Monday, 9 May 2011

Solo South America - Grand Mediterranean cruise - Eastern Europe - Star Clippers - Logan Wines Tasting

INNOVATIVE Chile-based active travel company, explora has just announced it will be dropping single supplement surcharges for those who want to go it alone to the unexplored regions of South America - Atacama, Patagonia and Easter Island.

explora operates three luxurious eco-lodges and offers fully-inclusive packages of accommodation with all meals, soft and alcoholic beverages, transfers from the local airport and equipment, including all-terrain vehicles and horses, as required for the range of exploration.

Packages range from three to eight night stays and prices for singles start from around A$1980 for a three-night experience at Atacama, which is a saving of about A$780, a four-night stay in Patagonia is from A$2780 which can save a solo traveller almost A$1000. A six-night stay at Rapa Nui on Easter Island costs from A$4560 which saves A$1800.

The waiver of the single supplement applies to travellers staying at the properties between May 15 and October 15 2011.

For more information see your local travel agent, email or visit


MSC Cruises has slashed the price of its 14-night Grand Mediterranean cruise, that combines two week-long cruises, to $2198 per person, twin share.

And as an added bonus, it will provide free transfers between Venice and Genoa to link the East and West Mediterranean cruises aboard luxurious MSC Armonia and MSC Lirica.

This latest deal coincides with news that MSC Cruises is to complement its standard dining with lighter casual dining on its fleet, where passengers will be able to dine at their own leisure with the buffet-style restaurants providing an evening service

"There will be no fixed sitting times, so they can dine exactly as and when they please," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

A series of Grand Mediterranean departures are scheduled during this year's northern summer months of July and August.

MSC Armonia will begin its seven-night cruises from Venice, calling on Ancona (Italy), Corfu, Santorini, Piraeus (for Athens), and Kotor (Montenegro).

MSC Lirica on the other hand, begins and ends in Genoa, with calls on Ajaccio (Corsica), Civitavecchia (for Rome), Salerno (Italy), Palma, and the giant French port of Marseille.

"Ancona and Kotor are amazing stops on the MSC Armonia Eastern Mediterranean cruise leg as they are UNESCO World Heritage listed, a real photographer's dream," said Mrs Clarke. "As for the MSC Lirica cruises, well, Ajaccio may not be well known in Australia but it is in Europe as the birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte," she said.

As with all MSC Cruises' programs, children aged under 18 years cruise free when sharing a cabin with two adults (port charges are extra).

To cash in on the latest saving, bookings must be made by May 20, 2011.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502,

TOURING specialist Beyond Travel has announced discounts across the board on their escorted tours through Eastern Europe including Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and more, for departures in 2011.

The 14-day Tallinn to Vienna has been discounted by $120 per couple. The tour travels through some of the lesser known regions of Eastern Europe including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania before heading south to Poland, Czech Republic and Austria.

Now priced from $2720 per person twin share there are seven departures between June and October.

One of Beyond's most popular escorted tours is the 10-day Vienna to Bucharest including three nights in Hungary's famous split capital city Budapest and costs from just $2060 per person twin share.

All escorted tours include accommodation and daily breakfast, transportation by a high quality air conditioned coach, comprehensive sightseeing with an English-speaking tour director and return transfers.

For other escorted tours across Eastern Europe contact Beyond Travel on 1300-363-554 or email 


STAR Clippers is offering 25% discounts on 23 of its most popular Mediterranean cruises between July and October this year.

The cruises, from $2340 for seven nights including taxes, are available on all three tall ships in the fleet including the 227-passenger flagship Royal Clipper.

Prime itineraries include the playgrounds of the rich and famous in the French and Italian Rivieras, the Greek Isles, Turkey, Malta, and a string of small ports unable to be visited by large liners.

A focus for Star Flyer (170 passengers) is the new 'Yachtsman's Paradise' route between Istanbul and Athens with calls at picturesque villages, towns and islands in the Aegean Sea.  Sister ship Star Clipper is operating from Athens, cruising to the Northern and Southern Cyclades calling at the best-known Greek islands.

The discounted prices are twin-share for cruises booked before June 30. Past passengers are entitled to an additional five percent discount.

All three ships are high-tech luxury versions of the spectacular clipper sailing ships made famous as they swept across the ocean trading routes of the world under billowing white sails in the 1900's.

The 21st century clippers come with swimming pools, piano lounge, bars, library, en-suite cabins and all the pampering of a private yacht.

Call 1300 362 599, (02) 8913 6588 or visit

LOGAN Wines will share a hot and spicy dinner at their Mudgee Tasting Room in the Hunter Valley this June, when Longrain's renowned Executive chef Martin Boetz takes time out from his modern-Thai restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne for a one-off dinner matched with winemaker Peter Logan's wines.

It will be held on Saturday June 18th to showcase a marriage of Boetz's banquet style dishes and Logan's broad spectrum of wines.

Peter and his wife Hannah have been trying to 'woo' Martin for Logan's popular 'Dinner with…' series for several years. "Longrain and its progressive Asian fare has truly stood the test of time and we are really looking forward to joining forces with Martin while pairing his high-flavour cooking with wines from the Logan stable. We hope to get some lovely taste combinations with some of our reds as well as our aromatic whites,'' said Peter.

"Hot, sweet, salty and sour – the Longrain menu will incorporate all these tastes with Logan Wines balancing them beautifully," said Martin Boetz. "Logan has some wonderfully fragrant whites including the Weemala Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gew├╝rztraminer, and I am looking forward to mixing things up with their spicy reds such as the Logan Pinot Noir and Shiraz too," he added.

Martin is bringing Longrain's signature style to Mudgee but intends putting a fresh spin on some locally sourced produce as well. This will include such courses as Seng wa of Mandagery Creek Venison fillet (cured Venison) with kaffir lime juice, mint and chilli, and Mussaman curry of grass fed beef (also from Mandagery Creek) with potato and baby onions.

'Dinner with Martin Boetz' with matching Logan Wines will be held at the Logan Tasting Room, Castlereagh Highway, Mudgee at 7pm on Saturday June 18th. The price is $150pp including food and wine.