Monday, 13 December 2010

Cinque Terre - Coolum Golf - Werribee Zoo - Cuba - Air Pacific


John Crook

Take me along,.. please

No arm twisting required here, as acceptance to travel is immediate.  With breathtaking sea views, quaint villages and a superb scenic Italian coast line, here are the keys to the Cinque Terre.   There is a range of individual tours to explore the five villages.  Price-wise the deal sounds terrific.  Prices start from $606 per person twin share.   How's this as a starter.  A four-day itinerary staying three nights at the four star Villa Balbi.  That comes with daily breakfast, a gastronomic dinner in a local restaurant, a one-day Cinque Terre card which provides entry to the national park, along with a full day train ticket, a boat ticket to Portofino and even a wine tasting at a local vineyard.  For details and bookings telephone 1300 885 173 or go visit

Are you a golf addict?

If the answer is in the affirmative then this should be a goer.  As from January 4 to 31, 2011 the Hyatt  Regency Coolum will offer pairs and couples a special rate of $170 per person twin share including a night's accommodation, continental breakfast, unlimited golf, golf carts and a free weekday golf clinic.  For all the information, and bookings, contact (07) 5446 1234.  Conditions apply and subject to availability.

OK.  One for the kids

Special activities have been organised over the school holiday period.  The location is  Werribee Open Range Zoo.  Special activities include a Christmas performance by the Werribee Concert Band on Sunday December 19.

There is a return of the popular Rhythm of Africa musical season which starts January 8 2011.  Throughout January the 'open-back of house program' is on offer. This literally opens the door to go see the fascinating behind the scenes animal areas.  For all the details go check   Just visiting the website is a thrill and a half, but should you be visiting Melbourne over the next weeks, go the whole hog and spend some real time at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Ever considered visiting Cuba?

Now is the time to discover the flavours, the sounds, the colours and the experiences,- all wrapped up into one terrific package,- Cuba.  Cox and Kings is offering an 11-day small group escorted tour into fascinating Cuba.   The tour is valid for sale and travel until February 12 2012 and includes 10 night's accommodation, entrance fees for itinerary sites, tour escort (subject to minimum group size), quality air conditioned vehicles and small group sightseeing.  Highlights include the historical sites of the revolution, the faded colonial grandeur pf Havana and Trinidad.  Go and check the details with a telephone call to 1300 835 764.  The advertised price of from $2034 is valid  for departures January 16 2011 to February 12 2012.  

Air Pacific with business connections

Fiji's national airline has just released a range of BIZ Saver  fares.  These offer good savings on business class fares to Nadi, Fiji from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.  The return fares are inclusive of taxes,- $1266 ex Brisbane, $1355 ex Sydney and if flying from Melbourne you pay $1354.    Purchase of tickets may be executed until January 31 2011, and are valid for travel until April 1, 2011.  

For more information go direct to Air Pacific, telephone 1800 230 151 or visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.   

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Vietnam Discount - Three in a Bed - Mekong Cruise - Eastern Europe Tour - China Cruise Tour Offer


THE strength of the Australian dollar has led to huge savings for travellers planning a tour of Vietnam in 2011.

That's the message from Helen Wong's Tours which has slashed up to $1380 per person twin share off the previous year's brochure prices.

Book a 24-day Vietnam Splendour tour from the newly-released program, and the starting price is $5780 per person, twin share compared with $7160 during the previous year.

"By passing on the savings from a favourable exchange rate we are presenting travellers with extra spending power," said Helen Wong, managing director of Helen Wong's Tours. "Our new brochure features this and all kinds of savings on other tours."

Healthy savings can also be snared on tours such as the 20-day Vietnam Explorer, reduced from a starting price of $6990pp in 2010-2011 to $5480 in 2011-2012.

Other tour prices for 2011-2012 are: 16-day Best of Vietnam (now starting from $3500), 11-day Vietnam Discovery (from $3680), 18-day Vietnam Extravaganza (from $4720), 20-day Vietnam Explorer (from $5480) and the 24-day Vietnam Splendour (from $5780).

Among the Vietnam combos are the 14-day Angkor and Vietnam Discovery (from $4660), 16-day Cambodia and Vietnam Odyssey (from $5220) and the 17-day Jewels of Indochina (from $6530).

The 20-day Highlights of Laos and Vietnam (from $6050), and the 25-day Charms of Vietnam and China (from $6600) are other itineraries in the program, while the Encounters for Independent Travellers focus on Central Vietnam, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Laos' Luang Prabang and capital Vientaine.

All above prices are per person, twin share.

Take advantage of the early bird specials for bookings and deposits before January 31,2011, and a further $200 saving is offered.

Meanwhile, a surge in interest for independent touring coupled with a growing desire to visit treasured World Heritage-listed sites Halong Bay and Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat has also placed extra emphasis on Helen Wong's Tours' Vietnam 2011-2012 program.

To get up close with the local way of life in the remote villages of the Mekong Delta, a leisurely cycle tour "among the coconut groves" has been included in two independent tours.

Helen Wong's Tours' 2011-2012 Vietnam brochure also encompasses neighbouring countries Cambodia, Laos and China with a series of combo tours.

Price for tours includes return economy air fare from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth, twin share accommodation in 3- to 5-star hotels, daily breakfasts and lunches, some dinners and an evening cultural show with transfers, specified transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees, English-speaking guides and Vietnam visa for Australian passport holders.

Departure taxes, security charges and fuel surcharges are also included along with a Helen Wong's Tours travel kit and cabin bag.

Prices for the independent tours, minimum two guests, start at $640pp twin share for four days in Hanoi/Halong Bay. Air fare from Australia is extra.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours, 1300 788328 or (02) 9267 7833,


THAT's the title of the latest book from Ann Rickard, and a must-give gift this Christmas for anyone you know who is planning on heading to the Med.

From singing with locals in the Greek Islands, finding their hearts captured in Montefiascone, drinking far too much pink wine in Monaco and generally over-indulging all the way around the Mediterranean, award-winning Ann Rickard romps around the Med with her latest book, Three in a Bed in the Med.

It's her sixth travel story and tells how Ann, her husband Geoffrey and the flirtatious and abundantly endowed (and not shy about it) Amanda, owner of a beautiful 18th century property in the village of St. Maximin, set off around the Mediterranean to find the best, most glorious venues possible to include in future of their already-popular culinary travel tours.

Previous tours of the South of France proved such a runaway success that they decided expansion of the tour empire was needed –  pronto.

But somehow pronto turned in to pinot and work waned as the wine, and the evocative destinations worked their magic with the two big feisty blondes "of a certain age" and their one courageous male escort.

And when the three find themselves sharing a bed in some of the most gorgeous destinations in the world, things become a little too close and they begin to wonder if Geoffrey may well become short term, Amanda may indeed need to flirt a little less – and can both a marriage and friendship survive when there are, indeed, three in a bed in the Med?

Ann Rickard was named Australian Travel Writer of the Year in 2005 and this latest book is fast-paced, the tone rollicking and the plot never disappointing. She has a sharp eye for detail and writes with wit, honesty and passion about places that feature in all our travel fantasies.

Her self-depreciating humour is frank, clever and concise, descriptions are colourful, and her observations can be wicked, making this a story that is down-right funny.

A great Christmas gift at $25 for family or friends going to the Med in 2011.


Cruiseco has 7-nights on the fascinating Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia aboard the replica colonial river steamer Indochina Pandaw that carries just sixty passengers – and with new bookings made by December 17 is priced from just $5999 for the first passenger and a low $1399 for the second passenger sharing a cabin.

This value-plus saving is for a sailing from Siem Reap (Angkor) to Ho Chi Minh's My Tho Port (Saigon) on March 6 2011, but Cruiseco has other specially-discounted "second passenger savings" on a range of other sailings from December 26 this year to March 27 2011.

All include return economy air from Australia, two nights twin-share pre-cruise at the deluxe Raffles Grand d'Angkor in Angkor, and two nights post-cruise at the deluxe Caravelle Hotel in Saigon with breakfasts daily, daily sightseeing with expert local guides, and all transfers.

Indochina Pandaw's 7-cruise includes breakfasts daily, select lunches and dinners, daily shore excursions including by sampan, local ferries and trishaws with expert local guides, local beer, spirits and soft drinks on board, and 5-star service.

For detailed itineraries from Angkor to Saigon or vice-versa, together with the names of Cruiseco's 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies, visit

ADDITIONAL CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS: Highlights include floating markets, French colonial buildings and an 1875's monastery, a traditional brick and tile factory, Cambodia's Silver Pagoda, museums highlighting Khmer culture, temples, a silk-weaving village, Angkor Thom with its famous Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King.

There is also an opportunity for a moving "Killing Fields" visit in Phnom Penh and by contrast the chance to dine at the legendary Foreign Correspondents Club.

Indochina Pandaw is a faithful replica of the river steamers of the colonial Irrawaddy Flotilla Company that burned all 600 of its vessels in the 1940s to prevent them being used by the advancing Japanese Army. The 30-cabin vessel features promenade decks with cane furnishings, teak woodwork, brass fittings and large cabins – giving the ambience of holidaying aboard a private motor yacht rather than a cruise vessel.


EASTERN European specialist, Beyond Travel, has a new range of exclusive Special Journey Tours for 2011 with a generous discount of between $500 and $1000 per couple when booked and deposited by December 31.

There are eight Special Journey itineraries ranging from 10 to 22 days, each designed especially for the Australian and New Zealand market, and most made up of small groups of 20 to 28 people.

Tours cover a selection of countries including Russia, the Balkans featuring Croatia and Romania, Germany, Poland, Scandinavia and a deluxe Trans-Mongolian rail journey, each with a unique aspect that separates them from the conventional coach tours.

For example in the 17-day "Russia & Capitals Of The Baltic Sea" itinerary passengers have the opportunity to travel by the new high-speed train from Moscow to St Petersburg instead of by coach. This new train travels at up to 300km an hour and shortens the  travelling time thus giving you more time to explore St Petersburg. Also included is a ferry crossing from Helsinki to Tallinn and then onto Stockholm.

The "Berlin, Poland & Kiev" journey over 17 days features rail Berlin to Warsaw, Krakow and then continues to Odessa and Yalta before travelling by first class sleeper to Kiev. A 22 day small group Pearls of The Balkans tour features Transylvania, Bulgaria & Macedonia while the popular Slovenia and Croatia By Land and By Sea tour over 18 days features a six day privately chartered Dalmatian Islands cruise and is priced from $4800 per person twin share.

There are more than 25 special journey departures planned from May until October and all include quality centrally located accommodation with daily breakfast, a selection of speciality meals, comprehensive sight-seeing with local guides and transportation.

For more details on any escorted tour contact Beyond Travel on 1300-363-554 or email


APT has a Companion Fly Free deal on its 2011-12 China packages for bookings made by March 31, 2011.

Twenty departures (there were nine in 2010) are scheduled for APT's most popular China tour, the 13-day Imperial China package (from $5695 per person twin share) which includes icon experiences The Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall at Badaling, four-night Yangtze cruise, the Terracotta Warriors at Xi'an, Suzhou and Shanghai.

The price includes cruise, hotels, most meals, local flights, coach touring and tipping.

On the flight deal which is with Cathay Pacific economy class, the companion is required to pay air taxes.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit or see a travel agent.

Additional detail re cruise: The cruise is on the boutique-sized 124-passenger The Sanctuary M.S. Yangzi Explorer which boasts the largest and most luxurious suites on the Yangtze, according to APT, with private balconies and exceptionally high level of service with a crew of 130.

The ship has a theatre for cultural performances and lectures, an elevator, two restaurants (the upper restaurant being for the exclusive use of the suites and the upper cabin categories) and a comprehensive wellness area (gymnasium, spa, health treatments, private massage rooms, Turkish baths, beauty and hairdressing).

APT previously used a 400-passenger vessel. The boutique The Sanctuary M.S. Yangzi Explorer is more in keeping with the style of APT's river cruise ships in Europe, Russia and Vietnam. It is better able to dock close to sites and provide easier management of excursions than the larger ships on the river.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Escorted Italy - Value Greece Turkey Egypt - Fly Cruise Argentina - Credit Card Fraud Crackdown - Affordable Vietnam


GET off the beaten track in Italy's picturesque Northern Lakes region in the European Spring or Autumn of next year, and with Australia's specialist small-group operator Carolinasusi Italia Tours you'll find yourself anything but lost.

That's because these tours are limited to just 20-guests each, and are personally escorted by Carolinasusi's owners who've been taking Australians to Italy for three years, and have been visiting the country for much longer.

It's all given them a unique insight into the mountains and lakes of Northern Italy, and friendships that enable them to take their guests into tucked-away gems seldom included by larger operators.

Such inclusions are visits to town and village markets with their unique taste sensations, tastings at family-owned wineries and grappa distilleries, a day with a chef whose family has lived here for 700 years – and by contrast the chance to shop for designer clothes, dine and take a walking tour of the streets of Romeo and Juliet's Verona, and to explore Vicenza and Venice.

These personally-escorted 15-night tours in May/June and again in September 2011 are based for the first week in the little city of Varese in the lower alpine highlands of the Italian Lakes, and the second in the smaller town of Bassano del Grappa at the foot of the mountains.

Lake cruises, visits to the villas of the 'twenties and 'thirties rich and famous, fortified towns, breakfasts and most dinners, a lunch in an alpine or lakeside venue, coach transfers and tours, villa entries, a rack-railway excursion, and the full time Australian escorts backed-up by local guides are all included – ensuring there are no nasty cost surprises along the tour.

Prices start from $6485pp twin-share ex-Milan; for full details phone (07) 3396 8652, (07) 3262 6332 or visit


CHAT Tours who have been specialising in holidays for Australians to Greece, Egypt and Turkey for more than thirty years, say 2011 will offer some of the best value-ever to these destinations because of the strength of our dollar, increasingly competitive price-driven airfares, and with its own strong buying power and reductions in Chat Tours' own pricing –  prices next year that will in most cases be below those of 2010.

A just-released 52-page brochure of Chat Tours' offerings in 2011 is a veritable handbook of how best to enjoy a value holiday in these regions, with detailed Athens stopovers and Greece hotel and apartment stays, coach tours through Greece, Greek Island cruises and island-hopping passes, and Aegean and Adriatic cruises that include such combinations such as the Greek Islands and Turkey.

There's also the option to choose yacht-style cruises, Turkey coach and cruise tours, Gallipoli mini- and longer-stay tours, and tours of Egypt and Israel including cruising the Nile, all backed by Chat Tours' individualised services, unmatched experience and local knowledge.

This information-packed brochure is essential reading for those considering a holiday in Greece, Egypt or Turkey in 2011; for a free copy phone (02) 9221 2300, toll-free 1800 22 22  32 or visit

CHAT Tours background information: Chat Tours' parent company Hermes en Grece was established in Athens 85 years ago and Chat Tours has had offices in Australia for past 31 years, making it Australia's leader in holidays to "its corner" of the Mediterranean.

Chat Tours has its own fleet of luxury coaches for Greece touring and its sister company, the Amalia group operates a chain of superior hotels in major tourist centres.


CRUISECO has an enticing start to 2011 with a 20-night fly, cruise and stay package departing Sydney on February 23 , 2011 that includes 2-nights in Buenos Aires, a 2-night visit to the famous Iguazu Falls, and 14-nights of luxury cruising from Buenos Aires to Santiago where there's a further 2-nights stay.

Return economy airfares and air taxes from Sydney are also included as well as breakfasts daily at pre- and post-cruise hotels and all transfers.

The 2-night pre-cruise Iguazu Falls visit includes return air from Buenos Aires, breakfasts daily, and a full day's sightseeing of the Brazilian and Argentinean sides of the Falls, with lunch included; there are also half-day sightseeing tours in Buenos Aires and Santiago.

The 14-night cruise is aboard Celebrity Cruises' Infinity that sails from Buenos Aires on February 27 2011 for Montevideo, Punta del Este, Puerto Madryn, the world's southern-most city Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, and Valparaiso for Santiago.

Prices start from $6929pp twin-share including all on board dining, entertainment and gratuities on Infinity; for full details, prices from all capital cities and the names of Cruiseco's 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies visit


AUSTRALIAN hotels, motels and guest houses will be armed with a digital tracking system to stop cheque and credit card fraudsters this summer holiday season.

"Guests who use fake cheques or payment cards to pay their bills cost our members millions of dollars a year," said Hotel Motel & Accommodation Association (HMAA) Chief Executive Lorraine Duffy.

"Exactly how much is unknown because many cases of fraud and bill skipping go unreported, and until now there has been no way of tracking the problem and identifying offenders," she said.

"But from now on HMAA's 2000-plus members will be granted free access to the GuestTRAX reporting system to enable them to identify suspects and take suitable action."

GuestTRAX was developed by former Queensland police officer Bruce Nicholls after he noticed that many cases of cheque and payment card fraud either went unreported or were not tracked by police forces across Australia.

"This meant offenders are able to commit fraud and scams with virtual immunity in a nation-wide scam that is costing small businesses at least $85 million a year - more than employee theft, burglary, robbery and vandalism combined," Ms Duffy added.

She said Mr Nicholls drew on 28 years of law enforcement work to develop his world-first GuestTRAX system, which had the ability to be applied to rental cars and other services.


A day's cruising of breathtaking Halong Bay and its sprinkling of craggy limestone isles is one of the many treasured highlights on Helen Wong's Tours' 11-day Glimpse of Vietnam program, priced from $2900 per person, twin share.

For those with more time and a slightly larger holiday budget, the 16-day Best of Vietnam program also represents good value, priced from $3950pp, twin share.

Like the lead-in tour, it too includes a cruise of the bay with the UNESCO World Heritage listing, east of capital Hanoi.

"To cruise Halong Bay is sheer magic," said Helen Wong's Tours Marketing manager Jason Sacriz. "The fact that it has UNESCO World Heritage protection speaks volume for its natural appeal," he said. "Our travellers board for a cruise which appropriately includes a seafood lunch."

The above pair of Helen Wong's Tours programs begin in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and include visits to the Mekong Delta, Hoi An and imperial Hue as well as bustling Hanoi. The latter tour extends to include mountainous Sapa and the ethnic minority village of Black Hmong in the country's far northern region.

Both tour prices include return economy airfares to Vietnam, economy class air travel within Vietnam, three-to-four star accommodation, daily breakfasts, most lunches and some dinners, an evening cultural show, transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees and the escort of English-speaking guides.

Vietnam visas for Australian passport holders are also included along with departures taxes, security charges and fuel surcharges, and travel kit and cabin bag.

In addition to these 11 and 16-day tours, Helen Wong's Tours' has longer programs of up to 24 days, some merged with visits to Cambodia, Laos and China.

It also has an Encounters program for independent travellers.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours, phone (02) 9267 7833, 1300 788328, or request a brochure online

Mekong Cruise - Russian Arctic - NZ Ski Package - Adelaide Circus - Turkey Tour


John Crook

Seven night Mekong adventure

Steaming down the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam and a whole new world awaits.  Even for those who have travelled Vietnam previously, there's so much more to discover.  It's almost time that I revisited south east Asia and arguably there could be no better way of 'doing' a return than  by joining the group on a seven-nights cruise  aboard the replica colonial steamer Indochina Pandaw.  On March 6 2011 she sails Angkor to Saigon. Pay from $5999 for the first passenger and a low $1399, twin share,  for the second passenger, with inclusions of daily breakfasts, select lunches and dinners, daily shore excursions and more.  Visit the floating markets,  the French colonial buildings from another era,  museums highlighting Khmer culture, temples and even a silk-weaving village.  A word of advice!  This is one of those great tours which do not disappoint when it comes to inclusions.   Cruisco's cruise-specialist travel agencies can help.   For the good news go visit  

Secrets of the Russian arctic

Here's news of an adventure just waiting to happen.  Aurora Expeditions has two brand-new voyages into the Russian Arctic, aboard an ice-strengthened research ship built in 1982 and refurbished 2008.  Each cruise carries just 54 passengers. Prices start from $US6,900 per person twin share.  For details and conditions it's just a matter of visiting  

The voyages are staffed by premium expedition leaders, naturalists, historians and geologists and obviously each of the Russian crew members is keen to show the natural beauty of their country.

Kiwi ski packages

Skimax has just released an array of early bird packages in New Zealand's north and south islands.   These are competitive.  The packages include one free night and one free day's car.  The packages are scattered throughout kiwi-land.  For instance Ski Queenstown offers seven days compact car rental, seven nights twin share in a standard room at Sherwood Hotel  and a three-day ski pass valid at Coronet Peak and the aptly named The Remarkables.  This package is priced from $579 per person twin share. Conditions apply, with a book and pay by January 15 2011 with  travel  dates  June 15 to September 30 2011.

Adelaide circus theatre premiere

Australia's largest outdoor arts festival precinct features the nation's best carnival venues at the Garden of Unearthly Delights,- so popular with Adelaide's festival goers.  The action begins Thursday February 10 with a concert program and entertainment wonderland.  Why would you want to be there?  Quite simply because of the following! The Adelaide premiere of Cantina which is a delicious piece of circus theatre. The program features comedy-festival stars, funny men and funny girls, nightly acrobatic drummers and heaps of music.   Just some of the reasons why you should consider being in Adelaide for the February event/s !  For more information and bookings go visit  telephone (08) 8121 5122.  

Classic Turkey

There's an eight-day tour which includes Istanbul and a great range of historic and classic sites in Turkey, with the package valid for travel until October 15, 2011 and priced from $1921 per person twin share.   The advertised price is valid for departures April 9 to October 11.

Guests on this tour will have the chance to visit the Gallipoli, Anzac Cove, the World Heritage site of Troy and the Temple of Aphrodite.   There's much more of the best advice, so call 1300 836 764.  Terms and conditions apply and subject to change and availability.  For bookings email  

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.  

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Monday, 29 November 2010

Montreaux Christmas Markets - Walk Mt Feathertop - Cunard Queen in NYC - Korea Hotel Deals

Christmas markets

Through until December 24 Montreaux holds traditional markets in no less than five different locations.  The Suisse Majestic Grand Hotel puts forward a 'lucky night' package, from just CHF320 for two persons.

It includes a deluxe room, with a view of the lake, breakfast, gourmet dinner at L'Entrate Restaurant, plus tokens worth ten francs..  That way you get to test your luck before exploring the various markets or going up to the Christmas village of  Caux.  Get the facts by visiting

Go for a walk

There's a remarkable Mount Feathertop Adventure scheduled between January 10 – 14 2011.  This is a walk which will stretch the legs.  It's listed as a moderate-challenging walk over five days.  Ex Bairnsdale the price is $1590 and ex Melbourne $1700.  Telephone Gippsland High Country Tours for details and conditions. Call  (03) 5157 5556. Book and pay before December 1, 2010 and check if you are eligible for a 5% discount off the advertised fare.  There could be further discounts, so check that when booking.   It is certainly  worthwhile calling.

The royal gathering

After spending two nights at the famous Hotel Plaza Athenee in New York, join the Queen Victoria in readiness for the gathering of the royals as they sail out of the Big Apple.  That thrill continues on as Queen Victoria cruises 17-nights at the Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, North America, the Panama Canal and on to Los Angeles for two more hotel night at the Beverley Hilton. Wowee! This is some cruise and priced  from $5499 per person. 

That price also includes economy return air and taxes from Sydney.   Telephone 1300 369 848 or visit

Best night in Korea

Visitors to Korea should be interested in the latest offerings from Benikea, which stands for 'best night in Korea'.  The good thing about this new- concept hotel chain is that their rates are mainly below A$100 per night for two.  There are currently 44 participating hotels, graded deluxe and below.  The rate quoted is off peak rate/standard room.  They are located in the most popular  tourist cities and regions.  If travelling to Korea in the near future go check     Also a good  Korea guidebook will not go amiss, so why not put in a request for one to be posted to you,  by emailing

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.  

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Monday, 22 November 2010

SeaDream Barbados - Bundaberg Turtles - Cuba Singles Adventure - Holgate Beers - Greek Tour Deal

Travel Briefs

John Crook

Elegant informality aboard SeaDream

That's how president Bob Lepisto describes life aboard his luxury motor cruisers, SeaDream 1 and SeaDream 11.  Here's a chance to check him out!

Departing Barbados on February 13 2012 SeaDream 11 sails 20 days to Manus and Iquitos,  and 20-days back to Barbados.

These near-3 week adventures on the Amazon River are priced from US$12,919 per person, twin share.  The price is inclusive of all 5-star dining. Drinks from the open bars, nightly cocktail gatherings, wines with lunch and dinner, power and sail watersports in ports permitted.  There's a 50-course golf simulator, onboard gratuities and port charges.  Really, all you have to do is pack your bag, show your passport and get ready for a truly luxury cruise.  For all the information on these quite amazing Amazon cruises, just go visit or contact your travel agent.


Each year, hundreds of turtles return to the waters of Mon Repos, 15 kilometres from the Queensland city of Bundaberg.    This small beach comes alive between November and March when patience is rewarded.  The daily activities schedule includes appearances on the beach of Mon Repos Conservation Park.  There is a proviso, due to the fact that there is no guarantee the turtles will appear on cue.  Patience please..

To witness this remarkable journey is to  experience a miracle of nature.   Night after night, this procession of motherly love and affection, plays out before your very eyes.  It is live theatre. 

Such is the popularity of a visit to this natural wildlife attraction it is essential bookings be made in advance of any visit.

Tickets can only be booked through the Bundaberg Region Visitor Services by telephoning (07) 4153 8888, or go visit

Singles welcome on Cuba Adventure

Explore Worldwide has recently released a selection of specially designed tours for solo travellers, without the added cost of a single supplement.  As an example, check out the eight-day Cuba Solo Adventure priced from $1187 per person.  Sailing the Caribbean really offers the chance to become involved.  It could be learning how to make a delicious cocktail, through to exploring the streets of Havana and Trinidad.   This deal is for solo travellers only.

Call 1300 414 151 for the relevant information, or go visit

Feel like a beer?

Then head towards Woodend in Victoria and check out the local traditionally brewed beers at Holgate.  Stay awhile in this mountain town and take in the views.  Stylishly refurbished queen-sized bedrooms are a feature of this hotel.  Each with a new ensuite.  Bed and breakfast accommodation is available from $135 for an Alley room, of from $165 for a room with a village view or for a mountain view room, from $ 185.  Those rates are per night for two people.  Family rooms are also available.     Holgate Brewhouse may be contacted by calling (03)5427 2510 or go visit

A 10% reduction on Greek tour

Mykonos and Santorini are part of a terrific deal which sees a10% reduction in island hopping packages if booked and paid in full by December 15 2010.    These two glorious slices of Greece and her islands are great value.  That package includes nine nights accommodation with breakfast, priced from $1062 per person twin share.

Should your holiday plans fall outside the close off book and pay date, the packages are available  for sale and travel until October 31 2011.  To benefit from the 10% discount package though, call the folk who have all the details.  Close off date for the discount is December 15 2010.   Confused ? – then talk with the experts on 1300 558 987.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.   This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block-out periods may apply.    

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Seadream Amazon - Ferrari Drive - Hong Kong Luxury Cruise - Italy Exclusive - Strawberry Pickings -


SEADREAM Yacht Club is to sail two spectacular near-three week adventures on the Amazon River in 2012 with its 112-guest, 5-star mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II.

Departing Bridgetown, Barbados on February 13 2012, SeaDream II will sail 20-days to Manaus and Iquitos, and 20-days back to Barbados via Manaus.

SeaDream's President, Bob Lepisto said: "We're enormously excited to be adding the Amazon to our itinerary in 2012, particularly as our size and maneuverability will allow our yachts to reach tricky spots like Anavilhanas in Brazil and Iquitos in Peru."

An onboard naturalist will give in-depth talks about the great wilderness, and optional excursions and canoe expeditions will showcase Amazonian tribes, museums, markets and the jungle's exotic animal and plant-life.

SeaDream II and twin-sister SeaDream I were recently rated two of the world's top passenger vessels by Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships.

"The expression 'Yachting' is not a sentiment about size; it is a statement about lifestyle aboard our small vessels," Mr Lepisto said. "SeaDream's 56-stateroom mega motor-cruisers offer elegant informality with no need for jackets or ties at dinner, a crew of 95, open bars, wines with lunch and dinner, evening cocktail gatherings, gratuities, all-ocean-view accommodations, and world class dining."

SeaDream II's Amazon Itineraries will showcase the best of the Amazon including Cuxiu Muni, Brazil where guests will have the option to take a night canoe trip in search of crocodiles, snakes and other nocturnal creatures.

In Alter do Chao, Brazil SeaDream hosts their Champagne and Caviar "Splash" on one of Brazil's best beaches and guests may take a riverboat cruise on Maicá Lake to see the rare pink dolphins.

In Manaus, Brazil guest will have the option to go "Flightseeing" in single or twin-engine aircraft, soaring over the Rio Negro, Rio Solimões, the Meeting of the Waters, the Amazon River and the magnificent expanse of jungle below.

And while visiting a small village located on Tupinambarana Island, they'll enjoy a "Boi-Bumba" celebration – an exotic ritual of magic, mystery, passion and faith that's a feast for the eyes and ears.

For further details see your favourite travel agent or visit


A new self-drive, performance-car day tour of the Gold Coast is making dreams come true for Italian supercar enthusiasts.

The RentADreamCar Drive Day Tour provides the opportunity to drive a Ferrari 360 Modena and a Lamborghini Gallardo.

The tour caters for up to four people and begins with a briefing over coffee in a Ferrari Showroom where drivers' are familiarized with the cars. The self-drive tour follows a pre-planned route taking in winding mountain climbs, highway cruising and a beachside drive.

Designated checkpoints allow participants to take photos, and more importantly, swap cars. Slim, well-fitting shoes are a must, and driver's must be 25 years old and over and have held a valid driver's licence for at least five years.

A full-day tour costs $990 per driver and $790 for non-drivers. Half day tours are also available at $590 per driver and $490 for passengers. Tours run every Sunday or by special arrangement. Call 1300 226 412 or visit



A WHOLE fourteen nights being indulged aboard one of the world's most luxurious cruise ships as you sail from Hong Kong to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore is the centre-piece of a value-priced 16-nights luxury package through in February and March next year.

Included in the price that's been discounted from $9179 to as low as $6439pp twin-share are return air and taxes from mainland capitals, fourteen nights on the 5-star Seabourn Sojourn that was launched earlier this year and has been described as "amongst the most luxurious in the world," a night pre-cruise in the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong and another post-cruise at Raffles Hotel Singapore (with transfers included in Singapore.)

Guests will embark Seabourn Sojourn in Hong Kong on February 26 for a night on board, and sail next day for Cai Lan (Hanoi,) Ho Chi Minh City with an overnight in port, Sihanoukville, Laem Chabang (Bangkok,) and Singapore.

For full details phone toll-free 1300 369 848 or visit

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION: Dining options range from 5-star avant garde to casual on deck in a choice of four open-seating dining venues – or meals can be taken in-suite – there are six lounges and bars, a two-deck high health spa and salon, gym, saunas, two outdoor pools and six whirlpools, watersports marina, nightly stage shows, and a casino.

There's also an indoor Thalassotherapy pool, sports deck and sun terrace, shops, a vast library and a computer centre.


SIT – Italian travel specialists, have recently released a selection of exclusive small group tours in Italy during the 2011 northern summer with a special discount of $200 per person when you book and deposit by December 20.

There are seven special itineraries ranging from eight to 15 days, which have been specially designed for travel in small groups of no more than 25 people. The guides have been hand picked for their extensive knowledge and familiarity with the local areas.

Tour interests cover dining, walking, wineries, cooking and scenery in regions such as Sicily, Northern Lakes district, Sorrento and Amalfi Coast, Piedmont, Basilicata (Matera) and Liguria (Cinque Terre.) 

An example is the popular eight-day Eastern Sicily Walking Tour, a round trip from Catania which will explore historical town centres, costal villages, archaeological sites and medieval towns. Priced from $2455 per person twin share there are two departures in 2011.

There are more than 15 departures of other tours from May until October and all include four star centrally located accommodation with most meals, a tour leader, comprehensive sight-seeing with local guides and transportation within Italy.

For more details contact SIT on 1300 885 173 or visit



THEY'RE exquisitely sweet and juicy, and every year thousands of visitors from around the world head to Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on the Mornington Peninsula to pick their own succulent strawberries.

The pick-your-own season opened last week, and visitors are expected to weigh in with more than 40 tonnes before the season finishes at the end of April.

Sunny Ridge has been producing strawberries for 35 years, with the Mornington Peninsula's maritime climate and rich soils creating the perfect growing conditions. U-pick is open daily from 9am to 5pm (except Christmas Day and New Years Day), and costs $8 for adults, including 500 gm of strawberries, and $4 for children including 250 gm of strawberries.

On Saturday December 5 and Sunday December 6, Sunny Ridge hosts its second annual family weekend, with attractions for kids including strawberry red balloons, face painting and a petting zoo.

The dessert cafe and strawberry shop are also delicious attractions, including chocolate-dipped strawberries, Belgian chocolate and strawberry fondue, and the Sunny Ridge farm-made icecreams and sorbets which have won seven awards in the last five Royal Melbourne Show Fine Food Awards.

Visitors who buy a Mornington Peninsula Attractions Pass are also entitled to a 10% discount on any desserts and gourmet foods purchased in the shop or cafe.

Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm is one of seven top attractions in the Attractions Pass, which also includes Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Garden, Box Stallion Winery, Cape Schanck Lightstation, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Peninsula Hot Springs, and Best Western One Four Nelson.

The pass saves up to 40% on admission and bonuses at four of the attractions and includes discount offers at three more. It costs only $49 for adults (more than $80 full retail value), $39 for children, and can be purchased at or at any participating attraction.

Further information: Joanne Petrillo, Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on 03 5989 4501, or

Monday, 15 November 2010

Vanuatu - Italy - Seadream Amazon - Southern Spain - Paris Luxury


Vanuatu, save big time

There's a new kid on the block, offering a seven night fly and stay which strips of almost $1200 off the usual price.   Book by November 30, 2010 and travel between now and March 31, 2011 and that gets you accommodation in the Warwick La Lagon Resort, return airfares with Pacific  Blue, pre-payable taxes, daily buffet breakfast,- a Port Vila tour and more.  Pay $1238 per person twin share,  ex Brisbane or $1278 ex Sydney.  There are other package options on offer as well.  Check them out and make a booking by calling 1800 800 722 or go visit  

Travel Fit Italy tours

A must consider Northern Italian, fully-escorted tour led by qualified personal trainer, Deb Taylor of Think Fit Personal Training in Noosa.   There's a maximum of 15 travellers per group, with departures June 18 to July 2 and again September 17 to October 1.    Priced from $4,900 per person (double occupancy), with four star accommodation in Rome, Assisi, Siena, Cinque Terre Santa Margherita and Bellagio.  Walking, cycling, hiking, plus shopping and other activities which may be of interest..  Call the Unique Group Travel on  (02) 9424 3100, or (07)  5448 2922 for all the information, including quoted air fares on your personal airline preference for international travel. 

All aboard for the Amazon

There are two near-three week Amazonian adventures scheduled for 2012.    It's luxury all the way.    Also aboard is a naturalist to keep you abreast of this great wilderness, the markets and the exotic lives of jungle animals.

The 112-guest, 5-star mega motor cruiser SeaDream 11 departs Bridgetown, Barbados on February 13, 2012, sailing 20-days to Manaus and Iquitos and 20-days back to Barbados via Manaus.   I'm chasing this one up for more information, so please do keep an eye on these columns.  In the meantime to call your local travel agent, or go visit  

Southern Spain gets a Guernsey

Visit the birthplace of Don Juan, marvel at the splendid architecture of the Alhambra Palace,- just part of the Andalucia coach tour which is for sale and travel until 31 March 2012, with departures from Madrid.  It's a five-day package, priced from $747 per person twin share.  It's a superb way of being introduced to the southern Spain region, particularly  for those with limited time.   The package includes four-nights stay in your choice of budget three-star or standard four-star accommodation.  Check on the terms and conditions, but keep in mind that we are talking about a five-day package at a price that I would call 'very interesting'.     Call 1300 558 987, or go visit

VIP in Paris

The Hotel Napoleon welcomes your enquiries about their VIP package with a classic room priced from 245 Euros.   The sales manager M. Fabien Beauvallet   says the offer also includes a private shuttle roundtrip Charles de Gaulle or Orly, a room with VIP treatment and breakfasts.   The rate is for a three nights minimum stay.       Telephone for confirmation of the package an conditions, -     +33 (0) 1 56 68 44 44, or email  

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on


Monday, 8 November 2010

China Tour, Hong Kong Cruise, Fidel's Cuba, Andre Rieu, Europe Rail


TWO days of Hong Kong's legendary New Year's Eve celebrations and fire-works are part of a 21-night fly, cruise and stay package in February next year from Hong Kong to Japan, South Korea, mainland China and back to Hong Kong – and selling from just $4559pp twin-share through

This 3-week package that's nearly fifty percent below originally advertised prices, includes five hotel-nights with breakfasts pre-cruise in Hong Kong, viewing the New Year's Eve Parade that billed as "the Greatest Chinese New Year Parade on the Planet," tours of Aberdeen, Repulse Bay and Kowloon with dim-sum lunch, and a Chinese New Year Fireworks Cocktail Cruise with drinks on board and dinner afterwards at a local restaurant.

There's also a day at the New Year races with return transportation, entry to a box inside the Members' Enclosure and a buffet lunch at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, followed by a full day at leisure for shopping and sightseeing.

P&O's 1200-passenger Artemis then sails on February 7 2011 for Tokyo, Hiroshima, Pusan, Beijing, Shanghai and back to Hong Kong. This luxury, child-free cruise liner features a choice of formal or casual dining, eight bars, an observation lounge, two show lounges, two pools including a lap pool, two Jacuzzis, casino, spa, salon, gym, sauna, library, cinema and nightclub.

This unique 3-weeks-long package that includes return air and taxes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, ends with a final hotel night in Hong Kong before flying home. For full details phone toll-free 1300 369 848 or visit


TW0 bargain-priced tour packages have been unveiled by leading Asian specialist Helen Wong's Tours to attract travellers to China over the cooler months.

One focuses on the sights and sounds of Shanghai, the more tranquil settings of Suzhou, Hangzhou and the historic village of Wuzhen which, combined with Xian and capital Beijing, make for a fascinating 15-day China Wonders package.

This exclusive package involves departures in February and March and is priced from $2799 pp twin share flying Air China from Sydney or Melbourne, including departure taxes, security charges and fuel charges (subject to change). The other, an 11-day Majestic China program, begins with a China Southern flight to Guangzhou (Canton) with visits to scenic Guilin, Xian, home of the Army of the Terracotta Warriors, and Beijing for a walk along a section of the Great Wall of China.

Tours are in November, February and March and are priced from $2450pp twin share from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, including departure taxes, security charges and fuel charges (subject to change).

For Brisbane passengers the November flight will mark the start of direct services to Guangzhou.

"Including air fare, the price of the 15-day China Wonders package equates to $187 a day, which is good value considering the inclusions," said Helen Wong's Tours marketing manager Jason Sacriz.

"Compared with our deluxe tours at other times of the year, the 11-day Majestic China program works out as a real bargain at $223 a day," he said.

"As with all China programs created by Helen Wong's Tours, guests stay in four-to-five-star hotels with breakfast, with many other meals covered as well as seats to at least two evening cultural shows."

Prices include return economy class air fares to China, domestic flights in China (where specified) as well as transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees and the services of English-speaking guides.

China visas for Australian passport holders and a travel kit with a 424-page Odyssey book on China and Cabin bag are also included in the bargain prices.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours (02) 9267 7833, 1300 788 328 or


Cruise Express has released four new hosted cruise-tours in Europe in 2011 linked with an open-air concert by Andre Rieu in his Dutch hometown of Maastricht in Limburg – the only area of Holland with hills.

The spectacular concert by the famous maestro is a central feature of two ocean and two river cruise tour packages for Australians that Cruise Express will escort in June and July next year.

Cruise Express' new 'European Masterpieces' brochure features luxury cruise holidays in France and through the heart of Europe, the Mediterranean and to Scandinavia and Russia, with short add-on tours through the Rhine Gorge to Maastricht in Holland to see Rieu perform in the historic town square of his home town.

Fly, stay, tour and cruise packages start from $5990 per person, twin-share, for a 15-day hosted trip.

Cruise Express' hosted tour program in Europe in 2011 includes:

- A 15-day 'Scandinavian and Russian Rhapsody' tour from June 13, 2011, including an 11-night Baltic Sea cruise aboard Emerald Princess, a night's accommodation in Copenhagen with a city tour and return flights from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney available from $5990 per person, twin-share, or $7990 for solo travellers.

- A 16-day 'Mediterranean Melody' tour leaving Australia on July 1, 2011, including a 12-day voyage around Italy, Greece and Turkey aboard Ruby Princess, a night's accommodation in Barcelona with a city tour and return flights from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney available from $6990 per person, twin-share, or $8990 for solo travellers.

- A 22-day 'Heart of Europe' river cruise tour from July 2, 2011, including 14 nights aboard River Empress from Budapest  to Amsterdam, including wine with dinner, two nights in Bruges and three in Paris and return flights from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney available from $10,990 per person, twin-share, or $14,990 for solo travelers.

-  A 26-day 'Grand France' river cruise tour from June 4, 2011, including two seven-night river cruises through the south and north of France, a seven-night 'Romantic Chateaux' coach tour with stays in moated palaces, two nights in Paris, almost all tours and meals along the way and return flights from Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney available from $14,990 per person, twin-share, or $19,990 for solo travellers. A shorter 19-day package is priced from $10,990 per person, twin-share.

* A three-day add-on tour through the World-Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge to Maastricht for Andrew Rieu's open-air concert on July 16 is available from $999 per person, twin-share, or $1199 for solo travellers.

For details and a brochure, contact Cruise Express on 1300 766 537 or visit


A JOURNEY into the wild terrain of Sierra Maestra where former dictator Fidel Castro and Chef Guevara once took refuge is part of a 15-day journey covering the length of the Caribbean island of Cuba with Explore Worldwide.

Cuba Libre tour travels by bus and air staying mostly in hotels but also camping in now-deserted hacienda. The package costs from $1811, depending on departure date, and includes meals and entry at various attractions.

Beginning with a couple of days in the capital Havana, the tour travels to Santiago de Cuba in the remote east past the infamous Bay of Pigs and through Topes de Collantes National Park, Trinidad and its well preserved Colonial architecture, the old town of Camaguey to Castro's mountain hideout in the densely-forested eastern tip of Cuba, and Santiago de Cuba also in the remote east.

Travel is in a group of about 14 with an experienced Explore leader, support staff and local guide and the tour is one of  450 itineraries Explore Worldwide operates in 120 countries

Venture Holidays has more information on Explore Worldwide activities at 1300-414151 or visit


Discounted rail passes throughout Europe and special prices for railways in most other parts of the world are typical offerings from Melbourne-based International Rail.

The company has exclusive access in Australia to Trenitalia Railway System and is currently offering advance purchase discounts of 30 per cent off standard fares for travel throughout Italy.

Typical is the Rome to Florence journey which is now available for from $51 per person.

 International Rail can also offer 60 per cent off point-to-point tickets with the German Railway System, plus German Rail Passes from $206 per person.

The company has just launched a brand new web site specifically designed for easy use by consumers -

This latest technology will provide an easy-to-navigate on-line booking engine for European trains and electronic ticketing.

The site also includes great planning tools, including train schedules and maps and lots of new products, including European ferry crossings and train station to hotel transfers.

For more information contact International Rail through  or by calling 1300 387 245.

Eastern Europe - Ski Japan - Snakes - Seabourn Sojoum


John Crook

Decent savings - eastern Europe

How about this?  There's a 13-day package  covering Eastern Europe which includes the magical cities of Vienna, Budapest and Prague.   Tradition, cultural heritage and accommodation in first class hotels.  For those who are interested the Eastern European Panorama package is priced from $2371, the inclusions feature highlights such as Vienna's Hofburg Palace, a drive through the stunning Slovakian countryside and the beautiful Saxony Baroque city of Dresden.  To benefit from a $120 saving per person, you will need to book with deposits paid by 1 December 2010.    The advertised price is inclusive of discount and is valid for selected departures between 14 May and 13 October 2011.  For more information just pick up the 'phone and dial 1300 558 987.    Conditions apply and pricing subject to change based on availability, season, currency fluctuation and accommodation type.

Ski Japan and benefit

The location is Furano and the Furano Prince Hotel, which lies about three hours from the new Chitose Sapporo Airport,- right in the very heart of Hokkaido, which just happens to be the location of Japan's powder paradise.   If you take up on the Furano Prince deal on offer, it means you pay for five and get seven nights,  or pay ten and get 14 nights, plus pay for a five day lift pass and get the 6th day free.  Seven night land packages start from $937 per person, twin share. The price includes return airport transfers, seven nights twin share room in the new hotel, plus the six-day Furano skl lift pass.

If perchance I've lost you, with all those figures, take the easy way out and telephone 1300 137 411, or go visit

You have until November 30 2010

Wyoming Travel and Tourism is offering travellers an opportunity to enjoy a seven-day  winter getaway for two persons, in the beautiful mountain resort of Jackson Hole and neighbouring Yellowstone National Park.   More details by visiting  then click on to Wyoming  Winter Getaway Sweepstakes found on the home page.    Visitors will be asked to  share their favourite Wyoming memory, or their ideal escape in 25 words or less.  Deadline for entries is November 30 2010.   Conditions and the details may be found on that website.  Or, call (02) 9144 6015.  The competition includes land content only, that is, a round trip from any major city in the United States. 

Snakes alive

Considered one of the best reptile parks in the country, Snakes Downunder Reptile Park has grown from a small but tidy display of snakes, lizards, to  a full scale (pardon the pun) 'snake show', educational of course, but also a chance to overcome that specific phobia, namely Ophidiophobia.    Ian Jenkins and his team, at the Childers reptile park, have developed an attraction which offers the real reptile experience.   Demonstrations are scheduled throughout the day,- including venomous reptile handling, and getting up close and personal with a pair of saltwater crocodiles.  Admission is $18 per adult concession $16, child 4 to 12 $9 and there's a family pass on offer as well at $48.   For details of the attractions and activities go visit or telephone Ian on  (07) 4126 3332.

Too good to miss

In January and February of 2011 go cruise from Auckland to Sydney, aboard the ultimate in luxury.   The 5-star Seabourn Sojoum sets sail  from Auckland on January 25 for Wellington, Akaroa, Lyttleton, Christchurch, Port Chalmers for Dunedin, a cruise of the Fjordland, and across the Tasman Sea to Hobart and then on to Sydney where there is a night aboard ship.   An air, cruise and stay package through Cruiseco includes one-way economy class airfares and taxes from Sydney, two-nights pre-cruise at the Westin  Lighter Quay in Auckland with breakfasts, airport/hotel/port transfers and all gourmet dining, nightly entertainment and gratuities aboard Seabourn Sojoum.  The 14-night Auckland to Sydney fly, cruise and stay package is priced from $8770 twin share.  For more information go visit 

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on


Visual : Budapest parliament

Monday, 1 November 2010

Peru - QE Cruise - Korea Discounts - Viva Tahiti


John Crook

Check this one out

If you are looking towards Peru as a travel destination, the travel operator handling bookings is currently offering 25% off the first 50 bookings made for its incredible Next of Peru package.

Now priced from $2310 per person twin share, this 15-day journey explores one of the most popular Latin America countries.  The deal applies to those first 50 bookings made and deposited by 30 November and valid for travel November 1 2010 to April 30 2011.

The tour departs from Lima and highlights  Colca Canyon, sailing Lake Titicaca, the fascinating islands of Uros and so much more.  Get all the details re inclusions, conditions and terms.  There are free room upgrades, and even a free massage.

Just a matter of calling 1300 558 987.

Free upgrades on the new Queen Elizabeth

Plus US$ onboard spending credits.  These are just two of the reasons why consideration should be given to booking a stateroom on the voyage from Sydney to Hong Kong, departing Sydney on February 22, 2011.

Prices start from $5999 per person, twin share  and include onboard credit from US$300 up to US$750 per stateroom.

It has to be the classiest way to travel,- such luxury and memorable experiences.

It is suggested that you should check out details by visiting

Discount coupon booklet

Travel to Korea through to 30th June  and make great savings on discounted goods with the latest discount booklet.  These include reductions of 5% to 30% on goods from 80 businesses, along with other gifts and benefits from shopping, to performances, theme parks, restaurants and cafes.  Copies of the discount coupon booklets are available from the Sydney office of Korea Tourism organization.  Get a copy before you leave for Korea.  Simply put in a request by emailing  

Aussies back Tahiti

Viva Holidays is offering a seven-night package staying on the west coast of Tahiti, staying at the recently renovated Sofitel Tahiti  Maeva Beach Resort.  The deal is priced from $1999 per person twin share, ex Sydney and that includes return economy  airfares with Air Tahiti Nui, full breakfast daily and accommodation in a classic mountain view room.  There's an option also of upgrading to a superior lagoon view for an extra $100 per person.  For more information and conditions contact Viva! Holidays on  1300 468 482.  Or go visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on


Visuals attached:


Queen Elizabeth



Monday, 25 October 2010

Bogong Horse Back - APT - Maleny - Amalfi Coast - Cycling World Campionships


John Crook 

Get ready for the horse ride of your life

In January the award winning Bogong Horse Back Adventures has scheduled several opportunities to go horse riding , with one, three and four day rides from Falls Creek.  Several rides have been scheduled to celebrate the annual Big Fella Festival.  Resort guests can join a day ride on either January  4 – 5, 2011. Another option is a three day ride departing Falls Creek on January 8.

There are other options available.    Go visit  for prices and further information.    Then, it's just a matter of  'Giddy-up'

Fly free deals

The flow of deals continues.  One of the latest to consider is that offered by APT, which has two additional cruises in March of next year between Amsterdam and Budapest including departures on March 11 and 25.

The 15-day cruises are priced from $6245 per person twin share.  Heaps of extras included whilst on board. These include 14 nights cruising, all meals on the cruise, as well as local wines/beers with lunch and dinner, and even champers for breakfast.    So give them a call 1300 229 804 and ask for more information about the fly free deal for all suite types if booked before 20 December 2010.  All the details are also available by visiting  


It matters not where I may be, once a mention of Maleny and the special words come gushing out. For 16 years I enjoyed life in the hill top town on the hinterland of Queensland's Sunshine Coast. 

Artists and creative minds seem to gather in that town.    Just last week the town received a real shot in the arm with a local lad, David Crewe, winning a national contest on ABC Radio.  He participated in a contest to create lyrics for a song with his choice of subject being the lovely town of Maleny.  He hits the high spots on Thursday January 20 when Felicity Urquhart sings The magic of Maleny, at Tamworth's Country Music Festival.

Never to miss an opportunity, I've also just re-issued my book A Move to the Country. (Cost of $15 including postage) 

If interested in reading about the town of Maleny, drop an email requesting more info to   Then, when travelling into Sunshine Coast country, take a drive up the hill to explore Maleny, Montville, Flaxton and Mapleton. 

Sail the Amalfi Coast

Peter Sommer Travels has released a new sailing expedition along Italy's magnificent Amalfi Coast,- just one of the 20 cultural adventures on offer in 2011.  These are not just your usual type experiences.  Rather they are escorted by expert guides.   The new Italian itinerary, Cruising the Amalfi Coast travels for eight days visiting great historical and cultural jewels of the region.  For prices, conditions and full details of the touring, go visit  or, telephone the UK on 0011 44 1600888 220.

For cyclists

Geelong recently welcomed cyclists for the October world championships.  Here's news for those who follow such events.  The Italian city of Florence is scheduled to host the championships.   Florence has been named the host city for 2013. 

Next year's event (2011) is Copenhagen and in 2012 the Dutch town of Valkenburg.  For any of those events it is recommended to make early bookings for travel and accommodation. Check with your travel agent. 


Bogong horse riding (Vic)

Amalfi Coast (Italy)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Ann Rickard - Queensland - Hurtigruten - Spring carnival - China Southern - Daydream Island


John Crook 

Ann Rickard of Queensland- author and tour leader

The author of six travel orientated books, Ann Rickard, not only puts pen to paper to record her tantalizing adventures, but she also gathers together her fans and leads them as tour leader, touring whether it be France, Italy or Greece.

Her adventures usually are of 14 days and 13 nights, but I note that for her upcoming tours there are but three spots in the June  2011 departure.  Then a year later she departs on a tour  with but five places vacant.

Price for year 2011 departure is from 3700 Euro.

For all the details go visit or email   Then, there's her latest book, again with a travel influence (plus plenty of laughs).  It's Three in a Bed in the Med, three countries, three people and one friendship put to the test. 

Book to make a saving

It's possible to save up to 20% on 2011 Hurtigruten cruising to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, renowned for its breathtaking fjords, glaciers and amazing wildlife. If you book now there's a 20% saving off Svalbard Explorer, now priced from $5151 per person.  The price is valid through August 2011 departures.  There are other savings on other tours.  Discounts apply on new bookings made until 31 December 2010 and on all cabin grades based on twin share accommodation.   For further details, conditions and the like telephone 1800 221 712.

Spring carnival

It's not altogether just about horse racing.

Although currently there's a Cup flavour throughout The Langham Hotel, the activities range from High Teas, Spring hats to watching the Cup in the comfort of a luxurious hotel. 

On Melbourne Cup day  and also on Oaks Day the hotel has scheduled exclusive 'ladies lunches',  priced from $59.90 per person at Oaks Day lunch, or from $89.90 per person on Cup Day.  Enter the hotel during the Spring Carnival and catch sight of magnificent hats created by milliner Richard Nylon.

To take up the suggestion of watching the Cup in luxury, telephone for reservations 1800 641 107, or email  

More flights

A total of 24 direct flights weekly will boost travel between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with China.  China Southern, which just happens to be  Asia's largest airline, in terms of traffic volumes in Asia, services 80 cities in mainland China.  The Australian services fly into mainland China's transit hub of Guangzhou.  The airline is doubling its direct weekly flights between the east coast of Oz and Guangzhou.

For details ring : Sydney (02)9233 9788, Melbourne (03) 8676 0088, Brisbane 1300 889 628.  We sure do have a choice these days with air options. 

What I would call a good deal

Location is an east coast island of Australia, fantastic for the kids, and Daydream Island is on the very doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef.

There's a good deal on offer right now.  The offer is valid for travel until December 3 2010, and can be purchased until November 30 this year.

The three night package includes a Dinner Bed and  Breakfast special, and is priced for only $660 per person, twin share.    There are conditions. Excluded from the package are beverages, , seafood platters and market priced items are not included. Children's dinner is a set menu. Entrée  is not included and is an additional cost. Up to two children  stay and eat breakfast free when sharing with adults and using existing bedding.  For other conditions and inclusions simply go visit or call 1800 075 040.  Then, go for it.   There are free activities well worthwhile checking on.  I love the open air movies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.  

Need a holiday ?  We're archived on 

Monday, 11 October 2010

Indian Tigers - Bali Holiday - Fiji Holiday Deal - Sydney Fish Markets - SeaDream Worlds Best


John Crook

Tigers below

Here's a chance to search for a tiger from the back of an elephant.  A 16-day escorted small-group journey offers highlights of India and Nepal, delves into century's of history, ornate temples, fantastic architecture, marble palaces and on it goes. The group goes into tropical jungles, a visit to the Taj Mahal, Kathmandu and an elephant-back safari.   The price, from $4558 per person twin share  includes 15-nghts accommodation, sightseeing in air-conditioned vehicles, local guides. Entrance fees and flights between Delhi and Kathmandu.  Get all the facts, conditions and prices by calling 1300 836 764 or go visit

Bali gets a guernsey

About time some readers may say.  So here goes, my first report on Bali.  Venture Holidays has just released a range of seven-night packages across Bali from as little as $237 per person twin share. Stay in a choice of more than 12 popular hotels and resorts.  All deals are land only and include daily breakfasts and return airport transfers.  With prices like those mentioned, no wonder it's a hot spot.  For Bali accommodation details ring 1300 41 41 51.

Three hundred islands fly the Fijian flag.

There's a fabulous range of holiday destinations in Fiji, and some are priced from as low as $591 per person.  This package includes meet and greet on arrival at Nadi airport, return coach transfers airport/Outrigger, seven nights accommodation for the price of four in a superior resort view room, plus other benefits for the holiday maker.

The Coral Coast Outrigger is set midst 40 acres of lush tropical gardens.   Get all the facts by visiting

Seafood school in Sydney

November to February program of classes can be viewed by going to

Guest chef fever is alive and well at the Sydney Seafood School with a wide range of guest-chefs in the upcoming summer program.  Classes are from 20-hour evening sessions through to weekend workshops.  Chefs galore have signed up to host the grand array of sessions.  To check on availabilities give the school a ring, on (02) 9004 1111.

Simply the best

SeaDream 1 and SeaDream 11 have been named world's best boutique ships .  Ratings put both vessels amongst the top five over-all sea-going passenger vessels in the world.   For details of both vessels at sea put them in the Mediterranean from May to October and in the Caribbean from November to April.  Travel agents will have the information you'll be seeking, or go visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.   

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Monday, 4 October 2010

Christchurch, Tempo Early Bird, Euro Experts, Turkey Deal, Car Hire Update


John Crook - The Travel Man

Come on over

That's the  plea of the top tourism officials in Christchurch.  Stand by for a solid promotional campaign, which appears to be mainly centred around Sydney, and set to launch mid October.

In brief, the 'gathering of the clan' so to speak, is to let Aussies know that the beautiful city of Christchurch is back in business.  The bulk of tourism operators, along with hotels and attractions , have the shingles out and are ready and waiting to serve those of us from across the ditch who have a dollar or two to spend this Springtime. To get the latest information I suggest you contact your local travel agent.

Save if you are an early bird

There's a saving of $120 per person on Tempo Holidays popular eastern European panorama coach tour.  Now priced from $2371 this 13-day package covers the highlights of the region, Vienna,  Budapest, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw and Berlin.  Singapore Airlines has launched its early bird fares,  and Tempo's deal comes at the perfect time to discover Europe.  Terms and conditions apply so for more information or call 1300 558 987.

Europeans go public

A host of travel companies from France are readying for a huge putsch, in what will be one of the true major tourism campaigns this decade.  

Let's face it, there has been a certain withdrawal from the promotional people, what with the global  financial crisis and a host of other negatives. The experts from Europe will be showing their wares in consumer shows in Sydney, Parramatta, Geelong, Melbourne, Gold Coast, and Brisbane, to list just a few. Go check

A deal for Turkey

There's a 14-day Glories of Turkey tour with a deal price from $1349 per person twin share, if booked by December 1 2010.   Previously advertised price was $1525,- so a heck of a saving.

The price includes coach touring, accommodation, all major sightseeing, entrance fees and most meals. The tour includes Istanbul, Gallipoli, Ephesus, Ankara and more.  Best idea is to ring Transglobal destinations on 1300 552 848.

Did you know ?

As from November 19 2010, Avis and Budget will be the exclusive Qantas frequent flyer car hire partners. This means that you will only be able to earn points on car hire with those two companies.  Thrifty and Hertz will no longer be part of that program.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  This information is provided as a guide only.  Check with your travel agency.   Block out periods may apply.   

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