Cruising

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Setting sail: How to pick the perfect cruise for you

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The rise of popularity of cruises means that there is now a good option to suit any type of cruise holiday, in pretty much any location you can imagine. So, with that much choice, how do you pick the best cruise for you?</span></p> <p><strong>Plan in place</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruise prices vary dramatically - they can be anything from under a hundred dollars to many thousands per night. You may want to reward yourself or celebrate a special occasion and spend a little extra, or perhaps you just need some well-deserved time away on a realistic budget. Set an amount you’re willing to spend and how long you can manage to away for and then start investigating options. Planning a cruise can be part of the fun!</span></p> <p><strong>Cruisey options</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Is your goal to simply put your feet up, relax and enjoy some great food and wine? Or are you looking for your next big action adventure? Some cruise companies such as the Holland America are very traditional and offer classy events such as classic afternoon tea’s and ballroom dancing. Other cruise companies such as P&amp;O offer active activities like high rope swings, laser tag, slack lines, Segway options and more. Ensure you investigate special activities offered on board before booking to find a cruise option to suit you.</span></p> <p><strong>Destinations</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most important considerations when choosing a cruise is the ports you’ll be experiencing. Be aware that not all itineraries are guaranteed as unforeseen circumstances such as weather can prevent a ships ability to get to a port. To ensure you are covered pick a cruise with a variety of destinations you’ll be happy to visit.</span></p> <p><strong>All inclusive </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruises are either all-inclusive, part-inclusive or pay as you go. Often food is included however, alcohol usually isn’t. Getting into the habit of a morning walk after a buffet breakfast means you can enjoy the fresh air and not feel guilty about having some extra bacon. Most cruises also provide a ship credit card which is linked to your bank account to pay for expenses on board. There is an option to put a daily limit on your card so you don’t overspend. It can be a lot of fun to enjoy buffet style food and an option of different restaurants and never have to reach for your wallet.</span></p> <p><strong>Go cruising</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are options galore! Cruises can go from anything from three days to many months. If you haven’t been on a cruise before try a couple of weeks at sea first off. It is a great excuse to enjoy a longer cruise next time.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/setting-sail-how-to-pick-the-perfect-cruise.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Are you ready for a seachange?

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s a dream for many to get closer to nature and away from the stress of urban living by working or retiring in that quiet, idyllic coastal town or to that quaint country cottage – also known as a ‘treechange’. But to do this successfully and without hiccup takes some careful consideration and planning.</span></p> <p><strong>Pros of making a seachange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Obviously the ability to de-stress in a more natural environment is one of the major drawcards of the seachange, but there’s also the advantage of small-town community spirit, which is becoming increasingly elusive in the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Housing on the coast or in the country can be much more affordable, freeing up funds for your retirement. There’s also the environmental advantage of less pollution, less noise, clean air, less traffic and generally lower living costs.</span></p> <p><strong>Cons of making a seachange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">There is always the possibility of feeling a little socially isolated now that you are further away from your family and friends. You may find yourself struggling for things to do now that you are away from the activities and amenities that are more varied and accessible in the city.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Getting access to quality medical attention may be more challenging. You may find the ‘small-town’ closeness and mentality difficult to adjust to. You may find longer travelling times to shops, etc. irritating.</span></p> <p><strong>Top tips for a successful sea or treechange</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Test the waters – spend an extended period of time in a holiday rental in your chosen seachange destination before you make a property purchase</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Keep a city pad – If you can afford it, it might pay to keep a small unit in the city, especially if you plan on making regular visits back to the city, or in case it turns out the seachange is not for you</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meet the locals – you need to make an effort to get to know the people in the community and join in community events or organisations if possible. This will make the transition far more enjoyable and fulfilling</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Carefully consider the location – is it close enough to a large regional hospital? Do you still want to be within a reasonable distance from a capital city or not? Are there local organisations/amenities to support your personal interests/hobbies?</span></p> <p><strong>Top Seachange Locations in Australia:</strong></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Geraldton, WA</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Warrnambool, VIC</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mornington Peninsula, VIC</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gerringong, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Nelson Bay, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ballina, NSW</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gold Coast, QLD</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Noosa, QLD</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Remember a seachange is not for everyone, so don’t be disappointed if it turns out the grass is not necessarily greener.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Danielle Cesta. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/are-you-ready-for-a-sea-change.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Get the inside scoop to Switzerland's Lake Geneva region

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Home to amazing Swiss food and wine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, world-renowned events and some of Europe’s most spectacular sceneries, Switzerland’s Lake Geneva Region has a lot more to boast than just watches and chocolate - the usual suspects that spring to mind when it comes to this French speaking region of the country.</span></p> <p><strong>The scenery</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains that roll into rows of verdant vineyard-covered slopes, there really is no bad angle when it comes to Lake Geneva.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Along the expansive shoreline you’ll find beautiful old towns and villages decorated with multi-coloured geraniums as well as well-preserved cobbled streets. It all adds to the unique charm of this region and keeps history standing still. However, subtle modern elements creep in here and there so you won’t forget you’re still in the 21st century. The contrast of old and new is what makes a visit to this region truly eclectic.</span></p> <p><strong>Activities</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the major highlights and events of the region is the Montreux Jazz festival, where thousands of jazz lovers descend on the shores to soak in the Swiss summer and enjoy the tunes of the world’s most popular music legends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Down the road is Vevey, gateway to the breathtakingly beautiful Lavaux vineyards. Take in a World UNESCO Heritage Site, while savouring the extraordinary flavours of the region. As Swiss wines are not generally exported due to limited produce, the exclusivity of the produce only adds to the allure.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you simply can't eat and drink any more, then a visit to the Olympic Museum in the historical city of Lausanne is sure to impress any sport lover.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The story of the Olympics from the very beginning until today has been painstakingly documented and is presented in an exciting way – worth a visit they say!</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To learn more about attractions in the Lake Geneva Region and Switzerland, visit </span><a href="https://www.myswitzerland.com/en/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">myswitzerland.com.</span></a></p> <p><strong>Fact file</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The best way to see and experience Switzerland is with a Swiss Pass, which entitles the holder to hop onto any train, bus or boat during the duration of the visit. The Pass also allows the holder free entry to more than 470 museums around the country and 50% discounts on mountain peak rails. Visit myswitzerland.com/rail for more information.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/inside-scoop-to-switzerlands-lake-geneva-region.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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Explore the southern spice trail of India

<p>The southern spice trail of India offers aromatic plants and scents – temples, history, fragrant curries, plenty of cows and the odd elephant. Bev Malzard explores.</p> <p>‘India is a land of contrasts.’ These are the words I read when I first heard about India in primary school. I missed the hippie trail through India in the late 70s and somehow it missed my ‘trip list’ for the next 30 years. It’s a long time since the 70s and I am no longer young and fearless – I don’t have the time to meander on a spiritual journey, nor can I laze around a beach for weeks.</p> <p>Playing it safe, but not too safe, I opted for a guided tour through the southern part of India, with companions from the UK – all aged from late 50s to 70s. These were tough, hardened travellers, who had been everywhere and adapted to India as soon as the first cow strolled in front of our coach and nearly sent us off the road. My kind of people.</p> <p>We were on the Cosmos Tours Kerala &amp; Spice Route trip. This extraordinary trip has left me with a montage of memories, all compartmentalised as it wasn’t a seamless 15 days; there were stops, starts and surprises along the way. For two days we drove through small towns and villages that were so crowded that I wondered how the human spirit could breathe, then open, brilliant green paddy fields appeared with workers dotted on the shivery landscape; a multi-storied steel and glass building branded with the IT neon success story flashed itself on the side of a highway, and beside it stood broken houses, businesses of broken dreams and rubbish piled high against the near and present future of India.</p> <p>Following are my memory chip postcards of India, and if my brain doesn’t go into the daily details of life here – all I see is colour.</p> <p><strong>Temples, temples, temples</strong><br />The southern spice trail in India offers more than arom<br />atic plants and scents – temples, history, fragrant curries, cows and more cows plus the odd elephant village. It is the site of the first British settlement in 1639. There are buildings here that smack of the British Raj; Portuguese churches; and more Hindu temples than you can poke an incense stick at.</p> <p>Temples and precious sites visited, with the amazing ancient carvings and script include: Mahabalipuram, UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing some of India’s finest rock art and architecture. See the Five Rathas, Sarjuna’s Penance and Shore temple; Kanchipuram, one of the 11 sacred sites of India; the Dakshinachitra heritage centre; the 16th century Church of Our Lady of Expectations; the basilica of San Thome and the gardens of the Theosophical Society, a vast campus of rambling pathways and countless trees.</p> <p>After a long day’s drive on highways to hell with roadside rubbish gobbling up all strips of nature and seeing crumbling half-finished buildings, we arrived in the immaculate seaside town of Pondicherry.</p> <p>Two thousand years ago the Romans traded on the shores; the Portuguese arrived in 1521 and by the 17th century the French had purchased the town, only relinquishing it in 1954. I wandered along one of the avenues with shade trees and neat houses, only to watch an elephant and its mahout cross the street in front of me – another day in the life of!</p> <p>As we made our way up to the Cardamom Hills we could see the exquisite beauty of the mountains and enjoy fragrant, clear air, redolent with the scents of spices and sweet breezes. A walk into the small town of Thekkady included lots of stops to look at boutiques selling saris, good fashion items, jewellery and some well-made souvenirs.</p> <p>From the foot of the beautiful Nilgiri Hills we began the steep and winding road looking down over the rolling plantations of tea. The entire town of Ooty was built by the British, and there’s a good legacy of guesthouses and hotels for the 21st century visitor.</p> <p>For fun take a ride on the Ooty ‘toy train’. This little wooden train runs most days but is subject to weather, elephants on the track, the odd landslide and rain. You choof through green hills to Coonoor, the old ‘summer capital’ of Madras. At 2240m above sea level, the air is clean, the monkeys are plentiful and the jacaranda trees and colourful lantana a sight for shining eyes.</p> <p>And for something completely different hop onboard a houseboat to ply the backwaters – Cochin in Kerala. The houseboats took about eight people and we each separated to our own vessels. <br />We were served fine curries particular to this region with fresh fruit following. A heavy sleep and back on shore saw most people a little sad at leaving the houseboats.</p> <p>And it’s like that leaving India. I was a little sad, as I didn’t think I had understood it well enough – I didn’t have enough time. But hey, as the distance between us grows, my memories are growing fonder and I’m getting a bit more of a handle on things – but maybe I’m not. It doesn’t matter really. India goes from the sublime to the incredulous – and long may it stay that way.</p> <p>Remember India is not for the fainthearted, best to be under the guidance of a reliable company.</p> <p><strong>Useful links:</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.thaiairways.com/en/index.page">www.thaiairways.com</a></p> <p><em>Written by Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/explore-the-southern-spice-trail-of-india.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a> </em></p>

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Vientiane, Laos - the city of charm

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Laos is not one of the new, bright young things to take the international travel scene by storm: It has made its move by stealthily edging its way into a few traveller’s itineraries and, more so, into their hearts.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flying in from Vietnam via Cambodia, we landed in the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, a modest and charming little city that resembles a sprawling collection of villages. Vientiane (translated as ‘sandalwood city’) dates from the 10th century. Vientiane is a small city that oozes charm; it’s a laid-back capital that is clean, inviting and a little bit fancy. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s not what you expect of a capital city; it is quiet, with ordered lanes and tree-lined boulevards, majestic Buddhist temples, loved but shabby monasteries, unhurried traffic and smiling, shy people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Laotian temples have their own characteristics and even though some appear ‘shabby chic’ on the outside, it’s an inside job with a wealth of spiritual atmosphere. One of the oldest sights of the capital is Wat Sisaket with 10,136 miniature Buddha statues in the walls of the city’s oldest surviving monastery. The temple complex was built in 1818 and when the Thais sacked the city in the 1820s they left it alone.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After Wat Sisaket, wander around town for a coffee – Laotian coffee is brilliant – enjoyed with a delicate pastry, a legacy of French colonialism. Then off to absorb the beauty of Luang Stupa, the gold-tipped national monument representing both the Buddhist religion in Cambodia and the Laos sovereignty.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It was while I was mooching around the sweeping entrance that I noticed an odd, local phenomenon. There were lots of men walking around asking foreign visitors if they wanted their pictures taken. In this digital age, it surprised me and I thought the guys wouldn’t get any business at all. But they were one ( with well-shod with cowboy boots) step ahead of me. Strapped to their waists were portable printers.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">So, click for the picture, and click for an image and voila, nice picture, good background and ‘only one US dollar please’. Bargain! The urban cowboys were out in force wearing faux foreign correspondent vests and cowboy hats as they strutted around the gorgeous Patuxay Monument known as Vientiane’s Arc de Triomphe. It’s so decorative, a sight to behold with its Lao friezes from Buddhist mythology.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The structure is at the end of the grand Lang Xang Avenue. Stroll around the laid-back city and pass crumbling colonial mansions, immaculate shopfronts, hidden gardens and bamboo thatched beer gardens on the riverbank. Explore the hidden lanes running off the main streets and discover French-style bakeries and noodle and sticky rice vendors.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most of the main attractions of town are concentrated in the tightknit commercial district where you’ll find the museums and squares with a variety of fine restaurants.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Fountain Square has the charm of an old-fashioned village green and is surrounded by compact eateries including Italian and Thai restaurants and a Scandinavian bakery.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vientiane is a lovely little city that invites you to turn up and stay for a few days. There’s much to uncover and enjoy here, and who knows, those urban cowboys could win your heart – for ‘only one US dollar’.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The writer flew to Laos with Vietnam Airlines.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">This story first appeared in </span><a href="http://getupandgo.com.au/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Get Up &amp; Go Magazine</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and has been edited.</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Writtenby Bev Malzard. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/vientiane,-laos-the-city-of-charm.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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What you didn’t know about the Philippines

<p>The Philippines has more than 7641 lush tropical islands surrounded by turquoise water. For years, this incredible destination has gone under the radar. But Australian travellers are starting to take note.</p> <p> “It’s an incredible destination that is perfect for Australians’ considering their love of adventure, travel and passion for discovering unexplored destinations,” Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand says.</p> <p>“Our lush, tropical backdrops, stunning sunsets, and dreamy tropical beaches make the Philippines one of the most exotic holiday destinations.</p> <p>“As a destination, it is still relatively undiscovered and offers unparalleled value, so there’s no better time to get to know our tropical archipelago, world-renowned for its abundance of beauty, wildlife and bio-diversity.”</p> <p>Here are 10 things you may not know about the Philippines according to Norjamin:</p> <p>1. The Philippines officially has 7641 islands. The number increased in 2018 when more islands were officially recognised and counted.</p> <p>2. We are a county of smiling, highly skilled, English-speaking people. Don’t be shy about approaching a Filipino and starting a conversation. We’re not just fun, we’re officially friendly too. Forbes.com ranked the Philippines as the friendliest country in Asia and the eighth friendliest place in the world.</p> <p>3. The Philippines is officially home to the ‘Best Islands in the World’, with the stunning destination’s islands consistently recognised in the highly acclaimed Conde Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Choice. In October 2018, the awards were categorised into regions, with the Philippines scooping the top three best islands in Asia: Siargo, Boracay and Palawan were listed respectively.</p> <p>4. The Philippines was also named ‘Asia’s Leading Beach Destination 2018’ at the prestigious World Travel Awards.</p> <p>5. The Philippines offers excellent value for money, with a bottle of beer only $1.</p> <p>6. The town of Vigan in the province of Ilocos Sur was officially inaugurated as one of the Seven Wonder Cities of the World in May 2015.</p> <p>7. The Philippines is the heart of marine biodiversity. The Philippines archipelago is located within the Coral Triangle and has 76 per cent of the world’s coral species, six of the world’s seven marine turtle species and at least 2,228 reef fish species.</p> <p>8. The ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines’ marketing campaign, stemmed from a single question asked to the Department of Tourism ‘why would a tourist want to come to the Philippines?’</p> <p>9. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature.</p> <p>10. The Philippines was named in honour of King Philip II of Spain. Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, during his expedition in 1542, named the islands of Leyte and Samar Felipinas after the then Prince of Asturias. Eventually, the name Las Islas Filipinas would be used to cover all the island of the archipelago.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/philippines-facts/">MyDiscoveries.</a> </em></p>

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You must try these 5 unforgettable Fiji experiences

<p>With a bounty of natural and cultural marvels, Fiji is more than just a place to stop and flop on the sand. These five unforgettable experiences highlight Fiji’s most tempting offerings – unique animal encounters, breathtaking scenery, tantalising cuisine and a touch of luxury.</p> <p><strong>Swim with sea life </strong></p> <p>Every swim in Fiji’s sparkling South Pacific waters redefines the colour blue. Known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, the islands of Fiji are brimming with opportunities to go below the surface. And you don’t need to be a seasoned deep sea diver to experience it. Swimming and snorkelling should be fun, leisurely activities where you can go at your own pace. In Fiji, this is what it’s all about. </p> <p>Fiji’s pristine beaches mean you can grab a snorkel and head straight out to explore the reefs just offshore. Most hotels and resorts will have snorkeling equipment to hire. Otherwise, you can often purchase it from the general store fairly inexpensively. For guaranteed sightings of vibrant coral and colourful fish, organising a day trip will be your best bet. </p> <p>Beqa Island Lagoon off the coast of Viti Levu is a great place for beginners. The protected reef boasts thousands of exoitic fish and anemones with regular sightings of turtles, giant clams and sharks. This is also where you can opt for a truly unique, though slightly terrifying experience. Feel the thrill and majesty of swimming side by side with the ocean’s most formidable creatures. Shark Reef Marine Reserve was established in order to study and preserve the population of sharks of Fiji’s coral coast, and now offers gutsy visitors a chance to get in the water with them. </p> <p>Would you prefer a swimming buddy with less teeth? Head to Naviti in the Yasawa Islands for the chance to swim with Manta Rays. At the south end of the island, Manta Ray passage is teeming with these velvety creatures, gliding through the water. To watch them from above is breathtaking. To swim alongside them is something else entirely. Be sure to visit during Manta season, between May and October.</p> <p><strong>Discover the islands from above</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky enough to fly in during the day, you’ll get an entrée of what Fiji’s 330 islands look like from above. For a full course, it’s worth booking a scenic helicopter flight.</p> <p>Fiji has dozens of helicopter tour companies so do your research and choose an operator with a good safety record. Opting for a Fijian-owned and run company is a nice way to ensure your tourist dollars go towards empowering and supporting the local community. </p> <p>A popular flight route takes you on an aerial tour of Denarau, the largest integrated resort in the South Pacific. You’ll see the lush landscapes and perfectly maintained gardens of some of the biggest luxury resort chains in the South Pacific. </p> <p>Heading further inland, discover Fiji’s overgrown jungles and striking mountain landscapes. Soaring above the Mt. Evans Range, expect to see rugged volcanic formations, pockets of wild orchids and spectacular waterfalls.</p> <p>Perhaps the most popular scenic flight is the joy ride to Heart Island. Home to Tavarua Island Resort, this heart-shaped island is surrounded by balmy waters with pumping surf breaks. Each year, surfers come from all over the world flock to this heart-shaped island to take on Cloudbreak. </p> <p>Scenic helicopter flights can be expensive, but are often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Most resorts will have a handful of preferred tour companies they recommend to their guests. You can also organise scenic flights independently, or in advance through a travel agent. </p> <p><strong>Spend a day at the spa</strong></p> <p>Nothing says “holiday” like a relaxing spa treatment. Visitors to Fiji are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting pampered. Each resort will often have its own on-site spa, and some even offer in-room treatments so you don’t even have to go anywhere to receive a fabulous massage. </p> <p>One of Fiji’s most renowned luxury spas can be found at Yasawa Island Resort. The Bavari Spa is essentially set on the sand, with double doors opening up to a pristine, private beach. The signature treatment is a four-handed Bavari Rhythm massage which entails two masseuses working out all your knots and melting away your troubles in smooth, synchronised movements. </p> <p>Another highly-recommended outfit is the Sheraton Resort and Spa on Tokoriki Island. It’s one of the largest day spas in Fiji and is part of an adults-only island for the utmost relaxation and tranquility. Try the Fijian Warm Seashell Ritual. As the name suggests, this treatment uses locally-sourced shells to deliver a glorious massage with the help of sought-after <em>Pure Fiji</em> spa products. </p> <p>Some resorts offers complimentary massages as an added bonus, and others have great deals that include a spa treatment as part of your package. Prices will vary between locations, but visitors will find a range of affordable day spas on Denarau and Viti Levu, as well as a host of up-market outfits in the luxury resorts. You don’t need to be a guest of a resort to utilise their day spa but bookings are essential. </p> <p><strong>Take a cooking class</strong></p> <p>Fijian food is a family affair at its core. The act of cooking and eating together is central to the local way of life, not unlike Australia, However, the methods and flavours are unique to Fiji and vary from island to island. </p> <p>Visitors have a number of cooking schools to choose from when visiting Fiji. One highly-rated outfit is the Flavors of Fiji Cooking School in Nadi. Begin with a tour of Nadi’s thriving vegetable market, where you’ll pick out fresh produce to take back and turn into something tasty. Back at the nearby school, you’ll learn to cook up to eight local specialties under the guidance of experienced Fijian foodies. You’ll head home with a full belly, loads of recipes and a newfound love of cooking. </p> <p>Many resorts also offer their own cooking classes. Some are run by the chefs of the restaurants, and others bring in instructors from the local community to teach traditional Fijian cooking methods. At an all-inclusive resort, this is often a free activity. Otherwise, it may come at an additional cost. </p> <p><strong>Explore the rainforests on foot</strong></p> <p>Fiji’s color scheme is dominated by breathtaking blues and golden sands, but there’s another hue that is hard to miss. Thick forests and undulating jungles showcase every shade of green you can imagine. From sweeping valleys to towering mountain ranges, Fiji’s wilderness areas are unlike any other. That’s not to say you need to take on the most challenging hike and spend your entire holiday out of breath. Some of the most scenic walking routes are also the most leisurely. </p> <p>A trip to Tavoro Falls is not to be missed. Located in Bouma National Heritage Park on the island of Taveuni, this jungle hike encompasses a series of waterfalls with a few challenging stretches along the way. From the final vantage point, the views out to neighbouring islands are well worth the effort.</p> <p>The Sigatoka Sand Dunes offer an interesting hiking experience. Spread across 600 hectares, some of the dunes stand as high as 60 metres tall. Choose between a one or two-hour trail, discovering the excavated sites of the early Lapita people and the fascinating surrounds of Fiji’s first national park. </p> <p>You can also enjoy a stroll through the botanical gardens in Lautoka and learn about the medicinal uses of Fiji’s native flora.</p> <p><em>Written by Bethany Plint. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/fiji-experiences/">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Here are New Zealand’s best natural hot springs

<p>New Zealand is renowned for its geothermal activity and across the land you’ll find various heated waterways safe for wallowing in.</p> <p>New Zealand’s beautiful beaches and waterways are a major attraction and, turning up the temperature from just plain cool to steamy, some of the best soaking spots boast heated water – and, even better, no-one has to pay the electricity bill because nature provides the power.</p> <p><strong>Hot Water Beach, Coromandel</strong></p> <p>Two hours either side of low tide, Hot Water Beach (aka Te Puia) fills up with visitors eager to dig their own spa pools in the sand. On the Coromandel Peninsula between Tairua and Whitianga, this thermal sandpit is a star attraction, with temperatures ranging from tepid to scalding.</p> <p>Either dig with your hands or hire a spade and, while it’s perfectly fun to soak here in summer, on a cold winter’s day it’s hard to beat. At night, when the moon is out and the stars are twinkling, it’s utterly heavenly. But do be warned, the open sea can be rugged so less experienced swimmers must take extra special care.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip:</strong> Hot Water beach is 2.5 hours’ drive from Auckland – make sure you don’t forget your swimming costume and towel. When you’ve had enough of those thermal charms, choose from one of the cafés, but note that many do close during the winter. Nearby Hahei has eateries, a brewery, bicycle hire and kayak tours. The area is also home to Cathedral Cove – a spectacular natural archway and a marine reserve that is popular with snorkellers. Explore on your own or take advantage of various tour companies offering excursions.</p> <p><strong>Te Rata Bay, Lake Tarawera</strong></p> <p>On the southern shore of Rotorua’s Lake Tarawera, Te Rata Bay (also referred to as Hot Water Beach) is understandably popular. Fringed with pohutukawa trees and alive with native birds, as well as wild wallabies, the thermal vents on this beach help keep campers’ coffee hot while they roast their daily catch in sandpits.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Accessible by boat or via a fabulous five-hour bush walk (the 15km Tarawera Trail), you’ll need to plan ahead to visit the beach. If you plan to stay overnight at the campground (or glamp it) you must book, and stock up on supplies as there are no shops. Happily, water taxis are easy to arrange through Totally Tarawera, with plenty of options for enjoying this area either overnight or as part of a day-trip.</p> <p><strong>Kaitoke Hot Springs, Great Barrier Island</strong></p> <p>The largest and furthest-flung island in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier/Aotea is 90km from Auckland. A rugged rock that’s completely off-grid, it tends to attract a capable sort of citizen.</p> <p>Renowned for unspoiled beaches, impressive wildlife and rich history, it’s also home to a picturesque thermal pool. Kaitoke Hot Springs is an easy, pram-friendly 45-minute walk from Whangaparapara Road. But be sure to take any provisions you need with you, as aside from two long-drop lavatories, this beautiful spot is completely non-commercial.</p> <p><strong>Travel Tip</strong>: Isolated Great Barrier/Aotea Island is popular with visitors who enjoy fishing, surfing, hiking and anything to do with nature. Recently awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary status, be sure to look heavenward after dark when the stars astonish. Accessible by a 30-minute flight or a five-hour ferry ride, there’s plenty of accommodation and a reasonable selection of eateries (although you’re wise to take some food). Be sure to allow a good few days to get to grips with all the island has to offer.</p> <p><strong>Kawhia Ocean Beach, Waikato</strong></p> <p>Less crowded than Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach, hot springs can be found at Kawhia’s Ocean Beach for two hours either side of low tide.</p> <p>Steeped in history, Kawhia is where the Tainui waka (one of the original canoes carrying the first Polynesians) came to rest after its epic trans-Pacific voyage, and today is a sleepy little spot, far from the madding crowds and all the better for it. If you’re not sure where to dig to gain access to the steaming seams, a friendly local will show you the way. But be warned, because this is a black sand beach, it can really heat up in summer, so don’t forget your shoes.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Kawhia is a peaceful King Country town 200km from Auckland. It offers accommodation (including a campground), a museum, a couple of cafés, a general store and a fish and chips shop. Popular with history buffs, fossil fans and fisher people, it’s heavenly all year round. And do experience the cooler charms of nearby Waitomo Caves if time allows.</p> <p><strong>Welcome Flat Hot Pools</strong></p> <p>Just 20km south of Fox Glacier you’ll find Welcome Flat Hot Pools, near a conveniently positioned DOC (Department of Conservation) hut. Surrounded by snowy peaks and forest, there are several temperature options with even the fussiest bathers catered for – provided they don’t mind mud.</p> <p>The pools are accessed via the Copland Track, which is 18km one way (it takes about seven hours to complete), so ensure you book ahead for one of the 31 beds in the DOC hut. Of course, you’ll need to take your food, sleeping bag and swimming suit as well. It’s open year round, so pack for the conditions and keep an eye on weather reports.</p> <p><strong>Travel tip</strong>: Welcome Flat is found in South Westland in the South Island, four hours’ drive from Queenstown or six hours’ from Christchurch. The Fox Glacier region is bursting with tourist highlights, from kayak tours to scenic flights. The Hobnail Café and Souvenir Shop is a great spot to refuel, Gillespies Beach is grand if you’re into geology, rainforest and seals, and always look out for the kea, New Zealand’s cheeky parrot.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.mydiscoveries.com.au/stories/new-zealand-best-natural-hot-springs/"><em>Mydiscoveries.com.au.</em></a></p>

Cruising

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Huge cruise ship squeezes through Greek canal with just centimetres to spare

<p><span>A 24,344-tonnes, 22.5-metre-wide cruise liner has made history to become the largest ship ever to travel through the narrow Corinth Canal.</span></p> <p><span>On Wednesday, 929 passengers on board held their breath as the Braemar cruise liner squeezed through the canal, which was 24 metres wide at its narrowest point.</span></p> <p><span>The ship was so close to the rocky walls of the canal that passengers could reach out their hands and almost touch the surface, UK-based Fred. Olsen Cruises said.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Y6vKyn3y6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/B3Y6vKyn3y6/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">Transiting the #CorinthCanal this morning on #Braemar... fabulous views! #🚢 #fredolsen #cruise</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/andyeastwooduk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Andy Eastwood</a> (@andyeastwooduk) on Oct 9, 2019 at 12:37am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span>The 6.4-kilometre-long canal is a waterway that separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, connecting the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea.</span><span></span></p> <p><span>The trip was part of the 25-night Corinth Canal &amp; Greek Islands cruise, which took off from Southampton, UK.</span></p> <p><span>“This is such an exciting sailing and tremendous milestone in Fred Olsen’s 171-year history, and we are thrilled to have been able to share it with our guests,” said Clare Ward, director of product and customer service.</span></p>

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Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla announce new details of New Zealand tour

<p><span>Clarence House has revealed new details on the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall’s upcoming visit to New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>Prince Charles and Camilla will be touring the country from November 17 to 23. The couple will begin their trip in Auckland, where they are set to meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and learn about programs supporting youth and environmental causes.</span></p> <p><span>From there, the two will visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds and meet Māori people. This will mark the prince’s first trip to the Treaty Grounds since 1994.</span></p> <p><span>The royals will also go to Christchurch, the site of the two terrorist attacks in March and the earthquakes in 2011. Ardern said Prince Charles and Camilla will be able to see “how the community has rallied to support those affected by the March 15 terrorist attacks”.</span></p> <p><span>Aside from Christchurch, the couple will also set foot in Kaikōura. “The effects on the community of the 2016 earthquake will also be seen first hand at Kaikōura,” Ardern said.</span></p> <p><span>“I look forward to welcoming Their Royal Highnesses back to New Zealand.”</span></p> <p><span>This will be the Cornwalls’ third royal tour of New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span>On November 23, the duchess will fly back to the UK while the prince travels to Tuvalu and the Solomon Islands to focus on environment and climate-change related issues. This will be his first time visiting the Islands, and his first trip to Tuvalu in 49 years.</span></p>

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Top tips to save money on a long holiday

<p>A long holiday is its own reward, but this concept is amplified in accommodation savings that only serve to increase exponentially, the longer you stay. That is, of course, if you know where to go to seek the source of holidaymakers in the know.</p> <p>When time is no object in holidays of lengthy duration, more is more when you look and book online.</p> <p>The saving grace of extended stays amounts to huge value in quality time, but also in a fiscal sense.</p> <p><strong>1. Be richly rewarded</strong></p> <p>Hotels.com not only offers a wealth of cut-price savings from luxury resorts to budget-style accommodation, but it also extends the staying power with the <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-rewards-pillar/hotelscomrewards.html">Rewards</a> programs. When you collect 10 nights’ accommodation at a massive range of selected hotels and accommodation offerings, you’ll be richly rewarded with one extra night’s stay. Members choose how their 10 nights stack up: whether during a complete stay or as single-night visits, which can quickly add up to the count of 10. Redeem your free night’s accommodation at a range of options and locations: from top-of-the-the-range hotel chains and five-star resort to boutiques, villas and apartments of every description*.<br /><em><sub>*According to terms and conditions</sub></em></p> <p><strong>2. Shop around</strong></p> <p>It’s important to instil time and patience in the online booking process. Arm yourself with prior research to ensure you plan your stay closely centred to coveted landmarks, sites and for convenience to public transport options, supermarkets and all budget-oriented amenities. There’s a handy online guide for the average price of all star-rated properties at every holiday destination to be found online at Hotels.com. Read up on the crucial differences between property features and decide whether you can forgo an on-site gym or swimming pool in favour of stretching your legs in the great outdoors and taking an invigorating daily dip in the ocean instead.</p> <p><strong>3. Book early or late: the savings are equally great</strong></p> <p>Hotels.com prides itself on offering unlimited special deals on all of its accommodation options. Built-in value is the name of the game, whether you plan to stay for a good time or long time. Booking early is always advised to ensure availability of your preferred options, but equally, last-minute specials can produce unexpected delights to be found at dream properties that are ultimately priced within your holiday budget. <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-deals/">Deals Finder</a> and <a href="https://au.hotels.com/hotel-deals/last-minute-hotel-deals">Last Minute Deals</a> are your go-to zones for the best possible savings, whether you’re booking your stay early or late.</p> <p><strong>4. Live like a local</strong></p> <p>Once you’ve finally arrived at your dream destination, the key for keeping costs to a minimum depends upon splashing out only when absolutely necessary. Advance planning ensures you need never miss out on maximising the sightseeing and experiential potential of your holiday location. Allocating part of your budget to a select few must-do-and-see holiday desirables is essential. But a memorable holiday also means not blowing the bank, so be sure to eat or pack most meals and drinking water from your accommodation base; boutique browsing rather than splashing the cash on designer labels; sticking to nature-based activities that don’t cost the earth and ultimately revive the spirit and senses are your best bet for returning home from a long holiday richly rewarded for your cost-saving measures.</p> <p><em>This article first appeared in </em><em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/4-top-tips-save-money-long-holiday">Reader’s Digest.</a> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA87V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a><span></span></p> <p><img style="width: 100px !important; height: 100px !important;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7820640/1.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/f30947086c8e47b89cb076eb5bb9b3e2" /></p>

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Loved up royals! Princess Mary and Prince Frederik step out in Paris for royal tour

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Princess Mary is arguably one of the best dressed royals and has once again proven she knows how to perfectly put together an outfit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Danish royal along with her husband, Prince Frederik are in France for a three-day working visit. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The couple is leading a business delegation of around 50 Danish companies and business organisations. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Looking both loved up and stylish, the couple were photographed sharing a smile as they visited the Grande Arche de la Defense building for the first day of their trip. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The 47-year-old donned a dark blue midi-dress, featuring elegant pleats, cinched waistline and delicate buttons running across its centre. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The royal topped off the gorgeous ensemble with a pair of blue heels and a matching clutch. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Looking picture perfect next to his wife and future Queen of Denmark, Prince Frederik donned a smart navy suit and a blue and white tie to match his wife. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Later during the evening, the couple reunited for a reception celebrating 30 years of La Grande Arche. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">She changed into a darling black polka-dot dress, by Black Halo, with a boat neckline for the occasion. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It's been a busy time for the Australian princess, who was just recently promoted to Acting Monarch by her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Scroll through the gallery to see Princess Mary’s stunning looks. </span></p>

Cruising

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Debunked: What you thought WRONG about cruising

<p>We’ve all been there: in the middle of an argument it suddenly dawns on you that, no matter what you say or do, your opponent is going to take the win. Not because they’ve used reason and logic to secure their triumph but because they have an insatiable need to Always. Be. Right.</p> <p>It can be incredibly frustrating to enter into an argument with a person like this, but this character flaw can be managed. Remember, a person’s constant need to be right is most certainly masking their desperate fear of being wrong, and in the end, that fear is driving them to prevail by any means necessary. Try these tips to make these arguments and conflicts as painless as possible.</p> <p><strong>They’re crowded and ‘touristy’</strong></p> <p>As the world shrinks, new and unique travel experiences are increasingly harder to come by.</p> <p>Cruise ships are adapting to these demands, creating never-before-seen itineraries that leave the crowds far behind.</p> <p>Trace the forgotten Spice Route, through ancient jungles and along white beaches, past crumbling monasteries and deserted cave temples, backwater fishing villages and local bazaars.</p> <p>Discover Namibia’s German heritage, Benin’s voodoo traditions and Ghana’s dark slavery sites.</p> <p>Visit nomadic communities in Madagascar and venture out to tiny Pacific islands, where some of the world’s most fascinating indigenous cultures can still be found.</p> <p><strong>It’s boring being stuck at sea</strong></p> <p>Because you can align your cruise to your interests so perfectly these days, if you’re bored on a cruise it’s because you’ve picked the wrong one.</p> <p>Choose the right cruise and you can finally do all those things you’ve always wanted to as you drift between destinations.</p> <p>Think scuba diving or wine tasting, photography or yoga.</p> <p>Some ships have theme parks, water slides and zip lines, and you can skydive without even going ashore.</p> <p><strong>Isn’t the food a little dull?</strong></p> <p>Bland buffets are a thing of the past.</p> <p>Today’s cruises serve up a treat for all the senses.</p> <p>Embark on excursions to local markets, ranches and farms to source fresh ingredients for cooking classes back on board.</p> <p>You can hop aboard cruise and enjoy world-class menus from famous chefs such as Curtis Stone, gastropub guru Ernesto Uchimura and many more.</p> <p><strong>I’ll have to get used to seasickness</strong></p> <p>Unlike that little old sailboat in the marina, cruise ships, large or small, are equipped with specialised stabilisers that take almost all of the motion out of the ocean.</p> <p>Once settled on board, you’re likely to forget you’re even afloat.</p> <p>Booking a cabin in the middle of a deck and lower in the ship, at its natural balance point, can help settle any pre-cruise fears further, despite it being extremely unlikely you will become seasick aboard in the first place.</p> <p><em>Written by Shanell Mouland. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-cruise-myths-debunked/page/6">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p> <p><em> </em></p>

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Tourists overrun with crocs after exploring Arnhem Land

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Video has captured the moment tourists found themselves surrounded by saltwater crocodiles in Cahills Crossing in Arnhem Land.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The crossing, which is three hours east of Darwin, provides the only road access point between Arnhem Land and Kakadu National Park.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kimberley Off-Road Adventure Tours posted the video, saying that the crocs came out of the water as the tide changed.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“There were over 30 salties in there,” the post read.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“This car went through after us and had a bit of trouble with the peak hour traffic.”</span></p> <p><iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkimberleyoffroadtours%2Fvideos%2F389232485308123%2F&amp;show_text=0&amp;width=267" width="267" height="476" style="border: none; overflow: hidden;" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="true"></iframe></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The crossing is considered the most dangerous bodies of water in Australia due to dangerous water flow capable of turning over cars as well as the large amount of crocodiles calling the area home.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Each year, dozens of drivers attempt to travel over the submerged crossing, but end up being washed away.</span></p>

Cruising

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How to make the most of your cruise holiday

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you’ve always wanted to give cruising a try but you’re a bit worried you will end up feeling bored with nothing to do but to wander up and down the ship for days? Well, here’s some news for you, cruising can be anything and everything you want it to be. Here we list some tips on how to make the most of your next cruise holiday.</span></p> <p><strong>Take the right trip</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It may sound obvious, but choosing the right cruise is the first step to making the most of it. Finding a balance between port stops and cruising time is important and above all it comes down to personal preference. If you’re more interested in spending time onboard a ship than you are exploring the sites then some of the larger cruise-liners might be the thing for you. Some ships are virtually floating cities, with pools, movie theatres, shops, clubs, gyms and live shows.</span></p> <p><strong>Make a plan</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most cruises will provide you with plenty of time to explore the local ports along the journey so to prevent yourself from merely passing time on land, you can do some research beforehand. Map out a handful of interesting sights for each destination or ask the crew for their expertise and advice on what to see. Isn’t it curious how the most memorable experiences often happen when we get out of our comfort zone!</span></p> <p><strong>Indulge</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Cruising can be as entertaining or as relaxing as you prefer. You may want to set aside a whole day just for pampering. Now a-days most cruise ships will have a day spas where you can get a relaxing massage, sweat out the toxins in a sauna and coat yourself in all kinds of rejuvenating balms.</span></p> <p><strong>Bring a book</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Consider bringing a good selection of books and magazines for when you’ve had enough of all the action and need some quality downtime. We recommend taking your iPad or Kindle so you can bring a virtual library without sacrificing precious bag space.</span></p> <p><strong>Learn something new</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Being on a cruise is the perfect time to reflect on your goals and your dreams for the future and perhaps even learn a new skill. Download an audiobook on your smart phone and brush up on your foreign language skills or book in a personal training or golf lesson onboard the ship.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However you chose to spend your time on your next holiday, we hope you have a blast!</span></p> <p><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/how-to-make-the-most-of-your-cruise-holiday.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></span></em></p>

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Top 5 unforgettable island getaways

<p>Winter blues getting you down? Here are five fab last-minute tropical island escapes. Ready to go?</p> <p>If the winter blues are getting you down, and the start of September still seems like an eternity away, why not indulge in a last-minute island escape? Here are the easiest, cheapest and most popular global destinations to visit in order to get some instant sunshine. August is one of the most popular months for Aussies to jet away for a mid-year holiday, so pack your bag and book yourself a spontaneous holiday filled with tropical beaches, exotic culture and glistening sunshine!</p> <p><strong>1. Canary Islands, Spain</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>The Canary Islands are a tropical oasis located off the Spanish mainland. Behind its veneer of exotic oceanfront resorts lies a backdrop of lush pine forests with breathtaking waterfalls, dramatic volcanoes and lava fields. There are also a seemingly endless array of Sahara-style dunes. Spain is an idyllic mid-winter getaway due to the inviting climate and rich culture. The Canary Islands retain these positive aspects without being overrun by tourists, making it perfect for a sunny and spontaneous winter getaway.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Watch the sunset while sipping a cocktail at one of Tenerife’s myriad of oceanfront bars, scuba dive and discover hundreds of species of fish or hike up mountains and across volcanic fields. Other options are to explore the area on a unique camel ride or soak up a dose of Canarian culture by viewing the work of local sculptors and artists in Gran Canaria.</p> <p><strong>2. Sri Lanka</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Sri Lanka is a cultural paradise with an enticing array of options to suit all travellers. Its geographical proximity to Australia means that flights are affordable and short, making it highly suitable for last-minute vacation plans. Sri Lanka boasts of exquisite beaches, pristine rainforests, tea plantations, world-renowned train rides, legendary temples and phenomenal cuisine. The small island has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites packed into an area that is just over two-thirds the size of Tasmania!<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Go on a scenic train ride from Kandy to Nuwera Eliya; visit the National Museum in the capital, Colombo; witness herds of elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards in Uda Walame National Park; and bike along coastlines and small villages along the National Cycling Trail.</p> <p><strong>3. Lombok, Indonesia</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Many people might think of a last-minute vacation just outside of Australia and immediately turn their attention to Bali. But Lombok, Bali’s less frantic neighbour, has just as many exotic tourist options and authentic Indonesian cultural offerings, all without the hordes of partying Westerners. Lombok forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands and is the gateway to the magical Gili Islands.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Climb the breathtaking Mount Rinjani; take a bemo (converted mini-van) through the rice fields to visit Lombok’s holiest temple, Pura Lingsar; snorkel the warm tropical waters and travel by boat to the surrounding Gili Islands; barter for fresh produce at the local Pasar Mandalika markets.</p> <p><strong>4. New Caledonia</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Want to feel like you’re in France while travelling just over 1000km East of the Australian mainland? New Caledonia is a multi-ethnic tropical island that offers a range of relaxing activities as well as numerous cultural and natural experiences. Maintaining temperatures of around 23-24°C throughout Winter, it is a conveniently located escape for anyone restricted by time or a small budget. Although the water may not be toasty, these months are ideal for hikes through the Grand Randonnee (great hiking trail). New Caledonia is a nature lovers’ haven with opportunities a-plenty for sailing, diving, fishing, hiking, golfing, watersports and adventurous activities. Alternatively, you could simply visit the exotic island on a cruise, or spend time relaxing in the cultural hub and capital, Noumea.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Explore Noumea’s many districts, which have cultural influence from countries spanning five continents; discover the Melanesian customs, picturesque landscapes and coral reefs of Iles Loyaute (the Loyalty Islands); hike up to the gates of the City of Dumbéa; or immerse yourself in the magic of the largest lagoon in the world.</p> <p><strong>5. Montego Bay, Jamaica</strong></p> <p><strong>Where:</strong>Located in Jamaica’s northwest corner, Montego Bay is a hub for flights and resorts and offers visitors fantastic weather. All-inclusive resorts are near their annual low at this time of year, justifying a spontaneous trip to the exotic Caribbean. Simply book a flight and a resort and then choose from the abundant R&amp;R options or watersports activities upon your arrival.<br /><strong>Why go:</strong>Lounge around at Doctor’s Cave Beach; learn about the Rastafari movement at the Indigenous Rastafarian Village; take a zip-line tour through the canopy; or get the adrenaline pumping with a jungle river tubing safari.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-enticing-island-get-aways.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

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Hawaii’s hidden treasures

<p>What’s the first thing you think of when you conjure up an image of Hawaii? Diamond Head? Waikiki? The bustling tourist haven of Honolulu? They all have their own appeal, but there is so much more to this dramatic group of islands that is just waiting to be discovered by the traveller who wants experiences beyond the ordinary.</p> <p><strong>Kauai – the garden isle</strong><br />The fourth largest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain is the garden island of Kauai. Far from the bright lights of the main tourist centres, Kauai offers a very different experience from its better known neighbour.</p> <p>The first thing that strikes the visitor is the imposing presence of its jagged mountain terrain, draped in a thick green carpet of tropical vegetation. Ancient geographical forces have created spectacular natural wonders, such as the breathtaking Waimea Canyon or the lush Kokee State Park. It’s a landscape so rugged that much of it is only accessible by sea or air.</p> <p>Kauai has plenty to offer those who want to get up close to nature too, with kayaking, snorkelling and hiking high on the list. And of course there are glorious, unspoiled beaches that can make you feel a million miles from civilisation.</p> <p><strong>Maui – the valley isle</strong><br />Maui offers a very different experience. It can still rival Kauai in terms of natural attraction, but it has a quite different charm all its own. Small towns and villages dot the island and dreamy resorts blend into the balmy tropical landscape.</p> <p>The beaches are renowned as some of the world’s best and up into the hills the Haleakala National Park offers commanding vistas of this second largest island in the group. The Hana highway is a touring feature in itself as it snakes along the spectacular coastline and gives perfect viewing access to countless waterfalls, lush rainforests and idyllic pools.</p> <p><strong>Fact file - How to get there</strong></p> <p>Major airlines fly to Hawaii from most state capitals to Honolulu International Airport, where you can transfer to a short flight for Maui or Kauai.</p> <p><strong>Where to stay on Maui</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/hnmmh-marriotts-maui-ocean-club-molokai-maui-and-lanai-towers/">Marriott's Maui Ocean Club</a> – spacious and spectacular oceanfront location, refreshing pools, and eclectic dining. </p> <p><a href="http://www.travaasa.com/">Travaasa Hana</a> – nestled in a natural wonderland offering both elegance and adventure. </p> <p><strong>Where to stay on Kauai</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.poipushores.com/">Poipu Shores</a> - one, two, or three bedroom condominium suites with ocean views. </p> <p><a href="http://www.cliffsatprinceville.com/">The Cliffs at Princeville</a> - oceanfront luxurious 1 &amp; 2 bedroom condominium units.</p> <p><em>Written by Tom Raeside. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/hawaii%E2%80%99s-hidden-treasures.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

Cruising

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What you should avoid on your first cruise

<p>It’s your first foray into the exciting world of cruises. Understandably you don’t know what to expect. While relaxation, fun and adventure are high on the agenda, there’s also the potential for some less enjoyable experiences.</p> <p>By avoiding the following, you’ll increase your chances of a stress free break.</p> <p><strong>1. Don’t become a victim of sickness</strong><br />Avoid having your holiday ruined by illness with precautionary measures such as hand washing. Bring your own pillow, air purifier, hand-wipes and supplements. Avoid sharing food or utensils. Bring medications in case you do come down with something and pack those motion sickness pills if you’re prone to seasickness.</p> <p><strong>2. Don’t book interior rooms without a window</strong><br />With their cheaper price brackets, a room without a view can look very enticing, but cruise aficionados will tell you it’s well worth forking out the extra money to wake up to a stunning view. A room with a window or balcony might be more expensive, but consider how your cruise experience will be enhanced by fresh air, natural light and the sight of the sea and sky.</p> <p><strong>3. Don’t get caught in a queue</strong><br />With a mid-sized ship typically accommodating 900-2000 other passengers, standing in queues is a notorious negative of going on a cruise. Queues typically occur when departing for port stopovers (especially when a transfer or tendering boat is required). Rush hour at the buffet is another time. A good option to avoid the crowds is ensuring you arrive early.</p> <p><strong>4. Don’t spend too much time in your room<br /></strong>Many passengers don’t make themselves aware of the ships facilities and services - ranging from libraries to gyms - and fail to maximise the opportunities onboard. Cruises offer lots of fun activities, entertainment and opportunities for socialising. Remember you’re paying for it, so why not take advantage.</p> <p><strong>5. Don’t get stung by hidden cruise costs<br /></strong>These can mount up. Common offenders include drinks, offshore activities, spa activities and tempting alternative eateries and treats. To avoid your expenditure blowing out, budget for these and check out the spa specials on port days.</p> <p>Finally, don’t miss the boat. Bon voyage!</p> <p><em>Written by Linda Moon. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/travel/5-things-to-avoid-on-your-cruise.aspx">Wyza.com.au.</a></em></p>

Cruising

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“Yelling for help”: Passengers reveal heroic actions of P&O cruise ship as they spend 10 hours rescuing migrants

<p>British passengers on board a P&amp;O cruise liner have explained how the ship helped to rescue more than 20 migrants who were on an inflatable dinghy off the Spanish coast.</p> <p>Around 3,000 passengers were enjoying the stunning views of the Mediterranean as the ship sailed from Cadiz to Barcelona when they heard whistling, yelling and shouts for help coming from the water.</p> <p>Passengers rushed to the ship’s balcony where they spotted an overcrowded dinghy, which was struggling to stay afloat.</p> <p>The cruise ship quickly came to a halt as they spent an hour trying to find the inflatable raft.</p> <p>A lifeboat was then sent to pick up the passengers, most of whom were men in their late teens. This heroic action took ten hours, as the cruise liner had to turn around to rescue those in the dinghy.</p> <p>One passenger, who did not want to give her name, said to<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7503963/British-passengers-P-O-cruise-tell-giant-ship-rescued-20-migrants-Spanish-coast.html" target="_blank">The Daily Mail</a></em>: “Once the migrants were on board we had to go back on ourselves to Almeria, which took up a lot of time.</p> <p>“The attitude of the passengers was quite mixed. Many were angry that we had been delayed and had to rescue these migrants. It was actually quite shocking what some people were saying.”</p> <p>The passenger added: “It's not what you expect to happen on a Mediterranean cruise, but these people were just floating in the middle of the sea and were clearly in distress. We couldn't just leave them.”</p> <p>Dorothy Hallet, 73, told<span> </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7503963/British-passengers-P-O-cruise-tell-giant-ship-rescued-20-migrants-Spanish-coast.html" target="_blank">MailOnline</a></em>: 'It was certainly quite an interesting experience.</p> <p>“On rushing towards the balcony, it was clear to see that in the water was an inflatable and overloaded dinghy.</p> <p>“The officers on the bridge were aware of the situation but it takes some considerable time to stop a large ship and then circle it around to find the small craft again.</p> <p>“The captain did an excellent job of manoeuvring the vessel.”</p> <p>After the migrants were brought on board the ship, an endeavour that took two hours, they were searched by the ship’s security staff.</p> <p>The captain then apologised for the delay, explaining that it was caused by “migrants in distress”.</p> <p>Once the passengers reached Almeria, the migrants were taken off the ship by the Spanish coastguard and were handed over to local police.</p> <p>Passengers also revealed that upon leaving the Azura, the migrants thanked them and the ship's officials for helping to save their lives.</p> <p>Mrs Hallet, from Hampshire, who was on the cruise with her husband, added: “It's been a great humanitarian operation by P&amp;O and they should be applauded for that. What happens next to those people will be down to the authorities.</p> <p>“No matter what people think regarding those who make the often foolhardy and hazardous journeys from North Africa towards the countries of southern Europe, when faced with the possibility of rescuing drowning people we are bound by the instincts of humanity to save them.'”</p>

Cruising