Whether it's high seas, free flights or relaxing on the river, cruising is big news, as Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield takes a tour of another week in Travel
Itineraries and packages are being released further in advance than I’ve ever seen. Travelmarvel’s 2025 Europe Preview is now on sale, including new itineraries on the River Danube in 2025. Among them is the 14-day Highlights of the Danube, with seven nights on a Travelmarvel ship with three nights in Munich and Prague. There are also eight-day cruises.
Sarah Latimore, Travelmarvel’s head of Europe product, says: “Our new seven-night Danube cruises are perfect for those that want to get a taste of river cruising.
Travelmarvel’s most popular 15-day European Gems also returns in 2025. Between Amsterdam and Budapest, it is from $6995 per person twin share. For bookings made before May 31, 2024, there is a “flights included” offer and early payment discounts of up to $1000 per couple. travelmarvel.com.au and 1300 300 036.
Viking also has releases for 2025. You can read our full story here.
APT still has a “flights included” offer for its 15-day river cruises, and selected tours, in Europe in 2024. The Magnificent Europe cruise between Budapest and Amsterdam is from $7995 per person twin share. APT has an Australia-based team on 1300 672 534.
STAYING THE NIGHT
Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced what the team there is calling “an industry first”, with new overnight stays in every port of call on new 2024-2025 itineraries. It has just announced a collection of six Immersive Overnights voyages. Staying in port overnight can make all the difference on a cruise — rather than the rush to sightsee by day, then charge off again overnight. I’m all for sitting at a European cafe on a warm evening. The Immersive Overnights voyages, on four of Regent’s six ships, in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and Asia, will include shoreside experiences. They include seeing the art of Picasso, Rodin and Munch in the home of a Swedish prince and sunset wine-tasting at a Tuscan villa.
A LANDMARK YEAR
Insiders at Holland America Line of Australia feel the 2024-2025 season is set to be “a landmark year in cruise tourism”. That is backed up by Cruise Lines International Association, which says 81 cruise ships will sail in Australian waters in 2024. HAL has two of them, homeporting Westerdam and Noordam in Australia and New Zealand. It is also reintroducing its 35-day Circumnavigation Around Australia itinerary for the 2024/2025 season.
Don’t miss Michael Ferrante’s Cruising Guide in Saturday's print edition.
Bali still equals value. I see My Bali has a five-night, five-star Bali holiday, including flights and private transfers, from $1349. Guests will stay at five-star The Stones Hotel in Legian, which has two restaurants and a day spa, and the package includes a 60-minute massage. The package has return flight, including checked luggage, resort transfers, five nights in a deluxe room, daily breakfast, set dinner or lunch for two at The Stones Kitchen and the mini bar is replenished daily.
Book by February 29, 2024, for select travel dates between now and September 30, 2024. 1300 332 254 and MyBali.com.au
COST OF INSURANCE
Financial comparison Mozo has released its Travel Insurance Report for 2024, which shows:
The cost of the travel insurance it studied has risen by 24 per cent in the past 12 months.
But the cheapest policies on offer were $6-$8 a day.
The average daily cost varied for different policies; essential travel cover was $13, comprehensive cover $18, ski travel insurance $20 and cruise travel insurance $19.
A spokesperson recommends “checking the key three” — medical, luggage and cancellation cover — when comparing travel insurance. mozo.com.au
I’ve been on the road this week and I keep a couple of GME handheld UHF radios in the glove box — mainly so that I can hear what’s happening on the highway around me, and to talk to road pilots looking after big loads. If they say there’s a “five and a half bucket” coming towards me, I’m cautious. It means they are shifting one of those big ore truck buckets that is 5.5m wide. If “it’s a six”, I’m even more cautious. When I hear “we got eights coming south”, you will find me parked off in the bushes. An 8m-wide bucket completely fills the road.
GOING COLOUR & GPS
... and GME is now launching its new, Australian made XRS-660 handheld UHF CB radio. It has built-in GPS functionality, giving its location even when it is out of phone range (and a GME spokesperson tells me only 27 per cent of the Australian landmass is covered by mobile phone reception). It also has a colour TFT LCD screen, which is better, even in full sunlight. The XRS-660 has Bluetooth and will wirelessly connect to third-party audio accessories. It has IP67 Ingress Protection (“waterproof” rather than the IP65 and IP66, which are “water resistant”) and a MIL-STD810G rating (tough testing for heat, cold, shock, humidity and even gunfire). It is $549 and stockists are listed at gme.net.au
PS I want one. (But do I NEED one?)
Altronic’s tyre pressure monitor is a useful gadget. There’s a solar-powered dash panel which shows you each of four tyre pressures, then four valve stem sensors which you screw on each tyre valve, which sends the pressure information to the panel by Bluetooth. Who would-a thunk it. (They will tell me each of the Falcons on my LandCruiser are sitting plumb on 50psi.) The kit is $175 and works for trailers and caravans, too. Altronics is my go-to electronics shop. It is 100 per cent Australian owned, and has been in business since 1976. There are 10,000 products in six WA stores and online. altronics.com.au
On motoring subjects, don’t miss the huge reader response to my list of “five things which drive me nuts”, which was the cover story of Wheels last Saturday. You can read it here.
ON YOUR MARKS
And finally, the Olympus OM-1 has been a much-loved camera for travellers, and the OM-1 Mark II is being introduced. The speeds and computation capabilities have been stepped up and the Olympus team promises “refinements throughout”. The body is available for pre-order at $3799 from camera shops. It has built-in graduated neutral density filters and improved AI subject detection AF — we’re talking birds, pets, cars, aircraft ... and humans.
PS And I hope you enjoy Mogens Johansen’s Photography Guide which you can read here. He was away this week, sailing from Singapore on Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas (his stories will be published soon).