Seadream - Hawaii - Macau - LA Zoo - Carnival Australia -
SEADREAM's BALTICS, NORWEGIAN FJORD AND RUSSIA DEBUT
SEADREAM Yacht Club's 112 guest mega-motor-cruiser, SeaDream I will break from her normal Mediterranean sailings with a 10-weeks Baltics, Norwegian Fjords and Russia season this northern summer, starting with 11-nights on May 28 from Hamburg in Germany to Bergen in Norway.
This sailing will include a transit of the Kiel Canal and SeaDream I will be the first cruise vessel ever to visit Faaborg on Denmark's island of Fyn, one-time home of Hans Christian Andersen. She'll also visit 13th century Marstrand in Sweden, Lillesand in Norway that's a small and quaint village that due to it's size is unable to cater for larger cruise vessels, and the tiny "Skjaergaarden" Islands with their opulent summer homes of Norway's wealthiest.
SeaDream will have a day in Oslo with its blend of old culture and today's modern Norwegian lifestyle, and by contrast visit remote Flam with its steep mountains and waterfalls… with an optional trip on the famous Flåm Railway.
On June 21 guests will experience the longest day of the year when the "midnight sun" bathes Norway in a near-24 hours of light, and the voyage will conclude in Bergen with a gourmet island beach barbecue.
Prices start from US$7924pp twin-share including accommodation in ocean view staterooms, 5-star dining, wine with lunch and dinner, open bars with selected premium brands, nightly cocktail gatherings, use of mountain bikes shoreside, power and sail watersports facilities, a 30-course golf simulator, onboard gratuities, and port charges and taxes. Air travel is additional.
WAIMEA Valley on Hawaii's Oahu Island has announced its 2011 Hiking Series for individuals, families and those looking for more strenuous up-to 5-hour hikes.
Beginning this month, there will be Valley hikes every Saturday with the last Saturday of each month featuring the more strenuous.
Hikes will embrace stunning views from atop high ridges, and guides will help hikers identify native and exotic plants, view various streams and the Waimea Waterfall, point out native o`opu (fish), rare endemic aquatic moth pupa, and showcase the Valley's indigenous birds.
Children (15 years of age or younger) must be accompanied by an adult.
To participate in the Family Hikes children must be 7 years of age or older. Family Hikes cost $10 per person plus the cost of admission to the Valley. Space is limited to 20 participants and reservations are required.
To participate in the strenuous hikes, the last Saturday of each month, children must be at least 12 years of age. Strenuous hikes cost $15 per person plus the cost of admission. A minimum of 5 participants are required for the hike to take place.
Registration is at 8:30 am at the Waimea Valley Visitor Center. Hikes start promptly at 9:00 am and end at 12:30 pm (short hikes only). Participants should bring a snack, insect repellent, sunscreen and water and must wear closed-toe, non-slip hiking shoes.
Waimea Valley is a living place of peace and safety and is significant in the history of Hawaiian spirituality and traditions. The 720ha valley offers an authentic cultural window into the lifestyle and customs of the Hawaiian people through daily programs and activities. For more information visit www.waimeavalley.net.
2011'S FESTIVAL FUN TIMES IN MACAU
MACAU'S reputation to entertain its guests will continue throughout 2011 with the Asian centre set to host a series of colourful festivals and events to complement the city's extravagant year-round Vegas-style stage shows.
Headlining the glittering list of annual celebrations are the A-Ma Festival (April 25), the 22nd Macau Arts Festival (April 29 – May 28) and the thrill-a-minute Macau International Dragon Boat Races (June 4-6).
For a number of days between September 10 and early October, Macau will host the 23rd Macau International Fireworks Display, while September 12 is time for locals and guests to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
"When it comes to festivals Macau knows how to turn on a colourful and exciting event," said Helen Wong, managing director of the Macau Government Tourist Office in Australia and New Zealand.
"From such events as the 11th Macau Lotus Flower Festival (June) and the 25th Macau International Music Festival (Oct 7 – Nov 6) to the 58th Macau Grand Prix (Oct) and the 11th annual Food Festival (Nov), there's much to excite visitors as well as the locals... and not to be missed is the Macau City Fringe Festival which will be into its 11th year when staged in November."
Other major events include Procession of the Passion of Our Lord (Mar 12-13), Feast of the Drunken Dragon (May 10), National Day of the People's Republic of China (Oct 1), Festival of Ancestors (Oct 5), the 16th Macau International Trade and Investment Fair, Lusofonia Festival 2011 (Oct 21-23), the Macau International Kart Grand Prix (Oct), Macau International Food Festival (Nov) and the Macau International Marathon (Dec 4).
Each festival and event complements the major full-time shows such as the City of Dreams' The House of the Dancing Water spectacular, and The Venetian's Cirque Du Soleil Zaia.
On average, Australians spend almost four nights a visit in the city with its east-meets-west and old-meets-new characteristics.
A NEW "Elephants of Asia" exhibit has opened at the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens.
Designed with the health, welfare and enjoyment of the elephants in mind, the state-of-the-art facility also gives viewers an entertaining look at these magnificent pachyderms, as they romp and play in the tropical landscape. Bathing pools, a waterfall, river sand, sandy hills and varied topography offer plenty of activity for the three new residents - Billy, a 25-year-old male Asian elephant and a long-time resident of the LA Zoo, and two female Asian elephants from the San Diego Zoo: Tina, 30 some years old, and Jewel, 40-something.
Both the females were born in the wild and have been together for nearly 30 years.
Elephants of Asia will focus on the rich connection between elephants and the cultures of Thailand, India, China and Cambodia. The exhibit will familiarize guests with the challenges Asian elephants face in the wild, including their shrinking natural habitat, and give visitors the opportunity to directly contribute to conservation programs that support elephants in their native countries.
"Seeing the elephants explore and engage inside their new habitat is an amazing and rewarding sight," said Los Angeles Zoo Director John Lewis. "We are excited to share this incredible new exhibit and these stunning animals with everyone." See www.lazoo.org
CARNIVAL AUSTRALIA RIDES A RECORD CRUISE WAVE
AUSTRALIA'S largest cruise operator, Carnival Australia says its cruise business will hit an all-time high over the 2011-12 summer when it will have nine ships based in Australian waters.
And while they'll offer a wide range of destinations, cruises to New Zealand are set to reach record levels.
Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said Princess' recent announcement that it would deploy a fourth superliner, Sea Princess, in Australia for the summer would take the number of locally-based ships represented by Carnival Australia to new records, with four P&O Cruises' ships and Cunard's Queen Mary 2 also based in Australian waters at that time.
"It's tangible evidence of the growth of the Australian cruise industry, particularly when you consider that only a year ago Carnival Australia had just five ships based here over summer," Ms Sherry said.
Ms Sherry said while the ships would offer an array of itineraries, one of the top destinations would be New Zealand; between them, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises will offer 38 cruises to New Zealand in 2012, carrying around 80,000 passengers.
"New Zealand is becoming to Australia what Alaska is to America – a very desirable holiday destination that's ideal to visit by sea," Ms Sherry said.
"Last year, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises operated 11 New Zealand cruises which proved so popular we increased our offering to 17 cruises this year. Next year we'll have 31 cruises across the Tasman and in 2012 that number will rise to 38."
Ms Sherry said official statistics showed that the number of Australians taking trans-Tasman trips has more than doubled over the past decade, and now exceeds one million a year.
"Access Economics figures show that the cruise industry will grow by 7 per cent annually over the coming years, with the number of Australians taking cruise holidays reaching one million by 2020."
The nine cruise ships to be deployed in Australia in 2011-12 are P&O Cruises' Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl, Pacific Dawn and Pacific Sun as well as Princess Cruises' Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess and Diamond Princess and Cunard's Queen Mary 2. At least five other ships from Carnival Australia-represented cruise lines are also expected to visit over the 2011-12 summer.