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Cruise through time: The coast of Papua New Guinea

<p>It’s like stepping back to an earlier age when foreign travel really was exploration where anything can happen. PNG is a land that has many attractions ranging from excellent diving, world-renowned walks, rare flora and fauna, and hot springs and volcanoes. There’s an exotic foreignness in this near neighbour.</p> <p>The coast and islands are beautiful. Elsewhere that spells over-development: seek untrammelled golden sands and you’ll find it shaded by highrise hotels; look for fish and coral living in unpolluted topical waters and you’d find you’ve arrived long after the developers. In PNG you are well ahead of the rush.</p> <p><strong>Tufi<br /></strong>The coast surprises in its diversity. Arriving by sea to Tufi, a clifftop village with a population of just 400 people, you cruise into what can only be described as a beautiful jungle-fringed fiord. From here you can go deep-sea fishing or scuba diving, or take a short walk to seek huge birdwing butterflies. Besides these, the world’s largest butterflies, PNG boasts 2000 species of orchids and over 700 bird species including 43 Birds of Paradise.</p> <p>At a pretty nearby beach you can swim and snorkel amongst the coral. Or head up a river accompanied by a colourful local guide. An aluminium tinny takes you part way up the river, to transfer to dugout outrigger canoes fitted with bamboo platforms on which to luxuriated while young local girls skilfully paddle the craft under fallen trees and around sand bars.</p> <p>Eventually, you arrived at a glorious river beach enclosed by high hills and broad leaf vegetation. Here the men of the village slice and dice a tree trunk to extract taro while numerous naked children used the outing as a chance for a party. Australia seems a long way away.</p> <p><strong>Rabaul<br /></strong>As news reports once showed, Rabaul is situated on a beautiful bay, treacherously fringed by volcanoes. It’s now a virtual ghost town after the major volcanic eruption of two decades ago – and it looks like a ghost, too, with the old city centre covered in grey volcanic dust. Eruptions are ongoing and most locals live in nearby Kokopo, a few kilometres from the town that was once referred to as “the Jewel of the Pacific”.</p> <p><strong>Fergusson Island<br /></strong>Also volcanic, Fergusson Island is the largest of the D’Entrecasteux Islands in the Solomon Sea off the southeast tip of the mainland. This is a lesson in volcanic landscapes writ large with fields of bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers. The water has coated everything in a rime of white calcium and the local villagers use the scalding pools as cooking pots.</p> <p>New Britain, New Ireland, the Bismark Sea – the colonial heritage of Papua New Guinea lives on in names and government structure. English is very widely spoken. But a voyage along the coast of PNG has the atmosphere of a journey of discovery of ancient culture and customs and of a new nation endeavouring to establish its place in the world.</p> <p><strong>Mystic Sepik<br /></strong>Of all the rivers in PNG the most renowned is the Sepik that flows for about 1000 km from the Highlands to the Bismark Sea. Throughout PNG you’ll find remarkable carvings and traditional masks but in the Sepik you find artworks that were born in your worst nightmares. You can buy it directly from the villages or there are excellent art and craft shops in Port Moresby holding artefacts from across the entire nation.</p> <p>Despite PNG being a very foreign land, there are constant reminders of Australia and the two nations’ connection. In the island community of Kwato there’s a memorial to Reverend Abel who felt the best way to civilise the local populace was by introducing cricket. The city of Alotau was the World War II site of the 1942 battle of Milne Bay where the Australian forces became the first to force the Japanese army to retreat on land.</p> <p><strong>Kokoda Trail<br /></strong>A place of pilgrimage that also combines a rite of passage is the Kokoda Trail that runs for 100 km across the rugged Owen Stanley Range north of Port Moresby. It was the scene of some incredible bravery and fortitude from the Australia troops that pushed the Japanese back along it in 1942 in perhaps the worst conditions in the world. Mud and mountains, heat and humidity all ensure it remains a 10-day challenge that is very rewarding to accomplish.</p> <p><strong>Simply cruising<br /></strong>By far the easiest way to get around the coast and islands of PNG is on a small cruise ship.<span> </span></p> <p><span><em>Written by David McGonigal. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/cruise-through-time-the-coast-of-papua-new-guinea.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></span></p>

Cruising

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5 cruise myths debunked

<p>When we travel, we experience the unfamiliar, dust away ‘the ordinary’ from our lives and shake off preconceptions we’ve gathered along the way.<br /><br />Yet, when it comes to cruises, many of us cling to preconceptions.<br /><br />However, today’s cruise ships are filled with unusual quirks, ready for every kind of modern adventurer. So we’re here to take you on a journey across the seven seas.</p> <p><strong>1. Cruises are for ‘oldies’ and are just plain old-fashioned</strong></p> <p>If you still believe this, chances are you’re not as with the times as you might like to think.</p> <p>Many cruise liners are trading in feather-flapping cabarets and dinners at the captain’s table for rockclimbing, assault courses and simulation surfing.</p> <p>In fact, cruises are swiftly becoming hubs of cutting-edge digital innovation.</p> <p>Robot bartenders shake and stir guests’ cocktails aboard select ships; free smartphone apps onboard have become de rigueur; and one liner recently launched a tech-bracelet with more than 130 smart features, including an app enabling you to tailor your cruise every step of the way for a truly 21st-century experience.</p> <p><strong>2. They’re crowded and ‘touristy’</strong></p> <p>As the world shrinks, new and unique travel experiences are increasingly harder to come by.</p> <p>Cruise ships are adapting to these demands, creating never-before-seen itineraries that leave the crowds far behind.</p> <p>Trace the forgotten Spice Route, through ancient jungles and along white beaches, past crumbling monasteries and deserted cave temples, backwater fishing villages and local bazaars.</p> <p>Discover Namibia’s German heritage, Benin’s voodoo traditions and Ghana’s dark slavery sites.</p> <p>Visit nomadic communities in Madagascar and venture out to tiny Pacific islands, where some of the world’s most fascinating indigenous cultures can still be found.</p> <p><strong>3. It’s boring being stuck at sea</strong></p> <p>Because you can align your cruise to your interests so perfectly these days, if you’re bored on a cruise it’s because you’ve picked the wrong one.</p> <p>Choose the right cruise and you can finally do all those things you’ve always wanted to as you drift between destinations.</p> <p>Think scuba diving or wine tasting, photography or yoga.</p> <p>Some ships have theme parks, water slides and zip lines, and you can skydive without even going ashore.</p> <p><strong>4. Isn’t the food a little dull?</strong></p> <p>Bland buffets are a thing of the past.</p> <p>Today’s cruises serve up a treat for all the senses.</p> <p>Embark on excursions to local markets, ranches and farms to source fresh ingredients for cooking classes back on board.</p> <p>You can hop aboard cruise and enjoy world-class menus from famous chefs such as Curtis Stone, gastropub guru Ernesto Uchimura and many more.</p> <p><strong>5. I’ll have to get used to seasickness</strong></p> <p>Unlike that little old sailboat in the marina, cruise ships, large or small, are equipped with specialised stabilisers that take almost all of the motion out of the ocean.</p> <p>Once settled on board, you’re likely to forget you’re even afloat.</p> <p>Booking a cabin in the middle of a deck and lower in the ship, at its natural balance point, can help settle any pre-cruise fears further, despite it being extremely unlikely you will become seasick aboard in the first place.</p> <p><em>Written by Reader's Digest. This article first appeared in<span> </span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/5-cruise-myths-debunked">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine,<span> </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN87V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

Cruising

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What floats your boat – choosing the right cruising category

<p><span>When it comes to travel trends, nothing has exploded with quite the same magnitude as cruising. Catering for multi-generational getaways, romantic couple’s retreats or adventurous solo expeditions, cruise lines have capitalised on demand from a diverse customer base by crafting voyages for all budgets and preferences. Setting off to sea can be done in style and sophistication, venturing downriver doesn’t have to break the bank. Jump aboard this travel trend, see what the fuss is about and pick a cruise category that suits you.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Mainstream cruising</span></strong></p> <p><span>Mainstream cruising, also referred to as the ‘contemporary’ category, refers to the mass-market, resort-style ships, generally with the capacity for upwards of 3000 guests. The consequences of these big numbers include smaller average cabin size and decent but not exceptional service. The onboard vibes are busy, energetic and potentially noisy; there is always something going on and the climate is communal and social. Activities and facilities generally include pools, waterslides, ice-skating rinks, rock-climbing, Broadway performances, comedy nights, movie theatres, bars, lounges, clubs, gyms and spas. The onboard entertainment, affordable rates and special package deals endear these lines to families.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> A convenient budget holiday with extended family and active kids, where shore excursions are not a priority. Mainstream cruising is popular for a reason – there truly is something for everyone, and the idea of unpacking once and having everything you need nearby is certainly appealing.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> Competitive and affordable rates (but additional onboard costs), lots of families and young people, and a lively nightlife</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line</span></p> <p><strong><span>Premium cruises</span></strong></p> <p><span>Premium and deluxe-level cruising also offers a myriad of diversions, although facilities and service are of a distinctly higher quality. State rooms are more spacious, the food and dining options more varied, and the décor more refined. Some lines like to provide more traditional cruising experiences with suggested dress codes and assigned dining, but usually you will find a very relaxed atmosphere with some extra perks like excellent Internet access and more privacy. The differentiating factor between premium and deluxe is typically the size of the boat and its capacity; the more intimate and personalised the experience, the more you can expect to pay.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> A little bit of glamour on a multi-generational trip that caters for everyone. Impressive, professional standards are a guarantee, although you should do your research as there is some variation between lines.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> families and couples, great service, extra perks and a spectrum of interesting activities and workshops like movies, cooking demonstrations and snorkelling</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises</span></p> <p><strong><span>Luxury cruises</span></strong></p> <p><span>With top of the line, luxury cruises, you get what you pay for. This means high staff to guest ratios (there are often more staff on board than guests), low capacity (guests can be as few in number as 50) and larger rooms (sometimes all cabins are suites with balconies). Sleek, smaller-sized vessels with beautiful interiors promise peace, privacy and an intimate, personalised experience. The necessary bi-products, however, are fewer onboard activities and no large-scale entertainment activities; the focus is instead on demonstrations, lectures and port excursions in interesting spots inaccessible to mainstream cruises. All-inclusive costs cover gratuities like alcohol with meals, and the special extra touches like fresh flowers, quality tableware, bath products, branded linens and sometimes even butler service.</span></p> <p><strong><span>Good for:</span></strong><span> Ticking off those bucket-list destinations in supreme style and comfort, and spending relaxed, leisurely time with a loved one.</span></p> <p><strong><span>You can expect:</span></strong><span> Intriguing, well-crafted shore excursions in lesser-known locations, faultless service from attentive and professional staff, and plenty of inclusions</span></p> <p><strong><span>Lines:</span></strong><span> Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Sea Cruises</span></p> <p><span>Whatever floats your boat can be found in the wide array of lines and packages on the cruise market. Ocean cruises aside, there are also niche lines, river cruises and sailing ships to test out. All you’ll need is to pick a destination and duration, and cast away!</span></p> <p><em><span>Written by Sophie Cullen. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/what-floats-your-boat-choosing-the-right-cruising-category/">MyDiscoveries</a>. </span></em></p>

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5 best places to go cruising

<p>Cruising is the best way to travel. You unpack once and can see dozens of different destinations. It’s easy. It’s affordable. </p> <p>But where should you go? Some places are better to see by ship than others. Here’s our top 5: </p> <p><strong>1. Australia</strong></p> <p>Our country has an incredible coastline. Options for cruising are varied. In November a short cruise heads out of Sydney Harbour bound for Melbourne and the race that stops the nation – The Melbourne Cup. It’s a great way to get a taste for cruising and to take a few days out to relax. </p> <p>Most cruise lines including P&amp;O and Royal Caribbean offer cruises through the Great Barrier Reef. Shore excursions on these often turn into water excursions as you explore the underwater coral and marine life. </p> <p>Kimberley Cruises are fast gaining popularity. This remote and harsh environment is hard to access via land. But absolutely stunning when viewed from the water. </p> <p><strong>2. New Zealand</strong></p> <p>Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island is stunningly beautiful, especially when seen by boat. The deep water allows ships to get close to the waterfalls as they drop into the ocean. It’s a sight you simply can’t experience from land. On the North Island you can’t go past Auckland with its spectacular volcanic islands – including Waiheke, known affectionately as wine island for the growing number of wineries ashore. </p> <p><strong>3. The Caribbean</strong></p> <p>The Caribbean is the world’s top pick for cruising. With so many exotic islands and stunning coconut-tree framed beaches to explore it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. </p> <p>What is more stunning is the diversity you will find as you cruise. Dominica has been dubbed the “nature island”. Curacao was once the centre of the slave trade, and has strong links to the Netherlands, Cuba has sugar-cane, communist history and fantastic music, and Jamaica is all about rum and reggae. </p> <p><strong>4. Alaska</strong></p> <p>Glaciers, polar bears and dog sleds. If ice adventures get your heart racing, you can’t go past a cruise in Alaska. </p> <p>In the summer months you can also spot bald eagles, orca whales and caribou from your deck chair. And there’s nothing quite like parking beside an enormous glacier and hearing the roar as a slice tumbles into the ocean. No need to get cold or trek for miles – you can do it all from the comfort of a cruise ship. </p> <p><strong>5. Europe</strong></p> <p>European river cruises are the ultimate sophistication. They allow you to travel easily through countries and experience the best of European culture without unpacking once. </p> <p>See opera in Vienna, drink beer in Germany and marvel at the Eiffel tower in Paris. It’s all possible and far easier on a cruise. </p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/five-best-places-to-go-cruising/">My Discoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

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19 cruise hacks to make travel easy

<p>Cruising can be wonderful. The wide-open space of the sea gives you time to relax and reconnect. You can tick off multiple destinations and only unpack once. </p> <p>But there are a few little tricks that cruise experts tell us will make your cruise even cruiser. </p> <p>Here’s the best tips we have uncovered.</p> <p><strong>1. Pack duct tape</strong></p> <p>On occasion the cruise may hit rough seas. If drawers begin to open, or cabin items go rolling, grab your duct tape and secure them. </p> <p><strong>2. Pack balloons</strong></p> <p>When our office manager told us to bring balloons on the cruise, we did think it was for a party. But in fact, she says that most cruise ships only have one or two hooks. Even the door handles don’t have surfaces for you to hang things. If you plan on doing washing in your room, then you can blow up the balloons and drape the clothes over them to dry. </p> <p><strong>3. Pack magnets</strong></p> <p>Another way to get organised is to bring magnets with you. Many cabin walls are made from metal. So, head to the hardware store and grab a bunch of magnets. Then you can attach hooks or even stick up important notes and your itinerary on the wall. </p> <p><strong>4 Put your bag under the bed</strong></p> <p>Normally when you travel, you stow the suitcase in the cupboard. Experts tell us that on a cruise, you should stow your bag under the bed. Wardrobe space is limited and storing your bag in there will reduce the space for clothes and shoes. </p> <p><strong>5. Steam your clothes</strong></p> <p>Most cruise ships don’t have irons. Fire and cruising don’t go together. They don’t want to take any chances. But what about when you need to wear a fancy shirt or dress to dinner and it’s been wrinkled from packing? Use the steam from the shower. It will un-wrinkle your clothes in no time flat. Alternatively, we’ve been told that you can buy “de-wrinkle spray” for clothes. We haven’t tested it though, so we can’t guarantee this will work. </p> <p><strong>6. Bring a multi-charger or power board</strong></p> <p>Most cruise cabins only have a few power points. These days most people travel with multiple devices. Grab a multi-charger and you can plug in multiple devices to the one power port. Or you can always bring a power board. </p> <p><strong>7. Pack a first aid kit</strong></p> <p>Yes, they have first aid on the ship. Yes, they have shops. But save your money and pack medicines that you may be likely to use such as Panadol, gastro-stop, antihistamines and antiseptic cream in a first aid kit. </p> <p><strong>8. Bring a HDMI cable</strong></p> <p>Love a great night in bed with a good film? Download them onto your laptop and you can use the HDMI cable to watch the films you want to see on the cabin’s TV. </p> <p><strong>9. Pack an extension cord</strong></p> <p>As we said, cruise cabins often have limited power points and sometimes they are in annoying locations. If you want to use your laptop and it has run out of battery, you will thank us for telling you to pack an extension lead.</p> <p><strong>10. Buy in bulk</strong></p> <p>This is one that surprised us. Apparently, some cruise lines give you a discount for buying drinks in bulk. Five beers for the price of four can save you $8 a round. Just pop the extra in the fridge for later. </p> <p><strong>11. Book excursions in advance</strong></p> <p>A huge part of cruising is visiting the onshore destinations. If you plan on cruising on a large boat, make sure you book your on-shore excursions early. That way you can be sure that you will be going. There would be nothing worse than getting off the boat only to find out that the tour you want to do is all sold out. </p> <p><strong>12. Budget for excursions</strong></p> <p>It seems obvious, but many first-time cruisers forget to factor in the added extras. Make sure you know which excursions you want to do and how much they cost. Then factor that into your budget. </p> <p><strong>13. Pack sticky notes</strong></p> <p>Need to remember the departure time? What time the bar opens? Or the time you will have your massage? Bring sticky notes and make your own message board on the cabin wall. </p> <p><strong>14. Stay fit</strong></p> <p>A lot of cruises have endless and bottomless food options. You will indulge. You will enjoy it. But maybe find some time to stay fit on board, even if it is just taking the stairs instead of the lift or swimming daily and doing early morning laps in the pool. </p> <p><strong>15. Pack ginger</strong></p> <p>First-time cruiser? Not sure if you are going to get seasick? Ginger is your friend. Ginger helps ease seasickness. </p> <p><strong>16. Choose your cabin wisely</strong></p> <p>Worried about seasickness? You are better off booking a lower deck room in the middle of the ship. Want a great view and never feel sick? Go for the upper deck edges. Whatever room you choose, think long and hard about what you really want to get out of the cruise. How long will you actually spend in the room?</p> <p><strong>17. Be hygienic </strong></p> <p>Sickness can and does spread on ships. To avoid nasties, make sure you have good hygiene habits. Wash your hands properly and perhaps pack some hand sanitiser. </p> <p><strong>18. Notify the ship of any medical conditions</strong></p> <p>Even if it is minor. In the event of an emergency, the staff will be the ones to help you. </p> <p><strong>19. Wear rubber shoes</strong></p> <p>It can get slippery on board. </p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/travel-hacks-to-make-your-cruise-easier/">My Discoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

Cruising

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4 highlights of modern cruising holidays

<p>Holidays on board cruise ships are more popular than ever with over 22 million people taking to the seas in 2015. The industry is expanding its on-board activities to appeal to every type of passenger. Try these for size.</p> <p><strong>1. Scale a rock-climbing wall</strong></p> <p>Snoozing around the pool isn’t everyone’s idea of holiday fun. The cruise ship Oasis of the Sea from Royal Caribbean has two nine-metre rock climbing walls, two surf-simulator pools, a flying fox and an ice-skating rink.</p> <p><strong>2. Walk above the water</strong></p> <p>The Regal Princess, owned and operated by Princess Cruises, features a glass-bottomed walkway that sits 39 metres high and extends 18 metres out over the ocean, offering dramatic views.</p> <p><strong>3. Themed cruises</strong></p> <p>It’s fair to say that Disney is fast rewriting the fantasy cruise experience for families. Not only does its Disney Dream cruise ship sport a 223 metre-long outdoor tube waterslide, but it’s Very Merrytime Cruises host a Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball complete with snow and special appearances from Frozen’s Anna and Elsa.</p> <p><strong>4. Around the world in 180 days</strong></p> <p>For people who love life at sea, the Insignia, operated by Oceania Cruises, takes 180 days and nights to circumnavigate the globe, taking in 44 countries. The ship departs from the US, then travels to the Caribbean, South America, Africa and Asia.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/4-highlights-of-modern-cruising-holidays">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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What really happens on a cruise ship?

<p>Everyone wakes up on a cruise to find themselves floating blissfully somewhere between vast seas and even vaster skies. While you slumbered, your floating hotel travelled through the night. Come morning, just outside your window is a completely new world and destination waiting for you to discover. What a way to start your day.</p> <p>Early risers can catch the sunrise from the deck with a steaming cup of coffee and warm French pastries before heading to breakfast, while later risers can take in the views and the fresh sea air before heading downstairs to breakfast. Cruise restaurants offer banquets fit for a king. Choose from fresh fruit, omelettes, pancakes and, of course, ­a traditional full English breakfast.</p> <p>Energise your morning with a gentle yoga class, stretching your body and relaxing your mind on the top deck, or doing a few laps of the pool. For something a little more invigorating, hit the gym. If that sounds like too much action, simply spend your morning lounging by the pool or getting lost in a book, perhaps engrossing yourself in the history, culture and legends of your next port of call.</p> <p>If it’s a port day, you might want to head out straight after breakfast to fit in all the sights. Maybe you have a tour lined up to see the local attractions; a boat trip to view a coral reef; or a sightseeing tour from high up above a rainforest canopy.</p> <p>From tropical island paradises of the South Pacific to the majestic ice-scapes of Scandinavia and Alaska and the bustling Mediterranean, where you can take a nostalgic trip back in history and visit ancient monuments and ruins, the world is your oyster as far as cruise travel is concerned.</p> <p>You can also choose to whittle the afternoon away in a quaint restaurant and watch the world go by. If you spent the previous day exploring on land, a day on board allows you to unwind and soak in the delights of ship life, such as a day of spa treatments and pampering, sunbathing by the pool, or simply afternoon tea on deck.</p> <p>For a bit more excitement, try the surfing and skydiving simulators. Or if you want to learn something, take a cookery class, or learn to dance the tango. Whatever your poison, what is not to be missed is watching the sun going down from the deck with a glass of Happy Hour bubbles in hand.</p> <p>An array of Broadway shows, cabaret spectaculars and concerts are on offer after dark. And if you want to party like it’s 1999, head to the nightclubs and chic lounges where everyone’s party can carry on late into the night.</p> <p><em>Written by Alison Godfrey. Republished with permission of <span><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/cruise-activities/">MyDiscoveries</a></span>. </em></p>

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The best animal spotting cruises

<p>For some travellers, their main motivation for taking a cruise is to experience the amazing wildlife that the world’s oceans and islands have to offer.</p> <p><strong>1. Stingrays and manta rays</strong></p> <p>Some cruises will offer excursions to see local wildlife while at port, with passengers able to enjoy trips to see stingrays – which frequent shallow sandy areas – up close. It’s also not uncommon for passengers to see large rays such as manta rays while at sea or as their ship leaves port. If you’re keen to swim with rays, try a cruise that takes in the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands or to the tropical islands of Fiji. There, from May to October, the stingless and gentle manta rays gather in the warm tropical waters to feed on – and be cleaned by – plankton.</p> <p><strong>2. Flying fish </strong></p> <p>They may sound too fantastical to be real but flying fish do exist and many cruise passengers report seeing them. Despite their name, they can’t really fly, but they are equipped with large wing-like pectoral fins that enable them to propel their bodies out of the water and glide for distances up to 200m – more if they use the updrafts from waves. Some types of flying fish also have a second set of ‘wing’ fins and most have a long tail they can dip into the water to help prolong ‘flight’. You’ll find them in deep tropical open ocean waters, rather than close to port. Ranging in size from 14-46cm, they can be hard to spot, but if you keep an eye out, you may just see one.</p> <p>(Note: While flying is a quirky evolutionary safeguard that keeps the fish out of reach of predators such as marlin and tuna, they need to watch out for hungry birds while gliding.)</p> <p><strong>3. Whales</strong></p> <p>If you’re keen to watch these giants of the oceans in their natural habitat, there’s no better place than Antarctica. From November to March a handful of specialist cruising companies offer Antarctic expeditions departing from Argentina or New Zealand. Antarctic waters are home to eight species of whales: fin, humpback, minke, orca, sei, southern right, sperm and the largest mammal ever known to live, the rare blue whale. But you’ll also get a chance to view other wildlife, such as Adélie penguins, elephant seals, sea lions and albatross.</p> <p><strong>4. Galápagos Iguana </strong></p> <p>The Galápagos Islands are situated in the Pacific Ocean, just under 1000km from Ecuador. The islands are home to a selection of unique animals, including the marine iguana and giant tortoise. Often described as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’, access to the 127 islands, islets and rocks in the Galápagos archipelago (19 are relatively large and only four are inhabited) is limited to smaller cruise ships of 100 passengers or fewer.</p> <p>Birdwatchers will be particularly interested in Darwin’s finches, named after British naturalist Charles Darwin. His theory of evolution was influenced by the adaptable little birds he noticed during his visit to the area in 1835.</p> <p><strong>5. Dolphins </strong></p> <p>You’re most likely to see dolphins when entering or leaving port, rather than in the open sea. These playful, highly intelligent mammals will often follow the wake of a ship (the disturbance it causes as it cuts through the water). Many cruises passengers report seeing dusky or Clymene dolphins on cruises in Mexican waters, but for cruises in the Pacific Ocean’s Southern Hemisphere waters, you’re more likely to spot bottlenose dolphins, identifiable by their short-rounded snouts. Dolphins love temperate waters. Head to the rear of the ship and hang out on the promenade deck for the best chance of catching sight of them.</p> <p><strong>6. Sea Turtles and Tropical Fish </strong></p> <p>Scuba diving and snorkelling are both available on cruises visiting the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with ships permitted to drop anchor in designated areas in the Whitsunday Islands region. Here, passengers can enjoy the beauty of the marine park, which is home to 1625 types of fish, including 1400 coral reef species; 450 kinds of hard coral; more than 3000 species of molluscs including clams and tritons; and more than 100 kinds of jellyfish. You may also spot sea turtles, reef sharks and many seabirds.</p> <p><strong>7. Penguins </strong></p> <p>New Zealand’s majestic Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage Site situated on the south-western corner of the South Island, where you’ll find Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. The local wildlife includes the delightful Fiordland crested penguin (aka the tawaki), a tall and portly breed of penguin with crests of yellow feathers on their heads. This rare bird is the only forest-nesting penguin. Cruise passengers should also be on the lookout for little blue penguins and bottlenose dolphins, as well as fur seals and their pups sunning themselves on the rocks.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <span><a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/animal-spotting-cruises">Reader’s Digest</a></span>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a></span>.</em></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Clive Palmer announces $700 million Titanic II set to sail in 2022

<p>One of the most infamous shipwrecks in history, the story surrounding the <em>Titanic</em> will be one that will be told for years to come.</p> <p>And now, exactly 110 years after the ocean liner sank to the depths of the sea, an optimistic hopeful promises to complete the voyage that it failed to do in 1912.</p> <p>Australian billionaire Clive Palmer has shared his plans to create <em>Titanic II</em> – a replica of the ship that met a doomed fate – and said it will be ready to set sail in 2022.</p> <p>The ship, which is costing close to $760 million, has been a work in progress since 2012 under Mr Palmer’s company Blue Star Line.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BpK8dTdn64S/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BpK8dTdn64S/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">You'll feel like king of the world, when the Titanic II casts off in 2022. The maiden voyage of the replica of the doomed 1912 vessel will leave from Dubai before traveling from Southhampton to New York: the same route as the original.</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/tictoc/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> TicToc by Bloomberg</a> (@tictoc) on Oct 20, 2018 at 3:05pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Construction paused momentarily in between then and now due to financial disputes, but work has started back up again.</p> <p>However, despite the similarities, there are also some differences, as the <em>Titanic II</em> is currently being built in China while the older model, which was said to be “unsinkable”, was constructed in Northern Ireland.</p> <p>Another difference to expect is the improved safety systems in place, such as accurate navigation and technology, and extra lifeboats on board.</p> <p>Otherwise everything ranging from the interior to the exterior will be the same as the original.</p> <p>The old <em>Titanic </em>was able to house 2400 passengers and 900 crew members, with the new cruise liner hoping to accommodate to that exact number.</p> <p>The <em>Titanic II</em> will also replicate the cabin layout of the original ship.</p> <p>And to top it all off, the cruise plans to follow the same voyage as the first, starting its journey in Dubai and travelling along the North Atlantic route from Southampton, England, to New York.</p> <p>The journey will take two weeks in total, and upon its return, it will then start to travel towards other destinations.</p> <p>“The ship will follow the original journey, carrying passengers from Southampton to New York,” Mr Palmer said to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.msn.com/en-au" target="_blank"><em>MSN</em></a>.</p> <p>“But she will also circumnavigate the globe, inspiring and enchanting people while attracting unrivalled attention, intrigue and mystery in every port she visits.”</p> <p>Speaking to <em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-ideas/cruises/clive-palmers-700m-titanic-ii-to-replicate-voyage-of-the-doomed-original/news-story/851178755d4ce4d58fe0d4c475b93b91" target="_blank">news.com.au</a></em>, Blue Star Line has said that the <em>Titanic II</em> will feature the same class categories as the original – first, second and third class.</p> <p>The length of the ship will also be the same, along with having dining rooms and restaurants resembling the original.</p> <p>There is currently no information regarding ticket prices.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above for a sneak peak inside the <em>Titanic II</em>.</p> <p>Would you like to be a passenger and set sail on <em>Titanic II</em>? Tell us in the comments below. </p>

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A day in the life of a luxury cruise ship passenger

<p><strong>1. Rise and shine</strong></p> <p>Everyone wakes up on a cruise to find themselves floating blissfully somewhere between vast seas and even vaster skies.</p> <p>While you slumbered, your floating hotel travelled through the night. Come morning, just outside your window is a completely new world and destination waiting for you to discover. What a way to start your day!</p> <p><strong>2. Breakfast club</strong></p> <p>Early risers can catch sunrise from the deck with a steaming cup of coffee and warm French pastries before heading to breakfast, while later risers can take in the views and the fresh sea air before heading downstairs to breakfast. Cruise restaurants offer banquets fit for a king. Choose from fresh fruit, omelettes, pancakes and, of course, ­a traditional full English breakfast.</p> <p><strong>3. Ease into your day</strong></p> <p>Energise your morning with a gentle yoga class, stretching your body and relaxing your mind on the top deck, or doing a few laps of the pool. For something a little more invigorating, hit the gym. If that sounds like too much action, simply spend your morning lounging by the pool or getting lost in a book, perhaps engrossing yourself in the history, culture and legends of your next port of call.</p> <p><strong>4. Port action</strong></p> <p>If it’s a port day, you might want to head out straight after breakfast to fit in all the sights. Maybe you have a tour lined up to see the local attractions; a boat trip to view a coral reef; or a sightseeing tour from high up above a rainforest canopy.</p> <p>From tropical island paradises of the South Pacific to the majestic ice-scapes of Scandinavia and Alaska and the bustling Mediterranean, where you can take a nostalgic trip back in history and visit ancient monuments and ruins, the world is your oyster as far as cruise travel is concerned.</p> <p>You can also choose to whittle the afternoon away in a quaint restaurant and watch the world go by.</p> <p><strong>5. Me time</strong></p> <p>If you spent the previous day exploring on land, a day on board allows you to unwind and soak in the delights of ship life, such as a day of spa treatments and pampering, sunbathing by the pool, or simply afternoon tea on deck.</p> <p>For a bit more excitement, try the surfing and skydiving simulators.</p> <p>Or if you want to learn something, take a cookery class, or learn to dance the tango. Whatever your poison, what is not to be missed is watching the sun going down from the deck with a glass of Happy Hour bubbles in hand.</p> <p><strong>6. Make a night of it</strong></p> <p>An array of Broadway shows, cabaret spectaculars and concerts are on offer after dark. And if you want to party like it’s 1999, head to the nightclubs and chic lounges where everyone’s party can carry on late into the night.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/day-life-luxury-cruise-ship-passenger?items_per_page=All">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> <p><img src="/media/7820640/1.png" style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;"/></p>

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How to pack for your first cruise

<p><strong>Hand luggage</strong><br /> Most cruise lines will take your suitcases at check-in, but it can take a while for these to be delivered to your room. So, it makes sense to pack a small carry bag to take on with you containing your passport, tickets, swimsuit, change of clothes and any other essentials including medication and valuables.</p> <p><strong>Cruise style</strong><br /> Do some research into what you’ll be doing. If it’s mostly on-board entertainment, you’ll need lots of swimwear and casuals, whereas shore trips to galleries and cultural venues will require smarter wear.</p> <p><strong>Dinner style </strong><br /> Most cruise ships have a selection of restaurants, and you’ll probably get a set number of dinners in a formal restaurant, with other meals served in casual or buffet style eateries. Each cruise line has their own dress codes and rules, which should be provided on their website. As a general rule they are:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Casual:</strong> If you’re having lunch or dinner at a buffet-style restaurant, then the dress code is laidback, although swimwear and bare feet are usually not allowed.</li> <li><strong>Semi-formal:</strong> Polo shirts and chinos or smart jeans for men, with women wearing dresses or smart separates.</li> <li><strong>Formal:</strong> Men will be required to wear a dark suit and tie or dinner jacket, with ladies dressing up in cocktail or floor-length dresses. Your tickets should say how many formal nights there are.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Gala nights</strong> <br /> If you are on an upmarket cruise, a gala night or two is usually part of the itinerary. Some men enjoy wearing a tuxedo for these special events, although a lounge suit is usually acceptable, and for women, it’s an excuse to go all out, with evening gowns or glittery cocktail dresses.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in <a href="http://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/cruising/how-to-pack-for-your-first-cruise">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestsubscribe?utm_source=readersdigest&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;utm_medium=display&amp;keycode=WRA85S">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p>

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This cruise company just banned children

<p>Vikings River Cruises has just announced it will no longer permit people under the age of 18 on board their cruises.</p> <p>The cruise company, based in Basel, Switzerland, has changed its river cruise policy to be the same as its Viking Ocean Cruises line, which has had an adults-only policy since 2015.</p> <p>The cruise line’s age policy is now “one of the strictest in the industry”, according to <em><a href="https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/08/27/viking-cruise-lines-bans-children-says-their-clients-want-kid-free-vacations">Orlando Weekly</a></em>.</p> <p>Viking’s new terms and conditions page stipulates that for all new trips booked on both lines after August 1, 2018, passengers must be 18 or over.</p> <p>This does not apply to cruises booked on behalf of people under the age of 18 through to 2019.</p> <p>The rule change does not come as a huge surprise considering Viking River Cruises’ minimum passenger age was 12 years old.</p> <p>Viking senior vice president of marketing Richard Marnell said the new rule makes sense as the cruise line’s travel experience is for the over-50s market.</p> <p>“Viking has always offered experiences that are designed for travellers who are 50 and older, with interests in history, art, culture and exploration. It’s what we’re known for,” Mr Marnell said.</p> <p>“Previously, we had allowed a degree of flexibility in the minimum age for travel, but increasingly our guests have told us how much they appreciate an environment where they can travel without children.</p> <p>“In addition to marketing what Viking is, we believe our guests also appreciate knowing what Viking is not,” he said.</p>

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Richard Branson is building a luxury cruise ship for adults only

<p>Virgin Voyages, the cruise line launched by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, has released renderings of its new adult-only cruise ship.</p> <p>The <em>Scarlet Lady</em> will have an 18-year-old age requirement and will feature a nightclub, a thermal spa, two restaurants, athletic clubs and a barbershop.</p> <p>The interior and exterior have been conceptualised by some of the world’s most successful design firms, including Tom Dixon Design Studio of London, Roman and Williams of New York and Concrete Amsterdam.</p> <p>“Our design partners together with our internal design team have dreamed up eye-catching, intimate and alluring spaces that we can’t wait to see come to life,” said Tom McAlpin, President and Chief Executive Officer for Virgin Voyages, in a statement to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com.au" target="_blank"><em><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Business Insider</span></strong></em></a>.</p> <p>There will also be an exclusive outdoor lounge called Richard’s Roof-deck for suite guests.</p> <p>Inside the ship, guests can choose between two restaurants, Pink Agave and Test Kitchen.</p> <p>The ship will have an outdoor athletic club for guests who are interested in joining a boxing class or running track. The indoor gym will offer group fitness classes, yoga and stationary bicycles.</p> <p>There will also be a thermal spa called Redemption that will have a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge rooms, quartz beds and other spa treatments.</p> <p>For those looking for furthering pampering, there will also be a nail salon, a barbershop and a hair salon.</p> <p>The ship is expected to arrive in Port Miami in 2020 for its maiden journey.</p> <p>It will hold 2,700 passengers and 1,150 crew members.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see inside the luxury cruise line.</p> <p><em>Photo: Virgin Voyages </em></p>

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Cruise ship worker rescued 22 hours after falling overboard

<p>A cruise ship worked who fell overboard has been miraculously rescued by another passing cruise ship.</p> <p>The 33-year-old man, who was working for Norwegian Cruise Line, is in a stable condition after reportedly treading water for 22 hours to stay alive.</p> <p>According to the US Coast Guard, the worker went overboard at around 3.20 pm local time on Saturday, 45 kilometres north west of Pinar del Rio, Cuba.</p> <p>The man fell off the <em>Norwegian Getaway</em> and was rescued by Carnival Cruise Line’s <em>Carnival Glory</em>.</p> <p>“It was nothing short of miraculous,” president of Carnival Cruise Line, Christine Duffy, said in a statement.</p> <p>The search for the man was suspended on Saturday evening, but a cabin steward from the <em>Carnival Glory</em> spotted him in the water at around 1.20 pm on Sunday.</p> <p>Carnival spokeswoman AnnMarie Matthews said the man did not have any safety device on when he was rescued and they “can only surmise that he was likely treading water the entire time”.</p> <p>“Kudos to the <em>Carnival Glory</em> team for this amazing effort to rescue a fellow seafarer,” Ms Duffy said.</p> <p>Speaking to <a href="https://miami.cbslocal.com/2018/07/01/missing-cruise-employee-found/" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em>CBS Miami</em></strong></span></a>, US Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said: "The <em>Carnival Glory</em> had found someone in the water waving their arms and they rescued him and he was the missing <em>Norwegian Getaway</em> crew member and that was roughly about 21 miles north of Cuba.”</p> <p>Norwegian said in a statement that the line is “extremely thankful” to Carnival Cruise line.</p> <p>“We are so happy to know that the individual is safe and will soon be reunited with friends and family,” the Norwegian statement said.</p>

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Rare Titanic letter offers insight into life on doomed ship

<p>A rare letter written on-board the Titanic recently went up for auction, giving a glimpse of what life was like on the historic ship.</p> <p>According to auction house Henry Aldridge &amp; Son, the letter was written by Second Class passenger and survivor Kate Buss.</p> <p>The letter, written on April 10, 1912, is addressed to her brother Percy James and was in response to a letter she had received from him while on the historic ship.</p> <p>“I’ve been quite alright — but now feel dead tired and more fit for bed than anything,” Ms Buss wrote.</p> <p>“Have to go to dinner-tea in half an hour.”</p> <p>The letter reveals more about everyday life on the Titanic, which sank on April 15, killing 1503 passengers.</p> <p>“Mr Peters spent about an hour on the vessel and they might easily have spent another without waste of time,” Ms Buss wrote.</p> <p>“The first class apartments are really magnificent and unless you had first seen them you would think the second class were the same.”</p> <p>Ms Buss said the ship had not yet reached Cherbourg, France, but the mail had cleared.</p> <p>“I think I’d best try and get some postcards of the vessel,” she wrote.</p> <p>She also said that the passenger she was sharing her stateroom with had not yet turned up. She was also told by two clergymen sitting opposite her at the table to eat a good lunch.</p> <p>Ms Buss finished her letter by informing her brother that she was putting her letter in the post.</p> <p>“Must clear and have a wash now,” she wrote. “Will pop this in the [mail] in case I’m sea sick tomorrow. PW brought a box of chocolates — shouldn’t wonder if I’m like Jim Buss and get it the other way. Give my love to all enquirers — must go. Much love, Kate.”</p> <p>Ms Buss was travelling to America to marry her fiancé Samuel Willis.</p> <p>She survived the Titanic sinking when the <a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/travel-trouble/2018/04/the-call-that-sealed-the-fate-of-titanic-victims/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Carpathia</span><span style="text-decoration: underline;"> picked her up</span></strong></a> along with 705 other passengers.</p> <p>Kate Buss and Samuel Willis married on May 11 as planned.</p> <p>She passed away on July 12, 1972 at the age of 96.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Henry Aldridge &amp; Son</em></p>

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What it’s like to cruise around NZ solo

<p>The last time I sailed on Azamara Journey was in 2014, on an unforgettable cruise from Athens to Rome.</p> <p>A general strike in Athens meant Syntagma Square was packed with  protesters and tours to the Acropolis were out of the question. No matter; my cruise companion and I boarded the Journey at Piraeus to find we'd been magically upgraded to the Club World Owner's Suite. Any sense of sightseeing disappointment evaporated in a trice.</p> <p>Four years on, I'm on a mission to check out what's changed since the ship had a multimillion-dollar refurb in 2016 – and to experience sailing solo for a change. Azamara Journey's cruise starts in Auckland, recently rated the world's third-most liveable city (after Vienna and Zurich). I'm not surprised by this news – Auckland is easy to get around on public transport, scores highly on the shopping, dining and natural-attractions scene and its cruise port is right there in the middle of the city.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/p/j/0/b/p/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.1pj0lo.png/1524519902434.jpg" alt="The ship had a multimillion-dollar refurb in 2016." /></p> <p align="center"><em>The ship had a multimillion-dollar refurb in 2016.</em></p> <p>Before we sail out of Auckland, we are treated to an impressive onboard performance of the haka and other tribal dances by a local band of musicians. They manage to entice a surprising number of passengers to join them on the deck and it's a fun start to the cruise.</p> <p>After the excitement of sailaway – and a vaguely worrying thought about dining alone – dinner on the aft deck of Windows Cafe proves to be a breeze. A seafood buffet is in full swing – you pick your own ingredients and the chefs cook it all in front of you – and my table for one (OK four, with three empty places) overlooking the Hauraki Gulf is the best place to be for amazing sunset views and casual conversations.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/p/j/0/b/o/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.1pj0lo.png/1524519902434.jpg" alt="The pool deck on Azamara Journey." /></p> <p align="center"><em>The pool deck on Azamara Journey.</em></p> <p>Has the ship changed much over four years? Yes and no. The decor is brighter and lighter, a selection of house drinks is now included in the fare, dining is better than ever and the service even more attentive than I recall. The former Looking Glass Lounge is now the more attractive Living Room, where wine and tapas are served in the evening and coffee and snacks during the day, while favourite features such as the painted tromp de l'oeil ceiling in the library (Drawing Room) remain.</p> <p>On the way to the Bay of Islands I join a table of single travellers for dinner, hosted by cruise director Tony Markey. You have to book a spot in advance and there are so many of us we spill onto a neighbouring table. It's a lively evening. On one side of me sits a former US senator, on the other a retired teacher, also from the US. An English woman gets straight to the point – "What are you going to do about your gun laws?" Then we talk Trump, Brexit, travel, sex and everything else under the sun.</p> <p>Over the next few days, friendships develop; Azamara Journey's size and spaces are very conducive to sociability, whether you're travelling with a group, couple or on your own. And if you're not the most confident single traveller, organised cruise excursions are a boon. Whether you take a ship's tour or a cheaper option offered by a local operator, it takes the hassle out of making the arrangements yourself and, particularly if you choose a small-group tour, you get to know fellow passengers along the way.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/p/j/0/b/q/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.1pj0lo.png/1524519902434.jpg" alt="The Aqualina restaurant." /></p> <p align="center"><em>The Aqualina restaurant.</em></p> <p>I join a Waitangi walking tour at the Bay of Islands. Guide Morrie is a straight-talking Māori who shares his extensive knowledge of his ancestors' culture as we wander along the glittering rocky coastline. He explains the significance of the massive ceremonial canoe, which is launched every February for Waitangi Day celebrations, and inside the surprisingly homely Treaty House we inspect a replica of the historic Waitangi Treaty.</p> <p>At the ornately carved Meeting House, which symbolically faces the Treaty House, we see a dazzling display of Māori weaponry, stick games and the haka; later we split up to try our hands at wood-carving or flax-weaving. Not something I'll be doing again, by the way, crafts are not my forte. Azamara Journey's visiting magician Paul Draper accompanies the tour – his show in the new 54 Below venue that evening is mind-boggling.</p> <p>My next outing is with eight other passengers from Tauranga to Rotorua, the birthplace of Maori culture. Minibus driver John keeps up a running commentary during the 45-minute drive, on everything from soaring real-estate prices in seafront Mount Maunganui to how the freshwater lakes surrounding Rotorua are full of trout. You can catch the fish but selling them is illegal.</p> <p align="center"><img class="photoborder" src="https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/p/j/0/b/s/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349.1pj0lo.png/1524519902434.jpg" alt="Kayaking the Queen Charlotte Sound." /></p> <p style="text-align: center;" align="center"><em>Kayaking the Queen Charlotte Sound.</em></p> <p>The gushing geysers and bubbling mud pools at Te Puia are as dramatic as I'd imagined and the sulphur smell much fainter. It's a key tourist attraction and very managed – however, our onsite guide talks geology with authority and takes us through a nocturnal sanctuary to observe a pair of young kiwi birds. You can only see the native "slow breeders" in the wild if you're accompanied by a ranger.</p> <p>After a look through the inspirational new NZ Arts &amp; Crafts Institute in Te Puia we spend an hour or so at the Polynesian Spa, languishing in geothermal pools that overlook steaming, multicoloured Lake Rotorua and far distant mountains. We agree on the drive back to the ship that another hour there would have been preferable to the educational pit stop we make at a kiwifruit farm – but it's a first-world problem.</p> <p>By the time we reach Picton the weather is considerably cooler and the prospect of kayaking on Queen Charlotte Sound is suddenly not so enticing. Nobody else is piking out, though, and it turns out to be a wonderful, energising experience. Ten of us paddle about 14 kilometres in and out of bays and coves in a mountainous landscape that's so vast and silent it's quite mystical; our entertaining guide's dry comments bring us back to earth (or sea).</p> <p>Another highlight is the AzAmazing Evening in Wellington. These special events are held once on every cruise and almost everyone on the ship attends the superb Symphony by the Sea in Wellington Cathedral. Even if you don't know much about classical music you recognise these pieces; two are traditional songs made famous by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.</p> <p>I jump ship in Dunedin and catch a glimpse of Azamara Journey a few days later in Sydney, where it's setting off on its 102-night Bridge to Bridge voyage to London. Fifty-two passengers are on board for the full cruise; as Captain Johannes Tysse says, "I hope they won't be climbing the walls by the end of it, but we have plenty of things to keep them entertained."</p> <p>MREC-TAG-HERE</p> <p><strong>Cruise</strong></p> <p><em>Azamara Quest will sail four voyages between Australia and New Zealand in 2019; 16-night Melbourne to Auckland, departing January 6; 16-night Auckland to Sydney, departing January 22; 14-night Sydney to Auckland, departing February 7; and 15-night Auckland to Cairns, departing February 21. <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><a rel="noopener" href="https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__azamaraclubcruises.com&amp;d=DwMGaQ&amp;c=N9aEhCy8U0rJkO1xCZf7rgM9fohfR5qe_N93viZd7O8&amp;r=kNONHh_9qghstnaZzt5LFySipmRKjcpxz7waAfXLdzs&amp;m=jqIGzfOoUiMQ3dWC9TedpQQtBI1lo6umx6SU66fU_60&amp;s=KMSZ5_2TXwEZLDFa5Q4vaRWekJRzkbWSDWBwQ9_fc_Y&amp;e=" target="_blank">azamaraclubcruises.com</a></strong></span></em></p> <p><em>Sally Macmillan travelled as a guest of Azamara Club Cruises and Emirates.</em></p> <p><em>Sally Macmillan. Republished with permission of <a rel="noopener" href="http://www.stuff.co.nz/" target="_blank"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p>

Cruising

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3 very good reasons to try a senior singles cruise

<p>Sometimes the most rewarding things we do in life are those that force us to get out of our comfort zone. Whilst the thought of going on a cruise by yourself might be terrifying, all the other passengers onboard will be in the same boat. Here are some of the great benefits of embarking on a senior singles cruise.</p> <p><strong>1.  Meet new people</strong></p> <p>Whether you end up finding love on the cruise or not, you will have the opportunity to meet plenty of people who are in the same season as life as you. If you don’t meet a partner, you could still end up finding terrific friends. Singles cruises are very social, so expect to meet new people on a day-to-day basis. Singles cruises will strategically help you form friendships with fun classes, social mixers and seating at mealtime.</p> <p><strong>2. Same motives</strong></p> <p>Singles cruises are exclusive to singles so all passengers can have an opportunity to find love. While enjoying the ocean views and blue skies, whoever you come across you will know they are on the cruise as the same reason as you – to meet someone new in an exciting way!  Knowing that everyone on board is single, will help you know that whoever catches your eye is open to starting a relationship.</p> <p><strong>3.  Fun environment</strong></p> <p>Whatever way you like to have fun, whether that be pottery or dance classes or playing golf, senior singles cruises have it all. If you find someone on board, you have a list of great date activities that you can do together as you get to know them. If you are finding it hard to strike up a conversation with someone or feel like you are getting lost in the crowd, you can do a social activity to get out of your cabin.</p> <p>Have you ever been on a singles cruise? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below.</p>

Cruising

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Should you take your own pillow on a cruise?

<p>Going on a cruise, no matter how long your journey may be, requires you to pack some essential items to make it through the trip.</p> <p>One cruiser has asked other travellers on <a href="https://boards.cruisecritic.com.au/showthread.php?t=833016" target="_blank"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Cruise Critic</strong></em></span></a> if it is necessary to pack his pillow for his sea adventure.</p> <p>“I was wondering if anybody every brings their own pillows. If the pillows are good, I won't worry about it. I just don't want to have neck cramps all week,” he asked.</p> <p>Here are the responses he received from a community of avid cruisers.</p> <p>CruiseDude_83 said: “Yes every cruise. It is not because I feel that the ones on the cruise are dirty i just sleep on my own better…”</p> <p>ChristieNJ wrote” “Never! It's sad that the cruise pillows are WAYYY more comfortable than my own!”</p> <p>CL-JW agreed: “We’ve found the pillows to be good on board.”</p> <p>Tika shared: “I always take my little travel pillow with me when I travel. It is about half the size of a standard pillow and scrunches real small so easy to pack. I know some folks have asked their cabin stewards for different pillows and they always accommodate their requests. One line we cruised on actually asked us in a pre-cruise questionnaire what type of pillows we wanted and bed duvet or standard spread.”</p> <p>Retiredawacs said: “I’ve travelled all over the world and I don't leave home without my pillow. I always find a way to make room for it. I've been told though that on our cruise in three weeks that there is a pillow menu to select from. We are staying in a GS. I still think I will take my own.”</p> <p>Cruiser starlake shared his tricks to travelling with his pillow.</p> <p>“I always take my own pillow. I don't have any problem with the ship's pillows, I just like my own,” he wrote. <br /> “I have a standard size pillow and either make room for it in my checked luggage, or if there is no room there I have simply tied it to my carry-on and go through airport security. I have never been asked to find room inside the carry-on and have never had anyone even say anything about it. It is amazing if you look around airports and see how many people carry their own pillow.”</p> <p>Do you pack your pillow when you go on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

Cruising