Exciting Repositioning Cruises for the Fall

Repositioning cruises are the leftovers of cruising. When cruise ships need to move from one port to another at seasonal cusps, they take less conventional itineraries to get from one home port to another. Repositioning cruises can often be booked for less than more conventional cruises on a per-night basis.

Repositioning cruises are also, somewhat ironically, a good option for independent (even round-the-world) travelers. A well-priced repositioning cruise can deliver travelers from one continent to another, sometimes for not much more than an airline ticket, and also permit visits (however short) to many ports in-between. While RTW travelers seldom look to repositioning cruises for inspiration, they should.

One of the more exciting repositioning cruises on the schedule this fall is Holland America’s 43-day Vancouver-Sydney crossing on the Volendam, which will take in Seattle, four ports in Hawaii, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, several ports in New Zealand, and several ports in Australia. It leaves September 22. The least expensive stateroom on offer comes to $3899 per person.

Holland America is also selling the above cruise with a termination in Auckland (29 days in total) for $2399.

For less ambitious prospective repositioning cruisers, Cruise Critic has published a useful list of some of the more intriguing shorter repositioning itineraries for the fall: 17 nights between Copenhagen and New York on Costa, leaving September 4; 18 nights between Vancouver and Fort Lauderdale on Holland America, leaving September 25; and 16 nights between Rome and Rio de Janeiro on Princess, leaving December 4.

(Image: Flickr/pmarkham)

Travel company rediscovers seabird thought to be extinct

Seattle based travel company Zegrahm Expeditions specializes in eco-sensitive travel, organizing trips to all corners of the globe. The company promises to give clients the “ultimate expedition travel experience”, whether they’re taking part in one of Zegrahm’s trekking adventures or small-ship cruises. Zegrahm’s strives to give their customers a sense of discovery, no matter which trip they go on, but on one recent expedition that sense of discovery took a very real turn when team members sighed a rare seabird that hasn’t been recorded in the wild for more than 83 years.

The expedition, which was led by seabird expert Peter Harrison, took place this past February. The journey entailed a small-ship sailing adventure from Auckland, New Zealand to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Along the way, the ship stopped at several remote, and seldom visited, islands on the Vanuatu archipelago. While there, Harrison, and a number of other members of the group, spotted and photographed, 21 individual Vanuatu Petrels, a seabird that hasn’t been seen in the wild since they were first discovered by ornithologist Rollo Beck back in 1927.

Zegrahm is already planning a return trip to the region in November of this year, and again in 2012. Both expeditions are expected to be very popular with bird watchers hoping to get a glimpse of this rare and unique seabird, that until now has only been seen in museums. Known as the Faces of Melanesia expedition, this cruise is generally noteworthy because it routinely visits remote South Pacific islands that few people ever see. But with this recent discovery, it will probably become well known in the bird watching community as an opportunity to add another species to their list.

Blogger Brenda Yun

Bren in Myanmar
1. Where was your photo taken: Somewhere along a three-day trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake in Myanmar.
2. Where do you live now: Honolulu, Hawaii
3. Scariest airline flown: Avianca (a Colombian airline) — Avianca flights never depart on time. We once departed from Bogotá to Quito only to discover the Quito airport was closed. So we grounded down in Cali for a few hours and then returned to Bogotá. I finally landed in Quito the next day. That turned out to be the longest “two-hour” flight of my life.
4. Favorite places traveled:
India, Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Croatia, Bolivia, Colombia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bali, West Timor, Vanuatu, Fiji (Sorry, I can’t choose just one!)
5. Most remote corner of the globe visited: South River, on the island of Erromango in Vanuatu (I was looking for surf)
6. Favorite guidebook series: Anything but Lonely Planet
7. Solo traveler or group traveler: Group travel? What’s that? If there’s even a small gaggle of tourists somewhere I’m outta there. I prefer the road not taken.
8. Most recent trip: I spent three months in Colombia writing for Viva Travel Guides.
9. Next trip: I’m saving up for a very short trip to these places — New Zealand, Russia, Mongolia, Nepal, Iceland, Scandinavia, Ukraine, Maldives, Mauritius, Samoa, Japan, Korea, Sub-Saharan Africa, Morrocco, Portugal, Brazil, the Galapagos, Banff — at which point I could just feel fulfilled enough to settle down here in Honolulu.

Check out Bren’s online journal (SurfEatSleep) or email her (brendayun@gmail.com) with questions!

Land Diving in Vanuatu

It’s pretty interesting how pretty much all cultures have their right of passage ceremonies and traditions for boys who become men. We have the bar mitzvah and, well, Jim Beam and hookers. But in Vanuatu, for boys to become men, they must leap off of tall towers with nothing but a vine tied around their ankles. They are called the Land Divers of Vanuatu, and they are probably humankind’s first bungee jumpers. Here is a cool ittle video on YouTube that explains the tradition and offers several rather amazing facts. For example, did you know the land diver’s objective..or at least one of the requirements of the land dive…is that he must hit his head on the ground. Another part of the tradition is that a man can pretty much say whatever he wants to anyone he wants before he jumps. I suppose afterward he can then claim he forgot he said anything. Pretty smart. That’s using your…oh, never mind.

NY Times on Vanuatu

DanceRemember Vanuatu? I’m sure you couldn’t have forgotten the happiest country on Earth? Well the NY Times features a fine write-up by Jeffery Gettleman who shares his experiences on just a few of the 83 islands that comprise Vanuatu, an area in the South Pacific between Australia and Fiji. When in Tanna, somewhere deep in the jungle our author explores the taste of Kava and the three rules of drinking the beverage. (Don’t sniff, don’t stare, don’t sip.) Aside from Kava, Jeffery finds the biggest lure to Tanna is Mount Yasur – one of the most active, accessible volcanoes in the world.

The most interesting part of the journey is (hands-down) the island Malakula. On this particular end-of-the-road isle villagers practice the ancient art of head elongation, but in the event you can’t make it to that side of the island you can always opt for a cannibal hike. Sounds spooky doesn’t it? I’ll admit after I read the piece on Vanuatu being the happiest place on Earth I wanted to rush there myself and still do! Judging from this NY Times story it seems as though there is a lot more diversity in Vanuatu’s wild side than I imagined and let’s not forget the beautiful beaches.

Want to plan your own escape to the country/islands? Ready to be happy all over again? Go read Jeffery’s story and then go book your flight.