26 September 2023

Budapest, Great Barrier Reef and more…

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By John Rozentals.

The Sebel Busselton … a great base for exploring Margaret River.

The Sebel Busselton, which is managed by Accor Vacation Club, is offering a pay-for-two-nights-stay-for-three deal for bookings and stays to August 21.

The hotel, located two-and-a-half hours south of Perth, has easy access to Geographe Bay and is well situated to explore the many wineries, restaurants and galleries of Margaret River.

Hotel facilities include a heated indoor spa and pool, an outdoor resort-style pool, tennis court and two squash courts.

Room options range from studio spa rooms to two- and three-bedroom self-contained apartments.

Rates for the former start at $179 per night.

Phone 08 9754 9800 or visit www.accorvacationclub.com.au.

Coral Expeditions II … carries an expert team of marine biologists and dive instructors.

While winter temperatures make their presence felt around southern Australia, there is an opportunity to grab a slice of warm and explore the magic of the Great Barrier Reef with a cruise on Coral Expeditions II during the dry season.

The reef is a haven of turquoise waters, sand cays, deserted tropical islands, colourful coral gardens, ribbon reefs and tiny rainforest-covered islands.

Winter in Australia means it is whale-watching season, and the Great Barrier Reef offers the chance to spot majestic creatures such as dwarf minke whales and humpbacks.

The Great Barrier Reef also houses some of the world’s most exquisite marine life, including more than 400 different kinds of coral, molluscs, dolphins, over 1500 species of tropical fish, 134 species of sharks and rays, six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles, and over-120-year-old giant clams.

With Coral Expeditions’ expert team of marine biologists and dive instructors, guests learn about the best ways to engage with the reef. Immersive experiences such as lectures and guided dives and snorkelling will educate guests about sustainability, deepen their understanding of the reef and all the different ways they can get involved in its future protection.

Coral Expeditions offers three-, four- and seven-night round-trip cruises out of Cairns on board the 44-guest Coral Expeditions II.

Rates start at $2280 per person twin-share.

Phone 1800 079 545 or visit www.coralexpeditions.com.

Mayfield Gardens … fairy-esque in the cooler conditions with a dusting of snow.

The weather might be getting colder, though Central NSW heats up with family-friendly experiences and events.

From bushranger tours to tasty toasted treats, farmyard antics and snow-stopping locations, there is a family adventure for all ages.

‘WinterFest’, for instance, runs at Mayfield Gardens near Oberon from July 7-22.

It’s a European-designed garden estate, made fairy-esque in the cooler conditions with a dusting of snow.

On weekends head for the complimentary s’mores (toasted marshmallows dipped in chocolate) warmed on the wood-fire.

Visit www.mayfieldgarden.com.au or www.visitcentralnsw.com.au.

The Murray Princess … an ideal size for solo travellers.

While many tour operators charge solo travellers an extra 75 per cent, or even 100 per cent, on the twin-share price, Captain Cook Cruises is asking them to pay only a surcharge of 25-30 per cent on all its three-, four- and seven-night Murray Princess cruises.

The company describes the 120-passenger vessel as ideal for solo travellers — small enough to easily meet other solo travellers or welcoming groups, yet large enough to simply enjoy the ever-changing Murray River scenery or get lost in a great book.

Onboard and on-shore activities occur each day and range from playing bingo and bocce, to visiting riverside towns, cellar doors, a shearing shed, or an Aboriginal conservation park.

Passengers remain in a group so solo travellers can feel safe and at ease throughout every experience.

Food is another highlight of the cruise, with guests indulging in a hearty hot buffet breakfast each morning, a two-course or buffet lunch each day and a three-course or buffet dinner each evening.

All dining is in large-group seating and for dinner everyone is assigned to the same table each evening.

The three-night ‘Discovery Cruise’ is priced from $1107 single fare.

Prices include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, onboard wi-fi, the Captain’s Dinner and Cocktail Party, live entertainment, use of ship’s facilities including sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and mini gymnasium, and complimentary scenic coach transfers from and to Adelaide or secure car-parking in Mannum.

Visit www.murrayprincess.com.au.

A taste of real Australian adventure … in the Simpson Desert with Tri-State Safaris.

Get off-the-beaten-track with this special offer from Tri-State Safaris on its new 12-day ‘Simpson Desert Adventure’ tour, which departs Broken Hill on August 13 and combines camping under star-lit skies with the thrill of exploring the vast wilderness of Australia’s most iconic desert by 4WD.

Savings of up to $2100 and a solo supplement of just 4 per cent are being offered for bookings made by July 31.

The journey travels through NSW, Queensland and South Australia, with highlights including the vast expanse of Lake Eyre, a stay in an underground motel at Cooper Pedy, visiting Poepell Corner and Cameron’s Corner’, and taking in the view from the top of the 40-metre-high ‘Big Red’ sand dune, the largest in the Simpson.

Prices start at $7277 per person twin-share, including all meals and transport in fully equipped 4WD vehicles.

Visit www.tristate.com.au.

Into Central Asia’s unknown … Intrepid Travel’s ‘Uncharted Expedition’.

Intrepid Travel is calling for applications for a one-off ‘Uncharted Expedition’ that will see 10 travellers take on a 3500-kilometre journey into the unknown.

Featuring some towns and villages which can’t be found on Google Maps, the 22-day trip expedition departs next June and traverses a route that the adventure company has never travelled before.

Beyond the departure point of Astana, Kazakhstan and the finishing point of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the trip itinerary will be full of unknowns — with travellers only given small hints about what’s in store. The only certainty is that they’ll explore little-known parts of Central Asia.

Prices start at $6545 AUD per person twin-share, excluding flights.

Visit www.intrepidtravel.com.

Venice, the City of Love … Viaggio Italia Travel guests will venture off the beaten path.

Viaggio Italia Travel is offering $500 off the price of its 14-day ‘Best of Italy’ small-group tours next April and May.

The itinerary includes Rome, Pompeii, Sorrento, Amalfi Coast, the Isle of Capri, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Venice.

Highlights include skipping the lines in Rome for guided tours of city’s greatest sights, cruising the Mediterranean to explore the fabulous Isle of Capri, and heading out into the Tuscan countryside to discover hilltop towns and stop at a rustic wine estate to enjoy a typical local lunch and wine.

Prices now start at $3450 per person twin-share, including 13 breakfasts, two lunches and four dinners, as well as all guided tours and transfers, and accommodation in central hotels.

Visit www.viaggioitaliatravel.com.au.

Budapest … an imperial city on the romantic Danube.

Cruiseco is marketing an 18-night ‘Heart of Europe’ fly/stay/cruise package that showcases the imperial beauty of Budapest, the romance of the River Danube, the natural wonder of the Rhine Gorge, and the baroque palaces and medieval villages which line the iconic waterways.

Based on a 14-night cruise aboard Riviera Travel’s 169-guest, five-star Ms Emily Bronte, the package is priced from $7395 per person twin-share ex Australia, including a two-night, post-cruise stay in Cologne.

Highlights include a guided tour of Vienna and an onboard string-quartet performance, the magnificence of Melk Abbey, a Benedictine monastery that is home to over 80,000 priceless books and medieval manuscripts, and a cruise through the towering valleys of the Rhine Gorge and an exploration of the village of Boppard, the ‘Pearl of the Rhine’.

Phone 1800 550 320 or visit www.cruising.com.au/riviera-package.

Vasco da Gama … will undertake a 53-night line voyage from England to Australia.

Book through Cruise Express and receive an onboard spending credit of up to $2200 per couple on a 53-night line voyage from England to Australia in October next year aboard the new-look Vasco da Gama, which was previously based in Australia as Pacific Eden and will be sailing its first season here in its new guise.

The 1220-passenger mid-size ship offers two pools, six restaurants, six bars, wide decks and a traditional, country-club ambience.

Cruise Express is offering a 55-night package based on the line voyage priced from $9167 per person twin-share ex Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra, including flights to the UK and pre-cruise accommodation, with breakfast, for two nights at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt in fashionable South Kensington, and airport-hotel transfers.

The voyage features 14 ports in destinations such as Morocco, the Canary and Verde islands, the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Nicaragua, Tahiti, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

Phone 1300 766 537 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.

The Volga Dream … an elegant vessel designed in classic décor.

Beyond Travel is offering earlybird savings of up to $1200 per person for 2019 deluxe river cruises in Russia aboard the Volga Dream for bookings made before July 31.

The signature 13-day itinerary between Moscow and St Petersburg offers three-night stays in both Moscow and St Petersburg, priced from $4750 per person twin-share.

The 100-passengers Volga Dream is an elegant vessel designed in classic décor, with guests enjoying activities such as cooking demonstrations, Russian language lessons, documentary films, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov piano concerts, matrioshka painting classes and a Russian-costumed dinner with vodka tasting.

Also on offer is the ‘Grand Volga’, an 11- or 12-day itinerary that operates between Moscow and Volgograd, with prices starting at $4280

Highlights of this trip include a visit to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan and centre of Tatar culture of Russia, as well as the World Heritage Site of Yaroslavl.

Phone 1300 363 554 or visit www.cruise-russia.com.au.

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