Tuesday, 4 May 2010

FRANK'S FAVOURITES: NZ Cruising, India, Wine Cruise, Russia, Mary MacKillop


WITH the growing interest in television programs on "collectables" and their value, Wings Away Travel and Cruiseland has a 14-day cruise holiday aboard the luxury Dawn Princess to New Zealand, that includes a unique six days of tours designed just for collectors, plus onboard discussions, valuations and quizzes with two of Australia's top experts in antiques, art and collectables.

Dawn Princess will sail from Melbourne on March 24 next year, visiting Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Features  will range from major city art galleries to quaint village stores with their own collections of art, antique jewellery and furniture, unique bric-a-brac shops, one of the country's oldest European heritage sites, the art deco city of Napier, and an old Spanish Mission.

There'll also be the opportunity to see toy-soldier makers at work, talk with antique dealers, take a ride on Christchurch's historic tram and visit its Antigua Boat Sheds, and see New Zealand's only castle, the Neo-Gothic Larnach outside Dunedin.

During time at sea, experts Amanda and David Freeman will conduct panel discussions and valuation sessions on things of historic and collectable value.

Price of the 14-day cruise that will be escorted by Wings Away's Tour Manager, Maree McClelland begins from just $2930pp twin-share including all onboard dining and entertainment, six days of tours, a $100pp onboard credit, and taxes and gratuities.  For full details freecall 1800 800 640 or visit www.wingsaway.com.au

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION: Dawn Princess features a traditional International Dining Room, four Anytime Dining restaurants, a 24-hour buffet and has two Specialty dining venues (cover charges apply here.)

There are seven bars and lounges, a patisserie, ice cream bar, pizzeria, a hamburger and hot dog grill, and daily traditional afternoon tea.

Other facilities include four pools, five whirlpool spas, a spa, gym and fitness area, nine-hole putting course, virtual golf simulators, jogging track, shuffleboard and centre court and art exhibitions.


ADVENTURE World has just released a special four-day package for visitors to the Commonwealth Games in India later this year.

Take advantage of being in this amazing country during such an exciting time to see some other areas of India either before or after the Games.

The tour is a round-trip road journey from Delhi to Agra (along the way you will visit the city of Sikandra famous for housing the tomb of the greatest Mughal emperor Akbar) to visit the world famous Taj Mahal and the well-preserved Agra Fort. The tour then continues to Jaipur, the pink city, one of India's key cities in the Golden Triangle, for two nights and visit the many palaces and forts for which it is famous, then take an elephant ride to reach the Amber Fort.

The package costs from $437 per person twin share and includes three nights accommodation with daily breakfast, private car and driver, sightseeing with an English speaking guide and entrance fees.

It is valid for travel between September 1 and October 31.

For more details contact Adventure World on 1300-320-795 or visit www.adventureworld.com.au


HERE'S something new for cruise buffs who like their food and wine: when she debuts in January 2011, Oceania Cruises' new Marina will feature La Reserve by Wine Spectator, a spot where guests can learn about and sample fine wines selected by the connoisseurs at Wine Spectator magazine.

This new wine-tasting centre will be home to a series of educational seminars and tastings so guests can better appreciate the nuances of the varietals in the regions where Marina sails. On select evenings during each voyage, seven-course, gourmet tasting menus paired with fine wines will also be offered; although there will be no charge for the food and service, wines will be additional.

Situated atop the ship on Deck 12, La Reserve sports a sophisticated, yacht club décor with seating for just 24 guests as well as an al fresco patio boasting panoramic views. As part of the pioneering partnership, the wine list in the ship's Grand Dining Room will also feature daily red and white wine recommendations from magazine editors, all perfectly paired with the evening's menu offerings.

"Oceania Cruises is excited to launch this industry-first enrichment program in cooperation with Wine Spectator magazine," said Bob Binder, the line's president. "Complementing our acclaimed cuisine with the ideal wines is the ultimate enrichment for our gourmand guests.

"The team at Oceania Cruises is comprised of food and wine aficionados," said Marvin Shanken, CEO and chairman of Wine Spectator. "We are proud to be working with them to provide a wine experience that befits the finest culinary experience found at sea."

Oceania Cruises' new Marina features a total of 10 dining venues – six of which are open-seating, gourmet restaurants – including one by Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Facilities also include a Canyon Ranch® SpaClub and gymnasium, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, swimming pool and hot tubs. For information or a brochure to get you thinking about booking, see travel agents, visit OceaniaCruises.com.au or call (02) 9959 1370.


BEYOND Travel has released a new discount offer of $500 per couple on the popular locally escorted Highlights of Russia tour for a selection of departures this year, when you book and pay by May 31.

The price of the eight-night itinerary is now from $3050 per person. Discount applies to guarantee departure dates on July 16, August 13 and September 10.

The tour of the Kremlin, a visit to the Hermitage Museum and a cruise along the canals of St Petersburg and two days devoted to touring the ancient Golden Ring cities of Vladimir, Suzdal and Sergiev Posad are all part of the itinerary.

The price includes all accommodation in centrally located first class hotels, most meals, coach and rail transport, extensive sight seeing with local English-speaking guides throughout, all gratuities and return airport transfers.

For more details contact Beyond Travel on 1300-363-554 or email info@beyondtravel.com.au


Reserved seating in St. Peter's Square for the ceremony, Mass at Mother Mary MacKillop's favourite church in Rome (the Church of Saint Ignazio), the Christians-in-Rome half-day tour and a tour of the Vatican Museum and St Peter's Basilica are among the core features of three six-day packages released by Australian travel company Icon Holidays for the Canonisation of Mother Mary MacKillop in October.

The packages also include return economy airfares from Sydney or Melbourne and central Rome hotel with breakfasts.

"Dinner with the Tenors" (including four-course meal plus wines and soft-drinks), private celebratory dinner in honour of Saint Mary, private welcome cocktail party, higher standard hotels, private arrival and departure transfers and meet and greet service are some of the elements added in two of the packages.

Prices are from $3,499.00 a person twin share (silver), from $3,918.00 (gold) and from $4,971.00 (platinum) which cover relevant features above, and air taxes.

Packages are for October 13-18.

Icon Holidays also has pre and post-canonisation packages -- an eight-day Lourdes to Paris Pilgrimage package (from $2,541.00) for October 6-13 and a six-day Assisi, Modena, Florence and Milan Pilgrimage package (from $1,816.00) for October 18-23 -- which can only be purchased with a canonisation ceremony package.

Contact: Icon Holidays Tel: 03 9810 7666, see www.iconholidays.com or see travel agents.