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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orion III is very likely for 2013

by Louise Goldsbury, Editor, Cruise Weekly

Orion Expedition Cruises is yet to debut Orion II in Asia, but plans are already underway for a third ship.

Australia's Orion Expeditions has had such success with the impending launch of its second ship that a third vessel is set to be added within the next three years.

Speaking exclusively to Cruise Weekly, Sarina Bratton, Orion’s founder and managing director, said: “The way things are going, I absolutely expect we will do.

“I have already had some discussions with ship owners and we normally have to work two to three years in advance,” she said.

A launch of Orion III in 2012 was “maybe a bit early, but maybe 2013”, Bratton revealed.

The proposed destinations for a third ship remain under wraps while the company pushes ahead with next year’s program on the new Orion II.

The brochure for 2011 cruises in the Russian Far East and Asia will be released in late April or early May.

Options include Kimberley expeditions with complimentary flights over the Bungle Bungles; three first-time Orion voyages – ‘West Papua and Maluku’, ‘Exploration of the Antipodes’ and ‘Antarctic Centenary’; Tasmanian food and wine cruises; Lord Howe Island and Aotearoa; Christmas in New Zealand’s fjordland and sub-Antarctic islands; Orion II’s cruises of the Inland Sea of Japan; the Russian Far East; a circumnavigation of Borneo; and eight voyages to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Meanwhile, a “smattering of space” is still available this year on the original five-star, 100-passenger Orion for cruises in Australia.

The most immediate opportunities are for ‘Wild PNG & Bismarck Archipelago’, departing 07 April; ‘Tropical Reefs & Culture’ on 28 April; ‘Art of Arnhem Land’ on 04 May; and several Kimberley cruises between May and September 2010.

“The way things are going, I absolutely expect we will do”

“We have got the most exciting destinations on offer in the Asia Pacific – whether you’re interested in the wilds of Borneo, the cultural aspects of Cambodia, Vietnam or Japan, the remote wilderness of PNG or our brilliant experience in the sub-Antarctic, we’ve got it covered,” Bratton said.

Details of all 2010 and 2011 voyages are available at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And the (Kimberley) Quest begins in 2010...

After spending the last four months exploring Sydney, northern New South Wales and Queensland and playing host to past passengers, travel agents, media and interested clients, the Kimberley Quest II is back in familiar territory cruising the Kimberley as she begins her maiden voyage for the 2010 season.

Proving to be as spectacular as predicted the Kimberley is certainly putting on a great show.

Alive with colour and new life, the rugged gorges are engulfed with water cascading over their ancient escarpments. Masses of delicate flora flourish and dominate the landscape which is complemented by an abundance of bird life. Back to accommodating just 18 passengers, those onboard are enjoying the intimacy that only a small vessel can provide.

The unforgettable sights and breathtaking scenery are once again revealing what is described as 'the ultimate Kimberley experience'.

Cabins are still available for 2010. For more information visit

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time to Jump Aboard Aurora Expeditons

Dear Expeditioners,

It's been a while now since I was last in touch with you and already this season's Antarctic Peninsula voyages are coming to an end.

Last month we hosted a Scottish Heritage Evening at our Sydney office, so thanks to all of you that joined us in making it such a fantastic evening! Special guest Kerry Farmer from The Australian Society of Genealogists advised us to how to trace our Scottish ancestry while Andrew Derbidge, Cellar Master for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society shared his insights (and humour) on Whisky appreciation.

Our information nights have been such a success that we are planning to host more evenings around Australia so keep an eye out on the Aurora website events page or email us to register your interest.

Next month I will be on board our new vessel, Oceanic Discoverer to undertake some research for new itineraries in the Kimberley region. As we also use the Oceanic Discoverer for our Papua New Guinea voyages, it will be the perfect opportunity for me to experience the vessel first hand. I look forward to updating you on my experiences next time!

Best wishes,

Joanna Schuetz
Sales Manager
Aurora Expeditions

Monday, March 8, 2010

After The Wet, the Kimberley Waterfalls and Mighty Rivers Flow

The famed Kimberley Waterfall Season is just around the corner – and the luxury adventure cruise ship, True North, is giving guests the opportunity to experience the Kimberley at its very best!

The True North kicks off the 2010 Kimberley Wilderness Season next month.

North Star Cruises' General Manager Peter Trembath said the period immediately following the monsoons presented as the best opportunity to see iconic waterfalls such as Mitchell Falls and King George Falls at their thundering best.

"In fact, there's no better time to see the Kimberley," said Mr Trembath.

"The whole region is transformed by rivers in flood, towering waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife," he said.

"Billabongs are swollen, massive wetlands are alive with birdlife, and let's not forget the barramundi will be biting!"

"True North's guests enjoy unique experiences you just can't find anywhere else, including helicopter flights to secluded locations every day of the cruise."

"This is always one of the most popular times of the year and the remaining cabins won't last long."

As an added bonus, this year's Kimberley Wilderness season  will feature a range of special guests including:

Guitarist Phil Ceberano provides classic accompaniment on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruises 2A Wyndham to Hunter River (27 March – 3 April) and 2B Hunter River to Broome (3 April – 9 April)

Kimberley  Artists Mark Norval & Donny Woolagoodja introduce the oldest paintings known to man on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruises 4A Wyndham to Hunter River (24 April – 1 May) and 4B Hunter River to Broome (1 May – 7 May)

Renowned artist Douglas Kirsop unlocks the secrets of landscape painting on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 5 Broome to Wyndman (8 – 21 May)

New  talent Andrew Tischler will astound with his life-like paintings on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 6 Wyndham to Broome (22 May – 4 June)

Geologist Phil Playford presents his theories on global warming and more on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 7 Broome to Wyndham (5-18 June)

Celebrity Chef Ryan Carey cooks up a storm on board Kimberley Wilderness Cruise 8 Wyndham to Broome (19 June – 2 July)

Other highlights of a Kimberley Wilderness Cruise include:

-       Ancient rock art
-       A panorama of rugged mountains
-       Spectacular gorges
-       Barramundi fishing
-       Mud crabbing
-       Croc-spotting
-       Champagne heli-flights at dawn
-       Helicopter picnics to remote locations

North Star's two week Kimberley Wilderness Cruise operates between Broome and Wyndham. Guests can stay onboard for the entire cruise or, they can opt for a one week itinerary either disembarking or embarking in the Hunter River.

Helicopter and light aircraft transfers (via Broome) are included in the one week itinerary.

The first cruise of the season departs on March 13.

Kimberley Wilderness Cruise prices start from $10,495.

For full itineraries, departure dates and prices visit

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cruise the Kimberley with Coral Princess and Photographer, Steve Parish

Coral Princess Cruises has teamed up with world-renowned nature photographer, Steve Parish to help passengers 'capture' the magnificence of the Kimberley, on a 10-night cruise between Broome and Darwin.

The brilliant light of the Kimberley both inspires and challenges photographers: the intense palette of the landscape is undeniably dramatic – but to capture the extreme contrasts photographically and render them accurately requires a little insider knowledge. Ten days under Steve Parish's tutelage is a precious insight into the tricks of the trade.

Over aeons, the Kimberley coast of Western Australia has been scored and scoured by wind and water and painted with a super-saturated palette to form one of the most dramatic landscapes on earth. Steve Parish – who rarely conducts photography classes – will draw on his 40 years of photographic field work in diverse Australian landscapes to inspire guests aboard the Oceanic Discoverer to capture their own vision of the Kimberley.

Over 10 days, cruising between Broome and Darwin, Parish will conduct a series of workshops, informal discussions and field excursions, covering topics such as the philosophy of nature photography and connecting with the landscape; style and technique; different subjects and – most relevant to the Kimberley's extremes – working with light.

The 10-night Kimberley cruise visits Kuri Bay, home of the South Pacific pearl industry, and ventures ashore to view the world-famous Bradshaw (Gwion) paintings, - the world's oldest known indigenous art – and the towering, 80-metre King George Falls, the tallest waterfalls in Western Australia. There is an optional helicopter flight over the Mitchell Plateau for views of the impressive four-tiered Mitchell Falls, as well as excursions into secluded gorges and to rock pools perfect for swimming. The cruise explores the Buccaneer Archipelago – made up of 800 islands – and includes an exhilarating Zodiac ride through the 'Horizontal Waterfall', where the tide floods between rocky cliffs.

The Oceanic Discoverer will carry a maximum of 68 passengers in luxury, with a complement of highly-experienced staff, including naturalist guides and guest lecturers

For Parish, whose work is recognised around the world and who has published numerous books, photography is "about promoting an understanding of the importance of nature. The first step has to be to light a fire in someone — inspire them to learn more, inspire them to genuinely become one with nature, urge them to connect with it and to celebrate its beauty and diversity."

The 10-night Coral Princess Kimberley Cruise with Steve Parish departs Broome on September 20, 2010, costing from $8750 per person, twin share, cruise only, in a Main Deck (Category B) stateroom.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises on 1800 079 545 or visit

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Is Expedition Cruising the Purest Ecotourism?

Out in the wide world of commercial travel, cruising is enjoying a revival. Buoyed by the new wave of gigantic, luxurious vessels carrying up to 5000 passengers for as little a two hundred dollars per day, the allure is understandable.

In Australia, cruise passenger numbers have tripled in less than ten years. In 2009, around 350,000 travelled on a cruise ship. In 2002, it was 116,308. All sectors and geographic areas are enjoying growth including river cruising, adventure cruising and boutique products.

“It’s a thrill to see Papua New Guinea really hitting its straps as a cruise destination now,” says Tony Briggs of Coral Princess Cruises, “and our projections for New Zealand are also exciting thanks to some new strategic marketing.”

Overseas in the US and Europe, things were certainly gloomier and the big lines, replete with sparkling new vessels and empty cabins, discounted like never before to counter the GFC blues. Our own operators also felt the loss of inbound passengers, but that hasn’t stopped the likes of Orion Expeditions from doubling their fleet and itineraries.

But is all this exciting expansion good for tourism in emerging and fragile destinations? Many of us recall the experience of going ashore from a big ship in Fiji in the 1980s and ‘90s. Merchants, touts and traders out in force, extracting every penny from the tourists. Beads, shells and the dreaded carved wooden knives now decorate mantelpieces from Bondi to Birdsville.

Since the early ‘90s, adventure and expedition cruising has been on a steady upward curve. Small ships, ice class vessels, river steamers and boutique cruisers have carried inquisitive soft adventurers to remote tropical islands and chilly polar regions in search of enrichment and excitement. Small numbers, little or no infrastructure and strict environmental protocols mean an experience in contrast to those aboard their bigger brethren.

Recent attention to climate change and environmental degradation has accelerated a certain urgency among thinking travellers to see our rapidly changing planet. Some scientists predict our children will see a complete disappearance of the polar ice cap in their lifetime.

Expedition and adventure cruising in low impact vessels, carrying small passenger numbers (often 100 or less) to destinations with little or no tourism infrastructure is quite possibly one of the purest forms of ecotourism.

While icebergs and penguin colonies often come to mind when thinking of expedition cruising, destinations much closer to home can yield the same ‘other world’ experience. Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Indonesia and our own remote Kimberley coast and Great Barrier Reef transport travellers to a world much like that encountered by 18th and 19th century explorers.

The increased demand for adventure cruise itineraries can be viewed as a positive indicator among the travelling public. A growing awareness of our fragile planet and its disappearing cultures and wildlife urges more and more conscientious tourists to venture out in search of the “experiential and transformational” promised by adventure marketers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Orion Itinerary Changes for Kimberley 2010

Now including Bungle Bungle complimentary flight-seeing and an overnight in Broome at no additional cost

Orion Expedition Cruises is enhancing its Kimberley itineraries for the 2010 season, offering the most inclusive Kimberley experience together with service standards unequalled in the Southern Hemisphere.

Due to a change in interpretation of Australian Government rules governing cruise ships in the Kimberley region, Orion is slightly altering its Kimberley itineraries. This provides the opportunity to enhance the itineraries with the following additions - at no extra cost to guests:

* Visit to the port of Wyndham - opportunity to visit Kununurra, heart of the East Kimberley
* Inclusion of complimentary flight-seeing over the famous Bungle Bungle ranges
* Inclusion of one night's complimentary accommodation in one of Broome's finest hotels including breakfast and transfers
* Now an 11 night holiday for the original cost of 10 nights

First brought to the world's attention only 25 years ago, the Bungle Bungle ranges are part of Purnululu National Park, a natural wonder seen firsthand by only a privileged few. The ranges are best experienced by air and are a short flight from Wyndham or Kununurra. Orion Expedition Cruises will be the only operator in the region to offer this amazing experience as part of its Kimberley voyages at no additional cost.

Orion will also be providing overnight accommodation in one of Broome's top hotels before or after the 10 night voyage, thus providing guests with an 11 night holiday for the cost of the usual 10 night expedition.

Operationally, Orion will leave Australian waters to comply with international voyage requirements - this will provide guests on board with a relaxing and enjoyable day at sea to enjoy the premium 5 star comforts and facilities on board Orion.

Orion's Kimberley season runs from May to September, offering guests a range of twelve 10 night cruise itineraries between the tropical city of Darwin and historic pearling town of Broome (and vice versa).

Fares Guide:

Pricing remains unchanged

2010 Kimberley Expedition fares begin from $9,100 per person for an ocean view Category B Stateroom. Junior Suites begin from $12,660 per person for a Junior Suite and Owners Suites with French Balcony are $19,055 per person

Expedition fares are per person twin occupancy, include accommodation, all meals, flight seeing over the Bungle Bungles, one night complimentary accommodation in Broome and selected activities ashore.