Cruising

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Why cruise ships may be dirtier than you think

<p>The beautiful salty breeze on the deck of a cruise ship might not be as fresh or clean as you think it is and a new study has revealed it might be less clean than beach air.</p> <p>Research conducted on four Carnival Corporation ships over the last two years found particulate matter (PM) – pollution comprising of small solids or liquid droplets in the air – had amounts comparable to places with high levels of pollution like Beijing and Taipei, Taiwan.</p> <p>The worst readings taken in the cruise ships were in areas designated for exercise or children’s activities.</p> <p>When cruise ship air is inhaled, it can “damage the heart and lungs,” according to the study completed by associate professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Ryan Kennedy.</p> <p>”It’s dangerous, it’s not a healthy thing for us to be exposed to,“ he<span><a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2019/01/24/health/cruise-ship-air-quality-report/index.html"> told CNN</a></span>.</p> <p>The report explains the ship may exhaust harmful toxins into the air including metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – of these which can have damaging impacts on vacationers and ship employees.</p> <p>The cruise ships tested were<em>: Carnival Liberty</em> in 2017, <em>Carnival Freedom</em> in April-May 2018 in the Caribbean, <em>Holland America Amsterdam</em> in October 2018 and <em>Princess Emerald</em> in November 2018.</p> <p>Holland America and Princess Cruises are both under the ownership of Carnival Corporation.</p> <p>Carnival Corporation has rebuffed the tests saying they were “completely ridiculous, inaccurate and in no way represent reality”.</p> <p>“We test the air quality of our ships and they meet or exceed every requirement.”</p> <p>This is not the first time that cruise lines have been subject to criticism for their contribution to pollution.</p> <p>In 2018 the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) committed to reduce the rate of carbon emissions across the industry fleet by 40 per cent by 2030 globally.</p>

Cruising

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The cat that gets to travel the seven seas

<p>One thing many people can agree on when going overseas is you miss your beloved pets at home. However, for this cruise ship captain, she’s lucky enough to be able to bring her cat with her on every voyage out to sea.</p> <p>Kate McCue, Celebrity Cruises' Captain, has been travelling with her Elf Sphynx cat, Bug Naked, for over two years – and he's seeing the world through his own eyes.</p> <p>Bug Naked has also proven to be popular, amassing over 18,000 Instagram followers.</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/Bt4XUSIB6eA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=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/Bt4XUSIB6eA/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">Busted sleeping on the job... again. . #happyvalentinesday #bugslife #pinkyandthebrain #captainscat #elf #sphynx #hairless #cat #cats #cats_of_instagram #catsofinstagram #sphynxlair #sphynxlove #sphynxcat #sphynxofinstagram #hairless_catstagram #hairlesscat #nakedcat #naked #sphynxismyworld #love #sphynx_feature #kitten #kittensofinstagram #loveit #life #nocoatkittygraduates</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/bugnaked/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> Bug Naked</a> (@bugnaked) on Feb 14, 2019 at 3:30pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The gorgeous Sphynx has travelled far and wide and although it  might seem strange to some, for 41-year-old Kate this is her reality for months at a time.</p> <p>Easy-going and glamorous, the cruise captain is continuing to defy the standards for cruise captains. She is an advocate for getting to know each crew member – and does this by going out of her way to public areas to socialise.</p> <p>“People want to talk to you and I’ve found that if I go to a captain’s dinner, I spend three hours with eight people which still leaves 2,900 people to [talk to],” <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/if-you-can-see-it-you-can-be-it-insta-famous-captain-making-cruise-cool/" target="_blank">she told the Telegraph.</a></p> <p>The captain has pioneered her own style of captaining for over 13 years of working on cruise ships with her sweet cat constantly by her side.  </p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see Bug Naked’s travelling adventures! </p> <p>All images: Instagram @captainkatemccue @bugnaked</p>

Cruising

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Why a cruise might not be for you

<p>Cruises for most are a retreat – a home away from home. However, for some what is meant to be a dreamy seascape might instead turn into the nightmare they didn’t expect.</p> <p>Decide if a cruise is for you with our helpful guide.</p> <p><strong>Cabins are small </strong></p> <p>While you might not be in your cabin a lot while cruising, keeping in mind the square footage of a room before booking is a good idea – as cruise ships have notoriously small spaces if you’re not willing to fork out big bucks.</p> <p>A small cabin may not be an issue for you and your partner or family, but if you’re looking for space to give you the luxury feel to your cabin, a standard cabin might not be the one for you.</p> <p>Instead, opt for a pricier room if you’re OK with paying a little more. There are perks that come with spending more money as well, other than square footage.</p> <p>Some cruise lines offer free non-alcoholic, priority boarding on and off the ship, onboard credit or even speciality dining.</p> <p><strong>Staff photographers are everywhere </strong></p> <p>It feels good to have your picture taken sometimes, especially on the glitz and glamour nights where you’re required to dress to the nines for the cruise’s special occasions.</p> <p>However, if you choose to board a cruise be prepared for a paparazzi-like experience where you’re asked for pictures every time you disembark at each port, when you eat and when you participate in each activity.</p> <p>These employee photographers are just one way a cruise will try to squeeze a few extra dollars out of you. Taking your own pictures on your own camera and politely declining anyone that pushes a camera in your face is the best way to prevent any unwilling spending.</p> <p><strong>Seasickness can take a toll on you</strong></p> <p>If you’ve never been on a cruise then perhaps you’ve never learnt the hard way of dealing with motion sickness, or better known as seasickness.</p> <p>Seasickness occurs when what you ‘see’ conflicts with what your inner ear senses – this confuses the brain and results in dizziness, nausea and often an upset tummy.</p> <p>There is no guarantee you will suffer from any symptoms of seasickness, but if you’re not willing to spend the exorbitant fee at a cruise shop, then you’re best to book in with your local GP a month in advance from your cruise.</p> <p> </p> <p>All holiday experiences carry positive and negative aspects, but it’s better to know what to look out for when preparing for your next getaway.</p> <p>Are you considering going on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

Cruising

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The good and bad of cruise life

<p>Cruise life can come with its ups and downs, as in any situation. What might be an island dream one moment could be a less-than-appealing experience the next.</p> <p>Setting sail can bring peace, comfort and a luxury experience. Waking up to ocean sunrises and eating chef-crafted meals with a sunset view is an incredible experience. However, there can be some negative factors when considering going on a cruise.</p> <p><strong>Expensive costs </strong></p> <p>Even if you have an income that can deal with tricky financial situations, it is important to take precautions.</p> <p>Medical care, tips, premium restaurants and expensive excursions can leave a dent in your bank account you might not have been aware of.</p> <p>It’s important to consider the unexpected costs of a cruise before deciding whether you want it to be your next getaway.</p> <p><strong>Cramped space </strong></p> <p>Unless you’re forking out money for a more expensive suite, rooms can be small with no luxury features. If you are planning to cruise with a group, consider room sizes and its specifications as you might be unimpressed with your stateroom size the day you board.</p> <p><strong>Sea sickness </strong></p> <p>Unfortunately, even the strongest of us might not be a perfect match for a large ship scaling the open seas. Motion sickness is extremely common. If considering a cruise, see your doctor and look into medicine (just in case) for motion sickness, as cruise ship medication can aid you – but possibly at a high price.</p> <p>Despite the negatives that you could be faced with on a cruise, the experience is still an unforgettable one that can leave you missing it when you get off the vessel.</p> <p>So, ensure you plan your next cruise taking the above tips into consideration, to help avoid any disappointments, and you’ll have the holiday of a lifetime.</p> <p>Have you been on a cruise before? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

Cruising

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Oprah Winfrey's generous gesture on cruise ship as she celebrates 65th birthday

<p>Oprah Winfrey has turned 65, and she is not holding back with the celebrations.</p> <p>Following her birthday on January 29, the talk show host held a girls-only three-day cruise trip on one of Holland America Line’s latest ships, Nieuw Statendam.</p> <p>The Girls’ Getaway Cruise departed from Fort Lauderdale, US with a one-day stop at the Bahamas. The tickets for the cruise were sold out the day it was announced back in June.</p> <p>In an Instagram video posted on Sunday, Oprah could be seen handing out tequila shots in her pyjamas while the guests cheered in delight.</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/BtZQ5Vkjy0-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=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/BtZQ5Vkjy0-/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">Tequila anyone? “I’m not throwing away my shot”! Thanks to every mother-daughter-sister-friend-cousin-neice-companion-partner who joined us on the #Girl’sGetAwayCruise. #OmagonHAL #pajamaparty</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/oprah/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> Oprah</a> (@oprah) on Feb 2, 2019 at 3:08pm PST</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>“Tequila anyone? “I’m not throwing away my shot”! Thanks to every mother-daughter-sister-friend-cousin-neice-companion-partner who joined us on the #Girl’sGetAwayCruise,” Oprah wrote in the caption.</p> <p>Oprah has also been minted as the godmother of the Nieuw Statendam ship, which was launched in December. According to Holland America Line, choosing a godmother for a new vessel is an important tradition to bring good luck and protection to the ship and all its passengers.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 333.496px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7823289/oprahship.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/dc2ad09271fc4b49a543efd6439f0d08" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Oprah Winfrey at the dedication ceremony of the Nieuw Statendam on February 2 in Fort Lauderdale, US</em></p> <p>“Holland America Line has had a very successful partnership with <em>O, The Oprah Magazine</em> since early 2017,” the cruise company said.</p> <p>“This partnership has been well-received by many of our guests and the <em>O Magazine</em>-inspired activities have been very popular on board. We are very honoured to have Oprah serve as the godmother of our newest ship.”</p>

Cruising

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Why you should choose a cruise over a resort holiday

<p>Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of cruising or a beginner – deciding to set sail may be a better option to lean towards over resort holidays as they can offer more for much less.</p> <p>If you’re wondering where to go on your next dreamy escape, a cruise or a resort stay might both be contenders for you and your partner, and your family.</p> <p>But stick around to see just why you might prefer a cruise getaway over a holiday in a pricey resort.</p> <p><strong>Affordable prices </strong></p> <p>One thing a cruise comes out trumps on versus a resort hotel are the endless options that come at an extremely affordable price.</p> <p>While most holidays on an island come at a hefty price, a quick seascape on a dream boat can come at a reasonable price if you know where to look.</p> <p>The cheapest cruise line prices start at $549 and take you to islands you’ve never been to before.</p> <p>The best part about these all-inclusive trips is they mean exactly that. Ship line incentives include all you can eat buffets, 24-hour food service and endless activities to choose from.</p> <p>So, if you’re a TV or movie junkie who can’t seem to hit pause for a bite to eat, you can take a stroll to the 24-hour food stands and carry your meal to the movie rooms most cruise ships offer onboard.</p> <p>If you enjoy eating whenever hunger strikes and playing sports during the day, then you’re in luck. Food delivery is always available during the night and most sports grounds are always open for you to hang around.</p> <p>Either way – everything you could want on an all-expenses-paid trip is right at your fingertips when you set sail.</p> <p><strong>Something fun for everyone </strong></p> <p>Whether you’re a sports fan, a water lover, movie fanatic or someone who seeks serenity and quiet – a cruise has something for everyone.</p> <p>Relax by the spa while a friendly waiter brings your requested beverage without you having to lift a finger or step foot on the ground.</p> <p>If you decide to bring along younger family members, let them relax at the kids’ zone where they can meet other people their age.</p> <p>Cruises offer experiences that make a guest feel pampered and spoilt and if that’s what you’re after then jump on board.</p> <p>There is fun for everyone to enjoy.</p> <p><strong>Ocean views – every day</strong></p> <p>The endless ocean views that go on for miles and miles will never quite compare to any other sight you might see after you walk onto the deck and welcoming atmosphere of a cruise.</p> <p>With calming, crashing waves, blue that goes beyond your eyesight, and sunsets and sunrises that can make you swoon – it’s not hard to see why you’d choose a cruise as your next getaway option.</p> <p>Would you like to go on a cruise? Or have you already been on one? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

Cruising

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Why you should consider a river cruise for your next holiday

<p>For some, there’s nothing better than immersing yourself in a world of quiet luxury. This can be tricky to do when you’re in the middle of the city, surrounded by the hustle and bustle. Avalon Waterways has taken river cruising to a whole new level in the last few years, and it’s the ideal way to experience new things in a world of luxury.</p> <p><strong>Room with a view </strong></p> <p>Enjoy a <span><a href="https://www.avalonwaterways.com.au/onboard-experiences/rooms-with-a-view?utm_medium=native&amp;utm_source=over60&amp;utm_campaign=avalon19-europe-feb19&amp;utm_content=room-with-view&amp;utm_term=paid-feb">room with a view</a></span> and relax in complete self-contained luxury. Avalon Waterways features one-of-a-kind Panorama Suites on its river cruises. These suites include the widest opening windows available in river cruising, the only Open-Air balcony available across the industry as well as beds facing the window, so you never miss a minute of the wonderful views that will pass you by.</p> <p>The wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows leave your room feeling open and airy, as well as inviting you in to relax completely as you take in the views from the river. The windows blur the lines between the world ending and where your suite begins.</p> <p>After a long day of travelling, you’ll be able to relax in the plushest of pillows as well as enjoy L’Occitane bath products in your private room. Enjoy Egyptian super-combed cotton linens, blankets and European-style doonas as you enjoy the glorious view from your private room.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 333.3333333333333px;" src="/media/7823154/native-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/d833614f0b55442e852a5c253660a0d9" /></p> <p><strong>Avalon Choice</strong></p> <p>With the introduction of <a href="https://www.avalonwaterways.com.au/onboard-experiences/avalon-choice?utm_medium=native&amp;utm_source=over60&amp;utm_campaign=avalon19-europe-feb19&amp;utm_content=choice-text&amp;utm_term=paid-feb">Avalon Choice</a>, the power is truly in your hands. You are able to personalise every element of your cruise, from where and what you eat to the type of excursions you do once you arrive at your next destination. There are three different excursion types to choose from on every 2019 Avalon Europe cruise. They are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Active</strong>, which is energetic excursions that keep you on the go. This includes canoeing, jogging tours and bike rides around the city.</li> <li><strong>Classic</strong>, which is where local experts guide you through the history and heritage of local destinations as well as the “must-see” sights of your destination. This can include guided museum tours.</li> <li><strong>Discovery</strong>, which is where you spend your days immersed entirely in the unique local culture of your destination. There are interactive hands-on activities, which are aimed at speaking to your interests. These can include tastings of local food, fruits and vegetables as well as walking tours around the local area.</li> </ul> <p>Whether you do that by exploring the depths of a city you’ve never been to or want to do some exercise and sightseeing at the same time, the itinerary is flexible enough for you to make your own choices about how you spend your day. Once you’ve finished with your excursion for the day, return back to the cruise and relax in complete luxury. You’re able to enjoy your cruise, your way.</p> <p><strong> <img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="/media/7823488/avalon-image-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e442635d9ca1434ca9283ff9d29ea8c4" /></strong></p> <p><strong>Active &amp; Discovery itineraries </strong></p> <p>For some travellers, expanding their horizons and pushing the limits of what they enjoy to do is the perfect way to enjoy their holidays. That’s why Avalon Waterways has designed the <span><a href="https://www.avalonwaterways.com.au/experiences/active-discovery?utm_medium=native&amp;utm_source=over60&amp;utm_campaign=avalon19-europe-feb19&amp;utm_content=active-text&amp;utm_term=paid-feb">Active Discovery</a></span> river cruises with these kinds of adventurers in mind. Avalon offers a broad range of included excursions on its river cruises that are bound to meet the tastes of anyone, no matter what you like doing. With a broad range of activities available, you’re able to personally tailor your cruise to your tastes and pace.</p> <p>The <strong>active</strong> aspects of these tours involve a higher pace of activity. For those travellers who like to immerse themselves in the scenery instead of idly watching it pass them by, there are bike tours, light hiking and speedier strolls available. One day, you might find yourself hiking through a forest and the next, you’ll be taking a guided tour through a castle with more steps than you can count.</p> <p>The <strong>discovery</strong> aspect of these tours is much more relaxed. For those travellers who want to expand their hobby horizons or want to try something they’ve never tried before, the discovery aspects will guide you there. Whether you want to paint in an art studio or create your own chocolate in a chocolate factory, there are a variety of interactive excursions available for a different kind of traveller.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/eQSxrFG405M" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p>With a range of river cruises available across <span><a href="https://goo.gl/nWom6o">Europe</a></span>, <span><a href="https://goo.gl/zTRZLk">Asia</a></span> and <span><a href="https://www.avalonwaterways.com.au/south-america-river-cruises?utm_medium=native&amp;utm_source=over60&amp;utm_campaign=avalon19-south-america-feb19&amp;utm_content=south-america-cruise-text&amp;utm_term=paid-feb">South America</a></span>, discover a new way of river cruising and relax in quiet luxury.</p> <p>For more information regarding Avalon Waterways Tours, request a brochure <span><a href="https://www.avalonwaterways.com.au/brochures?utm_medium=native&amp;utm_source=over60&amp;utm_campaign=avalon19-global-feb19&amp;utm_content=brochure-order&amp;utm_term=paid-feb">here</a></span>.</p> <p><em>This is sponsored content brought to you in conjunction with Avalon Waterways.</em></p>

Cruising

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New Caledonia: The jewel of the Pacific

<div class="col-md-8"> <div class="entry-content"> <div class="vc_row wpb_row vc_row-fluid"> <div class="wpb_column vc_column_container vc_col-sm-12"> <div class="vc_column-inner "> <div class="wpb_wrapper"> <div class="wpb_text_column wpb_content_element "> <div class="wpb_wrapper"> <p>Music blares. Passengers line the bars. The party has begun. The ship’s horn sounds out its guttural call across Sydney Harbour, surely one of the most effective advertising sounds ever conceived. Another ship is leaving Circular Quay bound for the South Pacific.</p> <p>As thrilling as it is to be drinking the cocktail of the day out of a large green plastic fish as we sail away, I am looking forward to reaching New Caledonia, where we have three ports-of-call. Sometimes referred to as the Jewel of the Pacific – possibly by the same advertising types who invented the ship’s horn – the French overseas territory promises a litany of cultural and natural thrills, served up with foie gras and escargot. New Caledonia is also home to the largest lagoon in the world and has a rich cultural and gastronomic diversity, mostly based on islander and French philosophies.</p> <p class=""><span>I am aboard Carnival Spirit but this could be any one of the fabulous Australia-based cruise ships that ply their trade throughout the South Pacific in the southern summer months. After a couple of days of excellent food and both organised and organic fun, we reach the islands Captain James Cook named in 1774, as the northeast of the main island – Grande Terre – reminded him of Scotland. France took possession in 1853 and New Caledonia was, in turn, a penal colony, nickel mine and an allied naval base in the South Pacific during WWII. Indigenous Melanesian Kanaks suffered like all indigenous victims of colonisation, but still represent around 40% of the population.</span></p> <p>One prominent Kanak (an indigenous Melanesian inhabitant of New Caledonia), Jean-Marie Tjibaou, a leader of the Kanak independence movement who was assassinated in 1989, is immortalised at the eponymous cultural centre in the capital Nouméa. The building was designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano and features ten conical pavilions based on traditional Kanak huts. It houses artefacts, working art studios, exhibitions and performances, and is a must-see.</p> <p>Other notable landmarks in Nouméa include Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square), which is home to old flame trees and lush tropical gardens, Parc Forestier zoological and botanical gardens, Anse Vata beach and Mount Ouen Toro lookout, which is the place to be at sunset.</p> <p>Cruise ships typically offer a range of shore excursions for each port-of-call and most New Caledonian outings showcase the enchanting islands. Each tropical sandy or coral isle has its own characteristics and charms, and many come with turtles.</p> <p class=""><span>From Kanumera Bay on the Isle of Pines we board a high-powered speedboat and zoom along the coast to Turtle Bay. The thrust of the speedboat’s dual outboards is the first thrill of the day and the boat slows as we enter Turtle Bay. One of our guides stands at the bow surveying the calm blue like a monarch. He knows this area like the inside of his Oakley sunglasses. With a flash of electric blue board shorts he dives into the pellucid water and gently fetches up a large sea turtle. The kids go nuts and cameras click furiously. Once the turtle is settled in his gentle embrace, the guide invites us to join him and his friend in the warm water. He assures us the reptile is comfortable with the attention. He’s about 50 years old and has done this many times before. We bob around with our turtle for about half an hour, taking selfies and enjoying his slimy sleekness. The excursion then heads to the pristine and deserted Brush Island, where we spend an hour swimming, walking hand-in-hand and sipping Champagne.</span><span></span></p> <p class=""><span>Another turtle treat is Amedee Island, 18 kilometres south of Noumea. A bumpy ferry ride is rewarded with a glass-bottom boat tour across the seagrass, where turtles like to hang out. We snorkel over the coral reef and find yet more turtles, following a particularly sociable one for twenty minutes as he glides and swoops through the impossibly clear shallows. Amadee also has an old lighthouse to explore and puts on an excellent buffet lunch, accompanied by a band and dancers.</span></p> <p>Our outing to the island of Maré is a simple bus transfer to Yejele Beach, an unspoilt stretch of coastline. Unspoilt, that is, until it is invaded by cruise ship passengers. It’s still very nice, mind you, and the kids love it because there’s loads of other kid to play with. Seclusion is still possible if you are prepared to walk a bit, and the snorkelling is excellent. Shops lining the road along the beach do a roaring trade, mostly knocking out fast food, drinks and stuff they bought earlier at the supermarket, although there are a few interesting crafts stalls.</p> <p>Lifou, the largest of the coral atolls known as the Loyalty Islands, features coves, limestone caves, grottos and compressed coral cliffs. Excursions often take in a range of this stunning scenery, as well as a Melanesian cultural encounter, the vanilla plantation and of course, more beaches. Jinek Bay Marine Reserve is so popular numbers are now restricted to preserve the delicate ecology. </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Written by Mal Chenu. Republished with permission by <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-caledonia-the-jewel-of-the-pacific/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p> <p> </p>

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How to make group travel a breeze

<p>“Come and look! Dad and Billy are in a play!”</p> <p>Sure enough, when we ran to the small bush hut in our Winton campground, there they were out the front. One of the dads, still wearing his dishwashing gloves, had been roped in to some audience participation. In a bush poetry reading, of all things.</p> <p>Before we knew it, all of us “Sydney city folk” were dragged up and dressed in various costumes as the sun set over the dusty campsites.</p> <p>Years later, that moment still stands out to me as the moment I realised travel is all about the people. We laughed with the bush poet over cups of tea after her show was over, and chatted with the other campers and caravanners about where we’d come from. We met Nell, an 80-year-old champion whip cracker who still knew her way around a stock whip.</p> <p>I was in primary school at the time. I loved meeting people on the road and loved travelling as a big group. We had two big families, plus some add-ons, and camped our way around outback Queensland. I learned the importance of compromise, flexibility and a good sense of humour. I learned that the characters you encounter and the companions with whom you journey always colour the experience irreversibly.</p> <p>With a few more shared travel experiences now under my belt, these are my tips for a successful time away with a group:</p> <p><strong>The early bird gets the worm</strong></p> <p>In general, it is better to allow plenty of time to book airfares, rental cars, restaurant reservations and accommodation. This is especially true when there are lots of passengers, hungry mouths and beds to account for. Booking in advance will mean you can secure adjacent cabins on a cruise, or lock in a city tour when there are still 10 tickets available.</p> <p><strong>Money, money, money</strong></p> <p>By researching well and asking the right questions of tour operators, you may be able to get group discounts. This applies for entry into attractions, hiring multiple vehicles and reserving two or more hotel rooms.</p> <p>Agree on a budget early on in the planning process. Decide how payments are going to be shared. It is not a comfortable conversation but will help avoid a lot of heartbreak on your trip.</p> <p><strong>Plan well but plan less</strong></p> <p>It is a lot harder to just jump on an overland train when there are eight of you carrying big suitcases. Itineraries have to be planned more carefully, but when travelling in a group extra time must be allotted. You’ll be surprised how much longer it takes to mobilise a group of the highly organised and punctual individuals. Gaps in the agenda also offer everyone a much-needed break.</p> <p><strong>Many hands make light work</strong></p> <p>Delegate the responsibilities. Everyone can be in charge of cooking one meal. Someone can take care of researching transfers, someone else can navigate. Split up what parts of planning will be shared (deciding where to go, for example) and what each individual is responsible for (booking their own flights, perhaps?). That said, it helps to have a leader to coordinate everything and finalise all travel documents and bookings.</p> <p><strong>It’s not you, it’s me</strong></p> <p>Take some time apart. In fact, take plenty of time apart. Don’t be afraid to split up entirely and then meet again for a meal at the end of the day. Spending time separately helps solve the problem of varied interests – it means everyone gets to tick off their must-sees and relieves the inevitable tensions associated with too much time in close proximity.</p> <p><strong>Travel light</strong></p> <p>Moving the luggage of an enormous group through airport security or out of hotels is no mean feat. The strain is lessened if everyone sticks to one manageable bag.</p> <p><strong>Where to stay</strong></p> <p>The toughest question of them all – where to spend the night. I would recommend renting a house, with a kitchen, living areas and bathrooms. It means you can cook and eat meals together and don’t have to duck off into separate hotel rooms. Split between group members, you can also make decent savings by opting for self-catered accommodation over hotels. Capitalise on the user-friendliness and simplicity of rental websites like Airbnb, Stayz and more.</p> <p>For multi-generational groups, cruising and large resorts are both very popular options. Everyone gets to retreat to their own space for some me-time, and there are varieties of activities to suit all ages and preferences. On cruises, there are shore excursions, Kids Clubs, toddler pools, adult-only pools and a variety of restaurants. Resorts can offer golf, spas, sight-seeing trips, walking tours and water sports.</p> <p><strong>Phone a friend</strong></p> <p>There’s nothing wrong with calling in an expert for help. Some travel agents and advisors specialise in large group travel and can help coordinate all the planning for you. It will take an enormous logistical load off your shoulders. You can try planning services like GroupTravel.com or Virtuoso.</p> <p><strong>Tour de force</strong></p> <p>Sidestep the trials and tribulations by joining an escorted tour altogether. Tour companies are used to looking after groups and finding accommodation and activities suited to larger numbers. It is also a relief to have everything taken of for you. Even short day tours are a delight. Check Airbnb experiences and sites like Viator for pasta-making workshops in Flroence, bike-riding in South East Asia and art classes in New York. Organised tours are ideal for meeting new people, which can refresh your own group dynamic.</p> <p class=""><em>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/travel-in-groups-tips/">MyDiscoveries. </a></em></p>

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Solve the secret of Mystery Island

<p>With a name like Mystery Island, adventure surely awaits on this uninhabited islet. <span>The good news is that tiny, 1.5-hectare Mystery Island can be solved in a day! It’s small enough to walk around the whole coast in 20 minutes, so you can experience everything from the tranquil to the taboo in a single visit to Vanuatu’s most southerly island.</span></p> <p>According to local tales, the name was bestowed on the island that was originally called Inyeug, by Queen Elizabeth II who visited in 1975 aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. Her entourage stopped for a picnic and were instantly bewitched. Truth <span>be known, it was more likely the marketing department of cruise line Sitmar who decreed it so, due to the precarious landing conditions before the sturdy jetty was later installed.</span></p> <p>Either way, were these first modern voyagers entranced by the ghosts and spirits that the locals on neighbouring Aneityum Island believe gather there after dark? These tales keep Inyeug uninhabited, but also made it a perfect lair for 19th century ‘blackbirders’ like Captain<span> James Paddon, men who would snatch locals to work on plantations back in Australia in the mid-19th century. Call them ‘slavers’ if you like.</span><span></span></p> <p class=""><span>It was after ‘discovery’ by Her Royal Highness that word spread and soon guests from cruise ships such as Fairstar, were being ‘secretly’ brought ashore for a day of idyllic relaxation on the magnificent beaches of newly christened Mystery Island. </span></p> <p class=""><span>With no electricity, running water, roads or telephones, you can pretend you’ve washed up on a deserted island like Gilligan and his crew and relax under your own palm tree. Or when you’re visiting from your cruise ship, join in the fun with villagers from Aneityum, who cross the waters to sell handicrafts, T-shirts and fresh seafood.</span></p> <p class=""><span>You can even have your photo taken in a cauldron with a cannibal. Don’t worry, he doesn’t really eat humans, but it shows that the locals have a great sense of humour.</span></p> <p>In contrast to the sad history of the blackbirders, cruise lines have worked hard with the locals and provided a boat to help them ferry supplies and develop activities for the guests and earn extra income for their communities.</p> <p>“Cruising has really improved our lifestyle, most houses now have generators, some now have boats, the school is available to all children and our shops are supplied a lot better than they ever have been. New shops are developing and this is most welcome,” says chief Silas, “Cruise ships give opportunities to islanders who want to work and sell things to the passengers. They can plant and sell taro, or operate tours, souvenir shops and kava bars.”</p> <p>Maintaining the island in its pristine condition is also part of the job. “Traditional life here fascinates people, particularly custom dancing, traditional food preparation and the games that children play,” says Tony Keith, a local employed as a ranger and marine conservationist. He keeps an eye on the exquisite reefs and the other locals who like to use the island, the serene green sea turtles, whose population is recovering after decades of over-harvesting.</p> <p><span>Is there more to the mystery? OK, don’t tell anyone, but hidden away on the other side of the island is a secret runway, built for the US Air Force during World War II. It’s still used occasionally to drop off guests and supplies but you won’t see it until you stumble upon it in the grass.</span></p> <p>The nearby marine reserve has much better (and easier) snorkelling than the main beaches. If you’re lucky, you might swim with Tony’s green turtles and see the tags he puts on them for his monitoring project.</p> <p>This is also one of the few places in the South Pacific where you can drink kava out of a coconut shell. It’s a mouth-numbing drink served at traditional welcoming ceremonies, which are held for visitors for a small fee. It’s best you drink just one cup, as be warned that it’s a lot stronger than the ‘lite’ kava you may have tried in Fiji.</p> <p class=""><span>The biggest mystery is why nobody lives in such a beautiful haven. Some say the island is still haunted, but we didn’t tell you that.</span></p> <p><em>Written by Roderick Eime. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/solve-the-secret-of-mystery-island/">MyDiscoveries.</a></em></p>

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The best islands for a seriously long stay

<p>The idea of living on an island conjures up romantic images of dreamy white sands and clear blue waters. For many, it remains an out of reach dream. But a new report by<a href="http://internationalliving.com/au?utm_Source=MYDISCOVERIES.com.au"> International Living Australia</a> lists six picturesque islands known for their friendliness and warmth. Each one also provides the infrastructure and comforts of home. You could retire to these islands without breaking the bank. Or, you could take a long gap year. Even six-months would make you feel fantastic. These are the six best islands for a long break according to International Living Australia.</p> <p><strong>1. Koh Samui, Thailand</strong></p> <p>At 21 kilometres wide and 24 kilometres long, Koh Samui is Thailand’s second largest island after Phuket. It lies off the eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, around 684 kilometres south of the country’s capital, Bangkok. The laidback lifestyle and white-sand beaches have long attracted expats to the island. Even though Koh Samui offers so much tropical beauty and so many outdoor “adventure” activities such as deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, archery, tennis, jungle trekking and more, it also has just about every modern amenity you could ever think of within easy reach. Samui, one of an archipelago of 80 smaller islands, has a warm and mostly crystal-clear sea, with lots of opportunities for kayaking, sailing and boating. It is also fast becoming a golfer’s paradise. The island makes a great destination for anyone looking for a dream retirement by the sea. Expats live well here on a budget of $2,700 to $3,390 a month.</p> <p><strong>2. Bali</strong></p> <p>For many, Bali is the perfect paradise island. It’s not just about natural beauty, there is a spiritual energy that is uniquely Balinese and sets the island apart from the thousands of others that make up the Indonesian archipelago. Floating in aquamarine waters, Bali’s interior is filled with intense green rice paddies and lush jungle—a place where expats can enjoy life’s little luxuries at a fraction of the cost of back home and where little luxuries like relaxing massages are part of the everyday life. Bali is only eight degrees south of the equator, so you can count on most days being between 25 C to 32 C with 75% humidity. The mountainous regions get some slightly cooler temperatures and the monsoon season is from October to April. But even the rainy season has plenty of sunny days. In Bali a couple can live extremely well in most towns for $2,500.</p> <p><strong>3. Sri Lanka</strong></p> <p>Tucked under India, Sri Lanka, known as the teardrop island, is roughly the size of Tasmania, but with 2,000-plus years of culture to be discovered, it’s a hidden gem. There’s a perfect beach for everyone along her 1,340 kilometres of coastline and whether you’re into hot, sunny days on the beach or misty mountain air, you’ll find your ideal climate here too. Average temperatures across the island stay relatively stable throughout the year with coastal areas ranging between 25 to 30 C and cooler levels of between 15 and 18 C typical in the highlands. A couple could live well here on a modest budget of $1,300 per month.</p> <p><strong>4. Malta</strong></p> <p>Despite its small size of only 315 square kilometres, the tiny island nation of Malta packs a punch—from ancient walled cities and breathtaking coastal trails to countryside farmhouses and charming restaurants. Home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the islands—with over 249 kilometres of coastline—benefit from warm weather year-round. A legacy of British colonisation, the English-speaking population makes it easy for new arrivals to fit in. For centuries, Malta has been a sought-after destination and Valletta, Malta’s capital city—the European Capital of Culture 2018—is an especially desirable location. An expat couple can live comfortably on around $3,210 a month, depending on their lifestyle.</p> <p><strong>5. Penang, Malaysia</strong></p> <p>Th island of Penang, off the coast of Malaysia, has been a firm favourite among savvy expats for decades. A couple can live well here on a monthly budget of around $2,000. It’s a luxury life on an affordable budget with all the comforts and conveniences of home. Penang’s international airport, which lots of low-cost Asian airlines operate from, makes exploring further afield in Southeast Asia easy. Known as a foodie haven, Penang’s capital, George Town, is home to eclectic architecture, a vibrant art scene and what many call the best street food in the world. Plus, as a former outpost of the British empire, you won’t have any trouble getting by in English here.</p> <p><strong>6. Mallorca, Spain</strong></p> <p>The largest of the Balearic Islands, Mallorca is the autonomous Spanish region just off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula. You’ll find evidence of its long history in the Gothic cathedral of the capital city, Palma, and in the hilltop castles in the mountainous countryside, as well as Arab structures built before the Reconquest. You’ll also find Roman ruins—clues to its importance as an outpost of that empire. The whole coastline of this 3,639-square-kilometre island is ringed with marinas, harbours and natural rock-lined coves offering privacy. It’s the perfect place to weigh anchor in the western Mediterranean—and the year-round mild climate helps there too. Here, a couple can live well from $3,385 a month.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/long-stay-holidays/">MyDiscoveries</a>.</em></p>

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Cruise through time: The coast of Papua New Guinea

<p>It’s like stepping back to an earlier age when foreign travel really was exploration where anything can happen. PNG is a land that has many attractions ranging from excellent diving, world-renowned walks, rare flora and fauna, and hot springs and volcanoes. There’s an exotic foreignness in this near neighbour.</p> <p>The coast and islands are beautiful. Elsewhere that spells over-development: seek untrammelled golden sands and you’ll find it shaded by highrise hotels; look for fish and coral living in unpolluted topical waters and you’d find you’ve arrived long after the developers. In PNG you are well ahead of the rush.</p> <p><strong>Tufi<br /></strong>The coast surprises in its diversity. Arriving by sea to Tufi, a clifftop village with a population of just 400 people, you cruise into what can only be described as a beautiful jungle-fringed fiord. From here you can go deep-sea fishing or scuba diving, or take a short walk to seek huge birdwing butterflies. Besides these, the world’s largest butterflies, PNG boasts 2000 species of orchids and over 700 bird species including 43 Birds of Paradise.</p> <p>At a pretty nearby beach you can swim and snorkel amongst the coral. Or head up a river accompanied by a colourful local guide. An aluminium tinny takes you part way up the river, to transfer to dugout outrigger canoes fitted with bamboo platforms on which to luxuriated while young local girls skilfully paddle the craft under fallen trees and around sand bars.</p> <p>Eventually, you arrived at a glorious river beach enclosed by high hills and broad leaf vegetation. Here the men of the village slice and dice a tree trunk to extract taro while numerous naked children used the outing as a chance for a party. Australia seems a long way away.</p> <p><strong>Rabaul<br /></strong>As news reports once showed, Rabaul is situated on a beautiful bay, treacherously fringed by volcanoes. It’s now a virtual ghost town after the major volcanic eruption of two decades ago – and it looks like a ghost, too, with the old city centre covered in grey volcanic dust. Eruptions are ongoing and most locals live in nearby Kokopo, a few kilometres from the town that was once referred to as “the Jewel of the Pacific”.</p> <p><strong>Fergusson Island<br /></strong>Also volcanic, Fergusson Island is the largest of the D’Entrecasteux Islands in the Solomon Sea off the southeast tip of the mainland. This is a lesson in volcanic landscapes writ large with fields of bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers. The water has coated everything in a rime of white calcium and the local villagers use the scalding pools as cooking pots.</p> <p>New Britain, New Ireland, the Bismark Sea – the colonial heritage of Papua New Guinea lives on in names and government structure. English is very widely spoken. But a voyage along the coast of PNG has the atmosphere of a journey of discovery of ancient culture and customs and of a new nation endeavouring to establish its place in the world.</p> <p><strong>Mystic Sepik<br /></strong>Of all the rivers in PNG the most renowned is the Sepik that flows for about 1000 km from the Highlands to the Bismark Sea. Throughout PNG you’ll find remarkable carvings and traditional masks but in the Sepik you find artworks that were born in your worst nightmares. You can buy it directly from the villages or there are excellent art and craft shops in Port Moresby holding artefacts from across the entire nation.</p> <p>Despite PNG being a very foreign land, there are constant reminders of Australia and the two nations’ connection. In the island community of Kwato there’s a memorial to Reverend Abel who felt the best way to civilise the local populace was by introducing cricket. The city of Alotau was the World War II site of the 1942 battle of Milne Bay where the Australian forces became the first to force the Japanese army to retreat on land.</p> <p><strong>Kokoda Trail<br /></strong>A place of pilgrimage that also combines a rite of passage is the Kokoda Trail that runs for 100 km across the rugged Owen Stanley Range north of Port Moresby. It was the scene of some incredible bravery and fortitude from the Australia troops that pushed the Japanese back along it in 1942 in perhaps the worst conditions in the world. Mud and mountains, heat and humidity all ensure it remains a 10-day challenge that is very rewarding to accomplish.</p> <p><strong>Simply cruising<br /></strong>By far the easiest way to get around the coast and islands of PNG is on a small cruise ship.<span> </span></p> <p><em>Written by David McGonigal.</em> <em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/cruise-through-time-the-coast-of-papua-new-guinea.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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5 cruise myths debunked

<p>When we travel, we experience the unfamiliar, dust away ‘the ordinary’ from our lives and shake off preconceptions we’ve gathered along the way.<br /><br />Yet, when it comes to cruises, many of us cling to preconceptions.<br /><br />However, today’s cruise ships are filled with unusual quirks, ready for every kind of modern adventurer. So we’re here to take you on a journey across the seven seas.</p> <p><strong>1. Cruises are for ‘oldies’ and are just plain old-fashioned</strong></p> <p>If you still believe this, chances are you’re not as with the times as you might like to think.</p> <p>Many cruise liners are trading in feather-flapping cabarets and dinners at the captain’s table for rockclimbing, assault courses and simulation surfing.</p> <p>In fact, cruises are swiftly becoming hubs of cutting-edge digital innovation.</p> <p>Robot bartenders shake and stir guests’ cocktails aboard select ships; free smartphone apps onboard have become de rigueur; and one liner recently launched a tech-bracelet with more than 130 smart features, including an app enabling you to tailor your cruise every step of the way for a truly 21st-century experience.</p> <p><strong>2. 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>3. 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>4. 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>5. 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 Reader's Digest. This article first appeared in<span> </span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/5-cruise-myths-debunked">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine,<span> </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></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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Forget mega-ships: Why small ship cruising offers big benefits

<p>It’s no secret that cruises are an incredibly popular form of travel. With luxury accommodation provided as you travel the seven seas, there is a special appeal of discovering different parts of the world as you enjoy the serene atmosphere of the ocean.</p> <p>But with so many categories and ships to choose from, how can you possibly decide which one to opt for? Big cruise ships may offer a resort-style vibe with plenty of dining and entertainment options to choose from, but what if you prefer something more intimate?</p> <p>In comes small ship cruises, the perfect option for those who prefer a far more personal experience without the hustle and bustle. While mega ships may accommodate close to 3500-5400 passengers, some small ships only carry up to 930 guests or less.</p> <p>And while small cruises have no casinos or discos in sight, there are also no crowds and never-ending queues. But don’t let the size fool you, as small ships still provide a luxurious experience and allow travellers to immerse themselves in their chosen destinations without any distractions.</p> <p>A small ship cruise could range from an ocean cruise to Scandinavia or even the Mediterranean seas. And if you’re stuck on choosing the right cruise line, then make this the perfect opportunity to choose <span><a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/oceans">Viking Cruises</a></span>. With 21 years of cruising experience under its belt, there is no other line that will provide you with the state-of-the-art facilities and experiences that Viking can.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 375px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7822548/vikings_inarticle_1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/8b8a28cba8e041ec8cbcddaa5b6133f1" /></p> <p>Here are four reasons you need to book an ocean cruise trip for your next holiday:</p> <p><strong>1. Amazing itineraries</strong></p> <p>This is where size is important, because thanks to the small nature of ocean cruises, they can easily access ports that larger ships cannot. One of the many advantages of small ships is that they are able to reach secluded harbours that are free from crowds, meaning not only are you away from hoards of tourists, but you’re offered a more authentic insight into the location you’re visiting.</p> <p>Not only are you able to learn about the culture and speak to the locals residing in the area, but you will be within walking distance of many of the sights you came to see.</p> <p>And due to ocean cruises carrying less passengers, that also means shorter lines and wait times as the more passengers, the longer the queue. Instead, that extra time is added onto your shore excursion where you’re guaranteed an exclusive look at some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.</p> <p><span><a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/oceans/cruise-destinations/ocean-river-voyages/index.html">Viking Cruises</a></span> offers a range of itineraries to suit your needs. Travellers can choose to submerse themselves into the culture of Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Asia, Alaska and so many more.</p> <p><img style="width: 380.726px; height: 500px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7822549/vikings_inarticle_2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ed44e973374f4201a540818acc6c94ac" /></p> <p><strong>2. Personalised service</strong></p> <p>It’s rare to find service that is catered to you, and if you choose to travel on a mega-ship, that level of attentiveness is almost impossible. Due to ocean cruises carrying close to 930 people as opposed to thousands on big ships, staff are able to dedicate their time to each passenger accordingly. Small details such as how you take your morning coffee or your preferences when it comes to drinks, or even knowing your name, makes the biggest difference when getting ready for a voyage through the world.</p> <p>But that’s not all, crew members aboard ocean cruises often carry a wealth of knowledge and experiences, and they are more than happy to share their stories with you for a truly enriching conversation.</p> <p><iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RGInFbfRk_w" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><strong>3. Authentic and delicious cuisines</strong></p> <p>Let’s face it, the best part about travelling is letting your tastebuds experience the delicious flavours of the world. Food is the driving force that brings people together, regardless of language and culture differences, when there’s a good dinner spread, everyone becomes one.</p> <p>Which is why, making sure there’s appealing food options for your trip is important, and ocean cruises will provide you with exactly that. Viking Cruises has a range of fine dining restaurants to choose from, meaning the fun doesn’t end on shore, as you’re provided with some of the best tasting dishes right on board.</p> <p>Offering the most al fresco dining at sea, Viking offers a choice of eight dining venues, with no additional charges for specialty dining. Despite the small nature of an ocean cruise, a large amount of care is taken when preparing meals and serving it to guests, as attention to detail matters, resulting in some of the most sensational tasting food you have ever had the pleasure of trying.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 375px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/media/7822550/vikings_inarticle_3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/cd81cd41c473405ca0700613165a0d79" /></p> <p><strong>4. Expert insight into the places you visit</strong></p> <p>Travelling is the most affective form of education, and despite conducting your own research before you visit your dream destination, it’s always nice to have an expert give you an insight into things you may not know.</p> <p>Nothing compares to taking part in a guided tour, explaining the history and showing you the hidden gems that the country has to offer. Or perhaps a guest lecturer, who shares with you their wealth of knowledge as you take in the ocean views. Your classroom is the sea and as you enjoy your relaxing holiday, you’re also taking in valuable information, making it a truly enriching experience.</p> <p>So now that you’re buzzing to get on board and travel on an ocean cruise, check out <span><a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/">Viking Cruises</a></span>. Just like the original Vikings, the cruise line is the pioneer of exploration, and will provide you with a truly immersive experience wherever you choose to go.</p> <p>Whether you enjoy Scandinavia and Northern Europe, or you prefer the diversity of Asia, Viking Cruises will gift you with a trip to remember.</p> <p><em>This is sponsored content brought to you in conjunction with <span><a href="https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/">Viking Cruises</a></span>.</em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p>

Cruising

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What floats your boat – choosing the right cruising category

<p><span>When it comes to travel trends, nothing has exploded with quite the same magnitude as cruising. Catering for multi-generational getaways, romantic couple’s retreats or adventurous solo expeditions, cruise lines have capitalised on demand from a diverse customer base by crafting voyages for all budgets and preferences. Setting off to sea can be done in style and sophistication, venturing downriver doesn’t have to break the bank. Jump aboard this travel trend, see what the fuss is about and pick a cruise category that suits you.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Mainstream cruising</span></strong></p> <p><span>Mainstream cruising, also referred to as the ‘contemporary’ category, refers to the mass-market, resort-style ships, generally with the capacity for upwards of 3000 guests. The consequences of these big numbers include smaller average cabin size and decent but not exceptional service. The onboard vibes are busy, energetic and potentially noisy; there is always something going on and the climate is communal and social. Activities and facilities generally include pools, waterslides, ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing, Broadway performances, comedy nights, movie theatres, bars, lounges, clubs, gyms and spas. The onboard entertainment, affordable rates and special package deals endear these lines to families.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> A convenient budget holiday with extended family and active kids, where shore excursions are not a priority. Mainstream cruising is popular for a reason – there truly is something for everyone, and the idea of unpacking once and having everything you need nearby is certainly appealing.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> Competitive and affordable rates (but additional onboard costs), lots of families and young people, and a lively nightlife</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line</span></p> <p><strong><span>Premium cruises</span></strong></p> <p><span>Premium and deluxe-level cruising also offers a myriad of diversions, although facilities and service are of a distinctly higher quality. State rooms are more spacious, the food and dining options more varied, and the décor more refined. Some lines like to provide more traditional cruising experiences with suggested dress codes and assigned dining, but usually you will find a very relaxed atmosphere with some extra perks like excellent Internet access and more privacy. The differentiating factor between premium and deluxe is typically the size of the boat and its capacity; the more intimate and personalised the experience, the more you can expect to pay.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> A little bit of glamour on a multi-generational trip that caters for everyone. Impressive, professional standards are a guarantee, although you should do your research as there is some variation between lines.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> families and couples, great service, extra perks and a spectrum of interesting activities and workshops like movies, cooking demonstrations and snorkelling</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises</span></p> <p><strong><span>Luxury cruises</span></strong></p> <p><span>With top of the line, luxury cruises, you get what you pay for. This means high staff to guest ratios (there are often more staff on board than guests), low capacity (guests can be as few in number as 50) and larger rooms (sometimes all cabins are suites with balconies). Sleek, smaller-sized vessels with beautiful interiors promise peace, privacy and an intimate, personalised experience. The necessary bi-products, however, are fewer onboard activities and no large-scale entertainment activities; the focus is instead on demonstrations, lectures and port excursions in interesting spots inaccessible to mainstream cruises. All-inclusive costs cover gratuities like alcohol with meals, and the special extra touches like fresh flowers, quality tableware, bath products, branded linens and sometimes even butler service.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> Ticking off those bucket-list destinations in supreme style and comfort, and spending relaxed, leisurely time with a loved one.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> Intriguing, well-crafted shore excursions in lesser-known locations, faultless service from attentive and professional staff, and plenty of inclusions</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Sea Cruises</span></p> <p><span>Whatever floats your boat can be found in the wide array of lines and packages on the cruise market. Ocean cruises aside, there are also niche lines, river cruises and sailing ships to test out. All you’ll need is to pick a destination and duration, and cast away!</span></p> <p><em><span>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/what-floats-your-boat-choosing-the-right-cruising-category/">MyDiscoveries</a>. </span></em></p>

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5 best places to go cruising

<p>Cruising is the best way to travel. You unpack once and can see dozens of different destinations. It’s easy. It’s affordable. </p> <p>But where should you go? Some places are better to see by ship than others. Here’s our top 5: </p> <p><strong>1. Australia</strong></p> <p>Our country has an incredible coastline. Options for cruising are varied. In November a short cruise heads out of Sydney Harbour bound for Melbourne and the race that stops the nation – The Melbourne Cup. It’s a great way to get a taste for cruising and to take a few days out to relax. </p> <p>Most cruise lines including P&amp;O and Royal Caribbean offer cruises through the Great Barrier Reef. Shore excursions on these often turn into water excursions as you explore the underwater coral and marine life. </p> <p>Kimberley Cruises are fast gaining popularity. This remote and harsh environment is hard to access via land. But absolutely stunning when viewed from the water. </p> <p><strong>2. New Zealand</strong></p> <p>Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island is stunningly beautiful, especially when seen by boat. The deep water allows ships to get close to the waterfalls as they drop into the ocean. It’s a sight you simply can’t experience from land. On the North Island you can’t go past Auckland with its spectacular volcanic islands – including Waiheke, known affectionately as wine island for the growing number of wineries ashore. </p> <p><strong>3. The Caribbean</strong></p> <p>The Caribbean is the world’s top pick for cruising. With so many exotic islands and stunning coconut-tree framed beaches to explore it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. </p> <p>What is more stunning is the diversity you will find as you cruise. Dominica has been dubbed the “nature island”. Curacao was once the centre of the slave trade, and has strong links to the Netherlands, Cuba has sugar-cane, communist history and fantastic music, and Jamaica is all about rum and reggae. </p> <p><strong>4. Alaska</strong></p> <p>Glaciers, polar bears and dog sleds. If ice adventures get your heart racing, you can’t go past a cruise in Alaska. </p> <p>In the summer months you can also spot bald eagles, orca whales and caribou from your deck chair. And there’s nothing quite like parking beside an enormous glacier and hearing the roar as a slice tumbles into the ocean. No need to get cold or trek for miles – you can do it all from the comfort of a cruise ship. </p> <p><strong>5. Europe</strong></p> <p>European river cruises are the ultimate sophistication. They allow you to travel easily through countries and experience the best of European culture without unpacking once. </p> <p>See opera in Vienna, drink beer in Germany and marvel at the Eiffel tower in Paris. It’s all possible and far easier on a cruise. </p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/five-best-places-to-go-cruising/">My Discoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

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19 cruise hacks to make travel easy

<p>Cruising can be wonderful. The wide-open space of the sea gives you time to relax and reconnect. You can tick off multiple destinations and only unpack once. </p> <p>But there are a few little tricks that cruise experts tell us will make your cruise even cruiser. </p> <p>Here’s the best tips we have uncovered.</p> <p><strong>1. Pack duct tape</strong></p> <p>On occasion the cruise may hit rough seas. If drawers begin to open, or cabin items go rolling, grab your duct tape and secure them. </p> <p><strong>2. Pack balloons</strong></p> <p>When our office manager told us to bring balloons on the cruise, we did think it was for a party. But in fact, she says that most cruise ships only have one or two hooks. Even the door handles don’t have surfaces for you to hang things. If you plan on doing washing in your room, then you can blow up the balloons and drape the clothes over them to dry. </p> <p><strong>3. Pack magnets</strong></p> <p>Another way to get organised is to bring magnets with you. Many cabin walls are made from metal. So, head to the hardware store and grab a bunch of magnets. Then you can attach hooks or even stick up important notes and your itinerary on the wall. </p> <p><strong>4 Put your bag under the bed</strong></p> <p>Normally when you travel, you stow the suitcase in the cupboard. Experts tell us that on a cruise, you should stow your bag under the bed. Wardrobe space is limited and storing your bag in there will reduce the space for clothes and shoes. </p> <p><strong>5. Steam your clothes</strong></p> <p>Most cruise ships don’t have irons. Fire and cruising don’t go together. They don’t want to take any chances. But what about when you need to wear a fancy shirt or dress to dinner and it’s been wrinkled from packing? Use the steam from the shower. It will un-wrinkle your clothes in no time flat. Alternatively, we’ve been told that you can buy “de-wrinkle spray” for clothes. We haven’t tested it though, so we can’t guarantee this will work. </p> <p><strong>6. Bring a multi-charger or power board</strong></p> <p>Most cruise cabins only have a few power points. These days most people travel with multiple devices. Grab a multi-charger and you can plug in multiple devices to the one power port. Or you can always bring a power board. </p> <p><strong>7. Pack a first aid kit</strong></p> <p>Yes, they have first aid on the ship. Yes, they have shops. But save your money and pack medicines that you may be likely to use such as Panadol, gastro-stop, antihistamines and antiseptic cream in a first aid kit. </p> <p><strong>8. Bring a HDMI cable</strong></p> <p>Love a great night in bed with a good film? Download them onto your laptop and you can use the HDMI cable to watch the films you want to see on the cabin’s TV. </p> <p><strong>9. Pack an extension cord</strong></p> <p>As we said, cruise cabins often have limited power points and sometimes they are in annoying locations. If you want to use your laptop and it has run out of battery, you will thank us for telling you to pack an extension lead.</p> <p><strong>10. Buy in bulk</strong></p> <p>This is one that surprised us. Apparently, some cruise lines give you a discount for buying drinks in bulk. Five beers for the price of four can save you $8 a round. Just pop the extra in the fridge for later. </p> <p><strong>11. Book excursions in advance</strong></p> <p>A huge part of cruising is visiting the onshore destinations. If you plan on cruising on a large boat, make sure you book your on-shore excursions early. That way you can be sure that you will be going. There would be nothing worse than getting off the boat only to find out that the tour you want to do is all sold out. </p> <p><strong>12. Budget for excursions</strong></p> <p>It seems obvious, but many first-time cruisers forget to factor in the added extras. Make sure you know which excursions you want to do and how much they cost. Then factor that into your budget. </p> <p><strong>13. Pack sticky notes</strong></p> <p>Need to remember the departure time? What time the bar opens? Or the time you will have your massage? Bring sticky notes and make your own message board on the cabin wall. </p> <p><strong>14. Stay fit</strong></p> <p>A lot of cruises have endless and bottomless food options. You will indulge. You will enjoy it. But maybe find some time to stay fit on board, even if it is just taking the stairs instead of the lift or swimming daily and doing early morning laps in the pool. </p> <p><strong>15. Pack ginger</strong></p> <p>First-time cruiser? Not sure if you are going to get seasick? Ginger is your friend. Ginger helps ease seasickness. </p> <p><strong>16. Choose your cabin wisely</strong></p> <p>Worried about seasickness? You are better off booking a lower deck room in the middle of the ship. Want a great view and never feel sick? Go for the upper deck edges. Whatever room you choose, think long and hard about what you really want to get out of the cruise. How long will you actually spend in the room?</p> <p><strong>17. Be hygienic </strong></p> <p>Sickness can and does spread on ships. To avoid nasties, make sure you have good hygiene habits. Wash your hands properly and perhaps pack some hand sanitiser. </p> <p><strong>18. Notify the ship of any medical conditions</strong></p> <p>Even if it is minor. In the event of an emergency, the staff will be the ones to help you. </p> <p><strong>19. Wear rubber shoes</strong></p> <p>It can get slippery on board. </p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/travel-hacks-to-make-your-cruise-easier/">My Discoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

Cruising

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4 highlights of modern cruising holidays

<p>Holidays on board cruise ships are more popular than ever with over 22 million people taking to the seas in 2015. The industry is expanding its on-board activities to appeal to every type of passenger. Try these for size.</p> <p><strong>1. Scale a rock-climbing wall</strong></p> <p>Snoozing around the pool isn’t everyone’s idea of holiday fun. The cruise ship Oasis of the Sea from Royal Caribbean has two nine-metre rock climbing walls, two surf-simulator pools, a flying fox and an ice-skating rink.</p> <p><strong>2. Walk above the water</strong></p> <p>The Regal Princess, owned and operated by Princess Cruises, features a glass-bottomed walkway that sits 39 metres high and extends 18 metres out over the ocean, offering dramatic views.</p> <p><strong>3. Themed cruises</strong></p> <p>It’s fair to say that Disney is fast rewriting the fantasy cruise experience for families. Not only does its Disney Dream cruise ship sport a 223 metre-long outdoor tube waterslide, but it’s Very Merrytime Cruises host a Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball complete with snow and special appearances from Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.</p> <p><strong>4. Around the world in 180 days</strong></p> <p>For people who love life at sea, the Insignia, operated by Oceania Cruises, takes 180 days and nights to circumnavigate the globe, taking in 44 countries. The ship departs from the US, then travels to the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/4-highlights-of-modern-cruising-holidays">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

Cruising

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What really happens on a cruise ship?

<p>Everyone wakes up on a cruise to find themselves floating blissfully somewhere between vast seas and even vaster skies. While you slumbered, your floating hotel travelled through the night. Come morning, just outside your window is a completely new world and destination waiting for you to discover. What a way to start your day.</p> <p>Early risers can catch the sunrise from the deck with a steaming cup of coffee and warm French pastries before heading to breakfast, while later risers can take in the views and the fresh sea air before heading downstairs to breakfast. Cruise restaurants offer banquets fit for a king. Choose from fresh fruit, omelettes, pancakes and, of course, ­a traditional full English breakfast.</p> <p>Energise your morning with a gentle yoga class, stretching your body and relaxing your mind on the top deck, or doing a few laps of the pool. For something a little more invigorating, hit the gym. If that sounds like too much action, simply spend your morning lounging by the pool or getting lost in a book, perhaps engrossing yourself in the history, culture and legends of your next port of call.</p> <p>If it’s a port day, you might want to head out straight after breakfast to fit in all the sights. Maybe you have a tour lined up to see the local attractions; a boat trip to view a coral reef; or a sightseeing tour from high up above a rainforest canopy.</p> <p>From tropical island paradises of the South Pacific to the majestic ice-scapes of Scandinavia and Alaska and the bustling Mediterranean, where you can take a nostalgic trip back in history and visit ancient monuments and ruins, the world is your oyster as far as cruise travel is concerned.</p> <p>You can also choose to whittle the afternoon away in a quaint restaurant and watch the world go by. If you spent the previous day exploring on land, a day on board allows you to unwind and soak in the delights of ship life, such as a day of spa treatments and pampering, sunbathing by the pool, or simply afternoon tea on deck.</p> <p>For a bit more excitement, try the surfing and skydiving simulators. Or if you want to learn something, take a cookery class, or learn to dance the tango. Whatever your poison, what is not to be missed is watching the sun going down from the deck with a glass of Happy Hour bubbles in hand.</p> <p>An array of Broadway shows, cabaret spectaculars and concerts are on offer after dark. And if you want to party like it’s 1999, head to the nightclubs and chic lounges where everyone’s party can carry on late into the night.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/cruise-activities/">MyDiscoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

Cruising