The 11-cabin Four Seasons Explorer – the Maldives’ most luxurious liveabaord – has a trio of cruises where exploring is the name of the game.
The three all-inclusive routes link the two Resort islands of Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru via seven different days and nights of diving nirvana across four atolls.
Each day brings something different, from coves, caves, thilas and aquarium-like waters to sharks, a swim-through shipwreck, big fish encounters and island visits.
- The Three Nights – Aquariums and Caves cruise (northwards, Monday: Kuda Huraa to Landaa Giraavaru) via the coral ceilings of Fares Caves, stingray and nudibranch haven of Eboodhoo Cove, and colourful Muthaafushi canyons.
- The Four Nights – Southern Sharks and Shipwreck cruise (southwards, Thursday: Landaa Giraavaru to Kuda Huraa) via the camera-happy sharks of Rasdhoo Madivaru and Maaya Thila, whale shark haven of Maamigili Beyru, and Machafushi Wreck.
- The Seven Nights – See It All circuit cruise completes the loop, combining the above two cruises and including some of the Maldives finest caves, thilas, whale shark hotspots, swim-through tunnels, and cultural islands.
A sense of exploration is key, so each cruise maintains an element of fluidity, tailored to the guests on board, the adventures they seek, and the gifts of the ocean.
“Sometimes even the best plans are worth sacrificing when something better comes along,” explains Cruise Director Abdul Latheef. “Like the time we came across hundreds of pilot whales mid-cruise and spent the rest of the day diving and snorkelling with them. There’s no way we would have cruised past to stick to a schedule.”
Which Cruise to Choose?
It depends on where one wants to start and finish, and what one most wants to see. The 3- and 4-night trips are great for adding a sense of exploration to a Maldives vacation. The See-It-All Circuit is a vacation in itself: ideal for anyone wanting to feel they have truly dived the Maldives. All incorporate a minimum of three dives a day.
“Whatever divers are seeking, we’ll go out of our way to help them find it,” says Abdul, “from a close up photo of a mantis shrimp to the chance to swim with whale sharks or watch an octopus changing colour.”
A Floating 5-Star PADI Dive Centre
While no two dives – let alone cruises – are the same, the world-class facilities and services remain steadfast: divers are grouped by skill level for the most appropriate experience; kit includes the latest Scubapro dive gear, Cressi snorkelling gear and Olympus cameras; a team of multi-lingual instructors offers the full spectrum of PADI courses; and the boat’s intimate approach gives guests the flexibility and freedom to direct their own diving encounters, including sunrise, night and wreck excursions.
Not Just for Divers
Worried how to fill the time if one is not a diver? Worry not. Castaway with sandbank BBQs, beach games and spa sessions. Kayak, wakeboard, waterski and windsurf. Go fishing and stand-up paddleboarding. Enjoy gourmet dinners, star-gazing, cooking classes and yoga. Snorkel with the marine biologist. Take Maldivian afternoon tea with a remote local community. Sunbathe on a private island. Chill in the air-conditioned Lounge. Or simply follow the wind.
Substance and Style
Refurbished in 2017, Four Seasons Explorer is a 39 metre / 128 foot vision of sleek finishes and plush furnishings. The 10 Staterooms have large windows, remarkably well-equipped bathrooms, bespoke artworks and a seating area; the Explorer Suite has a wall of windows, lots of space and a sunbathing deck. The Dining Room opens onto an intimate bar and comfy Living Room. A blue, grey and white palette contrasts with dark wood accents to showcase contemporary nautical living at its luxurious best.
Celebrate The Holidays Aboard One of Seabourn’s Five Ultra-Luxury Ships
Seabourn, the world’s finest ultra-luxury cruise line, is inviting travelers to enjoy this year’s holiday season alongside family and friends aboard all Seabourn ships. Those on board will celebrate the holidays in different regions around the world with festive onboard events, an array of gourmet culinary offerings, and celebratory programming across the entire fleet.
Each of the five ships in the Seabourn fleet – including the new Seabourn Ovation – will be sailing through the last weeks of December, with Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s festivities scheduled in desirable ports of call and at sea.
“The holidays are the most wonderful time of year to be together with family and what better way to share that time than traveling together on the world’s finest ultra-luxury resort at sea,” noted Chris Austin, Seabourn’s senior vice president of Global Marketing & Sales. “We’re excited about this year’s holiday offerings, which will combine a festive atmosphere, onboard events, and appealing destinations that are just right for celebrating the season. With five ships and cherished destinations to choose from, Seabourn should be on everyone’s holiday wish list.”
There are several ways guests can get in the holiday spirit with Seabourn. Each holiday cruise is complete with everything to make each guest feel right at home onboard. Kicking off the season will be Thanksgiving, when guests can enjoy a traditional turkey dinner, prepared by the ship’s Executive Chef and highly skilled culinary team. From there travelers can celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah as the ship transforms into a holiday wonderland with gingerbread village displays and evergreen hangings draped from railings and balusters. The season comes to a close with a toast to 2019 as guests dress in formal wear for a New Year’s Eve affair to reflect on the memories of the past year and look to the new one ahead.
Details on Seabourn’s Holiday sailings for the 2018 season ahead include the following:
36-Day Holiday Australian Exploration (December 11-January 16) – Travel the southern and western coasts of Australia aboard Seabourn Sojourn, departing Sydney and stopping at various destinations including Flinders Island, Penneshaw, Fremantle (Perth), Hunter River, Darwin and more. Christmas Day will be enjoyed at sea, while New Year’s Day will arrive in Broome. The holiday journey will also take in Komodo Island and other destinations in Indonesia before arrival in Singapore. This voyage is also available in two segments with a 16-day itinerary departing from Sydney on December 11 and a 20-day itinerary departing from Perth on December 27.
24-Day Holiday Antarctica, Patagonia & South Georgia (December 20-January 13) – Set sail for as far from the North Pole as one can get with this adventure to the Great White South. After departing Buenos Aires, guests of Seabourn Quest will spend Christmas Eve at sea and Christmas Day at South Georgia, and will ring in the new year in Antarctica. There will be plenty more to enjoy after returning to South America including scenic cruising of Canal Sarmiento, El Brujo Glacier, Chilean Fjords and the Gulf of Corcovado in Chile before arriving at San Antonio (Santiago).
16-Day Holiday Australia & New Zealand (December 21-January 6) – After setting sail from Sydney and spending a lovely Christmas Eve in Melbourne, Australia, guests will celebrate Christmas Day at sea aboard Seabourn Encore en route to the southern and eastern coasts of New Zealand. Destinations include Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, Akaroa (Christchurch) on New Year’s Eve, Kaikoura on New Year’s Day, Queen Charlotte Sound, and more before arriving at Auckland.
7-Day Holiday Yachtsman’s Caribbean (December 22-December 29) – Have limited time to spare for the holidays? This weeklong cruise in the sparkling Caribbean aboard Seabourn Odyssey is a great way to get in the spirit, with departure from Philipsburg, Sint Maarten to Carambola Beach, Saint Kitts and Nevis; Christmas Eve at Road Bay, Anguilla; Christmas Day at St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda, and more. Following arrival at Bridgetown, Barbados, guests will have plenty of time get home – or board another Seabourn cruise and celebrate the New Year!
14-Day Holiday Thailand & Vietnam (December 22-January 5) – The first-ever holiday cruise of the maiden season on the line’s newest ship is going to be a good one. Board Seabourn Ovation in Singapore and head north for Christmas Eve at sea and Christmas Day at Laem Chabang (Bangkok), Thailand. Then travel on to Cambodia and Vietnam, with two days in Ho Chi Minh City before celebrating New Year’s Eve at sea, and New Year’s Day at Da Nang (Hue), Vietnam. A day in Halong Bay, Vietnam, will follow before arrival at glimmering Hong Kong.
Seabourn represents the pinnacle of ultra-luxury travel with intimate ships offering key elements that set the line apart: spacious, thoughtfully appointed suites, many with verandas and all 100% ocean front; superb dining in a choice of venues; complimentary premium spirits and fine wines available on board at all times; award-winning service and a relaxed, sociable atmosphere that makes guests feel right at home on board. The ships travel the globe to many of the world’s most desirable destinations, including marquee cities, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and lesser-known ports and hideaways.
Princess Cruises Unveils 2019-2020 California Coast Sailings
The west coast’s leading cruise line, Princess Cruises, returns to the region in 2019-2020 with itineraries visiting top destinations including Monterey, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego. Princess continues to provide guests new and enriching destination experiences featuring award-winning culinary and entertainment programming while sailing the west coast.
Highlights for the 2019-2020 season include the introduction of one of the line’s newest ships to the California Coast, Royal Princess, for her first full season based in Los Angeles. Royal Princess will offer nine coastal departures including the Classic California Coast itinerary. Royal Princess itineraries offer guests a variety of More Ashore opportunities, allowing guests to spend more time in port , as well as the opportunity to enjoy evenings in San Francisco and San Diego.
“Bringing Royal Princess to the west coast for her first season is just one of the ways we are solidifying our commitment to providing our guests even more opportunity to sail the California coast,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “She joins a fantastic roster of ships sailing the region which are already offering guests some of our newest innovations including SHARE by Curtis Stone, The Salty Dog Gastropub, and entertainment experiences including the Voice of the Ocean.”
As the only cruise line to sail year-round out of San Francisco, Princess offers Grand Princess sailing along the west coast once again in 2019. San Francisco departures for the season include a new five-day West Coast Getaway itinerary featuring a late night departure in San Diego, and a call to Ensenada, Mexico. The ship will also offer two variations of coastal sailings including the Classic California Coast itinerary featuring More Ashore late night calls in Los Angeles and San Diego, and the Pacific Northwest Coast itinerary featuring More Ashore late night calls in Seattle and Vancouver, Canada.
Star Princess will make her return to the west coast in 2019 featuring departures from Seattle and Vancouver. Itineraries include a seven-day Northern California Coast sailing from Seattle with late night calls in San Francisco and Victoria, Canada and a 10-day Coastal sailing from Vancouver with a late night call in Los Angeles and overnight stay in San Francisco.
Other west coast cruises offered in 2019 include six or seven-day Pacific Wine Country voyages between Los Angles and Vancouver aboard Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Star Princess, and Island Princess. For those guests with less time to get away, Princess also offers shorter coastal sailings of less than five days on eight ships in the region.
Princess guests sailing onboard California Coast cruises will have an exclusive opportunity to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the Hollywood experience as part of the Encounters with Discovery at SEA program, featuring special celebrity speakers showcasing their work in the music and movie industry of Los Angeles. The experience includes an event hosted by celebrity presenters incorporating interactive media, live music, special performances, and hands-on workshops. The program aims to teach guests about the elements required to produce movies and music for the entertainment industry.
Additionally some speakers will be judges on ‘The Voice of the Ocean,” an onboard singing competition for guests that Princess features in partnership with the worldwide TV hit phenomenon. Princess Cruises continually adds guest stars to the Encounters with Discovery at SEA lineup in destinations around the globe throughout the year. Speaker details and additional information on the Encounters with Discovery at SEA program can be found here.
Princess has also developed enhanced shore excursion offerings in collaboration with Bill Esparza, noted author and leading expert on Latin American cuisine. Guests sailing the California coast are invited to sample local cuisine, specifically focused on the Latin American influence in California. Esparza has developed exclusive culinary shore excursions for Princess in Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Ensenada. In addition, Princess offers excursions to the California wine country, visiting local vineyards and winemakers throughout the region.
Costa Cruises Celebrates Float Out Of Costa Venezia
Costa Cruises, the world’s largest leisure travel company, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, one of the largest shipbuilding groups in the world, today celebrated the official float-out ceremony of Costa Venezia – Costa first ship designed and built specifically for the China market. The ceremony was held at Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, where the ship is being built.
As part of today’s float-out ceremony, the new Costa ship officially reached the sea for the first time. The celebration followed the protocol provided by the seafaring tradition for such occasions, by flooding the basin where the ship took shape in recent months, following the cutting of the ribbon and the breaking of the bottle by the float-out ceremony’s godmother Chiara Ustulin, an employee of Monfalcone shipyard. Costa Venezia will enter service in March 2019, once the interior fittings have been completed.
More than just a new addition to its existing China-based fleet, the Costa Venezia marks a new milestone for the Italian company and its commitment to the future of the Chinese cruise industry.
“As our first ship built specifically for the Chinese market, Costa Venezia marks a new era not just for Costa Cruises and Fincantieri but for the Chinese cruise industry as a whole,” said Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia. “From its initial conception all the way through to today’s float-out ceremony and beyond, everything about Costa Venezia has been designed with the Chinese consumer in mind. Costa Venezia will continue to deliver on Costa Cruises authentic Italian experience while also providing a unique vacation experience that will resonate with Chinese guests by being fully tailored to their travel preferences.”
“Today we celebrate a milestone in the construction of Costa Venezia which, together with its sister ship, will strengthen Costa’s commitment in an emerging market,” said Luigi Matarazzo, Fincantieri Executive Vice President New Building – Merchant Ships Business Unit. “Thanks to the effort of the Monfalcone shipyard, in a moment of exceptional growth of the cruise industry, we confirm our global leadership in this sector and our long term relationship with Costa Cruises”.
Designed with the specific leisure and entertainment requirements for Chinese guests, Costa Venezia will bring to life the passion of Venetian and Italian culture. The ship’s theatre will be inspired by the Venetian “La Fenice” theatre; the main atrium will recall “Piazza San Marco”, while restaurants will be dedicated to the typical architecture of Venetian alleys. Costa Venezia will also feature original “gondolas”, made by local artisans. An enchanting masked party will recreate on board the magic atmosphere of the famous Carnival of Venice. Guests will also be able to sample the delights of fine Italian dining, luxury Italian shopping and world-class Italian entertainment, while enjoying home comforts such as a range of Chinese cuisines and Chinese-style karaoke and the “Golden Party”, with lots of surprises and gifts to be won every ten minutes.
Before arriving to China next May, Costa Venezia will set sail for two cruises, both departing from the Italian port of Trieste. On March 3, 2019 the vernissage cruise to Greece and Croatia, followed on March 8 by a 53-day inaugural cruise, in the footsteps of Marco Polo, making its way through the Mediterranean, the middle east, Southeast and East Asia, before arriving at Tokyo. The vernissage and the inaugural cruises will be the only departures available for European and American guests to enjoy a holiday on the new ship. Starting from 18 May 2019, Costa Venezia will be dedicated to Chinese guests, offering them an Italian twist throughout East Asia, with homeport in Shanghai.
Costa Venezia will mark the latest step in a long list of innovations from the first international cruise company to begin serving the local Chinese market in 2006. At a length of 323 meters and measuring 135,500 gross tons with a capacity of more than 5,100 guests, Costa Venezia will be Costa largest ship operating homeport cruises from China. Costa Venezia will also be followed by the launch of its sister ship in 2020, being built by Fincantieri at Marghera shipyard. These two new ships for Asia will bring to 14 the total number of Costa ships built by Fincantieri in Italy, for a total investment of over 6 billion euros. The projects for construction of the new ships require thousands of shipyard workers and ancillary employees. Employment benefits not only concerns the shipyards but, above all for the interior design, also external companies, most of which are Italian.
Overall, the Costa Group currently has seven new ships on order by 2023. Costa Venezia will be followed by Costa Smeralda, the new flagship of Costa Cruises, scheduled for delivery in October 2019.
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