Monday, 28 September 2009

FRANK'S FAVORITES: Save on Alaska, Dollar Driving Us Overseas



A ten-night cruise from Rome to Sicily, Athens, Turkey, and back through the Greek Islands to Naples (for a visit to Capri) and Rome, is super-value with a starting price just $5699pp twin-share – but even more so when it includes return air and taxes from mainland capitals and Cairns… and for good measure even a night pre-cruise in the Crowne Plaza, Rome.

And timing for this unique 11-night package through could not be better: Celebrity Cruises' mega-liner Celebrity Equinox sails from Rome on June 25 2010 – virtually the middle of our winter and the middle of the Northern Hemisphere's summer.

Ports of call include Messina in Sicily, Piraeus for Athens, Kusadasi in Turkey for a visit to historic Ephesus, then Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini in Greece, Naples for Capri, and back to Rome.

Guests on the 122,000-tonne Celebrity Equinox have a choice of ten dining venues from formal and themed restaurants to casual cafés and leisurely bistros, a range of bars and lounges including the Sky Observation Lounge that's been dubbed "the ultimate observation lounge," a choice of nightly entertainment venues… even a living, manicured lawn at the top deck Lawn Club for golf putting and other outdoor "country club-like" recreational activities.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or check-out


Springtime in Griffith in the NSW Riverina is one of the most enchanting seasons in Australia, especially for garden lovers.

The Burley Griffin-designed city with its beautiful tree lined streets is surrounded by orchards and vineyards that form an impressive backdrop for both town and country gardens, and its Mediterranean climate provides ideal as the city comes alive with nature's annual explosion of colour.

To celebrate this special time of year the city hosts the annual 4-day Griffith Festival of Gardens where ten private gardens are open for inspection.  They range from delightful small cottage gardens through to grand, large acreage creations – each has its own distinct charm. Two have been featured in Your Garden magazine in 2009.

The wide centre median strip of Banna Avenue is filled for blocks with the now-famous citrus sculptures that in Australia are unique to Griffith.   They are based on the original sculptures at Menton in France, with more than 100,000 oranges and grapefruit used to construct Griffith's magnificent and imaginative larger-than-life three dimensional creations.

This year's Festival will be held from October 16th to 19th with special guest

Elizabeth Swane, a member of one of Australia's best-known rose growing families and daughter of rosarian Ben Swane.  Elizabeth worked at the family nursery, Swane's Nursery at Dural for 25 years until its sale in 2000 and today  combines a gardening media career with a family business and being a busy mum.

She is also a gardening presenter on the popular talkback show 'Weekends with Simon Marnie' on ABC Radio 702 in Sydney, and writes regular articles and columns for several national gardening magazines including ABC Gardening Australia magazine, Your Garden, Home Beautiful and Burke's Backyard magazine.

Elizabeth will launch Griffith's Festival of Gardens at a twilight function at St Alban's Cathedral on Friday 16 October, where guests will be treated to bellringing, music, gourmet nibbles and Champagne, and a floral artistry and quilt display. Elizabeth Swane will also be guest speaker at the Festival Dinner Dance on Saturday 17 October.

Bookings are still open to both events for an opportunity to meet and chat with Elizabeth; there will also be a lucky garden entry holiday prize of a weekend in Melbourne at the Mantra on Park travelling with CountryLink.

Programs for this year's Festival are available from the Griffith Visitor Centre  on 1800 681 141, by emailing or by visiting


 P&O Cruises is offering passengers the chance to cool off over summer and head south to Australia's Emerald Isle, with great deals available for December sailings to Tasmania onboard the cruise line's latest superliner, Pacific Jewel.

Pacific Jewel's maiden five-night voyage to Tasmania departs Sydney on December 13, 2009, with passengers able to spend a day in Melbourne doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, before continuing on to the Tasmanian port of Burnie – the gateway to the State's stunning north.  Fares are available from $1099* per person twin share.

Not only will holidaymakers on this inaugural voyage experience a piece of cruising history, they will also be the first to try celebrity chef Luke Mangan's new signature restaurant onboard, Salt Grill by Luke Mangan.

For those who like to plan ahead, Pacific Jewel will return to Tasmania in December 2010, enabling passengers to soak up the treasures of Tasmania over eight relaxing nights.

The round-trip voyage includes calls to historic Port Arthur, an overnight stay in Hobart, scenic cruising in beautiful Wineglass Bay as well as visits to Burnie and Melbourne.  Departing Sydney on December 10, 2010, fares are available from $1414* per person twin share.

 At 70,310 tonnes, Pacific Jewel will carry 2053 passengers and feature one of the largest spas at sea, an open-air deck with aerial stage for circus and music performances, a three-storey atrium foyer and almost 200 private balcony cabins, the most in P&O Cruises' fleet.

For more information and bookings contact a licensed travel agent, P&O Cruises on 13 24 69 or visit

Subject to availability. Conditions apply.


The rise of the Aussie dollar is driving Australians overseas, according to Australia's premier car rental wholesaler, DriveAway Holidays.

It says the current record highs of our dollar against the English Pound has seen a marked surge in UK self-drive holiday bookings in the past 3 months.

And  combined with cheap airfares, our stronger dollar against the US-dollar has also lead to DriveAway Holidays' strongest bookings to the USA for some time, and suggestions our dollar could hit 90c against the US-dollar will mean huge savings for travelers going to the 'States.

DriveAway Holidays says that one week's rental of an economy car in the USA would have cost AU$370 in March, but today it costs just AU$315 - including a free tank of fuel and 3 additional drivers*, giving saving of over $300.

Michael Hay, Chief Executive Officer from DriveAway Holidays says, "We've had a great year for the UK and USA. But the increased demand, as well as reduced fleet numbers globally means that availability will be very tight over the Christmas period, so we advise booking early to take advantage of the great deals currently in the market."

*The bonus inclusions of a free tank of fuel and additional drivers in the USA are available for bookings made and paid by Friday 9 October only. Bookings can be made online at or call 1300 723 972.


BOOK and pay in full by November 2009 with Adventure World and receive savings of up to US$500 per person on Cruise West small ship Alaska adventures departing in 2010.

Save US$500 on the seven-night "Alaska's Inside Passage" itinerary now priced from US$3699 per person twin share. There are 25 departures between 19 May and 25 August departing from Juneau.

A shorter option is the four night "Glacier Bay Highlights" round trip cruise from Juneau, where you will view the wilderness and wildlife of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. This tour is now priced from US$1299 per person, including a savings of US$300 each and departs on between 24 May and 24 August 2010.

Included in all packages are accommodation and all meals onboard, onboard services, taxes, fees and charges.

Cruise West's small ship itineraries show travelers a world of hidden wonders and majestic wilderness no large ship can ever glimpse. It enables guests to get up-close to the destination and explore off-the-beaten-path waterways, narrow channels and tiny ports

For more details on itineraries, departures and fares contact Adventure World on 1300-363-055 or visit