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Monday, August 29, 2011

Ooh la, la for French-style cruising in Canada-New England; yacht adventures in Hawii, Mexico's Sea of Cortez

   Out to Sea column published in August 2011
   (c) By Jim and Barb Fox

   A French cruise line is adding some joie de vivre to Canadian fall foliage sailings while safari-style cruises offer yachting adventures in Hawaii and Mexican seas.
The French mega-yacht Le Boreal will sail on two 11-day Boston-Montreal itineraries.
   C'est la vie
   Say “bonjour” to luxury line Compagnie du Ponant, the world’s only French-flagged cruise company, as it makes a splash in Canadian and North American waters.
   Calling it “one of the most extensive fall foliage itineraries available,” the yacht-size ships will visit 11 ports of call, nine in Canada, with several only accessible to these smaller vessels.
   “It will certainly have a French feel – with a focus on North American guests – and be similar to being on a private yacht,” said publicist Elliot Gillies.
   Since the cabins were selling out quickly, the cruise line will offer a similar itinerary next year along with a variety of Caribbean cruises this fall and winter.

   Unlike traditional lines unable to visit Cuba, its ship Le Levant will sail a 10-day cruise from the Dominican Republic to Havana, and reverse, in December.
   Chief commercial officer Terri Haas said guests “enjoy the best that France offers in cuisine, wines and service in an elegant and relaxing atmosphere.”
   On board the mega-yacht Le Boreal, the 11-day itinerary sails from Boston to Montreal on Sept. 16, with the reverse itinerary departing on Sept. 26.
   These voyages present “a never-ending panorama of colours” while enjoying an “intimate environment of yacht travel,” Gillies said.
Al fresco dining is available on board the French yacht Le Boreal.
   Highlights include a visit to Perce, near the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula; Tadoussac, the oldest surviving French settlement in the Americas; Magdalen Islands, home to descendants of some 400 shipwrecks in the archipelago; and the historic cities of Boston, Quebec City and Montreal.
   The year-old, 264-passenger ship has two restaurants specializing in haute and country French, several spacious lounges, a fully-equipped Carita spa, theatre, games area, two open-air bars, swimming pool, library and fitness area.
   There are 132 “well-appointed” cabins, 124 with private balconies, king or twin beds, desk, minibar, dressing table, marble baths with showers, flat-screen satellite TVs and Wi-Fi.
Le Boreal has 132 “well-appointed” staterooms, most of which have private balconies.
   Included are all meals with wine, beer and soft drinks, entertainment, excursions, captain’s welcome and farewell parties and 24-hour room service.
   The cruise line’s five distinctive yachts and vessels offer itineraries in Europe, the Caribbean and remote and unspoiled areas including Antarctica, Greenland and the Maldives.
   Canada-New England fares are from $4,851 U.S. a person. The Cuban cruise is from $2,892. www.ponant.com/en; 1-888-400-1082

   Going on sea safaris in Hawaii, Mexico
   American Safari Cruises is expanding warm-water itineraries of its luxury yachts to Hawaii and Mexico's Sea of Cortes.
A flying dolphin makes an appearance near the American Safari Cruises' luxury yacht Safari Quest.
   These new “adventure” cruises are on upscale yachts and specialize in “active, outdoor explorations with flexible itineraries and a full component of adventure gear,” said publicist Sarah Scoltock.
   From November through April, the 36-guest Safari Explorer will sail on week-long “Hawaiian Seascapes” and 10-night “Hawaii’s Traditional Shores” itineraries to explore Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Molokini and the Big Island.
   The ship is now sailing inter-island Hawaiian cruises between Maui and the Big Island, and reverse.
   This is a “totally new way to vacation in Hawaii," said Tim Jacox, executive vice-president of sales and marketing.
   It’s an exclusive floating resort showing the best of Hawaii and cultural experiences that are “more personal and authentic,” he added.
   The 22-guest Safari Quest sails week-long “Aquarium of the World” itineraries in the Sea of Cortes from November through April.
Marine life is in abundance on the rocks near Isla San Francisco in Mexico's Sea of Cortes.
   Sailing round-trip from La Paz, Mexico, the itinerary seeks out marine life in this World Heritage biosphere reserve and explores Isla Partida, Isla San Jose, Bahia Agua Verde, Los Islotes, Isla Coyote, Isla San Francisco and Isla Espiritu.
   Fares are from $4,995 U.S. for the seven-night ($6,495, 10 nights) Hawaiian cruise and from $3,995 for Mexico sailings, which include meals, wine, beer and “premium spirits,” port charges, taxes and fees.
Kayaking in Puerto El Gato in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez is among the activities available on American Safari Cruises.
   Yachts can also be booked as a private charter. www.americansafaricruises.com; 1- 888-862-8881

   Butting out
   Additional restrictions are being placed on smoking on board four major cruise lines “in response to changing guest preferences.”
   Most restrictive is Princess Cruises that will ban smoking in staterooms and on balconies from Jan. 15 next year.
   Carnival Cruises will prohibit smoking in staterooms, effective Dec. 1, but allow it on balconies as will Holland America from Jan. 15 and Norwegian Cruise Line from the first of the year.


Jim and Barb Fox can be reached at outtosea50@hotmail.com

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