Ponant starts its inaugural cruises in the Kimberley this July, and has now released sailing dates for its 2018 season in Australia's northwest. Four 10-night voyages on L'Austral in July and August 2018 will include the region's highlights and some lesser-known destinations along this rugged 13,000-kilometre coastline. The 2018 expedition team will be headed by photographer and adventurer Mick Fogg, a veteran of over 120 Kimberley expeditions. He will be joined by 12 experienced marine biologists, naturalists and conservationists, with cruises timed for the humpback whale migration season.
Phone 1300 737 178. See ponant.com
ICE AND FIRE
Beyond Travel has introduced a new eight-day 'Land of Ice & Fire' voyage in Iceland, with fourteen departures between June and September this year. The cruise sails from Reykjavik to Akureyri (or vice versa), visiting remote fjords, fishing villages, volcanic landscapes and some of the country's main ports on board MY Callisto, which underwent a million-dollar upgrade in 2015 and offers 17 cabins, indoor and outdoor dining, bar and lounge, library and sun-deck. If you're good at making quick decisions, bag a $750 discount a cabin on bookings made before February 24, 2017.
Phone 1300 363 554. See beyondtravel.com.au
MORE ON THE MEKONG
Scenic has a number of new 'Freechoice' activities and dining options on its Mekong cruises for the 2017-18 season. Among them is a tethered balloon ride over Angkor Wat, a local folklore tour or a visit to eco-village Cheung Kok from the port of Kampong Cham. At Champasak, guests can visit a coffee plantation. Meanwhile, dining options now include Square One at Park Hyatt Saigon and a Vespa foodie tour of Ho Chi Minh City by night. Check out early-bird offerings for bookings before April 30, 2017, including complimentary flights on certain itineraries.
Phone 13 81 28. See scenic.com.au
You'll be hearing a lot about Cuba this year, with many cruise lines scrambling for official approval to sail Cuban waters. Latest to get the nod is Oceania Cruises, which has announced inaugural cruises from March 17, starting with a 14-day and two 10-day cruises from Miami on Marina which also take in ports beyond Cuba such as Key West, Cozumel, Nassau or George Town. Two of the cruises have overnights in Havana, and shore excursions and on-board guest lecturers will highlight the music, culture and history of the island nation. Expect more Oceania cruises to be heading Cuba-way in future.
Phone 1300 355 200. See oceaniacruises.com
Quark Expeditions has announced its 2018 Arctic season by offering 13 Arctic itineraries in six different locations, five of which are all new. Two new cruises to Spitsbergen include a 13-day photo-focused journey in search of polar bears, while two other new itineraries to Canada's Northwest Passage trace the path of early explorers and delve into current geopolitical and environmental issues. Finally a new 'West Greenland: Disko Bay' cruise takes in Ilulissat Icefjord, whale watching and some of the planet's most untamed scenery. Book before April 30, 2017 for savings of up to US$7000 a couple.