John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine 21 Oct 2016


China VICTORIA KATARINA.JPGMORE AUSTRALIANS BOOK CHINA HOLIDAYS    AUSTRALIA’S continued fascination with China continues to grow with more opting to travel and holiday there than in the previous year.

The number of Australian passport holders visiting mainland China has increased by 14,000 compared so far this year with the same period in 2015, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Helen Wong .jpgFrom January till the end of August in 2016, 297,000 travelled to mainland China for a holiday or business compared with 283,000 over the same months last year (* figures do not include Hong Kong and Macao). “An increase such as this indicates a strong willingness by Australians to see and learn more about the interesting and historically rich country,” said Helen Wong, managing director and founder of leading China wholesaler Helen Wong’s Tours. “While contemporary change has been swift in the major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, a great deal of interest focuses on China’s ancient cultures and traditions, along with a number of scenic natural treasures such as the Yangtze River and the spectacular Three Gorges. “From our brochure, the Yangtze cruises aboard Victoria Cruises are very popular, a trend which is sure to continue with the growth in popularity of cruises.” Details: Helen Wong’s Tours: Phone (02) 9267 7833 or visit Ponant night.JPEG

PONANT New Brochure    Just released, PONANT’s October 2017 to May 2018 brochure features 45 voyages, carefully created for those who seek the benefits of exclusive compact ship luxury and expedition cruising in the one package. Itineraries include polar and tropical expeditions to Latin America, Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Antarctic onboard two of PONANT’s luxurious fleet of small ships, L’Austral and Le Boreal. Monique Ponfoort, Vice President Ponant Australasia, commented “The brochure is a comprehensive A to Z of the globe’s finest luxury and expedition voyages – intimate travel experiences from Antarctica to Zululand  and just about everywhere in-between! An extensive range of destinations that include voyages to the Amazon and Orinoco rivers, Costa Rica, Papua, the Bissagos Islands, Polynesia, Myanmar, the Seychelles, Latin America, Japan, and the vast icy wilderness of Antarctica, with voyages spanning 6 nights to a Grand Voyage of 85 nights duration from Vietnam to New Zealand”.

Ponant butler.JPEG“Select from itineraries that offer immersion in Maori and Melanesian cultures, the samurai and Torii of Japan, Borneo’s orang-utans, the wonders of Australia’s own Great Barrier Reef, the mysterious statues of Easter Island, World War II remnants in the Solomon Islands, active volcanoes and the heady appeal of the famed Spice Islands …… I like to think we have something for everyone”. “Or, for a change of pace, totally relax under sail aboard the classic three masted yacht, Le Ponant, with a stylish Caribbean cruise to exotic Martinique and Tobago Cays – perhaps enjoy a Christmas of creole and calypso with a splash of rum.” All in all, very civilised ways to travel from A to Z, each voyage imbued with PONANT’s trademark dash of panache whichever ship, yacht or itinerary selected.

 190924 FXF-liberty-island -POV05-R04.jpg

Statue of Liberty Museum   The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. (SOLEIF),  with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior have recently unveiled the plans for the building of a new Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, which is projected to open to the public in 2019.

The new museum—which is the key part of a beautification plan that also includes landscaping and lighting— will give the more than 4.3 million annual visitors to the Statue of Liberty the opportunity to learn about and honor the Statue’s history, influence, and legacy in the world. The current Statue of Liberty Museum, located inside the Statue of Liberty monument, is only accessible to a small fraction of the Statue’s visitors due to the safety upgrades that were put in place following September 11, 2001. “The Statue of Liberty is not just one of the most recognized monuments in the world, but an international symbol of hope that deserves to have her story shared with everyone who visits Liberty Island,” said Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation President and CEO Stephen Briganti. “

190926 FXF-POV04-DIFF-R04.jpg“Lady Liberty is the symbol of everything America is about: freedom, hope, possibility and resilience. It is She that millions of immigrants saw first as they arrived in this country, their hearts full of dreams for a brighter future.

As ‘godmother’ of this new chapter of Lady Liberty’s rich history, von Furstenberg had the idea to create a magnificent mural at the museum’s entrance, an artistic evocation inspired by yet another of America’s most meaningful symbols – the American flag. Each of the fifty “Liberty Stars” will be sculpted into a mural crafted from the original hand-forged iron bars, created by engineer Gustave Eiffel which supported the Statue of Liberty for 100 years and were removed and preserved during her 1986 centennial restoration. The underwriting of each Liberty Star is $2 million.

“With state-of-the-art exhibitions and iconic artifacts including the Statue’s original torch, the new Statue of Liberty Museum will ensure that future generations know, understand, and appreciate all that Lady Liberty represents in America and around the world,” said Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Superintendent John Piltzecker.

Access to the museum will be free with purchase of a ferry ticket to visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Liberty Island will continue to be open to visitors throughout construction of the new museum. Ferry tickets and boat schedules to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty are available at 

For more information about the Statue of Liberty Museum visit

  • Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.



China cruises popular

Helen Wong (insert


Ponant Butler

Liberty New Museum

Liberty New Museum (rendering)


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine • 14 Oct 2016 2016

The Tree At Rockefeller Center.jpg

NEW YORK CITY WITH HOLIDAY SPIRIT   The Holiday Season in New York City is one of the most festive times of the year. From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that kicks off the season in November to the Christmas Tree lighting in Rockefeller Center and the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, there are countless reasons to visit New York City at the end of the year. In celebration of this year’s holiday season, NYC & Company has produced a new short video to showcase some key highlights at

What to see and do: The 90th Anniversary Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, featuring giant helium balloons, musical performances, marching bands from across the country, and special celebrity appearances kicks off the holiday season on November 24 (

The Rockettes kick their way into the holidays as the Radio City Christmas Spectacular returns from November 11–January 2. The production will dazzle audiences with brand new dance numbers, extravagant costumes, and traditional fan favorites, (

The New York City Ballet presents George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, one of the most beloved and anticipated holiday classics, from November 25-December 31 (

NY Xmas LightsDyker Heights.jpgThe New York Botanical Garden’s cherished ‘Holiday Train Show®’ celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Coney Island’s Cyclone and Wonder Wheel and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge make their debuts alongside 150 iconic building models in the display that features model trains traveling through the miniature city landscape. The show runs from November 19-January 16, (

A classic holiday tradition continues with the 13th Annual St. George Theatre Christmas Show from December 9 – December 11. Just steps from the Staten Island Ferry, this two-hour production features over 100 actors, a live orchestra and numerous holiday standards set in holiday scenes from the North Pole to the surrounding neighborhoods of Staten Island (

The Louis Armstrong House Museum, a national historic landmark, hosts annual holiday tours throughout the holiday season, featuring Louis Armstrong’s voice recording of “’Twas the Night before Christmas (A Visit from St. Nicholas)” from December 1-30 (

Insider Journeys – small group journey travel in Asia   Australia’s leading Asia travel specialist, Insider Journeys has released its latest portfolio of Small Group Journeys, which offers travellers unparalleled comprehensive choice of experiential tours throughout the region.

image006.jpgThe new brochure highlights journeys from a portfolio of almost 1,000 departure dates in 11 countries, across nearly 100 tour itineraries.

To celebrate the launch, Insider Journeys is offering 15% off all 2017 Small Group Journey’s made and deposited before 31 October 2016.

Alastair Scott, Head of Product is proud of the new brochure and its extensive content. “The latest brochure really demonstrates the comprehensive choice available for our travellers. These insightful itineraries are based on the insider knowledge of our exceptional product team and 23 years’ experience,” says Scott.

“We give our clients opportunities for participation in local life. They’re privy to more local insights, with itineraries that provide flexibility and meaningful interactions with local people and fellow travellers that will give them stories that will last a lifetime.”

trips, include the Mekong and Beyond, Myanmar Revealed, Three Gorges Discovery and China Panorama.” 1300 362 777 or visit

AirNZ Prem econ 777-300ER-2796.jpg

Air New Zealand inflight wifi on its jet services in 2017   Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon announced that flights between Australia and New Zealand would be the first to receive connectivity. “Air New Zealand is in the final stages of commercial negotiations with Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics with internet connectivity to be supplied by Inmarsat’s new global GX satellite constellation and integrated with Air New Zealand’s in-cabin Panasonic Avionics technology. Proving flights will begin in the second half of 2017 and world-class internet services progressively available on Tasman, Pacific Island and long haul jet fleets from the end of next year,” Mr Luxon says. Domestic New Zealand jet services are likely to offer a wifi service from 2018. “Given Air New Zealand operates some of the longest flights in the world, and in oceanic areas where there has historically been poor quality satellite service, we have patiently worked with partners until comfortable that a service which meets the high expectations of our customers is available,” he says. “Proving flights on a partner company test aircraft have now given us the confidence to introduce what we believe will be the world’s most reliable inflight connectivity. Customers will be able to use their social media channels, stay on top of emails and browse the internet.

BA 777-300ER (300 dpi).jpg  

BRITISH AIRWAYS EARLY BIRDS TO THE UK, EUROPE AND ASIA   British Airways launches early bird special offers on flights from Australia to the UK, Europe and Asia. The offers are available for booking from now until midnight on 30 November 2016. Round trip fares to Asia start from $768* on World Traveller economy class and from $1,374* to the UK and Europe.

Asia – The special fares on flights to Singapore are valid for travel from now until 10 June 2017 on World Traveller economy class fares from $768* and from $1,818* on World Traveller Plus premium economy.

UK and Europe – The special fares on flights to the UK and Europe are valid for travel from now until 31 October 2017 on World Traveller economy class fares from $1,374* and from $3,060* on World Traveller Plus premium economy.

Nicole Backo, British Airways’ regional general manager, South West Pacific, said “For those who would like to benefit from these early bird fares, now is the right time to book. The long travel window means customers can plan their travel well into 2017. Compiled by John Pond.

  • Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.

MORE: http://www.cruiseandtravelmagazine.netNY Xmas LightsDyker Heights.jpg






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine Cruise Season 7 Oct 21016

Ovation of the Seas - Sydney Harbour 2.jpgRecord Cruise Ship Numbers in Australian Waters   Australia will welcome an unprecedented number of cruise ships this summer, with more than 40 vessels sailing in local waters – including eight ships making their maiden visits Down Under.

Among the flotilla will be the largest ship to visit Australia – Royal Caribbean’s 167,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas as well as the youngest and most luxurious ship ever to cruise here, the boutique Seabourn Encore, which will arrive in Australia just two weeks after it is officially named in Singapore.

HAL ms Maasdam in Norwegian Fjord.jpgDetailing the upcoming peak cruise season, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Commercial Director Brett Jardine said a record 41 ships from CLIA member cruise lines would be based in Australia or visiting local waters between October 1, 2016, and April 30, 2017, compared to 38 ships over the same period last year. Between them, the ships will make almost 900 calls to ports around Australia over that period – up 10 per cent on last year’s port calls numbers. With more than half the ships (23) offering return cruises from our shores, we will be able to take advantage of almost 400 roundtrip itineraries from local ports, a 20 per cent rise on last summer’s offerings.

P&O Cruises Five Ship Fleet.jpgThe start of the cruise season which started on October 1 coincides with the beginning of the local cruise industry’s first ever Cruise Month promotion, which will see cruise lines offering great deals through cruise specialist travel agents. Highlights of the peak summer period include:

  • The first international ship call for the summer season when Celebrity Solstice returns to Sydney on October 8
  • The first maiden ship call for the summer season when Holland America Line’s Maasdam debuts in Sydney on October 20
  • The inaugural Australian season of the largest Princess ship to sail from Australia this summer, the 3082-guest Emerald Princess, making her first Australian call in Fremantle on November 8, followed by Melbourne on November 13 and Sydney on November 15.
  • The inaugural visit of the largest ship to visit Australia, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, arriving in Fremantle on December 6 to make the first of six maiden calls following her launch earlier this year
  • The Australian debut of the ultra-luxury Seabourn Encore arriving in Darwin on January 22 and sailing down the Australian coast to reach Sydney on February 2 and Melbourne on February 4. In all she will make nine maiden Australian calls
  • The first Australian visit of the luxury Azamara Journey, arriving in Darwin on February 8, the first of 12 maiden calls
  • The debut of the 92,000-tonne Norwegian Star which will make seven maiden Australian calls commencing with Darwin on January 29
  • The maiden Australian visit of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Europa 2 which will debut Down Under with her call to Hobart on December 26, making 13 inaugural calls around the country
  • The inaugural visit of Oceania Cruises’ Sirena which will arrive in Sydney on March 6, 2017 and make eight maiden calls to local ports
  • A Royal Rendezvous of Cunard’s remastered flagship Queen Mary 2 and her younger sister Queen Elizabeth in Sydney on February 25
  • Queen Mary 2’s first ever visit to Tasmania with calls to Port Arthur on February 27 and Hobart on February 28
  • Royal Caribbean’s first call to Wollongong with a visit by Radiance of the Seas on October 30
  • The first ever round trip cruise to South America from Australia – an 84-night cruise by Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess departing Sydney on January 11, 2017.

What a great season we have to look forward to, JP.

Emerald Princess .jpgEmerald Princess Begins Her Journey Down Under    The biggest Princess Cruises’ ship to sail local waters this summer – the spectacular 3082-guest Emerald Princess – is now on her way down under after departing from Southampton.

Making the first of seven maiden Australian port calls in Fremantle on November 8, Emerald Princess will cruise via Melbourne on November 13, arriving at her new Sydney homeport on November 15.

Princess Cruises Vice President Australia & New Zealand Stuart Allison said the ship’s arrival would take the cruise line’s Australasian capacity to a record 11,800 berths across five ships during the 2016-17 cruise season.

“We’ve been basing ships down under for 15 years but the debut of Emerald Princess in the Emerald City will make this a summer to remember for Princess. With five of Princess’ 18 ships cruising local waters this summer, Australia ranks as the cruise line’s biggest market outside the United States,” Mr Allison said.

In exciting news for Australian holidaymakers, Emerald Princess will offer Award-winning Chef Curtis Stone’s new restaurant, SHARE as well as Princess’ new Salty Dog pub, serving up the Ernesto Burger – rated the best burger at sea – and gourmet small dishes developed with renowned US chef Ernesto Uchimura, combined with whisky flights. The superliner’s arrival will also set the stage for the debut of some great new entertainment offerings including the much-anticipated onboard musical Magic to Do from Oscar and Tony award-winning Broadway composer Stephen Schwartz.

Also on board are eight showrooms and lounges, two nightclubs and four swimming pools as well as signature Princess offerings such as the child-free Sanctuary, poolside Movies Under the Stars and the luxurious Lotus Spa.
Emerald Princess will spend her inaugural five-month season of cruises from Sydney sailing on 13 roundtrip cruises to destinations in the South Pacific, New Zealand and around Australia.  

Ponant Austral Fjords.JPEGFor more information visit, call 13 24 88 or see your licensed travel agent. Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.  MORE:


Ovation of the Seas

Holland America Line’s Maasdam debuts

Emerald Princess


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine • Macao-India 23 Sept 16

1_Wynn Palace_Exterior_Barbara Kraft.jpg

MACAO NEW LUXURY HOTELS PAMPER   One of my favourite places to visit, tourists to Macao, in particular the Asian city’s neon-lit Cotai Strip, can indulge in some additional pampering thanks to the opening of two new resorts.

The Wynn Palace Cotai and The Parisian Macao – have brought about an increase in the number of dining and day spa options.

Step inside the plush Wynn Palace Cotai and you are sure to be impressed by the large scale – and colourful – floral sculptures of a carousel and Ferris wheel, custom-designed for the hotel by world-renowned designer Preston Bailey who created the same tributes for the Wynn Palace in Las Vegas.

Fine dining centres on a quintet of restaurants, of note Andrea’s which offers a blending of Chinese dishes and cocktails, and the SW Steakhouse, where the steaks and seafood are served in an elegant dining room which features a surprising theatrical experience every 30 minutes.

At the hotel’s intimate end is Sushi Mizumi, where the fresh seafood handcrafted by well trained chefs. As is the case at the original Wynn Macau, located on the Macao peninsula, guests will be able to dine on exquisite Cantonese cuisine at the Wing Lei Palace within an imperial-inspired setting.

The Parisian Macao exterior.jpg

Visit The Parisian Macao, a mere 10-minute walk from the Wynn Palace, and the first eye-catching feature is the replica of the Eiffel Tower which not only offers a bird’s eye view of Macao but, on the sixth floor, houses La Chine, a Chinese restaurant with an emphasis on offering mouth-watering dishes in a romantic Paris-like setting.

Other dining options to greet visitors include the signature Lotus Palace, the Brasserie with its authentic French flavours, and Le Buffet with its appealing European themed marketplace.

The former Portuguese enclave retains a heritage built on five centuries of east-meets-west values and characteristics which have achieved UNESCO World Heritage protection. Details: Macao Government Tourism Office, (02) 9264 1488 or

 INDIA AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN IT   India is home to some of Asia’s most spectacular landscapes as well as some of the most incredible –yet little known – experiences.

Filled with deserts, spice hills, tranquil backwaters, thriving cities, dramatic forts and snow-capped Himalayan peaks, India an unparalleled kaleidoscope of remarkable experiences. It’s also home to incredible safaris and luxury desert glamping.

Insideer Journeys image005.jpg

According to Insider Journeys’ Senior Product Manager, Eric Finley, India has had a long history of luxury tented camps, and with wildlife to rival any African safari, it is fast-emerging as a leader in the luxury safari stakes. “As the land of the Maharajas, Rajasthan not only has forts and palaces befitting a king or queen, but is also home to India’s wild treasures within splendid national parks and sanctuaries,” says Finley.

Chhatra Sagar, Rajasthan. Chhatra Sagar is a lush oasis in the heart of Rajasthan. The camp owes its existence to the vision of nineteenth century noble Thakur Chhatra Singh of Nimaj, who turned once dry scrubland into a verdant paradise by creating a vast reservoir.

Keen not to detract from the natural beauty of the site, permanent construction was banned and instead luxe safari-style tents were built to house his many guests. With so many visiting nobles and dignitaries, Chhatra Sagar soon become legendary for opulent parties, exotic dinners, high teas and, of course, its luxurious tented accommodation. Each one faces east, allowing spectacular views over the lake. The camp is famous for its evening birdwatching walks, where guests can observe some of the 200 species found on the lake.


Manvar Desert Camp, Rajasthan. Manvar Desert Camp, sitting majestically amongst the sand dunes of the Thar Desert, prides itself on beauty, tranquillity and solitude. While there is no shortage of five star resorts in India, few blend so seamlessly into their surroundings or have the same dedication to protecting local heritage, culture and wildlife as Manvar Desert Camp.

After a busy day of birdwatching and wildlife spotting, guests can retire to one of Manvar’s thirty opulent safari tents. Set back a staggering 6km from the main resort, they offer guests a true taste of the wilderness without compromising on luxury; each room is kitted out in heritage fabrics, teak furniture and ensuite bathrooms.

Khem Villas, Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan. From the porch of your lavish tent, it is not uncommon to spot crocodile, jackals, hyenas, desert fox and jungle cats amongst the camp’s wild grasslands. Yet the real highlight of a stay at Khem Villas is the chance to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger. With twice daily trips from the resort, you have every chance of seeing these magnificent big cats in the wild.

After a day in the jungle, guests can retire to their well-appointed tents. Chic, comfortable and full of rustic charm, each tent is built using natural local materials like bamboo, to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding grasslands.


Osian Desert Camp, Rajasthan. For a truly authentic tented camp experience, head to Osian Desert Camp in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan. Osian was once a key trading post on the silk route between the 8th and 12th centuries, and the resort carefully recreates the original fortress-style layout and authentic feel.

The highlight of a stay at Osian is of course a safari, and the resort offers both camel-back and jeep varieties to spot desert wildlife, as well as village safaris to see local life. After a day amongst the dunes, dinner is served in the fortress-style main camp, with traditional entertainment like Rajasthani dancing and music laid on for guests.

image001.jpgA stay at a luxury desert or safari camp is a must-do while in India and can be arranged as part of a private tour, or as an extension to one of Insider Journeys’ popular India small group journeys.

A stay at Manvar Desert Camp is included on Insider Journeys’ 14-Day Highlights of Rajasthan Tour. Insider Journeys is offering 10% off all Small Group Journey tours and a selection of private travel itineraries booked and deposited by 30 September 2016.

Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.   MORE:


Wynn Palace Hotel/Casino Macao

The Parisian Hotel/Casino Macao

India Osian Desert Camp

India Tours with Insider Journeys

India Wildlife


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine HAL 16 Sept 16

$999 FLIGHTS TO EUROPE WITH HOLLAND AMERICA  Back again for 2017, Holland America Line is offering its guests $999 return airfares to Europe when booking a Verandah or above in conjunction with select sailings across the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Baltic. Valid on select 2017 sailings booked between 1 September and 18 November 2016, the airfare offer is also combinable with with Holland America Line’s current Explore4 offer which includes a complimentary Signature Beverage Package, Pinnacle Grill dinner and a 50% reduced deposit. “It’s definitely not every day Australian’s can fly return to Europe in peak season for less than $1000!” said Tony Archbold, Holland America Line Director of Sales in Australia and New Zealand.

HAL Koningsdam2.jpg2017 eligible sailing highlights. 29-day Adriatic Treasures and European Splendour Holland America Line’s newest ship, ms Koningsdam, will be sailing four eligible itineraries. ms Koningsdam represents a new class of ship for Holland America Line offering guests an array of new dining, entertainment and enrichment experiences. A highlight will be the 29-day Adriatic Treasures and European Splendour sailing departing 15 April from. 14-day Celtic Explorer. Departing 3 June from Amsterdam on ms Prinsendam, this sailing offers an extensive exploration of Ireland with five port calls including Dublin and Galway. In addition, Prinsendam will make calls in Guernsey, Wales and Antwerp before returning to the Netherlands.

HAL Fine Dining .JPG12-day Mediterranean Rivieras. Sailing from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome) on ms Westerdam, this sailing takes in some of the most iconic coastline of the Mediterranean. Mallorca, Corsica and Monaco to name a few.

24-day Fjords & Highlands and Baltic Adventures. This 24-day roundtrip Copenhagen sailing on ms Zuiderdam will take cruisers on a journey spanning eight countries, with highlights including Estonia, Russia, Sweden and Norway. From $7,899 pp in Verandah.  Airfare offer is available on select flights and gateways and booked through Holland America Line’s Flight Ease or by calling their travel professional. or call 1300 987 322.

 Princess Cruises Unveils Majestic Princess    Princess Cruises has unveiled the design and key features of Majestic Princess, the newest and most luxurious ship in its global fleet. Majestic Princess will offer its guests a variety of enticing features and experiences, including two new specialty restaurants: Harmony, created in partnership with Chef Richard Chen formerly of Wynn Las Vegas “Wing Lei” (the first Chinese restaurant in North America awarded a Michelin star) this restaurant will feature haute Chinese cuisine, serving Chef Chen’s interpretation of classic Cantonese dishes.

Other dining includes Le Bistrot, located in the lively atrium, will offer casual French home-style dining with a modern twist. Reminiscent of a Parisian bistro, guests will enjoy traditional escargot casseroles, braised ox tongue and mushroom ragout, along with baguettes, tarts and pastries. Other dining includes The exclusive Chef’s Table, Lumiere, Alfredo’s, then to top it off with a wide selection of all-day gastronomy in the World Fresh Marketplace, where guests can taste flavours from diverse food stations around the world ranging from Mediterranean dishes to colourful farmer’s market salads and a new “East Meets West” street food specialty counter. Fares start from $3459* for a voyage from Barcelona to Athens, departing April 16, 2017 and visiting 13 ports including a host of destinations in Spain, France, Greece and Malta. visit, call 13 24 88 *subject to availability, conditions apply.

Golden Princess.jpgCruise Sydney to Melbourne – Return on Two Historic Trains   From just $1690 for 5 days including most meals. Two historic trains, a heritage tram and a 21st century ship form part of a never-before-offered rail and sail tour from Sydney to Melbourne and back. Celebrating the golden age of rail travel, the unique, escorted trip from Cruise Express this November will appeal to both rail and cruise lovers, with journeys aboard a rail motor, the famous Spirit of Progress train, Melbourne’s stylish tramcar restaurant and the 2600-passenger cruise ship, Golden Princess.

The historic, five-day ‘Intercapital Daylight’ adventure begins at Sydney’s Circular Quay on November 11, 2016, with a three-night cruise to Melbourne aboard Princess Cruises’ 17-deck Golden Princess.

In Melbourne guests will stay one night stay at the Vibe Savoy Hotel, including breakfast, with free time to enjoy the city’s famous shopping, arcades, laneways, gardens and cafes. Also included is a roaming dinner aboard Melbourne’s historic and elegant Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.

Rail motor.jpgOn day five, guests will begin their rail adventure back to Sydney by boarding the blue and gold carriages of the famous Spirit of Progress at Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station. The train connected Sydney and Melbourne for almost half a century from 1937 to 1986.

Breakfast aboard the Spirit of Progress on the way to Seymour, where guests will transfer to a waiting, heritage 621/721 rail motor. The rail motor will take guests from Seymour to Sydney, with an included lunch stop at the 138-year-old Junee Railway Station. Morning and afternoon tea will be served on the train, with additional stops made at Albury and Goulburn before reaching Sydney’s Central Station.

Including 12 meals and the services of a Cruise Express Tour Manager, the ‘Intercapital Daylight’ rail and sail tour is available from $1690 per person, twin-share, or from $2190 for solo travellers. Flights to Sydney are additional.

  • Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.

MORE:   ©John Pond


Holland America ms Koningsdam

Tony Archbold, Holland America Line Director of Sales Australia/New Zealand

Majestic Princess Bistro

Spirit of Progress



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

John Pond • Cruise and Travel Magazine. Azamara 9 Sept 2016


AZA_Journey379RT.jpgAZAMARA Announces Second Boutique Ship Down Under   President and CEO Larry Pimentel marks six months until the arrival of Azamara Journey to our shores. I had the pleasure of re-connecting with Larry when he was in Sydney last week. AZAMARA is one of my favourite shipping lines, I love the size of their ships and their food and service plus all the extras that make this a truly 5 star line.


In just six months’ time, the 690-guest Azamara Journey from boutique cruise brand Azamara Club Cruises will make her Australian debut. To mark the milestone, president and CEO Larry Pimentel is in Australia making final arrangements for the maiden arrival of the luxury cruise ship, fresh from a USD$25 million refurbishment.

AZA_Journey_Atrium2.jpg“Wherever in the world we sail, the Australian effect is unmistakable. Australia is one of our top three source markets  worldwide, which is why it made sense to finally bring our unique style of small-ship, slow cruising down under last season,” Pimentel said.

“We were incredibly impressed with the response when we debuted Azamara Quest in Australia last summer so the time is absolutely right to bring sister ship Azamara Journey down under for the very first time,” he continued.

“When Azamara Journey arrives, she’ll be completely unlike the ship you saw last season. She will sail to Australian shores refreshed and renewed after a multi-million dollar revitalization that took place earlier this year,” Pimentel concluded.

The revitalisation of both Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest saw not only the addition of new venues and technologies, but also a beautiful redesign and rework of her suites and staterooms, as well as a complete refresh of all public spaces.

CovaCafe2.jpgAzamara Club Cruises worked with several of the world’s leading design consultants to help transform the ship, to ensure not only that they looked terrific, but so that they also offer all the modern services and amenities that travellers have come to expect on land, such as pervasive wi-fi.

Azamara Journey’s new staterooms and suites feature an elegant redesign, which is both sophisticated and welcoming, making each room a sanctuary for guests for the duration of their cruise. The ship now also offers exquisite new Spa Suites, located adjacent to the refreshed Sanctum Spa and offering exclusive spa amenities. Each bathroom of these coveted suites is like a mini spa; showers have glass walls offering spectacular views while the outdoor soaking tub overlooks the ocean.


Aqualina Restaurant – Deck 10 Starboard Aft Azamara Journey – Azamara Club Cruises

As well as completely reimagined public spaces and staterooms, additional new features onboard include The Patio, an al fresco poolside dining area; The Living Room, a casual bar, dining and entertainment room with beautiful views; and new pervasive Wi-Fi with faster speeds to even accommodate streaming.

Azamara Journey’s maiden Australian season will see the small ship call to Australian ports 21 times; injecting more than $2.85 million into the local economy in passenger spend alone.

As with all Azamara sailings, each of Azamara Journey’s Australian voyages will see guests treated to a complimentary, bespoke AzAmazing Evening event arranged by the cruise line, unmasking more of the destination. Renowned for its elegant cruising style and destination focus, Azamara Journey will first arrive to Darwin on 8 February 2017 as part of her Asia repositioning, and stay sailing in the region until early March, offering two Australia & New Zealand sailings and a return Asia repositioning voyage.

About Azamara Club Cruises   With smaller ships that are able to go to places other cruise ships can’t, Azamara Club Cruises differentiates itself – and gains loyal fans – by making destinations the hero. It does this by offering longer stays, more overnight calls and night touring, which gives travellers the opportunity to truly experience a destination – taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of local cultures in every port. More than half of all of Azamara Journey’s maiden season calls stay longer or overnight in port.

 The brand offers unique and tailored Land Discoveries in each port to help guests uncover new destinations, from sailing in the Whitsundays, tasting your way around the Cairns Tablelands, exploring Hobbiton in Tauranga or visiting a local farm in Napier.

Azamara’s Insider Access takes guests behind the scenes at heritage estates, family farms, local shops and art galleries. In Australia guests go behind the scenes and meet the owners of The Botanical Ark in Port Douglas, or can experience a guided tour to hand feed animals at the Bonorong Wildlife Park during the call to Melbourne. While Nights and Cool Places are exclusive after-dinner experiences in small, intimate groups, ranging from a Sydney Harbour yacht experience to a Crocodile watching River Cruise.

Although destinations are the highlight, what’s onboard also keeps guests coming back for more. Not only is Azamara Journey completely refreshed, guests onboard also receive exceptional and personal service and enjoy fine cuisine and boutique wines from around the world. More is included in each cruise – such as beverages, gratuities, self-service laundry, English Butler service for suite guests and shuttle transportation to city centres in ports, where available.


For those wishing to enjoy a true 5 star cruising experience, close to home, AZAMARA is the ship for you. AZAMARA is part of the Royal Caribbean family.

visit, phone 1800 754 500 or contact your local travel agent. Travel professionals can call 1300 754 500 or visit

  • Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply.


 PHOTOS:  AZAMARA, AZAMARA President and CEO Larry Pimentel with Adam Armstrong, Managing Director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia & NZ, AZAMARA ATRIUM, AZAMARA Café, Cocktails at Sydney party

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

John Pond Cruise and Travel Magazine • 2 Sept 2016

CEL_Constellation.jpgCELEBRITY CRUISES to sail from ABU DHABI   Celebrity Cruises is offering sailings out of Abu Dhabi for the first time ever this year, giving travellers the chance to blend modern luxury with timeless tradition on a range of cruises onboard Celebrity Constellation.

The premium cruise ship will make the Emirate’s newest cruise terminal her home from November 2016 to January 2017, the ideal season to visit this part of the world, offering cruises that range from 9 to 14 nights and calling at the exotic ports of the United Arab Emirates and India, around the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea.

Celebrity Constellation Rooftop Terrace_Constellation.jpgThe opulence of the modern cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are contrasted with the ancient traditions of Muscat, Mumbai, Goa, Cochin and New Mangalore, cities that pulse with age-old culture and fascinating history.

Enjoy camel-riding in Abu Dhabi’s sprawling desert sands, a visit to Dubai’s spice and gold souks and a day of indulgence on one of Goa’s famed, golden-sand beaches. The sailing departs  Abu Dhabi on 28 November 2016 and will take guests to Dubai for an overnight call, as well as New Mangalore, Mormugao, Mumbai and Khasab in India. As well, the cruise includes five days at sea, where guests have plenty of opportunity to try out the luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa Club, eat at specialty restaurants such as Tuscan Grille, and keep in touch with family and friends with high speed internet, “Xcelerate”, onboard one of the cruise line’s best-loved ships, Celebrity Constellation.

Fares start at AUD$1559/NZD$1689 for an Oceanview stateroom on the nine-night, Arabian Coast Immersion cruise, a round-trip which begins in Abu Dhabi on 10 December 2016 and includes calls to the enthralling ports of Dubai where the ship spends two nights in a row, Muscat for a night, as well as a call to Khasab on the journey, before returning to Abu Dhabi for an additional overnight stay. 1800 754 500 or contact your travel agent. Silver Explorer ..jpgDiscover Antarctica on Silver Explorer   Discover the ice-covered wonderland continent of Antarctica, on a 10-day voyage aboard Silver Explorer.  Departing Ushuaia, Argentina, on 26 February 2017, Silver Explorer journeys toward the Antarctic Peninsula, where guests will marvel at the incredible array of wildlife against the stunning backdrop of spectacular iceberg sculptures and calving glaciers.

Silver Explorer.jpgSilver Explorer discovers the Aitcho and South Shetland Islands. Silver Explorer journeys its way through other regions of the Antarctic Peninsula, where guests are able to view the 745-meter-high ice-caped mountain of the Tabarin Peninsula, the penguin colony on Paulet Island, and the collapsed volcano of Whalers Bay. Silver Explorer­ concludes her journey, returning via Drake Passage, disembarking in Ushuaia, Argentina, 08 March 2017. Fares include: all shore and Zodiac excursions hosted by an expedition leader; all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship; an outstanding expedition team of expert guides and lecturers; complimentary WiFi and all gratuities. Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

Prague Four Seasons Spa    Four Seasons Hotel Prague has opened its new AVA Spa dedicated to local traditions and luxurious pampering with breathtaking views of Prague Castle. Historically, “ava” is the Celtic word for water. To this day, ava remains part of the names of many Czech rivers, including the Vltava River that runs right by Four Seasons Hotel Prague. Water and historical Czech spa traditions are central to the theme of the new AVA Spa concept.

FourSeasons PRG_648_aspect16x9.jpgAVA Spa has named its five treatment rooms after five nearby rivers including the Vltava, Morava, Otava, Litava and Svitava. The Vltava is a large couples´ suite with rhassoul and a bath that offers stunning views of Prague’s most beautiful sights, such as Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge. In addition to the spa suites, guests are invited to enjoy the sauna, steam bath and vitality pool with a waterfall, massage jets and hydrotherapy surrounded by comfortable lounge chairs and a fireplace for a truly relax atmosphere. Swiss Perfection and Sodashi cosmetics and treatments not found anywhere else in Czech Republic, the AVA Spa offers guests the opportunity to sample traditional Czech-inspired baths, exclusive facials and signature spa rituals. The Spa is open for both Hotel and outside guests.

“What makes AVA Spa unique to Prague is their select line of cosmetics and signature treatments,” says Claudia Santos, Spa Manager at Four Seasons Hotel Prague. “We are especially proud of our spa rituals, which include purifying baths, detoxifying massages and age-defying facials.”

The Karlovy Vary Inspiration uses bath water infused with healing compounds to detoxify and purify the body. For a more intense detoxification, the Signature Detox begins with a rhassoul steam bath and includes both a Sodashi Marine Mineral Body Scrub and contouring pink clay mask. A full body massage and special scalp and feet pampering complete the purifying process.

PRG_645_aspect16x9.jpgSenses will be soothed and a full body glow achieved following the Golden Ritual. This luxury Omorovicza treatment combines a full-body scrub to revitalise the skin; a soothing Bath Retreat; a relaxing Gold Body Massage and finally a divine anti-ageing Gold Lifting Facial. The Cellular Exclusive Lift Concept is a five-step Swiss Perfection lifting treatment that naturally lifts the skin and brings long term benefits. For guests who simply need to be revitalised, the La Bohéme Massage is inspired by the Czech national tree and uses detoxifying and regenerating linden blossom oil.

Before your next River Cruise spoil yourself (+420) 221 427 830, email:

Not responsible for errors or omissions, prices subject to availability, changes of terms and conditions may apply. MORE:


Celebrity Constellation

Celebrity Upper Deck

Silverseas Silver Explorer

Four Seasons Prague Spa

• All stories also on facebook, WordPress, Google, LinkedIn & twitter and emailed to over 2000 industry professionals. Also published weekly in The Spectator Group of newspapers and online and in The Weekend Retiree. (Syd.SocialDiary)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment