Cruise ‘megaliner’ to call Australia home

Cruise ‘megaliner’ to call Australia home

By Matt Tewhatu

Royal Caribbean International’s new “quantum class” cruise ship is set to become the biggest liner to call Australia home after announcing that it will make Sydney its home port to cater for increasing demand in 2016 and yet another option for visitors on personalised Australia holidays.

The company behind such cruise megaliners like the Anthem of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas will unveil its new megaliner just in time for the 2016 peak summer season.

Ovation of the Seas is currently under construction in Germany boasting the capacity to carry over 5000 guests and 1500 staff. The US$1 billion luxury cruise liner will debut in Australia in December 2016 and according to Royal Caribbean International will be the most technologically advanced ship to ever be based in Australia.

Among the services it will offer onboard is Ripcord by iFLY which is a skydiving simulator and the opportunity to experience Jamie Oliver’s dining experience “Jamie’s Italian”. It will also offer a robotically tendered bionic bar, an observatory that offers 360 degree views and the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea.

Royal Caribbean’s Asia Pacific Regional Vice President Gavin Smith said the cruise line wanted to offer Australia the opportunity to experience luxury normally only seen abroad.

“We believe that Australians shouldn’t need to travel overseas to experience the kind of cruise holiday we stand for; the most innovative and amazing ships anywhere in the world are available right here on your doorstep,” he said.

The first voyage is expected to depart Sydney’s shores in December 2016 with Ovation of the Shores the fifth ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet for the 2016/2017 peak season.

Making the most of Australia’s Northern Rivers

By Georgina Hughes

Making the most of Australia’s Northern RiversLocated within easy reach of Sydney and Brisbane, Northern Rivers is a hidden paradise in New South Wales. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the well-trodden East Coast tourist path, this area of stunning natural beauty offers everything from sweeping, unspoiled beaches and picturesque craft markets to mountain treks and river cruises.


If you’re searching for a perfect addition to your tailor-made Australia holiday itinerary or if you’re eager to experience a bit of peace and quiet and enjoy authentic Australian culture, look no further than the Northern Rivers.


Experiencing the Northern Rivers: How to spend your time


There’s so much to do and see in Australia and this makes planning essential; if you’re visiting the Northern Rivers here is a sample itinerary, which will help to ensure you make the most of your time:


Day.1: get up bright and early and make your way to Wollumbin-Mount Warning National Park; pack layers, sturdy shoes and your camera and get ready to be amazed at the views and incredible landscapes. If you’re feeling adventurous or energetic, the view of sunrise from the peak will provide a just reward for your exertions.


You can choose to take a tour or go on a self-guided hike. If you choose the hiking option, watch out for the diverse wildlife and an array of flora. This area is extremely important to the indigenous Bundjalung people, so watch out for advisory signs and warnings. This is the first part of the Australian mainland to be illuminated by the sun each day.


Day.2: visit the charming coastal town of Yamba, wonder around the shops and galleries at your leisure and head to the beach to catch some rays before embarking on a river cruise up the Clarence River. In the evening, sample delightful fresh seafood dishes and enjoy the sea air at one of Yamba’s many sophisticated restaurants.


Day.3: journey north along the coastal road and climb aboard your whale and dolphin watching boat. Keep your fingers crossed, your eyes peeled and your camera at the ready and hopefully you’ll be able to watch these majestic creatures swimming around in the wild.


Day 4: if you’re looking to try new things that gets your adrenalin pumping, why not try your hand at surfing and book a lesson at Tweed Heads? After a day at the beach and an evening fishing trip, enjoy a drink and a dance at one of the region’s lively pubs.

A guide to whale watching in Queensland

A guide to whale watching in Queensland

By Matt Tewhatu

With the sun and the surf as well as the outback in its interior, Queensland already offers visitors a plethora of options on their personalised Australia holiday. Due to its location, Queensland also offers visitors a number of spots to observe whales as they move up and down Australia’s east coast.

The temperature of the water during certain times of the year makes the Queensland coast a migratory motorway of whale activity. So we’ve identified a number of prime scenic spots to enjoy observing whales in their natural environment

Moreton Bay

It’s vicinity to Queensland’s capital city makes Moreton Bay a popular spot for visitors looking to get off the beaten track but not away from civilisation. North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island are the second and third largest sand islands in the world respectively and are both just a 40 minute ferry ride off Brisbane’s bayside. Both islands are accessible by car and also possess some of the finest beaches in the world. Point Lookout on North Stradbroke’s eastern side as well as Moreton Island’s eastern beach make for ideal whale watching spots with very high chances of seeing whales between the months of June and October.

Hervey Bay

Situated a three hour drive north from Brisbane, Hervey Bay is a destination famous for its whale watching boat excursions and its proximity to the extremely popular Fraser Island. Choose from a range of different day tours with a number of different tour operators in the area. Tours start in late July through until November.

 The Whitsundays

On top of scenic golden beaches, the Whitsundays region as another string to its bow by offering visitors the opportunity to do some whale watching. While there is currently no formal whale watching tours in the area, whale sightings are a free bonus inclusion on most tours as during the right time of year, there are almost daily sightings of whales in the region.

Humpback and Pilot Whales are the most common species sighted with Migaloo (a rare white humpback whale) a frequent visitor in the past few years.

Gold Coast

True to its nature as an all-encompassing tourist destination, there are a number of operators that conduct daily whale watching tours on the Gold Coast. As it is quite a long season (with whales romping up and down the coast between June and November), there is a great chance that you will get to observe whales in their natural environment. Some operators on the Gold Coast even give you a 100% guarantee to see whales or your money back.

Five of the best attractions to sample in Melbourne

Five of the best attractions to sample in Melbourne

By Taylor Williams

Popularly referred to in many quarters as Australia’s second city, it’s rather unfair to speak of Melbourne in any inferior sense; that is when the metropolis’ multitude of tourist attractions are brought into focus.

Renowned worldwide as a truly global city which annually hosts famous international sporting spectacles such as the Australian Open in tennis and Australian Grand Prix in Formula One, when enjoying the region on personalised Australia holidays, the next tourist attraction is never too far away. Continue reading

Digital departure cards on the horizon in Brisbane

Digital departure cards on the horizon in Brisbane

By Matt Tewhatu

In a world first, Brisbane International Airport is trialling a new state-of-the-art efficient digital departure card for international passengers making for an innovative tool to use on personalised Australia holidays.

Removing the old-age process of filling out the official ‘outgoing departure card’ by hand and giving it to the flight attendant, Brisbane International Airport has begun the trial of digital departure cards which will be reduced to a QR code condensing all your personal information entered into digital kiosks located in the departure terminal.

The digital departure card has been developed in house with support from a number of the airports’ partners and works in conjunction with the Brisbane International Airport mobile app. The app gives the passenger the ability to enter information into the mobile app to be then saved and used just after checking in when departing the country.

The mobile app also allows passengers to store personal information (in the way of profiles) as well as family information (with consent) in order to streamline the departure process while saving the hassle of getting each individual to manually fill in a departure card.

CEO and Managing Director of Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) says that the corporation’s partnerships with external clients made the idea of digital departure cards possible.

“We are fortunate to have a long association with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and it was a team of QUT Interactive and Visual Design students who came up with the initial idea of digitalising the Departure Card process as part of a practical assessment,” she said.