Easygoing ‘Australian Sun to Alaskan Snow’ wraps Pacific, Canada and Alaska over 32 nights from $5999
‘Australian Sun to Alaskan Snow’ is a glorious, easy-to-take cruise holiday that starts with a leisurely cruise from Sydney to Vancouver, leads on to a seven-night Alaska cruise, and ends with two nights in Vancouver and a flight back to Australia.
This fly-double-cruise-and-stay holiday from Worldwide Cruise Centres (worldwidecruisecentres.com.au) lasts over a month – 32 nights – and includes plenty on the way. The 23-night trans-Pacific cruise aboard ms Noordam from Sydney to Vancouver visits New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, American Samoa, Hawaii (with an overnight in Honolulu) on the way to Canada.
There’s a two-night hotel stay in Vancouver, complete with extensive sightseeing.
All of this comes at a surprisingly reasonable price. From Sydney, ‘Australian Sun to Alaskan Snow’ starts at A$5999 per person twin share, which works out to less than A$188 per night. ‘Australian Sun to Alaskan Snow’ costs A$6199 from Melbourne or Brisbane, A$6399 from Adelaide and A$6799 from Perth. Those prices are valid for booking till 30 September 2015.
Making the value even better: a bonus US$100 in free onboard credit, per twin cabin, applies on the ms Noordam sailing from Sydney to Vancouver and another bonus of US$50 applies on the ship’s Alaska cruise from Vancouver.
The holiday begins on 8 April 2016 when ms Noordam sails from Sydney, bound for Noumea and then across the Pacific.
ms Noordam is adorned with fine art, photography and valuable pieces of antique furniture. The Vista Dining Room features impeccable service and an extensive wine list. Maybe sample the Greenhouse Spa and Salon and catch entertainment in the Vista Show Lounge. All shipboard main meals (excluding specialty restaurants) are included in the price.
You’ll visit Noumea, capital of New Caledonia. Sip a Pernod; maybe practice your French. Then, a day on Mare Island, (pronounced Mar-ray), the second largest of the four Loyalty Islands, known for sunshine and traditional island culture. Next comes Vanuatu’s Mystery Island, completely uninhabited. A landing strip during World War II, only palm trees inhabit Mystery Island today. Locals live across the waters on the volcanic isle of Tanna, visiting Mystery Island during the day to welcome you.
Two dreamy Fijian islands follow: gentle Lautoka, with clear turquoise waters and 20 luxuriant hectares of orchids at the late Raymond Burr’s Garden of the Sleeping Giant; and sparsely populated Dravuni (perfect beaches on a far-flung archipelago).
The ship sails on to Pago Pago, capital of American Samoa, ringed by forested mountains.
After a day to wander and explore Pago Pago (pronounced pango pango), prepare for Honolulu. The ship docks here for a night, so you’ve two days to see Hawaii at your leisure. Local attractions include Waikiki Beach (sunset is a knockout!), the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, the dormant volcano of Diamond Head and the laid-back International Marketplace.
After five days at sea, ms Noordam enters Canadian waters and docks in gracious Victoria, capital of British Colombia on Vancouver Island. Stately architecture evoking London or Paris, the fabulous Butchart Gardens and a host of lively micro-breweries give plenty to do before a midnight sailing for Vancouver.
Get the flavour of Vancouver (where you’ll be staying a couple of nights in a week’s time) before sailing north along Canada’s west coast.
Your destination: Alaska’s Inside Passage, with its pristine water, mountains, fjords and forested islands. In the Tracy Arm Fjord region, arctic terns soar overhead, black and brown bears, deer and wolves roam. You’ll visit the historic town of Juneau (garbage bins here are made of heavy-gauge steel with special latches to discourage bears from wandering among the populace), the Klondike gold-rush settlement of Skagway, Ketchikan with its totem poles and phenomenal Glacier Bay, a photographers dream where 16 glaciers plunge into icy fjords.
Disembarking in Vancouver, two nights at the stylish Rosedale on Robson hotel give you time to saunter the cobblestone streets of Gastown, the city’s oldest neighbourhood, full of artists’ studios and boutique, refurbished designer shops.
A four-hour Vancouver tour with pickup from the hotel takes in city highlights including Chinatown, Stanley Park (over 400 hectares of forests, gardens, lakes and lawns in the heart of the city) and the Vancouver Lookout. Farther afield, sightseeing next day visits Grouse Mountain (grand views of Vancouver, the sparkling Pacific Ocean, Gulf Islands and snowy peaks) and the Capilano Suspension Bridge.
Having experienced what makes Vancouver one of the world’s most livable cities, time now to jet back to Australia after 33 great days.
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