GREAT NEW YEAR ESCAPES
Ahoy there: Under the jaunty persona of Captain Rivers, Sydney-based travel journalist Brian Johnston has launched River Cruise Insight, a blog and Facebook page dedicated to river cruising. There are newsy updates, ship reviews, FAQs and first-hand features and photos on this fastgrowing holiday trend in Europe and Asia. More: rivercruiseinsight.com; facebook.com/rivercruiseinsight. Gourmets on the go: Walkabout Gourmet Adventures has a special on its April 5-25 Follow the Moorish Trail holiday from Valencia to Marrakech. Participants will walk in Spain’s Sierra Nevada and through the ancient villages of Las Alpujarras; other highlights include Granada, Ronda, Seville, Fes and the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Book by January 31 for a deal of $8185 a person twin-share (a saving of $700 a person). More: (02) 9871 5526; walkaboutgourmet.com. On the fast track: Japan’s Shinkansen service, better known as the Bullet Train, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in October. The sleek trains reach speeds of up to 320km/h and thousands of passengers are transported daily. Japan holiday specialist Toursgallery is offering escorted small-group trips featuring railway journeys and accommodation that includes traditional ryokan; 14-day tours from $5850 a person twin-share (add airfares). More: 1300 307 317; toursgallery.com. Tailor-made Europe: Holidays to Europe is promoting a personal concierge initiative run by Dawn Tabet of Italy and France Vacances; this experienced escort can design a personalised tour in either destination, with one week priced from about $3450 a person twin-share based on four or five-star hotels, personal driver and meals and suggested itineraries. Tabet is also available to accompany tours between May and October. More: holidaystoeurope.com.au. Golden opportunity: Wendy Wu Tours has a new nine-day Golden Triangle tour of India that includes the Taj Mahal in Agra, the World Heritage-listed ghost city of Fatehpur Sikri, and the Palace of the Winds in the pink city of Jaipur; from $3337 a person twin-share with most inclusions, departing from major capital cities in April, September, November and December. More: 1300 727 998; wendywutours.com.au. Coral cuts: Coral Princess Cruises has 30 per cent off its Great Barrier Reef cruises of three, four or seven nights from Cairns. Savings are valid on bookings made between February 1 and April 30 on selected departures to December 31; the threenight itinerary departs Cairns on Fridays and cruises the Hinchinbrook Channel, Thetford and Nathan Reefs, and includes a rainforest walk on Dunk Island and barbecue on Pelorus Island. More: 1800 079 545; coralprincess.com.au. One at a time: Silversea has a wide range of single-occupancy specials on its cruises this year; for example, an 11-day voyage from Monte Carlo to Istanbul aboard Silver Wind from April 14-25 costs from $6438 for solo travellers. More: 1300 306 872; silversea.com. Dining deal: Rayavadee, a five-star resort of spacious villas and pavilions within Krabi’s Marine National Park on southern Thailand’s Andaman coast, has announced a half-board offer for bookings made by January 31 for stays from May 1 to October 31. The dining deal applies to minimum sevennight bookings across all room categories and includes daily breakfast plus lunch or dinner (excluding beverages). More: rayavadee.com. Rock and loll: Molly Meldrum will be at the helm, as it were, of Cruiseco’s fourth annual Rock the Boat voyage of the South Pacific departing Sydney on October 12; featured acts during the nine-night cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas include Daryl Braithwaite and the Angels, and other entertainment covers daily dance lessons and meetand-greet sessions with artists. From $2729 a person, twin-share. More: (02) 9492 8520; cruising.com.au. Cool news: It is never too early to plan a ski trip to New Zealand; Qantas will increase services between Sydney and Queenstown during the Easter school holidays and offer daily flights in peak snow season. More: qantas.com.au.
A recently launched specialist blog is devoted to river cruising