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What you didn’t know about the Philippines

<p>The Philippines has more than 7641 lush tropical islands surrounded by turquoise water. For years, this incredible destination has gone under the radar. But Australian travellers are starting to take note.</p> <p> “It’s an incredible destination that is perfect for Australians’ considering their love of adventure, travel and passion for discovering unexplored destinations,” Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand says.</p> <p>“Our lush, tropical backdrops, stunning sunsets, and dreamy tropical beaches make the Philippines one of the most exotic holiday destinations.</p> <p>“As a destination, it is still relatively undiscovered and offers unparalleled value, so there’s no better time to get to know our tropical archipelago, world-renowned for its abundance of beauty, wildlife and bio-diversity.”</p> <p>Here are 10 things you may not know about the Philippines according to Norjamin:</p> <p>1. The Philippines officially has 7641 islands. The number increased in 2018 when more islands were officially recognised and counted.</p> <p>2. We are a county of smiling, highly skilled, English-speaking people. Don’t be shy about approaching a Filipino and starting a conversation. We’re not just fun, we’re officially friendly too. Forbes.com ranked the Philippines as the friendliest country in Asia and the eighth friendliest place in the world.</p> <p>3. The Philippines is officially home to the ‘Best Islands in the World’, with the stunning destination’s islands consistently recognised in the highly acclaimed Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice. In October 2018, the awards were categorised into regions, with the Philippines scooping the top three best islands in Asia: Siargo, Boracay and Palawan were listed respectively.</p> <p>4. The Philippines was also named ‘Asia’s Leading Beach Destination 2018’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards.</p> <p>5. The Philippines offers excellent value for money, with a bottle of beer only $1.</p> <p>6. The town of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur was officially inaugurated as one of the Seven Wonder Cities of the World in May 2015.</p> <p>7. The Philippines is the heart of marine biodiversity. The Philippines archipelago is located within the Coral Triangle and has 76 per cent of the world’s coral species, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and at least 2,228 reef fish species.</p> <p>8. The ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ marketing campaign, stemmed from a single question asked to the Department of Tourism ‘why would a tourist want to come to the Philippines?’</p> <p>9. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature.</p> <p>10. The Philippines was named in honour of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, during his expedition in 1542, named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias. Eventually, the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the island of the archipelago.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/philippines-facts/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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You must try these 5 unforgettable Fiji experiences

<p>With a bounty of natural and cultural marvels, Fiji is more than just a place to stop and flop on the sand. These five unforgettable experiences highlight Fiji’s most tempting offerings – unique animal encounters, breathtaking scenery, tantalising cuisine and a touch of luxury.</p> <p><strong>Swim with sea life </strong></p> <p>Every swim in Fiji’s sparkling South Pacific waters redefines the colour blue. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, the islands of Fiji are brimming with opportunities to go below the surface. And you don’t need to be a seasoned deep sea diver to experience it. Swimming and snorkelling should be fun, leisurely activities where you can go at your own pace. In Fiji, this is what it’s all about. </p> <p>Fiji’s pristine beaches mean you can grab a snorkel and head straight out to explore the reefs just offshore. Most hotels and resorts will have snorkeling equipment to hire. Otherwise, you can often purchase it from the general store fairly inexpensively. For guaranteed sightings of vibrant coral and colourful fish, organising a day trip will be your best bet. </p> <p>Beqa Island Lagoon off the coast of Viti Levu is a great place for beginners. The protected reef boasts thousands of exoitic fish and anemones with regular sightings of turtles, giant clams and sharks. This is also where you can opt for a truly unique, though slightly terrifying experience. Feel the thrill and majesty of swimming side by side with the ocean’s most formidable creatures. Shark Reef Marine Reserve was established in order to study and preserve the population of sharks of Fiji’s coral coast, and now offers gutsy visitors a chance to get in the water with them. </p> <p>Would you prefer a swimming buddy with less teeth? Head to Naviti in the Yasawa Islands for the chance to swim with Manta Rays. At the south end of the island, Manta Ray passage is teeming with these velvety creatures, gliding through the water. To watch them from above is breathtaking. To swim alongside them is something else entirely. Be sure to visit during Manta season, between May and October.</p> <p><strong>Discover the islands from above</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky enough to fly in during the day, you’ll get an entrée of what Fiji’s 330 islands look like from above. For a full course, it’s worth booking a scenic helicopter flight.</p> <p>Fiji has dozens of helicopter tour companies so do your research and choose an operator with a good safety record. Opting for a Fijian-owned and run company is a nice way to ensure your tourist dollars go towards empowering and supporting the local community. </p> <p>A popular flight route takes you on an aerial tour of Denarau, the largest integrated resort in the South Pacific. You’ll see the lush landscapes and perfectly maintained gardens of some of the biggest luxury resort chains in the South Pacific. </p> <p>Heading further inland, discover Fiji’s overgrown jungles and striking mountain landscapes. Soaring above the Mt. Evans Range, expect to see rugged volcanic formations, pockets of wild orchids and spectacular waterfalls.</p> <p>Perhaps the most popular scenic flight is the joy ride to Heart Island. Home to Tavarua Island Resort, this heart-shaped island is surrounded by balmy waters with pumping surf breaks. Each year, surfers come from all over the world flock to this heart-shaped island to take on Cloudbreak. </p> <p>Scenic helicopter flights can be expensive, but are often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Most resorts will have a handful of preferred tour companies they recommend to their guests. You can also organise scenic flights independently, or in advance through a travel agent. </p> <p><strong>Spend a day at the spa</strong></p> <p>Nothing says “holiday” like a relaxing spa treatment. Visitors to Fiji are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting pampered. Each resort will often have its own on-site spa, and some even offer in-room treatments so you don’t even have to go anywhere to receive a fabulous massage. </p> <p>One of Fiji’s most renowned luxury spas can be found at Yasawa Island Resort. The Bavari Spa is essentially set on the sand, with double doors opening up to a pristine, private beach. The signature treatment is a four-handed Bavari Rhythm massage which entails two masseuses working out all your knots and melting away your troubles in smooth, synchronised movements. </p> <p>Another highly-recommended outfit is the Sheraton Resort and Spa on Tokoriki Island. It’s one of the largest day spas in Fiji and is part of an adults-only island for the utmost relaxation and tranquility. Try the Fijian Warm Seashell Ritual. As the name suggests, this treatment uses locally-sourced shells to deliver a glorious massage with the help of sought-after <em>Pure Fiji</em> spa products. </p> <p>Some resorts offers complimentary massages as an added bonus, and others have great deals that include a spa treatment as part of your package. Prices will vary between locations, but visitors will find a range of affordable day spas on Denarau and Viti Levu, as well as a host of up-market outfits in the luxury resorts. You don’t need to be a guest of a resort to utilise their day spa but bookings are essential. </p> <p><strong>Take a cooking class</strong></p> <p>Fijian food is a family affair at its core. The act of cooking and eating together is central to the local way of life, not unlike Australia, However, the methods and flavours are unique to Fiji and vary from island to island. </p> <p>Visitors have a number of cooking schools to choose from when visiting Fiji. One highly-rated outfit is the Flavors of Fiji Cooking School in Nadi. Begin with a tour of Nadi’s thriving vegetable market, where you’ll pick out fresh produce to take back and turn into something tasty. Back at the nearby school, you’ll learn to cook up to eight local specialties under the guidance of experienced Fijian foodies. You’ll head home with a full belly, loads of recipes and a newfound love of cooking. </p> <p>Many resorts also offer their own cooking classes. Some are run by the chefs of the restaurants, and others bring in instructors from the local community to teach traditional Fijian cooking methods. At an all-inclusive resort, this is often a free activity. Otherwise, it may come at an additional cost. </p> <p><strong>Explore the rainforests on foot</strong></p> <p>Fiji’s color scheme is dominated by breathtaking blues and golden sands, but there’s another hue that is hard to miss. Thick forests and undulating jungles showcase every shade of green you can imagine. From sweeping valleys to towering mountain ranges, Fiji’s wilderness areas are unlike any other. That’s not to say you need to take on the most challenging hike and spend your entire holiday out of breath. Some of the most scenic walking routes are also the most leisurely. </p> <p>A trip to Tavoro Falls is not to be missed. Located in Bouma National Heritage Park on the island of Taveuni, this jungle hike encompasses a series of waterfalls with a few challenging stretches along the way. From the final vantage point, the views out to neighbouring islands are well worth the effort.</p> <p>The Sigatoka Sand Dunes offer an interesting hiking experience. Spread across 600 hectares, some of the dunes stand as high as 60 metres tall. Choose between a one or two-hour trail, discovering the excavated sites of the early Lapita people and the fascinating surrounds of Fiji’s first national park. </p> <p>You can also enjoy a stroll through the botanical gardens in Lautoka and learn about the medicinal uses of Fiji’s native flora.</p> <p><em>Written by Bethany Plint. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/fiji-experiences/">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Here are New Zealand’s best natural hot springs

<p>New Zealand is renowned for its geothermal activity and across the land you’ll find various heated waterways safe for wallowing in.</p> <p>New Zealand’s beautiful beaches and waterways are a major attraction and, turning up the temperature from just plain cool to steamy, some of the best soaking spots boast heated water – and, even better, no-one has to pay the electricity bill because nature provides the power.</p> <p><strong>Hot Water Beach, Coromandel</strong></p> <p>Two hours either side of low tide, Hot Water Beach (aka Te Puia) fills up with visitors eager to dig their own spa pools in the sand. On the Coromandel Peninsula between Tairua and Whitianga, this thermal sandpit is a star attraction, with temperatures ranging from tepid to scalding.</p> <p>Either dig with your hands or hire a spade and, while it’s perfectly fun to soak here in summer, on a cold winter’s day it’s hard to beat. At night, when the moon is out and the stars are twinkling, it’s utterly heavenly. But do be warned, the open sea can be rugged so less experienced swimmers must take extra special care.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip:</strong> Hot Water beach is 2.5 hours’ drive from Auckland – make sure you don’t forget your swimming costume and towel. When you’ve had enough of those thermal charms, choose from one of the cafés, but note that many do close during the winter. Nearby Hahei has eateries, a brewery, bicycle hire and kayak tours. The area is also home to Cathedral Cove – a spectacular natural archway and a marine reserve that is popular with snorkellers. Explore on your own or take advantage of various tour companies offering excursions.</p> <p><strong>Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera</strong></p> <p>On the southern shore of Rotorua’s Lake Tarawera, Te Rata Bay (also referred to as Hot Water Beach) is understandably popular. Fringed with pohutukawa trees and alive with native birds, as well as wild wallabies, the thermal vents on this beach help keep campers’ coffee hot while they roast their daily catch in sandpits.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Accessible by boat or via a fabulous five-hour bush walk (the 15km Tarawera Trail), you’ll need to plan ahead to visit the beach. If you plan to stay overnight at the campground (or glamp it) you must book, and stock up on supplies as there are no shops. Happily, water taxis are easy to arrange through Totally Tarawera, with plenty of options for enjoying this area either overnight or as part of a day-trip.</p> <p><strong>Kaitoke Hot Springs, Great Barrier Island</strong></p> <p>The largest and furthest-flung island in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier/Aotea is 90km from Auckland. A rugged rock that’s completely off-grid, it tends to attract a capable sort of citizen.</p> <p>Renowned for unspoiled beaches, impressive wildlife and rich history, it’s also home to a picturesque thermal pool. Kaitoke Hot Springs is an easy, pram-friendly 45-minute walk from Whangaparapara Road. But be sure to take any provisions you need with you, as aside from two long-drop lavatories, this beautiful spot is completely non-commercial.</p> <p><strong>Travel Tip</strong>: Isolated Great Barrier/Aotea Island is popular with visitors who enjoy fishing, surfing, hiking and anything to do with nature. Recently awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary status, be sure to look heavenward after dark when the stars astonish. Accessible by a 30-minute flight or a five-hour ferry ride, there’s plenty of accommodation and a reasonable selection of eateries (although you’re wise to take some food). Be sure to allow a good few days to get to grips with all the island has to offer.</p> <p><strong>Kawhia Ocean Beach, Waikato</strong></p> <p>Less crowded than Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach, hot springs can be found at Kawhia’s Ocean Beach for two hours either side of low tide.</p> <p>Steeped in history, Kawhia is where the Tainui waka (one of the original canoes carrying the first Polynesians) came to rest after its epic trans-Pacific voyage, and today is a sleepy little spot, far from the madding crowds and all the better for it. If you’re not sure where to dig to gain access to the steaming seams, a friendly local will show you the way. But be warned, because this is a black sand beach, it can really heat up in summer, so don’t forget your shoes.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Kawhia is a peaceful King Country town 200km from Auckland. It offers accommodation (including a campground), a museum, a couple of cafés, a general store and a fish and chips shop. Popular with history buffs, fossil fans and fisher people, it’s heavenly all year round. And do experience the cooler charms of nearby Waitomo Caves if time allows.</p> <p><strong>Welcome Flat Hot Pools</strong></p> <p>Just 20km south of Fox Glacier you’ll find Welcome Flat Hot Pools, near a conveniently positioned DOC (Department of Conservation) hut. Surrounded by snowy peaks and forest, there are several temperature options with even the fussiest bathers catered for – provided they don’t mind mud.</p> <p>The pools are accessed via the Copland Track, which is 18km one way (it takes about seven hours to complete), so ensure you book ahead for one of the 31 beds in the DOC hut. Of course, you’ll need to take your food, sleeping bag and swimming suit as well. It’s open year round, so pack for the conditions and keep an eye on weather reports.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Welcome Flat is found in South Westland in the South Island, four hours’ drive from Queenstown or six hours’ from Christchurch. The Fox Glacier region is bursting with tourist highlights, from kayak tours to scenic flights. The Hobnail Café and Souvenir Shop is a great spot to refuel, Gillespies Beach is grand if you’re into geology, rainforest and seals, and always look out for the kea, New Zealand’s cheeky parrot.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-best-natural-hot-springs/"><em>Mydiscoveries.com.au.</em></a></p>

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Huge cruise ship squeezes through Greek canal with just centimetres to spare

<p><span>A 24,344-tonnes, 22.5-metre-wide cruise liner has made history to become the largest ship ever to travel through the narrow Corinth Canal.</span></p> <p><span>On Wednesday, 929 passengers on board held their breath as the Braemar cruise liner squeezed through the canal, which was 24 metres wide at its narrowest point.</span></p> <p><span>The ship was so close to the rocky walls of the canal that passengers could reach out their hands and almost touch the surface, UK-based Fred. Olsen Cruises said.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Y6vKyn3y6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Y6vKyn3y6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Transiting the #CorinthCanal this morning on #Braemar... fabulous views! #🚢 #fredolsen #cruise</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/andyeastwooduk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Andy Eastwood</a> (@andyeastwooduk) on Oct 9, 2019 at 12:37am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span>The 6.4-kilometre-long canal is a waterway that separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.</span><span></span></p> <p><span>The trip was part of the 25-night Corinth Canal &amp; Greek Islands cruise, which took off from Southampton, UK.</span></p> <p><span>“This is such an exciting sailing and tremendous milestone in Fred Olsen’s 171-year history, and we are thrilled to have been able to share it with our guests,” said Clare Ward, director of product and customer service.</span></p>

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Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla announce new details of New Zealand tour

<p><span>Clarence House has revealed new details on the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s upcoming visit to New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>Prince Charles and Camilla will be touring the country from November 17 to 23. The couple will begin their trip in Auckland, where they are set to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and learn about programs supporting youth and environmental causes.</span></p> <p><span>From there, the two will visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds and meet Māori people. This will mark the prince’s first trip to the Treaty Grounds since 1994.</span></p> <p><span>The royals will also go to Christchurch, the site of the two terrorist attacks in March and the earthquakes in 2011. Ardern said Prince Charles and Camilla will be able to see “how the community has rallied to support those affected by the March 15 terrorist attacks”.</span></p> <p><span>Aside from Christchurch, the couple will also set foot in Kaikōura. “The effects on the community of the 2016 earthquake will also be seen first hand at Kaikōura,” Ardern said.</span></p> <p><span>“I look forward to welcoming Their Royal Highnesses back to New Zealand.”</span></p> <p><span>This will be the Cornwalls’ third royal tour of New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>On November 23, the duchess will fly back to the UK while the prince travels to Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands to focus on environment and climate-change related issues. This will be his first time visiting the Islands, and his first trip to Tuvalu in 49 years.</span></p>

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Top tips to save money on a long holiday

<p>A long holiday is its own reward, but this concept is amplified in accommodation savings that only serve to increase exponentially, the longer you stay. That is, of course, if you know where to go to seek the source of holidaymakers in the know.</p> <p>When time is no object in holidays of lengthy duration, more is more when you look and book online.</p> <p>The saving grace of extended stays amounts to huge value in quality time, but also in a fiscal sense.</p> <p><strong>1. Be richly rewarded</strong></p> <p>Hotels.com not only offers a wealth of cut-price savings from luxury resorts to budget-style accommodation, but it also extends the staying power with the <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-rewards-pillar/hotelscomrewards.html">Rewards</a> programs. When you collect 10 nights’ accommodation at a massive range of selected hotels and accommodation offerings, you’ll be richly rewarded with one extra night’s stay. Members choose how their 10 nights stack up: whether during a complete stay or as single-night visits, which can quickly add up to the count of 10. Redeem your free night’s accommodation at a range of options and locations: from top-of-the-the-range hotel chains and five-star resort to boutiques, villas and apartments of every description*.<br /><em><sub>*According to terms and conditions</sub></em></p> <p><strong>2. Shop around</strong></p> <p>It’s important to instil time and patience in the online booking process. Arm yourself with prior research to ensure you plan your stay closely centred to coveted landmarks, sites and for convenience to public transport options, supermarkets and all budget-oriented amenities. There’s a handy online guide for the average price of all star-rated properties at every holiday destination to be found online at Hotels.com. Read up on the crucial differences between property features and decide whether you can forgo an on-site gym or swimming pool in favour of stretching your legs in the great outdoors and taking an invigorating daily dip in the ocean instead.</p> <p><strong>3. Book early or late: the savings are equally great</strong></p> <p>Hotels.com prides itself on offering unlimited special deals on all of its accommodation options. Built-in value is the name of the game, whether you plan to stay for a good time or long time. Booking early is always advised to ensure availability of your preferred options, but equally, last-minute specials can produce unexpected delights to be found at dream properties that are ultimately priced within your holiday budget. <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-deals/">Deals Finder</a> and <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-deals/last-minute-hotel-deals">Last Minute Deals</a> are your go-to zones for the best possible savings, whether you’re booking your stay early or late.</p> <p><strong>4. Live like a local</strong></p> <p>Once you’ve finally arrived at your dream destination, the key for keeping costs to a minimum depends upon splashing out only when absolutely necessary. Advance planning ensures you need never miss out on maximising the sightseeing and experiential potential of your holiday location. Allocating part of your budget to a select few must-do-and-see holiday desirables is essential. But a memorable holiday also means not blowing the bank, so be sure to eat or pack most meals and drinking water from your accommodation base; boutique browsing rather than splashing the cash on designer labels; sticking to nature-based activities that don’t cost the earth and ultimately revive the spirit and senses are your best bet for returning home from a long holiday richly rewarded for your cost-saving measures.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/4-top-tips-save-money-long-holiday">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a><span></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Loved up royals! Princess Mary and Prince Frederik step out in Paris for royal tour

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Princess Mary is arguably one of the best dressed royals and has once again proven she knows how to perfectly put together an outfit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Danish royal along with her husband, Prince Frederik are in France for a three-day working visit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The couple is leading a business delegation of around 50 Danish companies and business organisations. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Looking both loved up and stylish, the couple were photographed sharing a smile as they visited the Grande Arche de la Defense building for the first day of their trip. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 47-year-old donned a dark blue midi-dress, featuring elegant pleats, cinched waistline and delicate buttons running across its centre. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The royal topped off the gorgeous ensemble with a pair of blue heels and a matching clutch. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Looking picture perfect next to his wife and future Queen of Denmark, Prince Frederik donned a smart navy suit and a blue and white tie to match his wife. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Later during the evening, the couple reunited for a reception celebrating 30 years of La Grande Arche. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She changed into a darling black polka-dot dress, by Black Halo, with a boat neckline for the occasion. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's been a busy time for the Australian princess, who was just recently promoted to Acting Monarch by her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scroll through the gallery to see Princess Mary’s stunning looks. </span></p>

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Debunked: What you thought WRONG about cruising

<p>We’ve all been there: in the middle of an argument it suddenly dawns on you that, no matter what you say or do, your opponent is going to take the win. Not because they’ve used reason and logic to secure their triumph but because they have an insatiable need to Always. Be. Right.</p> <p>It can be incredibly frustrating to enter into an argument with a person like this, but this character flaw can be managed. Remember, a person’s constant need to be right is most certainly masking their desperate fear of being wrong, and in the end, that fear is driving them to prevail by any means necessary. Try these tips to make these arguments and conflicts as painless as possible.</p> <p><strong>They’re crowded and ‘touristy’</strong></p> <p>As the world shrinks, new and unique travel experiences are increasingly harder to come by.</p> <p>Cruise ships are adapting to these demands, creating never-before-seen itineraries that leave the crowds far behind.</p> <p>Trace the forgotten Spice Route, through ancient jungles and along white beaches, past crumbling monasteries and deserted cave temples, backwater fishing villages and local bazaars.</p> <p>Discover Namibia’s German heritage, Benin’s voodoo traditions and Ghana’s dark slavery sites.</p> <p>Visit nomadic communities in Madagascar and venture out to tiny Pacific islands, where some of the world’s most fascinating indigenous cultures can still be found.</p> <p><strong>It’s boring being stuck at sea</strong></p> <p>Because you can align your cruise to your interests so perfectly these days, if you’re bored on a cruise it’s because you’ve picked the wrong one.</p> <p>Choose the right cruise and you can finally do all those things you’ve always wanted to as you drift between destinations.</p> <p>Think scuba diving or wine tasting, photography or yoga.</p> <p>Some ships have theme parks, water slides and zip lines, and you can skydive without even going ashore.</p> <p><strong>Isn’t the food a little dull?</strong></p> <p>Bland buffets are a thing of the past.</p> <p>Today’s cruises serve up a treat for all the senses.</p> <p>Embark on excursions to local markets, ranches and farms to source fresh ingredients for cooking classes back on board.</p> <p>You can hop aboard cruise and enjoy world-class menus from famous chefs such as Curtis Stone, gastropub guru Ernesto Uchimura and many more.</p> <p><strong>I’ll have to get used to seasickness</strong></p> <p>Unlike that little old sailboat in the marina, cruise ships, large or small, are equipped with specialised stabilisers that take almost all of the motion out of the ocean.</p> <p>Once settled on board, you’re likely to forget you’re even afloat.</p> <p>Booking a cabin in the middle of a deck and lower in the ship, at its natural balance point, can help settle any pre-cruise fears further, despite it being extremely unlikely you will become seasick aboard in the first place.</p> <p><em>Written by Shanell Mouland. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-cruise-myths-debunked/page/6">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Tourists overrun with crocs after exploring Arnhem Land

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Video has captured the moment tourists found themselves surrounded by saltwater crocodiles in Cahills Crossing in Arnhem Land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The crossing, which is three hours east of Darwin, provides the only road access point between Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kimberley Off-Road Adventure Tours posted the video, saying that the crocs came out of the water as the tide changed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There were over 30 salties in there,” the post read.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This car went through after us and had a bit of trouble with the peak hour traffic.”</span></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkimberleyoffroadtours%2Fvideos%2F389232485308123%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=267" width="267" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The crossing is considered the most dangerous bodies of water in Australia due to dangerous water flow capable of turning over cars as well as the large amount of crocodiles calling the area home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each year, dozens of drivers attempt to travel over the submerged crossing, but end up being washed away.</span></p>

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How to make the most of your cruise holiday

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’ve always wanted to give cruising a try but you’re a bit worried you will end up feeling bored with nothing to do but to wander up and down the ship for days? Well, here’s some news for you, cruising can be anything and everything you want it to be. Here we list some tips on how to make the most of your next cruise holiday.</span></p> <p><strong>Take the right trip</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It may sound obvious, but choosing the right cruise is the first step to making the most of it. Finding a balance between port stops and cruising time is important and above all it comes down to personal preference. If you’re more interested in spending time onboard a ship than you are exploring the sites then some of the larger cruise-liners might be the thing for you. Some ships are virtually floating cities, with pools, movie theatres, shops, clubs, gyms and live shows.</span></p> <p><strong>Make a plan</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most cruises will provide you with plenty of time to explore the local ports along the journey so to prevent yourself from merely passing time on land, you can do some research beforehand. Map out a handful of interesting sights for each destination or ask the crew for their expertise and advice on what to see. Isn’t it curious how the most memorable experiences often happen when we get out of our comfort zone!</span></p> <p><strong>Indulge</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruising can be as entertaining or as relaxing as you prefer. You may want to set aside a whole day just for pampering. Now a-days most cruise ships will have a day spas where you can get a relaxing massage, sweat out the toxins in a sauna and coat yourself in all kinds of rejuvenating balms.</span></p> <p><strong>Bring a book</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Consider bringing a good selection of books and magazines for when you’ve had enough of all the action and need some quality downtime. We recommend taking your iPad or Kindle so you can bring a virtual library without sacrificing precious bag space.</span></p> <p><strong>Learn something new</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being on a cruise is the perfect time to reflect on your goals and your dreams for the future and perhaps even learn a new skill. Download an audiobook on your smart phone and brush up on your foreign language skills or book in a personal training or golf lesson onboard the ship.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However you chose to spend your time on your next holiday, we hope you have a blast!</span></p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-cruise-holiday.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></span></em></p>

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Top 5 unforgettable island getaways

<p>Winter blues getting you down? Here are five fab last-minute tropical island escapes. Ready to go?</p> <p>If the winter blues are getting you down, and the start of September still seems like an eternity away, why not indulge in a last-minute island escape? Here are the easiest, cheapest and most popular global destinations to visit in order to get some instant sunshine. August is one of the most popular months for Aussies to jet away for a mid-year holiday, so pack your bag and book yourself a spontaneous holiday filled with tropical beaches, exotic culture and glistening sunshine!</p> <p><strong>1. Canary Islands, Spain</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>The Canary Islands are a tropical oasis located off the Spanish mainland. Behind its veneer of exotic oceanfront resorts lies a backdrop of lush pine forests with breathtaking waterfalls, dramatic volcanoes and lava fields. There are also a seemingly endless array of Sahara-style dunes. Spain is an idyllic mid-winter getaway due to the inviting climate and rich culture. The Canary Islands retain these positive aspects without being overrun by tourists, making it perfect for a sunny and spontaneous winter getaway.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Watch the sunset while sipping a cocktail at one of Tenerife’s myriad of oceanfront bars, scuba dive and discover hundreds of species of fish or hike up mountains and across volcanic fields. Other options are to explore the area on a unique camel ride or soak up a dose of Canarian culture by viewing the work of local sculptors and artists in Gran Canaria.</p> <p><strong>2. Sri Lanka</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Sri Lanka is a cultural paradise with an enticing array of options to suit all travellers. Its geographical proximity to Australia means that flights are affordable and short, making it highly suitable for last-minute vacation plans. Sri Lanka boasts of exquisite beaches, pristine rainforests, tea plantations, world-renowned train rides, legendary temples and phenomenal cuisine. The small island has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites packed into an area that is just over two-thirds the size of Tasmania!<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Go on a scenic train ride from Kandy to Nuwera Eliya; visit the National Museum in the capital, Colombo; witness herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards in Uda Walame National Park; and bike along coastlines and small villages along the National Cycling Trail.</p> <p><strong>3. Lombok, Indonesia</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Many people might think of a last-minute vacation just outside of Australia and immediately turn their attention to Bali. But Lombok, Bali’s less frantic neighbour, has just as many exotic tourist options and authentic Indonesian cultural offerings, all without the hordes of partying Westerners. Lombok forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is the gateway to the magical Gili Islands.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Climb the breathtaking Mount Rinjani; take a bemo (converted mini-van) through the rice fields to visit Lombok’s holiest temple, Pura Lingsar; snorkel the warm tropical waters and travel by boat to the surrounding Gili Islands; barter for fresh produce at the local Pasar Mandalika markets.</p> <p><strong>4. New Caledonia</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Want to feel like you’re in France while travelling just over 1000km East of the Australian mainland? New Caledonia is a multi-ethnic tropical island that offers a range of relaxing activities as well as numerous cultural and natural experiences. Maintaining temperatures of around 23-24°C throughout Winter, it is a conveniently located escape for anyone restricted by time or a small budget. Although the water may not be toasty, these months are ideal for hikes through the Grand Randonnee (great hiking trail). New Caledonia is a nature lovers’ haven with opportunities a-plenty for sailing, diving, fishing, hiking, golfing, watersports and adventurous activities. Alternatively, you could simply visit the exotic island on a cruise, or spend time relaxing in the cultural hub and capital, Noumea.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Explore Noumea’s many districts, which have cultural influence from countries spanning five continents; discover the Melanesian customs, picturesque landscapes and coral reefs of Iles Loyaute (the Loyalty Islands); hike up to the gates of the City of Dumbéa; or immerse yourself in the magic of the largest lagoon in the world.</p> <p><strong>5. Montego Bay, Jamaica</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Located in Jamaica’s northwest corner, Montego Bay is a hub for flights and resorts and offers visitors fantastic weather. All-inclusive resorts are near their annual low at this time of year, justifying a spontaneous trip to the exotic Caribbean. Simply book a flight and a resort and then choose from the abundant R&amp;R options or watersports activities upon your arrival.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Lounge around at Doctor’s Cave Beach; learn about the Rastafari movement at the Indigenous Rastafarian Village; take a zip-line tour through the canopy; or get the adrenaline pumping with a jungle river tubing safari.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-enticing-island-get-aways.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Hawaii’s hidden treasures

<p>What’s the first thing you think of when you conjure up an image of Hawaii? Diamond Head? Waikiki? The bustling tourist haven of Honolulu? They all have their own appeal, but there is so much more to this dramatic group of islands that is just waiting to be discovered by the traveller who wants experiences beyond the ordinary.</p> <p><strong>Kauai – the garden isle</strong><br />The fourth largest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is the garden island of Kauai. Far from the bright lights of the main tourist centres, Kauai offers a very different experience from its better known neighbour.</p> <p>The first thing that strikes the visitor is the imposing presence of its jagged mountain terrain, draped in a thick green carpet of tropical vegetation. Ancient geographical forces have created spectacular natural wonders, such as the breathtaking Waimea Canyon or the lush Kokee State Park. It’s a landscape so rugged that much of it is only accessible by sea or air.</p> <p>Kauai has plenty to offer those who want to get up close to nature too, with kayaking, snorkelling and hiking high on the list. And of course there are glorious, unspoiled beaches that can make you feel a million miles from civilisation.</p> <p><strong>Maui – the valley isle</strong><br />Maui offers a very different experience. It can still rival Kauai in terms of natural attraction, but it has a quite different charm all its own. Small towns and villages dot the island and dreamy resorts blend into the balmy tropical landscape.</p> <p>The beaches are renowned as some of the world’s best and up into the hills the Haleakala National Park offers commanding vistas of this second largest island in the group. The Hana highway is a touring feature in itself as it snakes along the spectacular coastline and gives perfect viewing access to countless waterfalls, lush rainforests and idyllic pools.</p> <p><strong>Fact file - How to get there</strong></p> <p>Major airlines fly to Hawaii from most state capitals to Honolulu International Airport, where you can transfer to a short flight for Maui or Kauai.</p> <p><strong>Where to stay on Maui</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnmmh-marriotts-maui-ocean-club-molokai-maui-and-lanai-towers/">Marriott's Maui Ocean Club</a> – spacious and spectacular oceanfront location, refreshing pools, and eclectic dining. </p> <p><a href="http://www.travaasa.com/">Travaasa Hana</a> – nestled in a natural wonderland offering both elegance and adventure. </p> <p><strong>Where to stay on Kauai</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.poipushores.com/">Poipu Shores</a> - one, two, or three bedroom condominium suites with ocean views. </p> <p><a href="http://www.cliffsatprinceville.com/">The Cliffs at Princeville</a> - oceanfront luxurious 1 &amp; 2 bedroom condominium units.</p> <p><em>Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/hawaii%E2%80%99s-hidden-treasures.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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What you should avoid on your first cruise

<p>It’s your first foray into the exciting world of cruises. Understandably you don’t know what to expect. While relaxation, fun and adventure are high on the agenda, there’s also the potential for some less enjoyable experiences.</p> <p>By avoiding the following, you’ll increase your chances of a stress free break.</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t become a victim of sickness</strong><br />Avoid having your holiday ruined by illness with precautionary measures such as hand washing. Bring your own pillow, air purifier, hand-wipes and supplements. Avoid sharing food or utensils. Bring medications in case you do come down with something and pack those motion sickness pills if you’re prone to seasickness.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t book interior rooms without a window</strong><br />With their cheaper price brackets, a room without a view can look very enticing, but cruise aficionados will tell you it’s well worth forking out the extra money to wake up to a stunning view. A room with a window or balcony might be more expensive, but consider how your cruise experience will be enhanced by fresh air, natural light and the sight of the sea and sky.</p> <p><strong>3. Don’t get caught in a queue</strong><br />With a mid-sized ship typically accommodating 900-2000 other passengers, standing in queues is a notorious negative of going on a cruise. Queues typically occur when departing for port stopovers (especially when a transfer or tendering boat is required). Rush hour at the buffet is another time. A good option to avoid the crowds is ensuring you arrive early.</p> <p><strong>4. Don’t spend too much time in your room<br /></strong>Many passengers don’t make themselves aware of the ships facilities and services - ranging from libraries to gyms - and fail to maximise the opportunities onboard. Cruises offer lots of fun activities, entertainment and opportunities for socialising. Remember you’re paying for it, so why not take advantage.</p> <p><strong>5. Don’t get stung by hidden cruise costs<br /></strong>These can mount up. Common offenders include drinks, offshore activities, spa activities and tempting alternative eateries and treats. To avoid your expenditure blowing out, budget for these and check out the spa specials on port days.</p> <p>Finally, don’t miss the boat. Bon voyage!</p> <p><em>Written by Linda Moon. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-things-to-avoid-on-your-cruise.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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“Yelling for help”: Passengers reveal heroic actions of P&O cruise ship as they spend 10 hours rescuing migrants

<p>British passengers on board a P&amp;O cruise liner have explained how the ship helped to rescue more than 20 migrants who were on an inflatable dinghy off the Spanish coast.</p> <p>Around 3,000 passengers were enjoying the stunning views of the Mediterranean as the ship sailed from Cadiz to Barcelona when they heard whistling, yelling and shouts for help coming from the water.</p> <p>Passengers rushed to the ship’s balcony where they spotted an overcrowded dinghy, which was struggling to stay afloat.</p> <p>The cruise ship quickly came to a halt as they spent an hour trying to find the inflatable raft.</p> <p>A lifeboat was then sent to pick up the passengers, most of whom were men in their late teens. This heroic action took ten hours, as the cruise liner had to turn around to rescue those in the dinghy.</p> <p>One passenger, who did not want to give her name, said to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7503963/British-passengers-P-O-cruise-tell-giant-ship-rescued-20-migrants-Spanish-coast.html" target="_blank">The Daily Mail</a></em>: “Once the migrants were on board we had to go back on ourselves to Almeria, which took up a lot of time.</p> <p>“The attitude of the passengers was quite mixed. Many were angry that we had been delayed and had to rescue these migrants. It was actually quite shocking what some people were saying.”</p> <p>The passenger added: “It's not what you expect to happen on a Mediterranean cruise, but these people were just floating in the middle of the sea and were clearly in distress. We couldn't just leave them.”</p> <p>Dorothy Hallet, 73, told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7503963/British-passengers-P-O-cruise-tell-giant-ship-rescued-20-migrants-Spanish-coast.html" target="_blank">MailOnline</a></em>: 'It was certainly quite an interesting experience.</p> <p>“On rushing towards the balcony, it was clear to see that in the water was an inflatable and overloaded dinghy.</p> <p>“The officers on the bridge were aware of the situation but it takes some considerable time to stop a large ship and then circle it around to find the small craft again.</p> <p>“The captain did an excellent job of manoeuvring the vessel.”</p> <p>After the migrants were brought on board the ship, an endeavour that took two hours, they were searched by the ship’s security staff.</p> <p>The captain then apologised for the delay, explaining that it was caused by “migrants in distress”.</p> <p>Once the passengers reached Almeria, the migrants were taken off the ship by the Spanish coastguard and were handed over to local police.</p> <p>Passengers also revealed that upon leaving the Azura, the migrants thanked them and the ship's officials for helping to save their lives.</p> <p>Mrs Hallet, from Hampshire, who was on the cruise with her husband, added: “It's been a great humanitarian operation by P&amp;O and they should be applauded for that. What happens next to those people will be down to the authorities.</p> <p>“No matter what people think regarding those who make the often foolhardy and hazardous journeys from North Africa towards the countries of southern Europe, when faced with the possibility of rescuing drowning people we are bound by the instincts of humanity to save them.'”</p>

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Top 5 Australian beaches

<p>As the world’s largest island with 35,876 km of coastline, you would expect Australia to have more than its share of beautiful beaches. Mother Nature has not disappointed us on that score. From the tropical north to the pristine wilderness of Tasmania, we have some awe-inspiring combinations of sun, sand and surf.</p> <p>With such a vast and varied coastal landscape, there may well be many remote beach jewels that remain uninhabited and undiscovered, but here is our list of the top ten that you simply must visit.</p> <p><strong>Whitehaven Beach, Queensland</strong><br />If you have ever seen a travel brochure for the Whitsundays, then you would no doubt have seen this jewel in Queensland’s tropical crown. It is stunningly beautiful, primarily due to it piercingly white sand contrasted with the deep azure waters that lap its shores.</p> <p>The limited access and 7km length means that the crowds are never an issue. The powdery, fine grained sand makes it both velvety to touch and surprisingly cool and far from being a single monotonous stretch, the beach meanders through lagoons, coves and inlets, making it a joy to explore.</p> <p><strong>Cable Beach, Western Australia</strong><br />For a beach that is rapidly gaining international notoriety, Cable Beach near Broome is still has a remarkably untouched feeling to it. It is within walking distance of Broome, so accommodation options are plentiful, but it retains the mystical charm that pervades the vast north west region of Western Australia.</p> <p>The highlight of any visit to Cable is, of course, the stunning Indian Ocean sunsets. The glowing orange-red disk, descending to the blue horizon can be best appreciated from the aptly named Sunset bar or from the back of a camel on an idyllic sunset camel ride.</p> <p><strong>Wineglass Bay, Tasmania</strong><br />Another beach that benefits from its relative isolation, Wineglass Bay nestles in the glorious Freycinet National Park on Tassie’s east coast. The two hour drive from Launceston or three hours from Hobart are richly rewarded with one of nature’s most breathtaking spectacles. From a narrow mouth the bay opens out to a distinctive wineglass shape that gives the location such a unique character.</p> <p>Bring your walking shoes for a brisk 20 minute hike to the lookout that gives the best view of the elegant arc. A snorkel or kayak is also highly recommended as ways of exploring this masterpiece.</p> <p><strong>Byron Bay Beach, New South Wales</strong><br />It’s perhaps better known for its hippy history, world class Bluesfest or burgeoning café culture, but Byron’s sprawling beach is the real hero of this town. Located at the easternmost point of mainland Australia, Byron is a surfer’s mecca with a break that attracts worldwide attention from surfing devotees. The iconic lighthouse adds another quaint dimension to the experience.</p> <p><strong>Bells Beach, Victoria</strong><br />Made famous by its pre-eminent place on the pro surfing circuit, Bells Beach is near Torquay on Victoria’s spectacular Great Ocean Road. The beach carves its way dramatically into the surrounding red rock cliffs, which provides a gorgeous backdrop to the perfection of its powerfully arced surf breaks.</p> <p>It’s a great spot for those keen on bushwalks, with excellent trails that offer dramatic coastal views. The striking turquoise sea is another standout feature that will live long in the memory.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see the top 5 Australian beaches. </p> <p><em>Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/top-10-best-australian-beaches.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Why Duchess Meghan ditched her engagement ring for the royal tour

<p>As Harry and Meghan kicked off their 10-day royal tour in South Africa, their PR team could finally let out a sigh of relief after a tumultuous few weeks.</p> <p>A lot is dependant on this visit, due to negative press surrounding the couple from their spending habits to the penchant for private jets, the Sussexes definitely needed a PR win.</p> <p>As they smiled and hugged their way through their numerous engagements, it was evident that the two were professionals. Meghan’s powerful speech quickly made headlines and her moving words gained traction for all the right reasons.</p> <p>But the one decision that was the smartest of all was the Duchess of Sussex choosing to not wear her engagement ring. Instead, she opted for her gold Welsh wedding band and another dainty gold ring.</p> <p>While this may seem like an unimportant detail, it was far from it. The ring, which is valued at $295,000, was designed by Harry by the Queen’s preferred jewellers, Cleave and Company.</p> <p>Her choice to forgo this expensive item reflected the royal values at its core. Which is, you may have plenty of money to go around, but you are never meant to flaunt that wealth.</p> <p>In order to win over royal fans, it’s important to remain humble even if you do live in an extravagant castle and have a vault filled with priceless jewels.</p> <p>The 37-year-old knew that the ring on her finger is worth more money than many of the people of Nyanga would ever see in their lives. Which would take away her message of caring and would emphasise on the class difference between the royals and citizens.</p>

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What is the future of travel?

<p>Imagine this: you climb aboard your cruise ship to start your holiday only to have a robot check you in, take your luggage to your room and pour you a drink. It sounds a bit farfetched doesn’t it? But so did many of the technologies we enjoy today just decades ago. Here we look at some of the most astonishing robot helpers you may now meet abroad.</p> <p><strong>The robots who are making travel easier</strong> <br />It’s hard to believe, but it’s true - travel and hospitality companies around the world are adopting robots for a whole range of different jobs and it’s changing the way we experience our holidays. If you’ve recently stayed at international hotel chains such as the Marriott International, the Holiday Inn and the Hilton in Europe or North America you may have already encountered a robot checking you in, carrying your bags or even delivering items to your room.</p> <p>But for travellers who haven’t yet experienced robots on their holidays the sight of a robot bellhop shuffling its way to the hotel lifts may come as a big surprise. There is currently no particular robot that can do everything, but robot helpers are being designed for a range of different tasks and they come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colours.</p> <p>Some like Mario, a 60 cm robot at the Marriott Hotel in Ghent, Belgium, are humanoid with arms and legs and even a face. These kinds of robots are commonly being used to interact with guests in a human-like way. You’ll find Mario entertaining kids, giving business presentations, handing out keys at hotel reception and telling guests what’s on the morning breakfast menu at the buffet. It can dance and sing, order cabs and play music, much to the delight of patrons. Mario can also speak up to 19 different languages, more than any human could possibly know.</p> <p>Other robots like Relay, look more like moving suitcases with screens on top for communicating with guests. Relay has become a valued member of staff at the Holiday Inn Express in Redwood City California. If you order a change of sheets, extra towels or anything else from room service, chances are you’ll get to meet Relay when it delivers the items to your door. This hotel is one of a group of Holiday Inn hotels trialling robot butlers to help free up reception staff for other tasks. And, judging by online reviews, it’s a real hit with guests.</p> <p>Japan’s Henn-na or “weird hotel” in Nagasaki takes the concept of robot staff to a whole new level. Quite often guests do a double take when they see what’s waiting for them at reception; there’s a female humanoid robot that looks and sounds like a real woman and if she’s busy, you might be lucky enough to be checked in by her colleague - a robot T-rex dinosaur. “Check in is at 3pm,” the T-rex often informs wary guests as they approach reception cautiously. We don’t think guests will be arguing with that rule.</p> <p>The Henn-na hotel also boasts a robot mechanical arm in a glass case that can store your luggage away in draws, and a small robot concierge that will order you a taxi and give you directions any time you need them.</p> <p>In the cruise industry too robots are becoming commonplace. In Europe, the Costa Group is trialling a robot that can read people’s emotions on the company’s cruise liners. The company is hoping the robot, named Pepper, will improve guest’s experiences by helping them during the embarkation process.</p> <p>Pepper has four microphones and two HD cameras as well as a 3D depth sensor and a touch screen. It can recognise faces, speak and hear and move around autonomously. It knows German, Italian and English and if you’re feeling blue it can adapt its personality to suit your mood.</p> <p>The robot craze is also exciting guests at bionic bars. You’ll find bionic bars in a select number of Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The robot arms that work the bars might not be much use in listening to your relationship woes, but they sure can pour a good cocktail. These robot bartenders can mix just about any combination of your choice – all you have to do is select your mixes on a keypad and “hey presto” your creation will be ready in minutes.</p> <p>One of the most advanced robots currently in service in travel is being trialled by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Named Spencer, its main role is to guide lost passengers to their departure gates quickly and efficiently at Amsterdam airport, but it can also recognise groups of people and read the group’s emotions and behaviours. It’s equipped with laser eyes and detailed maps of the airport’s interior. It’s even brainy enough to stop and check that no one in the group of passengers following it has been left behind.</p> <p><strong>Are robots here to stay?</strong> <br />A recent survey by travel booking company Travelzoo points to more and more robots in the travel industry in the future. In fact, a recent estimate by the company predicts spending on robots in travel will exceed US $40 billion dollars by 2020 with Asian countries such as South Korea, China and Japan set to lead the market.</p> <p>Travelzoo Managing Director, Adrian Saunders, says companies are hiring robots to offer a smoother experience for travellers. “Robots can process data faster, they don’t tire, they speak multiple languages and they save time,” says Saunders. “ At the moment they are mostly working in menial tasks that humans don’t necessarily want to do, but there’s no limit to what they’ll be able to do in the future – they can be programmed to do just about anything.” he says.</p> <p>So far the majority of robots have been employed overseas in Europe, Asia and the US but travel companies in Australia will likely follow suit when trials at major international companies see the technologies adopted throughout their international branches. But will Australians be receptive to robots? Saunders thinks they will:</p> <p>“If you ask any of the experts it’s inevitable that we’ll see robots in a whole range of jobs within the industry. There will be robot bartenders, robot concierges, hotel porters, robots in airports and in a whole lot of different customer service roles. Australians on the whole are pretty optimistic about them,” he says.</p> <p>The Travelzoo survey, which questioned 788 Australian travellers online and compared the results to another study of 6211 people from different countries around the world, supports his view, but it also highlights some reservations Australians have. The survey found that two-thirds of Australians thought positively about robots working in roles such as hotel receptionist, but more than half of the participants still found robots quite frightening.</p> <p>77 per cent of Australians questioned in the survey expected robots to play a big part in our lives going forward and 33 per cent thought that robots would improve our lives.</p> <p>However 93 per cent of Australians surveyed had doubts about a robot’s ability to perform tasks like showing emotion. The same number of Australians had concerns about robots replacing human jobs. The respondents were also unconvinced that robots would have the ability to understand Australian slang, irony and our sense of humour.</p> <p>Interestingly the survey also found differences in what the different countries found acceptable as to how robots should look.</p> <p>Australians agreed with most countries in the original survey in that they preferred robots to look more like machines and less like humans. But they still wanted robots to have human voices. This is contrasted with respondents from China, in which 76 per cent said they wanted robots to look more human.</p> <p>Saunders cautions about being too concerned with how robots will affect human jobs just yet. “We’re still in the research and development phase and there’s quite a long time before robots can function anything like human staff can,” he says.</p> <p>There are also quite a few hurdles to work out with the technologies as the staff of the Residence Inn Marriott on Century Boulevard In Los Angeles discovered when their delivery robot, Wally, short- circuited after guests put wet towels in its storage section.</p> <p>However, Saunders does concede that there will come a time when robots’ artificial intelligence will eventually catch up to human intelligence and when that happens companies may decide to replace humans working in positions involving more complex tasks.</p> <p>“It opens up a bunch of questions. If we’re making these robots more and more intelligent at some point we’re going to have to teach them things like ethics, but what ethics and who is qualified to teach them ethics? he asks.</p> <p>Will robots ever be as capable as humans? Only time will tell. But just in case, if you’re heading out on your holidays remember to be kind to your robot butler because someday it may just be your hotel manager.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/are-robots-taking-over-the-world-of-travel.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

Cruising

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Cruising to the Midnight Sun

<p>For those of us who think of Europe as two-countries-before-breakfast tiny, Norway is a surprise. It’s about 2400 kilometres to cruise from Oslo to the top of Norway – about the same distance as Sydney to Townsville.</p> <p>However, unlike the Australian coast, the Norwegian coast is deeply inset with <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/bergen-is-the-gateway-to-the-fjords-of-norway.aspx">fjords</a>, some deep enough to accommodate the largest ships. Standing on deck looking up the sheer sides of a fjord rising more than a kilometre above and almost close enough to touch is magical. And watching a giant cruise ship turn in a fjord little wider than the ship’s length reveals impressive nautical skills.</p> <p>Most Norwegian cruises start on the southwest coast. Indeed, a lot don’t go anywhere near the capital city of Oslo. If you do travel via Oslo, I recommend an excursion out to Trondheim, the home of the legendary polar explorer Roald Amundsen. It’s tricky to get to – and to get back from – but it provides an interesting insight into a fascinating man. My other must-see recommendations are the Viking Ship Museum and the exciting new Opera House.</p> <p>The best-known port of the itinerary may well be the first and its most rewarding. Bergen is wonderful. It’s a World Heritage city and picturesque Bryggen, the city’s historic district and its heart from the days of the Hanseatic League, rewards hours of exploration.</p> <p>However, it’s a good idea to venture into the suburbs to Troldhaugen, which was composer Edvard Greig’s home. Sometimes there are recitals of Peer Gynt here. Venture down from his house to the waterfront to visit the simple hut where he wrote much of his music. He couldn’t have written it anywhere else: Greig’s compositions perfectly encapsulate the wonders of the dramatic Norwegian coast. “In the Hall of the Mountain King” indeed.</p> <p>One dramatic point of entry into fjordland is sailing into Flam, deep in a narrow fjord and the terminus of the Flam Railway. It will offered as a shore excursion and no other compares: the train climbs 865 metres over 20km to Myrdal on a journey justly rated as one of the most spectacular in the world. The rails begin mere metres from the dark, deep waters of the Aurlandsfjord. The next day you are likely to cruise along Sognefjord, Norway’s longest fjord at over 200km.</p> <p>Recently, I had the chance to ask the Norwegian captain of the <a href="http://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/en-au">Azamara Journey</a>, Captain Johannes Tysse what were his favourite fjords. Not surprisingly, they were all Norwegian. He nominated Geirangerfiord with the Seven Sisters waterfall and Naeroyfiord off Sognefiord into Godvangen. But his absolute favourite is Trollfiord, south of Tromso, where the Azamara Journey is the largest cruise ship able to turn within it.</p> <p>Norwegian summers can be a challenge. With luck, sunny days reveal snow-capped alps reflected in mirror-smooth fjords. But inclement days top up the snow cover while sometimes fog and cloud merge into an opaque white wall.</p> <p>While many of the best sights of the magnificent Geirangerfjord can be seen from the decks of the ship, in pretty Geiranger town it’s worthwhile venturing inland to Flydalsjuvet lookout, the one that features in so many gut-wrenching pictures.</p> <p>On a voyage north a stop may be Alesund, an important fishing port that burned down in 1904 and was rebuilt over the next three years in Art Noveau style. Heading north, Molde offers a chance to visit the Trolls Road and the beautiful new viewing platform at the top.</p> <p>Next are the two Ts. Trondheim, on the very open Trondheimsfjord, was once the capital of Norway and is still the country’s third most populous city. It’s a big step to the north to Tromso that lies above the Arctic Circle and has an impressive collection of wooden buildings in the city centre and a cable car to provide a bird’s-eye view of the city.</p> <p>A 12-hour visit to Honningsvag is barely enough time to appreciate North Cape. But if you are lucky, your ship may cruise around the cape and provide a perspective denied to land-based visitors. It’s also closer than most people will ever get to the North Pole.</p> <p>The ultimate goal of a Norwegian cruise is North Cape (or Nordkapp). At 71.1725°N this is as far north as you can go on the European continent - the next stop is the North Pole. The main attraction is to gather at a giant clifftop globe of the world and watch the midnight sun skirt above the horizon before rising again. Honningsvag is the tiny port for North Cape.</p> <p>There’s a very wide range of options for a Norwegian cruise as most cruise companies offer it throughout the European summer. The classic voyage is with <a href="https://www.hurtigruten.com/">Hurtigruten</a> that began running mail boats to remote coastal communities in 1893 and offers an extensive selection today.</p> <p>Otherwise, just consult your favourite cruise company be it Azamara, Silversea, Costa, MSC, Holland America, Saga, Fred Olsen, Seabourn, NCL, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, Oceania, P&amp;O, Princess, Windstar, Lindblad, Sea Cloud and Viking, of course. There’s a very good chance they’ll all be able to offer you a cruise with the chance to embrace your inner Viking.</p> <p><em>Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/cruising-to-the-midnight-sun.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a></em></p>

Cruising

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Ship shape to Australia

<p> “This morning we will cruise past the Sydney Opera House and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to tie up at White Bay in the suburb of Balmain,” the captain declared.</p> <p>These are some of the most welcome words in travel. Sydney Harbour is simply one of the world’s most spectacular inlets and the best way to see it is from the deck of a ship. The highlight is passing under the Bridge when it looms close overhead.</p> <p>Sadly, many ships sailing into Sydney are too big to fit under the Bridge and that’s their loss. In May 2017 the Australian Cruise Lines International released a report revealing that the three most popular destinations for the rapidly growing group of Australian cruisers (1.3 million last year) are the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, passing Europe for the first time.</p> <p>While there are many vessels to choose from, the Azamara Journey has to be one of the most appealing. Carrying less than 700 passengers (served by 400 crew) and being only 30,000 tonnes, it’s a relatively small ship. That means it can visit ports that larger ships can’t and embarking and disembarking is relatively fast and painless.</p> <p>The ship looks stylish and functions rather like a floating contemporary country club – but one where drinks are included. There’s a range of dining venues plus several bars, a small casino and the Cabaret Lounge.</p> <p>In a substantial refit last year, every part of the ship was revamped. Impressively, there is now bow-to-stern full strength wifi coverage. There’s a range of accommodation options from interior cabins to spacious suites. Our Ocean-view cabin had a decent sized window (that didn’t open) and enough space for the two of us (and lots of under-bed storage for our suitcases). But the bathroom was rather small, especially the shower stall, and on a return visit I’d aim for a room with a balcony.</p> <p>The quality of the food onboard was impressive. The main Discoveries restaurant changes menus for lunch and dinner every day and there are window tables on three sides of the restaurant. Or, for an extra charge, there’s the Mediterranean Aqualina Restaurant or the steak and seafood restaurant Prime C. The indoor/outdoor Windows Café was light and airy and we mainly visited for breakfast or a quick dinner.</p> <p><a href="https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/en-au">Azamara Club Cruises</a> has the tag line “Stay Longer. Experience more”, which was reflected in our itinerary: 12 days from Wellington NZ to Sydney. There were two days in each of Wellington and Picton and very full days in Akaroa (for Christchurch), Dunedin, Milford Sound (and others) and Hobart. Even Sydney was unhurried – we stayed on for an extra night, basically a relaxed staycation in our own town.</p> <p><strong>Voyage highlights</strong> <br />The cruise got away to a very good start with an evening of entertainment at Te Papa, the impressive national museum in Wellington. It included a private tour of the museum’s brilliant Gallipoli exhibition that utilised <em>The Lord of the Rings</em> team to bring the conflict to life as it never has before.</p> <p>The time in Picton was sufficient to visit NZ’s best vineyards, a glow-worm gully, Abel Tasman National Park, and the Peter Jackson-supported <a href="http://omaka.org.nz/">Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre</a> that has some amazing old aircraft and pieces of the Red Baron’s aircraft.</p> <p>Arkaroa on the volcanic Banks Peninsula is a worthwhile destination in its own right. But it’s also only a coach ride away from Christchurch, which is going through a rebuild with admirably positive spirit.</p> <p>Dunedin was a delightful surprise that deserves its own thorough review. Albatross, a castle with a sad family history, penguins and seals, a chocolate factory (soon to close), beautiful gardens, street art and a rapidly developing urban renewal that matches the world’s best make it well worth a visit.</p> <p>We had a day scheduled in New Zealand’s glorious southern fiordland and the weather cooperated with blue skies and great visibility. Our master, Captain Johannes Tysse showed both his Norwegian heritage and the Azamara Journey’s ability to manoeuvre in tight situations.</p> <p>In the early morning we came into Dusky Sound then passed through the narrow Acheron Passage into Breaksea Sound. On our last afternoon in NZ we did a ship tour through Milford Sound. The captain manoeuvred the ship almost under the waterfall and up to village who’d taken an overnight excursion to play golf across the South Island.</p> <p>Two full sea days on the way to Tasmania gave a welcome break to simply enjoy ship life. In Hobart, on a Sunday, we took in a street market before cycling down Mt Wellington. The views from the top are wonderful and little peddling is required on the downhill leg all the way to the Cascade Brewery then into the city via Battery Point.</p> <p>Sailing down the Derwent as we left Hobart almost made me wish that I’d done a Sydney-Hobart race to appreciate this great scenery at the end of the race.</p> <p>Finally, we sailed past Bondi Beach and turned to port into Sydney Harbour.</p> <p>The rapid growth in interest in sailing from New Zealand to Australia seems rather incomprehensible at first glance. What is there that you could do by flight and rental car? However, after doing it I’m hooked. It was wonderful to see the highlights of the South Island then return to our cabin each evening before enjoying the luxuries of life on the Azamara Journey.</p> <p>Fiordland can only be appreciated from the water and Hobart is a great cruise destination. The Azamara Journey was the perfect vessel for this voyage. It was small enough that we never felt just one of the crowd and soon staff were recognising us around the ship. Yet the ship was very stable on the crossing of the Tasman Sea. The Azamara Journey will revisit the route in February 2018. The almost-identical Azamara Quest will be in Australia in early 2019.</p> <p><em>Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/ship-shape-to-australia.aspx">Wyza.com.au</a>. </em></p>

Cruising