TV chef Luke Nguyen to plan menu on refurbished AmaLotus river cruise ship

Master chef

APT says its Mekong River cruise ship AmaLotus will be refurbished before sailings from August 1, 2016. The changes include new dining venue Le Viet Nam Cafe, a French-inspired cafe for morning and afternoon tea, and a new Lotus Spa. Chef and TV presenter Luke Nguyen will help plan new menus, and guests will be able to enjoy a six-course Indochine by Luke Nguyen private-dining meal, as well as a signature welcome dinner conceived by the celebrity chef. Nguyen will be aboard for two sailings, departing July 29 and December 2, 2016.

Phone 1300 196 420. See www.aptouring.com.au.

More variety

Variety Cruises has just acquired the 17-cabin motor yacht Callisto, which will operate the company's Classical Greece program in the European summer of 2016 (April to October) and the Costa Rica and Panama cruise between December and March. The classic private yacht is being renovated and rebuilt, with new decking, stabilisers and generators, and structural improvements. Variety Cruises is one of the fastest growing small-ship companies and has cruises in Turkey, the Seychelles, the Red Sea and Cuba. It is launching visits to the Canary and Cape Verde islands.

Phone 1800 623 267. See www.discovertheworld.com.au.

Quirky Quark

Quark Expeditions has launched bespoke Explorer's Collection itineraries in the Galapagos Islands, the Arctic and the Falklands that promise travellers an immersive, high-adventure experience. Among the six itineraries are an Arctic circumnavigation and journey through the Northwest Passage on the icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov, a three-day expedition to the Russian research station Barneo Ice Camp near the North Pole, and a trip to the Falklands on the 12-passenger exploration boat Hans Hansson. The Galapagos journey will offer sea kayaking, swimming, snorkelling and hiking among the famous wildlife of the islands, which includes sea lions, turtles and iguanas.

See www.quarkexpeditions.com.

Double act

Luxury cruise line Silversea is offering itineraries in the Mediterranean between April and November 2016 on three of its ships, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind and Silver Spirit, with shore excursions that range from helicopter rides over the Amalfi Coast to wine-tasting tours in Sicily and an evening concert in the ruins of Ephesus on the Turkish coast. The company is also offering a 15 per cent discount on combination voyages in 2016 if booked before the end of 2015, such as those departing Barcelona on April 13, Civitavecchia (Rome) on July 1 and Istanbul on July 29.

Phone 1300 306 872. See www.silversea.com.

Silver lining

Talking of Silversea, Cruise Express is offering a 24-night luxury tour from Cuba to Ecuador in October 2016 that includes two luxury cruises. The first is an 11-night journey aboard Silver Explorer from Nassau to Cuba and on to Panama, after which guests fly to Ecuador for a six-night land tour of the country of volcanoes, rainforest and colonial cities. A second cruise follows: a seven-night sailing on Silver Galapagos, on which travellers will be able to see the endemic wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. The two boutique Silversea ships have been chartered especially for Australians on the tour.

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Phone 1300 764 509. See www.cruiseexpress.com.au.

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