Multiple Grammy-Award-winning vocalist Natalie Cole will headline Cunard’s first-ever Blue Note jazz-themed cruise, which will debut on the line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 in October.Cole will join a roster of venerable jazz musicians on the special trans-Atlantic crossing, including jazz pianist and record producer Robert Glasper, acclaimed trumpet player Keyon Harrold, tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist Derrick Hodge and drummer Kendrick Scott.
Fares on the seven-night cruise, departing New York on October 29 are priced from $1019 per person twin-share.
Playtime … the joys of the elephants’ daily free-roaming time.
Thailand’s Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort has added a two-hour ‘Walking with Giants’ experience to its range of activities, which all highlight the need to rehabilitate maltreated animals.
It enables guests to experience the natural joy of the elephants’ daily free-roaming time, and also to gain enlightening insights from scientifically qualified experts about how these intelligent creatures think and behave.
After walking from the camp to the grasslands or forest, the antics of either river bath time or playtime in the mud illustrates just how cheeky these graceful animals can be. Guests can help to prepare snacks for the elephants, as well as activities for their behavioural enrichment.
The Gourmet Village … heart of this year’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape
Tickets are on sale for this year’s Margaret River Gourmet Escape, which will run November 20-22, led by international headline chef, who will be joined by a stellar cast including the likes David Thompson, Tetsuya Wakuda, Matt Moran and Rick Stein.
The heart of the weekend will the Gourmet Village where visitors can rub shoulders with the foodie elite, see world-class chefs on stage, and enjoy premium wine, craft beers, ciders and delights from some of WA’s finest producers and restaurants.
Visit www.gourmetescape.com.au for full program and booking details.
Travelling overseas with grandchildren? Make sure to check out requirements.
Australian grandparents are being warned to prepare carefully before travelling overseas with their grandchildren, particularly to countries that require additional proof of guardianship.
Ian Jackson, Managing Director of Boomers Travel Insurance, said it was increasingly common for Australians to take their grandchildren on overseas holidays, exposing them to difficulties not ordinarily encountered at home.
He said it was important to check requirements with the embassy, high commission or consulate of each destination country. Some countries require evidence that a child has parental permission to travel, or might request other documents to identify the parents, such as birth certificates, adoption papers or custody orders.
A serious business … judging Kona’s best coffee.
I know first-hand just how much fun it is attending the annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival on Hawaii’s Big Island, so add the 45th anniversary of the event to you list of must-dos if you’re going to be in that part of the world from November 6-15.
Events include the colourful and lively Cultural Festival Lantern Parade through historic Kailua Village, an extensive program of coffee-farm tours, and the prestigious Kona Coffee Cupping Competition, which culminates in crowning the producer of district’s top coffee.
A truly spectacular skyline … fireworks light up the city of Macau.
Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics will carry the Australian flag at the 27th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, which will light up the Chinese-owned, heavily Portuguese-influenced city on various nights this September.
And the company will also carry the proud record of a nation that has finished on the podium five times since 1998 in contests that have also drawn entrants from China, Portugal, Malaysia, Finland, Taiwan, Korea, Italy, France and Austria.
The contest will burst into action during the city’s mooncake-driven Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the most important in a calendar brimming with festivities.
Tikal … the ruins of an ancient city found in a rainforest in Guatemala
Taking the kids into deepest, darkest Peru, birthplace of the famed Paddington Bear, is just one of a range of family-oriented activities offered by South and Central America.
There’s also zip-lining through rainforests, climbing ancient Mayan pyramids and playing on pristine beaches.
Eclipse Travel offers a range of family-friendly trips to Central and South America, such as the seven-night ‘Peru Family Adventure’, which is priced from $2680 per person and includes chocolate making, canoeing and hiking the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, cycling along the River Urubamba to Pisac market, a visit to the old Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman above Cusco, and Ccochahuasi animal sanctuary, where visitors can see first-hand the size of a Condor’s wingspan.
Phone 1300 575 752 or visit eclipsetravel.com.au.
Sydney provides some top spots for whale watching
Each year, from May to November, an estimated 20,000 whales travel north along the coast of NSW to warmer waters.
And quite a few of them pass within sight of Sydney.
Destination NSW suggests the following vantage spots for whale watchers: Barrenjoey Lighthouse in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park at Palm Beach; North Head Lookout; Georges Heights Lookout in Mosman; Freshwater North Headland on the Northern Beaches; the cliff overlooking Whale Beach; Cape Solander in Botany Bay National Park; the Bondi-to-Coogee Coastal Walk; South Head Heritage Trail; and Royal National Park, an hour’s drive south of Sydney.
Mid-size Azamara Quest … all port visits are a minimum of 12 hours.
Get a complimentary double room upgrade through ecruising.travel on a selection of cruises aboard Azamara Quest.
Pay, for instance, from $5039 per person twin-share for a 14-night package including a 10-night cruise from Singapore to Bali with upgrade from interior stateroom to veranda stateroom. Price also includes return airfares and two nights in each of Singapore and Bali.
All port visits are a minimum of 12 hours and up to 78 hours to ensure guests have adequate time on-shore to experience local cultures and history.
Book by August 31.
Phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel.
Charles Bridge, Prague … start of a Rhine itinerary.
Receive up to $800 in travel vouchers when you book one of five new Beyond Travel 2016 small-group journeys through Eastern Europe.
Pay, for instance, from $9195 per person twin-share for a 16-day Prague, Berlin and The Rhine itinerary that begins in Prague and travels through northern Czech Republic and Germany.
Includes an eight-night deluxe river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel aboard the newest vessel in the Amadeus fleet, the MS Silver II.
Book by December 31.
Phone 1300 363 554 or visit www.beyondtravel.com.au.
The Stones Hotel … five nights for the price of four, plus bonuses.
Get five nights for the price of four, plus bonuses, when you stay at The Stones Hotel, in Legian, Bali.
Pay from $659 per person twin-share, including: the choice of a free 60-minute relaxation massage or a 20-minute reflexology session for two; a free whitewater rafting adventure for two; and free watersports voucher for two or free family access to Splash Waterpark & Canggu Club.
Also includes breakfast daily, return airport transfers by private car, nightly turndown service, free high-speed internet and free kids club.
Valid for sale until September and for travel from September 1 to December 27, and again from January 4 to March 31 next year.
Watermark Hotel Brisbane … timely offer for Brisbane Food Month.
Save 30 per cent on a stay at the four-star Watermark Hotel Brisbane.
Pay from $132 per night.
The hotel is located in historic Spring Hill, just a 10-minute walk from the CBD and within close proximity to shopping, dining and nightlife. It’s a timely offer for Brisbane Food Month.
Book and stay by September 17.
Phone 1800 912 386 or visit Hotels.com.