is subject to availability so get in quick! Call us on 1800 90 20 80 (Australia) or send us a message for more information and bookings.

 

great barrier reef cruise expeditions