Mediter­ranean beck­ons in the off sea­son

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

THE mel­low Med: Sail the Mediter­ranean at leisure when the sum­mer high sea­son is over; book be­fore June 30 to save 25 per cent on se­lected de­par­tures aboard the Star Clip­per fleet’s flag­ship 227-pas­sen­ger Royal Clip­per or 170-pas­sen­ger sis­ter ships Star Flyer and Star Clip­per. Choose seven nights on board Star Flyer de­part­ing Oc­to­ber 1 (Monaco to Cannes) or Oc­to­ber 8 (Cannes to Malaga) from $2350, or a seven-night fly-cruise pack­age on Star Clip­per de­part­ing Septem­ber 3, sail­ing from Athens to the Greek isles and Tur­key, from $4869 in­clud­ing re­turn air­fares from Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane, Perth or Ade­laide with Emi­rates. More: 1300 362 599; star­clip­pers.com. Rus­sian rivers: Book a 15-day 2012 river cruise on board the Sergey Kutchkin — the new­est ship on Rus­sia’s wa­ter­ways — from St Peters­burg to Moscow, vis­it­ing cities and pic­turesque river­side towns and vil­lages along the way. Spend four nights in Moscow vis­it­ing sights such as Red Square, the KGBbuild­ing, the Krem­lin and the Cos­mo­naut Train­ing Cen­tre. From $8045 a per­son twin-share, in­clud­ing re­turn flights from Aus­tralia, taxes, all sight­see­ing tours and events, gra­tu­ities, meals, com­pli­men­tary beer, lo­cal wines and soft drinks served with din­ner. More: 1300 723 642; scenic­tours.com.au. The Kim­ber­ley coast: En­joy 15 per cent dis­count on Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises’ seven-day South­ern Quest pack­age be­tween WA’s Mitchell Plateau and Broome from June to Septem­ber; from $7093 a per­son twin-share in­clud­ing an ensuite cabin, meals, guided land and wa­ter ex­cur­sions, a scenic light-air­craft flight from Broome to Mitchell Plateau and he­li­copter flight over Mitchell Falls, ex­cur­sions, whale spot­ting and fish­ing. More: (08) 9193 6131; kim­ber­leyquest.com.au. Ama­zon ad­ven­tures: The Peru­vian Ama­zon awaits aboard M/V Aria, Aqua Ex­pe­di­tions’ new lux­ury river­boat. High­lights in­clude Peru’s largest nat­u­ral re­serve, Pa­caya-Samiria, in the north­ern hub of Iquitos, a 75minute flight from Lima. Three, four and seven-night itin­er­ar­ies on board the 16-cabin river­boat fea­ture Aqua Ex­pe­di­tions’ sig­na­ture Ama­zon Grill by ex­ec­u­tive chef Pe­dro Miguel Schi­affino, nat­u­ral­ist guides, Ama­zon wildlife ref­er­ence li­brary and air-con­di­tioned mul­ti­me­dia room. More: aqua­ex­pe­di­tions.com. So­lar spe­cial: Wit­ness the rare to­tal eclipse of the sun in Novem­ber next year from the best van­tage point: an area ex­tend­ing from Cairns across a swath of Pa­cific Ocean. Book a 20-night Honolulu to Syd­ney voy­age on board Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Millennium; from $2251 a per­son, de­part­ing Novem­ber 2 from Hawaii and vis­it­ing Amer­i­can Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand, then Syd­ney, with an ex­cel­lent view of the eclipse at sea in the South Pa­cific at about 11am on Novem­ber 14. More: 1300 766 537; cruise­ex­press.com.au. A slice of Si­cily: A 15-day Si­cily is the Key to Ev­ery­thing cruise on board Aegean Odyssey de­parts Au­gust 26 from Athens to Rome; from $5195 a per­son twin-share, in­clud­ing free re­turn flights if you book be­fore June 1. Ex­plore his­tory, art and ar­chi­tec­ture at more than 20 des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing Athens and Myce­nae in Greece, Tra­pani and Palermo in Si­cily, plus Sor­rento and Capri on the Amalfi coast. More: 1800 507 777. Syd­ney sights: Save 25 per cent on Cap­tain Cook Cruises’ Win­ter Won­der­land two-night Syd­ney Har­bour Week­end cruises on se­lected June, July and Au­gust sail­ings; from $360 a per­son twin­share, in­clud­ing food and wine, sight­see­ing, shore ex­cur­sions, mu­sic and dancing. More: 1800 804 843; cap­tain­cook.com.au. Sail South Amer­ica: A 32-night fly-cruise aboard Rot­ter­dam from Novem­ber 21 cov­ers Santa Marta, Puerto Li­mon, the Panama Canal and fa­mous Inca sites. Ex­plore an­cient cul­ture in Cuzco with a five-night stopover in Lima; from $5969 a per­son twin-share, in­clud­ing re­turn econ­omy air­fares on V-Aus­tralia from Syd­ney to Fort Laud­erdale and San Diego. Avail­able for sale un­til June 30. More: 1300 450 133; cruiseabout. com.au. Amaz­ing Asia: Book be­fore May 31 to re­ceive a free stopover in Sin­ga­pore on ecruis­ing.travel’s Ultimate Asia 2012 22-night cruise and tour vis­it­ing China, South Korea, Ja­pan, Tai­wan and Hong Kong, in­clud­ing 12-nights on board lux­ury Aza­mara Quest, de­part­ing March 6; from $9439 a per­son twin-share in­clud­ing re­turn econ­omy air­fares with Sin­ga­pore Air­lines from Aus­tralia, do­mes­tic flights within China, five-star ac­com­mo­da­tion in China and Hong Kong, English­s­peak­ing guides, all en­trance fees, and most meals. More: 1300 369 848; ecruis­ing.travel. Beauty of the Baltic: Ex­plore North­ern Europe on an 11-night fly-cruise pack­age on Re­gent Seven Seas Voy­ager from Stockholm to Copen­hagen de­part­ing July 8; from $7999 a per­son twin­share in­clud­ing re­turn flights from Aus­tralia to Scan­di­navia. More: 1300 766 537; cruise­ex­press.com.au.

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