Sri Lanka, Burma, Singapore, Phuket and the Australian Outback – some of Asia’s greatest cultures complement Australia’s own on a varied and inspiring new 26-day fly-cruise holiday from Worldwide Cruise Centres (worldwidecruisecentres.com.au).
The holiday, called ‘From Orient to Outback’, includes a 15-night cruise aboard Aegean Odyssey from Colombo to Singapore and a flight from Australia to Colombo to join the ship. A two-night/three-day Ghan Rail Journey from Darwin to Adelaide unveils the true Aussie Outback. Completing the blend are a two-night hotel stay in Colombo, a three-night hotel stay in Singapore and another two nights in the heart of Darwin.
‘From Orient to Outback’ costs from A$8999 from Adelaide, A$9299 from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and A$9399 from Perth. Those prices are per person, twin share, available for booking until the end of March 2014.
The holiday gets underway on 5 January 2015 with a flight from Australia to Colombo. Sightseeing during your two-night stay in the Sri Lankan capital includes the serene Asokaramaya Buddhist temple and Pettah Bazaar, crammed with fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat, gems, gold, silver, brass and tin.
A full day tour to Kandy includes the Royal Botanic Gardens, renowned for orchids, and the Temple of the Tooth, said to house one of Buddha’s teeth, a precious relic attracting a daily procession of white-clad pilgrims bearing lotus blossoms and frangipani.
Then embark on Aegean Odyssey, a classically elegant mid-size ship carrying an average of 350 passengers and providing gracious public rooms, a choice of restaurants and stability in inclement weather. Gratuities to cruise staff are included, so forget about shipboard tipping.
Sites you’ll visit on the cruise include Galle, Sri Lanka, with its 17th-century Dutch fort, and Kataluwa Buddhist temple. You’ll tour the East India Company’s historic Fort St George in Madras, India, and colonial Port Blair in the Bay of Bengal’s Andaman Islands.
In Myanmar (formerly Burma), a city tour of the capital, Yangon (still better known as Rangoon) visits the stupendous Shwedagon Pagoda, 2500 years old and one of the religious wonders of the world. There’s a full-day tour of Bago town, with optional excursions by air to Mandalay or Bagan overnight.
Other highlights include the Thai resort island of Phuket (complete with day trip to the blissful Phi Phi Islands), a tour of Penang in Malaysia (including the reclining Buddha), a tour of the World Heritage site of Malacca, with its Portuguese fort, St Paul’s Church and Dutch Square – and a tour of modern and historic Singapore during your three-night hotel stay there.
A top shipboard team of lecturers helps put the history and culture into perspective. It includes Professor Ian Brown, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and Professor Ian Robert A. E. Gordon, a recently retired British diplomat and noted authority on Burma, where he was British Ambassador from 1995-99.
After three nights in Singapore, jet down to Darwin for a two-night stay at the Darwin Central Hotel, an easy stroll to cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, restaurants and shopping. Daily breakfast is included.
Board the famous Ghan train now for a two-night/three-day rail journey in Gold Twin (with bunk beds) from Darwin to Adelaide..
This is one of the world’s great rail trips – a 2979 kilometre transcontinental journey through Australia’s Red Centre. Tropical country south of Darwin gives way to the rusty reds of the MacDonnell Ranges surrounding Alice Springs.
Throughout the train journey, standard wines, beers, spirits and soft drinks are complimentary. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. In Katherine and Alice Springs, choose a free excursion. Choices in Katherine include a Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise, a Nitmiluk Gorge Rock Art Cruise or an Aboriginal cultural experience. In ‘The Alice’, visit Desert Park, to explore Outback Australia’s flora and fauna, or instead take an Alice Explorer tour to visit the Royal Flying Doctor’s base, the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and Terry the Saltwater Croc at the Reptile Centre.
On the final leg of the Ghan trip, the train pulls into Adelaide Parklands Terminal just before noon on Friday. If you don’t live in Adelaide, a domestic flight takes you back to your home city in time to enjoy the weekend.
To find your local Worldwide Cruise Centres agent go to: www.worldwidecruisecentres.com.au
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