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April 28, 2008

GEELONG’S GOT HISTORY DOWN TO A T


john crook


IN 1859, rabbits began their rampage across rural Australia, hopping out from a sheep station on the outskirts of Geelong, Victoria's second largest city where Thomas Austin had imported the little critters as targets for the local hunt club.

Unfortunately as we now know, the members of the hunt club weren't

as proficient as they could be, and the rabbits escaped the hunter's guns to go on and create havoc of unimaginable proportions.

And it was in 1859 that one of the oldest football clubs in the world was formed at a location within cooee of where those 24 oversexed wascally wabbits fled.

Hoops of royal blue and white, which identify the Geelong Football Club, feature on the jerseys worn by the city's elite 18 senior players. Year 2007 was their big year, winning the AFL grand-final flag – incidentally more than 40 years between flags.

In the footy season the whole town talks, lives and breathes football, but the locals do like to show that they are now no longer a mob of bushies, and culture is also alive and well in Geelong.

A mix of the arts and a sprinkling of culture are recent brave attempts at putting a new face on the old girl. It's working, particularly along the Eastern Beach foreshore, where dozens of eye-catching bollards have been erected providing a bit of a giggle for walkers, joggers and cyclists.

The bollards tell some of the history of the city, and amazingly the years they've been on public display there's been minimal vandalism. Thankfully graffiti seems a no-no.

A first class performing arts centre and an excellent art gallery are part of the current cultural scene.

Sheep once roamed the vast plains which stretched from Corio Bay out into western Victoria, with Geelong becoming the major beneficiary. Whereas gold was the key mover for Ballarat and Bendigo, Geelong put its fate in the hands of graziers and indeed was the town which grew out of sheep.

Amongst the earliest industrial development were wool stores established by the port with a string of woollen mills built along the Barwon River. These have now all gone and wool is no longer king.

However, since the demise of wool, the buildings in the city's CBD have been transformed, some used by the local university, some about to be converted into apartments and others to house artefacts from a long gone era.

Not wishing to overlook the city's involvement with wool, city fathers created the National Wool Museum in the former Dennys Lascelles wool store. It is equal to collections, of any kind, in Australia with regular exhibitions and demonstrations regularly featured.

Close by, midst the former wool stores, is an exhibition which salutes the Ford Motor Company with its first class display of company produced motor vehicles, from an early Model T through to a collection from the new millennium.

Ford Geelong boasts the longest company sponsorship of any sporting group in the country, having backed the local footy club since 1925, even through the lean years, of which there have been plenty. That year also saw the birth of another Geelong icon, the department chain Target.

And amongst the new boys on the block are the vignerons. No less than 36 in fact, producing some of the finest wines in the country. Geelong was one of the initial wine producing areas of Australia, only to suffer the tragedies of phylloxera which wiped out the fledging industry. In the 21st century the industry is back with a vengeance.

Geelong's close proximity to the Bellarine Peninsula beaches and those baches fronting the open ocean Barwon Heads, Ocean Grove, Queenscliff and on to Torquay, provide further options.

The city is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road and again, more seaside settlements, such as Lorne, Port Fairy, Apollo Bay, Portland and Warrnambool.

Geelong, with a population of around 250,000 is back in business.


IF YOU GO:

· National Wool Museum. Tel : (03) 5227 0701.

· Ford Discovery Centre. Tel : (03) 5227 8700.

· For information on tourism and wineries contact the Geelong Otway Tourism Tel : (03) 5223 2588.

………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

. MODEL T Ford, one of the first produced at Ford's Geelong factory

. UNUSUAL bollards on Geelong's Eastern Beaches foreshore depict the city's footie history.

. AND its connections with the sea.

April 26, 2008

Costa Celebrates 60 Years of Cruising



Stepping aboard the mighty Costa Serena, an 114,500 ton superliner carrying nearly 3800 passengers on luxury Mediterranean cruises, it’s difficult to imagine the long and sometimes difficult history that brought the Costa name to this point.

Celebrating the pre-eminent Italian cruise line’s 60th anniversary this year is something of a modest announcement because the Costa maritime connection extends back to 1854 when the family bought their own vessel to expand their olive oil and textile enterprise.

The Costa fleet grew and travelled far and wide and just before the Second World War the family company owned eight ships. The fierce Mediterranean conflict all but destroyed the company, leaving them with just one vessel. However, demand placed upon the few remaining vessels was enormous and Italian shipbuilding – and Costa – were soon back in full swing with a new emphasis on passenger transport.

In 1947, the cruise line ‘Linea C.’ was born with the steam ship Maria C., quickly followed by Anna C.. Luisa C. and Franca C. were added to the fleet as well as new destinations in the Americas. During the fifties, Costa developed a reputation for lavishly decorated, art nouveau style ships that were much more than mere transportation. This reputation is continued to this day with all the current vessels. Costa Serena, the newest, is styled on classic mythology.

Jupiter, the god of light and skies, gives his name to the high-tech theatre; Apollo, the god of music and song adorns the main bar and dance floor; Venus, fittingly sponsors the beauty salon, while Giano, the Romans’ two-faced divinity presides ominously over the casino.

One of the significant points of difference in this latest Costa offering is the Samsara Spa and Wellness concept which includes premium cabins and staterooms, dining and spa access. The Samsara Spa itself is enormous, occupying over 2000 sqm, and acknowledging that the latest trends in land-based hospitality are extending offshore.

Launched amid great fanfare in Marseilles on May 19, 2007, Costa Serena is the latest in the hectic Costa build programme that will bring the fleet to 15 vessels by 2010. Following her slightly smaller sister, Costa Concordia, she will be followed by the similarly massive, Costa Luminosa in 2008.

But Costa’s expansion is not restricted to just building magnificent new vessels. Giacomo Costa, the family founder, would be astonished at the growth of his vast empire. A regional office now exists in Hong Kong, where the line’s current vessel, Costa Allegra, will be reinforced by the much larger, Costa Classica, in 2009 thanks to the runaway success of the company’s Asia cruise program.

To service the empire, communication, logistics, personnel and provisioning all take on a whole new scope. Even booking the thousands of new passengers and leisure cruisers requires vastly new systems.

In co-operation with leading Australian-based cruise agency, ecruising.travel, enormous technological leaps have occurred in computer and on-line bookings.

Independent travellers can now log on to www.ecruising.travel , check out cabin availabilities in real time and complete their booking and payment – instantly!

Cruisers who prefer to use a trusted travel agent can have their agent perform the task on their behalf and leave the agency with confirmed tickets in hand in the time it takes to order and drink a cappuccino.

Who said over-50s don’t like computers? ecruising.travel were recently confirmed by Internet research firm, Hitwise Australia, as receiving the highest percentage of traffic in the Travel - Destinations and Accommodation industry from Australian Internet households in the 55-plus age bracket.

Book your next Costa cruise with the acknowledged leaders in on-line travel – ecruising.travel

Around the World with Cunard

Roderick Eime

Many still believed the world was flat when Ferdinand Magellan set out from Spain in search of the Spice Islands of Indonesia in 1519. Three years later, with Magellan himself dead and just one ship and 18 men remaining, the first known circumnavigation of the world was completed.

Such is the allure of adventure and exploration that today, nearly five hundred years later, the thrill of a journey around the world by sea is just as intoxicating and exciting as it was then.

The great ocean voyages are the ones that have defined us as a race and a species.

Perhaps the pinnacle of ancient maritime architecture were the enormous Chinese Ming-dynasty treasure ships of the 15th Century. These wooden leviathans dwarfed the petty craft sailed by Magellan, da Gama and even Cook with the largest of these vessels measuring some 150 metres, over five times more than Cook’s Endeavour. It is now known that vast fleets of these huge ships, and their supporting entourage, ranged throughout the Indian Ocean, stamping China’s colonial authority on lands as far away as South Africa, perhaps even further.

It wasn’t until the coming of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of iron and steel before this mark could be surpassed. In 1858, after enormous technical and financial difficulties, the SS Great Eastern was launched. At 211 metres, she was the largest ship ever built and was designed to carry as many as 4000 passengers on transatlantic voyages. Her size was her undoing and after a series of accidents and mishaps, she was finally broken up in 1890.

The 20th Century saw the great ocean liners come of age and the stories of RMS Titanic, Britannic and others are well known. But the story of Cunard’s RMS Laconia (pic left) has almost faded into insignificance. In 1923, she became the first passenger vessel to circumnavigate the globe, taking 130 days and visiting 22 ports. Built by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend-on-Tyne, she was launched in April 1921 with a gross tonnage of 19,860 tons and a length of 183m. For a relatively small ship by today’s standards, she still managed to carry around 2200 passengers and was one of the first Cunard vessels to exploit “cruising” for pleasure’s sake.

Cruising for pleasure and indeed, world cruising, is now almost commonplace. Yet the vessels undertaking today’s voyages are anything but and are virtual palaces of the sea. Without doubt, the most prestigious world cruiser is Cunard’s newest Queen, the Queen Mary 2. She preserves all that is traditional and romantic in a great ocean liner without compromising luxury or prestige.

On January 2, 2009, Queen Victoria (pic right), currently Cunard’s newest vessel, embarks on her World Tour, departing Southampton for a round trip of 109 nights.

Hot on her heels, Queen Mary 2, leaves Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 13 January 2009 for a 92-night “Epic Expedition”, culminating in New York on 14 April after visiting 28 ports.

Even if you don’t have the time or the inclination for such a singular undertaking, cruise sectors are available between many of the major ports, allowing you to indulge your passion for ocean cruising in shorter segments.

Regular Cunard Inner Circle award winning agency, www.ecruising.travel, consistently offers the best value packages for any of the famous queens. This time next year, Queen Mary 2 returns to Sydney as part of her World Tour and presents the best opportunity to sample her many charms at affordable prices. Right now, ecruising.travel is offering an unprecedented 50 per cent off the Sydney to Singapore sector with staterooms beginning at just $4999.00. Almost unbelievably, this package includes 16 luxurious nights aboard QM2 as she sails the romantic Orient. To complete the scene, the price includes one night at the iconic Raffles Hotel and airfare home. Other sectors are available too. Imagine a 25-night Pacific Ocean crossing from Santiago to Sydney or a 49-night Southampton to Sydney via the Panama Canal. These magnificent voyages are no longer a thing of fantasy. Contact ecruising.travel on 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel for all the details on any Cunard Queen voyage.

Alaska: Insider's Passage

Roderick Eime

Bordered by stunning mountain ranges with dense forest to the shoreline and calm, deep waterways, the Inside Passage is a 1500 kilometre waterway extending from Seattle Washington to Skagway in Alaska.

Most commonly claimed by the Alaskans because of its enormous tourism appeal, the sheltered waterways were originally explored by early navigators as a way to escape the dreadful weather in the Pacific Northeast. Very soon tales of this most agreeable land and the favourable passage were widespread in maritime circles.

Alaska’s portion encompasses over 1000 islands, 24,000 kilometres of shoreline and thousands of coves and bays, while British Columbia’s share is of similar extent.

Today, during the northern summer, the seaborne traffic through the passage gets pretty hectic. Enormous cruise ships, each carrying some 2000 passengers, loaf along the tranquil waters, soaking up the crisp air and eye-popping scenery. Stopping occasionally at the little villages and towns, the enterprising locals are eager to embrace the cashed-up tourists.

Alaskan Inside Passage cruises are overwhelmingly popular, easy on the motion-sensitive tummy, and overflowing with magnificent scenery and fun shore excursions. But the big ship experience barely scratches the surface of the wondrous nature and wilderness possibilities hidden away.

For example, one of the most rewarding wild bear encounters can be had from the little hamlet of Wrangell, normally a two-hour whistle-stop on a cruise ship itinerary. Jump ship for a day or two and stay in one of the comfortable B&Bs or inns dotted around town. Call into Wilma and Jim Leslie’s office right on the wharf and book the Anan Bear Experience. A full day adventure, you’ll be whisked out by jet boat to the unfenced sanctuary about an hour out of town and be ogling wild bears fishing for salmon in no time while bald eagles weal overhead in swarms. Breathtaking.

Otherwise check out some of the small ship, adventure cruise options available from such operators as CruiseWest and American Safari Cruises. These vessels carry as few as a dozen passengers into some of the most remote and secluded nooks and crannies along the passage where you can get up close (but not too close) to calving glaciers while escorted by pods of orcas. Fishin’ folk will also enjoy the famous halibut and salmon fishing that abounds throughout the passage.

Apart from the enormous variety and scope of natural attractions, there is a refreshingly new perspective on indigenous tourism in Alaska. “First nation” families run many of the museums and guided tours in and around the little towns like Petersburg, Ketchikan and Wrangell. Be sure to see the museum and Chief Shakes house in Wrangell for an insight into the life of Alaska’s first residents.

Other activities to consider include guided trekking, kayaking, flightseeing and camping. Experienced kayakers can enjoy some of the best open water and river kayaking anywhere in the world, but wilderness paddling and camping needs to be taken seriously. The water is cold and the wildlife can be, well, wild!

But all this high adrenalin adventure may be more than you bargained for. Another popular way of seeing the Passage and the little communities that thrive there is aboard the Alaska Marine Highway. This regular and comfortable ferry service binds the otherwise isolated townships into one large community. It’s easy to bounce from one island and town to another, lazily enjoying the local attractions and atmosphere without enduring the tourist throngs that invade occasionally when the liners are in town.

By all means take that big ship cruise and enjoy all the comforts and facilities on that glorious, 5-star vessel, but take time out to explore and discover Alaska’s Inside Passage at your own pace away from the commercial frenzy – that’s where you’ll find the real Alaska and the greatest rewards.

April 23, 2008

Go for a 'green getaway' in Townsville

#queensland







Travelling with an eco-conscience is easy in Queensland's tropical Townsville region, discovers Jessica Reid.


Not only does the area boast Australia's first carbon neutral tourism business, but it is also home to many other operators that are raising the bar for 'green' getaways.

Situated just 8km from Townsville, Magnetic Island (or 'Maggie' as it is affectionately known), is a must visit destination on any eco-friendly holiday to the region.

The island is predominantly national park so it's no wonder there are a number of operators dedicated to preserving its natural habitat, which includes 24km of walking tracks, 23 bays and beaches and around 40km of coastline.

Twenty minute transfers to the island are via the advanced eco-accredited Sunferries vessel. www.sunferries.com.au

For advanced eco-tourism accommodation on Maggie, head to the multi-award-winning Bungalow Bay Koala Village, one of the few places in Australia where you can still cuddle a koala. The resort is nestled amongst national park and is a short walk from the beach. Visitors are invited to take part in one of the resort's guided walks to learn about the surrounding bushland and environment, or why not enjoy a champagne bush tucker breakfast to meet all sorts of animals including crocodiles, koalas, birds and lizards? www.bungalowbay.com.au 



To discover the waters around Maggie without damaging the surrounding, fragile Great Barrier Reef, there are two options.

Magnetic Island Sea Kayaks is Townsville's first tourism operator to achieve advanced ecotourism status. Navigate your way around the island's stunning bays lined with huge granite boulders on a guided morning or sunset tour while learning about the region's wildlife, ecology and history. www.seakayak.com.au

The region is also a great access point to the SS Yongala Wreck, renowned as one of the best dive sites in the world. Adrenalin Dive is an eco-accredited company that picks guests up from Townsville and Magnetic Island for day trips to the coral-encrusted wreck, which attracts a prolific variety of colourful marine life and is an unforgettable swim for novice and experienced divers alike. www.adrenalindive.com.au

How about staying at Hidden Valley Cabins, Australia's first 100 per cent solar powered and carbon neutral tourism operator? The award-winning resort, situated 90 minutes' drive from the city, offers accommodation in quaint Solar Eco Cabins and its new Interpretive Centre explains how solar energy is used to power the resort, saving 78 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. www.hiddenvalleycabins.com.au

The family-run business also operates Hidden Valley Tours, a three day trip incorporating hiking, fishing, swimming and sightseeing in the Paluma and Hidden Valley regions. A highlight of the trip is a visit to the spectacular Wallaman Falls – Australia's largest single drop waterfall. All accommodation, meals and tours are included. www.hiddenvalleytours.com.au.

Heading north again, Hinchinbrook Island is the perfect destination for an eco adventure. The world's largest National Park island, Hinchinbrook is home of the internationally-acclaimed Thorsborne Trail, a 32km trek through mountainous tropical terrain. Stay on the mainland at the beautifully-appointed and recently-renovated Port Hinchinbrook Resort, or stay on the island at Hinchinbrook Resort in unique 'tree house" style accommodation. The surrounding waterways can be explored by canoe, kayak, snorkelling or diving, and be sure to take your fishing rod for some of Australia's best fishing. www.porthinchinbrook.com.au

Getting there

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue fly direct to Townsville from Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney. Other travel options to Townsville include the QR Tilt Train, or a Greyhound-Australia coach.

Visit

www.qantas.com.au

www.jetstar.com.au

www.virginblue.com.au

www.traveltrain.com.au

www.greyhound.com.au


April 22, 2008

Zeppelin's First Flight Around the World



When Airships Conquered the Sky

It is doubtful whether the jubilant crowd in Friedrichshafen that greeted the completion of the 20-day round-the-world trip by the LZ 127 airship on 4 September 1929 saw the event as a milestone in individual freedom of travel. At that time, their joy almost certainly had more to do with the fact that the town on the banks of Lake Constance had been the birthplace of the idea for that unique journey and the first ever circuit of the Earth by an airship. The airship pioneer Hugo Eckener – it was he who had taken over the life's work of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin – and the LZ 127 airship he piloted accomplished epoch-making achievements which created new realities in global air travel. As a result, he left a lasting mark on an era in which German pioneering spirit attained world renown in the field of technology. The Atlantic crossings of the zeppelins, the flight around the world and the journey to the Arctic in 1931 remain an unforgettable chapter in the history of aviation which established new dimensions in passenger transport. Those days saw the beginnings of a revolution in transport which was to conquer the air in years to come.

The history of the airship and its flights – and in particular of the first ever round-the-world flight in 20 days – is exciting and real. The idea for such an undertaking was primarily expressed in the fictional journey of Phileas Fogg and his servant Passepartout who notionally rounded the world in 80 days by train, boat and elephant in 1872 on the pages of Jules Verne's famous novel. But what is the rescue of the princess Aouda by Fogg and his companions against the true heroics of an airship engineer? At an altitude of between 200 and 500 meters, which was the height at which airships usually flew, they had to climb down an open ladder into the engine gondola and stand watch there for at least two hours. The journey to Tokyo, for instance, lasted 101 hours, which meant the engineers changing places over 50 times, each time climbing up and down the ladder regardless of the wind and weather at the time.

The LZ 127 airship had been named the "Graf Zeppelin" by his daughter Hella on 8 July 1928 – the day that would have been the late Count's 90th birthday. In nine years it spent a total of around 18,000 hours in the air, initially powered by five V12 Maybach VL1 engines, traveling 1,695,272 kilometers and carrying over 13,000 passengers. From August 1931 to 1937, the "Graf Zeppelin" made a total of 74 trips to South America and Rio de Janeiro as part of a regular service for passengers, freight and mail. "All that is great is educational as soon as we are aware of it", wrote Johann Wolfgang Goethe over 100 years before to his confidant and secretary, Johann Peter Eckermann. And that is particularly true of airship travel. Because the pursuit of extreme lightness of design not only placed great demands on the Zeppelin factory and its engine supplier, Maybach, but also on the close on 100 subcontractors who were challenged to achieve genuine milestones in quality and reliability by the technology of airship construction and were committed to those standards. By that time, if not before, "Made in Germany" had come to represent quality of the highest levels. And that was an achievement in which, ultimately, the zeppelins played no small part. It was the airship that was ultimately responsible for the creation of the 12-cylinder engine as cars provided no impetus for the development of large-scale engines. Thus, once again, the engine was the motor for changes in the world and in people's freedom of movement. Travel had for generations and centuries been the privilege of the powerful and high-born. When ordinary mortals set out on a journey, it was usually their last – in a simple carriage out to a field. It is no accident that the stories of great journeys in the past remain popular today. Think of the Three Kings from the East, of Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, or Fernando Magellan, the first man to circumnavigate the Earth, of the tough seafaring Norsemen, the Vikings, who sailed as far as North America in their resilient and battle-tested rowing boats. Traveling across country, over water and through the air is one of mankind's most ancient desires, one which has triggered an infinite variety of impulses and explorations and ceaselessly occupied many great thinkers and minds.

The wheel has always been the symbol of motion and the wing the symbol of freedom and escape from earthly constraints. That pursuit of mobility, with which thoughts of personal freedom were naturally associated has also always held within it a risk for life and limb. It was never without danger to venture into new elements or travel to strange countries. And perhaps that was the reason why progress in that area was made in such small steps for such a long time. It was left to men like Hugo Eckener, the obsessive airship engineer, and the equally obsessed engine designer Karl Maybach to create new directions and visionary breakthroughs in travel on land, water and in the air. On 6 July this year, it was 125 years since the birth of Karl Maybach. The airship engines, the first 12-cylinders built in Germany, undoubtedly rank among his greatest achievements. And even today, more than 40 years after his death, some of his design innovations remain fundamental and indispensable to the modern diesel engine.

Dieter Mutard

April 21, 2008

The Costa Cruises Story

Text: Costa Cruises Postcard Scans: www.simplonpc.co.uk

The story behind Costa Crociere is a story of entrepreneurial success.

It was established in 1854 under the name of the founder “Giacomo Costa fu Andrea” and was so successful in the trading of fabrics and olive oil between the markets of Genoa and Sardinia that it soon set up a fleet of ships transporting goods all over the world; and by the end of the last century its goods reached far-away shores such as Australia, where the constant flow of Italian emigrants generated a market for national foodstuffs.

Costa was specialized in the purchase of raw olive oil in the Mediterranean countries for export overseas.

In the first decade of the twentieth century Costa was in a position to enter the naval field: in 1924 the small steamship Ravenna was used to supply raw materials to markets in the western Mediterranean and in 1928 the Langano was added to the fleet.

The thirties saw the start of the tradition of naming the ships after members of the family: Federico (’31), Eugenio and Enrico (’34), Antonietta, Beatrice and Giacomo (’35).

At the start of the Second World War the fleet boasted eight ships for a total of 27,534 tons.

Only the Langano survived the war, but Costa took up its shipbuilding activities again, building and buying other ships for coastal trading.

The destruction of the Italian passenger fleet, the growing demand for passenger traffic, the economic crisis and the flood of emigrants across the ocean drew the attention of the far-sighted Costa family, and in 1947 they inaugurated a new passenger service, first class - equipped with air conditioning - and second class. It was the steam ship Maria C. that began to meet the first demand for passenger transport, quickly followed by the Anna C. (pic right), the first Italian transatlantic to cross the western Atlantic after the war. In 1947 Giacomo Costa fu Andrea became “Linea C.”.

The commercial services towards North America were inaugurated in 1948 with the art nouveau style ship Maria C., soon flanked by the Luisa C. In 1953 the Franca C. opened new routes towards Venezuela and the Antilles.

The launching of luxurious, new ships, equipped with air conditioning in first and second class and with comfortable and elegant rooms, impeccable service offering hospitality, comfort and the best of traditional Mediterranean cuisine denoted the unmistakable Italian style.

A style which reached its zenith in the fittings, the furnishings and the architectural styles.

Even Giò Ponti, director of the magazine Domus, turned his attention to naval matters and mentioned the architectural and decorative aspects of the Costa fleet. A tradition which continues today.

The ships were divided into three classes (first, second and tourist), the entertainment and the attractions for the passengers, whether adults or children, are still a characteristic of the Costa fleet which has been continuously growing since the fifties.

Bianca C., Enrico C., Andrea C.(pic left), Flavia, Fulvia and Carla C. were refurbished in the fifties to offer something more than a mere means of transport. Until the inauguration of the first ship commissioned by Costa from the Genoa shipyard Ansaldo.The Federico Costa, still divided into three classes, was equipped with restaurants and unusually shaped swimming pools.

In 1959 Costa realized the first ship in the world completely dedicated to pleasure cruises of 7 and 14 days in the United States and the Caribbean: the Franca C., flanked in the winter months by the Anna Costa, which proposed 3 or 4-day mini cruises starting from Port Everglades to Bahamas. The early 1960’s were triumphal and the by then customary routes in South America or the Caribbean were joined by cruises in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, right down to the Straits of Magellan and the Antarctic. The success of the Linea C was such that in 1964 the Company ordered the construction of the Eugenio C. Immediately christened “the ship of the future” thanks to its fittings and its elegance.

A ship no longer formally divided into three classes, but conceived as a single deck, onto which all the lounges face. A clear indication that the Eugenio C. (pic left) would be totally dedicated to cruising, the choice for the future of Costa Armatori. In 1968 the first ship exclusively used by passengers, the Franca C. inaugurated the formula of “fly and sail”, destined to revolutionize the conception of holidays and offering holiday-makers with little time to spare the opportunity to take short cruises in distant parts of the world. Once again the evolution of tourism has proved Costa right, during the seventies the fleet was increased with ships leased or bought outright.

Particularly noteworthy were the splendid twins Daphne and Danae, who sailed the Mediterranean in the summer and the Caribbean in winter, with trips to Alaska, Scandinavia, South America, Africa and the Far East.

During the eighties the idea of the ship as a floating hotel became increasing accepted.

The ships became holiday resorts, the division between the classes disappeared completely, the cabins tended to become more uniform and the places of entertainment multiplied: bars, theatres, casino, discotheque. Everything was available to everyone. Building on the foundations the cruising industry in general and Costa Armatori in particular prepared for the great leap in quality represented by the founding of Costa Crociere in 1986.

But once again, the ships are the stars of the enormous development of the company, from the Costa Riviera, completely refurbished in 1985 and in 1998, to the ships built in the nineties; the Costa Marina, the Costa Allegra, the Costa Classica, the Costa Romantica and in 1996, the splendid Costa Victoria.

Not to mention the Mermoz and the Costa Playa (later sold), purchased in 1993 when Paquet Cruises of the French group Chargeurs & Accor was dismantled.

In 1997 the company was purchased by the American firm Carnival (50%) and the English firm Airtours (50%), increasing the investment capacity of the Genoese company while maintaining its identity as an Italian company.

The growth of Costa Crociere has never stopped. In November 1999 the technical launching of the Costa Atlantica, the new flagship christened in the wonderful setting of Riva ai Sette Martiri in Venice in July of 2000, opens a new page in the company history.

The Italian flag returns, after about ten years, to wave on the yards of Costa’s ships and the company introduces a new concept never seen before. With its dimensions, which makes her the biggest passenger ship in the history of Italian maritime, the Costa Atlantica (pic left) opens the path to the new company development guidelines: comfort cabins like grand hotel rooms, most of with a balcony, a series of unforgettable ambiences and atmospheres which will attract new passengers to the cruise experience.

In August 2000, Costa Crociere announced the order of the Atlantica’s twin ship, the Costa Mediterranea.

At the end of September 2000, The Carnival Corporation, having purchased all shares from Airtours, became the sole shareholder of Costa Crociere, Genoa.

This change gives a further incentive to the Development Program of Costa and confirmed a new deal with Fincantieri in Genoa Sestri Ponente to build two new 102,600 ton cruise ships and with a total passenger capacity of 3,470, the Costa Fortuna and the Costa Magica, for delivery at the end of 2003 and 2004. The expansion of the company has been possible by the addition in June 2001 of another ship, the Costa Tropicale, originally belonging to Carnival Cruise Lines, which was completely refurbished in the style of other Costa ships. Moreover, in March 2001, Costa announced the purchase of the ship Westerdam from the American sister company Holland America Line, which entered in service at the end of April 2002 under the name of Costa Europa.

The Costa Mediterranea, twin sister of the Costa Atlantica, was delivered to the company on May 22, 2003. November 14, 2003 marked the arrival of the Costa Fortuna. The Palacrociere, Savona's new cruise terminal, jointly financed and managed by the company, was opened on November 24, 2003. In January 2004 Costa Crociere announced the signing of a letter of intention with Fincantieri for the construction in Sestri Ponente of another new ship with a tonnage of 114,500 tons and with a total passenger capacity of 3,780, the Costa Concordia, which will go into service in the summer of 2006. On October 29th, 2004 the Costa Magica, twin sister of the Costa Fortuna, was delivered. In the same year Costa Crociere S.p.A. acquired the brand AIDA Cruises, the cruise leader in Germany. In January 2005 Costa Crociere announces the order to Fincantieri for a twin sister ship of the Costa Concordia, the Costa Serena (pic above left), which will be ready in spring 2007, and transfer of the Costa Tropicale to the P&O Australia brand in October 2005. The growth programme of the fleet continued in December 2005 with the announcement of a third sister ship of the Costa Concordia and of the Costa Serena, named the Costa Pacifica, to be delivered by Spring 2009.

In 2006 Costa announces its expansion in Asia Pacific and in Dubai, confirming its international character. In June 2006 Costa placed an order with Fincantieri for two new 92,700-ton ships to be built at the Fincantieri Yard in Marghera, the Costa Luminosa (pic right) and its sister ship, which will come into service in Spring 2009 and 2010. In July 2006, the Costa Concordia came into service and in February 2007, Costa announced new exclusive itineraries from Mauritius to the Seychelles, Kenya and Madagascar. In April 2007, the new “Palacruceros” terminal, owned and financed by the company, was inaugurated and in May 2007, the Costa Serena was delivered. On July 17, Costa Crociere reached a historical record in Europe: 1,000,000 Guests booked in only one year. The announced joint venture between Costa Crociere S.p.A. and Orizonia Corporaciòn was approved for the creation of the brand “Iberocruceros”, belonging to the Costa group and operating in the Spanish market. In October the order to Fincantieri for 2 further ships of the “Concordia” class was announced.

Costa thus enters the third millennium with an expansion program that will enable it to maintain its European leadership in a fast growing market. The fleet that will fly the Italian merchant marine flag in years to come will be even more modern, offering Italian-style hospitality and an unparalleled showcase of Italy's artistic trends.

Costa Crociere has been part of Carnival Corporation & plc, the world leader in the cruise sector, since April 2003. AIDA Cruises, the leading brand in the German speaking market, with four ships in service and five on order, and Iberocruceros, operating in the Spanish market, with two ships in service and one on order, both belong to the Costa Crociere S.p.A. Group, completing a total of 18 ships in service and 11 on order. All ships fly the Italian flag.

LET FRANCESCA SHOW YOU LA DOLCE VITA

LET FRANCESCA SHOW YOU LA DOLCE VITA

david ellis

SO you want to hire a train so you and your mates can see Italy in style.

And a palace too, for a slap-up birthday bash along the way – complete
of course with your own orchestra and a fireworks show in a cosy
little Italian bay below as you celebrate the big day.

And to finish, when you get back to Rome, you'll expect a few-score
chauffeur-driven Mercedes on hand at the station to whisk the lot of
you to the airport in the style to which you've become accustomed.

Dreaming?

Not if you talk to Francesca Alberghini, a blonde dynamo with
Rome-based company DDP Incentive Management who creates la Dolce Vita
for the well-heeled (and the sometimes odd-ball) as easily as a
magician plucks rabbit from a hat.

Plus she's got a few hundred other tricks up her sleeve: how about a
horse and carriage ride around Rome or Florence, Venice or Naples? Or
being serenaded by a children's choir at a lakeside picnic – or taking
a side trip to a dozen of Italy's most famous cities and sights?

Or simply settling down to a white-glove Pasta, Pizza and Wine party.

Ms Alberghini, as you've probably begun to appreciate, is not your
ordinary party organiser. She's been in the special events business
thirty years, after joining her dad in their hometown Naples where
he'd set up a business to look after the whims and fancies of those
wanting something really different in the way of corporate or private
family functions and celebrations.

Sadly Egypt's closure of the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975 proved not
only a mortal blow to the Alberghini business, but to many others in
the travel industry in Naples as well.

"After Dad's business folded we moved to Rome to start all over again,
but Dad died just a year later," Francesca says. "I was only 20 at the
time and Mum and I tried to keep things going, but we lasted just
another year."

Francesca joined another company and specialised in looking after
corporate and private clients wanting something unique and unusual
during celebratory cruises and other special holiday or company
events.

And five years ago she switched to DDP Incentive Management where her
skills at weaving together the threads of the seemingly impossible,
and at times the outlandish, blossomed.

To Francesca there's no such word as No.

When an Aussie businessman chartered the mega motor-cruiser SeaDream
II for a week out of Rome with nearly a hundred mates a couple of
years back for his 50th birthday, his wife decided fireworks would be
nice to mark the Big Night.

So SeaDream Yacht Club asked Francesca to organise a barge-load of the
things, and as the birthday banquet unfolded on the deck of SeaDream
II in Portofino Harbour, guests gasped as the pyrotechnic spectacular
lit not only the whole of Portofino, but the surrounding "millionaires
row" Tigullio Gulf as well with ten minutes of smoke, flare, flash and
flame.

On another occasion a romantic Frenchman wanted 15,000 fresh roses
placed in every public area and in every stateroom on that same
SeaDream II during his week-long Mediterranean charter.

And another charterer wanted 10,000 rose petals scattered around the
pool deck as his friends came aboard to join him for his special week.
And yet another asked that his guests be led from cocktails to dinner
each evening by two turbaned Indians in traditional dress who'd been
brought aboard purely for these evening rituals.

Francesca remains totally unfazed by the many requests she receives,
saying that Italy stimulates in people emotions they often conceal at
home. "Our culture, history, gastronomic delights, arts and fashion –
all of them so much 'The Italian Way of Life' – inspire visitors to
express their true feelings,

"We're simply catering to their requests, no matter how unusual or out
of the ordinary they may seem," she says.

And it's not just the out of the ordinary: Francesca and DDP Incentive
Management also organise everything from seemingly mundane airport to
hotel limousine transfers, or booking a restaurant for a special
dinner.

"We strive to turn every traveller's dream into a reality," Francesca says.

If there's anything from that simple airport transfer, to your own
train, a stay in a palace, 15,000 roses or other touches of la Dolce
Vita, contact this bubbly dynamo on Francesca@ddpincentive.it

………………………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

SHE may have a fleet of close-on a hundred Mercedes at her disposal,
but Francesca Alberghini still likes to scoot around Rome on two
wheels – here she shows the writer some of the Eternal City's
highlights.

UP in smoke: Francesca organised this spectacular fireworks display
for an Aussie businessman who chartered SeaDream II out of Rome to
celebrate his 50th birthday with a hundred family and mates.

PART of the luxury fleet – DDP Incentive Management can get you one
Mercedes-Benz for an airport transfers, or a hundred for the company
or family Mediterranean fling.

(Photos: DDP Incentive Management; David Ellis)

April 14, 2008

TARGETTING THE ‘REAL’ ROBIN HOOD

TARGETTING THE 'REAL' ROBIN HOOD

malcolm andrews

THERE would hardly be a person in the English-speaking world who has
not heard of Robin Hood.

With his band of Merry Men he thrived on robbing the rich to give to the poor.

Little John and Friar Tuck – names almost as familiar as Robin Hood
himself – and the love of his life, the beautiful Maid Marion… the
wicked Sheriff of Nottingham who would scour Sherwood Forest in search
of the brigand, all once lived in Nottingham.

Or did they and Robin Hood?

Every year thousands of tourists pour into the city of Nottingham and
nearby Sherwood Forest to feel the Robin Hood experience.

But the folk of the village of Clifton in West Yorkshire will tell you
these tourists have got it all wrong.

Over a pint of best bitter in the Black Horse Inn they'll quote the
history books to prove that if you're looking for the domain of Robin
Hood you should be pottering around Clifton, not Sherwood Forest
that's a few hundred kilometres away.

For starters they'll tell you, history says there never was a Sheriff
of Nottingham… in Robin Hood's day there was a Sheriff of Yorkshire.

And the drinkers at the Black Horse will explain that our hero's real
name was not Robin Hood, but Robert Hood of Wakefield, an old
industrial centre near Clifton.

As well, just down the road from the Black Horse is the site of
Kirklees Priory, in whose gatehouse Robert Hood spent his dying hours
back around 1346. Stories claim he was 'bled' by the prioress and left
for dead.

When Little John found him in his death throes, Robert – or Robin –
Hood made one last request: he had Little John prop him up so he could
fire an arrow through the window, and request that he be buried where
it landed.

But from the gatehouse in which he is supposed to have died, its 600m
to his grave – almost twice the range of a skilled longbow archer. And
Robin Hood was around a venerable 70 years at the time he died.

And much as they wish they could, tourists can't visit where Robin's
arrow allegedly landed – it's on private property. And even if they
could get there, they'd find a fake gravestone anyway.

The original monument disappeared some time around 1670. A replica was
made. But locals chipped pieces off it believing that by placing it
against their cheek, they would be cured of toothache. Another
replacement was made in the 19th century – replete with Olde English
wording in an attempt at 'authenticity'.

It's not a bad story. And the local real estate folk are not about to
reject it.

The Black Horse Inn in Clifton also has links with more recent
history. On the walls of its bar are autographed photographs of some
of the pop music legends of the 1950s and 1960s.

Johnny Ray. George Hamilton IV. Eartha Kitt. Del Shannon. Gerry and
the Pacemakers.

They seem quite incongruous in this tiny Yorkshire village.

But Mine Host Andrew Russell has a ready explanation. In nearby
Batley, a dour workers' village that in the 1960s had seen better
days, an entrepreneur named Jimmy Corrigan established, in a converted
sewage works, the Batley Variety Club.

Waving a fat cheque book he lured the biggest names in the world to
this musical oasis in the grim north of England.

Louis Armstrong's two-week gig in June 1968 put the club on the map.
And the likes of Roy Orbison, Johnny Mathis, the Everly Brothers and
Neil Sedaka cemented its fame.

But the stars had no desire to stay in Batley – and word soon got
around that the Black Horse Inn at Clifton provided a better retreat.

"They kept coming back time and time again," Russell explained. "And
they have continued to do so even though the Batley Variety Club
ceased its big shows three decades ago. The aging stars now come for
holidays."

George Hamilton IV, who had huge country hits with Why Don't They
Understand and Abilene, is a regular. Now aged 70, he has been coming
back every couple of years.

He's now arguably the village's most famous septuagenarian since Robin
Hood himself.

……………………..

Picture captions

Robin Hood's statue is in Nottingham.... even though the people of
Clifton in West Yorkshire still claim him as their's.

The historic Black Horse Inn... a landmark of note from Robin Hood to
Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers and George Hamilton IV, who still
visits for a pint today.

Photos: Malcolm Andrews

April 07, 2008

HOLY WATERING HOLE

HOLY WATERING HOLE

malcolm andrews

THAT noted 18th Century cleric John Wesley would be none too pleased
if he were to walk through the Yorkshire township of Brighouse today.

The founder of the Methodist (Uniting) Church was a teetotaller who
would preach on the evils of the demon drink from the pulpits of
chapels around England.

Brighouse, near the northern city of Bradford, was the site of one of
the most beautiful Wesleyan chapels in all of Britain.

Called The Park Chapel it was built in 1878 at a cost of 10,000
pounds, a King's ransom back then. The architect R.F. Rogerson was
deeply influenced by his love of French chateaux so the structure
stood out in an area dominated by massive, ugly-looking wool mills and
grim workers' cottages.

The Chapel closed in 1983 and the building became an indoor market
before that, in turn, closed down in 1999.

Today, much to the horror of Yorkshire Methodists, it is a pub – the
Richard Oastler, one of a chain around the country offering
reasonably-priced counter meals and drinks to hungry, thirsty
travellers. Or, for that matter, non-United Church locals.

Everything from traditional fish 'n chips and bangers 'n mash to
Chicken Tikka and Chili Con Carne is served here.

And for dessert Toffee and Banana Pudding, Treacle Sponge and
Chocolate Fudge Cake, of which the menu boasts "All of our hot
puddings are large enough to share."

The JD Wetherspoon group that owns the Richard Oastler targets classic
buildings to be renovated as pubs, although more than a few of the 689
establishments are housed in ugly modern buildings – the only places
available in some areas into which the company wished to move.

Wetherspoon's marketing people have bestowed some unusual names on
their properties.

In London there are the Beaten Docket (Cricklewood), Good Yarn
(Uxbridge), Tally Ho (North Finchley), Asparagus (Battersea), the
Wrong 'Un (Bexley Heath), the Whole Hog (Palmers Green) and the Cap in
Hand (Surbiton).

Wetherspoon chiefs obviously like the name Moon Under Water because
there are several dotted around London and its environs...Charing
Cross, Leicester Square, Balham, Barnet, Enfield, Colindale,
Twickenham and Watford.

The Knights Templar in London's Chancery Lane conjures up visions of
Tom Hanks doing battle with assorted villains in the Da Vinci Code
movie.

And the Last Post in Loughton is a bit of a worry.

But in the country the company is more likely to use the name of
interesting figures from British history.

At Bury in north-west England there's the Robert Peel, named after the
creator of the world's first police force who was born in Bury in
1788.

Trowbridge in Wiltshire boasts the Isaac Pitman, who gave the world
shorthand, the bane of young journalists before modern miniature
recorders were invented.

James Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, is commemorated in the
Scottish town of Greenock, where he was born in 1736.

And in Brighouse, the converted Methodist chapel with its magnificent
pipe organ dominating one end of a first-floor gallery recalls the
deeds of Richard Oastler, who lived nearby.

Oastler is remembered to this day for his vehement opposition to child
labor. When his followers dubbed him 'The Factory King', his opponents
sneeringly called him King Richard, a title he wore with pride.

Oastler's campaign was highlighted in 1830 when he described the
treatment of child workers as 'Yorkshire Slavery'.

The fight gathered momentum so rapidly that within three years the
British Parliament had banned children under nine from working in
textile mills and limited those under 13 years of age to nine hours a
day.

When he campaigned for an even better deal for children his opponents
managed to have him imprisoned in 1840 for debt. But each week from
his cell in London's Fleet Gaol he published a newsletter continuing
his campaign. And with money raised by friends he was eventually, four
years later, able to pay off the debt and walk free.

John Wesley would most certainly have sympathised with the aims of the
man whose name now adorns his chapel in Brighouse.

And one would like to think he would have given the thumbs up to the
food that is served there – even if he frowned upon the alcoholic
beverages that accompany it.

………………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

PULPIT to pub – The Richard Oastler pub in Brighouse was once a
Methodist Church.

RICHARD Oastler, child labour campaigner after whom the pub was named.

ALE and hearty: patrons of a different kind to when the message from
the pulpit was Teetotal.

Photos: Malcolm Andrews

April 01, 2008

WINE LOVERS CRUSH ON LEEDS CASTLE

WINE LOVERS CRUSH ON LEEDS CASTLE

david ellis

WHEN William the Conqueror decided to take over England in 1066, he
gave one of his invasion's cushier jobs to his half-brother, Bishop
Odo of Bayeux.

Odo was told to take hold of a small wooden fortress that had been
built on an island in a lake in Kent around 857AD by the then King of
Kent, Ethelbert IV. Away from the battle-front, the good Bishop found
the task a no-brainer and settled into an easy lifestyle amid one of
the prettiest parts of England.

So much so in fact that when counters went around 20 years later to
write up the first census for the Doomsday Book, they found a very
content Bishop Odo still ministering to an equally laid-back flock of
just forty-nine: a Keeper of his Fortress, 28 villagers, eight
smallholders, a dozen slaves and a handful of animals.

And the reason for the little community's relaxed outlook on life: a
half-hectare vineyard whose French-origin grapes kept them supplied
year-round with wine made by Odo himself.

Nine hundred years later, using a bit of literary licence, wine
produced from a vineyard on Bishop Odo's original site, is claimed to
be made "from England's oldest vineyard" even though Odo's grapes died
out 300 years after he himself went to his Maker, and today's vines
weren't planted until 1980.

And the site of Bishop Odo's fortress is now one of Britain's
most-visited historic sites, although long gone is the little wooden
fortress. In its place is the grand Leeds Castle – often dubbed "the
loveliest castle in the world."

The rambling 'new' stone Castle was built in 1119 by one of William
the Conqueror's Lords, Robert de Crevecoeur to supersede the wooden
fortress, and now occupies two islands in the lake; it is connected to
the surrounding countryside by a stone bridge that replaced the
original drawbridge.

And its history is as colourful as the setting itself: it's been used
as a garrison, a prison, a convalescent hospital, and played home to
six medieval queens and three noble families.

Henry VIII so loved the place he decreed it his summer palace, but
despite his love of a glass or three of red he ordered the cessation
of monastic winemaking there; without care the vines ran to ruin and
eventually died.

When Leeds Castle's gardeners decided to replant the vineyard in 1980,
they located the exact site of the original planted by Bishop Odo, and
in the first year of winemaking harvested enough grapes to make 1200
bottles of wine.

The vineyard now produces ten to fifteen times that amount, and with
Bishop Odo's winery long gone, the grapes are processed at a local
winery and labelled Leeds Castle Wine.

Leeds Castle is a captivating place to visit, and not just for its
history: it was totally restored by its last private owner, Lady
Baillie who bought it in 1926 and, with the assistance of Paris
decorator Stephane Boudin, transformed it into an elegant country
residence.

She opened it to the public in 1976 and today it sits in its lake amid
200ha of park, woodland and old-world English gardens.

An aviary with over 100 exotic species from around the world provides
eagles, falcons and hawks for falconry exhibitions, and is also home
to Jack – the only free-flying African Augur Buzzard in the UK.

There's a yew maze in which to test-out your deductive skills, an
underground grotto with macabre mythical beasts, hot air balloon rides
to take-in the stunning Kent countryside, and for those who can't help
themselves, a golf course.

There's also a duckery on the lake, as well as the castle's symbolic
Black Swans – descendants of those originally imported by Lady Baillie
from Australia.

But probably most unusual of all is the only Dog Collar Museum in the
UK. No one seems to know quite how it started, but it has examples of
hunting-dog collars spanning five centuries, and more modern canine
couture for the 21st century pampered pooch.

Leeds Castle attracts over 500,000 visitors a year and is open from
10am to 4pm during the winter months, and to 6pm in summer; it is
closed Christmas Day. Entry is 14-pounds per person for adults,
11-pounds for seniors and 8.50-pounds per child.

For information see travel agents, call the British Tourist Authority
on 1300 858 589 or check-out

www.visitbritain.com.au

……………….

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

LEEDS Castle – the loveliest castle in the world.

TODAY's vineyard, developed on the site of the original planted in 1068.

HENRY VIII's Banquetting Hall.

AUTUMN colours in the spectacular gardens of Leeds Castle.

Photos: Leeds Castle

BEST OF BRITISH - TRUE BLUE!

BEST OF BRITISH - TRUE BLUE!

david ellis

THE message is delivered through the public address system in the
Best-of- British English.

It draws you to listen.

Every word is enunciated perfectly with nary a vowel flawed; every
ending "g" or "t" as discernible as Professor Henry Higgins strove for
from his battle with the hapless Cockney Eliza Doolittle in My Fair
Lady.

It's like listening to British aristocracy sans any pluminess, like
Audrey Hepburn finally evolving into an English lady from the nasally
Eliza with her aspirated king-hit "In Hartford, Hereford and
Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen…"

So just where is this so-cultured – yet so-unaffected – accent from?

We venture maybe some royal heritage, or perhaps the result of being
born into a family with long diplomatic lineage.

We're wrong on both counts.

"I was born in Victoria and spent my earliest years at Endeavour Hills
in the Dandenongs," the lady behind the voice tells us. "When I'm not
travelling the world, home is now Maroochydore on Queensland's
Sunshine Coast."

Tanya Whitehurst is Cruise Director aboard the boutique British ship
Saga Rose, a job most teenage girls with stars in their eyes about
travelling the world – and actually being paid for it – can merely
dream about.

And she got there with one ethic: hard work.

When she was eleven Tanya's English parents moved back to Nottingham
where mum had hailed from, and Tanya quickly developed a love of the
entertainment world and the stage.

She enrolled in Nottingham's School of Performing Art, and an
elocution course that saw her lose much of her Australian accent
(although we happily pick up the occasional hint of her homeland.)

By nineteen, the energetic Tanya was Assistant Entertainment Manager
at the vast Billy Butlin's-like West Sands Caravan Park in West Sussex
that catered to 10,000 holidaymakers a week.

A year later she added the roles of Stage Manager and Sound & Light
Engineer at the Park, and at twenty-three changed course for an
Entertainment Manager's role in the Mediterranean.

Then eight years ago, still at just 28, she landed a job with Saga
Holidays that operates Saga Rose and Saga Ruby, boutique ships that
specialise in world-wide cruise holidays for the over-50s.

So how's a 35-year old Cruise Director fit in with passengers anywhere
from 50- to 90-plus?

"I love it because our guests are just so mentally and physically
active and interesting," she says as Saga Rose sails from Sydney to
Cairns as part of the ship's current annual Round World Cruise. "Few
miss anything from early morning walks or exercise classes or onboard
lectures, discussion groups, bridge lessons, and shore tours that we
tailor to their age and physical abilities.

"Most have been aboard numerous times in different parts of the world
or on world cruises, and tell us they feel so secure travelling with
small numbers of like-age.

"And while our officers and crew are largely younger than our guests,
every cruise quickly becomes like a big happy family event – for us,
welcoming back past guests is like welcoming back our own
grandparents!"

Guests too are quick to talk about the spontaneity of officers and
crew aboard Saga Rose, who always greet passing guests with a friendly
word, a question as to how they're enjoying their cruise, and even
enquiring of family members back home.

"We do everything possible to make our guests feel welcome," Tanya
says. "Simple things like a friendly greeting no matter how times you
might meet a guest in a day, helping with their trays from the buffet,
opening doors, helping them to their seats… its this face to face
contact that make their holiday for them and keeps them coming back
over and again."

Saga Rose normally carries under 600-passengers, and on most world
cruises around 450, looked after by 350 crew; she'll sail 52-nights
from Sydney to Southampton on February 27 2009 as part of her next
world cruise, visiting 24-ports in Australia, Vanuatu, the Solomon
Islands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka,
the Maldives, India, Oman, Yemen, Egypt Cyprus and Malta.

Early Bird 15% discount cruise-only prices start from $18,532pp
twin-share exclusively through Cruiseco; phone 1800 225 656 for the
name of your nearest Cruiseco agency Australia-wide or visit
www.cruising.com.au

…………………………

PHOTO CAPTIONS: TANYA Whitehurst: Aussie with job most girls can only

dream of.

SAGA Rose at sea.

GUESTS enjoy dining on deck in
fine weather.

SHOWTIME at night aboard Saga Rose.


Images: Saga Holidays

TAHITI HONEYMOON THAT LIFETIME DREAMS ARE MADE OF




TAHITI HONEYMOON THAT LIFETIME DREAMS ARE MADE OF

A honeymoon in Tahiti sounds dreamy enough, but when it's aboard the
just-24-passenger motor catamaran Haumana – with an exclusive dinner
on deck for only the two of you – it becomes a lifetime memory.

Coral Seas Travel can arrange this unique celebration as part of
5-night packages that include return air and taxes from Sydney, two
nights in an Ocean View Room at the Radisson Plaza Tahiti in Papeete,
and a 3-night Haumana cruise on Rangiroa Lagoon in the French
Polynesian Tuamotus.

The price also includes all onboard French/Polynesian dining, wines
with lunch and dinner, all non-alcoholic drinks throughout the cruise,
escorted shore excursions and guided fishing, watersports, nightly
Polynesian entertainment, and a 4-star French picnic one day at tables
set up in the shallow waters of an uninhabited island.

The price starts from $5299pp twin-share – honeymooners simply need
proof of having just been married to enjoy their own private dinner
one evening with wine on the forward deck, and if they wish on another
occasion Haumana will put them ashore for a day to themselves on
"their own South Pacific island."

Haumana has just 12 over-size staterooms; for full details phone 1800
641 803, in Sydney 8236 9900 or visit www.coralseas.com.au











BRINGING DREAM CUISINE TO THE FAMILY TABLE

18 February 2008

BRINGING DREAM CUISINE TO THE FAMILY TABLE

Five-star recipes that have earned SeaDream Yacht Club the world's
highest accolades for Cuisine Excellence are now available for those
with a passion for creating fine food at home.

The company has released a mouth-watering cookbook titled Dream
Cuisine, featuring more than 90 of its top recipes created by its
Executive Chef d'Cuisine, Robert van Rijsbergen and the corps of Chefs
d'Cuisine aboard its boutique 110-passenger SeaDream I and SeaDream
II.

Subtitled An Adventure for the Senses, recipes that are accompanied by
spectacular photography cover classic French dishes, sophisticated
international offerings, a mingling of Asian influences, and
vegetarian choices, with quantities for each sufficient to serve four
persons.

"There's something for all occasions," says SeaDream Yacht Club's
President and CEO, Larry Pimentel, "with recipes following how guests
enjoy dining aboard from Welcoming hors d'oeuvres, through luncheon,
dinner appetizers and main courses and desserts, a spa menu and our
inspirational Menu Degustation for anyone wanting to host a truly
memorable dining experience at home."

SeaDream's Dream Cuisine cookbook costs US$30 plus postage through the
Boutique section of its website www.seadream.com; recipes are amongst
those that have earned Cuisine Excellence accolades from Conde Nast
Traveler magazine and Travel + Leisure magazine, and the highest score
in the Food Category in the Berlitz Guide to Ocean Cruising and Cruise
Ships.

CREATIONS in Dream Cruise include:

. Gratinated Escargot with aubergine caviar and mushrooms

. Cream of Pumpkin Soup with lobster and whipped cream

. Salad of Marinated Monkfish

. Thai-Style Chili Garlic Quail

. Honey & Five Spice Roast Saddle of Veal

. Sautéed "Gariguette" Strawberries and Olive Oil Ice-Cream

. Champagne Sorbet with Kirschwasser

. Lemon Soufflé in individual ramekins

……………..