LONDON during the Olympics, a town with the longest name in Europe, the world's oldest clock, a tour of Buckingham Palace, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are features of a 21-day UK cruise-tour in August this year.
Offered by Australia's Cruise Express, the hosted 'Glory of the British Isles' tour will begin during the final days of the London Olympics and also include ancient Stonehenge, London's now-leaning Big Ben, Shakespeare's home town, and a tour of the Queen's own former cruise ship, the Royal yacht Britannia.
The full, all-inclusive 21-day package tour departs Australia on August 7and begins with a five-night coach tour of southern England, including the Cotswolds, the Roman relics of Bath and the 750-year-old Salisbury Cathedral which boasts the tallest church spire in Britain (123m), the world's oldest working clock (626 years and still ticking) and the Magna Carta, written in 1215.
Cruise Express passengers will then board the deluxe, 3000-passenger superliner Caribbean Princess, in Southampton for a 12-night circumnavigation of the British Isles including the Channel Islands, Wales, Dublin and Belfast in Ireland, the Orkney Islands, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness in Scotland and Le Havre in France.
A special Cruise Express shore-tour package for $890 offers a guided tour in every port including a Welsh town with the longest place name in Europe stretching for 58 letters – Llanfairpwyllgwyngyllgogerichwyrndrobllllantisilliogogogoch – as well as the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, the Giant's Causeway and medieval ruins of Dunluce Castle near Belfast, Loch Ness and Cawdor Castle near Inverness, and the French town of Rouen where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431.
Cruise Express's guests will also receive tickets to the world-famous Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle, a cruise on Britain's largest lake, Loch Lomond, a tour through the Royal Yacht Britannia and two days of sightseeing in London including a ride on the London Eye, 2012 Olympic venues and a tour inside the 600-room Buckingham Palace.
Including return flights from Australia, extensive sightseeing, accommodation and 45 meals, the 21-day coach and cruise tour is available from $8190 per person, twin-share. A shorter 16-day package is also available from $6990pp twin-share.
PORT STEPHENS PARASAILING AND THUNDARAFT 'DOUBLE DARE'
THE purchase of Port Stephen's Thundaraft operation by Port Stephens Parasailing has resulted in a new 'Double Dare' adrenalin deal that saves adventure seekers $30 a couple.
The offer from newly named Port Stephens Watersports includes a tandem parasail flight above the blue, dolphin-rich waters of Port Stephens plus a 45-minute, heart-pounding ride on the wave-jumping Thundaraft – all for $240 per couple – a saving of $30 per couple.
Port Stephens Watersports' 60-minute parasailing trips see high powered speedboats depart from the Nelson Bay marina every day, with passengers attached to parachutes from the boat for a thrilling flight 150m above the protected, crystal clear waters of Port Stephens. Riders take off and land straight from the boat so no experience is necessary. Many 'flyers' spot the bay's famous bottlenose dolphins while soaring over Port Stephens beneath their colourful parachutes.
Meanwhile, the high-tech rigid hull inflatable Thundaraft takes passengers on a thumping thrill ride over ocean waves to nearby islands for wildlife viewing.
For all deals and packages, call Port Stephens Watersports on 02 4982 2808 or visit the new website www.pswatersports.com.au
A 2½ hour drive north of Sydney, Port Stephens offers dolphin and whale watching cruises, sandboarding on Australia's biggest sand dunes, camel rides on the beach, horseriding, koala spotting, kayaking, fishing, fauna parks, wineries, bushwalks, seafood restaurants and a range of accommodation close to Port Stephens' bay and ocean beaches.
GET MORE WITH CRUISECO'S AZAMARA FLY, CRUISE & STAY DEALS
CRUISECO has 10-nights aboard the luxury mid-size Azamara Quest from Barcelona to Corsica, Italy, France and back to Barcelona on October 6 this year.
Priced from just $4,060pp twin-share, the package includes Earlybird return airfare and taxes from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide (deduct $50pp ex Perth), a deluxe pre-cruise hotel stay and another post-cruise hotel stay with breakfasts.
It also has 11-nights on sister-ship Azamara Journey from Paris (Rouen) to England, Ireland, France, Belgium and finally Amsterdam on May 6 2012 from a low $4485pp twin-share, again with Earlybird return airfare and taxes from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, two-nights deluxe pre-cruise stay in Paris with breakfasts and one-night deluxe post-cruise stay in Amsterdam with breakfast.
Both these vessels carry under-700 passenger vessels and include boutique wines with onboard lunches and dinners, onboard gratuities, port charges, fees and taxes.
Cruiseco also has fourteen other fly, cruise and stay packages with Azamara Quest and Azamara Journey in 2012 in the Mediterranean, UK and Northern Europe, North Africa and from Suez to Mumbai.
For fully detailed itineraries and the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise-specialist travel agent, go to www.cruising.com.au.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Both vessels are able to access more-intimate destinations than larger ships, have onboard "Destination Experts" who give talks and advice on ports of call, and guests are encouraged to embrace local cultures, music, dance, art, history, and activities such as biking, golf, walking or hiking.
ITALY'S NEW FOUR CLASS RAIL SERVICES
MELBOURNE-based International Rail is selling the new four classes of travel which are now available on Italy's Trenitalia services.
The new system will provided travellers with a clear choice for comfortable, speedy travel by rail rather than air.
These pioneering innovations are leading the way for rail travel in Europe with the top-of-the-range executive class offering access to Freecia club lounges, private meeting room, a quiet area, open bar and gourmet meals by renowned Italian chef Vissoni, free papers and magazines, great comfort in fewer seats and maximum ticket flexibility.
The four class system will be introduced service-wide but is now available on schedules between Rome, Milan and Naples.
The three other classes business, premium and standard are all offering improved facility with greater space for passengers and luggage.
Carriages on the new services will provide eight executive seats, 52 single and double business seats, 62 premium and 68 standard.
Typical of the fares are AUD270 to travel executive from Rome to Milan and AUD155 for business, AUD135 for premium and AUD115 for standard.
Customers can access Italian trains live through a direct connection on the IR website www.internationalrail.com.au or by calling 1300 387 245
KIDS SKI FREE AT JAPAN'S NISEKO
JAPAN'S Niseko has had some exceptional snow (almost 10 metres so far) and come March there will be ample snow for Australian families seeking a once-in-a-lifetime Japanese snow holiday.
The bilingual snow resort offers a fusion of western and Japanese accommodation, restaurants and Kids Clubs, some with first-time friendly moving carpets.
With strong Australian-owned and operated facilities, Niseko features luxury Western apartments/condos, which plenty of English (as well as Japanese) language signage making it easy to find trails that link four separate ski areas.
SkiJapan.com has announced children 12 years and under can Ski for free during the entire month of March at Niseko. The deal is available on All Mountain Lift Passes.
To take advantage of this free Lift Pass offer – a child would be with adults who purchase a SkiJapan.com accommodation package that can cost up to 60% less than peak season. Plus there's free night skiing and free village shuttle throughout March.
Also in March, SkiJapan.com has a pay for six, stay for seven-night offer at any of its numerous managed properties in Niseko.
SkiJapan.com can also source well-priced airfares to Sapporo (the closest international airport to Niseko) via Hong Kong, Seoul or Tokyo.