Thursday 31 January 2013

Plantation island releases FREE private island cocktail party offer


Fiji's Plantation Island Resort has come up with the perfect solution for family gatherings, wedding parties or groups of friends looking to celebrate their holiday with something special – a free private island themed cocktail party.

The special offer is readily available to any group booking a minimum of five rooms for a minimum of five nights at the Mamanuca Islands resort.

Set on one of the island's private beach areas, the themed party menu comes complete with fresh fruit rum punch and non-alcoholic cocktails served in coconut shells, a selection of canapés – Plantation Island Resort can even supply a decorated cake to celebrate any special occasion.

Valid for sale until 31 March 2013, the private island themed cocktail party offer is valid for travel until 31 March 2014 and is combinable with any existing special offer currently available at the resort.*

For more information on the private island themed cocktail party and other special deals currently on offer at Plantation Island Resort, please contact the resort directly.

T:         + 679 6669 333

*Conditions apply. Please note block out periods apply from 28 June-15 July 2013 and again from 25 December 2013 – 09 January 2014.

Nestled in the very heart of Fiji's beatific Mamanuca Islands, idyllic Plantation Island Resort tables the perfect 'across the board' holiday solution for just about anyone looking to find that perfect escape to paradise in the land of the 'Bula Spirit'.

Spread over 123 acres of coconut palm-studded tropical gardens, Plantation Island Resort sits on the very shoulders of an azure-shaded lagoon and seven-kilometres of sun-kissed white sand.

Offering the quintessential island experience, Plantation Island Resort is designed to suit every taste and budget, offering a huge variety of activities for all ages with a choice of three swimming pools, a tennis court, a nine-hole golf course, a five-star PADI dive centre, a free Coconuts Kids Club plus a huge range of complimentary 'on resort' water sports.



Friday 25 January 2013

True blue reasons why we love you Australia.

PROOF is in the meat pie - Aussies love to holiday in their own backyard.

According to Flight Centre, Australia’s largest travel agency, the number of travellers opting to stay on Australian turf increased by around 15% in 2012, compared to last year.

The company analysed its domestic booking trends for the period from July to December, 2012 and found that travel to Tropical North Queensland and the Queensland Islands had grown more than 20% on the same period in 2011.

Domestic holidays in the Top End had also popular in 2012, up 25%, while beach holidays to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast and city breaks in Sydney and Melbourne all remained firm favourites.

Flight Centre’s executive general marketing manager, Colin Bowman, said the variety of holiday experiences available in Australia catered to the preferences of most travellers.

“Wine lovers have plenty of cellar doors and vineyards to explore across Australia, from the Hunter Valley to Yarra Valley, Barossa Valley and Margaret River, which are home to some of the world’s finest wines,” Colin said.

“Or, for those who love adventure, try mapping out the walking trails of Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest or Tasmania’s Freycinet National Parks,” he said.

Mr Bowman said Aussie traditions were shaping the way people travel this year, whether it’s a eating a meat pie at the footy grand final, surfing waves at the beach or watching a band play at a festival.

Here is a list of top 5 things we love about Australia, along with the top 5 holiday experiences, compiled by the team at Flight Centre.


Wide open spaces

We are the lucky country. Not only do we have a wealth of space around us, but our scenic attractions are simply breathtaking.

Aussie beach culture is vibrant and our golden sandy coastlines stretch for kilometres, offering plenty of options to swim, surf, dive and fish in the surrounding ocean waters.

Our rugged landscape and outback plains serve up a feast for the eyes, while rock caves, rainforests and world-heritage sites are popular among adventurers and tourists.

Mad about sports

Sport, without a doubt, plays a fundamental role in our Aussie culture. Whether you are a die-hard sports fanatic or fantastic at sport, the competitive spirit of our Aussie sports teams is enough to get your heart pumping.

As a nation, we do pretty well against our competitors in cricket, tennis, rugby league, rugby union, swimming and golf. We even created our very own Australian Football League and since we are lucky enough to have beaches on our doorstep, we have a vibrant surf culture.

Picture perfect weather

Who doesn't enjoy the feeling from warm rays of sunshine or a fresh cool breeze?

Australia has a reputation for having amazing weather, year round. Summer is delightful, often balmy and humid, but the perfect scene for hitting the beach or hosting pool parties.

Winter days don’t get too cold and we are lucky to have clear blue skies for most part, unlike our cousins in the northern hemisphere that are used to dense fog or grey mist.

The occasional summer storm provides plenty of rainfall, but after the clouds have cleared, there is light at the end of the rainbow.

Laid-back lifestyle and sense of humour

Aussies have a cracking sense of humour, often characterised as dry, cheeky and sarcastic. Performing artist Barry Humphries exemplifies this, through his satirical character creations of housewife Dame Edna Everage and wine loving Les Patterson, and Paul Hogan brought the outback to the big screen in the movie Crocodile Dundee.

Television series such as Hey Hey it’s Saturday, Mother & Son, Kath & Kim, Fast Forward, Full Frontal and Frontline also drew on this cynical satire.

Wildlife on our doorstep

The kangaroo is the national symbol of Australia and rightly so, is featured on our coins, coats of arms and national airline. The fact that you can spot these guys in some people’s backyards is quite incredible, not to mention they hop around with their babies in a pouch.

Other fair dinkum animals found only on Australian soil include the koala, platypus, brush tailed possum and saltwater crocodile.


City Break – SYDNEY

INCLUDES return flights to Sydney with Virgin Australia and three nights for the price of two at the 4-star BreakFree on George in a one bedroom apartment.

Prices twin share start from $435* per person from Brisbane or Melbourne, from $459* per person from Adelaide or Hobart, and from $635* per person from Perth.

The deal is valid for travel from May 1 to June 6, June 9 to 16 and June 16 to 30, 2013.

On sale from January 26 until February 20, 2013 unless sold out.

Beach Holidays – GOLD COAST

INCLUDES return flights to Coolangatta with Virgin Australia and four nights for the price of three at the 4½-star Hotel Grand Chancellor Surfers Paradise in a standard room.
Prices twin share start from $375* per person from Sydney, from $405* per person from Melbourne, from $509* per person from Adelaide, from $559* per person from Hobart, from $679* per person from Cairns and from $719* per person from Perth.

The deal is valid for travel from May 1 to June 19, and June 25 to September 21, 2013.

On sale from January 26 until February 20, 2013 unless sold out.

Island Escapes – HAMILTON ISLAND

INCLUDES return flights to Hamilton Island with Virgin Australia and five nights for the price of four at the 4-star Reef View Hotel. in a Garden View Room, with buffet breakfast daily, return airport to hotel transfers, unlimited use of scheduled island shuttle and use of the on-site sporting equipment.

Guests also get a free upgrade to a Coral Sea View Room and $100 bonus credit on food and drinks.
Prices start from $875* per person from Brisbane, from $1025* per person from Sydney, from $1049* per person from Cairns, from $1185* per person from Melbourne or Adelaide, from $1199* per person from Hobart, and from $1335* per person from Perth.

The deal is valid for travel from January 26 to March 28, from April 2 to May 21, and from May 26 to June 21, 15, 2013.

On sale from January 26 until February 20, 2013 unless sold out.

Outback Adventures – AYERS ROCK

INCLUDES return flights to Ayers Rock with Virgin Australia and three nights’ at the 3½-star Voyages Outback Pioneer in a Standard Room with complimentary return Ayers Rock Airport transfers.

Prices twin share start from $779* per person from Sydney, from $885* per person from Melbourne, from $945* per person from Adelaide, from $919* per son from Hobart, from $1149* per person from Perth.

The deal is valid for travel from July 1 to November 30, 2013.

On sale from January 26 until February 20, 2013 unless sold out.

Australian Experiences – GREAT BARRIER REEF

INCLUDES return flights to Cairns with Virgin Australia and three nights at the price of 4½-star Mantra Aqueous on Port in a Spa Room with a Quicksilver Outer Barrier Reef Tour and transfers.
Prices twin share start from $729* per person from Brisbane, from $799* from Sydney, and from $825* from Melbourne.

The deal is valid for travel from May 1 to June 21, 2013.

On sale from January 26 until February 20, 2013 unless sold out.

For bookings and details, phone Flight Centre on 1300 939 414 or see

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Thursday 24 January 2013

MSC Cruises 96 Hour Sale

Five days to go for offers of 50% off departures

In the wake of last year's popular 48-hour sales, MSC Cruises Australia has doubled the booking time for the next hot sale to 96 hours, the first for 2013 beginning on Tuesday, January 29 with cruises priced from a staggering $39 per person per day.

The leading European cruise line company has extended the offer on a range of exciting itineraries across the 2013 season with dozens of sailings from which to choose.

Discounted cruises cover 11 of the cruise line's 12 vessels and include seven-night Red Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Baltic Sea and Norwegian Cruises, starting price beginning at $424 per person including taxes.

Slashed prices will be available on Mediterranean cruises for departures from March through until November 2013. North European cruises that include the likes of St Petersburg, Tallinn, Denmark and the Norwegian Fjords are discounted on sailings from April through until September 2013.

There are also some remarkable longer cruises available during this sale including 11-night cruises aboard MSC Magnifica featuring the Canary Islands, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Rome.

MSC Lirica boasts an 11-night itinerary featuring ports in Cyprus, Israel, Greece and Italy and the pièce de résistance, a 15-night cruise from the Caribbean Antilles to the Mediterranean from $574 per person – a mere $39 per person per day.

The sale is for new bookings only and must be paid in full at time of booking. The offers cannot be combined with any other offer, and name changes are not permitted.

The sale kicks off an exciting year for the cruise line following the retirement of its oldest and longest operating ship, MSC Melody.

In March, MSC Cruises will see the launch of the MSC Preziosa in Genoa, a ship which will feature new dining options and private top deck areas.

Recently, MSC Cruises saw its global Facebook fan base pass the one million mark.

A new blog is set to provide interested consumers a little taste of cruising, European style in bite sized chunks while ongoing website enhancements are ensuring people can research the brand in an ever more intuitive way.

For more information on this sale, contact your travel agent, call us on 1300 028 502, or visit .

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Special Summer Fares to New Zealand with Emirates

-Trans-Tasman airfares from $222 one way and $397 return-

Emirates has released special airfares to New Zealand for Australian travellers keen to experience the vibrant cities of Auckland and Christchurch.

Special Economy fares to Auckland start at $226 one-way and $405 return. Business Class fares to Auckland start at $729 one way and $1,408 return. 

One way Economy fares to Christchurch are from $222, and return from $397. For Business Class travel, fares to Christchurch are from $731 one way and $1,417 return

Travellers can enjoy the natural wonder of New Zealand in summer or take in some of the country's big events such as Auckland's Lantern Festival, Auckland's Arts Festival and Christchurch's Summer Vineyard Tour.

All Emirates' trans-Tasman services offer spacious seating for Economy Class travellers and luxurious massage seats in Business Class, which convert into fully lie-flat beds up to two metres long.

Emirates provides all classes award-winning inflight service from an international crew, including meals created by internationally renowned chefs and ice, the wide-screen inflight entertainment system with up to 1,400 channels.

Emirates also offers its passengers one of the most generous luggage allowances, offering Economy Class travellers a substantial 30kg of checked baggage and 40kg for Business Class travellers.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to All bookings must be complete by 29 January 2013.

Terms and conditions apply


Dinosaur Petting Zoo - Otway Fly Treetop Adventures

The Dinosaurs are Alive!  Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is pleased to present "Dinosaur Petting Zoo - Alive at Otway Fly" this coming Labour Day long weekend.
Otway Fly Treetop Adventures is bringing the famous Australian Dinosaur Puppet Show 'Erth' to the Fly.  Its the first time the region has seen anything like this.  The  animated dinosaurs are life size and life like and the kids will go nuts!
Please see attached media release and images.  This will be an amazing show 8 - 11 March 2013.  Details below and attached with images.

Erth will perform the Dinosaur Petting Zoo in the ancient landscape at Otway Fly, interacting with kids and parents. The Dinosaur Petting Zoo is a unique show allowing audience interaction with prehistoric Australian dinosaurs in a Zoo like environment. It's a fun, interactive, cultural experience that's never been seen in the Otway region before.

March 8-11, 2013.

Adults: $35

Seniors: $28
Children 4-15: $20
Children 0-3: FREE
Tickets available now at the Ticket Office by calling 1800 300 477. Ticket price includes entry to the breathtaking Treetop Walk and Prehistoric Path .  

Monday 21 January 2013

Sip on Summer at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with Australiana-themed cocktails and high tea


There is nothing more iconic than an Aussie Summer, so the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth has launched a quirky Australian-inspired high tea and matching cocktails to  invite guests to 'get their green and gold on' this season.

Featuring lemon myrtle and Murray River salt caramel macaroons, lamington eclairs, lemon bars on Anzac cookie crusts and of course, mini vegemite sandwiches and pavlovas as well as other Australian flora-inspired treats, the high tea is served with a choice of equally fun Aussie cocktails including the 'Mick Dundee', the refreshing 'Green and Gold', the 'Royal Laminton' and the 'Backyard Cooler'.

A tribute to Paul Hogan's quintessentially Australian character from the Crocodile Dundee movies, the Mick Dundee is made with Johnny Walker Double Black, Quandong and Gentian Bitters, Rosso Vermouth and Peychaud's Bitters and will make a croc hunter of anyone.

A creative spin on another Aussie institution, the Royal Lamington cocktail blends Crème de Cacao, Frangelico, Baileys and chocolate syrup with ice, served in a glass rimmed with strawberry jam and garnished with coconut sprinkles.

The Green and Gold is a mix of lime juice, Bundy Rum, and Leatherbarrel Syrup to celebrate the Australian colours with a twist of lime and more than a dash of quality Australian sparkling wine.

Finally, the Backyard Cooler brings to mind hot afternoons and the smell of freshly cut grass and is a sexy combination of cucumber slices, honeydew melon, Absolut Citron, lemon juice and ice – the ultimate refresher for a hot summer's day.

Available daily throughout Summer until 10th March, The Australiana high tea is served on a tray decorated with Eucalyptus tus leaves and a toy koala to take home, while the Sofitel lobby and lounge has been transformed into a scene from the outback with miniature gum trees and native flowers including kangaroo paw, banksia, coral ferns, lambswool and eucalyptus nuts. The perfect place to celebrate Australia Day, or to bring visiting friends and family from overseas, the Sofitel's Australiana High Tea is priced at only $59 per person including a choice of two Australiana cocktails. To make a reservation phone (02) 9228 9188 or email: The Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is located at 61-101 Phillip St, Sydney, right in the heart of the CBD.

Discover Sofitel on | |

Complimentary Upgrades for Canada/Alaska Tour

CRUISE specialist is offering free cabin upgrades on selected cabins on a seven-night Alaskan cruise aboard the Star Princess, part of their exclusive 2013 cruise tour of Canada and Alaska, which also includes two days on the Rocky Mountaineer. Travel to Calgary for land touring in Banff and Lake Louise before boarding your train in Jasper to travel to Kamloops and Vancouver. Spend over two weeks travelling around the Rockies with sightseeing tours including a half-day tour of Banff, Gondola in Banff Yoho Park tour, Icefields parkway tour, Jasper Highlights tour and Vancouver day tour.

The 21-night package departs from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on August 31 and begins with a three night stopover in Las Vegas. After the land tour board your ship in Seattle and cruise to Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Saint John before disembarking in Seattle for your flight back to Australia.

Now priced from $6,779 per person twin share, it also includes return economy airfares with V Australia from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with air taxes, 14 nights premium hotel accommodation, two days travel aboard the Rocky Mountaineer in Red Leaf class, transportation in Canada with selected sightseeing, seven nights cruise accommodation with all meals and gratuities on board and transfers.

If you book before February 16, you will receive up to US$60 on board ship credit per cabin. Limited complimentary cabin upgrades are available, for more details contact on 1300 369 848 or check-out

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Snap up a great deal for Australia's largest ship, Voyager of the Seas’, farewell cruise

Australia's largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas, will wrap up her debut season down under in early March, but if you've still not had the chance to experience this exciting ship fear not because Royal Caribbean has some fantastic deals for her farewell cruise out of Sydney.

Departing on 19 February 2013, Voyager of the Seas will end her maiden Australian season with a spectacular 18-night Australia & New Zealand itinerary sailing from Sydney to Perth (Fremantle) via Tasmania, Adelaide and breathtaking spots in New Zealand such as Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound, and Dunedin.  
Prices for her farewell cruise start from just $1,995 per person, including taxes, fees and gratuities.  Voyager of the Seas' final cruise for the season offers fantastic value for money with all meals, most entertainment and activities, and a host of other extras such as room service and a complimentary award winning kids club Adventure Ocean included, at just over $110 per day per guest.
Turning local cruising on its head when she made her debut down under in November 2012, Voyager of the Seas launched concepts never seen before in local waters.  At double the size of her contemporaries, Voyager of the Seas features the region's first ice-skating rink at sea, an exclusive DreamWorks characters experience and a Royal Promenade – a "main street" in the ship that offers food, shopping and entertainment such as parades.
For more information or to book your cruise visit or speak to your travel agent.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Save on Rocky Mountaineer with Globus and Cosmos


Globus and Cosmos have teamed up with the legendary Rocky Mountaineer railway to offer savings of $300 per couple on some of their most popular Canadian tours.

The saving is available on all bookings that combine an airfare with any Globus or Cosmos tour featuring the Rocky Mountaineer.  There are six different itineraries to choose from, offering between nine and 19 days amid some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.

On sale until March 31, 2013, or until sold out, the applicable tours include:

Globus Great Resorts of the Canadian Rockies - 10 days from $4469* per person twin share (excluding discount), visiting Vancouver, Banff, Calgary, Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield, Jasper and Kamloops, including two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer.

Cosmos Western Canada & Rocky Mountaineer - nine days from $2529* per person twin share (excluding discount), visiting Vancouver, Victoria, Banff, Calgary, Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield, Jasper and Kamloops, including two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer.

Return economy airfares to Vancouver with Qantas are available from $2240* per person from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, $2430* from Adelaide and $2560* from Perth, including taxes (excluding discount).

PLUS, Cosmos has extended an existing $300 per couple earlybird saving on its most popular itinerary, the 19-day Canadian and Alaskan Masterpiece.  This can be combined with the new Rocky Mountaineer offer to allow a saving of $600 per couple when booked with an airfare.

The Canadian and Alaskan Masterpiece is priced from $4293* per person twin share and includes a seven night Alaskan cruise as well as two days aboard the Rocky Mountaineer and visits to Vancouver, Victoria, Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise, the Columbia Icefield, Jasper, Sun Peaks and Whistler.

With more than 80 years' experience in travel, Globus provides premium tours with amongst the highest standards available in group travel.

Its sister brand Cosmos has been a pioneer of top-value touring since 1962, having created its own successful style of travel that's big on impact and low on cost.

For full details and bookings see licensed travel agents, visit the Globus website  or phone 1300 230 234.

*Prices per person, twin share, excluding discount. Airfares per person including taxes. Subject to availability and conditions. For bookings until March 31, 2013, or until sold out.

Media information: Jon Murrie/Libby Moffet, MG Media Communications, 02 9904 0011

Add some competitive spirit to a Vanuatu trip

 If getting fit or upping your fitness or competition programme was on the top of your new year's resolution list, then look to Vanuatu this year as an attractive incentive. Within easy reach from Australia and offering an abundance of experiences on and off the track, including a line -up of events for all levels to take part in, Vanuatu has something for sporting and non-sporting enthusiasts alike.

From the Vanuatu Triathlon in April, the Open Water Swim in June, and the three-day Adventure Race in October, there is something for active Aussies all year round.   These action packed events take in the island destination's idyllic beaches and lagoons, lush rainforest and unique countryside, showcasing the spectacular variety of landscapes and experiences that Vanuatu has to offer.  

For those combining some friendly competition with a holiday, or for accompanying non-competitors, Vanuatu's main island of Efate offers even more excitement and adventure to discover. Visitors can take in the island's striking sights such as the Mele Cascades, explore the island off-road by buggy, or indulge in the luxuries offered at one of Port Vila's many resorts.

Below are some key dates for the competitor's calendar:

Vanuatu Triathlon, 27 April 2013
Havannah Harbour, Efate
Located on the stunning backdrop of Havannah Harbour, competitors go head-to-head in an Olympic distance triathlon course starting with a 1.5km swim in tropical reef filled waters, followed by a 40km bike ride through Efate's lush landscape and villages, and finishing with a 10km run.  This can be an individual challenge or teams of three can compete together.

50km Multi Sport, 19 May 2013
Port Vila, Efate
Grab a mate and join in this entry level multi sport where competitors get to swim and paddle for 1km in Port Vila's lagoon, followed by a 40km bike ride along the superb coastline of Efate, before a 6km run to cross the finish line.

Vanuatu Open Water Swim, 15 June 2013
Port Vila, Efate
Well seasoned swimmers and novices can add the waters of Port Vila to their sporting calendar on 15 June.  The premier event is a 3.2km swim around the Island of Iririki, nestled in the beautiful Port Vila harbour.  For newcomers to the sport there is also a shorter 1.5km swim in the harbour over a triangular course.  All levels are welcomed.

Wilco Island Relay, 20 July 2013
Around Efate
Teams of ten battle it out on the 132km track around Efate Island in this relay race of endurance through tropical jungle, picturesque beaches and local villages. This race is a highlight in any runners sporting life with the local people out cheering the runners on through decorated roads of palm fronds and bougainvillaea.

75km Multi Sport, 17 August 2013
Havannah Harbour, Efate
Aussie teams of three can take on the challenge to become the ultimate weekend warriors by out running, swimming, riding and paddling the other teams in a 1.5km swim, 60km bike ride, 4.5km paddle and 9.5km run.

Two day - Multi Sport Championship, 21
and 22 September 2013
Around Efate
Held over two days, this multi sport event is for teams of two competing in different activities such as tubing, running, swimming, paddling, biking, horse-riding and more mystery activities taking place throughout Efate. A tropical challenge for the sporting all-rounder.

Vanuatu Adventure Race, 18 – 20 October 2013
Around Efate
The Vanuatu Adventure Race is an annual event which takes place over three days in Efate, combining trekking, swimming, abseiling, kayaking, snorkelling and archery. In addition to the action-packed race, competitors also have the unique opportunity to take in the sights and local culture of Efate.

Booking a trip:  Vanuatu Escapes offers packages for the Vanuatu Open Water Swims in June which include flights, accommodation, swim event package and transfers.  Five-night packages start from $1,325 from Brisbane and $1,369 from Sydney.

Vanuatu Escapes can also provide tailor-made packages for the other events where quests
register for the events directly. To book contact and visit

For more information on Vanuatu please visit


Tuesday 15 January 2013

Mr & Mrs Smith's Top 10 Valentine's Day Escapes

Romance re-invigorated

The roses are red... but wilted. The chocolates have melted and the racy negligee that left you pink- cheeked at the department store counter doesn't actually fit. With one month left until Valentine's Day, let Mr & Mrs Smith help you amp it up for the most romantic day of the year.

Experts in stylish stays for two, Mr & Mrs Smith's spies have roamed the globe to bring you a hand-picked collection of the world's most seductive hotels. From inner-city hideouts to rural retreats, from beach-in-reach to mountain high, not a pillow has been left unturned. Here are our top 10 Smith tips for 14 February trysts:

1. Qualia, Great Barrier Reef

Style High-end luxury

Setting Tropical Hamilton Island idyll

Qualia is one of Queensland's most serene and beautiful escapes. Built by Australian billionaires, this idyllic Whitsundays resort has a no-expense-spared feel, and all 30 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds exude class. For adult-oriented V Day frolicking, book a Windward Pavilion with its own private plunge pool. Complete the romantic equation by reserving a table under the stars at Mod Oz restaurant the Long Pavilion. Swimming, sailing and beach-hopping beckon.

2. Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island

Style Unspoilt nature, unadulterated luxury

Setting High above Hanson Bay

Luxe Southern Ocean Lodge is an exquisite designer haven. Solitude, serenity and natural wonders are a given, with calming, contemporary interiors embracing the outdoors. Want to impress your date? Book the Remarkable Suite with its freestanding wooden tub and outdoor terrace with private spa - of course, every inch of this stunning retreat has jaw-dropping ocean views. Relax in the spa or enjoy Kangas & Kanapés at sunset with a glass of bubbly.

3. QT Sydney, Sydney

Style Theatrical temptress

Setting Sydney's happening heart

Sexy, sassy and stylish, QT Sydney is perfect for the couple who love to party. This super-central design diva is carved out of the historic State Theatre and Gowings department store buildings, blending Gothic, art deco and Italianate architecture with quirky-but-cool interiors. Door gals dressed in saucy uniforms, buzzy drinking and dining, and a hip day spa? You'll be smitten.

4. MONA Pavilions, Hobart

Style Arty avant-garde architecture

Setting Banks of the Derwent River

Prove your culture-vulture credentials by staying in one of these ultra-contemporary pavilions, complete with uber-cool art and design-savvy finishes. You're only a 15-minute drive, or dreamy boat ride, from Hobart, but there's a chance you'll never see the city since you'll be kept busy exploring the extraordinary collection at MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), sampling the cuisine at The Source (considered one of Tassie's best restaurants) and sipping on either Moorilla Estate wines or Moo Brew beer, all made on site.

5. Wilson Island, Great Barrier Reef
Style Cool castaway camping
Setting Tiny sandy cay

With just six luxury tents set beside the sea on a tiny tropical islet, Wilson Island may just be the most romantic campsite on Earth. Perfect for a castaway experience without compromising on comfort, the tiny resort is a back-to-basics paradise for nature-lovers, reef divers, and chilled-out beach layabouts alike.

6. Le Royal Monceau, Paris
Style Where the art is
Setting Upscale Avenue Hoche

Decadent Starck-designed Le Royal Monceau hotel knows a thing or two about seduction. Romantics can book the two-bedroom Ray Charles Suite for views of the Eiffel Tower from their bed. Better yet, bag a spa treatment at the sumptuous all-white spa (the city's biggest), which has a hammam, laconium room and sauna. There's nothing quite like spending Valentine's Day in the city of love.

7. Naladhu, Maldives

Style Romantic beach retreat
Setting Reef-fringed Veligandu Huraa

Elegant island escape Naladhu in the Maldives offers intimate beach houses set between a lagoon and the sea. Luxurious living spaces spill over into the outdoors, with each room boasting its own pool. Dive, snorkel or swim in pristine turquoise waters or up the romance by dining on a private island hideaway or in a coconut grove. Candles and fire torches add to the wow factor at dusk.

8. Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany
Style Classic-luxe Tuscan villa
Setting Enchanting formal gardens

This boutique hotel in Tuscany captures all that is alluring about the Italian way of life: refined furnishings in a restored 13th-century period property; gorgeous grounds punctuated by cypress trees and stone fountains; fabulous food and wine; and a freeform freshwater infinity pool blending with the graceful contours of the landscape. If that's not enough, grab your Mr or Mrs Smith for a Borgo cocktail on the manicured grass and watch the sunset.

9. Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park
Style Modernist naturalist

Setting Clifftop Kruger

Set on a clifftop overlooking the N'wanetsi river, the Singita Lebombo offers comfort and luxury in the midst of the South African wilderness, ideal for safari seduction. From the sweeping wooden decks, you can ogle the panoramic wilderness (or better yet soak up the views from the lap pool). Keep your eyes peeled for one of the big five, including lions and elephants, who just might wander past. For extra romance, sleep out under the stars on your private terrace bed.

10. The James New York, New York
Style Skyscraping scenester

Setting Southwest SoHo

The James New York, a towering city hotel, turns heads in one of Manhattan's most stylish neighbourhoods and it's not just because it's the tallest building on the block. Romantics looking for an urban escape are lured by art-covered walls at Jimmy, the rooftop bar. All the rooms are pretty sexy, but floor-to-ceiling windows in the penthouse are perfect for admiring the NY skyline while basking in the massive egg-shaped stone bath.

To book your romantic stay at a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel, visit or phone the expert Travel Team on 1300 896 627.

Mr & Mrs Smith's hotel collection features a hand-picked selection of more than 900 stylish stays around the world, whether you're looking for a romantic boutique hideaway, a luxurious spa retreat or a cosy country inn. Each property is carefully chosen for its mix of individuality, atmosphere, style and service, is independently reviewed, and backed up by insider guides to the hottest destinations.

Book a hotel through the 24-hour Smith Travel Team by calling 1300 896 627 or visiting - best rates are guaranteed and we don't charge booking fees.
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Sunday 13 January 2013

Highlights of Russia Tour

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A tour of the Kremlin, a visit to the Hermitage Museum  and a cruise along the canals of St Petersburg are all part of a small group 10-day  tour of Russia which costs from just $3495 per person twin share..

The groups have no more than 20 people and are operated by Beyond Travel exclusively for Australian and New Zealand travellers and there are five scheduled guaranteed departures between May and September this year.

The difference between this tour and most other Russian itineraries is that travellers will stay in centrally-located, western-managed four and five star hotels in Moscow and St Petersburg and not out-of-town properties.

Two days of the tour are devoted to touring the ancient Golden Ring cities of Vladimir, Suzdal and Sergiev Posad and there are comprehensive sightseeing activities in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The price includes all accommodation, most meals, first class coach transport, business class travel on high-speed train, all gratuities and local English-speaking guides throughout including tickets to the Moscow circus and Russian Folklore Show and much more.

Pre and post tour accommodation is also available to purchase through Beyond Travel as well as optional ballet and opera performances.

More details from Beyond Travel on 1300-363-554 or visit

Saturday 12 January 2013

Keep the Kids Happy at Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas

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Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas is making sure the little ones aren't forgotten on holiday, rolling out a bevy of fun activities to entice younger guests.

From playing traditional local games and making arts and crafts, to enjoying pool playtime or beach pursuits, Anantara's child-friendly options cater to all tastes. Many of the resorts even hold kids cooking classes that explore local cuisine and each one also offers their own unique take on family fun.

At Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa in Thailand's Chiang Rai, the famous on-site Elephant Camp offers kids the chance to ride an elephant and learn the Thai commands to drive it with an expert "mahout" (elephant carer).

Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa on Thailand's coast offers kids' welcome backpacks, containing a map highlighting the most fun resort facilities, including a children's wading pool and water slide, a playground and mini golf course, as well as beach volleyball and garden play areas. Outside of the resort, guests can explore the stunning Andaman coastline by swimming to a hidden beach, taking a boat trip in search of the elusive dugong sea creature, and participating in natural conservation by planting mangroves.

Guests of all ages can enjoy the famous Anantara Spa experience at Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa in Bali, with manicures and pedicures, as well as a chocolate facial designed especially for kids. In conjunction with Tropicsurf, kids surfing classes are also available.

In the Middle East, young travelers can experience extraordinary desert wildlife escapades at Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, set in one of the world's largest deserts. The towering sand dunes can be explored by foot or four-wheel drive, and kids can meet and greet camels.

At the nearby Sir Bani Yas Island at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, kids can spot a plethora of exciting wildlife, such as cheetahs, sand gazelles, ostriches, giraffes and rare Arabian oryx. Horse-riding, archery lessons and kayaking along the Arabian Gulf shoreline are just some of the other enticing activities available.

Further afield in the Maldives, the serene aquatic surrounds provide plenty of fun options for kids. Anantara Kihavah Villas holds pirate cruises that sail families to an uninhabited island to hunt for treasure. The surrounding marine life can be explored with a snorkeling trip, or by simply dining in the resort's unique underwater restaurant.

For a lesson in how to keep the unique Maldivian surrounds alive, Anantara Dhigu Resort & Spa holds fun-filled educational excursions. Kids can learn all about coral and its importance in protecting the pristine beaches from the resident marine biologist, as well as touch and feel the coral themselves. Glass-bottom kayaks can be paddled across the shallow lagoon to observe tropical fish, crustaceans and other bizarre sea creatures, as well as a newly created reef with more than 450 different coral species.

In addition to each resort's individual offerings, Anantara treats younger guests to little extras such as welcome and departure gifts, kids' in-room amenities and turn down treats.

Formore information on all of Anantara's family fun activities please go to


For hundreds of years throughout Thailand, people would leave a jar of water outside their house to provide refreshment and extend a welcome to the passing traveler.  Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'without end', symbolizing this sharing of water and the heartfelt hospitality that lies at the core of every Anantara experience.

From lush jungles to pristine beaches and legendary deserts to cosmopolitan cities, Anantara currently boasts 20 stunning properties located in Thailand, the Maldives, Bali, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and China; with future properties to open in Thailand, China, Laos, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, UAE and Oman.

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit

Follow us on Facebook: and Twitter: Anantara_Hotels

Friday 11 January 2013

Scoot off on some new Spiritual routes - to birthplace of Buddhism and Qing Dynasty

Scoot Launches First and Only Low-Cost Link Between Singapore and Chinese Cities Qingdao and Shenyang

Scoot, Singapore's newest low cost carrier, today launched its eighth and ninth routes to Qingdao and Shenyang in China.

Said Campbell Wilson, CEO of Scoot, "With Chinese New Year just around the corner, it's a great time for Scoot to be launching the first non-stop flights between Singapore and Qingdao, and the first same-plane, wide-body service to Shenyang.  Scoot's super value airfares, empowerment to choose the frills you want and onboard Scootitude make Qingdao or Shenyang unbeatable locations to usher in the Year of the Water Snake."

The thrice-weekly service operates on a Singapore–Qingdao–Shenyang–Qingdao–Singapore routing at the following timings:


Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 Depart 1.30am
Qingdao International Airport Arrive 7.30am / Depart 8.30am
Shenyang Taoxian International Airport Arrive 10.15am


Shenyang Taoxian International Airport Depart 11.20am
Qingdao International Airport Arrive 12.50pm / Depart 1.50pm
Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 Arrive 8.00pm

Reiterating the reasons for choosing these cities, Campbell stated, "Qingdao and Shenyang are very exiting additions to Scoot's fast-growing network. Qingdao, a coastal city of nearly 9m world famous for its great beer, is regularly judged China's most liveable city. Its mix of historic German and modern architecture, seafood and proximity to Lao Shan, the mountain considered one of the birthplaces of Buddhism, offers something for all. Shenyang, at 13m the largest city in Northeast China, is the spiritual home of the Qing Dynasty and, in addition to being an important shopping and business destination, is a strategic gateway to North East China."

Scoot's network now comprises nine cities including Singapore, Sydney, Gold Coast, Bangkok, Taipei, Tianjin, Tokyo, Qingdao and Shenyang, with 24 more destinations offered in conjunction with partner airlines Fares are available for booking at or through the call centre. To receive the latest news, updates and exclusive promotional offers, register at, or

See some of the world’s most picturesque and untamed places for less with Inspiring Journeys 2013/14 Australia program



11 January, 2013: Savvy travellers take heed. No longer will you need to travel overseas for a truly rewarding holiday as small group, experiential specialist, Inspiring Journeys (, is now offering better value-for-money on its itineraries with the launch of its 2013/14 Australia program. Save big and plan your next holiday exploring this Great Southern Land when selecting from six journeys ranging from three to 11 days, visiting some of Australia's most idyllic attractions in the Northern Territory's Top End and Red Centre, as well as throughout Tasmania.


With today's travellers seeking a more competitive deal when it comes to touring locally, Inspiring Journeys has significantly reduced the price of its Australian itineraries without compromising on delivering the very best in immersive and authentic experiences which the brand has become well known for. Furthermore, Inspiring Journeys is offering generous Early Payment Savings of up to $500 per couple on select journeys when you pay in full six months prior to departure. 


Dedicated to showcasing the ultimate in Aussie adventures, Inspiring Journeys' 2013/14 Australia program takes travellers on an enlightening path that allows them to get under the skin of each place they visit. In order to satisfy the experiential needs of travellers, each itinerary includes a cross section of discovery, exploration, learning and relaxing based activities to help shape and personalise your holiday while creating the ideal balance of fun, freedom and flexibility.


Travellers can explore the many wonders of Australia when choosing from each perfectly packaged itinerary included in the 2013/14 Australia program. Appealing to those with a liberated mindset who seek rich travel experiences and interactions, each journey includes enriching experiences in an intimate group such as; taking a scenic flight, learning how to find bush tucker, hiking through a rainforest or treating yourself to a spa session.


With a special emphasis placed on connecting with the environment, you can look forward to dining on locally produced cuisines inspired by the flavours of each destination, and staying in hand-picked wilderness retreats, lodges and resorts set in beautiful, unique locations when travelling with the brand. While travelling in a small group averaging 12-16 people, you will be transported by Inspiring Journeys' luxurious, All Terrain 4WD Mercedes Benz vehicles which are designed to access areas off road that are often unreachable by coach. 


Popular itineraries of Inspiring Journeys' 2013/14 Australia program include:

Ø  5-day The Mysterious North round trip from Darwin that stops at Kakadu, Katherine and Litchfield. Highlights include taking in the views and escarpment at Ubirr in Kakadu National Park, seeing Aboriginal rock art, enjoying a Highlight Dinner cruise on Katherine Gorge and staying in safari quarters at the award-winning Wildman Wilderness Lodge. Priced from $2075 per person - twin share (land only), save up to $210 per couple when paying in full six months prior to departure. Departures available from 28 April – 20 October, 2013.


Ø  5-day The Colour of Red from Uluru to Alice Springs or vice versa. Highlights include witnessing the changing colours of Uluru during sunset, a guided walk around the rim of Kings Canyon, and exploring the mystical domes of Kata Tjuta. Priced from $1925 per person - twin share (land only), save up to $200 per couple when paying in full six months prior to departure. Departures available from 5 April – 23 October, 2013.


Ø  7-day The Unknown Wilderness from Launceston to Hobart. Highlights include exploring Cradle Mountain National Park and Dove Lake by canoe or guided bush walk, taking a river cruise down the Pieman River and Corinna, and indulging in the state's finest wines and cheeses during a tasting session. Priced from $3250 per person - twin share (land only), save up to $330 per couple when paying in full six months prior to departure. Departures available from 14 April, 2013 – 14 December, 2014.


To view the Inspiring Journeys 2013/14 Australia program, please visit


Everyone has a story, so why not start your next chapter with Inspiring Journeys

– call 1800 INSPIRING (1800 467 747) or contact your travel agent.


Thursday 10 January 2013

Celebrity Cruises year of deals 2013


Enjoy at least one of three offers for all local, European and international cruises

If you've been saving all your pennies for the January sales, here's a tip: it will certainly be worth your while to also include in your bargain hunt a luxury Celebrity Cruises holiday.  Reward yourself in the New Year with a great Earlybird deal, with offers for not one, two, or three, but just about every cruise in the 2013-14 Celebrity Cruises program.

Available across a total of 450 sailings worldwide, don't miss your chance to snap up either a cabin upgrade, an onboard credit or a complimentary drinks package.

"This is Celebrity Cruises' biggest ever Earlybird Sale, boasting offers on the widest range of Celebrity itineraries across the globe," said Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Celebrity Cruises Australia.  "We're pleased to have expanded our annual Earlybird Sale to include international cruises outside of Australia and New Zealand for the very first time.  Whether you wish to cruise locally or further afield, we certainly have a tempting offer for you to consider."

Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific Cruises – Double upgrade to Balcony stateroom

Enjoy complimentary upgrades for local cruises onboard Celebrity Solstice, Australia's youngest and highest-rated superliner, for all departures from October 2013 - April 2014.

Receive an amazing free 'double upgrade': book a Balcony stateroom for the same price as an Interior stateroom on all Celebrity Solstice 2013-14 cruises departing from Sydney, Fremantle and Auckland.  Offer is valid from 1 January to 28 February 2013.

Prices for an 8-night South Pacific cruise start from $1,395 per person, departing Sydney on 3 April 2014.  Ports of call include Noumea, New Caledonia; Isle Of Pines, New Caledonia and Lifou, Loyalty Island.

Europe Cruises – Up to US$300 Onboard Credit plus Classic Beverage Package

Receive up to US$300 onboard credit per stateroom when you book a European cruise, available for all cruises three nights or longer departing between February 2013 and April 2014.  Amounts will vary depending on the length of your cruise.  Guests will receive US$100 for 3-5 night cruises; US$200 for 6-9 night cruises; and US$300 for cruises of 10 nights or longer.

And that's not all.  Guests will also receive a complimentary 'Classic Beverage Package' for two adults worth up to US$1,200 in value (US$88 per day) including unlimited beverages such as wine, cocktails, juices, sodas and coffees.   Offer is valid for bookings made from 7 - 27 January 2013 for Oceanview or higher staterooms and excludes sailings on Celebrity Xpedition.

Prices for a 12-night Mediterranean Venice cruise start from $1,869 per person onboard Celebrity Equinox departing from Barcelona, Spain on 20 October 2013.

All other International Cruises – Complimentary Classic Beverage Package

Receive a complimentary 'Classic Beverage Package' for two adults on all other international cruises departing between February 2013 and April 2014.  Destinations include Alaska, the Caribbean, South America and the Panama Canal – as well as Celebrity's new program of Asia cruises onboard Celebrity Millennium.

The offer is available on cruises three nights or longer for Oceanview or higher staterooms, and is valid for bookings made from 7 - 27 January 2013.

Prices for 14-night Southeast Asia cruise start from $2,099 per person onboard Celebrity Millennium departing from Singapore on 2 February 2014.

All prices are per person in Australian dollars based on double occupancy and are inclusive of all taxes and fees.  Further terms and conditions apply.  For more information or to book a cruise, speak to your travel agent or visit or call 1800 754 500.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Last minute savings on Sydney to Seattle cruise

CRUISE specialists are offering significant discounts from $6500 per person off their 48 night "Grizzly Bears & Grass Skirts" cruise package from Seattle to Sydney on board Celebrity Solstice. You can also receive a free Veranda cabin upgrade when you book an Oceanview cabin, now starting from $8559 (was $16,149) per person twin share when you book by March 1.

Departing Australia on September 5, spend one night in Seattle at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel before embarking the ship for a seven-night cruise around Alaska, seeing all the highlights such as Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway and the Alaskan Inside Passage. 

From there you will sail through to British Colombia with numerous port stops towards San Francisco where you will dock for two days during the America Cup races. Continue to other cities in California and Mexico before spending a week visiting the Islands of Hawaii.

The final leg of the cruise makes port visits across the Pacific and New Zealand before reaching at your final destination, Sydney.

The 122,000 tonne ship carries a maximum of 2850 passengers and is the company's first Solstice-class ship to visit Australia with a wide range of facilities including, cafes and bistros, Aqua-Spa club, casino, observation lounge, teenage lounge and a Cellar masters' wine experience.

Package includes one way economy airfares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Seattle with V Australia, 47 nights cruise accommodation with all meals on board, one night hotel accommodation, transfers all taxes and port charges.

These special prices are available from on 1300 369 848 or visit

Tauck Extend "Time on Tauck" Offer for Europe and USA & Canada 2013 Land Journeys

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Tauck, the market leader in land journeys and cruises is giving Australian travellers the one thing travellers crave more of, time to explore the destination they're visiting.

Due to the overwhelming demand, Tauck has extended its "Time On Tauck" promotion so Australians can lengthen their Europe and USA & Canada 2013 land journeys by adding two complimentary hotel nights to either the beginning or the end of their tour for all bookings made between 10 January 2013 and 15 February 2013.

Tauck's hotels are some of the world's finest. Their hotels are landmark properties with convenient, city-centre locations in popular destinations and include hotels such as the Westin Excelsior in Rome and the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco.

For further information on TAUCK's "Time on Tauck" offer please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit


Complimentary hotel rooms are subject to availability, and other terms apply.  The additional hotel nights are offered at the same hotels already featured at the beginning or conclusion of Tauck's journeys including complimentary airport transfers.


The "Time on Tauck" offer comes as the tour and cruise operator is celebrating 25 years in partnership with Travel the World as its exclusive agent in Australia.  Tauck is marking the anniversary with an increased emphasis on reaching and servicing the Australian market through efforts including the Time on Tauck offer, the earlier release of dates and pricing for its more popular itineraries, and other initiatives still to be announced.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Winemaker's Lunch at Mount Lofty House

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Get Up & Go Magazine is Hot this Summer

The new edition of Australia's premier glossy travel magazine for the 55+ reader is hot to trot.

Mark Chipperfield talked the talk with Easter Island's giant heads; John Borthwick knows how to pronounce Cuenca in Spain and Bev Malzard likes the look of Lucerne.

This issue covers cruising in Alaska, Fiji and Indochina; Turkey, France and Scotland and in the Asia special - Cambodia, India and China take centre stage. The competition is for a cruise along the Danube worth more than $19,000.

For the best travel read this summer - Get Up & Go comes up with the goods.
Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

Monday 7 January 2013

Royal Caribbean announces three exciting new cruises for Summer 2013-14

With a tremendous 2012-13 cruise season well under way, Royal Caribbean International continues riding the wave of success with the addition of three new cruises in its 2013-14 Australasian summer season, including two new South Pacific sailings on Voyager of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas. Due to the growing demand for shorter cruises, Royal Caribbean will also now offer an additional three-night Weekend Sampler cruise on Voyager of the Seas in January 2014.

"Voyager of the Seas has been a huge hit with Australians and we are experiencing unprecedented demand for South Pacific island and Sampler cruises. Because we love giving our guests what they want, we've altered next season's cruises on Voyager of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas to provide more of these popular itineraries," said Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia.

Voyager of the Seas will now offer a new three-night Weekend Sampler 'cruise to nowhere', departing Sydney on Friday 10 January 2014. She will then sail a new 11-night South Pacific cruise departing Sydney 13 January 2014 and calling in Fiji and New Caledonia.

Rhapsody of the Seas will now offer an 11-night South Pacific sailing departing Sydney 11 February 2014. Rhapsody's new sailing will call at the tropical ports of Noumea, Mare and Isle of Pines, New Caledonia; and Mystery Island, Luganville and Vila, Vanuatu.

Guests previously booked on Voyager of the Seas' 14-night New Zealand cruise departing 10 January 2014 and Rhapsody of the Seas' 11-night Queensland cruise departing 11 February 2014 have been offered alternative itineraries.

For further information on any of Royal Caribbean International's 2013-14 season or to book a cruise, contact your local travel agent, phone 1800 754 500 or visit

Sunday 6 January 2013

Carnival Spirit 3 Week Wave Sale

Dear Cruisers,

From zen to adrenalin and every speed in between, Carnival Spirit offers a wide range of unique opportunities and experiences unavailable anywhere on land or sea! Huge savings, plus book before 27 Jan and get half price deposit^. Most Carnival Spirit departures from Sydney between March 2013 and December 2014 are applicable.


- Sale starts 6 Jan 2013 and ends 27 Jan 2013
- Huge savings plus 50% reduced deposit^
- Discount offer does not apply to the following departures -
2013: 13 Feb, 14 Mar, 7 Oct, 17 Oct, 21 Dec & 30 Dec
2014: 18 Feb, 21 Mar & 25 Sep
- Valid for new bookings only and not combinable with any other offer

Click here for Carnival Spirit Cruises!

BOOK ONLINE NOW or Free Call 1300 369 848

Keep Cruising
Jay & the ecruising Team

*Fares are cruise only, per person, in AUD, based on twinshare as specified, inclusive of all discounts, taxes and charges (which are subject to change). Subject to limited availability. Valid for new bookings only and not combinable with any other offer. Minimum purchase of category 4a is required. Discount not available on the following departures: 13 Feb 13, 14 Mar 13, 7 Oct 13, 17 Oct 13, 21 Dec 13, 30 Dec 13, 18 Feb 14, 21 Mar 14, 25 sep 14. ^Receive a 50% reduction off the standard adult deposit amount. Pay only half the standard deposit amount upfront and pay the rest on final payment of the booking. Offer ends 27 Jan 13 but may be withdrawn or altered at any time.

Level 9, 64 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW Australia, 2000
Telephone (02) 9274 4000 or 1300 369 848 | Web Address:
License number 2TA5076

Thursday 3 January 2013

This Weeks Great Deals from

Hi Cruisers,

Happy New Year to you all, with the world not ending on the 21st of December, it leaves this year for us all to enjoy the world as it is and enjoy more cruise holidays! The stock market and dollar has soared with the news that US Congress finally made some sort of decision, you have to question democracy these days, I mean it was great once but now no one seems to be able to make a decision, seems the only countries making head way are the ones without this way of government.

The up shot of it all is for 2013, hopefully most of you can make more money on the stock market and take more cruises and at a cheaper price as it seems the dollar is not going anywhere below parity at the moment.

As Lynden indicated, we cruised 3 nights on Solstice and have to say, we loved it. Solstice was just voted best Premium ship in the world and it's easy to see why. For me, the Solstice class ships are far the best large ships afloat, they are amazing. They are well designed with lots of small bars and restaurants, the ship was 100% full when it departed Sydney and you would never have known there were 3000 people on board, it really is well designed in that respect. The main dining room has to be the best looking I've ever seen, very well designed, modern and contemporary.

On Solstice, there are four alternate restaurants, Blu which is exclusively for Aqua Class guests, Tuscan Grill, Silk Harvest and my favourite, Murano. There is a surcharge for Tuscan, Silk and Murano but it's well worth it, they are as good as any restaurant you would experience on land and well worth the extra, hey you're on holidays, why not treat yourself! Even the buffet food is great, again the best I've experienced on a ship and remember, we were paying passengers so I'm telling it as it was.

The cabins are a good size and the showers, a great size. The gym and spa are fantastic with plenty of equipment to work off the extra food you consume. There's a Persian Garden with hot beds to relax on, steam and relaxation room, if you're in Aqua Class, this is complimentary, you even have your own staircase to access the spa! Oh then there is the lawn club which was nice to sit, enjoy a drink and watch the world go by. I could go on and on about the ship because we really loved it, for the current pricing which is amazing value, if you have the time I'd jump on board before they put the pricing up to what it should be. Yes I did take some great photos, but they are on my iphone that is/was in the pool on Solstice, but that's another story!

If you have more than a few nights, then here is a 47 night package on Solstice called "Grass Skirts and Grizzly Bears" from an amazing $7,139.00, that's $151.00 a day including just about everything! Depart Sydney on the 8th of April bound for Seattle. Along the way you'll visit Noumea, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora then a comprehensive cruise around Hawaiian Islands with visits to Maui, Oahu, Mount Kilauea, Hilo and Kailua Kona. You then head to Ensenada, great place to pick up cheap rugs, cigars or just about anything you can imagine. You then head to San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria and Victoria before arriving into Seattle where we'll transfer you to the Fairmont hotel for a 2 night stay giving you plenty of time to explore this great city.

You then re board Solstice for an Alaskan cruise visiting Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria and cruising the inside passage before another night at the Fairmont in Seattle. The package includes the above, all transfers and a one way airfare home, this package ticks a lot of destination boxes, all from the comfort of your 5 star ship! Just to entice you a little more, if you buy an ocean view cabin for $7,899.00 before 31 Jan, we'll give you a FREE upgrade to a Veranda! This upgrade is capacity controlled so it's first in first served! Click here for details.

Here's a great 55+ special for the golfer. Departing 7 April 2013, You'll spend 4 nights at the famous Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando, if you've been reading our newsletters for some time, you'll know back in 2009 I visited Bay Hill Golf club for the day and was lucky enough to play a round of 18 holes. If your a golfer, then Bay Hill is golfers heaven! The accommodation is adjoined to the club house, it's basic but having exclusive access to the club house and facilities as an in house guest is amazing. The club is only 5 minutes from down town Orlando , handy for shopping and restaurants but the food at the club is fantastic and cheap! After your stay at Bay Hill we'll transfer you to Cape Canaveral to join Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas for a 7 night Caribbean cruise visiting Cococay in the Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas & Philipsburg on St. Maarten. After returning to Orlando, you'll be flying to Las Vegas for a 3 night stopover on your way home at the LVH hotel. We've included return flights with Qantas, transfers and we've even thrown in a round of golf with green fees and a bag of practice balls! Priced from only $3,999.00 for an inside or $4,439.00 for a balcony! Click here for details

Have you got a spare 3 weeks at the start of next month? Why not join the majestic Queen Elizabeth on the 4th of February from Los Angeles to Auckland. Begin your holiday with 3 nights at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach before joining QE for a 15 night voyage. You'll visit Honolulu, Pago Pago & Apia with plenty of time at sea to enjoy this stately ship. Disembarking in Auckland, you'll spend 2 nights at the Stamford Plaza before flying home. Amazing last minute value from just $3,419.00 for an Inside, $3,629.00 for an Oceanview or $5,559.00 for a Princess Suite! Click here for details

Discover the best of both worlds with this 40 night package on board Brilliance of the Seas. Sailing from the English port of Harwich 19 August 2013, begin your adventure with 3 nights at St Ermins hotel. Your first stop is Copenhagen followed by Stockholm & Helsinki. You'll then spend 2 full days in St. Petersburg before calling in at Tallinn in Estonia & Gothenburg in Sweden and then back to Harwich for a another day.

You'll then cruise across the Channel to Le Havre, the port gateway to Paris. The Isle of Portland in picturesque Dorset is next followed by Cork and Dublin in Ireland. You'll then head to Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands before spending 2 full day in Reykjavik, capital of Iceland. After spending several relaxing days at sea, you'll discover that we've made it all the way to Boston, Massachusetts!

Stay on board because your cruise is continuing on to New England, postcard-perfect at this time of year. You'll visit Portland & Bar Harbour in Maine, Saint John in New Brunswick and Halifax in Nova Scotia before finally disembarking back in Boston. You'll then have 3 nights at the Hilton Back Bay before your flight home. What a great itinerary! Insides from $8,499.00 or go for a balcony from $10,059.00! Click here for details

Celebrity Summit is spending the northern winter in the sunny climes of Puerto Rico at the moment and we've got a great last-minute deal for you! Departing various dates between now and mid April from San Juan, this 9 night package includes 2 nights at the Hotel El Convento, the number one ranked hotel in San Juan as well as a 7 night cruise. Given that Puerto Rico is already in the Caribbean, you'll spend less time at sea and more time exploring the exotic surroundings. You'll visit St Croix in the the US Virgin Islands, Basseterre on St. Kitts, Roseau in Dominica, St. George's on Grenada and Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas. We've also included flights with Qantas via Dallas to get you there and back. Starts at just $2,659.00! Click here for details

Last Minute P&O Specials!

- 11 night Pacific Dawn 12 Feb South Pacific $699.00 Inside Twin $749.00 Outside Twin
- 7 night Pacific Pearl 7 Feb South Pacific $499.00 Inside Twin $499.00 Outside Twin
- 14 night Pacific Pearl 14 Feb South Pacific $699.00 Outside Quad $899.00 Inside Twin $899.00 Outside Twin
- 11 night Pacific Jewel 18 Feb South Pacific $499.00 Inside Quad $549.00 Outside Quad $649.00 Inside Twin $699.00 Outside Twin

Brett & the ecruising team
Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

All eyes on London’s newest Basque restaurant

Debuting February 2013, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction will be a unique collaboration between COMO Hotels and Resorts’ The Halkin hotel and a team that includes chef Elena Arzak – widely regarded as one of the world’s top chefs – along with her father Juan Mari Arzak, plus Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez. Father and daughter hold three Michelin stars at the original Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian, Spain.

Read more at V&T Confidential

Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

What's On Your Bucket List For The New Year? Preferred Hotel Group Presents 13 Hotels In 13 Destinations For 2013 World Travels

As new hotspots in remote locales and city centers alike continue to pop up across the world map, travelers are expanding their bucket lists with a global perspective. Representing more than 400 independent luxury hotels worldwide, the Preferred Hotels® & Resorts and Preferred Boutique™ brands recommend the following 13 must-stay hotels in 13 must-visit destinations to help guide 2013 vacation planning.  

Travelers are welcomed to enjoy the comforts of the luxury hotel experience while visiting the following bucket-list-worthy destinations:

• For the Adrenaline Junkie - Queenstown, New Zealand
Why go:  As the adventure capital of the world, this resort town offers stunning lake-meets-mountain scenery and exhilarating activities such as canyoning, bungee jumping, and fly-fishing.
Where to stayAzura member of Preferred Boutique - Azur provides unparalleled views of Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables, and Cecil & Walter Peaks. Each of the luxury lodge's nine villas features a gas fireplace and a private deck with lounge area designed for guests to absorb incredible views and relax between excursions.

• For the Culture Seeker - Udaipur, India
Why go: One of India's most beautiful and culturally rich cities, Udaipur invites travelers to visit centuries-old former royal palaces, stroll through famed gardens, and cruise across Lake Pichola.
Where to stay: The Leela Palace Udaipura member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts - Nestled on the banks of Lake Pichola, this majestic hotel was designed as an exquisite escape where old-world grandeur meets 21st-century luxuries. Cultural experiences include individual astrological chart readings with the on-site astrologer, cooking classes with Executive Chef Karim Hassene, or visits to  local attractions such as Fateh Prakash Palace and Bagore Ki Haveli.

• For the Ecotourist - Mata de Sao Joao, Brazil
Why go: Home to Brazil's top ecotourism projects, this fishing village provides opportunities to learn about sea turtle conservation at Tamar Project, trek through the 600-acre Sapiranga Ecological Reserve, and drive down the famed Linha Verde.  
Where to stay: Tivoli Ecoresort Praia do Fortea member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts - In the nearby fishing town of Praia do Forte, luxury travel and environmental sustainability merge at the 292-room Tivoli Ecoresort, where guests can connect with the lush surroundings during several ecological tours or relax and enjoy treatments at the on-site Thalasso Spa.  

• For the History Buff - Querétaro, Mexico
Why go:
 Built from Mexico's 17th-century silver fortune, this colonial city is a UNESCO World Heritage site that speaks to the country's rich history with sites including the famed Museo Regional de Querétaro, La Casa de la Marquesa, and the Cerro de las Campanas National Park. 
Where to stay: Hacienda Juricaa member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts - Drawing on the region's culture and history as a "place of well being", this 16th-century hacienda is a true retreat, where guestrooms offer a historic look at colonial-style architecture with contemporary amenities, and restaurants present traditional Mexican fare and live music.

• For the Fashionista - Forte dei Marmi, Italy
Why go:
 As one of Italy's original beach resort towns, Forte dei Marmi is immensely popular among the glitzy crowd, who flock to this area of northern Tuscany for its pristine beaches, world-class designer discount market at Piazza Marconi, and abundance of boutiques from Europe's most influential fashion houses, such as Prada, Roberto Cavalli, and Armani.
Where to stay: Grand Hotel Imperiale, a member of Preferred Boutique - Situated on a private beach, surrounded by the Apuan Alps, Grand Hotel Imperiale caters to the discerning jetsetter, presenting five-star accommodations and services, ranging from Mediterranean gastronomic delights at Olivo D'Oro to Chinese- and Indian-influenced treatments at the Medical Spa Imperiale.

Preferred Hotel Group also recommends the following bucket list locales where travelers of all interests can revel in the premier hotel experiences while enjoying unique excursions, cultural adventures, and culinary delights:

• Beijing, China
What to do:
 Scale the Great Wall, walk through the Forbidden City, and indulge in reflexology massages.
Where to stay: The Opposite House, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• County Clare, Ireland 
What to do:
 Enjoy the countryside during a round at one of the area's championship golf courses.
Where to stay: Dromoland Castle Hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• Istanbul, Turkey 
What to see:
 The Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, and Galata Tower.
Where to stay: Divan Istanbul, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• Marrakech, Morocco
What to do:
 Peruse the souks of the Marrakech Medina at Djemaa el-Fna, soak in the baths at Les Palais Rhoul Hammam, and marvel at the 12-century Koutoubia Mosque.
Where to stay: Es Saadi Palace & Villas, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• Montreal, Canada 
Why go:
 More than100 year-round festivals and sites such as Notre-Dame Basilica and The Montreal Biodome. 
Where to stay: Hotel Gault, a member of Preferred Boutique

• San Francisco, United States 
What to do: Ride a cable car during a self-guided tour of the city's booming restaurant scene.
Where to stay: Cavallo Point, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia 
What to do:
 Forget the Alps and hit the slopes on Bodg Khan Mountain.
Where to stay: The Blue Sky Hotel & Tower, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

• Urubamba/Sacred Valley, Peru 
What to see: Inca citadels, an ancient Chinchero village, and the Pisac Archaeological complex.
Where to stay: Aranwa Sacred Valley, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts

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