Travel News

Jewels of the Cyclades

An exciting voyage of discovery, unraveling the wonder of the Aegean Islands (vid)

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Jewels of the Cyclades

Don’t miss…

  • Tiny Greek islands you’ve probably never heard of
  • The famous volcanic island of Santorini
  • Learning to dance the Greek way
  • Delos – birthplace of Apollo
  • The unchanged authenticity of Syros
  • Mykonos – party central!
  • The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion

Ports of call include: Athens – Poros – Poliegos – Folegandros – Santorini- Antiparos – Paros – Delos – Mykonos – Syros – Kythnos – Cape Sounion – Athens.

Jewels of the Cyclades

Ports of call: Athens – Poros – Poliegos/Kimolos – Folegandros – Santorini – Antiparos – Paros – Delos – Mykonos – Syros – Kythnos – Marina Zea (Athens)

The Canary Islands Discovery Cruise

The Culture of the Canary Islands – forget the package image and enjoy the quality with our Boutique Cruise

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The Canary Islands, put on the ocean-going traveller’s map by a certain C. Columbus in 1492, have sadly become somewhat besmirched by the image of package tourism. But the fact is that this group of volcanic islands, situated in the warm waters of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, is every bit as rewarding to cruise as Greece or the Caribbean.

So the first thing is we promise we’ll give a big swerve to any of the ‘bucket and spade’ resorts beloved by the young crowd. Actually most of them don’t have much of a harbour even for the small luxury Mega Yachts like the stunning 25 cabin Harmony G.

There really is a lot to learn and enjoy about this Spanish archipelago 100kms off from Morocco with a wonderful sub-tropical climate that makes it the ideal choice for short-haul winter cruising – winter temperatures average the low 20s centigrade.

Little known facts include the geological anomaly that Mount Teide, the volcano that dominates Tenerife, is the world’s third largest volcano when measured from its base on the ocean floor. And that on the almost unknown and little visited island of La Gomera the locals still communicate using a bizarre whistling language.

There’s a heap of history here since the Portuguese tried to colonise the islands in 1336. The famous Prince ‘Henry the Navigator’ became Lord of Lanzarote in 1448. Later the islands became part of the Kingdom of Castile. It’s a chequered history – the Dutch laid a claim, the Ottomans had a go, Algerian pirates took slaves, and even Nelson was here attacking Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

For many years the islands were huge suppliers of sugar cane. At the beginning of the 20th century bananas were introduced as a cash crop by, amongst others, Fyffes. In 1936 Francisco Franco (later to become Generalissimo Franco) was appointed General Commandant, joining the military revolt of July 17th which began the Spanish Civil War.

So there is no small amount of history in these warm waters. More to the point there is some incredible beauty and most of it, certainly out of the main resorts, is still totally unspoiled.

We’d love to show you Mount Teide and one of the biggest volcanic craters in the world at Ucanca Valley on Tenerife. We’ll also show you Taburiente National Park on La Palma, the Garajonay National Park on La Gomera and Timanfaya National Park amongst the volcanos on Lanzarote where the visit inckudes the salt mines and the lava coast.

La Laguna on Tenerife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a town hall dating back to 1546. Betacuna on Fuerteventura is the ancient capital of the Aboriginal Kingdom of the Canaries where we’ll share with you the islanders’ passion for goats and the secrets of their Majorero cheeses. We’ll then visit the Aloe Vera farm and talk about its health benefits.

We currently have an early bookimg offer saving you 10% on the cruise proce for Winter 2017-18 cruises. What’s more, early bookers always receive the b est cabins, so don’t hang about – it you’re looking for a winter cruise this is a real delight.

Sights and Sounds of Cuba

Cuba? Get there before the Americans do!

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Fair play to President Obama, and the spirit of Caribbean glasnost, in re-opening the US Embassy in Cuba. We’re not in the least political but, in many respects, we reckon it’s about time they reconnected. After all, back in the day Havana was a playground for Americans, and it seems unfair to deny US citizens the opportunity to go somewhere so stunning, different, and virtually on their doorstep.

Increasingly Cuba has been growing in stature as a holiday destination for Europeans. If you’ve been lucky enough to go, or even know somebody who has, you know at first (or second) hand it many and varied delights – in particular its unspoiled charms.

Sights and Sounds of Cuba

However the fact is , with all due respect to Uncle Sam, that there is a risk that over the coming years the island might just turn into a bit of a theme park. Now a jolly good theme park it would be, and well worth a visit. But in reality you can’t help but think it might be better to go and see it in its natural state first.

That means there is no better time to go than this winter. In which case the great news is that Seafarer are able to offer you a New Year multiplicity of absolutely wonderful cruising there.

Top of the agenda is a host of departures on the stunning Panorama – a state of the art sail cruiser that has sailed from the Seychelles to Monte Carlo, from the Black Sea to Tunis, has logged several Atlantic Ocean crossings, and offers the highest standard of accommodation. You have a choice of 16 cruises of 7 nights’ duration. She is a truly magnificent craft and this is gobsmackingly wonderful sailing.

Picture from the side of the Panorama sailing

Panorama isn’t a big ship – she only has 25 cabins and takes a maximum of 54 passengers. However if you want to get really close-up and personal with Cuba we have a round the year programme of catamaran cruises on offer from Dream Yachts. It’s a different style of off-the-beaten-track cruising and equally wonderful.

Alternatively, if you really want to ramp it up a couple of notches and go Tall Ship cruising, we have a December, Christmas and New Year programme on the Star Flyer – a four-master that rigs up to 21 sails before the wind. Jack Sparrow eat your heart out, this is as good as it gets and it’s impressive all round with up to 170 passengers looked after by 72 crew and all mod cons.

Star Flyer Tall Ship Cruise Vessel

Of course it’s not just the cruising. Whichever cruise you choose there are daily stops to see the living and breathing history of this fabulous island. So fabulous that it will start to attract much more attention now American tourists can travel again. We’re not saying that they’ll spoil it – all we’re suggesting is that you should go now!

Greek tourism continues to flourish despite debt crisis. Image credit: Thinkstock

Greek tourism continues to flourish despite debt crisis

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With a great media furore surrounding Greece’s current economic situation, it is almost impossible to mention the country in any capacity without touching on the situation – tourism is no exception.

Yet despite the newly-formed Syriza government’s strained relationship with Germany and the EU, Greece’s buoyant tourism industry continues to flourish and is likely to do so throughout 2015, whatever the outcome of negotiations regarding the country’s debt that are presently ongoing.

Christina Kalogera, director of the Greek National Tourism Organization's UK arm, recently told CNBC: "We are very optimistic that 2015 will be another successful year for Greek tourism as the hotel, restaurant, and bar scene is booming and we are seeing young entrepreneurs getting more actively involved with the tourism sector.

"There are new innovative products provided by hotels and multiple new restaurants and bars opening especially in Athens and Thessaloniki, so with the euro also at an 11-year low this is definitely the ideal time to visit Greece."

While it’s only natural for words like “crisis” and “uncertainty” to create some feelings of apprehension, in reality, tourism in Greece is under no real threat; one could even argue that now is as good a time as any to visit this remarkable Mediterranean nation.

Here are some of the best reasons why you should consider a trip to Greece this year.

Excellent value for money

In the early stages of 2015, the sliding value of the euro has meant that places like Greece offer tremendous value for money for British travellers due to the strength of the pound. In fact, the exchange rate between the two currencies is currently at its best rate in years.

Many believe that if Greece does leave the euro, it would depreciate further; an event that would certainly benefit British holidaymakers. Likewise, a return to the Drachma would not affect UK tourism and, if anything, would offer further value for money. In fact, the deflation of the euro has in some cases led to restaurants and hotels dropping prices further to attract tourists.

In an Independent Inside Travel Q&A, Simon Calder, a well-known travel journalist and broadcaster, said that he believes that even if the country does abandon the euro, many hotels will still quote rates and accept payment in euros in order to accommodate for visitors from the Eurozone. Although this is only speculation, it’s a likely outcome given the strength of the tourism sector and its importance to the country.

What’s more, while prices in the country have continued to fall, the quality of Greek services has risen in order to support the lucrative tourism industry that was worth 28.3 billion euros to the Greek economy last year.

Famous hospitality still evident

The Greek population has suffered through years of stringent austerity and is still facing an uncertain financial future; however, this has done nothing to take away from this friendly peoples’ famous hospitality and welcoming nature.

Tourism in Greece accounts for 19 per cent of the country’s total GDP as well as some 657,000 jobs. While other sectors could suffer from a move away from Europe, the tourism industry could well grow, and this will be something the government and the people who work in the area will be keen to maintain.

Indeed, so many people in Greece depend upon foreign tourists for their livelihood and so any travellers visiting the country can expect to receive the usual friendly welcome that the nation is renowned for. This is especially true in the Greek islands where tourism is particularly important to the locals’ way of life. 

The government has changed, not the country

Greece is still the same stunning holiday destination it has always been, and no level of debt will change this. From the temperate, crystal-clear waters of the Ionian islands to the rich history of the Aegean coastline, the country continues to offer the chance to experience remarkable diversity, a vibrant culture and sensational scenery, but now at much better value.

Don’t let the headlines put you off your chance to experience the beauty of Greece firsthand in 2015.

Greece appeals to LGBT travellers

Greece appeals to LGBT travellers

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Greece, and Athens in particular, have been named preferred destinations for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender holidaymakers, who said that they feel completely comfortable travelling the nation with their spouse or partner.

This is according to research released earlier this week (November 5th) by the leading global travel networking association Out Now Business Class (ONBC) at the World Travel Market in London.

The ranking placed Greece ninth on a list of the top ten leading country destinations, and Athens ninth on a list of the top ten European city destinations for 2015.

America, France and Australia topped the list, while Amsterdam, London and Paris were the preferred cities.

Chief executive of Out Now Global, Ian Johnson, commended all countries and cities that had been named as part of the survey.

"The number one motivating factor for consumers is needing to know before they go that they can relax and be comfortable being themselves on holidays," he said.

"Nobody wants to worry that the staff that serve them in a location might be uncomfortable with their sexual orientation or gender identity. People would prefer to stay elsewhere."

According to the World Tourism Organization, the LGBT consumer takes an average four trips a year, the majority in the mid-range, immediately followed by luxury class.

The research highlighted the fact that LGBT tourism has bloomed into an increasingly competitive international market, estimated at more than $200 billion in annual spending.

Seafarer welcomes holidaymakers from all walks of life, and invites everyone to come and explore the rugged coastline of the Greek Islands on one of our fascinating and relaxing cruises.

Maldives witnesses 11% rise in tourists

Maldives witnesses 11% rise in tourists

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Tourism figures in the Maldives are continuing to rise as more and more people see the appeal of this stunning collection of islands. White sandy beaches, beautiful natural vistas and glorious seascapes have been held responsible for pulling in 11.8 per cent more tourists between January and July 2014 than the same period last year.

According to figures released by the local Tourism Ministry, 701,704 international holidaymakers sought a good time in the archipelago during 2014, in comparison to just 626,639 during the first seven months of 2013.

Dramatic increases were observed across all groups of tourists, including a 27.7 per cent jump from those originating from Western countries.

Tourists from the Middle East rose by 20.7 per cent while visitors from the Asia Pacific area soared by 21.9 per cent, buoyed particularly by holidaymakers from China. Indeed, Chinese holidaymakers increased by 19.8 per cent, with more than 214,518 tourists originating from the nation alone.

UK tourists have also expressed greater interest in the Maldives, with a modest 3.4 per cent rise in the figures. German visitors, meanwhile, rose by 2.5 per cent and even Italy – the oldest holiday market of the Maldives – saw a 2.3 per cent uptick.

The news will no doubt be welcomed by the government, which had previously responded positively to a survey released by the Maldives Monetary Authority at the end of August that indicated an increase in tourism.

Those wondering what all the fuss is about are advised to consider a trip to the Maldives to find out for themselves. Aboard Seafarer's comfortable catamarans, you can be sure of exploring every nook and cranny of this stunning archipelago. 

While 11 per cent is a significant increase, it's worth noting that the beaches, forests and general landscapes of the Maldives remain as stunning as ever.

Maldives continues to impress visitors

Maldives continues to impress visitors

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The Maldives has once again received considerable acclaim for its tourist opportunities, with the archipelago being voted top of the Conde Nast Traveller Magazine's official favourite destinations list.

This ranking, compiled by the mass media company, is particularly impressive since it is voted by readers of the magazine. Voters opted for the stunning destination above all others, bumping last year's favourite the Balearic Islands into fifth place.

Writers of Conde Nast speculated that the 26 atolls that comprise the Maldives succeeded in clinching the top spot largely due to their subtly different characters – something that allows for plenty of variety on a beach holiday.

Indeed, it's been good news for a variety of Seafarer destinations, with the ever popular Greek Islands coming in at second place on the prestigious ranking. Sicily also proved it still has what it takes to bring in the luxury holidaymakers, with readers placing it third, and the Seychelles scored the sixth spot. Malta also squeezed into the top ten.

Destinations were ranked according to six criteria, including the quality of the beaches, how stunning the scenery is, value for money, cuisine, places to stay and the spirit of the local people.

Associate editor of Conde Nast Peter Browne commented that while the archipelago attained a strong overall score, reviewers had cited one aspect of the country in particular; namely, its stunning coastlines.

"The Maldives came out first thanks to high scores across the board, but most notably for its white-sand beaches," he confirmed.

"Closer to home, the Greek Islands, which have come in the top ten for a decade or more, are in part so popular because our readers love open-hearted Greek hospitality."

Whichever of these destinations you're seeking to experience, Seafarer can offer an intimate itinerary or a mega-yacht cruise that allows access to all the best-known holiday hotspots, plus a number of hidden gems inaccessible to those large-scale cruise vessels.

Seychelles promotes beach attractions for tourists

Seychelles promotes beach attractions for tourists

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Tourists have long visited the Seychelles in anticipation of witnessing unspoilt beauty and incredible nature. But now, they could be set to add culinary delights and unique Seychelles culture to the list, following new efforts from the country's tourism and culture minister Alain St Ange.

During an interview with Weekend Business, Mr St Ange identified several key areas that he is working to improve upon in order to bring more people to the beautiful shores. According to him, beachside markets and carnivals could allow the Seychelles to bring in more tourists than ever before.

Mr St Ange cited a recent celebration – the Praslin Culinary & Arts Fiesta that was held during the first week of September – declaring it to be highly successful in promoting traditional Seychellois culture and attracting many international visitors.

"The fiesta that was held over three days last week has seen the unconditional support of many tourism establishments, and some hoteliers and restaurateurs have gone the extra mile in creating a festive mood with a Seychellois Creole flavour at their own properties," he said.

"The Praslin Culinary and Arts Fiesta was aimed at bringing out the best in our unique culture and this has been achieved."

According to Mr St Ange, more events that capitalise on the unique selling point of various islands within the country could prove equally successful in introducing Seychellois culture to holidaymakers – something that we highly approve of here at Seafarer.

There is plenty of opportunity to get to grips with the destination, with centuries-old rainforests, isolated villages and underwater paradises to explore on our Seychelles Cruise in the Garden of Eden itinerary.

Take advantage of our seven-night Cruises Summer 2015 Early Booking Discount and give yourself something to look forward to.

Call to preserve Costa Rica crocs

Call to preserve Costa Rica crocs

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Crocodiles in Costa Rica are becoming a major tourist attraction thanks to their immense size and the fact they are easy to observe. The beasties are proving very popular, with visitors going out of their way to find places to watch them from.

However, experts at the Crocodile Conservation Commission are calling on tourists to exercise caution, as their behaviours might have a negative impact on the creatures and their habitat.

According to the organisation, it is becoming a popular pastime to approach the crocodiles while they are sunning themselves on the beach near the Tarcoles River. This particular stretch of water is renowned for being home to a lot of the animals, and there are even tours that allow and encourage foreign visitors to feed them with their own hands.

Such behaviour is extremely dangerous not just to the people offering food but also to the crocodiles themselves, who may well be driven away from their homes by an influx of visitors bothering them.

"Crocodiles are naturally aggressive and attack to defend their territory," crocodile researcher Ivan Sandoval said, adding that the CCC had calculated that there were 9.22 of the reptiles per linear kilometer of the Tarcoles River. 

If you are travelling to another part of the world, it is very important to consider the people and animals that you are sharing the country with, even if you are on holiday.

Travelling with Seafarer, you have the advantage of knowing that your holiday will not ruin the destination for anyone, as we consider responsible travel to be a major priority. Our vessels are fitted with the latest technology to avoid polluting the sea with waste, while the smaller size of the ships ensures the environmental and social impact upon our destinations is kept to a minimum.

Arts and culture fair helps Seychelles tourism

Arts and culture fair helps Seychelles tourism

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Creative artists originating from the Seychelles got together yesterday (August 10th) for a prominent arts and crafts fair that is gaining momentum and becoming extremely popular with tourists from the area.

Taking place on the beautiful Port Launay Beach, the event was held following the success of its previous incarnation which happened earlier this year on May 31st.

Initially set up by the Pro Art Association in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and its National Arts Council, the event was established with a view to giving local artists a platform upon which they can showcase their work to an international audience.

However, following its success with foreign visitors, the minister responsible for tourism and culture Alain St Ange has confirmed he would like to make it the centrepiece of a new touristic drive for the country.

As well as featuring hand-painted arts and crafts, the festival features live music from the likes of well-known and much-loved singers, such as Claude Rene, Serge Oreddy, Donatien Madeleine, Collin Athanasius and George Agripine. These names were among those who took to the stage last night in recognition of the event.

“Today we see culture and talent through the creative artists and supported by the Performing Artists taking its place as the center display of our tourism industry,” Mr St Ange said.

“Yes, we have the best of sun, sea, and sand holidays, but that is just not enough anymore. We needed more, so we launched the concept that tourism for Seychelles is now culture and experience.”

Those wishing to experience more of this incredible country than just its lovely beaches and charismatic landscape can do so on a Seafarer Cruise. Our itineraries always allow for exploration of the local culture, whether that takes the form of seeking out local wildlife or visiting the island community of La Digue on the Sister Islands.

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