The return of international cruising for Australia is just one of the big news stories in a big week in travel, as Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield reports
WELCOME BACK WORLD
- The first plane from Australia lands in Bali to a roar.
- Jetstar Asia has begun flying direct between Singapore and Perth.
- Jetstar Australia started flying Perth to the Gold Coast and Perth to Cairns this week, with one-way fares from $165.
- We’re off to France on a river cruise.
- We can travel to New Zealand without quarantine from April 12.
- International cruise ships are allowed back from April 17.
These feel like extraordinary moments, and every hour of every day last, travel news keeps coming.
P&O Cruises Australia was first off the mark this week in reacting to international cruise ships being allowed back in from April 17. It immediately set a course to resume sailing in May, launching a new 2022 program of sailings from Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. (Yes, Fremantle missed that boat.) P&O will sail Pacific Explorer, Pacific Adventure and Pacific Encounter. First out is Explore from Sydney on a four-night, round-trip to Brisbane.
Princess Cruises wasn’t far behind, announcing that Coral Princess will return to Australian waters in June. The ship will sail round-trip voyages from Brisbane, on itineraries of three to 12 days. From August, Coral Princess will sail 12-day voyages from Sydney, calling at Queensland, Conflict Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Royal Caribbean announced that its mega-ships Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas will sail from Brisbane and Sydney from October.
And Carnival Cruise announced it will convert its October and November 2022 international sailings to domestic.
Viking is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It has been setting the standard in cruising since 1997, starting with four ships and a vision for more destination-focused and culturally immersive travel. It now has 72 river cruise ships, and a growing fleet of ocean and expedition ships.
We are very pleased to be partnering with our friends at Viking to offer the France river cruise on pages 4 and 5. And I’m very pleased to point out that we have included in the trip fully comprehensive travel insurance that covers for COVID-19.
Simultaneous ceremonies have taken place in Amsterdam and Paris this week to welcome four new Viking longships, and to christen four new custom-built ships for the Seine.
Later this year, three new custom-built ships are set to sail the rivers of South-East Asia, Egypt and the United States.
As a result of an exclusive partnership, Qatar Airways has amenity kits and gift boxes from French perfumer Diptyque for travellers in business and first class passengers on routes across Australia, New Zealand and the Americas, in addition to A380 flights to London and Paris. The new range consists of Diptyque branded bags as well as gift boxes with Diptyque products. It includes the signature 34 Boulevard Saint Germain eau de toilette or Eau Rose eau de toilette. The Diptyque bags are made from vegan leather.
World Expeditions now has a majority share in US tour operator Adventure Travel West, a small-group adventure tour operator based in Denver, Colorado. It operates multi-day, small-group active holidays in the western US national parks and in Hawaii, including hiking, active sightseeing, adventure and wildlife, and off-road adventures.
Cathay Pacific is extending its Fly (Worry) Free policy, which gives giving customers enhanced flexibility. Customers can make unlimited changes to bookings without fees until December 31, 2022. Cathay expects to relaunch A350 passenger flights on June 1. If the Hong Kong Government relaxes strict quarantine rules on the airline’s crews, it may be sooner.
One of WA’s most comprehensive aviation and travel memorabilia collections is going under the online hammer. The collection with more than 1000 items is from the late Reg and Shirley Adkins, both well-known and celebrated pilots. There are more than 300 models, posters, stamp and postcard collections and even a travel agent cut-out of the famous Singapore Girl. Much of the collection is historic and unique. It can be viewed online now and will be open for inspection from Thursday to Saturday before the online auction on Sunday, March 27. donellyauctions.com.au
And AAT Kings has partnered with Tourism and Events Queensland to bring savings of up to $400 to some of its Sunshine State tours. The recently launched seven-day AAT Kings Queensland Spirit: Heart of the Outback tour is now from $4025 per person in an adult twin — saving $400 per couple. AAT Kings has been operating in Australia and New Zealand for more than 100 years. Travel agents and aatkings.com
I’m pleased to hear that the Grampians Grape Escape is back in April — nice timing for the many West Australians heading to Victoria to visit friends and family. One of Victoria’s leading food and drink festivals, the not-for-profit festival is in Halls Gap, serving world-class regional wines, seasonal food and live performances. After a two-year hiatus, the three-day Grampians Grape Escape is from April 29 to May 1, with more than 100 exhibitors from western Victoria.
And in WA, funding has secured the future of the 11-day annual Taste Great Southern for the next three years. This year’s event is from May 5 to 15.
In my mind, I can stand again in the National Museum of Lviv, the biggest art museum in Ukraine. It usually displays 1500 artefacts from its collection of 180,000 pieces. The centrepiece, for me, is the Bohorodchany Iconostasis — a 10m by 8m group of religious paintings made over seven years from 1698. It took six months to hang and, it has been reported in recent days, just six days to take down and store, along with all the other artefacts from the museum, as Lviv faces onslaught. The Bohorodchany Iconostasis has been in Lviv since 1924 and was hidden from nazis in 1939, banned from being displayed during the Soviet era, restored in 2006, and is now in hiding again, along with the residents of this precious city.