Catch up on Cruising: Latest cruise news in bite size

Pandaw does it differently
Luxury Asian-river cruise specialist Pandaw Cruises is about to up its cruising options on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers from July 2013.

They are moving one of their trade-mark colonial river steamers into the rivers of Myanmar, where they already have three ships.
Launched in Vietnam last January, the renamed 30-cabin Saigon Pandaw is hand-finished in brass and teak, but with all the modern luxuries you’d expect, including air conditioning.

And you won’t be crowded out by large organised groups – this cruise steamer only accepts independent bookings for individual travellers.

A spokesman for Pandaw told Cruise Weekly that customers are increasingly interested in this destination.

“With the demands for cabins on the cruises in Myanmar, since the country has opened up, it is better to operate there,” he added.

Classic 14-night Irrawaddy cruises operate from Prome (Pyay) to Mandalay, and the 10-night Golden Land cruises sail downstream from Mandalay to Prome.

Once-a-year cruises are also offered from Rangoon to Mandalay and on the Chindwin River.

Earlybird discounts of 10% are available for bookings made prior to one year before departure.

Fares include shore excursions, all onboard meals and drinks.

Although it will be operating four ships in Myanmar from July 2013, Pandaw will continue to keep five other ships in Vietnam and Cambodia.


Cruising and cuisine with Crystal Cruises
If you’re passionate about cooking fine cuisine and tasting good wines to go with it, and you fancy combining it with a bit of relaxed cruising around New Zealand, Australia or Bali, then Crystal Cruises has a great itinerary for you.

For 2013, the cruise company has lined up a multitude of food and wine experts for the Australia/NZ and Australia/Bali cruises on Crystal Symphony, including New Zealand’s own Cameron Douglas, our first and only Master Sommelier.

The line-up includes: Damien Pignolet, Sydney’s renowned Modern Australian/French fusion chef and executive chef at Bistro Moncur restaurant; Heinz von Holzen, Balinese cookbook author and owner of the island’s only traditional, multi-award-winning restaurant and cooking school, Bumbu Bali. Also in the line-up is Greg Doyle, former Australian Restaurateur of the Year and Owner of Pier, one of Australia’s finest seafood restaurants.

The experts will teach a range of complimentary cooking lessons, offer hands-on recipe instruction, wine tasting, and
cocktail-mixing classes.


MSC’s family-friendly dining options    
MSC cruises has just launched a raft of free-of-charge family-friendly dining options on their cruises.

You have the option of dining together as a family but to give parents a bit of peace at the end of the meal, restless children can leave  earlier and go and play in a supervised area.

Or you can go the whole hog and choose the Fun Time Dinner programme where the kids dine away from their parents in a separate area of the buffet restaurant.

Even better, after dinner, the children can go to the Mini and Junior Club for entertainment.

The Fun Time Dinner programme will have three special theme nights during voyages, including a Welcome Party, and Italian Party and Farewell and Birthday Party.

Babies and toddlers are also well-catered for, with a second nanny hour added to its kids’ club program.


Quark Expeditions’ new itineraries
Polar-adventure specialist, Quark Expeditions, is offering three new expeditions in its about-to-be-released 2013/14 brochure.

The 22-day Explorers and Kings voyage departs from Buenos Aires on 2 November 2013 onboard the Sea Spirit, and will feature the first ever Floating Polar Film Festival which will have a great and diverse programme of films about the Antarctica.

The 11-day  Crossing the Circle Voyage on Sea Adventurer departs on 22 February 2013 whilst the 23-day Epic Antarctica will depart on 3 February 2014 – the only voyage taking passengers to the Flaklands and South Georgia, as well as acroos the Arctic Circle to the Peninsula.


Lotus Spa on Royal Princess
Some would say going on a cruise is a welcome escape from the real world but what if you could enhance this feeling with a rejuvenating and relaxing spa experience?

You can have just that in the Lotus Spa onboard the Royal Princess, due to be launched next June.

The Lotus Spa will be the biggest spa out of all the spa facilities in the Princess Cruises’ fleet.

Spa lovers can enjoy exotic steam rooms, sensory showers and private Couples Villas.

Or you can really get away from it all in The Enclave, a huge thermal suite where you can enjoy a Turkish-style Hammam, the Caldarium, a herbal steam room, the Laconium, dry heat sauna, and sensory showers and the cruise lines’ first-ever hydrotherapy pool.


Upgraded Windstar ready to sail
Award-winning luxury yacht cruise company, Windstar Cruises, is all ready to set sail with the newly renovated 148-guest Wind Star.

From top to bottom, everything on the four-deck luxury yacht has been upgraded, including new furniture and carpets.

The US$18m upgrade includes the transformation of the restaurant into the AmphorA Restaurant; while The Veranda’s outdoor seating has been expanded.

And the Compass Rose has been reconfigured to open up to an outside deck and new hardwood flooring was laid in The Lounge.

All of Windstar’s 73 deluxe staterooms and suites have had a full renovation including new fittings, carpets and furniture.


Luxury Aqua adds to Mekong
Luxury Amazon river cruise operator, Aqua Expeditions, is expanding into the Mekong River in 2014.

The five-year-old Peruvian cruise company already has boats on the Amazon, the 24-passenger Aqua (used by Scenic Tours) and the 32-passenger Aria.

The new 40-passenger ship will offer sailings between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City from January 2014.

Designed by Vietnam-based Noor, the modern Asian-style ship will have 20 suites, a spa and fitness centre, dining room, library, screening room and observation deck with pool and lounge bar.

Three, four and seven-night sailings will be available.


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