GREAT CRUIS­ING ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat -

PRINCESS Cruises has re­sponded to grow­ing de­mand for Alaskan tours with a new pro­gram fea­tur­ing trips from $969 a per­son (for a seven-night voy­age through the Inside Pas­sage). Eight Princess ships will op­er­ate 130 sail­ings from May to Septem­ber, in­clud­ing a new 14-night round trip from Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton state, on the 680-pas­sen­ger Pa­cific Princess. This will call at Alaska’s latest des­ti­na­tion, Icy Strait Point, of­fer­ing an in­sight into the area’s his­tory and cul­ture. From $2739 a per­son, cruise only. Ann Sherry, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Car­ni­val Aus­tralia, says the wide-rang­ing Alaska pro­gram re­flects the latest in­dus­try fig­ures show­ing that 19,870 Aus­tralians cruised there in 2006, up 12 per cent on the year be­fore. More: 132 488; www.dawn­sun­princess.com.au. Fare enough: Still in Alaska, un­der-18s get 75 per cent off the adult fare with Cruise West’s three and four-night Glacier Bay cruises. Spirit of Glacier Bay takes just 102 pas­sen­gers, of­fer­ing up-close en­coun­ters with the glaciers, lush forests and wildlife, from ot­ters and bears to whales and moun­tain goats. The four-night cruise also vis­its the his­toric town of Haines. From $US1799 ($1940) a per­son for the shorter cruise; $US2349 for the four-night ver­sion. Chil­dren’s prices start at $US900 in a shared cabin. The cruises, which op­er­ate out of Juneau, depart from May to Septem­ber. More: (02) 8296 7077; www.trav­elthe­world.com.au. Jug­gling act: The cir­cus is com­ing to town. Or at least to P & O Cruises, which is in­tro­duc­ing jug­gling classes and ac­ro­batic stage shows. Cir­cus at Sea, launched this month on Pa­cific Dawn, will run on se­lected cruises. It fea­tures a West Aus­tralian ac­ro­batic fam­ily act, Cameo Ras­cale. Cruises will in­clude free jug­gling lessons. More: 132 469; www.pocruises.com.au. Wild side: A visit to Ecuador’s Gala­pa­gos Is­lands is cer­tain to fea­ture a host of wildlife, from igua­nas to gi­ant tor­toises. Tempo Hol­i­days has a seven-day Gala­pa­gos tour that de­parts Quito ev­ery Fri­day. Four nights are spent on board the 100-pas­sen­ger Gala­pa­gos Ex­plorer 11 and two nights in Quito. From $2819 a per­son, with some meals, shore ex­cur­sions, nat­u­ral­ists and ho­tel trans­fers; flights ex­tra. There’s also a six-night pack­age from $1903 de­part­ing Thurs­days. More: 1300 558 987; www.tem­pohol­i­days.com. East­ern prom­ise: Costa Al­le­gra will op­er­ate a se­ries of two-week Jew­els of the Far East voy­ages out of Sin­ga­pore be­tween March and Novem­ber next year visit­ing six ports in five coun­tries: Viet­nam, China, The Philip­pines, Malaysia and Brunei. Dis­counted fares for early book­ings start at $1950 a per­son, cruise only. More: www.costacruises.com.au. Cold turkey: Take ad­van­tage of a Christ­mas cruise and let some­one else worry about the turkey. Cruise Ex­press has two-week Christ­mas-new year cruises aboard Celebrity Cruises’ Mil­len­nium and Royal Caribbean’s Rhap­sody of the Seas. The Mil­len­nium’s fly-cruise from Auck­land to Syd­ney de­parts De­cem­ber 21, visit­ing Tau­ranga, Napier, Welling­ton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Fjord­land. From $2999 a per­son, in­clud­ing flight. Rhap­sody sails from Syd­ney on De­cem­ber 23, visit­ing a num­ber of NZ ports. From $2600 a per­son. More: 1300 766 537. Barry Oliver

Wildlife spe­cial: A Gala­pa­gos iguana

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