Fifteen years ago, New-Zealand born Grant Seuren and his Danish wife Helle, who met in Australia when they were in their 20s, realised their dream of setting up a cruise line. The couple sketched out their plans on the kitchen table in their tiny London flat and set up Sail Croatia, now a thriving business that comprises three companies – Sail Croatia, Med Experience and Green Sail.
Cruises operate onboard mini-ships and sailing yachts that are owned and run by local families. They cater to a broad range of travellers – there are week-long yachting holidays for the under 39s; Navigator Cruises for party people between 18 and 35 on four types of ships; Explorer Cruises on three ships that accommodate a maximum of 38 passengers and suit couples, young professionals and "young at heart" travellers; Elegance Cruises, which as you'd expect from the name, are pricier and are hosted on Sail Croatia's top-level vessels; and biking and hiking cruises.
"When we first started operating and for many years the most popular cruise was the Navigator Cruise for under 35s," the Seurens said. "However, as the ships improved in quality so did the popularity of our other cruises. Our Elegance and Explorer Cruises have continued to grow year on year and today they are the most popular tours."
As they celebrate their 15th anniversary, the Seurens are adding two new ships to their fleet. If you're a small-ship cruiser perhaps 2020 is the year to go even smaller and discover Adriatic ports inaccessible to big-ship crowds. See sail-croatia.com
BLANC DE BLANC
Following a successful season at the Sydney Opera House, the award-winning burlesque show Blanc de Blanc is returning to perform year-round on P&O Cruises' latest ship, Pacific Adventure, when it joins the fleet in October 2020. The show, which promises to be a "bold and lavish blend of high-flying aerial stunts and circus cabaret" will feature a stellar line-up of international and Australian acts and will be the headline act aboard the 3000-passenger ship. Another new attraction on Pacific Adventure is the suite-retreat Byron Beach Club, which will have its own pool and whirlpools on the top deck. See pocruises.com.au
The French-colonial style, 68-passenger Mekong Jewel sets sail for Vietnam-based Lotus Cruises this month, joining its sister ship Mekong Navigator for itineraries on the Lower Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia. Lotus Cruises is also building a boutique, 28-passenger ship to cruise in Laos, which is scheduled for October 2021. Mekong Muse will offer 10-night itineraries, both upstream and downstream, between the capital, Vientiane, and Chiang Saen in Thailand as well as five-night itineraries between Vientiane and Luang Prabang or between Chiang Saen and Luang Prabang and vice versa. See lotuscruises.com
Paul Gauguin Cruises, operator of the highest-rated and longest continually sailing luxury cruise ship in the South Pacific, MS Paul Gauguin, has announced its 2020 line-up of special guests – experts in topics as diverse as astronomy, astrology, wine, photography, art, magic, music and marine biology. The 332-passenger ship sails year-round on itineraries around the exotic archipelagos of French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Fiji and Tonga. As well as hosting renowned speakers, the ship is famous for its crew of Gauguins and Gauguines, local Tahitians who multi-task as cruise staff, entertainers and storytellers. See wiltrans.com.au
Which cruise line names its ships after famous explorers Vasco da Gama, Columbus, Magellan and Marco Polo? Last week's answer: P&O Cruises.
Cruise Ports Alaska is an invaluable guide for cruisers planning to visit Alaska. Featuring colour maps, highlights, reviews and insider tips on how to save time and money, it's one of a series of Cruise Ports guides written by Lonely Planet's experts to help travellers make the most of their first or next trip. RRP$29.99. See lonelyplanet.com
PATRICIA SABLYAK, GLEN WAVERLEY, VICTORIA
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN Seven
LAST CRUISE Renaissance Tours' music cruises along the Rhine and, more recently, the Rhone (France, in September 2019). It was lovely to visit beautiful old cities and do walking tours in interesting places along the way. Other cruise highlights would be, in no particular order, a cruise from Broome to Darwin, taking in the wonderful coastline and visiting the Horizontal Falls, Montgomery Reef and Mitchell Falls. Well, that was the plan until the onboard air-conditioning broke down, the weather worsened, everyone got sick and we had to bypass many of the chief places of interest we were meant to see! In fairness to the cruise company that shall remain nameless, to compensate for the shortcomings of the Broome-Darwin cruise I was able to undertake another cruise at its expense to Vanuatu, and that was lovely: glorious clear blue sea, fascinating local entertainment, tasty food and friendly co-travellers. Then there have been short cruises on the magnificent Franklin River in Tasmania and the Whitsunday Islands, not forgetting a fabulous White Nights cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg, and cruises in Alaska and Hawaii.
DREAM SHIP It would be a comfortable, safe, well-appointed one, preferably with some high-class musical entertainment. Maybe Cunard's Queen Mary 2.
DREAM CRUISE I would love to see the Northern Lights and the magnificent Adriatic coast.
BEST CRUISE TIP My best tip for onboard life would be to keep well hydrated (there are various options!) and to get plenty of fresh air on deck to ward off possible mal-de-mer.
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