True North Adventure Cruises

True North Adventure Cruises
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Join Orion in 2009 to discover the other side of Asia

Orion, acclaimed for its expeditions to the Kimberley and Arnhem Land, Papua New Guinea and the Antarctic is heading to places less visited in Asia as part of its 2009 Calendar of Sailings.

The coastline and islands of Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia beckon and there is no finer way to experience these culturally exotic destinations than as a guest onboard the purpose-built 5 star expedition ship, Orion.

In addition to visiting some of Asia's major centres, Orion's Gulf of Siam and Vietnam Explorer expeditions provide the opportunity to experience Asia from a different perspective, often far away from the crowds.

Pulau Tioman, lying off the east coast of Malaysia, is endowed with miles of coconut palm lined white beaches and crystal clear water – no wonder it was the setting for the film Bali Hai. It remains one of the world's most beautiful islands and an Orion destination.

From the unhurried lifestyle of fishing villages to exploring the undeveloped parts of Koh Samui and Koh Kut, Orion's languorous voyage contrasts wondrous sights of waterfalls, free flowing streams and snorkelling over pristine reefs with wide boulevards and historic buildings of the French colonial influence in Ho Chi Minh.

Visit a beguiling 200 year old village at Nha Trang, in Vietnam, where home-made beer is still sold, roadside, from the keg, and stroll beaches secreted away from the resorts where vendors carry buckets of lobsters and crabs for sale. Market economy rules, even in thinly disguised communist states.

Unlike larger ships that occasionally visit Ho Chi Minh (mooring at sea) Orion will berth 60 kilometres up the Song Sai Gon (Saigon River) virtually in the middle of the city, just minutes walk from the French built Post Office, Notre Dame cathedral and the shopping areas, art galleries, museums, bustling markets and top quality restaurants and bars.

Reach out and touch some of Australia's modern history. With Orion as your base, connect with the Vietnam War at the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels (where they still show anti-American Vietnam War propaganda films), and visit places the names of which are etched into Australian's minds – Da Nang, Vung Tau, Nui Dat, Long Tan.

These voyages provide a balance of history, culture and relaxation on sublime islands and beaches as well as exposure to Asian chaos in the markets. From Sihanoukville in Cambodia, guests will be able to visit Phnom Penh and the renowned UNESCO world heritage listed temples at Angkor Wat, with exquisite bas-relief Hindu stories on the walls and ancient temples overgrown with trees and foliage.

For a different view, experience a tethered balloon flight above the temples, an elephant ride to witness sunrise from the top of a temple or travel through rice paddy fields in a horse cart enroute to an extraordinary village – complete with schools, homes, and shops – literally floating in a lake.

These two exclusive Asian Orion Voyages of Discovery cultural expeditions balance traditional and modern Asia, with plenty of time to mingle with the locals and take in the sounds, colours and fragrances of these fascinating destinations.

Orion's expedition team and specialist guest lecturers enhance the experience with comprehensive briefings and onboard workshops designed to provide insight and understanding.

The two itineraries can be taken back to back to provide an exciting voyage highlighting much of Asia's mystique.

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Gulf of Siam Explorer – 29 September 2009 - 11 nights. Singapore, Tioman Island, Kuala Terengganu, Ko Samui, Ko Kood, Kampot (for Angkor Wat), Ho Chi Minh.


Vietnam Explorer – 10 October 2009 - 11 nights. Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang (overnight for Hue), Nha Trang, Vung Tau, Sihanoukville, Ko Phangan, Singapore.


Fares Guide:

Fares begin from $8,600 per person for an ocean view Category B stateroom

Suites begin from $11,860 per person for a Junior Suite

Owners’ Suites with French Balcony are $18,010 per person

An additional fuel charge of $50 per person per night applies

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Orion information: When referring to Ho Chi Minh it is always written as such but in spoken reference it is still referred to as Saigon.

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Ranked #2 expedition cruise ship in the world in the current Berlitz Cruise Guide, Orion is the world's latest and Australia’s only purpose-built luxury expedition cruise ship.

With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers Orion offers the highest staff to guest ratio and guest to public space ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.

Further information on Orion Expedition Cruises can be obtained by visiting the website www.orionexpeditions.com

For reservations or to obtain a brochure call Orion Expedition Cruises: 61-2 9033 8777 (Sydney callers) 1300 361 012 (regional and interstate) or your travel agent. Email: info@orioncruises.com.au

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Kamchatka


Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

Expedition cruising has evolved somewhat from the hard-core voyages that rekindled this travel sector in the 1960s and ‘70s. Today, some ‘adventure cruises’ are simply hedonistic boutique yachts with champagne on tap, but just last week I was reminded that the core product is still alive and well.

At a recent industry function I caught up with travel doyen, John Borthwick, and asked him about his recent trip to Kamchatka aboard Aurora Expeditions’s 100-berth Marina Svetaeva, a trusty former Russian survey vessel of the type that helped springboard Antarctic and Artic tourism after the fall of the USSR.

“There’s not much out there?” I inquired, recalling my own visions of bleak Siberian plains. John nearly choked on his entrĂ©e.

“Well,” he spluttered indignantly, “if you overlook the volcanoes, grizzly bears, walruses, sea otters, reindeer and Koryak shaman!”

John then proceeded to enthrall the table with dizzying accounts of vast stampeding herds of reindeer, packs of marauding brown bears and the graceful antics of the sea otters.

The Kamchatka Peninsula, asserts John, is Russia’s Alaska or Kimberley without a tourist in sight.

“It’s at the extreme of remote wilderness beauty, totally unpopulated and bursting with wildlife,” he finished, leaving us agog.

This was Aurora’s first Kamchatka expedition and NZ’s Heritage Expeditions is also exploiting the region, but the seasonal window is narrow and access complicated, so it will remain, for the time being at least, a niche destination to be savoured by a fortunate few.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Top End


Cruise Weekly – Comment by Roderick Eime

Historically, modern expedition cruising goes back to Lindblad’s Antarctic cruises of the 1960s, while in our region, Coral Princess Cruises founder, Tony Briggs was one of the first to offer extended cruises on the Great Barrier Reef with a converted, Fairmile class, WWII-era submarine chaser in the early 1980s.

Today, small ship, adventure-themed cruises abound and many new operators are capitalising on the abundant scenic and natural wealth of our coastline from the Kimberley to Tasmania. But while WA’s Kimberley enjoys solid capacities, some of our other regions do not.

Initially the repositioning sector from Cairns to Kimberley was developed to incorporate Arnhem Land and Cape York expeditions, but these cruises have sometimes struggled to attract viable numbers.

Kimberley region stalwarts, North Star Cruises, have deleted their “Over the Top” itinerary in favour of an ambitious West Papuan itinerary for 2009. Their first exploration is fully booked with loyal past passengers, leaving just Orion and Coral Princess to operate this region.

“This (11-night voyage) is one of the most underrated itineraries we have,” says Briggs, “Arnhem Land presents some of the best indigenous experiences anywhere and along with World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Cape York, it’s a spectacular voyage.”

Orion offers similar expeditions, instead split into two products; the 7-night “Art of Arnhem Land” and the 5-night “Tropical Reefs and Culture” from Thursday Island to Cairns.

Orions’ fares begin at about $700pp per night, while Coral Princess are slightly cheaper.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cruise Weekly Comment: Top End Expedition Cruising


Historically, modern expedition cruising goes back to Lindblad’s Antarctic cruises of the 1960s, while in our region, Coral Princess Cruises founder, Tony Briggs was one of the first to offer extended cruises on the Great Barrier Reef with a converted, Fairmile class, WWII-era submarine chaser in the early 1980s.

Today, small ship, adventure-themed cruises abound and many new operators are capitalising on the abundant scenic and natural wealth of our coastline from the Kimberley to Tasmania. But while WA’s Kimberley enjoys solid capacities, some of our other regions do not.

Initially the repositioning sector from Cairns to Kimberley was developed to incorporate Arnhem Land and Cape York expeditions, but these cruises have sometimes struggled to attract viable numbers.

Kimberley region stalwarts, North Star Cruises, have deleted their “Over the Top” itinerary in favour of an ambitious West Papuan itinerary for 2009. Their first exploration is fully booked with loyal past passengers, leaving just Orion and Coral Princess to operate this region.

“This (11-night voyage) is one of the most underrated itineraries we have,” says Briggs, “Arnhem Land presents some of the best indigenous experiences anywhere and along with World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef and Cape York, it’s a spectacular voyage.”

Orion offers similar expeditions, instead split into two products; the 7-night “Art of Arnhem Land” and the 5-night “Tropical Reefs and Culture” from Thursday Island to Cairns.

Orions’ fares begin at about $700pp per night, while Coral Princess are slightly cheaper.