Monday, 12 December 2011

Royal Clipper - India Tour - Travel Insurance - Accor Brisbane - Luke Nguyen Tour


CRUISE passengers on the tall ship Royal Clipper will have more chances to spot whales and dolphins and delve into the mysteries of marine biology in the Caribbean next year.

Star Clippers, operators of the world's largest fleet of luxury sailing ships Royal Clipper, Star Flyer and Star Clipper, have appointed Spanish-born Laura Del Rio Torres as marine biologist-in-residence for the 2012 Caribbean season aboard Royal Clipper.

A graduate of universities in Barcelona and New Jersey, Laura will give talks on marine wildlife, operate a daily whale and dolphin watch, lead beach walks and join guests on dives. She will also continue studies of the environment in which Royal Clipper sails.

Royal Clipper spends nearly five months a year (November to April) in the Caribbean sailing from Barbados on mainly seven-night cruises.

Owner-operator of Star Clippers, Mikael Kraftt, said: "We at Star Clippers are passionately committed to preserving the environment and by offering more opportunities for our guests to learn and get involved, we hope to pass on our enthusiasm."

For reservations contact travel agents or Star Clippers on 1300 362 599 or visit


HOLIDAY Specialists has a genuinely out-of-the-ordinary very-small-group travel experience to India in November 2012 that will include not only luxury hotels and sightseeing in Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaislamer and Agra, but the colourful and highly-unusual Pushkar Camel Fair – one of the world's largest tribal gatherings with events ranging from camel racing and horse dancing, to musical performances and seldom-seen cultural programs.

Limited to just sixteen guests this exclusive package also includes an Australian escort, pre-departure Cocktail Party in Sydney, a Welcome Dinner in Delhi, a Gala Dinner at Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur, a Farewell dinner in Agra and a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal, and a 2-night stay in deluxe tents in the heart of the Pushkar Fair Grounds.

There'll also be 2-nights at the Dera Sand Dune Retreat in Jamba in the Rajasthan Desert, the world's first resort built on a sand dune.

The 16-day luxury package is priced from $5,897pp twin-share including return air and taxes from Sydney. For full details call Holiday Specialists on 1300 783 852 or visit

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The annual 5-day Pushkar Camel Fair attracts up to 300,000 tourists and tribes people, with 20,000 camels, cattle and horses brought in to participate in races, camel and horse dances, camel decorating, traditional tribal games and cultural programs from dancing to turban tying.

Thousands of those attending also bathe in Pushkar Lake during the full moon that coincides with the Fair – believing that bathing during the full moon will release them of their sins.


ALMOST 40 per cent of Australian holidaymakers fail to buy their travel insurance until a week before their holiday, putting themselves at financial risk, according to leading online travel insurance company Travel Insurance Direct (TID).

While travellers often purchase their airfares up to a year in advance to secure a bargain, research shows travel insurance was being pushed down the list and bought much later, TID spokesman Graham Kingaby said.

"Many unforeseen issues, from airline strikes to floods, can jeopardise your holiday plans at the last minute. And if disaster strikes before your holiday and you haven't bought travel insurance, you'll lose your cash as well as your vacation."

Mr Kingaby said TID's research showed around two-thirds of travellers bought their insurance in the four weeks before they travelled, with almost 40 per cent waiting until the final week before departure.

"Travel insurance isn't a last minute bargain – you get the best benefit by purchasing early, as soon as you book your flights.

"In the case of the Icelandic volcano eruption in April 2010, which led to an estimated 300,000 flight cancellations, travel insurance exclusions on cancellation and delay came into effect the day after the eruption.

"Those who had bought their insurance before the eruption were fine. But anyone planning to travel in the week after the volcano erupted who didn't already have travel insurance, would have been cursing their tardiness."

And travel insurance, he said, was far cheaper than most holidaymakers believed. "A single person's policy for a week in Bali is about $40. When you consider the cost of losing your luggage or having to seek medical treatment overseas, that's clearly money well spent."



ACCOR'S Novotel, Mercure and Ibis hotels have slammed down their rates during the 2012 Brisbane International Tennis Tournament.

The Brisbane International which will be held from January 1-8, 2012 at the Queensland Tennis Centre will attract some of the world's best international tennis stars including Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic and Australia's own Sam Stosur and Bernard Tomic.

Accor Brisbane hotels are offering unbeatable accommodation rates during the Tournament: until the end of January it has a Summer Special 'stay a little longer, save a little more' where tennis fans staying two or more nights will save 10% and receive a free breakfast.

Head to Novotel Brisbane for rates from $179 per night, Mercure Brisbane from $159 per night, or the Ibis Brisbane from $139 per night.

To book call Novotel on 07 3309 3309, Ibis on 07 3237 2333 or Mercure on 07 3237 2300 or visit

Rates are subject to availability and conditions apply.


CELEBRITY chef Luke Nguyen will lead two food-themed APT 19-day Vietnam and Cambodia Signature Experience tour-cruises next year, one on June 30 and the other on December 29.

Luke Nguyen is famous for his SBS cooking show "Luke Nguyen's Vietnam", his cook books and his world-renowned Sydney restaurant Red Lantern. He will be with the tour over 10 days.

Among the Nguyen-inspired experiences on the Hanoi-to-Siem Reap itinerary are sampling authentic homemade Pho from a side-street stall in Hanoi, a vegetarian banquet lunch at Dong Thien Pagoda nunnery in Hue, a class-lunch at the Morning

Glory Cooking School in Hoi An and in Saigon, exploring the local neighbourhood of his family, a cooking class based on his menu with matching wines and a Red Lantern-style degustation dinner with matching wines.

Following the Saigon cooking lesson, a professional mixologist, using ingredients such as tamarind, lychee, chilli and lemongrass, explains the art of creating Asian-inspired cocktails.

The price of this holiday is from $8395 per person twin share, which includes the above experiences, another 44 meals, five-star hotels in Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Saigon and Siem Reap, overnight sailing on a Ha Long Bay junk, eight days cruising on the Mekong River on the new luxury APT-owned RV AmaLotus, small group shore excursions, city tours, internal flights, port charges, tipping, soft drink, local beer and spirit at all times during the cruise as well as regional wines with lunch and dinner on the RV AmaLotus.              

As APT's Ambassador for Vietnam, Luke Nguyen also recommends city restaurants for APT's Dine Around Dinner concept, which provides dining choices covered by the tour price.

APT's package includes free return flights deal for bookings made before March 31. Call 1300 229 804, visit or see a travel agent.