Curious Traveller is running a specialist tour in the Galapagos on the small-ship Seaman Journey from March 16 to 27, 2017, timed for the spring season during which shrubs flower, sea turtles hatch and sea lion pups start their first explorations. Galapagos tortoises will be on view at breeding centres on San Cristobal island and the Charles Darwin research station. The 14-person cruise will include walks, snorkelling and small-boat rides, and will be followed by a visit to Quito, on mainland Ecuador, in order to explore the World Heritage city's architecture, dining and artisanal markets.
Phone 03 6234 4918. curioustraveller.com.au
Tucking into France
Scenic has two culinary river cruises in France in mid-2017 that will feature the shipboard Scenic Culinaire, a private cooking emporium with cooking stations and cheese and wine cellar. Cooking instructors will offer tailored cooking classes that introduce guests to regional recipes. Passengers will also be taken on food-oriented shore excursions, including a visit to a Michelin-awarded restaurant in Valence and lunch in a traditional bouchon in Lyon on the Provence cruise; and lunch at Remy Martin in the Cognac region and a Chateau Phelan Segur wine tasting and food pairing event on the Bordeaux cruise.
Phone 13 81 28. See scenic.com.au
Food and wine
Celebrity Cruises is also tempting the tastebuds with new culinary experiences on its ships. Guests in its Concierge class cabins will enjoy an exclusive luncheon with menus by Michelin-starred chef Cornelius Gallagher, as well as Delectable Delights delivered to their cabin every afternoon. The chef has also overseen a new menu at the Italian-inspired Tuscan Grille restaurant which features homemade pasta, artisanal cheeses and dry-aged steaks. And the company now runs fleet-wide Blendique wine-blending classes, allowing guests to create one-of-a-kind wine blends that can be bottled on board and wrapped with personalised wine labels.
Phone 1800 754 500. See celebritycruises.com.au
New river-cruise operator The Strand Cruise has completed almost a year of operations on its three- and four-night itineraries along Myanmar's Irrawaddy River between the ancient cities of Bagan and Mandalay. One of the highlights is an exclusive overnight mooring at Ava for access to Maha Aungmye Bonzan temple after the departure of daytime crowds. The Strand Cruise is also the only operator to visit iconic U-Bein bridge on both north- and south-bound itineraries. The luxury, 28-cabin cruise ship is a venture of The Strand Yangon, an extensively refurbished colonial-era hotel in Yangon.
Phone 0415 955 137. See thestrandcruise.com
Italy's Aeolian Islands can now be explored aboard a wooden yacht on a new itinerary announced by archaeological tour specialist Peter Sommer Travels. The seven-day journey in the spectacular volcanic archipelago off the north coast of Sicily will be hosted by specialist historian and archaeologist – and editor of the Blue Guide to Sicily – Dr Michael Metcalfe. Highlights will include a Bronze-age village on the island of Filicudi, the smoking volcanic crater on Stromboli, kayaking and swimming off tiny Basiluzzo, and walks along the flower-lined pathways of Panarea. The cruise departs on June 24, 2017, from Catania in Sicily.