A PIECE OF GREECE

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WHEN TO BOOK BOTSWANA - KIM CULYER

DOC

The Greek is­lands are an ideal place to ex­plore by char­ter boat. Pretty white­washed vil­lages, in­cred­i­ble blue wa­ter, weather and the lo­cal food all make for a spe­cial hol­i­day.

The best months are be­tween May and Oc­to­ber, with July and Au­gust be­ing busiest and the hottest.

You can choose from itin­er­ar­ies rang­ing from three nights to three weeks. A longer stay will give you time to ex­pe­ri­ence some of the lesser­known vil­lages and is­lands, in­dulge in more of the lo­cal cul­ture, night-life and his­tory and re­lax in some of the hid­den an­chor­ages.

Be­gin­ning in Athens you could spend a few days sail­ing the is­lands of Paros, Sy­ros and Kea. These is­lands are less fre­quented by fer­ries so re­tain their au­then­tic Greek charm, then head to pop­u­lar Mykonos for a dose of busy bars, clubs and restau­rants.

Move on to Naxos, then Sifnos (good walk­ing trails) and Ios for lively en­ter­tain­ment and a pretty har­bour.

You could fin­ish up at San­torini, where you can visit the crater of the mil­lion-year-old dor­mant vol­cano by donkey or gon­dola and the hot springs. Sun­sail (sun­sail.com.au) can as­sist with a skip­pered ves­sel for you.

DOC

Aus­tralian pass­port hold­ers need a valid pass­port and a re­turn ticket to be el­i­gi­ble for a stay of up to 31 days in the Cook Is­lands. An Aus­tralian pass­port will be con­sid­ered valid if it ex­pires more than seven days be­yond the in­tended pe­riod of stay.

DOC

A few ocean-go­ing cruise lines cater to the solo trav­eller.

Nor­we­gian Cruise Line (ncl.com) pro­vides stu­dio ac­com­mo­da­tion par­tic­u­larly de­signed and priced for solo trav­ellers. Be­ing a guest in one of these stu­dios also pro­vides you with ac­cess to an ex­clu­sive lounge where there is a big-screen TV, drinks, room ser­vice and other solo guests. NCL has tours de­part­ing from Syd­ney in Novem­ber this year, one a five-day round-trip to Tas­ma­nia and an­other a 13-day round-trip to New Zealand.

Cu­nard (cu­nard­line.com.au) of­fers in­side and ocean-view sin­gle state­rooms on the Queen Mary 2, Queen El­iz­a­beth and Queen Vic­to­ria. There are at least 15 ded­i­cated sin­gle cabins on the Queen Mary 2, so have a look at one of their de­par­tures from Fre­man­tle, Ade­laide or Syd­ney.

Fred Olsen (fredolsen­cruises.com) fea­tures a cruise with sin­gle cabins de­part­ing from Syd­ney. Over 18 nights you will make your way up the east coast of Aus­tralia, then on to In­done­sia, Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia.

Royal Caribbean (roy­al­caribbean .com.au) also has ded­i­cated solo rooms on quite a few ships in­clud­ing Ra­di­ance of the Seas and Ova­tion of the Seas with itin­er­ar­ies de­part­ing from Aus­tralia.

If you are in­ter­ested in river cruis­ing through Europe, have a look at Uni­world (uni­world.com), Tauck (tauck.com.au) and Avalon Wa­ter­ways (aval­on­wa­ter­ways.com). These and other river cruise com­pa­nies of­ten waive the sin­gle sup­ple­ment on many of their itin­er­ar­ies. Africa (Novem­ber-March). In­stead have a look at the possibilities for the shoul­der sea­sons of April, May, Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

This will lead to fewer crowds, lower prices and tem­per­ate weather.

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