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Stuart – Holland America Line Mexican Riviera Cruise

I just returned from a 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise on Holland America from San Diego. And wow wow wow is all I can say.

Stuart Ingram

The 7 night itinerary has 3 days at sea and 3 days on land. Ports of call are Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas/Mataclan. All very different and interesting places to see.

A great way to start or end your cruise is a stay at the US Grand Hotel San Diego staying on our Signature rate exclusive to Destination HQ.

There was a really good mix of guests onboard. Lots of USA families. HAL cater really well for kids with CLUB HAL and the kids all seemed to have a blast.

What is there to like about HAL?

  • great mid size ships (15 in the fleet) ranging from 800 to 2300 passengers
  • largest balcony cabins in their class
  • superb food
  • faultless service 
  • 6 different dining options to chose from and none ever seemed too busy 
  • HAL have aligned themselves with some really cool brands such as Americas Test Kitchen, BBC Earth, Billboard records. Makes for a really fun cruising experience.
  • The show each evening was a countdown of the Billboard record charts.

I have to say HAL does cruising so much better than many of their competitors – they have been doing it for 145 years and it shows. Service throughout was just faultless. Crew are all Indonesian or Philippino and deliver first class service at all times. I thoroughly recommend this cruise to anyone. I just loved every minute of it.

Stuart Ingram

Managing Director Destination HQ

Stuart was the winner of the NTIA award for Best Travel Agency Manager in Australia in 2017. Stuart has vast industry experience having worked in the airline, wholesale and retail travel agency sectors of the industry. Stuart loves to travel and to share his excitement and passion for travel with anyone he meets. Having travelled to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, North America and throughout Australia/NZ, Stuart has a wealth of knowledge. His favourite destinations are London, Paris, San Francisco, New York City, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong and the Maldives. He has also cruised with Oceania, Viking, Uniworld, Avalon, Seabourn, Silversea, Holland America, Windstar and Celebrity Cruises – just to name a few!

Contact Stuart to book your next holiday stuart@destinationhq.com.au

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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Solo Travel HQ – For More Information On Voyages Of Discovery Cruising For Singles Contact Us Today 1300 783 840

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Small Group Touring HQ – Cruise To Antarctica For 11 Days From $14,421pp* Call today for more details 1300 783 840

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Stuart: Cruising in the Caribbean

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Cruising the Caribbean allows you to explore some of the most beautiful stretches of waters in the world, littered with stunning islands – from the Grand Caymans to Jamaica it is hard to imagine more idyllic tropical islands to cruise through.IMG_6206

Stuart is currently on Celebrity cruise lines Western Caribbean cruise – in seven nights you visit five countries without having to do a thing.

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How easy is that? And at that time you enjoy luxury five star accommodation, all inclusive modern cuisine and entertainment. Sound pretty fun doesn’t it? And with seven night cruises starting from just $999 per person you cannot get much better value for money either.

For more information give one of our travel experts a call on 1300 783 840.

Chelsea: Mekong Delta

I recently returned from a Mekong River journey from Phnom Penh, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on-board The Jahan. It was all about meeting and interacting with the local people and seeing how they live, while enjoying luxurious amenities on your small ship. I now believe that cruising the Mekong is a great, unique way to experience Vietnam & Cambodia. 

With just 26 spacious cabins, each with private balcony, it is like a boutique hotel on the water.  You never feel crowded and always are made to feel special by the outstanding staff on-board;  all staff are engaging, warm, friendly and really do make the experience a memorable one.  They go above and beyond and care about each guest’s time whilst you are a part of the Jahan family.
Our mornings would begin with a delicious breakfast, followed by a 2-3 hour excursion on land.  Mixing with the locals is fantastic as they are as curious about us, as we are of them!!  You have the chance to truly experience local village life whilst soaking in the smiles from the children, the local products, food and hospitality.  You then board the ship, prepare your stomach for lunch, and cruise further along the Mekong.  After lunch you again have a shore excursion which is always led by an experienced English speaking guide.  (HINT: Remember to book in a massage to relax your muscles before getting ready for an A La Carte dinner!)
Having previously travelled extensively within Asia, I found the river cruise to be such a unique way to get off the beaten track while enjoying luxury.  There is also an on-board pool, located on the top deck, which is great to relax in and watch the world float by!
Travel Indochina took care of our pre-cruise touring in Ho Chi Minh City, which is a vibrant and fast paced city;  a complete contrast to what you see along the Mekong!  Ho Chi Minh City is rapidly growing and is an easy city to spend a few nights in.  Crossing the road is interesting though……just keep going in a straight line and hope for the best!!
Our next stop was Cambodia;  there is a big contrast in culture between Cambodia and Vietnam, so it is a good idea to combine both countries if you have the time.  We were fortunate enough to stay at Raffles in Siem Reap and were able to soak up the old world charm from their glamorous rooms and white glove service.
Thanks must go to Travel Indochina for one of the highlights of our trip. Picking us up before sunrise from Raffles, they took us on a tuk-tuk ride to the Angkor Wat complex where we witnessed the colours change over the magnificent archaeological site.
It’s the people and culture which really leave an imprint on your experience.  Both Vietnam and Cambodia have such fascinating histories which the local people are happy to engage in their personal accounts with you.  The feeling of cruising along the Mekong is one that I highly recommend, and the ambiance on-board The Jahan makes it the perfect ship to choose.
Next cruise on my list is the Orient Express river cruise in Burma……..!!
Written by Chelsea Stanley, a member of our Mentone Team
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