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Russian superyacht spotted chilling in Dubai

<p dir="ltr">A lavish $156 million superyacht belonging to a sanctioned Russian oligarch has been spotted at a port in Dubai. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 96m long <em>Madame Gu</em> owned by steel magnate Andrei Skoch has moored off Dubai’s Port Rashid.</p> <p dir="ltr">With an estimated fortune of a whopping $6.6 billion, Skoch’s superyacht could be causing an issue to Western Governments who continue to sanction Russia.</p> <p dir="ltr">The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have refused to take sides in the Russian and Ukraine war and are remaining neutral. </p> <p dir="ltr">The country is welcoming the increase of money coming in from Russians who are enjoying a comfortable stay at the beach-front villas and luxury hotels, <a href="https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-politics-dubai-23140fb7a4348c84e33157fe9a237fec?utm_medium=APMiddleEast&amp;utm_source=Twitter&amp;utm_campaign=SocialFlow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">AP</a> reported.</p> <p dir="ltr">US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said she was “not happy” with the neutral position of the UAE.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’m not happy at all with the record at this point and I plan to make this a priority to drive to a better alignment, shall we say, of effort,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo has also warned of possible threats from Russians who are seeking refuge in the UAE.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Despite this commitment (to prevent money laundering), the UAE — and other global financial hubs — continue to face the threat of illicit financial flows.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Facebook</em></p>

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Couple book non-stop cruises for two-and-a-half years

<p dir="ltr">A couple who missed out on the joys of cruising during lockdown are now bunkering down and cruising non-stop for two-and-a-half years.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jessica and Marty Ansen left Brisbane on Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess on June 16 for the beginning of their exciting adventure.</p> <p dir="ltr">They have previously sailed on 31 cruises with Princess with a whopping 1,173 days at sea and when the resumption of cruises they were ready to get started again. </p> <p dir="ltr">From now until August 2024, the loved up couple will be holidaying on the high seas and on a staggering 53 different cruise ships! </p> <p dir="ltr">“Cruising offers the ultimate holiday experience. You go onboard, you only unpack once, and you have all this amazing entertainment, exceptional food, great company and you can see the world. And, the crew deliver incredible service - that’s why we cruise,” they said. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Ansens booked their two years of back-to-back cruises (795 sea days) - including two round-the-world cruises in 2023 and 2024 – with Brisbane-based family-owned travel agency Clean Cruising.</p> <p dir="ltr">Martine Hero, the Senior Consultant at Clean Cruising, said the Ansens had always been passionate about cruising and were keen to be back on the water again. </p> <p dir="ltr">“For the last two years Marty frequently mentioned all he and Jessica wanted to do was to go cruising again,” he said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Since the announcement of the resumption of cruising we have had an influx of interest and bookings, including those of the Ansens. </p> <p dir="ltr">“This extended trip has been in the works for a long time, as have those of many other cruisers. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We want to thank our cruise fans for their patience as we get them back doing what they love most.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: The Today Show</em></p>

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Wooden shipwrecks turn out to be thriving habitats for seafloor microbiomes

<p>The ocean floor is a graveyard to over three million shipwrecks, most of them made of wood. While they do alter the microbial habitat of the seafloor, new research has found that the impact is not all bad, and that they may even boost productivity.</p> <p>“Microbial communities are important to be aware of and understand because they provide early and clear evidence of how human activities change life in the ocean,” says author Dr Leila Hamdan of the University of Southern Mississippi, US.</p> <p>A study on the microbial life around two 19th-century shipwreck sites in the Gulf of Mexico investigates the diversity among these human-made habitats. Samples of biofilms were collected using pieces of pine and oak placed at the shipwreck, and up to 200 metres away from the shipwreck. After fourth months, microbes were measured using gene sequencing, including all bacteria, archaea and fungi</p> <p>“Ocean scientists have known that natural hard habitats, some of which have been present for hundreds to thousands of years, shape the biodiversity of life on the seafloor,” says Hamdan. “This work is the first to show that built habitats (places or things made or modified by humans) impact the films of microbes (biofilms) coating these surfaces as well. These biofilms are ultimately what enable hard habitats to transform into islands of biodiversity.”</p> <p>The results showed that bacteria preferred oak over pine, but that the type of wood had less impact on archaea or fungi diversity. Diversity also varied depending on the proximity to the wreck site, where surprisingly, the greatest diversity was not at the wreck site, but peaked at 125 metres away. The depth of the water, and proximity to a nutrient source like the Mississippi River delta, also played a part in the distribution of biofilms.</p> <p>Though this study informs on wooden shipwrecks and the impact on microbial diversity, there are also thousands of oil and gas platforms and oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico alone that warrant further research to understand their microbial impacts too.</p> <p>“While we are aware human impacts on the seabed are increasing through the multiple economic uses, scientific discovery is not keeping pace with how this shapes the biology and chemistry of natural undersea landscapes,” says Hamdan. “We hope this work will begin a dialogue that leads to research on how built habitats are already changing the deep sea.”</p> <p><strong><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/science/biology/shipwrecks-habitats-microbiomes/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cosmosmagazine.com</a> and was written by Qamariya Nasrullah.</em></strong></p>

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Russian oligarch’s superyacht goes dark

<p dir="ltr">A $150-million superyacht owned by Russia’s second-richest person has disappeared off the radar.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Pacific’s billionaire owner, Leonid Mikhelson, is facing US-led sanctions on his gas company, which has since seen his superyacht “go dark”. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 85m long ship was last detected cruising in the Caribbean Sea before it went dark about 9pm local time on May 8.</p> <p dir="ltr">It was then however spotted at the Turkish resort port of Marmaris on June 4, where other superyachts sought refuge from US-led sanctions. </p> <p dir="ltr">Gur Sender of Windward, a marine surveillance and intelligence firm, said the reason for ships going dark is to hide their activities. </p> <p dir="ltr">"Sometimes vessels can intentionally and manually turn off their AIS and engage in what's referred to as dark activities," he told Nine News.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Vessels engaging in such a behaviour are usually trying to conceal their real location or who they are meeting with."</p> <p dir="ltr">It is believed that the Pacific is headed to the Bahamas but it won’t find any solace due to the island working with the US to seize the superyacht. </p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s inconceivable that Russian oligarchs would consider the Bahamas a safe jurisdiction given its close ties to the United States -- not just in terms of location but in terms of its law enforcement cooperation,” said Ian Ralby, chief executive of I.R. Consilium, a maritime law and security consultancy.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s very puzzling that a vessel likely to experience sanctions enforcement would risk turning up in the Bahamas, but it’s more likely it will turn up somewhere else nearby that’s more friendly to Russian interests like Cuba or Venezuela.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Twitter</em></p>

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What to pack for a cruise – and 6 things not to bring

<p>Packing for a cruise is a lot like packing for any other holiday. You’ll want to bring comfy walking shoes for sightseeing and to leave your best jewellery at home. But there are other items – beyond seasickness medications – that expert cruisers never set sail without. Here, a few of our favourite professional cruisers tell us what you’ll find in their suitcases.</p> <p><strong>Do: Stash all your pool items in your carry-on bag</strong></p> <p>“You may not see your checked bag until late on your first day on board,” says Gene Sloan, cruise editor of USA Today. “It can take hours from the time you drop your bag off with the ship-side porters for it to arrive up in your room.” As a result, when we asked him what to pack for a cruise, he recommended stashing your swimsuit, sunglasses and suntan lotion in your day bag so you have them available immediately upon arrival.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pack clothing that can be layered</strong></p> <p>“Weather from port to port can vary significantly,” explains Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of CruiseCritic.com. “Packing layers can help combat temperature changes, without the need to pack multiple outfits that can take up precious room in your suitcase.” McDaniel adds that this is especially important in places where the weather is unpredictable.</p> <p><strong>Don’t: Leave home without sunscreen and aloe vera</strong></p> <p>“Chances are you’ll get more sun than you’re used to,” says McDaniel. “And while a good sunscreen can keep you from getting burned, aloe vera will give you some relief if you do.” So when you’re thinking about what to pack for a cruise, remember to buy the sunscreen and after-sun lotion at home – you could end up paying a markup on many ships.</p> <p><strong>Do: Bring a portable charger or two</strong></p> <p>If you’re someone who doesn’t like to unplug during a vacation, this one is a biggie – especially if you have more than one device or spend hours on social media or email. “You won’t have easy access to outlets around the ship,” explains Fran Golden, chief contributor of Porthole magazine. “And there may be a limited number of outlets in your cabin.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Toss your portable mug in your bag</strong></p> <p>Cruise ships often have complimentary coffee, and it’s usually part of the deck buffet. But your cabin isn’t, so many people go up on deck, grab a couple mugs of coffee first thing in the morning, and burn themselves as they walk back to their cabin. Mike Jirout, founder of the Ship Mate App, has this clever suggestion in his blog: If you’re a big coffee drinker, pack a portable mug with a lid in your suitcase. Travelling with kids? You’ll want sippy cups for their morning milk or juice.</p> <p><strong>Do: Throw in some kitchen magnets</strong></p> <p>“Little-known fact for those who haven’t cruised before: Cruise cabin walls are made of steel,” says McDaniel. “Packing magnets – or magnetic hooks – can help keep track of daily programs and other loose papers, or make it easy to hang items that need to dry. We’ve also used heavy-duty magnetic hooks for stashing away cameras, lanyards and even binoculars.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Bring along a marker board</strong></p> <p>If you’re travelling with a group of friends or family, magnetic marker boards are handy to bring along, says McDaniel. “Hang one outside your cabin door so that you can leave notes for your travel companions.” Now, you’ll never miss out on meeting spots or reservation details.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pick up a pashmina</strong></p> <p>Just because you’re heading to a tropical region, doesn’t mean you won’t want to bring a cover-up to use on board. “I always pack a shawl (a tan cashmere is my go-to-these days), even in tropical climates,” explains Golden, “because sometimes the air-conditioning on ships is intense.” Also, as ships reach full speed, the wind on outdoor decks picks up, and you’ll be happy you brought along a wrap.</p> <p><strong>Do: Pack plenty of reading material</strong></p> <p>“Make sure you have a couple of books on your Kindle or iPad, because for once in your busy life, on a cruise ship you will actually have time to read,” says Golden. “Sometimes I’ll even pick novels based on the destination where I am cruising, or a sea theme. If I have a balcony cabin, the balcony becomes my favourite reading spot.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Invest in a small blow-up pool</strong></p> <p>“One complaint that we hear a lot from those travelling with young kids,” says McDaniel, “is that many cruise cabin bathrooms don’t have bathtubs. A simple solution is to bring a small blow-up pool to place in the shower stall and use as a makeshift tub for the little ones.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Bring your own hot sauce</strong></p> <p>“Cruise lines do a lot of things right on ships, but for the most part, stocking condiments is not one of them,” says Sloan. (The exception is ketchup on kid-friendly ships, where it’s ubiquitous.) “You’ll find the occasional bottle of Tabasco on the buffet line of many ships, but little else with a punch.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Pack some spare change</strong></p> <p>Irons are a no-no at sea (too much of a fire hazard), but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck wearing just-pulled-out-of-a-suitcase clothing. Instead of showing up for dinner looking like an unmade bed, consider one of these tips. “Many cruise ships have self-service laundrettes that offer irons (and ironing boards) as well as pressing services (for a fee),” says McDaniel.</p> <p><strong>Or some wrinkle-release spray</strong></p> <p>Worried about wrinkles, but not into the idea of ironing on vacation? Try bringing along some wrinkle-release spray for a fast fix. It’s not a perfect solution, but it will certainly do in a pinch – and leave you more time for the pool or the spa.</p> <p><strong>Do: Grab a bathroom-door organiser</strong></p> <p>Bathroom counters are small on many ships, so Jirout suggests packing one of these compartmentalised organisers so you have a place to put your loose items. Best of all, it keeps them clean and prevents them from rolling around when the seas get rough.</p> <p><strong>Don’t: Overpack</strong></p> <p>Just because you don’t have to pack and unpack at every destination doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to overpack when it comes to clothing and shoes. “It’s liberating to travel light,” says Sloan, adding that (as we previously mentioned) many cruise ships have self-serve laundry machines.</p> <p><strong>Don’t: Waste space on bottled water</strong></p> <p>“Yes, bottled water can be expensive on ships, and yes, some lines let you carry on water in your bags so you can avoid buying it on board,” explains Sloan. “But why bother? There is all the water you could ever want for free out of the tap in your ship cabin. Contrary to what many people think, the water on cruise ships is perfectly potable. Bring an empty, reusable water bottle to fill up from the tap for off-the-ship excursions.”</p> <p><strong>Don’t: Bring your own alcohol</strong></p> <p>“Many cruise lines will confiscate any alcohol they find in your luggage,” says Sloan. “They want you to pay for their own, overpriced on-board alcohol.” That said, some cruise lines do let you bring on limited amounts of your own wine and alcohol; check the rules before embarking.</p> <p><strong>Do: Think twice before you default to packing formal wear</strong></p> <p>Gone are the days when every cruise had formal nights. Some have them – and they’re mostly optional – but many cruises are less dressy than ever before. So check the line’s dress code while considering what to pack for a cruise, and remember, it really depends on what type of cruise you’re taking whether you’ll need that gown. Expedition ships tend not to have formal nights, and they’re not the only ones. “River ships never have formal nights,” explains Walter Littlejohn, Crystal River Cruises Vice President and Managing Director. Chances are you won’t find them on kid-centric cruises, either.</p> <p><strong>Do: Leave your drone at home</strong></p> <p>Sure, they take great photos, but they’re not something you should try to stuff into your suitcase for your next cruise. “Only a handful of cruise lines allow drones on board, and restrictions run rampant,” says McDaniel. “Keep your drone at home.”</p> <p><strong>Do: Reconsider that gym equipment</strong></p> <p>“My favourite thing listed by some cruise lines under what not to bring is a hockey stick,” laughs Golden. “I have never seen anyone try, but I assume there are people who don’t go anywhere without a hockey stick.” As for hand weights and yoga mats for your regular workout, almost all cruise lines have fully stocked gyms.</p> <p><em><strong>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/travel/cruising/what-to-pack-for-a-cruise-and-6-things-not-to-bring" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader’s Digest</a>.</strong></em></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Pacific Explorer receives TONNES of food

<p dir="ltr">Cruise ship Pacific Explorer has received tonnes of food as they prepare for their return to the seas on May 31.</p> <p dir="ltr">After a two-year ban due to Covid, cruises are gearing for massive return to the seas which will also see an eye-watering $5 billion pumped into the economy and will help more than 18,000 people get a job. </p> <p dir="ltr">Pacific Explorer received more than 220 pallets with 7.3 tonnes of meat, 9.6 tonnes of fruit and vegetables, 6.6 tonnes of seafood and 30,000 shelled eggs on Friday. </p> <p dir="ltr">P&amp;O Cruises Australia celebrity chef Luke Mangan commended the quality of the foods which worked as a perfect opportunity for farmers. </p> <p dir="ltr">“As a chef and restaurant owner and operator including a number of signature outlets on P&amp;O Cruises Australia ships, I know that the quality of Australian produce is the key to success,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“So, it is fantastic to see that the return of cruising also means the return of opportunity for our farmers and other producers including winemakers and craft beer makers. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Many have done it tough over the past two years and it is good to know that the benefits will only increase as cruising ramps up.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Marguerite Fitzgerald, President of Carnival Australia and P&amp;O Cruises Australia, echoed Chef Mangan’s comments saying this was just one of many big deliveries. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Today’s big delivery of produce to Pacific Explorer is where cruising and economic opportunity meet. It is also strong confirmation of the multiplier effect of cruise tourism and the diversity of the ‘cruising ecosystem’.”</p> <p dir="ltr">NSW Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott described the tonnes of food as the “tip of the iceberg” in helping stimulate the economy. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The cruise industry is an economic powerhouse because its impacts are felt from the farm gate, through our freight and supply chains all the way to our tourism destinations – it generates jobs far beyond the ship, boosts regional economies and supports farming communities.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Pacific Explorer is due to set sail from Sydney on May 31 on its first commercial cruise since the cruise ban in Australia was lifted. </p> <p dir="ltr">Guests will enjoy a four-night itinerary with a call to Brisbane on June 2 where Pacific Explorer will become the first cruise ship to berth at the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Supplied</em></p>

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Princess Cruises brings back 80 per cent of fleet

<p dir="ltr">With cruise ships gearing up to set sail for the first time in almost two years, Princess Cruises has announced an additional three ships returning to service.</p> <p dir="ltr">The company is welcoming guests back onboard the Crown Princess, Island Princess and Royal Princess.</p> <p dir="ltr">The return of the three additional cruises marks a milestone where 80 per cent of the fleet has resumed cruising since July 2021. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We’re so excited to have three more Princess MedallionClass ships return to service and our shipboard teams are ready to help our guests create a lifetime of holiday memories,” Princess Cruises President John Padgett said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s so gratifying to see tens of thousands of guests each week enjoying their cruise holidays with us and the friendly and attentive service that is a Princess Cruises hallmark.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Island Princess departed Fort Lauderdale on April 27 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the cruise line.</p> <p dir="ltr">Travellers will enjoy a stunning 14-day Ocean-to-Ocean Panama Canal Voage. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Royal Princess sailed from Vancouver on May 2 for back-to-back northbound and southbound cruises from Vancouver and Whittier.</p> <p dir="ltr">Every sailing includes two days of glacier viewing featuring Glacier Bay National Park, plus Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord.</p> <p dir="ltr">Crown Princess left Seattle on May 7 for a whopping 19, seven-day Inside Passage voyages to Alaska until September 10, 2022. </p> <p dir="ltr">She will then move to Los Angeles for a season of California Coast and Hawaii sailings.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Readers Respond: What’s the best cruise you’ve ever been on?

<p dir="ltr">We asked our readers what was the best cruise they have ever been on after two years of no cruises thanks to the global pandemic.</p> <p dir="ltr">But thankfully, it was not that long ago cruises were given the green light to make their way back to our shores and sail away on a much-needed trip.</p> <p dir="ltr">Read what you all had to say about the best cruise you went on.</p> <p dir="ltr">Grace Boland - 3 River cruises through Europe -- did 10 on the big monsters before I discovered River cruises are so much more beautiful.</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine Taylor - The very first one. Regal Princess on her maiden voyage in the Mediterranean. Everything was wonderful. Been on a few others since but nothing quite captures the awesomeness of those first impressions of a stunning ship and of course all the amazing places we visited.</p> <p dir="ltr">Marilyn Blott - Cruising the Inside Passage, Alaska. Very stunning and beautiful.</p> <p dir="ltr">Jill Harker - On the Orcades when we emigrated from the UK to Australia way back in 1970! Fabulous trip, great ship, wonderful food, amazing ports of call, and made some wonderful friends!</p> <p dir="ltr">Margie Barnes-Mayman - Love all cruises but have to say the month long cruise from China to Canada and up to Alaska was the best. So many experiences, so much to do on the ship even on the sea days. Even being in an inside cabin didn't dampen our great time on board the Celebrity Millennium. Sailed three times with Celebrity Cruises and twice with Princess cruises.</p> <p dir="ltr">Joy F Saker - Budapest to Amsterdam on a river boat. Bliss! Also enjoyed a Princess Cruise around NZ for Xmas - so much we did it again the next year. It was such a joyous experience, and the decorations shipwide are divine.</p> <p dir="ltr">Bernadette Heckford - The one we went down the Suez Canal then onto Jordan to see Petra.</p> <p dir="ltr">Cheryl Quaass - Four day cruise of the Greek Isles way back in 1982. Loved every second, beautiful places.</p> <p dir="ltr">Christyna Dobbins - I've only been on two - one around Australia, and one from Australia to the USA to stay with friends I met on the cruise.</p> <p dir="ltr">Margaret McDonald - River cruising in Europe. Wonderful, go ashore every day and stretch your legs, Alaska was great but despite being told it would be smooth sailing we did get seasick for a short time...It was worthwhile any way.</p> <p dir="ltr">Maria Michailidis - The P&amp;O cruises within Australian waters. Not fancy, but enjoyed seeing different parts of Aussie land (excursions)plus the entertainment was top class. Have done a few different ones overseas, but for me, the Aussie ones beat them hands down.</p> <p dir="ltr">To leave a memory of your own, or to check out more of the amazing responses head <a href="https://www.facebook.com/oversixtyNZ/posts/pfbid02YsefbBmuo1qsZt3ubsbZD4TTkW5aVAbGYBrKWLTDPhgpnS5U6bugs2QyXvpnzYJ1l" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Adults only cruise coming to Australia and New Zealand

<p dir="ltr">Sir Richard Branson’s award-winning cruise line is set to hit Australia and New Zealand’s shores in 2023.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Resilient Lady</em> hit the high seas in 2021 and is the newest ship in Virgin Voyages that is offering an “adults only” cruise.</p> <p dir="ltr">Aussies will be given the chance to sail the high seas from Athens to Sydney in a gorgeous 44-night trip. </p> <p dir="ltr">Included are also three itineraries: “Ancient Athens to Modern Dubai”, “Dubai Delights to Singapore Sights”, and “Singapore, Bali and Australia”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Resilient Lady </em>will arrive at Station Pier in Port Melbourne, with sailors given the opportunity to experience the “exclusively adult voyages”.</p> <p dir="ltr">The journey will begin from Melbourne to Hobart and Burnie in Tasmania, along with Sydney. </p> <p dir="ltr">She’s also set her sights on New Zealand with itineraries that include ports of call in Picton, Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.</p> <p dir="ltr">Passengers will be able to enjoy a delicious chef-driven culinary delicacy at six signature restaurants and food from more than 14 other eateries.</p> <p dir="ltr">They can also get involved in HIIT exercise sessions and bungee classes to fuel the day, or dance the time away with jaw-dropping festival-like entertainment.</p> <p dir="ltr">Spend the day around the pool to achieve that sun-kissed look, and lose those luxurious hours at the mermaid hideaway that is Redemption Spa. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Australia and New Zealand are without question the most beautiful countries in the world, and we knew that these destinations, paired with the Virgin Voyages experience, will make it the most incredible holiday for our Sailors,” Fellow Australian and Virgin Voyages’ President and Chief Experience Officer, Nirmal Saverimuttu said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The Virgin brand is known and adored by Australians and New Zealanders, and we are committed to delivering a holiday experience you will love and memories that will last a lifetime.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson described it as an exciting milestone for the brand.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Australia has a very special place in my heart, and we can’t wait for Australians and New Zealanders to meet our Resilient Lady and experience all that she has to offer in true Virgin style,” Sir Richard said. </p> <p dir="ltr">“For more than 50 years, Virgin companies have been innovating and making industries better for our customers. Virgin Voyages is very much charting its own path, offering a fresh perspective on cruise travel with all the elements of the Virgin experience that people love.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Resilient Lady will sail through Australia and New Zealand from December 11, 2023 - March 27, 2024. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Virgin Voyages</em></p>

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Woman lives on cruise ship six months each year

<p dir="ltr">An incredibly lucky woman who basically lives half a year on a cruise ship for free has given insight into a week in her life. </p> <p dir="ltr">Christine Kesteloo, a former cruise and travel director for 12 years, said some of the biggest decisions she’s faced with are whether she should lay in the sun, do a wine tasting or teatime. </p> <p dir="ltr">Her husband, Piet, who is a staff chief engineer, has been sailing on and off for 30 years but she was the only one affected when the pandemic hit.</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine then joined her husband as a “wife on board” also known as WOB which is a “privilege often reserved for high-ranking officers”. </p> <p dir="ltr">She revealed that at one point Piet was her “husband on board” when she was working 12-hour days.</p> <p dir="ltr">When they’re not cruising, the pair call Vlissingen, Netherlands, their home. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>A week in Christine’s life:</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Internet</p> <p dir="ltr">To share her experiences with fans on <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@dutchworld_americangirl?referer_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.insider.com%2F&amp;referer_video_id=7074268953295588651&amp;refer=embed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">TikTok</a>, Christine pays $20 a week for unlimited internet. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tipping room service</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine already keeps her room clean, but when the room steward comes in, he changes the bed sheets and pillow covers.</p> <p dir="ltr">A $10 tip is given each week or up to $20 if he’s hopping off to enjoy lunch on land. </p> <p dir="ltr">Free laundry </p> <p dir="ltr">The room steward will pop into the room about 7.30 every morning to check if there is a washing bag ready to be taken. </p> <p dir="ltr">The items are written on a piece of paper before they’re returned at the end of the day. </p> <p dir="ltr">Free meals but pay for speciality restaurants and room service</p> <p dir="ltr">Christine revealed that anything you could dream of is available on board and that she is “well fed”. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, she and her husband go a step further and will pay for food when dining at a specialty restaurant which costs up to $20 and $50 a person. They also tip between $5 and $10.</p> <p dir="ltr">Room service is free to order but Christine and her husband tip between $2 and $5 each time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Overall, Christine and her husband are spending about $87 a week for living on board a cruise ship for free. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: TikTok and Instagram</em></p>

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What needs to be done before cruises arrive

<p dir="ltr">The return of cruises is high on most people’s bucket lists (or relaxing lists) as they head back to Australia’s shores in May. </p> <p dir="ltr">After a two-year ban on all cruises due to Covid, the government lifted the ban and all ships are set to sail! </p> <p dir="ltr">The industry pumps an eye-watering $5 billion and will help more than 18,000 get a job. </p> <p dir="ltr">But before they set sail, there are quite a few things that need to be sorted.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Rehiring staff and shopping</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Graeme Blackman of Inter-Marine said workers who were laid off due to the pandemic should look forward to being rehired.</p> <p dir="ltr">His tools which were used to ensure everything was working need to also be checked due to being idle for two years. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Inter-Marine lost almost 90 per cent of its $7 million turnover during the ban.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It'll be a slow, progressive start but we're so glad we could last this long."</p> <p dir="ltr">Steven Biviano, from Sydney Select Fresh Providores, is required to ensure the ship is stocked with all ingredients on offer for the delicious meals. </p> <p dir="ltr">Before the pandemic hit, Steven was delivering 40-semi trailers of fruit and vegetables to cruise ships. </p> <p dir="ltr">Then his team of 30 was cut to just three people which he said will now change.</p> <p dir="ltr">"(I'll be) getting a team re-established, speaking to growers, agents," he told Nine News. </p> <p dir="ltr">Jeremy Goodman, Supply Chain Director for P&amp;O Cruises Australia, will then ensure all products needed are on board. </p> <p dir="ltr">The first cruise will require: 4,500 dozen eggs, 15 tonnes of fresh vegetables and 6.5 tonnes of poultry.</p> <p dir="ltr">"When Pacific Explorer resumes cruising on May 31, more than 300 pallets of products of various kinds will be delivered," he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Each pallet weighs around 500k kilograms so that is around 50 tonnes of fresh produce."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cooking up dishes</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The delicious meals that will be prepped and cooked with the products will be created by P&amp;O Cruises Australia Corporate Executive Chef Uwe Stiefel. </p> <p dir="ltr">Chef Uwe has been practicing new dishes in his Sydney restaurant and said it will be interesting to see what people enjoy after almost two years of takeaway food.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Entertainment</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">P&amp;O Cruises Australia's Head of Entertainment Brett Annable and Corporate Entertainment Director, Zoltina-J Medwik Dale have been busy recruiting entertainers to welcome aboard passengers.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We are about to welcome our first production show cast into rehearsals for their debut at the end of May and we are putting the finishing touches to our brand-new production show, 'Musicology', which is launching later this year on Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure," Brett said.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Covid-19 rules</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Cruising is set to be different thanks to covid with new protocols put in place to ensure the safety of all staff and customers. </p> <p dir="ltr">All passengers must be fully vaccinated before jumping on a cruise, with Covid tests to be mandatory before departing as well as another test done while on board. </p> <p dir="ltr">Cruise lines will have their own rules when it comes to wearing masks but will most likely have the rule in place where social distancing isn’t possible. </p> <p dir="ltr">Staff will however be required to wear masks except for outside on the deck and will be trained with Covid protocols. </p> <p dir="ltr">The delicious buffets are still on offer but will be served by staff from behind screens to help stop the spread of the disease.</p> <p dir="ltr">All mealtimes will also be staggered for passengers to ensure social distancing is in place</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>First cruise to leave</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">P&amp;O’s Pacific Explorer will be the first cruise ship to start its journey leaving from Sydney on May 31 for a relaxing four night voyage to Brisbane. </p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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P&O Cruises celebrates diversity

<p dir="ltr">As cruises make their way back to Australia, P&amp;O Cruises is celebrating with a weekend at sea for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, their friends, family and supporters. </p> <p dir="ltr">The ship will set sail on November 4 from Sydney and is a three-night event to allow Aussies from all walks of life to celebrate diversity and inclusion.</p> <p dir="ltr">The celebrations won’t stop there though, with a Pride Cruise departing from Melbourne on December 9, as well as another three cruises in 2023. </p> <p dir="ltr">P&amp;O Cruises Australia’s Partnership Manager Chris Rich said the cruise line was excited to return to service and offer guests its first dedicated Pride sailing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Guests on the Pride cruise will be able to celebrate the themes of love, compassion, respect and understanding through lectures, educational and spiritual events, same sex marriages and renewal of vows,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The cruise will welcome everyone who is a member or supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community – as well as the unique blend of love and laughter that makes the LGBTQIA+ spectrum so special.”</p> <p dir="ltr">LGBTQIA+ community organisations such as Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, Harbour City Bears and Queer Screen have helped P&amp;O Cruises make this possible. </p> <p dir="ltr">The cruise line has gone a step further to include some of “the best names in the Australian entertainment business” to make the three nights memorable. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some names dropped by the cruise include international superstar Hans the German, Simon Dunn - the first openly gay male to represent any country in the sport of bobsled – P&amp;O Cruises Queensland Rugby League ambassador Meg Ward and ex-Rabbitohs rugby star Ian Roberts.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: P&amp;O Cruises</em></p>

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Cruises are back!

<p dir="ltr">Cruises are on the way back almost two years since a ban was implemented to help stop the spread of Covid. </p> <p dir="ltr">P&amp;O’s <em>Pacific Explorer</em> will be the first cruise ship to start its journey leaving from Sydney on May 31 for a relaxing four night voyage to Brisbane. </p> <p dir="ltr">But cruising is set to be different, with new protocols put in place to ensure the safety of all staff and customers. </p> <p dir="ltr">All passengers must be fully vaccinated before jumping on a cruise, with Covid tests to be mandatory before departing as well as another test done while on board. </p> <p dir="ltr">Cruise lines will have their own rules when it comes to wearing masks but will most likely have the rule in place where social distancing isn’t possible. </p> <p dir="ltr">Staff will however be required to wear masks except for outside on the deck and will be trained with Covid protocols. </p> <p dir="ltr">The delicious buffets are still on offer but will be served by staff from behind screens to help stop the spread of the disease.</p> <p dir="ltr">All mealtimes will also be staggered for passengers to ensure social distancing is in place. </p> <p dir="ltr">Last week, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the return of cruises from April 17.</p> <p dir="ltr">“On the basis of medical advice and with the agreement of the national cabinet, lifting the cruise ban is consistent with the reopening of Australia’s international border and shows that we have successfully navigated Australia’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other cruises making their way back to Australian shores include <em>Royal Caribbean International</em> which is offering 50 per cent off deposits when passengers book between March 23 and April 5.</p> <p dir="ltr">Their 2022/23 Australia Summer Season cruise will begin on October 29 from Sydney for an 11 day cruise on the Ovation of the Seas.</p> <p dir="ltr">Brisbane passengers can hop on the <em>Quantum of the Seas</em> on November 1 for a eight-night cruise in the South Pacific.</p> <p dir="ltr">Princess Cruises will be offering 11 trips on the <em>Coral Princess</em>, which is set to return to Brisbane on June 16.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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Russian oligarch’s megayacht stranded

<p dir="ltr">A Russian oligarch’s superyacht is stranded in Norwegian waters after being denied fuel by local providers. </p> <p dir="ltr">The <em>MY Ragnar</em> is reportedly owned by Russian oligarch Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, a former KGB agent who made his fortune in mining.</p> <p dir="ltr">He also served as deputy minister under Russian President Vladimir Putin. </p> <p dir="ltr">The 68metre vessel remains docked in Narvik, a fishing port in the north of Norway, and is not included in any of the sanctions imposed on the country. </p> <p dir="ltr">Captain Rob Lancaster, a Briton, issued a statement about the discrimination from locals who refuse to fuel the yacht for “publicity”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The yacht Ragnar has been unable to leave Norway due to discrimination from local fuel suppliers, who refuse to fuel Ragnar yacht,” Mr Lancaster wrote.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We have had further discrimination from the Mayor of Narvik and the Norwegian government who agree it is OK to fuel the Russian fishing fleet and allow them to operate in Norwegian waters and ports unhindered as this makes up 20% of Northern Norway's economy. </p> <p dir="ltr">“However, they are happy to discriminate against this yacht for publicity in the current climate.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As a western crew, we are very disappointed by the double standards that certain factors of Norway have inflicted on the yacht and crew. </p> <p dir="ltr">“On the other side, we would like to thank the port and the police for their ongoing support and understanding. </p> <p dir="ltr">“These individuals have been the true and honest Norwegians that I, as captain, remember from my time as a royal marine in the late 80s and early 90s.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The yacht and its ultimate beneficial owner are on no European or UK sanctions list, so we find the discrimination towards us extremely unjust.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Yacht Charter Fleet</em></p>

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Hanging out for a cruise? You’re not alone

<p dir="ltr">It feels like a lifetime ago when we were actually able to book cruises for a relaxing getaway.</p> <p dir="ltr">Thanks to Covid, that all stopped about two years ago to help stop the spread of the infectious disease.</p> <p dir="ltr">And let's not forget about the <em>Ruby Princess</em> fiasco…but we won’t go there. </p> <p dir="ltr">The ban on foreign cruises in and around Australian waters was extended until April 17, and cruise ship owners are hoping they can hit the waters once again. </p> <p dir="ltr">Marguerite Fitzgerald, the newly appointed President of Carnival Australia and P&amp;O Cruises Australia believes a return to the seas is on the horizon. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Once the ban is lifted, we expect there will be a lot of excitement and demand, and we want to be ready for that,” she told <a href="https://cruisepassenger.com.au/news/well-be-back-better-than-ever-new-carnival-boss-vows-a-party-to-celebrate-the-return-of-ships/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Cruise Passenger</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">She predicts the cruise ban will be lifted by the middle of the year and is preparing a complete makeover of the ships following a grueling two-year break.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We are cancelled through to the end of May. It takes a while to ramp ships back up, when you think about having to bring crew over and suppliers have a lead time to be ready to supply the ships.  </p> <p dir="ltr">“So a middle of the year return, assuming we continue to make good progress, that's what we are aiming for.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Watch this sea (space).</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Carnival Australia</em></p>

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Cruise ship abandons course to avoid arrest warrant

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After an arrest warrant was issued for a cruise ship vessel, the ship has diverted its destination path from Miami to the island nation of the Bahamas. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to </span><a href="https://www.foxnews.com/us/cruise-ship-diverts-bahamas-miami-unpaid-fuel-bills"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fox News</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the arrest warrant was in response to over $1 million in unpaid fuel bills. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The U.S. marshal will be there with the arrest warrant if the ship shows up in Miami,” J. Stephen Simms, the lead lawyer representing Peninsula Petroleum Far East Pte. Ltd, told Bloomberg</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“My good money is that it’s not landing in Miami, from what we’ve been told. Our client is determined to recover.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The luxury cruise ship known as Crystal Symphony was due to arrive in Miami on Saturday after a two-week voyage in the Caribbean. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, they diverted their course at the last minute with about 300 passengers and 400 crew members on board. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The ship is operated by Genting Hong Kong Ltd., which has reportedly been struggling financially since the beginning of the pandemic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A British musician who was performing on the ship said passengers were scrambling to reschedule their flights after diverting to the Bahamas, but “there’s no panic”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Every one of these people are trying to reschedule their flights,” musician Elio Pace told the </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Daily Mail.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There's no panic, there's no tantrums going on, they're taking it in their stride.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Crystal Cruises president Jack Anderson announced in a statement that all Crystal Cruise operations would be suspended until at least April, due to their billion dollar losses felt through the duration of the Covid pandemic. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elio Pace said the passengers on board the Crystal Symphony were shocked at the announcement, but he has carried on performing for the travellers. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“That was quite extraordinary, to be in a position to have to perform to people, with them knowing the cruise line has gone into liquidation,” he said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For me it’s a headache, but for the crew, for the staff, the brilliant staff of this gorgeous luxury liner, I feel more sorry for them,” Mr Pace said. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I'm put out, but they've lost their jobs for the foreseeable future.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image credits: Getty Images</span></em></p>

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Travelling couple share their cruise experience amid Omicron

<p>A couple from Queensland have decided to not let the current wave of Omicron get the best of them and their plans to travel the world. </p> <p>Ed and Patrea Stuttard left their home on the Gold Coast after Christmas to fly to the US and board their first cruise in nearly two years. </p> <p>The retirees are now sailing around the waters of Mexico, and are currently on cruise number three of the six they have planned.  </p> <p>The pair are avid cruise-goers, having racked up an impressive 49 voyages before they departed on their current journey. </p> <p><span>"We just love being on the ocean and just love everything it offers and having had it taken away for nearly two years is really tough, you know, when you're retired. It's just taken away something that we really love," Mrs Stuttard told <a rel="noopener" href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/coronavirus-aussie-couple-sail-on-cruise-ship-amid-omicron-covid19-wave/baef58e9-09fd-47f0-8993-0819bacffed9" target="_blank"><em>A Current Affair</em></a>.</span></p> <p><span>The couple decided to document their recent trip to show other travellers how life on board has changed since the Covid pandemic. </span></p> <p><span>They are both hoping the cruising industry back home in Australia soon lifts the two-year ban on international voyages. </span></p> <p>"That's why we decided to fly out and have New Year's on board a cruise ship, leaving for America. There were no options at home and we can't understand why," Mr Stuttard said.</p> <p>"They are opening up hospitality, they are opening up music venues but they are ignoring the cruise industry and that's just criminal."</p> <p>Both Mr and Mrs Stuttard had to show proof of their double vaccination status before being let on board, as well as returning negative Covid tests. </p> <p><span>"We had our third shot so we actually feel safer here than we do in our local mall and they are continually reminding people to put on their mask," Mrs Stuttard said.</span><span></span></p> <p><span>Cleaning protocols on board are endless, with cleaning staff everywhere to make the ship as safe as possible. </span></p> <p><span>"We were joking with people earlier today that if you stand still long enough, they'll come and sanitise you. Anything that doesn't move is being wiped down daily," Mr Stuttard said.</span></p> <p><span>With life on the waters of Mexico a world away from Australia's current </span>Omicron wave, there is no current plan for the Federal Government to kickstart the cruising industry. </p> <p>Joel Katz from Cruise Lines International Association said Australia desperately needs a plan to get back on the water. </p> <p>"We're saying, 'let's start off with local cruising, carrying locals only', while we still have questions about international tourism," Mr Katz said.</p> <p><span>He said, "From the early days of the pandemic, the industry has been working with medical experts and epidemiologists to develop the most comprehensive COVID safe protocols out of any sector of travel and tourism."</span></p> <p><span>While the waters of Australia remain closed for cruising operations, the Stuttards will remain overseas to continue their care-free life at sea. </span></p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

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Five themed cruisers for 2022 and beyond

<ol> <li>Meow meow | A cruise for cat lovers</li> </ol> <p>Cat-obsessed cruise goers, unfortunately, cannot bring their cats on this cruise. But what they can do is meet like-minded people to chat about and share photos of their favourite furry feline friends. Activities on this cat-themed cruise include trivia, a scavenger hunt and a cocktail party.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Date: </strong>27 October 2022</li> <li><strong>Destination:</strong> Mexico</li> <li><strong>Cruise Line: </strong>Carnival</li> <li><strong>Ship: </strong>Paradise</li> </ul> <p> You can learn more about this <a href="https://meowmeowcruise.com/">cruise here.</a></p> <ol start="2"> <li>Scrap booking cruise | For those who love to scrapbook </li> </ol> <p>Cruise and Crop is a cruise company offering scrapbooking cruises where guests can enjoy making scrapbooks together. But the fun doesn’t stop there! On certain cruises, you can also try your hand at card making, embroidery, knitting, jewellery making and other crafts.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Date: </strong>17 dates in 2022</li> <li><strong>Destination: </strong>Various</li> <li><strong>Cruise Line: </strong>Royal Caribbean</li> <li><strong>Ship: </strong>Various<strong> </strong></li> </ul> <p>Learn more about this <a href="https://www.cruiseandcrop.com/">cruise here.</a></p> <ol start="3"> <li>Knitting cruise | A cruise for those who love to knit</li> </ol> <p>Craft Cruises offers a range of cruises where craft lovers can get together to improve their knitting skills will classes and workshops. On-board knitting instructors will advise guests about any local yarn stores in the ports of call. As well as knitting, Craft Cruises also offers cruises themed around crocheting, needlepoint, hand spinning and beading.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Date: </strong>9 dates in 2022</li> <li><strong>Destination:</strong> Various</li> <li><strong>Cruise Line: </strong>Holland America Line</li> <li><strong>Ship: </strong>Various</li> </ul> <p>Learn more about this <a href="http://www.craftcruises.com/">cruise here</a>.</p> <ol start="4"> <li>The 80’s cruise | For those who want to relive a slice of the 80s</li> </ol> <p>The 80s Cruise is a non-stop all-inclusive concert with 20 bands including The Human League and Belinda Carlisle. Guests can enjoy parties on the pool deck and themed costume parties such as the ‘Decade of Decadence Prom’ and ‘Pop Icon Night’.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Date: </strong>5 March 2022</li> <li><strong>Destination:</strong>Caribbean</li> <li><strong>Cruise Line: </strong>Royal Caribbean</li> <li><strong>Ship: </strong>Mariner of the Seas</li> </ul> <p>Learn more about this <a href="https://www.the80scruise.com">cruise here.</a></p> <ol start="5"> <li>The country music cruise | For those who love country music </li> </ol> <p>Get your stetsons ready for The Country Music Cruise – a themed party at sea with nightly country music performances and the chance to meet the stars. Country music fans can enjoy seminars, autograph sessions, line dancing and country karaoke.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Date: </strong>22 January 2023</li> <li><strong>Destination:</strong>Caribbean</li> <li><strong>Cruise Line: </strong>Holland America Line</li> <li><strong>Ship: </strong>Nieuw Amsterdam</li> </ul> <p>Learn more about this <a href="https://countrymusiccruise.com/">cruise here.</a></p>

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