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Monday, December 7, 2009

Cruise Weekly: Aussies Vote for Local Adventure Cruising

In an eye-opening poll, Australian cruise fans have voted for our own Kimberley as their Best Cruise Region. This remarkable turnaround may be a result of the dreaded GFC or just a growing awareness of our own enviable natural assets, but the result has dethroned the mighty Mediterranean from its once unassailable top spot.

Cruise Passenger Magazine, Australasia’s pre-eminent consumer print magazine for the cruise industry, surveyed readers as part of its annual Readers Awards.

While the Mediterranean is still close to our hearts, the Kimberley is clearly gaining a very special place in our travelling psyche.

“The Kimberley is such a beautiful area. We loved the cliffs, the changing scenery, the Aboriginal art, the waterfalls and the solitude. Every day there was something different to do.” Adrian Lutton, of Gordon, NSW, who cruised the Kimberley with his wife, Jill.

In the categories of Best Small Ship and Best Adventure Cruise Ship, there was little surprise to find Sarina Bratton’s beloved Orion leading the charge. However in the category of Best Ship Cuisine, Orion’s Serge Dansereau’s menu came up trumps, toppling the fancier international runners.

“Orion offers fabulous destinations accompanied by expert guides who ensure each experience is an adventure. We found Orion to be really well organised and it definitely visited remote places,” said Robyn Jacobs of Killarney Heights, NSW, who cruised to Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with her husband, Greg, in April 2009.

Looking for more surprises, it was refreshing to see tiny Kimberley specialist, True North, snapping at Orion’s heels in all three categories. When you consider True North carries only one third as many passengers as Orion, client satisfaction is clearly overwhelming. Having travelled on both vessels, it’s easy to see how either can develop strong loyalties with past travellers. I’d say the message to frequent cruisers of each is to check the other vessel out.

Third place in Best Adventure Cruise Ship was another favourite of mine, Oceanic Discoverer, operated by Cairns-based adventure pioneers, Coral Princess Cruises. Carrying 72 passengers to the Kimberley, NZ, PNG and Melanesia, Oceanic Discoverer should be on your list too.

Clearly the Kimberley is racing up the charts in our favourites. With media attention from the movie ‘Australia’ and the worrying oil and gas projects planned along the coast, the Kimberley has enjoyed a press deluge these last twelve months. But let’s not sit by idly congratulating ourselves, the Kimberley needs our help.

"We are watching politics dictate the terms and conditions of our homelands… places where we've always had a sense of connection and belonging. We are now being told that this homeland, this country is now going to be used for industrial development," said Aboriginal spokesperson for the Save The Kimberley organisation, Albert Wiggan.

Visit the Kimberley, soak up the ancient landscapes and all that it delivers, but remember, we are the custodians of this special place. We decide what happens there and if it is still around for future generations.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

True North Adventure Update - Savings

SAVE 20% On All West Coast Explorer Cabins!

The 2010 West Australian cruise season is just around the corner and North Star Cruises is offering 20% off all cabins on the season opener – the West Coast Explorer! The offer can also be combined with our generous Previous Guest Bonus which means a saving of over $7500 when travelling in an Explorer Class cabin

The West Coast Explorer itinerary includes the history drenched Abrolhos Islands where guests snorkel on the wreck of the Batavia and explore the remnants of Wiebbe Hayes’ rudimentary fort – a sandstone wall against the ravages of blood-thirsty mutineers! Shark Bay is a huge marine ‘play-ground’ and there are always magical encounters with turtles, dolphin and dugong. Ningaloo Reef showcases clouds of colourful fish and the Monte Bello Islands are simply fishing paradise.

Our 2010 departure also features astronomer Greg Quicke

See for more information.

Don’t Miss Out On A Kimberley Waterfall Season Cabin

Each year the True North sails along the Kimberley coast in time to see the end of the spectacular monsoon! Towering waterfalls are at their thundering best, ravenous barramundi patrol swollen billabongs and the outback is never as lush! Our Australian crew introduces all from the comfort of the True North’s air-conditioned helicopter or one of the ship’s multiple expedition boats (not zodiacs!)

And there has never been a better time to see the Kimberley

Guest booking the first cruise of the year will be offered our 10% Shoulder Season Discount and, guests taking advantage of our Early Bird Discount can also save 10%!

And don’t forget – previous guests can combine their Previous Guest Bonus with either of the above discounts which means a saving of over $9000 when travelling in an Explorer Class cabin!

See for sailing dates

2010 One Week Kimberley Cruises Now Commence/Conclude In Broome

If you’re a bit pressed for time or, if you have already done the one week Kimberley Wilderness Cruise and, you’ve always wanted to do the ‘other half’ - here’s some more great news.

North Star’s hugely popular one week Kimberley cruise is bound to be even more popular in 2010. Guests embarking in the Hunter River will now fly to the ship from Broome and, guests disembarking in the Hunter will be returned to Broome - making sure the ‘Tourist Mecca’ is always part of our one week itinerary!

See for sailing dates