Dancing lights at sea

Norway is a winter wonderland with so many different reasons to visit.

But, the Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis) has to be the main attraction.

veronicamatheson.com can now tick this dazzling display of dancing lights off the bucket list after sighting this rare natural phenomenon some 350km north of the Arctic Circle near Tromso in Norway.

The sighting came late at night while at sea on Viking Star on a winter cruise aptly named “In Search of the Northern Lights”

To find out more Veronica chatted to Terence Murtagh, resident astronomer on the Viking Star cruise, who spends much of his time chasing Northern Lights around the world.

Cruise planner

The luxury cruise line Silversea visits more than 1000 ports around the world, and Conrad Combrink is in charge of the team developing the expeditions and experiences at those diverse destinations. Reporter Veronica Matheson spoke to Conrad Combrink about how Silversea’s itineraries come together.

Cruise amid the fjords

There’s a growing demand from travellers wanting to cruise Norway’s rugged fjord coastline to experience the Midnight Sun in summer months and the spectacular Northern Lights (the aurora borealis) in winter.

One of the major players cruising the Norwegian coastline is Hurtigruten, and to find out more reporter Veronica Matheson chatted to the cruise line’s Damian Perry about Hurtigruten’s 10 ships carrying passengers and freight to 34 ports along the Norwegian coastline, and the four expedition ships that focus on polar waters. For more visit http://www.hurtigruten.com.au





OZ cruise season

International cruise ships are sailing into Australian waters at a rapid rate of knots as the summer cruise season Down Under gets under way. Reporter Veronica Matheson chats to MD of Cruise Lines Internationl Association (CLIA) Australasia about the bumper season ahead, and about what is trending on the cruise scene right now.



Dawn rescue

Pacific-Dawn-shipP&O Cruises’ has reported that one of its fleet, Pacific Dawn, today rescued three seafarers who were forced to abandon their sinking yacht off New Caledonia.

Pacific Dawn was asked by marine rescue authorities in Noumea to go to the aid of the stricken vessel after the seafarers sent out a distress call.

The ship with around 2000 passengers onboard was close to the area and immediately changed course to assist.

Pacific Dawn and her crew have followed the finest traditions of the sea by going to the aid of fellow seafarers in peril at sea,” said Sture Myrmell, President of P&O Cruises Australia.

“It is wonderful to know that all three seafarers are now safe and well and being cared for onboard Pacific Dawn.”

The three seafarers were able to call next of kin to let them know “all was well”.

At the time Pacific Dawn was on the way back to her home-port in Brisbane after a seven-night cruise to the South Pacific.

Early reports from the scene were that the yacht sank as the crew from a tender vessel from Pacific Dawn were plucking the three stranded seafarers from their life raft.

 The ship’s Captain gave passengers regular updates throughout the sea rescue mission.


The Love Boat

The TV series The Love Boat was a catalyst for the world-wide cruising boom, rating highly with viewers for almost ten decades. Actor Ted Lange, who served up smiles and drinks as Isaac Washington, the cocktail waiter on The Love Boat, reminisced about the show with reporter Veronica Matheson in Australia recently.


More to SHARE

Celebrity chef Curtis Stone’s Los Angeles restaurant Maude in Beverly Hills has been awarded a Michelin star for the first time.

While Curtis is full of pride for his land-based restaurants – the two in California are named after his Australian grandmothers Maude and Gwen – he is equally proud of his sea-going restaurant SHARE that can be found on Princess Cruises’ fleet.

Here is what Curtis had to say on a recent chat with Veronica Matheson (that’s me) on Travel Writers Radio about his restaurants, his food philosophy, and his future plans.




Plant-based cuisine

Times they are changing, and no more so than on cruise ships where huge buffets were once the order of the day, and night. The midnight buffet was as much a sculpture gallery as a food source with its magnificent array of ice carvings, some life-size.

Today’s cruise passengers tastes have changed. Some are vegan, or vegetarian, or gluten- free, or fishetarian, or whatever.  They prefer a menu that tells them exactly what is included in a dish. Cruise lines have latched on quickly to offer all manner of menus to suit those different tastes.

Recently, executive chefs from Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas fleets, spent a week in Thailand to learn more about plant-based food from Christophe Berg at Blue Lotus culinary school in Hua Hin.  And right now, plant-based dishes are being introduced to menus across both cruise fleets.

Here is my interview with Christophe Berg, a world expert on plant-based food.


Crowded house

Tourism is booming internationally. Latest annual figures show 1.32 billion tourists roaming the globe – 84 million more travellers than the previous year.

Those travellers are boosting local economies everywhere, but they are also creating problems with too many tourists visiting too many places at the same time.

Australian Chris Flynn is head of the newly formed World Tourism Association for Culture and Heritage, which aims to protect local cultures, heritage and historical sites that are now at risk from over tourism.

A major concern is the impact the cruise ship boom is having on remote island communities, as well as on major cruise ports where thousands of passengers disembark daily for land tours.

Here Chris, who has spent 40 years working in tourism and aviation, most recently as director of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, voices his concerns to Veronica Matheson.



Luxury at sea

Luxury hotels, luxury tours, luxury at the pointy-end of the plane for an international flight.

We all love those experiences, though sadly they are often far too expensive!

These days decadent luxury is also found on the cruise ships in international waters where high-end passengers are invariably known as valued “guests”.

To find out more about luxury at sea, reporter Veronica Matheson chatted to Adam Armstrong, the Australasian Managing Director of Silversea Cruises, about the company’s new flagship Silver Muse which is currently sailing in Australasian waters.

Silversea is marking the inaugural season of Silver Muse in Australasian waters by launching a fundraising campaign to aid Australia’s drought-stricken farmers.