Princess takes more passengers to New Zealand than any other cruise line and, thanks to the new Princess Local Partnerships program, they can now make a contribution towards conserving the country's world-renowned natural heritage.
"Our research tells us guests want to connect more deeply with the places they visit and give back to the local communities who so generously welcome us into what is effectively their backyard," Princess Cruises' senior vice-president Asia Pacific, Stuart Allison, said. "With a modest donation [$2], our guests will be able to support some bigger initiatives that make a difference to the communities they visit."
Starting with a $100,000 donation, Princess Local Partnerships aims to raise more than $1 million over the next five years. The first project will focus on supporting community groups committed to conservation efforts and forest regeneration around the Bay of Islands and Northland to encourage the return of the kiwi and other native birds.
Princess Local Partnerships is teaming up with two volunteer-based local groups – Kiwi Coast and Bay Bush Action – which work together on helping native wildlife thrive. Kiwi Coast's Andy Mentor said New Zealand has an amazing array of bird life – almost two-thirds of which are found nowhere else on earth, such as the kiwi and kakapo, the only flightless nocturnal parrot.
"We want to retain the natural beauty and unique natural heritage of Northland so that it is in a better state for future generations and stays a place that cruise passengers and other visitors can continue to enjoy forever more," said Mentor. See princess.com
New Zealand-based Wild Earth Travel, which is owned and operated by expedition leaders who have more than 20 years' experience of voyaging, leading and creating expeditions all over the globe, has just released its 2020-21 mini-brochure. The team specialises in organising personalised travel to niche destinations and promises "small ships, big adventures" provided by some 50 hand-picked operators. Among the highlights are cruises around the Scottish islands, superyacht sailings in the Mediterranean and luxury expeditions to the Polar regions and the Russian Far East. See wildearth-travel.com
Viking is adding four new ships to its fleet next year, to cruise France's Seine River. The 168-passenger ships will sail eight-day itineraries to Normandy, round-trip from Paris, where they will dock within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. "We pride ourselves on offering a cruise experience that lets the destinations we visit be the star of the show, so we are thrilled to be taking our guests deeper into the heart of Paris – the global centre for art, fashion, food and culture," said Michelle Black, managing director of Viking ANZ. See vikingcruises.com.au
Oceania's new Go Local shore excursions are designed to give guests more insight into local communities. More than 120 tours are offered throughout Europe, Alaska, and South America, with choices that run the gamut from spending a day on a farm in Turkey to playing Gaelic Games in Ireland. "On these tours you are being introduced to local artisans, shopping local markets, and quite literally becoming part of a local family. You're experiencing generations-old traditions and the ways of their day-to-day lives," said Bob Binder, Oceania's president and CEO. See oceaniacruises.com
Which god of the sea is invoked in traditional ceremonies held on board ships when they cross the equator? Last week's answer: MSC Cruises
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NORMAN HENSE, NORTH CURL CURL, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 15
LAST CRUISE A 10-day round-trip from Copenhagen onboard Regal Princess. Among the ports of call were Oslo, Berlin, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. We were up early every day for excursions and the highlight was spending two days in St Petersburg, where we visited an amazing number of palaces and churches. Stockholm is another beautiful city, but Berlin has made a joke of "Checkpoint Charlie", where two unkempt actors wearing sloppy uniforms man the barrier.
NEXT CRUISE I'm looking at Hawaii, Sydney or possibly sailing around Japan. My wife, Diane, loved cruising, and since she passed away last September my future cruises will be very different.
DREAM SHIP That's a hard question! How can you beat a few days sailing through the Whitsundays on a yacht that takes eight to 10 passengers? If we're talking bigger ships, the maximum size would be up to 2000 passengers. Fine wine, fresh food and first-class service would be essential, and professional entertainment is important, too.
DREAM CRUISE Sailing the Whitsundays or Greek islands. You'd need to spend two or three days on each Greek island to absorb the atmosphere on each; mainstream cruises visit a port every day, which only offer a minimal insight.
DREAM PORT Stockholm. Its bridges and old city centre reminded me of Sydney, except their bridges are only small!
BEST CRUISE TIP Relax, plan to have some downtime in-between port visits, be yourself and listen to others – there are hugely experienced travellers cruising the world and their stories are always interesting. And please don't call the ship a boat!
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