Scenic's long-awaited expedition ship, Scenic Eclipse, is due to set sail next week on its maiden voyage, a 13-day cruise from Reykjavik in Iceland to Quebec, Canada. British Oscar-winning actress Dame Helen Mirren has been named as the ship's godmother and she will preside over what promises to be a fabulously glamorous christening event in New York in September.
Glen Moroney, Scenic's founder and chairman, said, "We are delighted to welcome Helen Mirren as Scenic Eclipse's godmother. Her style, beauty and spirit of adventure are true to those embodied in the design and ethos of Scenic Eclipse."
It's the second godmother gig for Dame Helen – in 2008 she did the honours for P&O UK's Azura – and she joins fellow British dames Judi Dench, Julie Andrews and Joan Collins, who are godmothers to Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Legend, Crystal Cruises' Crystal Serenity and Uniworld's Joie de Vivre respectively.
Scenic Eclipse will transport up to 228 guests to all corners of the globe in considerable comfort and style. It has 10 dining options, ranging from an Asian-fusion venue to French restaurant Lumiere and a poolside buffet; a spa with a gym and separate yoga and Pilates studios; indoor and outdoor plunge pools; butler service for every guest; and, for the truly extravagant adventurer, two six-guest helicopters and one six-guest submarine. Although almost everything else is included in the fare, trips on the helicopters and sub cost extra.
There's just one question. Much as we admire Dame Helen Mirren, as Scenic is a "proudly Australian founded company" how come Scenic Eclipse's godmother isn't from our land that is girt by sea?
Guests onboard Explorer Dream's 19-night relocation cruise from Shanghai to Sydney in October will have the opportunity to sharpen their photography skills thanks to a special guest onboard, National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita. It's part of the line's fleetwide Dreamscapes enrichment program, which features expert speakers from such wide-ranging fields as astrophotography, Chinese opera, pizza acrobatics (yes, it's a real thing), yoga and tai chi. Michael Yamashita will lead a series of masterclasses onboard Explorer Dream, which will call at Hong Kong, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Jakarta, Bali, Darwin, Cairns and Gladstone. See dreamcruiseline.com
Shorter Mekong itineraries have proved popular with Pandaw guests who like to organise their own time in the cities at either end of the traditional Saigon-Siem Reap journey, so the company is introducing three- and four-night cruises between Saigon (Vietnam) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia), onboard the colonial-style, 60-passenger Indochina Pandaw. Starting in September, the itinerary covers much of the Mekong Delta and incudes sampan trips through the mangroves and bamboo forests, horse-cart rides and a boat trip through the Gao Giong bird sanctuary. Fares from $US1125. See pandaw.com
River cruise and tour operator APT is launching boutique barge holidays in Britain aboard the luxury hotel-barge Magna Carta. The handsomely appointed period-style barge accommodates up to eight guests in four spacious suites, plus a chef and crew. Eight and 10-day trips include a night in London followed by a leisurely cruise on the Thames, visiting Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace among other celebrated historic sites. APT's Magna Carta cruises sail May to September 2020, from $11,595 a person. Airfares are included if you book by November 30. See aptouring.com.au
What is the name of Melbourne's cruise ship terminal? Last week's answer: Cunard
Even in the digital age, keeping a travel journal can be immensely satisfying – even good for your health, if you believe some of the studies out there. Kikki.K's inspiring Journey notebooks from its Stitch collection come in packs of five ($14.99) and fit a refillable leather A6-sized notebook ($39.99). See kikki-k.com/au
ANN LESLIE, CAREY BAY, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 20-plus
LAST CRUISE A 19-day relocation cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong on Majestic Princess. There were plenty of sea days for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. The highlight was a visit to Singapore – the flower dome at Gardens by the Bay was fascinating.
NEXT CRUISE A 14-day Japan cruise – our second – with Holland America. I am hoping for a view of Mount Fuji from our first port, Shimizu. We also have a Nile River cruise coming up.
DREAM SHIP Many people dismiss the big cruise ships but we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise around the Caribbean on Oasis of the Seas. The facilities for families were terrific, including rock walls to climb and a full-size carousel for the little ones.
DREAM CRUISE Done! We sailed to Antarctica on Hurtigruten's MS Fram, travelling south of the Antarctic Circle for some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. We saw whales, penguins, and lots of seals basking on icebergs. Some of the icebergs were as big as city blocks.
DREAM PORT Santorini has to be up there with the finest. To anchor in the caldera of a volcano is amazing and the towering cliffs dotted with pretty white houses are a photographer's dream.
BEST CRUISE TIP Do your homework before you travel so you have alternatives to taking the standard ship's excursions.
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