North to Alaska, the rush is on

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat -

HOL­LAND Amer­ica Line has un­veiled its 2008 Alaskan pro­gram with 156 cruises from May 3 to Septem­ber 21 on eight ships (three from its home port of Seat­tle in the US and five from Van­cou­ver in Canada). The pro­gram in­cludes the op­tion of shore ex­cur­sions such as flight­see­ing over the Men­den­hall Glacier near Juneau, he­li­copter glacier tours at Sk­ag­way, dog sled­ding, fly fish­ing and wildlife watch­ing. More: (02) 8296 7072; www.trav­elthe­world.com.au.

Alaskan combo: Creative Cruis­ing has com­bined a seven-day Nor­we­gian Sun Alaskan cruise with a week-long coach and rail tour of Canada’s Rock­ies and four nights in Van­cou­ver. The 17-night pack­age, avail­able on a range of dates from May 11 next year to Au­gust 31, is priced from $8039 a per­son ex Syd­ney (also avail­able from other state cap­i­tals). More: 1300 362 599; www.cre­ative­cruis­ing.com.au.

Hot and cold: An­other Alaskan op­tion is Car­ni­val Spirit’s Fire and Ice fly-cruise pack­age. From $5895 ex Aus­tralia, the 24-day deal com­bines two days in Hawaii with a 19-day cruise fol­lowed by an overnight stay in Van­cou­ver. The itin­er­ary can be re­versed, de­part­ing Van­cou­ver for Honolulu. More: (02) 8296 7050; www.trav­elthe­world.com.au.

At the dou­ble: Hop aboard not one but two lux­ury cruise ships on a 19-day pack­age ex­plor­ing In­dia, Sri Lanka and the Mal­dives. De­part­ing Aus­tralia on April 11, the trip in­cludes nine nights in ho­tels (with break­fasts) as well as a six-night cruise aboard The World and three nights aboard the MV Vrinda. From $15,749 ex Bris­bane, Syd­ney, Melbourne and Ade­laide. Trans­fers in­clude a flight from Mumbai to Cochin. More: 1800 044 066; www.travelas­so­ci­ates.com.au.

Dream gets cheaper: Travel Cre­ations has slashed the price of a one-week cruise on the lux­u­ri­ous SeaDream I (110 pas­sen­gers, 95 crew), which leaves Athens for Rome on Oc­to­ber 13, visit­ing some of the Mediter­ranean’s more un­usual ports (tiny Hy­dra in the Greek Is­lands, where trans­port is by foot, horse or don­key, for in­stance). In­cludes an overnight stay in Sor­rento and a day in Capri. From $US4847 ($6040) a per­son, $US5000 a cou­ple less than the orig­i­nal price. Air travel ex­tra. More: 1300 550 727; www.trav­el­cre­ations.com.au.

Sil­ver ser­vice: Sil­versea’s 44-day Fort Laud­erdale to Hong Kong cruise aboard the up-mar­ket Sil­ver Shadow has been de­vised to give pas­sen­gers more time at sea and un­usual ports of call. It’s lux­ury all the way with com­pli­men­tary drinks, in­clud­ing cham­pagne, ocean-view suites (80 per cent with a veranda) and mar­ble bath­rooms. With an early book­ing dis­count the cruise, de­part­ing Jan­uary 16, starts at $US23,438 a per­son with a $US500 on­board spend­ing credit to use in the ship’s spa or bou­tiques. More: (02) 9222 2708; www.sil­versea.com.

On the wild side: Aurora Ex­pe­di­tions and the Aus­tralian Ge­o­graphic So­ci­ety are show­cas­ing the Kim­ber­ley’s rugged coast in three 11-day West Aus­tralian cruises in June. Two start and end in Broome while an­other de­parts Broome but trav­els the length of the Kim­ber­ley, con­clud­ing in Dar­win. Ex­perts will ex­plain the land­scape, wildlife and Abo­rig­i­nal his­tory. Priced from $6200. More: 1800 637 688; www.au­ro­ra­ex­pe­di­tions.com.au.

Sim­ply Med: Last-minute deals are be­ing of­fered on seven-day Mediter­ranean cruises from Septem­ber to Novem­ber. MSC Lir­ica’s round trips from Genoa, Italy, visit­ing France, Spain and Morocco, are priced from $1200 a per­son. MSC Orches­tra’s cruises to and from Tri­este, Italy, visit­ing Greece, Turkey and Croa­tia, and MSC Opera’s cruises to and from the same port, visit­ing Greece and Croa­tia, are both priced from $1400 (air fares ex­tra). There are sev­eral date op­tions for each cruise. More: 1800 007 131; www.cruiseabout.com.au.

Nile file: A four-night Nile cruise is fea­tured in Ex­plore Hol­i­days’ nine-day Trea­sures of the Nile tour of Egypt visit­ing the Great Pyra­mids, the Val­ley of the Kings and the tem­ples of Luxor. Priced from $2199, in­clud­ing flights in Egypt. More: 1300 73 1012; www.ex­plore­hol­i­days.com.au.

Mex­i­can waves: Icy mar­gar­i­tas could be the or­der of the day for Nor­we­gian Star’s eight-night Mex­i­can Riviera fly-cruise. The round trip from Los An­ge­les sails to Aca­pulco, Zi­hu­atanejo, Puerto Val­lar­tas and the beaches of Cabo San Lu­cas. From $3099 a per­son ex Syd­ney, $3179 ex Bris­bane and Melbourne, $3450 ex Ade­laide and $3591 ex Perth. De­par­tures from Septem­ber to March. More: 1800 007 131; www.cruiseabout.com.au. Barry Oliver

Get with the pro­gram: A Hol­land Amer­ica liner cruises the glacial pas­sages of Alaska

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