Tuesday 25 November 2014

Half World Explorer takes you from Britain to Sydney on two-month Explorer of the Seas voyage

As cruise holidays go, this one is simplicity itself, focussing on a grand voyage across half of the world on a magnificent ship, Royal Caribbean’s 3800-passenger, 138,000-ton Explorer of the Seas.

Named ‘Half World Explorer’, the latest offering from Worldwide Cruise Centres ( starts with a flight from Sydney to London to spend a couple of nights in the heart of Britain’s capital.

Then, board Explorer of the Seas, one of the finest ships afloat, and sail all the way back to Sydney. Explorer of the Seas was launched in 2000 and is currently based near New York. The voyage from Southampton to Sydney lasts 58 nights (two months), stopping in some fabulous places in Europe, Asia and New Zealand – plus a few ports in Australia as well.

The cruise consists of five back-to-back sailings and every effort will be made to ensure you have the same cabin number throughout, a useful feature. Final discretion on that always remains with the cruise line.unnamed (40)
‘Half World Explorer’ lasts 62 days (almost nine weeks) and costs from A$9899 twin share per person, valid at that rate until 31 January 2015 unless it sells out beforehand. A bonus offer of US$275 in onboard credit per twin/quad cabin applies and the holiday departs Sydney on 29 September 2015.

The voyage promises to be very special. Explorer of the Seas is to be based in Sydney and will be the largest cruise ship ever to be deployed to the Australasian region. This will be the ship’s first voyage from Europe to its new home port.

Here, in a nutshell, are the places you can look forward to visiting as Explorer of the Seas heads from Southampton to Sydney: Vigo, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, United Kingdom; Barcelona, Spain; Chania, Crete; Ashdod (Jerusalem), Israel; Suez Canal; Aqaba, Jordan; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Mormugao, India; Cochin (Kochi), India; Penang, Malaysia; Port Klang (Port Kelang), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Singapore; Langkawi, Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand; Perth (Fremantle), Western Australia; Adelaide, South Australia; Melbourne, Victoria; Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound in New Zealand’s South Island, Dunedin (Port Chalmers), Picton and Wellington, New Zealand.

Explorer of the Seas is an exciting destination in itself. Ship highlights include an ice-skating rink, the Royal Promenade and a rock-climbing wall. This cruise ship is so high-tech, it even features the University of Miami Ocean Lab, a state-of-the-art oceanographic and atmospheric science laboratory.

All shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) are included. So are ships gratuities, so you won’t need to bother with the hassle of onboard tipping.

Before the cruise, enjoy two nights in London staying at The Doubletree by Hilton Westminster Hotel. After breakfast each morning, London is yours to explore. The Houses of Parliament and London Eye are nearby. Catch West End theatre, cross the Millennium Footbridge and view the Tate Gallery.

Some ports Explorer of the Seas will visit, such as Barcelona, Lisbon and Dubai are justly famous. Others are less known but no less fascinating. Spain’s Vigo, located just north of Portugal dates from Roman times and is known for its beaches. Cádiz on Spain’s southern coast may be the oldest inhabited city in the western world; it’s a popular destination for Spaniards but little known to tourists.

Gibraltar, with its troops of Barbary apes, is much fun. Chaniá, second largest city in  Crete, is the site of the ancient Minoan settlement the Greeks called Cydonia. Ashdod in Israel, mentioned 13 times in the Bible, is one of word’s the oldest cities. Aqaba in Jordan, once a sleepy fishing village, now boast five-star hotels. You can see Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia from here.

India’s Goa (Mormugao), once a Portuguese colony and then a hippie hangout, is more hip these days than hippie. Kochi (also known as Cochin) is a spice trading port known as the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’.

Wonderful places like Penang, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and Thailand’s isle of Phuket, are bywords among Aussie travellers. Singapore is similarly favoured.

‘Half World Explorer’ visits three great Australian state capitals: Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. But the holiday doesn’t end there. Cross the Tasman to New Zealand to visit scenically stunning Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound in the South Island. Explorer of the Seas also calls at the university city of Dunedin (try a glass of Emerson’s Bookbinder bitter in Port Chalmers), picturesque Picton and Wellington, the country’s quirky, charming capital.

After New Zealand you’ll soon dock in the final port of call, Sydney, to disembark with a thousand tales to tell.
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