1AUSTRALIA

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - NEW ZEALAND ADVERTISING FEATURE -

TOR­RES STRAIT IS­LANDS,

Western Aus­tralia’s Kim­ber­ley re­gion has been cap­ti­vat­ing cruise vis­i­tors for years – but now the “next big thing” in Aussie cruis­ing looks to be tak­ing off. Ex­pe­di­tion cruise op­er­a­tor Ahoy Buc­ca­neers is mak­ing its first foray out­side its base in the Kim­ber­ley to visit the Tor­res Strait, with its first cruise de­part­ing in Oc­to­ber. Five more de­par­tures are planned next year. Scat­tered across a 150km stretch of ocean be­tween Cape York and Pa­pua New Guinea, the Tor­res Strait ar­chi­pel­ago is home to stun­ning blue wa­ters, dugongs, dol­phins, gi­ant mar­lin and sea tur­tles. The round trip from Horn Is­land vis­its reefs to snorkel, fish and marvel at the beauty of na­ture, as well as a chance to en­joy a beer at Aus­tralia’s most northerly pub – the Tor­res Ho­tel on Thurs­day Is­land.

COCOCAY, BA­HAMAS

Cruise com­pany-owned pri­vate is­land ports are a grow­ing trend and Royal Caribbean is up­ping the ante with its Per­fect Day Is­land Col­lec­tion of pri­vate is­land des­ti­na­tions. First is its ex­ist­ing pri­vate is­land, CocoCay, which is un­der­go­ing a $260 mil­lion up­grade to fea­ture a mas­sive wa­ter­park, zip line, he­lium bal­loon at­trac­tion and beach club by the end of next year. It’ll have a 41m-high wa­ter­slide – the tallest in North Amer­ica, says pres­i­dent and CEO Michael Bay­ley.

TAHITI ITI, FRENCH POLYNESIA

A lit­tle is­land with big surf, Tahiti Iti has been call­ing to surfers for years as the home of the Bil­l­abong Pro Teahupoo – and now cruis­ers are about to dis­cover Tahiti Iti. The is­land is the smaller sis­ter is­land of Tahiti Nui, and is the star of Paul Gau­guin Cruises’ new­est itin­er­ary. In June this year, Paul Gau­guin will be­come the first cruise line to visit Tahiti Iti’s port city of Vairao. The seven-night cruise de­parts from Papeete, and vis­its Huahine, Motu Ma­hana off the coast of Taha’a, Bora Bora and Moorea. The cruise in­dus­try’s love af­fair with French Polynesia con­tin­ues to boom, with 11 cruise lines al­ready sched­uled to call at Bora Bora in 2019.

JA­PAN

It’s the des­ti­na­tion on ev­ery­one’s lips and cruis­ing – like the rest of the tourism in­dus­try – is boom­ing in Ja­pan. Princess Cruises is ex­pand­ing its Ja­panese itin­er­ar­ies, with Di­a­mond Princess to visit a record 41 ports in Ja­pan next year, in­clud­ing six brand new des­ti­na­tions – Ga­m­agori, Himeji, Mat­suyama, Ni­igata, Miyako and Taka­matsu. Princess Cruises Aus­tralia and New Zealand vice pres­i­dent Stu­art Al­li­son says Ja­pan is the fastest grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity for Aus­tralians over the past five years with 175 per cent growth in vis­its since 2011. Cu­nard Line is also ramp­ing up its im­mer­sion into Ja­pan, with its ship Queen El­iz­a­beth to make five maiden calls across the coun­try planned over the 2019-20 sea­son, while Nor­we­gian Cruise Line has re­cently launched its first Ja­panese cherry blos­som sea­son cruises.

EGYPT

Off the radar for years, Egypt is now hav­ing a cel­e­brated re­turn to the tourist scene – and cruis­ing the Nile is one of the best ways to see the coun­try’s top at­trac­tions. Stretch­ing 6670km, the river is cred­ited as the world’s long­est and the bucket-list at­trac­tions of an­cient Egypt are sec­ond to none. Scenic’s first Egypt tour in five years de­parts this month, fea­tur­ing a Nile cruise, and – thanks to “phe­nom­e­nal” in­ter­est – the com­pany is al­ready adding new de­par­tures. It fol­lows Vik­ing Cruises’ launch of its el­e­gant new Nile ship, Vik­ing Ra, this month – with de­mand so strong that de­par­tures are al­ready sold out for this year and next. Be quick if you’re keen to travel in 2020.

ALASKA, US

Alaska has sky­rock­eted up the charts in 2018 to be named the hottest des­ti­na­tion among US travel agents

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