The Shipping News: Sydney Symphony Orchestra on APT's 'Magnificent Europe' river cruise

Sounds of music

Here's something for those who appreciate a combination of fine travel and classical music. APT is bringing music to Europe's waterways in 2016, inviting an ensemble of musicians from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra for a series of exclusive live performances on board six departures of APT's 15-day 'Magnificent Europe' river cruise. The ensemble will deliver classical masterpieces by the great composers and works by fresh new voices on the classical music scene. The cruises sail through five countries (the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary) between Amsterdam and Budapest.

Phone 1300 196 420. See aptouring.com.au.

Barging in

European Waterways, already Europe's largest luxury hotel barging cruise company, is launching another barge in May 2016. The Finesse is an eight-passenger, double-decker vessel and will sail the Saône River and Canal du Centre in southern Burgundy in France. Featuring some of the largest accommodation in the fleet, the hotel barge will have a spacious sun deck with alfresco dining area and spa pool. Staffed by five crew, the barge also features a demonstration galley where guests can watch the chef preparing daily gourmet meals.

Phone 1800 828 050. See gobarging.com.

Highland fling

Hebridean Island Cruises has released its cruises for 2016 aboard ultra-luxury, all-inclusive Hebridean Princess. The ship isn't just returning to Scotland's Orkney and Shetland islands but will make its first visit to Lunga on the Treshnish Isles, Stroma Island in the Pentland Firth and to Strachur House. New walks and visits in old favourite ports of calls have also been introduced, as well as themed itineraries covering walking, food, whiskey, gardens and classical music. Hebridean Princess will also head to the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

Phone 1800 623 267. See discovertheworld.com.au.

Snap happy

Aurora Expeditions is offering a photography expedition on Polar Pioneer this November featuring Peter Eastway, an AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) Grand Master of Photography and one of the world's elite photographers. Aspiring photographers can develop their skills through Eastway's lectures and workshops on essentials camera skills, photographing in polar regions, and post-production techniques. Eastway will also accompany shore excursions to assist with questions and help with Antarctic photography. The cruise also features award-winning cinematographer Abraham Joffe, regarded as one of Australia's top DSLR filmmakers.

Phone 1800 637 688. See auroraexpeditions.com.au.

Shore thing

Given the limited rivers in Europe suitable for cruises, companies are increasingly looking to vary shore excursions to lure customers back for a repeat visit. Scenic's new "Enrich" experiences are a good example: they include a "Tastes of Oktoberfest" in Freudenberg in Germany and a private dinner and concert in Abbots Hall at the extravagant Benedictine palace in Fecamp in northern France. New "Freechoice" activities include hiking the Black Forest in Germany and a guided cycle from Cadillac through the Sauternes wine region in southwest France.

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Phone 13 81 28. See scenic.com.au.

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