Cruises

Follow-up: Tourist’s death prompts Venice to ban cruise ships from entrance to Grand Canal

Posted on Sep 2, 2013 | Comments Off on Follow-up: Tourist’s death prompts Venice to ban cruise ships from entrance to Grand Canal

Image via telegraph.co.uk

The eyesore of cruise ships on Venice’s famous skyline could soon become ancient history, as the behemoths are set to be banned from the city’s waterways.

The new proposals by Italy’s Environment Minister follow a crackdown on water traffic, after the death of a German tourist two weeks ago.

Joachim Vogel, 50, a professor of criminal law, was crushed against a dock by a reversing vaporetto water bus as he took a tour with his family by gondola near the Rialto Bridge.

The tragic accident has prompted authorities to bring in a series of new safety regulations including ‘a floating congestion zone’ on the Grand Canal to ease the chaotic rush hour waterway traffic. Breathalyser tests for gondoliers are also imminent.

Venice’s proud residents have long been up in arms about the presence of large cruise ships passing through the lagoon, with a flotilla of protesters taking to the waters in June.

Lobbyists argue that the huge ships, sometimes ten storeys high, erode the canals and the city’s fragile foundations, contribute to the worsening flooding that occurs every winter and damage the delicate eco-systems of the lagoon.

The cruise companies pay huge port fees for the privilege, but their passengers frequently eat and sleep on board and contribute little direct revenue to restaurants and hotels.

The Italian Environment Minister Andrea Orlando said he would put the proposals in front of cross party parliamentary committee in October.

He told the Italian daily Il Gazettino: ‘There will always be a margin of risk and even that margin is too high a risk.

‘The problem is not just the presence of large ships in St Marks basin but in general the presence of ships in the lagoon.’

He expected a ‘concrete response that could be translated into immediate action’, as the problem is getting worse all the time, he said.

‘The number of cruise ships passing in front of St Marks’s Cathedral has grown by seven per cent this year alone.’

The proposals would essentially put in action emergency legislation drafted after the Concordia tragedy, that would prevent ships of more than 500 tonnes coming within two nautical miles of landscapes of value such as the Venice lagoon or fragile environments such as the marine sanctuary between Sardinia and north-east Italy.

Venice’s mayor wants to see cruise tourists dock at Porto Marghera, a town blighted by industrial pollution. Other suggestions have included a floating off-shore port.

Alternative solutions would see the number of cruise ships allowed to enter the lagoon severely limited, or the dredging of a new approach to the same cruise passenger terminals but avoiding the narrow canals around St Marks Square.

On Saturday another huge cruise ship was photographed passing within yards of St Marks, in ‘a bow’ to the city inevitably raising the spectre of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which sank after hitting rocks off the coast of Tuscany during just such a bow to the island of Giglio last year.

Tensions were raised in July after the Carnival Sunshine, which is owned by the same parent company as the notorious Costa Concordia, allegedly passed within yards of the city’s bank while performing ‘a sail by salute’ to a major company shareholder.

Film footage appeared to show the 110 thousand ton liner squeezing a vaporetto water taxi and other boats between the ship and the bank. Carnival denied any wrongdoing.

Venice_BIG

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iTT addresses the luxury in the experience

Posted on Sep 1, 2013 | Comments Off on iTT addresses the luxury in the experience

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On Sunday September 1, Luxperience 2013 opened in Sydney, Australia’s Town Hall with a “Thought Leaders” evening. David McGonigal of iTravelTree was asked to present as the opening speaker –
his topic was “The Luxury in the Experience”.

Good evening. From Andrew’s introduction you may gather, I’ve been a travel writer/author and photographer for too many decades.

100 places to visit

In fact, a friend recently send me one of those Facebook quizzes on  “100 places to see before you die” –  and I had visited 90 – I’m either well travelled or ready to cark it.

My latest venture is a start-up called iTT. Basically, iTravelTree conducts a meta search of travel data filtered by your social preferences. So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to “luxury” lately – the trend I see in luxury is to collect exotic experiences not things or famous hotels.

If you had asked my mum, she probably would have defined travel luxury as a grand old hotel – like Sydney’s Australia Hotel.

Marstrand-Island-in-Bohuslan-Photo-Lisa-Nestorson

I suspect Scandinavia may agree with her. While flying on SAS last month I read in the in-flight mag: “Marstrand has something that no new luxury resort can buy: dignity and soul”.

It was both a sweeping generalization and wrong. Marstrand may do it well but so do many new resorts. Brilliant architecture, environmental sensitivity and empathy with local residents lie at the heart of dignity and soul. Some go further:

D on ele

© David McGonigal

The Anantara Golden Triangle gives you a chance to be part of a care centre for mistreated Asiatic elephants. More on that later.

My last 18 months have been special as my wife Sandra, stepped down from running Rupert Murdoch’s Australian magazine division early last year and, after a lifetime of being tied to an office has finally had a chance to travel. We’ve been referring to it as her executive gap year. Seeing our industry through her eyes is enlightening. Fittings and service are a given – and only noted in their absence – but special moments like hugging a baby orang utan or being taught to cook Tiramisu by the head chef of the Villa San Michele are prized.

Galleria

* This is Milan’s Galleria Hotel – self proclaimed 7-stars

First can I say how I hate the attempt to add more stars – Dubai’s Burj al Arab started it and the Galleria has taken it further. I think the trend is in reverse: high degree of comfort is no longer limited to 5-star properties. Some 4-star resorts now offer a standard that would have been 5-star a decade ago. And why is it new hotels that think they might be 6 or 7 star: what about grand, established hotels like Monaco’s Hotel de Paris that could probably lay a better claim?

And, anyway, many of us would forego the front door being opened (or yet another chandelier) in exchange for free high-speed internet or the chance to make a cup of coffee and tea in the privacy of our room.

So what makes a property or travel experience truly special? There are three possibilities:

  1. The destination itself is enough
  2. The travel experience itself is enough
  3. The experience maximizes the location

1.       In some rare cases, the place itself is enough.

Simply being there is a luxury. And here I’m talking about discerning, experienced travellers. For the first timer in London, a dodgy hotel in Kensington might seem like paradise – it isn’t.

What’s a destination where the privilege is simply to be there?

Paro

  • Bhutan Paro Festival © David McGonigal

I was fortunate enough to go to Bhutan some 15 years ago. The food was terrible, the accommodation basic and the roads were shocking. But the richness of the culture – and its lack of cultural pollution from modern pop culture – left all of us, all very experienced Himalayan travellers, saying that we had found Paradise. And, then and now it wasn’t cheap.

But what’s the impossible dream? As a boy, I always thought I’d go to the moon but never thought I’d visit Antarctica.

Breaking Ice South of the Antarctic Circle DSC0727

  • Antarctica © David McGonigal

I now work in Antarctica as an expedition leader – I’ve been there more than 100 times and feel privileged every time. Passengers will pay the fare for a basic cabin on a Russian icebreaker that would give them five star accommodation for the same duration anywhere in Europe: $60,000 for two weeks.

The luxury to travel to Bhutan or into polar ice is at least as special as 5-star luxury.

Lunar

Space remains the ultimate travel destination and it looks like I won’t make it there. Space travel is coming but affordability might be a problem. Mike McDowell popularized Antarctica as a travel destination – and his Space Adventures have arranged all 8 people who have paid (a lot) to go into space.

Virgin Galactica

Virgin Galactica says it’ll have first flight on Christmas Day this year. Cost for 2.5 hr flight to 360,000 ft is $250,000. Not bad value for 110 km up.

This is the category where indulgence doesn’t correlate with luxury. There are people prepared to pay $1/4M to throw up in a capsule a long way from home.

2 What about creating the unusual? Manufacturing the whole experience from scratch?

castlebuilding

In the non-luxury market, it’s hard to go past Disneyland then DisneyWorld as places that create their own need. While you’d go to London or Paris regardless, would you go to Anaheim or Orlando without Walt’s worlds?

MONA

© David McGonigal

Closer to home – both in terms of location and audience – we have David Walsh’s MONA that has brought a whole new travel group to Hobart. When a gallery is talked more about in tourism stats than in the Arts pages you know it’s significant. Amazing and confronting, too.

Dubai

Creating something from nothing is hard. Yet that’s what Dubai has done – taken a small fishing village and turn it into the world’s hub of luxury hotels and shopping.

us on eles

© David McGonigal

I go back to the Anantara because it epitomizes the luxury in the experience. And it drew us to a place we wouldn’t have visited. We signed up for a three day mahout course – and we were allocated our own elephants for the duration. Having your own elephant is absolute luxury – coming to understand the likes and dislikes of this giant gentle creature was very special. We still dream of elephants.

Oasis

*Oasis of the Seas

The modern cruise industry has done it, too – created a huge growing industry out of nothing. Of course there were cruises before but ships were mainly a form of transport not entertainment.

Fat DuckFat Duck © David McGonigal

Then we have the modern phenomenon of food tourism. Perhaps it has always existed in a small way. nearly always directed towards France.

But now Noma has as much drawing power as the Little Mermaid, El Bulli rivals Sagrada Familia and The Fat Duck has put Bray UK on the map. Even in my suburb of Balmain, many hear the name and think Adriano Zumbo’s macarons.

When you are creating something from nothing, you are limited only by your imagination. Here luxury can be indulgence and the experience.

3      Finally we have the experience that works to enhance the location – the most common scenario

Cipriani

  • Cipriani Hotel © David McGonigal

Every company that delivers a travel product needs to be thinking “what next?” There was a time when just having been to the rim of the Grand Canyon was enough. Then people said “what next?” So now we can raft through it, hike to the bottom or walk out on a glass platform. Likewise, Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb changed the bridge (and Sydney) from a static setting to an experience.

I experienced this first hand in Venice last year. Once it would have been enough to have Venice as my destination. And for luxury it’s hard to go past the legendary Hotel Cipriani. But then the Cipriani raised the stakes into the stratosphere – “come stay with us and kayak the canals of Venice.”

kayak Venice

© David McGonigal

This was luxury at all levels – the pampered indulgence of the hotel and the experiential indulgence of seeing Venice from my own kayak. I fondly remember the Cipriani – especially breakfast on Easter Sunday – but I’ll never forget paddling under the Rialto at sunset then turning to glide under the Bridge of Sighs.

It’s hard to up the arms race in hotel amenities. Better champagne – but when you get to Krug vs Dom, what’s next? Better beds? More service? If you want to stand out you have to think laterally and offer the unusual – as the Cipriani has done.

David Bowie

Luxury can simply be service. A great concierge is there to realize your dreams. A couple of weeks ago I was London for the day and wanted to see the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A but it was sold out. So we contacted Red Carnation Hotels where we had stayed the last couple of times we’ve been in London and Egerton House Hotel provided a couple of passes that they were offering their guests. They have our loyalty.

Summer Palace

  • Summer palace, St Petersburg © David McGonigal

The ultimate luxury is not more brocade but rather “Access All Areas”. So a cruise that features a private dinner in one of Catherine the Great’s palaces has special appeal. Or a Danube cruise that includes rare tickets to Oberammergau Passion Play. In Sydney you’d hope a hotel has some Springsteen tickets in a drawer. Think big – come to LA and we’ll take you to the Academy Awards. Who would say “no”?

Hugh Jackman

“Access All People” is a luxury for the sociable. I spent a weekend at Gwinganna Health Retreat when Hugh Jackman was there (he’s a part owner) and that’s been good for a few stories afterwards. The lesson I learned was don’t try to hold eye contact with any woman when Hugh is heaving himself out of the pool behind you. I always thought the ultimate would have been on the Antarctic cruise that had the reclusive Neil Armstrong on board.

&Beyond

There’s also the wonderful experience when the environment and the property perfectly interlink. I first discovered this in South Africa where game parks like &Beyond’s are luxurious but have strong links to not just wildlife conservation but also the local community. Luxury for visitors is feeling part of the place not a casual observer.

Turtle Island

Things change. Many years ago I was asked to give Bernie Eccleston suggestions for a tropical Australian resort with no expense spared. I suggested he go to Fiji instead. Places like Turtle Island gave a better experience because you are immersed in local culture while being treated royally. Australia has evolved – today I’d say to Bernie – have a look at the website of Luxury Lodges of Oz.

Southern Ocean Lodge

  • Southern Ocean Lodge

We’ve come a long way from the days when Australian tourism culture was a reflection of Crocodile Dundee.

Bulgari Bali

It’s predicted that more hotels and resorts will align themselves with luxury brands – think the Armani Hotel in Dubai, the Missoni Hotel in Kuwait and the Bulgari resort in Bali. I hear even Vogue is considering moving into the area. Of course, the name gives instant cut-through but I think it’s lazy.

Doing the hard yards to find a way to offer a unique experience that provides your property with an authentic, memorable life moment that ties to its location will result in enduring success.

Easter island

  • Easter Island © David McGonigal

A recent report  by the Adventure Travel Association and George Washington University  defined adventure travel as any trip that includes at least

2 of

a)    physical activity,

b)   interaction with nature, and

c)     cultural learning or exchange

It valued the industry at $US263 billion pa, with 65 per cent annual growth since 2009. There’s certainly money in experiential travel.

But, if I can distill a lifetime of travel into a few words – For me luxury is not about limos or five-star fittings and glamorous furnishings, it’s about taking time to create a memory that’s held in my heart and stands out among all others. In our privileged world we can always buy ‘luxury’ things but access and experience stands out as the ultimate luxury!

Hindu devotees travel on a crowded passenger train in Goverdhan

Sadly, there are a lot of ordinary travel experiences being sold. Exceptional ones stand out – from the time you hear about them to the moment you do them. It doesn’t have to be grand –

Cafe Tartufi

© David McGonigal

I smile when I think of Café Tartufo in Florence where we had perfect truffle paste rolls and good red wine for lunch on a rainy day – it was the perfect Florentine experience.

Bora Bora

© David McGonigal

It was a highlight as much as snorkeling with stingrays in Bora Bora lagoon or

Mig 21

flying a Mig 21 jet fighter as a paying guest of the Slovakian Airforce.

It’s no coincidence that it’s 2013 and we are here at an event called Luxperience. We’re in a Golden Age of Travel and you are at the cutting edge of it. Thanks for the experiences you offer – and the wonders that are yet to come.

If you have special vision – please come and tell me about it. Meanwhile, please “like” iTravelTree on Facebook or bookmark the webpage to follow us as we develop.

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Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least

Posted on Aug 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Cruising – “Port Lecture” shopping honesty – in Alaska, at least

Ships-in-Skagway

Cruise ships in Alaska have had to change their ways when it comes to those ubiquitous port lectures about “the best places to shop.”

Following a court case that claimed the lectures mislead guests, who often believe they are sponsored by the cruise line, the guides now must make it clear that what they are offering is not professional advice but rather an advertisement for paying clients. The companies admitted no wrongdoing, but did agree that port lecturers would disclose they didn’t work for cruise lines and are engaged in advertising.

The Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) reported last week that earlier this year three Florida-based companies, Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners, and the PPI Group, agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the state.

They  agreed from now on to be clear about whom they work for, to desist from making negative comments about stores not in their programs, and to stick to the truth about sale prices and return policies.

APRN quoted one anonymous shopkeeper who said he had in the past paid $25,000 plus 10% of sales to be part of the programs.

A million tourists visit Southeast Alaska every summer, and they are a key part of the economy of the 49th state.

Alaska is the first state to crack down on port lecturers.

Monday, August 26, 2013

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The Love Boat Defies the Wreckers

Posted on Aug 23, 2013 | Comments Off on The Love Boat Defies the Wreckers

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Once the star of television, the Pacific Princess aka “The Love Boat” (TV 1977-87) is proving reluctant to be scrapped. As of Wednesday, August 21, the ACIF (ex SEA VENTURE, PACIFIC PRINCESS, PACIFIC) was still laying at a precarious starboard angle at a scrapyard in Aliaga, near Izmir, Turkey.

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The ship’s list appears to have been arrested and there will be an attempt to right her before scrapping commences.

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Fire damages Hapag-Lloyd HANSEATIC – Cruises cancelled

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 | Comments Off on Fire damages Hapag-Lloyd HANSEATIC – Cruises cancelled

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

source: seatrade insider

Hapag-Lloyd Kreuzfahrten canceled two more Hanseatic cruises following a fire that damaged the ship during its maintenance docking at Bremerhaven’s Bredo Werft earlier this month.

Hanseatic is now expected to resume service on Aug. 16.

Passengers will get a full refund and 10% off another sailing during the 2013-2014 season. Travel agent commissions are protected.

The July 14 sailing from Svalbard’s Longyearbyen and the Aug. 1 cruise from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, were dropped. Earlier the company canceled the June 17 sailing from Bremerhaven and the July 4 cruise from Tromsø.

The June 9 fire damaged the ship’s engine compartment and a fire watchman from the yard and two Filipino crew members suffered smoke inhalation, requiring hospitalization.

The blaze broke out during welding work in one of Hanseatic‘s ballast tanks. It was quickly extinguished by local fire services but caused enough damage to significantly extend the shipyard overhaul.

Fire is an ever-present enemy of ships and one all-too-familiar to the historic German line.

In 1966, a fire aboard the 1929-built HANSEATIC gutted five decks while in port in New York. She was subsequently scrapped.

BREMEN was destroyed by an arsonist in Bremerhaven in 1941. No lives were lost in any of these fires.

The gutted BREMEN in Bremerhaven, 1941.
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Old Hong Kong Airport Opens As Cruise Terminal

Posted on Jun 15, 2013 | Comments Off on Old Hong Kong Airport Opens As Cruise Terminal

by Chris Owen

Old Hong Kong Airport Opens As Cruise Terminal.  Hong Kong’s $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal is open and processing cruise travelers as anticipated. Located at the site of the former Kai Tak International airport runway, the terminal will eventually source passengers from a pool of 50 million potential middle-class passengers in China. This week though, it’s all about the Americans.

Passengers disembarking Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas this week found a bit of a different experience than that of other cruise ports around the world. Showcasing some of what China has to offer cruise travelers, Mariner of the Seas offered passengers a kung fu demonstration, a lion dance at Mikiki mall in San Po Kong, shopping, dining and more on planned tours.

Adventure cruise travelers with a desire to go it on their own had a bit different experience, finding transportation options limited. “The terminal is fine, the building is fine but there is no good connection to the city,” passenger Fred Lutjens said in a Standard report that notes a queue of 100 people waiting for a taxi.
Kai Tak airport, which closed in 1998 after 70 years of service, was replaced by the current Chek Lap Kok International Airport. Using that valuable and available land efficiently, the $1 billion Kai Tak cruise terminal has the ability to handle passenger vessels as large as two of Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class cruise ships, the largest in the world.

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Come Hell or High Water – Part 2

Posted on Jun 8, 2013 | Comments Off on Come Hell or High Water – Part 2

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A survey of US consumer attitudes about cruising shows sentiment has not bounced back following the Carnival Triumph incident (the infamous “poop cruise”) but has continued to decline, with lower scores on trust, quality and intent to purchase.

Harris Interactive surveyed 2,052 adults online between May 14 and 16, prior to Grandeur of the Seas’ fire.

The average perceived quality score across the seven major brands tested is down 13% since before the Carnival Triumph incident in February and 6% compared to the Harris Poll’s post incident wave of testing in late February. While Carnival Cruises Lines’ quality score showed the steepest declines (down 28% versus pre and 12% versus post), all the other brands tested ranged individually from 8%-11% below pre levels.

The average trust score across the seven brands is also down compared to both pre (down 12%) and post (down 5%) incident; as with quality, trust showed the steepest decline for Carnival (down 26% versus pre, 11% versus post). However, the six other brands tested remain between 8%-12% below pre incident trust levels.

Intent to purchase has declined, on average, 11% from its pre incident level (and 5% from its post incident level). While this affected most of the brands tested (with most down between 7%-15% versus pre levels), Harris noted that Holland America Line’s purchase intent score has largely weathered this perceptual storm, holding at just 2% below its pre level. Carnival was hardest hit, down 20% versus pre, 8% versus post.

One-third of Americans (32%) agreed that cruises are ‘worry-free,’ down slightly from 35% in February, with past cruise experience appearing to have a considerable impact on this perception: those who have cruised (51%) are more than twice as likely to agree that cruises are ‘worry free’ as those who have not (22%).

‘When we first addressed this topic in March [when results from the February survey were announced], even we were open to the idea that a “recency bias” of sorts might be impacting the results so soon after the Triumph fiasco, creating a low tide for the industry as a whole,’ said Harris Poll Insights vp Deana Percassi. ‘But these more recent findings, coupled with reports of heavily discounted pricing on Carnival cruises, indicate that the industry as a whole, as well as the Carnival brand specifically, may still be facing rough seas.’

Reporting of the ongoing legal proceedings over the Costa sinking and the fire on board the Grandeur of the Seas is likely to show a similar decline in trust in cruising worldwide.

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Come Hell or High Water – Part 1

Posted on Jun 8, 2013 | Comments Off on Come Hell or High Water – Part 1

Amabella at Durstein DSC_9339

Several cruise companies have had to cancel or change their river voyages, with widespread flooding still affecting large parts of Central Europe.

Viking River Cruises has cancelled two cruises along the Elbe River due to sail tomorrow (June 8). It had previously cancelled three cruises along the Danube on June 8, 9 and 12. All affected passengers had been notified and offered a full refund as well as a credit to be spent on future cruises, a spokesperson said.

Viking River Cruises stated that people booked on cruises after June 16 should assume their voyage would continue as normal.

Scenic Cruises, meanwhile, has altered two of its departures from Budapest. In a statement, it said: “It is our expectation at this time the ships will be unable to dock in Budapest on those dates. Instead the ships will be docking in another location that is in the process of being determined.”

River levels continue to be critical in several parts of Europe with thousands of Hungarians working through last night to reinforce banks along the River Danube.

Authorities in the country’s capital, Budapest, have warned of a record flood surge from the Danube, which is a particularly popular destination for river cruisers.

Earlier this week, 120 British passengers on the Filia Rheni cruise ship operated by Titan Travel were stranded on the Danube when it was unable to dock in Vienna. The company cancelled the remainder of the voyage. All passengers on board were disembarked yesterday and are being flown home today. A spokesman said all passengers had been given a full refund and offered a 15 per cent discount on future cruises. Several other sailings were also cancelled.

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Orion Farewells Sarina Bratton

Posted on May 19, 2013 | Comments Off on Orion Farewells Sarina Bratton

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Fittingly, it was on an Orion voyage along Australia’s Kimberley Coast that the crew of Orion had a chance to say farewell to the founder and guiding light of Orion Expedition Cruises: Sarina Bratton. Orion was very much the creation of Sarina’s and its remarkable rate of returning passengers showed how well she developed the niche of Luxury Expedition Cruising in Australia. Now Orion is part of National Geographic/Lindblad and it remains uncertain how much of the Orion – and Bratton – legacy will carry over to the US-based operation.

Here are some photographs of Sarina on Orion for her farewell voyage.

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Fancy a Tahitian Cruise – in Italy?

Posted on May 17, 2013 | Comments Off on Fancy a Tahitian Cruise – in Italy?

 As Paul Gauguin Cruises takes possession of its latest vessel, there’s a chance to experience its renowned Polynesian hospitality in the Mediterranean this coming August.
 
Sojourn by Wiltrans International& Moana by Gauguin present: The Mediterranean

Wiltrans International has devised an inspiring Sojourn featuring two beautiful Mediterranean itineraries aboard Paul Gauguin Cruises’ new 90-passenger m/v Tere Moana.

Visit several countries in just 7-days on your choice of three incredible Sojourns during the northern hemisphere summer.  The all-inclusive experiences include return economy class airfares with Emirates (with upgrades available upon request), private chauffeured transfers, and pre- and post- cruise accommodation at luxurious hotels.

ROME (CIVITAVECCHIA) TO VENICE

Depart for this Mediterranean Sojourn on either 7 May or 20 August 2013 from Australia, on an Emirates’ flight to Rome via Dubai.  You will be met on arrival and transferred to the luxurious Hotel Raphael for three nights in a Richard Meier room.  Enjoy two days of leisure exploring the variety of historical landmarks in Rome, including the Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican and Sistine Chapel, before embarking the m/v Tere Moanafrom the port of Civitavecchia.

You will then visit Lipari, the largest of the Aeolian islands, a volcanic chain in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Sicily, Taormina with its amazing views of Mount Etna, the Greek Island of Corfu, and following, Kotor, Montenegro situated on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world, with its wonderfully preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Next you cruise on to Croatia and take in Dubrovnik – ‘the Pearl of the Adriatic’ and Hvar, recently named as one of the world’s ten most beautiful islands by Conde Nast Traveler, US.

The finale is fairytale Venice, where you are transferred to the Luna Hotel Baglioni for two nights’ in a deluxe room.  You have a day at leisure to discover the Romantic City of Canals.

Your journey home is with Emirates and includes a two-night stopover at Raffles Dubai in a Signature room. After two days exploring this futuristic city and its desert surrounds, you will be transferred to the airport for your Emirates’ flight back to Australia.

Fares start from $9,545 for 7 May departure; $9,417 for 20 August departure, window stateroom based on double occupancy.

BARCELONA TO ROME (CIVITAVECCHIA)

The departure from Australia is on an Emirates’ flight to Barcelona via Dubai on 14th August 2013.  You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, for two nights’ accommodation in a Deluxe Boulevard room.  Following, you enjoy a day at leisure exploring the architectural treasures of Gaudi, or visiting the incredible Picasso Museum.

You will then be transferred to Barcelona’s cruise port terminal where you will embark the m/v Tere Moana.

You cruise to the beautiful fishing village of Sète, in France, and following, glamorous St Tropez where the Moana stays until midnight so you have a chance to experience the lively nightlife.

Next your cruise visits Monte Carlo, Portofino on the Italian Riviera, and Elba, a gorgeous island off Tuscany. You also have a full day in Florence to explore its palaces, cathedrals and gardens.

The cruise concludes in Rome where you spend three nights’ at lovely Hotel Raphael and have time to explore one of the world’s great cultural centers.

Following your stay, you are transferred to Rome airport for your Emirates’ flight to Dubai.  As with the Sojourn above, you enjoy two nights at Raffles Dubai, before your flight home to Australia.

Fares from $8,915 14 August departure, window stateroom based on double occupancy.

About Paul Gauguin CruisesPaul Gauguin Cruises operates the award-winning cruise ship, the m/s Paul Gauguin, providing a luxury cruise experience tailored to the unparalleled wonders of Tahiti, the South Pacific, and Southeast Asia.  The m/v Tere Moana is the newest addition to the Paul Gauguin fleet, specializing in tropical destinations, and focusing on delivering unique itineraries with just 90-guests aboard.  Spacious staterooms, two restaurants, L’Etoile and La Veranda, aswell as a luxurious spa are among the m/v Tere Moana’s deluxe features. For More InformationEnquiries and bookings, contact Wiltrans International, T: 1800 251 174,www.wiltrans.com.au.

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