Having been considered unsafe for visitors for several years, Egypt is now enjoying a comeback on the international travel scene. Cruises on the Nile are once again in demand, so much so that Viking River Cruises' 2019 and 2020 itineraries are already sold out. Viking's website advises booking for 2021 by August 31, for sailings on the 52-passenger Viking Ra (refurbished and relaunched in 2018) and 82-passenger Viking Osiris, which is launching in September 2020. See vikingrivercruises.com.au
In January 2020, Uniworld is launching SS Sphinx, an 84-passenger vessel that the boutique line says will be the most luxurious ship on the river Nile. It will sail alongside the line's 82-passenger River Tosca. "Egypt is back and continues to be a top trending destination for travellers seeking culture and adventure," says Uniworld CEO Ellen Bettridge. See uniworld.com
Sanctuary Retreats' 64-passenger Sanctuary Nile Adventurer is undergoing a major refurbishment and will return to the Nile next month, promising to deliver "a truly majestic setting for luxurious yet relaxed cruises along this epic river". Sanctuary Nile Adventurer sails three-, four- and seven-night cruises between Aswan and Luxor; Viking and Uniworld's 12-night itineraries include pre- or post-cruise stays in Cairo. See sanctuaryretreats.com
Meanwhile, US company Gate 1 Travel, which now operates in Australia, is also returning to Egypt after several years' hiatus. Its escorted, 12-night fly/land/cruise Nile package includes a seven-day Nile cruise on the 132-passenger MS A'Sara and is priced from $4419, for May 2020 departures. See gate1travel.com.au
Ring in the New Year onboard the paddle-wheeler Murray Princess as it sails a special Mannum to Renmark itinerary along South Australia's mighty Murray River. The seven-night cruise departs on December 27, 2019, and not only will guests enjoy a lavish New Year's Eve dinner and dance, they will explore 420 kilometres of the river and call at destinations only visited every couple of years. Highlights include 19th-century towns and unusual museums, cellar-door wine tastings and a guided tour of the Aboriginal archaeological site, Ngaut Nguat Conservation Park. See murrayprincess.com.au
Country music fever is hitting the high seas with three of Australia's most popular country music stars confirmed to headline P&O Cruises' first country music themed cruise, departing Brisbane on December 7, 2019. Casey Barnes, James Blundell and Caitlyn Shadbolt will perform solo and together at the late-night Country Music Jam Session over three days, along with a strong line-up of country bands and singers belting out well-known classics and latest hits. The country theme will extend throughout the cruise with line dancing, ukulele lessons and bush poetry sessions. See pocruises.com.au
The world's expedition fleet is expanding at a rate of knots and among the latest ships to debut next year is Quark Expeditions' technologically advanced, polar expedition vessel Ultramarine. The 199-passenger ship will offer everything the discerning adventure-cruiser could wish for, including two twin-engine helicopters for flight-seeing, heli-skiing and heli-hiking; Quark's "robust" activity portfolio, which features sea-kayaking, hiking, mountaineering, hiking and cross-country skiing; 20 quick-deploy Zodiacs; and a wellness centre and sauna. Ultramarine is scheduled to sail in Antarctica in the 2020-21 season. See quarkexpeditions.com/au
How many stripes does a ship's captain have on his epaulettes? Last week's answer: Station Pier
If you have to work when you travel, this portable, lightweight (185 grams) laptop stand will make it that bit easier. Ergonomically designed to keep your laptop at eye level, the Roost helps prevent neck and back problems and it uses a patent-pending Pivoting Grip mechanism to securely latch on to your laptop, keeping it safe from unexpected bumps. RRP $129.95 and now on sale at $99.95. See rushfaster.com.au
DEBORAH WYER, TEMPLESTOWE LOWER, VICTORIA
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 12 so far, with three more booked
LAST CRUISE A trans-Pacific from Sydney to Hawaii in April 2019. We cruised on Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas and the highlights were Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora in French Polynesia. We took a bus ride at each port and then in Bora Bora we swam with reef sharks and stingrays. I can only describe Bora Bora as an absolute paradise and the water really is shades of aqua.
NEXT CRUISE In November we're taking a 10-night cruise to the South Island of New Zealand on Radiance of the Seas. We'll sail into the sounds – Milford, Doubtful and Dusky – then visit Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington and Picton before sailing back to Sydney.
DREAM SHIP Any Celebrity ship. I like the size of them – from 2100 to 2850 passengers – and that they seem to be designed more for adults than families.
DREAM CRUISE I would love to see the Northern Lights. So, my dream cruise would be to Norway, Greenland or Iceland, because of the spectacular scenery that you would experience every day and hopefully seeing the lights in the evenings.
DREAM PORT Santorini. It's a beautiful island and I love its relaxed atmosphere and the fabulous food you can try there.
BEST CRUISE TIP I recently discovered packing pods, or cubes, which means that in a very short time I can sort and pack my clothes, then on a cruise, pack the pods straight into the drawers in my cabin.
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