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NCL Expansion, Virtuoso Buzz Top Australia and South Pacific Travel NewsJuly 15, 2015 By: Joe Pike
Norwegian Cruise Line to Expand Presence in Australia
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has announced that the line will be opening a sales and marketing office in Sydney, Australia, opening the company to opportunities in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.
The company also announced that Steve Odell will serve as the company’s senior vice president and managing director, Australasia. This fall, Odell will lead Norwegian’s efforts to build a substantial platform in the new region.
Currently, Norwegian Cruise Line is sailing in 12 unique regions of the world, including Alaska, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, Panama, South America, Europe and the Transatlantic. The cruise company also offers unique itineraries to Canada and New England, where guests can explore Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada and Portland and Bar Harbor in Maine. The itineraries also include a number of family excursions, including hiking in Arcadia National Park, lobster luncheons, and scenic cruises in Kennebunkport for an additional fee. Visit www.ncl.com.
Virtuoso Travel Dreams Survey Sheds Light on What’s Trending in 2015
Every year Virtuoso conducts a survey asking travelers various forward-looking questions about the travel industry, trips, trends, and destinations they find notable. More than 5,800 travelers participated in this year’s Travel Dreams survey, voicing their opinions on “Top 10 Travel Pursuits”, “Top 10 Dream Destinations” and “Top 10 Trips of a Lifetime".
Of the travelers surveyed, 59 percent say they plan on taking one to three trips this year. Popular "Top Ten Travel Pursuits" include cultural/historical travel at (42 percent), cruising (40 percent), adventure/nature (37 percent), beach (31 percent), family (25 percent), and river cruising (22 percent).
The trending "Top Ten Dream Destinations" include Australia, which was first on the list again this year, followed by Italy, New Zealand, France, Greece, Ireland, the Caribbean, Fiji, England, and Antarctica. Virtuoso also asked travelers about what they consider to be the trip of a lifetime. Among the most popular answers were European river/canal cruises, world cruises, multigenerational travel, exploring the Greek Isles, and (once again) Australia’s highlights, which according to Virtuoso’s sales data saw a 137 percent increase in bookings compared to the same time last year.
Along with the Travel Dreams survey, participants also had the chance to compete in an essay contest. Travelers from 60 countries wrote 200 word essays titled “Why I Travel.” Entries were judged by editors of Virtuoso Life magazine on style, content, creativity, insight, and ideas. The winner of the first place prize received $10,000, followed by $5,000 for second place and $2,500 for third place winners. The 2015 Travel Dreams Survey results are featured in the July issue of Virtuoso Life magazine. Visit www.virtuoso.com.
American Airlines and Qantas Airways to Add Service Between United States and Australia
American Airlines and Qantas Airways have announced plans to significantly expand their joint business by adding new flights between the United States and Australia.
The new American Airlines service will fly between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Sydney Airport (SYD) beginning December 17, 2015, while Qantas will operate routes between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and SYD starting December 20, 2015. Services will initially operate on peak days, increasing to six times per week in January 2016.
The new itineraries will allow customers traveling from North America access to nearly 60 additional destinations throughout Australia and New Zealand when connecting from Qantas trans-Pacific routes from Sydney. Visit www.aa.com and www.qantas.com.au.
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic Launches New Guinea Voyage
Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has just announced the addition of a new expedition to New Guinea, departing September 22. The 20-day, 17-night voyage on the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion will explore diverse regions of New Guinea, including Raja Ampat, the Trobriand Islands and the Asmat.
Adventurous guests will have the unique opportunity to discover new cultures in West Papua, Papua and Papua New Guinea on this National Geographic-led trip. Guests will not only be able to meet native peoples from the Asmat and the Trobriand Islands, but they will also get to experience Melanesian artistry first-hand. Travelers on the National Geographic Orion can also enjoy snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, hiking and glass bottom boating during the cruise. Nature-lovers will get a chance to watch indigenous birds and see plants that are not found anywhere else in the world.
The trip’s expert team of naturalists and historians will include James Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of Flags of our Fathers, who will host lectures on the region’s World War II history.
Travelers booking now will receive a special 25 percent off all cabin fares, a $2,000 air credit and become a Friend for Life, ensuring 10 percent off all Lindblad voyages in the future. Rates per person begin at $17,390 before applying these promotions. Visit www.expeditions.com.
New South Pacific, Australia Products and Experiences
Daku Resort, located in Savusavu, will be offering several new wellness retreats this year, including the "Mindfulness Retreat", which will combine meditation and yoga through workshops designed to promote relaxation. The retreat will be based on the “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction” course offered at the University of Massachusetts, along with other techniques that have inspired teachers Nik Welsh and Mark Baxter. Both instructors received their training in "Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy" from Openground in Sydney, Australia. The retreat will take place from October 3 through 10, 2015, and prices vary upon accommodation.
The "Karma Yoga" retreat at Daku Resort will take place August 16 – 23, and will include a blend of personal morning yoga practices followed by a visit to local villages. Instructor Clare White will teach the participants, along with the woman of the villages, proper breathing techniques and poses in an attempt to promote greater self-care and mindfulness. The retreat will also include a visit to a waterfall, and an excursion to a thermal mud pool and river. The cost for a shared room is $1500, and accomodations include all meals and two yoga sessions per day.
Daku Resort will also be holding an ethics forum entitled “Life Examined!” hosted by guest speaker Dr. Simon Longstaff, executive director of the Ethics Centre in Sydney, Australia. From October 10 – 17, guests will follow a schedule of morning discussions based on topics taken from "Plato’s Dialogues: The unexamined life is not worth living”. During the afternoon, participants will have free time to go swimming, snorkeling, hiking, or just relax. Visit www.paradisecourses.com or www.dakuresort.com.
Laucala Island Resort is offering a variety of activities and experiences this summer through its new children’s program. Kids can visit a petting farm, pick their own fruits and vegetables, and enjoy a variety of different water sports. The resort’s chefs will take children on a private tour through the island’s self-sustaining farm, after which they will get the chance to cook their own lunch with executive chef Anthony Healy. Outdoor activities include tubing, knee boarding, waterskiing, sailing and snorkeling. Families can explore the island on a guided mountain bike tour or nature walk, or go horseback riding along the beach. Laucala can also arrange a half day excursion to the Tavoro Waterfalls, located inside Bouma National Heritage Park. Visit www.laucala.com.
Musket Cove Island Resort and Marina, located on Malolo Lailai Island, has announced the rebranding of Mandara Spa to Makare Wellness Spa. The facility, operating under the guidance and management of Anne Hazelman, offers four treatment rooms, a salon, changing facilities, and relaxation areas. The spa menu offers treatments from around the world, as well as specialty Fijian treatments and ingredients.
The resort will also be welcoming 35 sailing boats from the World ARC Sailing Rally to its marina in July. The 110 crew members of the private yachts have spent several weeks exploring Fiji’s islands as part of the around-the-world voyage. Crew members will enjoy a week of activities including Barbeques, a Fijian feast and a variety of other programs the resort has to offer before setting out to their next destination on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu. Visit www.musketcovefiji.com.
Royal Davui Island Resort has announced the opening of its new spa, which includes two treatment rooms and skincare products designed by Pure Fiji. The spa is decorated with Fijian artifacts, custom local paintings, and offers views of the resort’s living barrier reef and coral gardens. Visit www.royaldavuifiji.com.
Turtle Airways is now offering scenic flights and day trips with unique experiences. The airline is offering 20-, 40-, and 55-minute plane tours departing from Nadi that will fly guests over rainforests, tropical jungles and coral reefs. Unique experiences offered through Turtle Airways' day packages include a visit to the central Yasawa Islands, also known as the Blue Lagoon region following the 1980 film starring Brooke Shields. Visit www.fiji.travel/transport/turtle-airways.
Dive Wananavu, part of Wananavu Beach Resort located on the Sun Coast, has just qualified as a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort. Membership to the organization is awarded to progressive PADI Dive Resorts that provide the full range of PADI diver education programs, equipment selection and experience opportunities for guests, all while promoting aquatic environmental awareness. Dive Wananavu offers custom built dive boats, maze dives, and a "swim-throughs" with views of shrimp, barracuda and even sharks. Visit www.wananavu.com.
Yasawa Island Resort and Spa will be offering a new “Wellness Escape Fiji” package from October 23-28, 2015. Included in the five-night/six-day package are yoga classes, massage treatments, and nutrition and wellness workshops. Accommodations will include all meals, five daily spa treatments throughout the week, sunrise yoga and meditation sessions, and airport and return transfers from Nadi to Yasawa Islands. Visit www.worldtravellers.co.nz/retreat.
Treasure Island Resort has announced the opening of its new “‘Premium Beachfront Bure” rooms. The bures (Fijian for “wood and straw hut”) have traditionally styled décor with a modern twist and are 25 percent larger than the existing bures on the island. They can accommodate two adults, three children and an infant. The facility’s bathrooms have been extensively remodeled and separated from the main living space for added privacy. The resort also offers interconnecting family bures.
The resort has also announced the addition of a second transfer vessel for guests. The new boat was added due to high demand for direct island to airport transfers received from guests. The hourly transfer by boat means visitors can start their vacation immediately upon arrival in Fiji without the need for overnight accommodations on the mainland. Visit www.treasureisland-fiji.com.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all the latest Australia and South Pacific news.