GREAT CRUISING ESCAPES
THERE’S still time to bag a berth aboard Cunard’s swish Queen Victoria when it cruises from Los Angeles to Sydney as part of its maiden world voyage in the new year. The 1980-passenger liner, to be named by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in England on December 10, is Cunard’s second biggest liner (top honours go to its sister, QM2). The 24-night leg from Los Angeles to Sydney will include Honolulu, Pago Pago, Lautoka, Auckland, Napier and Wellington, before it heads to Melbourne and Sydney, where it will rendezvous with QE2 on its farewell visit to Australian waters. Fares from LA to Sydney (depart January 30) from $8199 a person. More: 132 441; www.cunardline.com.au. Toast the coast: Savings of up to $3000 are on offer for SuperStar Gemini’s 12-day cruise along Australia’s east coast in the new year. Gemini, which leaves Cairns on January 24, will head through the Whitsundays and down to Brisbane and Sydney, returning to Cairns on the same route. Worldwide Cruise Centre has packaged the cruise with return air fares from Sydney and a three-day stay in Cairns with a Kuranda Rail and Rainforest day tour. From $2998 a person (air taxes extra); must be booked by the end of October. More: 1300 137 445; www.CruiseCentre.com.au. Stream of interest: River cruising may offer calmer waters but it’s riding the crest of a wave. Many in Europe are reportedly sold out for next year and Bicton Travel is already taking expressions of interest on 2009 trips. Even so, cabins are available on its European Gems Amsterdam to Budapest cruise departing August 20, sailing on Avalon’s new ship, Imagery. The flycruise package includes three nights in Amsterdam pre-cruise and three nights in Prague afterwards, as well as the 14-night river cruise calling at cities in Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. From $10,233. More: (08) 9339 0277; www.bictontravel.com.au. Affordable ice: Antarctic cruising is usually off limits to budget travellers but Geckos Adventures is doing its best to change that. In November next year Geckos will start 11 and 12-day Antarctic cruises departing Ushuaia, Argentina, on an icestrengthened expedition vessel that carries a maximum of 110 passengers, along with expedition staff — naturalists, wildlife experts, scientists and historians — and Russian crew. From $4725 a person, cruise only. Departures from November to March. More: 1300 854 500; www.geckosadventures.com. It takes two: Europe’s biggest cruise line, Costa Cruises, is staging the world’s first tango festival at sea in November. The Festival of Tango will sway across the Mediterranean aboard the 3780-passenger Costa Concordia during a seven-night round-cruise from Rome, sailing on November 25. Dance classes may pause for excursions at ports in Italy, Spain, Majorca, Tunisia, Malta and Sicily. From $1534 a person, flights extra. More: 132 459; www.costacruises.com.au.
Little sister: Cunard’s Queen Victoria