Vanessa – Luxury Cruising with Ponant

Vanessa Whittaker

I travelled to Bergen, Norway to board Ponant’s brand new vessel MS Le Champlain.  It is the newest vessel for Ponant and is a small luxury ship up to 184 passengers.

I absolutely loved the ship! It was not over the top, just the right amount of relaxed luxury, with a Scandinavian feel.

The food was excellent, French influenced, but plenty of choice if you preferred something else.

“As the only French cruise company, Ponant is an ambassador of the ‘French Touch’ around the world. With French crew, discreet service, refined cuisine and partners with excellent track records, we do our utmost to maintain our unique cruising philosophy.” – Ponant

The facilities were first class, heated outdoor pool, gorgeous sauna, fitness centre, yacht spa.

“Le Champlain has many common areas that are designed and equipped to meet all of your needs while preserving the intimacy of each passenger.” – Ponant

They have the first submarine lounge in the world – the Blue Eye which is fabulous and a unique feature. The Blue Eye lounge has 2 giant windows for viewing marine life. Sounds of marine animals will come through into the lounge as well! How cool….

The highlights for me were the destinations themselves and the scenery along the way which was absolutely breathtaking. I had so many WOW moments. Geiranger and the Briksdal Glacier were absolutely incredible.

About Vanessa

I started my career in travel in 2001. Some of my favourites places visited are Vietnam, Cambodia, Fiji , Bali, and the Greek Islands. I spent my honeymoon travelling through Vietnam and loved Hoi An a charming little town with a relaxed atmosphere and fabulous food. With two young children we enjoy family holidays in particular Bali and Fiji for the great weather, family friendly resorts and convenience of being not too far away!

E-Mail:  vanessa@destinationhq.com.au

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Maldives: When to go

Located at the equator, Maldives has two monsoonal seasons, the dry season during northeast monsoon and wet season or southwest monsoon. Generally, the weather in Maldives is dry and temperatures remain the same throughout the year whether it’s wet or dry season. You can expect 23°Cs to 31°Cs all year long which makes it a great place to visit for anyone looking forward to warm and beautiful beach weather.

The islands experience an equal split of 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night all year. During the day, there is an average of 8 hours of bright sunshine; perfect for long days on the beach.

January-April Weather

During the early months of the year, you can expect fantastic hot temperatures in Maldives with clear blue skies and minimal rain making it one of the best times to visit the country. This is especially true if you are looking forward to snorkelling or diving because waters tend to be very calm during this time of year.

May-September Weather

During this time, weather in Maldives gets wet and humid as this is the monsoon season. But despite that, it is still considered to be a period to travel to the islands. Since the islands are low-lying, rain clouds usually blow over quickly and rainfall does not last long.

October-December Weather

Once October rolls in, hot and dry weather comes back in Maldives. You can expect long days of sunshine and high temperatures during this time. Because of this, the islands are popular holiday destination during Christmas.

Overall, weather in Maldives are in beach season all year round. Even during the monsoon or wet season, you can still get to enjoy warm days on the beach with minimal disturbance.

If you are planning a trip to Maldives, we can offer you great packages with our Maldives Travel Specialists that fit your taste.

Source: Maldives Travel Connections

Kate – France River Cruise with Scenic Gem

I really couldn’t fault Scenic on my luxury France River Cruise. The staff were so friendly and always available for guests needs. The ship is modern, stylish, with lots of blues and blacks throughout the main areas. 

Kate Traynor

The itinerary really gets you to see the heart of France. From the beautiful old cities, to the little towns with the cutest patisseries in places you didn’t even know existed!

Hotel Scribe by Sofitel

  • 1 night pre-cruise
  • 9th arrondissement on the Right Bank

This is the hotel that Scenic use if you stay before or after your France River Cruise. It’s a fabulous, very grand, hotel.  Great for shopping as Galeries Lafayette and the big designer stores are all close by the hotel. It’s a 7 minute walk to the Metro (Madeline area). There is a Hop on Hop off bus tour stop about a 3 minute walk away which was really convenient.

I was upgraded to the Luxury Club Room which had a gorgeous interior with beautiful views of the street, and noise wasn’t a problem at all. One of the other agents I was travelling with was lucky enough to get a view of the Eiffel Tower from his room.  I saw the standard room which was still nice just smaller and had a different outlook. The Luxury Club Room had a Separate Shower and bath, spacious hall and comfy king bed. Breakfast was delicious with lots of variety.

48 Hours in Paris

For my 2 days in Paris before the Cruise I did the Hop on Hop off bus tour which I always recommend to see a city when you first arrive. I also did the ‘Popular Sites of Paris’ Segway tour which, was so much fun! You have to have a sense of adventure for this one, as it did get scary when crossing the roads and intersections of the crazy roads in the city. I would highly recommend this though as it was a great day out!

Scenic Gem

Our itinerary was 5 nights (6 days) with 80 agents and 20 media staff onboard. It was a sample cruise of the Normandy & Gems of the Seine River which is 10 nights (11 days) cruise.

  • Built in 2014
  • 127 Guests
  • This ship was specifically built to fit through the locks in Honfluer France
  • It is currently the only River Ship that can go into this area of France

I really can’t fault Scenic on my River Cruise. Staff we so friendly and always available for all needs. Modern, stylish, with lots of blues and blacks throughout the main areas in the ship

Food was delish with so many options. Breakfast was buffet or a la carte. The buffet had so many options with a chef there to cook anything you want. Lunch, you could either eat at the buffet in the main dining room or a light lunch in the River Café. The river Café was my favourite as the buffet food had heavier food (for me) for lunch. Dinner in main dining room each night, with different sized tables. Dinner is a 4 course A La Carte meal with different menu options.

Scenic Gem has 2 speciality dining options. We got to experience the Chefs table which is 8 courses all matched with wines. This was a really fun night and would recommend booking this when you get on board.

Cabins on Scenic Gem

I was so lucky to have my own balcony cabin. I was on the Diamond deck which is a great deck to be on. Diamond Deck has extra inclusions like breakfast delivered in your cabin and complimentary laundry service. The 2 below decks don’t get these inclusions.  All room types have their own butler.

Standard Suite ~ It was really spacious as they have the extra space due to no balcony. This has a small window at water level

Private Balcony Suite ~ My cabin. I would recommend this with confidence. Great décor, big balcony with so much light, can open up the balcony sliding doors which instantly feels like you have much more space. The wardrobes are a good size and has lots of room under the bed for suitcases

Royal Suite ~ Same as the Balcony Suite except has a separate living area.

Royal Balcony Suite ~ There are two on board the Gem. At the rear of the ship. So much space! The suite has floor to ceiling windows with bed facing the window. They get all the same inclusions except they can host a cocktail event in their suite complimentary.

Itinerary

We got to visit some gorgeous French towns along the Seine. Scenic Free Choice options included walking tours of each town, bike rides where we got to visit Monet’s Garden and Monet’s House.  We also go to see a lot of castles. These are all half day morning tours, which gives you the option to come back to the boat for lunch and then have the afternoon at your leisure.

The main day tour of the cruise is the D Day Battle field sites at Normandy Beach. Some guests choose this cruise itinerary purely to do this day tour. It is a full day which starts at 8am and finishes at 6:30pm. Its a very emotional day but so worth it.

Disembarkment from ship at the end of the sailing is very easy for guests. Scenic arrange private transfers taking them either to the airport or hotels (conditions apply) to continue their holiday.

Getting There

I flew with Singapore Airlines in economy class, and had no problems with them. We checked in online prior and chose our seats which was great as I got to select an aisle seat (my preferance). The A380 from Singapore is an older aircraft which looks a bit tired, but the food & Entertainment was good!

Kate’s Travel Tips

  • My most memorable thing that I loved was Monet’s Garden and riding our bikes along the river.
  • My packing tip at that time of the year as it was cooler (October) was my Kathmandu Jacket, it kept me so warm. It was light and can easily be folded up in my suitcase so takes up little room.
  • I would recommend this itineary to someone who has done the Amsterdam – Budapest River Cruise and wants something different. This itinerary you really get to see all of France. To the beautiful old cities, to the little towns with the cutest patiseries in places you didn’t even know existed.

Contact:  kate@destinationhq.com.au

 

 

 

Kate & Sophie on Safari in Kenya

Sophie & Kate

We were able to experience a once in a lifetime Safari to Kenya with Wildlife Safari. We were amazed the whole way through at the incredible landscape, African hospitality and of course the chance to see the wildlife up close in their natural habitat. It was a luxury Safari from start to finish!

Our flight from Melbourne to Doha was upgraded to Business Class, and it certainly has the WOW factor!  We enjoyed all of the ammenities and the 14hr+ flight was made much more enjoyable by having a flat bed to sleep on.  If you get the chance, treat yourself to Business Class!

Wildlife Safari

We were met by a Wildlife Safari representative, making the entire arrival process easy and relaxed. He escorted us directly to our hotel. Our guide Anthony made our trip! He has worked in the industry for 38 years and still showed passion for the job, especially for the animals and explaining everything to us. He was wonderful.

  • 10/10 knowledge
  • Insider knowledge when and where the movements were happening
  • Anthony made our trip as we were able to get the most out of our experience

East Africa:

  • The best time to travel is May to October
  • Visa on arrival for Kenya for 50USD – very easy process
  • Currency – USD to Kenyan shillings

Sweetwaters Serena camp

Located on Ol Pejeta conservatory, Sweetwaters Camp has its own watering hole which encourages animals to come right up to the camp. Guaranteed sightings of some sort all day long.

  • Luxury tented accomodation
  • Pool
  • Full board package, food only
  • Good for families as double stories family tents are available
  • Game drives, morning and evening

httpss://youtu.be/FeXiUIZJ8SY

 

Lake Elementaita Serena Camp,  Soysambu Conservatory

Located on lake Elementatita, it is great for those especially interested in bird watching including flamingos and pelicans.

  • 20 tents, all the same and 1 suite, 2 guests per room
  • Rooms/tents were very spacious
  • Many activities, such as horse back riding, cooking classes, yoga, nature walks. These are at an extra cost.
  • Alacarte dining, 4 courses. Food was still basic
  • Service excellent
  • Wouldn’t recommend for families
  • Lots of beautiful greenery

&Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp – Rift Valley, Masai Mara

This luxury camp has the WOW factor. Spend at least 3 nights here to get the full experience of the camp and facilities with enough time for the game drives.

  • Luxury tents set amongst the Masai Mara and over looking the Game Reserve
  • Service, they know you by first name. You have the one person look after you from start to finish
  • High and low tents available
  • Stunning pool looking over the game park
  • All tents are modern, scandi deco

Nairobi, Raddison blue 

  • 20 mins from airport
  • Modern, 5 star
  • 2 restaurants
  • Greta pool/bar area
  • Can organise taxi service if you want to go out for a day

Wildlife Viewing

  • Masai Mara is where it is at!
  • Great migration happens Between may and October, this when to come
  • We saw 4 of the big 5 both viewing days, and we are out of season
  • November it rains every arvo for about 2 hours

Masa Mara Village

  • We went to a village, its cost 25USD pp. Unfortunately it’s was cut short due to poor weather
  • It’s good to mix up game drives with different activities as it is long days in the vehicle

Kate & Sophie’s Travel Tips

  1. Little notes for tipping. Everyone expects to be tipped. USD is fine
  2. Take snacks!! There are big days in the car between locations, plus game drives. So it’s vital to have snacks
  3. Pack layers
  4. Take your own binoculars
  5. Big SD card

Contact: sophie@destinationhq.com.au / kate@destinationhq.com.au 

 

 

Kirsty – Sri Lanka in Style

By Kirsty Hewitt

We started our journey on the new direct service with Sri Lankan Airlines.  On arrival into Colombo we were met by staff from The Silk Route Lounge for the VIP service and taken through customs.  We were taken to the lounge and given snacks and cups of tea.  Someone collected our bags for us and bought them to the lounge.  This service is about USD 50.00 per person. I changed some AUD money at the airport for Sri Lanka Rupees.

Our first night was at the Galle Face Hotel.  Beautiful old world hotel and I think the best breakfast I had in Sri Lanka.  They also have a small museum in the hotel with information about the hotels history and also who has stayed there over the years.  They even have Prince Philips little car he drove in Sri Lanka many years ago.

We then took a 7 – 8 hour drive from Colombo to Ceylon Tea Trails.  We did a lot of driving throughout our itinerary and I found this leg the longest.  I would highly suggest flying this sector as you can get a seaplane and it arrives just outside of the Tea Trails accommodation!  Amazing property.

“Admire workers in the tea fields and sample the fruits of their labours on an informative tea factory tour. Punt on a reservoir, have a dip in an ice-cold pool or savour High Tea atop manicured lawns before a languid game of croquet. At night, slumber under plush duvets and be awakened by a morning cup of bed tea or even earlier by the thought of an adrenaline-fuelled hike up nearby Adam’s Peak” – Divine Destinations

We then had 2 nights at the brand new West Coast Lodge, ‘Where the Indian Ocean meets the Jungle’.  Wild Coast Tented Lodge is adjacent to the world famous Yala National Park, renowned for its dense leopard population. This spectacular luxury tented camp is situated in a stunning location where the jungle meets a pristine beach, overlooking the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Again an amazing property and whilst at Yala we did 2 safaris.  It’s an early start getting up at 4.30am, but was worth it when we saw leopards, elephants, a bear, deer, snakes and much more.

Driving along from West Coast Tented Lodge to Weligama, you can notice the famous Stilt fishermen perched like curious- looking birds all the way towards the coast. We had a 2 night stay at Cape Weligama a stunning hotel on the coast only 2 hours from Colombo. Spacious rooms with views out to the ocean.  Even their smallest room is bigger than any other hotel in Weligama! A thirty-minute coastal drive leads to the massive granite ramparts of the 400-year-old Dutch colonial Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This amazing trip really was a once in a lifetime experience and something I will never forget.  And if you get the chance to visit this breathtaking country, you won’t regret it.

Travel Tips

  • Allow enough time at the airport for check-in.  Airlines open 3 hours prior to your flight, and by getting there early can save you time waiting in line
  • Get your Sri Lankan visa before departure
  • The Resplendent Ceylon Hotels in Sri Lanka are stunning

For more information on Kirsty’s trip to Sri Lanka, or to start planning your own holiday contact kirsty@destinationhq.com.au

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Loretta & Vanessa – Seabourn Encore Luxury Cruise

By Loretta and Vanessa

Vanessa and I enjoyed our ship inspection on Seabourn Encore while in Melbourne earlier this year.

Both of us were impressed with the lightness and decent size passageways throughout the ship. Seabourn have small ships and Seabourn Encore holds 600 passengers. Encore is one of the newest of the Seabourn family along with Seabourn Ovation.

Both ships offer 300 ultra-luxury all-verandah suites. All of the dining venues are complimentary, along with a range of entertainment and activities. There is also a self-service laundry on board.

Point of difference with this ship is ‘The Retreat’. The Retreat is centred around an elevated whirlpool surrounded by tables and chairs as well as comfortable sun loungers. Sixteen luxurious cabanas encircle the space.

These cabanas boast every comfort including artwork on the walls, a mini bar refrigerator and padded sun loungers. There’s even an enormous flat screen TV which you are able to watch with noise cancelling headphones so you won’t disturb your neighbours.

Guests gain access to Seabourn Encore ‘The Retreat’ by booking one of the cabanas. Included is all-day access, a selection of canapés and premium beverages and a plush Retreat bath robe – charges USD$249.00 on port days and US$349.00 on sea days.

Experience this and more on the luxurious all-suite Seabourn Encore. She offers the highest level of personalized service with nearly one staff member for each guest.

Loretta is a CLIA Ambassador Cruise Consultant. For more information on Seabourn or to book your next cruise holiday contact loretta@destinationhq.com.au or vanessa@destinationhq.com.au

 

 

Joel – The Best of Chile with Atacama, Patagonia & Chiloé Island

Chile is a fascinating and picturesque country, stretching 4,290km from Peru to Patagonia.  Highlights of my trip include the extraordinary Atacama Desert, the Lakes District and the glaciers and national parks of Patagonia. My itinerary was designed by South America Tourism Office, and their planning was excellent. I visited many of the fully inclusive luxury lodges that offer guests the best of all worlds; delicious local food and wine, boutique lodges, set in some incredible landscapes, with private guides.  The overall experience was tailored to make it the trip of a lifetime.

Reviewed by Joel Webb

~Getting There~

I flew with Lan Chile, and the customer service was excellent on the Long Haul flight from Auckland to Santiago.  Seating was of a good standard for Economy, and I had great leg room on the exit row and bulk head. Awesome movie selection and the food of a high standard for airline food.

Santiago Airport was a great learning curve! I recommend allowing at least 2 and a half hours for connections from International to Domestic terminal. Signage to Domestic Terminal is tricky so here is a trip when going through the airport:

  • Once you clear customs you will turn left and walk along untill you enter the arrivals hall
  • Turn Right and walk through glass doors
  • Then turn left and enter elevator and head up to level 3
  • Arrive at the Domestic Departure hall

~  Atacama ~

I flew from Santiago to Calama Airport and then had a 2 hour drive through the Atacama Desert.  My long travel day was a distant memory when I reached the most breath taking resort I have been to. Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa is a boutique hotel on the edge of San Pedro de Atacama. There are  32 rooms of which  2 rooms are set up for a family (or more than 2 guests)

Tierra Atacama Room & Views

The Rooms are awash with nude and cocoa tones, with large canopy beds facing the mountain range which allows the most beautiful view to start and end the day. The sleek, ensuite bathrooms have cool slate floors and frosted glass with both inside and outside showers. With a luxurious spa service and a swimming pool with a view to die for…. just relaxing alone here would have satisfied most.

Tierra Atacama Pool & Excursions

Once unpacked I was met by the Excursion Director who planned my daily program so I could make the most of my time in one of Earth’s most beautiful locations. I loved Atacama, and it had so many varied excursions. From Salt Flats, Moon Valley by car or bike, Puritama Hot Springs or El Tatio Geyers and many other walking and riding excursions to meet everyone’s level of fitness.

Excursions from Tierra Atacama

I would suggest a stay anywhere from 4-7 days at Atacama. With the Resort sitting at 2400M above sea level it is important to visit towards the end of your holiday in Chile.  Most of the excursions are 3000M and above sea level and is best to work up to the higher levels so you don’t get altitude sickness.

I Loved this Resort and area! Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • Full board: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, open bar
  • 2 daily half-day guided excursions OR full-day excursion daily
  • Use of pools, sauna & Jacuzzi

~  Chiloé Island ~

It is important to note, allow and be prepared for extra time on travelling days as the distances are great between destinations.  After flights, car, and ferry….I arrived at Tierra Chiloé which is nestled in the magical landscape of the Chiloé archipelago. The resort has only 12 rooms all with a sea view.

Fire Pit lounge & Room at Tierra Chiloe

Superior rooms are made from Chiloé Island wood and give s warm inviting feel. The rooms have large comfortable beds that face wide windows with views of the inland Pacific Ocean. Enjoy a deep soak bathtubs at the end of the day, which I could even fit in and I’m 6″3! I had 2 baths in 3 nights…it was awesome.  I also loved the unique touches that come with a boutique hotel such as hand-knitted slippers which you can take home with you.

Excursions from Tierra Chiloe

There is a lovely living room, hotel Spa, Steam room and Dry Sauna. But I really enjoyed the fireplace outside where guests can sit and talk over a drink at the end of the day.

With excursions such as Dolphin Watching and Island visiting, visiting Castro town, Market shopping and hiking through the Chiloé National Park; make visiting Chiloé definitely worthwhile. The highlight for me was visiting a local house for lunch, as I enjoyed chatting with them and gaining an insight into their everyday life.

Having lunch with a local family was a highlight

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Patagonia ~

We flew into Punta Arenas and then had a 4 hour scenic drive to the resort. And it sure was worth the drive as when you arrive at Tierra Patagonia and then walk down the corridor…..there is the WOW factor!  You look through huge glass windows out to the Torres del Paine Peaks and Lake.

Room & Hot tub with a view!

The Resort has 40 rooms which all view the Torres Del Paine and Lake, and I started my day sitting in my room with a coffee in hand watching the sun beam across the mountains. The Superior Rooms feature large beds and incredible views. Deep-soak bathtubs again which I used each night (don’t usually fit in baths so it’s quite a novelty for me!)

Again like Atacama and Chiloé once I unpacked I met the Excursion Director who planned my daily program to make the most of the time in this incredible part of Chile. Each day the drive is 60 – 90 minutes from the hotel to the National Park for trekking and Excursions.

Excursions from Tierra Patagonia

Excursions include trekking through the National Park to waterfalls, Twin Peaks, Blue Lagoon and Glaciers followed by Bike riding.  There are either half day or full day tours and just to finish the experience you can ride a horse through the fields or streams. Incredible.

I loved Patagonia the change between here and Atacama is so diverse.

Program Included:

  • Transfers
  • American breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Open Bar including mineral water, soft drink, juices, house wine and liquors.
  • Two half-day excursions or one full-day excursions daily in small groups with other guests
  • Use of Swimming Pool, Sauna & Jacuzzi

~ Santiago ~

Arriving back into Santiago, I stayed at Cumbres Lastarria which is located in a modern lively area of Santiago. It is a nice 4 star resort with excellent service and provided live entertainment on a Thursday to Sunday night. If you love to people watch than this hotel is for you, as sitting at the bar around 8pm the street comes to life with locals.

I loved my 12 days in Chile,  and saw some of the most beautiful sites in the world.

Joels Tips

  1. Don’t rush, allow plenty of time to experience each destination
  2. Plan your stay in Atacama towards the end of your trip
  3. Use a travel agent as the itinerary can be complex, but becomes seamless with an experience of our wholesalers like South America Tourism Office
  4. A stay at one of the ‘Tierra’ Hotels is a must, as the views are incredible

About Joel

I’ve been in travel for over 13 years, and I have travelled to many diverse destinations. From family trips to Bali and Thailand, to camping in South Africa, to staying in 6 star resorts in Dubai and Oman. I have toured across Europe, stayed at B&Bs throughout the UK, cruised up to Alaska and down through the Caribbean. I have seen the West Coast of Canada and America by Train, Car and plane and much of Asia.

To find out more about South America, contact joel@destinationhq.com.au 

httpss://youtu.be/fo3fpz5-VE4

httpss://youtu.be/XnW7xmev7mc

httpss://youtu.be/9IJy1U0Qjcc

Janelle – The Strand Cruise Myanmar

I was very spoilt on this AMAZING trip to Myanmar. The Strand Cruise and the Strand Hotel Yangon are stunning!!

~ Getting there ~

Reviewed by Janelle King

We travelled with Thai Airways in Business Class on the way over and Economy Class on the way back.  The service was really good, and the food was great too.  It was the best way to start the journey with access to the THAI Business Class Lounge before stretching out in my luxurious seat.

In economy the seats were comfy and had a good selection of entertainment, along with the friendly THAI service.

The domestic flight in Myanmar was a new experience! At the check in for domestic flights they don’t use computers.  You are given colour coded stickers that relate to your flight!!  It was also my first time on a propeller aircraft.

~ The Strand Cruise ~

The Strand Cruise ~ WOW ~  We were met at the airport and transferred to the ship by The Strand, which was the beginning of an amazing experience.  As you board the ship you are given cold towels and they take your shoes which was a nice touch.  They do this every time you board and the ship stays immaculate!

My cabin (101) was a the back corner of the ship,  so was a bit larger than the others.  I would recommend it to anyone.   Inside the cabins the beds and pillows are heaven.  Big sliding doors to enjoy the view and scenery passing you by!

There are 26 cabins on board,  so usually around 50 passengers,  with just as many staff.  The staff are wonderful and all the leaders are French.

The Strand Cruise offers three or four night voyages on Myanmar’s the Ayeyarwady River between the ancient cities of Bagan and Mandalay, offering passengers an in-depth immersion into the wonders and sights of this wonderful country. The daily menu of on shore excursions provides a full and comprehensive tour in small groups with expert local guides that detail the history and significance of all sites visited

My Cabin onboard The Strand

The ship has a pool which is nice and refreshing,  a great way to relax after a day of sightseeing.  The upper deck is a lovely area of the ship and also the best place for wifi. There is a beautiful air-conditioned bar and restaurant and the food is amazing.  I wasn’t ever hungry and  basically went from one meal to another!! A true foodies heaven!

Modern style décor, except for the bar which was an English library décor old world charm.  There were only 16 guests on our ship with a range of demographics so we had a mum and 30ish daughter, a 40ish couple from Singapore, an English couple in their 70’s with a solo travelling friend and 3 French women in their late 40’s so quite a mix.

Cruising isn’t allowed at night,  so they anchor somewhere quiet every night.

Relaxing Poolside

~ Life onboard ~

Day trips from the ship include a horse and cart ride through the temples and monasteries.  Bagan is gorgeous, a real highlight for me.  When you see photos of Myanmar of hot air balloons over temples,  this is where it is.  I am not usually a temple person but you can’t help it find them beautiful. Sightseeing is included along with:

  • Three meals during full sailing days, breakfast on day of disembarkation
  • All sightseeing as stated in set itineraries
  • Soft drinks & local beer. House wine during meals
  • Wi-Fi

Swedagon Pagoda – Touring from The Strand – Yangon Sightseeing

~ Yangon ~

Yangon reminded me of Kuala Lumpur with lots of gardens and lakes.  We had a chance to walk around the colonial quarter which shows their French influence, and The Strand Hotel is here.

Strand Hotel Yangon just completed a massive renovation and it looks stunning.  Old world charm and just beautiful.  Large rooms with high ceilings.  Next to the Australian Embassy if anyone has any problems. You can walk out the door to markets.  Highly recommend.

The Strand, Yangon

~ Bangkok ~

I wasn’t a big fan before,  but it has really developed since I last visited.  We did a tour which consisted of a river cruise,  but then went up through the canals which was really interesting and unexpected.  Both wealthy and not wealthy living side by side.  Then we had a tuk tuk ride to a hotel on the river for lunch.  Bit of fun.

Bangkok Hotel ~ Anantara Siam

I had always preferred the river area,  but I really found the Siam area great.  You can walk to Central Shopping Centre, and it has a Sky Train stop out the front. It is a lovely hotel and the rooms large and luxurious.  They also provide a smart phone for everyone to use in Bangkok.  Pool was lush and tropical even in torrential downpours.  Aqua restaurant for breakfast has indoor or outdoor seating.  It is very popular for after dinner drinks with the locals and expats.  We had our last dinner in the Spice Market and they bought up a course from each of the restaurants in the hotel.  Food was excellent.  You wouldn’t even need to leave the hotel if you didn’t want to!

Bangkok Hotel ~ St Regis Bangkok

This was the bees knees for me.  Next door to the Anantara Siam.  Gorgeous.  The lobby smells so good.   They have their own scent which you can buy!!!  Rooms lovely like the Anantara next door,  but their added touch was the St Regis Butler Service which can be contacted via the WhatsApp.  They can be reached at anytime if you have a question.  If you are lost they can get you back to the hotel,  if you don’t know how much to pay for something,  take a photo and they will let you know.  Very cool.

The bar overlooks a golf course which is a very relaxing way of winding down at the end of the day.

Anantara Siam, Bangkok

Travel Tips

  • The visa for Myanmar is super easy.  USD50 and the link is: www.evisa.moip.gov.mm Upload a photo and they send a confirmation letter within 48 hours.
  • Book Early! The best hotels and cruises like The Strand sell out so it’s best to plan in advance

About Janelle

My love for travel developed from spending my childhood years growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore – my Dad was based there as a pilot. I’ve travelled extensively through Europe and more recently through Asia with my young family. A family highlight was America to include Disneyworld and New York. My favourite cities are New York, Prague & Paris. Aside from America, my most amazing trips have been on safari in Kenya and visiting the amazing palaces in Russia. My bucket list would be The Kimberley & Patagonia in Chile.

To find out more contact janelle@destinationhq.com.au

httpss://youtu.be/-DhctsGAq20

httpss://youtu.be/bhfyQv1mUpE

Loretta – Singapore

Loretta Abernethy

Singapore is great for a holiday or a stopover destination.  There is something to keep everyone happy – from tours to adventures to culinary delights! Or unwind with a cool dip in your hotel pool.

I flew with Qantas on the A330.  They delivered good service in Economy.

We were met by Tour East on arrival, who provided our transfers from the airport to hotel.  I was impressed with how well they provided their transfer service with great personality and customer focus.

Day Tours with Qantas Holidays

  • Aquarium 
  • Universal Studios
  • Gardens on The Bay
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Cable Car to Sentosa Island

Day Tours

A highlight for me was Sentosa Island.  It has a lot to offer families, with a range of activities.  I even did a Segway tour around the island! The beaches were nice, and I enjoyed lunch at The Beach Bar.  You can stay on Sentosa Island to make the most of your time enjoying all that is on offer.  AJ Hackett has also just opened up a Bungee Jump for those who want an extreme adventure!

I stayed at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, which is a 5 star hotel in the heart of Orchard Road.  It’s very lush and green with very nice gardens.  And it is so close to all of the best shopping!  I highly recommend spoiling yourself next time you are in Singapore with a stay here.

Shangri-La’s Hotel Singapore

There are so many great places to eat! We went to Little India, China Town, Robinson Quay just to name a few.  But you can’t go past the signature Singapore seafood dish – Singapore Chilli Crab!  Delicious.

Out and about in Singapore

About Loretta

I started my travel career in 2004 after moving to Melbourne from Christchurch. I’ve travelled the globe and my favourite destinations include Europe and Asia. For more information on Singapore as a stopover or holiday destination contact loretta@destinationhq.com.au 

httpss://youtu.be/1cDMxDBjLfw

httpss://youtu.be/EClVy6sMBhY