Inland waterway specialist Outdoor Travel is introducing a new French culinary-themed charter cruise aboard the hotel barge Enchante in 2017. The barge meanders along the Canal du Midi in south-west France, with passengers indulging in food experiences along the way, such as truffle hunting in the Minervois hills, a visit to an escargot farm, and a tour of an olive-oil press. There will also be a hands-on French cooking class and cooking demonstrations throughout the cruise from the on-board chef. The barge houses eight guests, carries a five-person crew and is available for charter bookings.
Phone 1800 331 582. See outdoortravel.com.au
Abercrombie & Kent has released its new collection of Latin American journeys, among them a 15-day cruise-tour to Patagonia on board Stella Australis between Punta Arenas in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina. Highlights include wild mountain landscapes, glaciers, penguin and seal colonies, and legendary Cape Horn. Complementing the cruise are land programs at The Singular Patagonia hotel in Chile and a stay in Buenos Aires. Group size is limited to 24, with an accompanying A&K tour director. The "Patagonia by Land & Sea" journey departs November 6, 2017, and January 29, 2018.
Phone 1300 851 800. See abercrombiekent.com.au
AdventureSmith Explorations has rolled out a new 11-day "Cuba by Land and Sea" itinerary that showcases the latest hotspot in cruising. Guests spend three days in Havana before boarding the 44-passenger Panorama II in Cienfuegos on Cuba's south coast and heading to Jardines de Reina National Park, with snorkelling and optional scuba diving on Cayo Largo in this marine park. Guests also visit the Bay of Pigs and the colonial city of Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage site and well-preserved colonial city. Hop to it, however, as Cuban cruises only continue to the end of March 2017.
If you're a Neil Diamond fan, you'll be delighted to hear that Captain Cook Cruises is offering a special "Hot August Night" music cruise on the Murray River paddlewheeler Murray Princess, departing on August 25, 2017. Passengers will join entertainer Dave Freeman, who will present his show OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me, which includes storytelling, songs, dance and music from Neil Diamond's famous Hot August Night album. There will also be dinner-dances accompanied by live music. The cruise takes in sights along the Murray, including Murray Bridge, Mannum, Monarto Zoo and Salt Bush Flat.
Phone 1300 729 938. See murrayprincess.com.au
Christmas is coming
If festive-season withdrawal symptoms are already upon you, then Scenic brings good tidings, as bookings for its 2017 Christmas markets river cruises are already open. Among the itineraries is a 15-day cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam departing on November 30, which will visit markets in Vienna, Rothenberg, Nuremberg and Cologne, which is home to the largest Christmas tree in Germany. You can also spend Christmas Day in Europe aboard a 16-day "Christmas Wonderland" cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, departing on December 14, and opt for a three-night extension to spend New Year's Eve in Prague.
Phone 13 81 28. See scenic.com.au