The Most Exciting New Trends in Cruising

By MICHAEL GEBICKI

A decade ago, I cruised from Iceland to the fiords of Greenland and then to Norway on a Russian ice ship. The adventure factor was five-star, but cabins were basic and the first course at dinner was borscht. Today, you can do the same cruise on a super-luxury liner with suites, an array of fine-dining restaurants and a signature spa. How times have changed.

Authenticity, cultural immersion, bespoke tours and fine regional food and wine experiences – the very things travellers are looking for in a land-based luxury holiday – are now delivered in extraordinary style on a cruise. And, according to leading Australian luxury cruising experts, trends are emerging.

 

The new (and younger) cruise passenger

“Our passengers are not only getting younger, they’re much more active,” says Lisa Pile, Vice President Sales of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “We’re not quite seeing millennials yet, but the demographics are definitely changing. I’ve seen this on our Alaska cruise personally.

I went down for an early morning spin class and the gym was packed, I couldn’t believe it. Super fit people, it’s just fantastic.”

“Many more people in the 45-plus age group are considering luxury cruising,” says Diane Patrick, a leading Sydney-based cruise specialist for Wiltrans International, representing Paul Gauguin Cruises, which sails in Tahiti, French Polynesia and the South Pacific. “That puts Paul Gauguin in the spotlight because we can offer luxury yacht cruising in some of the most wonderful parts of the South Pacific, all within very easy reach for Australian cruisers. They can fit an exceptional seven-night luxury cruise into an eight-night trip out of Australia.”

Millennials are even getting on board river cruising. “Uniworld has launched a new adults-only river cruise experience in 2018,” says Fiona Dalton, Managing Director of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection in Australia. “U by Uniworld is aimed directly at a younger generation, with its very own sleek black ships and using the ships in a very different way – part waterfront hotel, part taxi, part nightclub, part yoga studio, part café. We’ve had fantastic feedback following our launch in April.”

 

Extraordinary ships or extraordinary destinations?

“Both,” says Jane Moggridge, General Manager Marketing and Communications of Viking River Cruises. “Many luxury cruisers have travelled extensively and they’re seeking new and immersive cultural experiences. Places that retain cultural integrity and offer an incredible experience untainted by crowds. We’ve seen some lines building bigger and more over-the-top ships, but at Viking we think travel should be about exploration, cultural immersion and personal enrichment. That’s why our ships feature open and airy, serene and unpretentious design, have guest lecturers, a Viking Resident Historian and, on Viking Orion, a Resident Astronomer.”

Other cruise experts agree. “People are looking for something different in the ships they are travelling on, for destinations that are being done differently and there’s a big appetite for completely new destinations,” says Mandy Dwyer, Communications Manager of Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours. “Next year Scenic will be visiting northern Russia, the Norwegian fjords, the White Sea, and do a complete lap of Iceland. But cruisers are also looking at the quality of the ship, the amenities and dining options – those are also major factors.”

Vintage wine and food experiences

In 2018, luxury cruising is all about immersion in both the ship and the destinations it’s sailing to, especially when it comes to quality food and wine. Locally sourced produce, regional menus that reflect the ship’s itinerary, wines from the country, and interaction with the on-board chefs are all in high demand.

“There’s a desire for even more regionally paired food and wine experiences that bring our guests even closer to the destinations they’re sailing in,” says Uniworld’s Dalton. “For example, our ship in Paris boasts a fabulous restaurant, a French bistro and a Parisian supper club, while the SS Beatrice, our newest ship on the Eastern Danube, has a number of new dining venues all reflecting a very Austrian and Hungarian style of dining.”

“It’s all about variety at every mealtime,” says Viking’s Moggridge.

“One of our most popular dining experiences is The Kitchen Table where the ship’s executive chef takes guests on an interactive culinary adventure. They’ll handpick ingredients from local markets and help prepare regional dishes before dining with the ship’s culinary director. These excursions are incredibly popular and the dinners often go late into the night.”

Market tours with the chef are also popular. “We offer the Scenic Culinaire on some of our French itineraries,” says Dwyer. “Guests visit the local market with the chef, help select the produce and back at the ship they’ll reproduce some of the local dishes. That’s always booked out.”

 

A voyage to health and wellness

In a world of personal trainers, gym memberships and paleo diets, cruise ships are going head-to-head with luxury spa resorts in the wellness stakes.

“Uniworld’s Wellness on the Water program was ground-breaking when it began five years ago and it has been evolving ever since,” according to Dalton. “Every cruise has its own wellness coach and the wellness experience includes morning yoga, TRX or tai chi on the ship extending to our ‘Let’s Go’ ground program.”

Regent Seven Seas is also focused on health and wellness. “Our wonderful spas and wellness centres on are run by world-renowned Canyon Ranch Spa,” says Pile. “They also have a spa menu on board with programs for people who are watching their weight or want to work on specific aspects of their health.”

Aboard some vessels the on-board spas reflect the origins of the cruise line. “The Scandinavian-style spa on board our Viking Ocean Cruise ships is inspired by the Nordic approach to holistic wellbeing,” says Moggridge. “Quality time in a sauna followed by a cold dip in an icy lake is the embodiment of Scandinavia and this tradition is emulated in Viking’s Nordic Bathing Ritual, a traditional hot sauna followed by a cold bucket shower, a cold plunge pool or a visit to Viking’s exclusive Snow Grotto.”

“All of Scenic Space Ships have wellness centres,” according to Dwyer. “Scenic Sapphire and Scenic Diamond feature a vitality pool and a Salt Therapy Lounge and our clients can spend as much time as they like there.”

“People are looking for a more immersive onshore experience, not just seeing the sights…In Naples, some want to see Pompeii, others might want to see Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, and others might want to do a wine-tasting or visit markets and do a cooking class. They want to feel like a local, not an onlooker.” –  Lisa Pile, Vice President of Sales, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Luxury is a shore thing

“People are looking for a more immersive onshore experience, not just seeing the sights, and that’s exactly what Regent Seven Seas offers,” according to Pile. “In Naples, some want to see Pompeii, others might want to see Sorrento and the Amalfi coast, and others might want to do a wine-tasting or visit markets and do a cooking class. They want to feel like a local, not an onlooker.”

Says Moggridge: “Guests want more intimate and meaningful onshore experiences, including private access to privileged experiences. Our Viking Culture Curriculum offers unique experiences, like visiting the home of a local family to break bread and share homemade vodka over a traditional meal, to exploring sealed vaults at the Hermitage.”

And according to Dalton: “Guests want to understand more, and that comes from personal engagement. Usually it’s about understanding local life, significant historical events that have led to today’s world, or exclusive experiences that are only possible with Uniworld, such as early opening visits accompanied by a curator to the world’s great art galleries and museums in Europe.”

 

Sustainability is the word

In a world where coral reefs, fish stocks, ice caps and shorelines are under threat from climate change, eco-conscious travellers are looking for evidence that their chosen cruise line is operating with the same awareness and integrity.

“Paul Gauguin has a Stewards of Nature program for children and families,” says Wiltrans’ Patrick. “It operates in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society and it’s all about educating guests about coral reef and Pacific islands ecology with naturalist-led island and beach excursions. We’re operating in remote and often pristine places and we take great care to leave as small a footprint as possible.”

At Viking, the relatively young fleet was built with sustainability in mind, explains Moggridge. “Viking’s ocean ships were designed from the start with the environment in mind, feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, streamlined hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, on board solar panels, and equipment that minimises exhaust pollution,” she says.

At Uniworld guests are given metal refillable water cannisters, which saves over 500,000 plastic water bottles per year, according to Dalton. “Our parent company, The Travel Corporation, has announced its commitment to phase out single use plastics in all our operations by 2020, and we in Uniworld are already taking steps to do as much as we can by removing plastic straws and many other single-use plastics,” she adds.

Scenic is also implementing policies to reduce single-use plastic as part of a broader program. “We’re putting funds into local communities to develop clean water initiatives,” says Dwyer. “Cruise operators can set an example for good environmental practice particularly where they visit remote communities, as Scenic does on some of its Asian itineraries.”

 

The Details

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, rssc.com

Paul Gauguin Cruises, pgcruises.com

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, uniworld.com

Viking River Cruises, vikingrivercruises.com.au

Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, scenic.com.au

The Joys of Cruising

By MAGGY OEHLBECK

Nominating a single ship or cruise that fires my enduring love affair with luxury cruising is neither possible, nor polite. Among the illustrious ships I have sailed on – whether ocean, river and expedition, large or small – I love them all.

How did my abiding passion for luxury cruising begin? Was it the swish of our butler Igor’s coat-tails and the caviar and champagne which he meticulously delivered to our penthouse suite each evening after our jaw-dropping discoveries of St Petersburg? We were, after all, in the Baltic on the impeccable Crystal Symphony.

Perhaps it was my first trans-Atlantic crossing on Cunard Line’s majestic Queen Mary 2 and lining the rails alongside extravagantly fur-coated passengers in the wee small hours waiting for our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and the twinkling lights of Manhattan?

Or was it playing Robinson Crusoe on a tropical island paradise in French Polynesia on Windstar, or at an exclusive beach barbecue ashore on a Paul Gauguin cruise?

According to the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships bible, luxury cruising “should be a flawless combination of ship, facilities, understated decor, culinary excellence and service.”

I would also add finesse – little touches like a pashmina draped around my shoulders after a helicopter jaunt over four glaciers and exhilarating dog-sled ride on a Silversea Alaska cruise, or a staff member demisting my sunglasses on a SeaDream mega-yacht.

Whatever cruise itinerary you select, the ‘unpack once’ trope is immediately apparent. Most luxury ships have walk-in wardrobes. Or be like a regular Cunard guest on QM2 who takes a duplex suite for her ball gowns. On a six-night trans-Atlantic crossing, there are three formal nights – but those are voyages, not cruises.

On an average seven to 10-day cruise, expect one and possibly two formal nights, but don’t stress over dress codes. While today’s trend is for more casual, it doesn’t mean trackie-dacks and clunky joggers in the dining room.

That vexed term “smart casual” is imperfect, but basically means jacket but no tie. Pity. I love beautiful ties, and men never look better than in a dinner suit – the preferred attire on formal nights. And where better to wear fabulous frocks and heirloom jewellery than the security of a cruise ship?

The age demographic of cruise passengers is trending lower, and travelling solo is on the up as more cruise lines offer single cabins. Don’t demur about attending a glamorous event alone. Several cruise lines engage Gentlemen Hosts to act as escorts and dance partners. Another trend is toward adults-only ships – a high-end example is comparative newcomer to ocean cruising Viking Cruises.

Luxury suite accommodation usually features individual balconies, marble bathrooms with toiletries such as Bulgari and Molton Brown, finest-quality bed linens and a pillow menu, in-suite soft drinks and bottled water, table wines at lunch and dinner, obligatory welcome aboard champagne and all-inclusive gratuities.

Silversea and Viking also include free WiFi. Not included are Chef’s Table dinners with vintage wine pairings, spa treatments, private cabanas on shipboard sanctuaries and most shore excursions. Exceptions are Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ and Ponant’s all-inclusive expeditions on nominated sailings.

These days, much is made of ships’ cuisine and celebrity-chef guest appearances in specialty restaurants. While many luxury cruise ships have numerous dining venues, two-sitting dining service still exists on more traditional larger ships, but dining hours are more flexible.

You don’t have to sit at assigned tables every night, but if travelling solo, it is a good way to meet people. Have a word with the maître ds. They are skillful at matching like-minded fellow travellers. And those seeking to dine a deux are always accommodated, but best to make a prior reservation.

The larger the ship, the larger the show lounge. Expect to see West End or Broadway-style productions strutting their stuff at Cunard’s Queens’ Royal Court Theatres. Small to medium-size ships may feature special guest performers and Crystal’s cultural enrichment programs offer a pool of amazing speakers.

Don’t demur about attending a glamorous event alone. Several cruise lines engage Gentlemen Hosts to act as escorts and dance partners. Another trend is toward adults-only ships – a high-end example is comparative newcomer to ocean cruising Viking Cruises.

Some lines make a feature of being destination-immersive with overnight stays so that guests can attend an unforgettable event such as Windstar’s private white-glove-service dinner among the illuminated ruins of the Celsus Library at Ephesus accompanied by a trio from the Aegean Chamber Orchestra. Other lines may overnight in Cannes for the film festival, or Monaco for the annual Grand Prix.

If you are doing your own thing, you are responsible for being on board at the specified time, so don’t be a forlorn figure standing on the pier as the ship pulls out. I saw it happen once on a Greek island and happily a zodiac was lowered and whisked off to fetch her. If a ship-sponsored tour is delayed, it will wait, otherwise it won’t.

Meanwhile, river cruising delivers a different port every day, as most vessels moor in the heart of Europe’s great cities or towns. Wander at will or join a guided shore excursion. Tauck offers unique events such as an Imperial Evening in a Viennese Palace, or a private after-hours tour of the Louvre.

Not all river cruising is Eurocentric: explore the Amazon with Delfin, the world’s only Relais & Châteaux river cruise, or churn sedately along the Mississippi on the luxury, all-suite American Duchess.

Expedition cruising is all the rage with privileged access to pristine environments and wildlife sightings experienced in stylish comfort, carefully curated decor, fine food and wines, and engaging lectures. Ponant delivers on all counts with classy, intimate-scale expedition ships accompanied by highly qualified expedition leaders.

For me, nothing quite equals contemplating the moody blues of sea and sky while enjoying the fine art of afternoon tea on QM2; threading in and out of Greece’s sun-splashed islands, or sailing out of Istanbul at dusk, its skyline etched with silhouettes of mosques and minarets.

Welcoming the Alaskan Wilderness

By Sally MacMillan

Sailing out of Canada’s spectacular port city of Vancouver on a crisp spring evening, toasting the occasion with a glass of perfectly chilled Champagne, sets the tone for a leisurely seven-night cruise to Seward, Alaska.

We’re onboard the recently refurbished Regent Seven Seas Mariner, an exceptionally spacious and luxurious ship for only 700 passengers – and, of course, the 445 crew members offering an uncompromising level of service.

A day’s scenic cruising through the Inside Passage allows time to explore the ship, take in an entertaining lecture by anthropologist Terry Breen about the history, culture and wildlife of the vast 49th state, then meet the captain and officers for cocktails in the evening.

Seven Seas Mariner is elegant, inside and out. Over the course of the cruise, we sample just about every restaurant, cafe, lounge and bar; I didn’t manage to squeeze in a massage or facial, but the Canyon Ranch Spa is a beautiful, calm space and offers an extensive spa menu.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) has invested US$125 million on ‘Explorer-ising’ its fleet of sister ships – Seven Seas Mariner, Voyager and Navigator – since launching its uber-luxury flagship Seven Seas Explorer in 2016, and Mariner looks and feels magnificent.

While the entire ship received a facelift, its restaurants were stripped to the steel and completely rebuilt – the main dining room, Compass Rose, is decked with crystal chandeliers and chic marble walls; Prime 7, the ship’s specialty steakhouse, features dramatic lighting and a rich cream-and-blue colour palette; and Chartreuse, the French restaurant that made its debut on Seven Seas Explorer, replaces Signatures. The standard of wining, dining and service in all venues is exemplary, although being something of a Francophile, Chartreuse is my favourite.

Mariner’s luxe all-suite accommodations range from two extraordinary 260-square-metre master suites through 13 categories of beautifully appointed sanctuaries.

All suites have private balconies, 24-hour room service, a minibar that’s replenished daily and free WiFi; guests staying in Concierge Suites and above have a free night’s pre-cruise accommodation and those in Penthouse Suites and above have a personal butler.

Our deluxe veranda suite on Deck 8 is gorgeous, decorated in stylish, restful shades of blue – and it’s always lovely to be greeted with a bottle of Champagne and a bowl of fresh fruit when you embark.

At our first port of call, Ketchikan, a few hardy sun-lovers bask by the newly minted mosaic-tiled pool, even though we are surrounded by rugged snow-streaked mountains.

RSSC offers an impressive range of complimentary shore excursions at every port (plus optional ones for an extra cost if you want to elevate your onshore experience).

In Alaska, the focus is on adventurous activities such as fishing, flightseeing, wildlife-spotting, dog-sledding, canoeing and hiking as well as cultural tours encompassing ancient Native Indian culture and more recent history.

Ketchikan, like two other ports we visit – Juneau and Skagway – is a former gold-rush town. It’s also known as the salmon capital of the world, so fishing expeditions are popular; floatplane and boat trips to nearby Misty Fjords, part of the massive Tongass National Forest, are among other exciting excursions on offer.

The Totem Heritage Center is a short walk beyond Ketchikan’s busy waterfront boardwalks and well worth a visit. It houses one of the world’s largest collections of original, 19th-century totem poles along with contemporary Northwest Coast art and traditional artefacts made by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people.

Alaska’s intriguing capital, Juneau, has a smaller population than Anchorage and can only be reached by sea or air, but its citizens have long resisted attempts to move the capital elsewhere.

The Russians famously sold Alaska to America in 1867 for US$7.2 million, or about two cents an acre. Evidence of both cultures abounds, from the Russian Orthodox St Michael’s Cathedral to Totem Park, a battleground where Tlingits fought the Russian fur hunters in 1804.

Seven Seas Mariner offers 24 signature excursions: the helicopter glacier trek, which drops guests on the mighty Mendenhall Glacier for a two-hour guided walk on the ice, is a thoroughly exhilarating experience. Even more popular is dog-sledding on the glacier, which also involves a scenic helicopter flight (make sure you sign up well in advance).

Then there are brewery tours, canoeing on Mendenhall Lake, salmon bakes and gold-panning adventures. Whale-watching in the evening is another unusual option – Mariner stays in port until 11pm when it’s still light in midsummer Alaska. Local operators guarantee whale sightings and give guests a US$100 refund if the humpbacks don’t come out to play.

The historic White Pass Scenic Railroad is Skagway’s main attraction. Built between 1898 and 1900, the railway winds its way from sea level to about 915 metres at the summit.

Immaculately maintained trains haul vintage and reproduction carriages along 32 kilometres of vertiginous mountain passes and gorges, through tunnels and past what was once the world’s tallest cantilever bridge.

It’s a thrilling journey, and humbling to learn how thousands of desperate gold prospectors in the 1890s made their way on foot along the hazardous Chilkoot Trail.

Our final landing is at Sitka, a picturesque port that only allows a limited number of smaller cruise ships to dock there. Sitka’s history is a rich and bloody entanglement of thousands of years of Tlingit ownership and a century of Russian colonisation.

The Russians famously sold Alaska to America in 1867 for US$7.2 million, or about two cents an acre. Evidence of both cultures abounds, from the Russian Orthodox St Michael’s Cathedral to Totem Park, a battleground where Tlingits fought the Russian fur hunters in 1804.

Our guide takes our small group in and out of misty bays, where silence drips from ancient spruce and hemlock trees and reflections hardly waver on the still water. It’s magical, but sadly we don’t spot any bears.

Over the past few days we have seen bald eagles, ravens, porpoises, sea lions and dozens of Dall sheep, but I’m still hankering for a bear-sighting.

While we are sailing close to the magnificent Hubbard Glacier the next day, I’m advised by Dagmar, Mariner’s destinations services manager, that the best time for bear-spotting is late July, when the salmon are running – which gives me the perfect excuse for booking a return voyage on Mariner to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring wilderness areas.

 

The Details

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering an array of seven-day Alaska sailings aboard the newly renovated Seven Seas Mariner between Vancouver and Seward from June to September 2019.

Fares start from $6480 per person (twin share), based on a Deluxe Veranda Suite. For more information and fares on all Regent Seven Seas Cruises, call 1300 455 200 or visit rssc.com.

Ovolo The Valley Opens in Brisbane

Ovolo The Valley, Brisbane
Ovolo The Valley, Brisbane

The luxury hotel is the latest in a slew of five-star properties that have opened their doors in Brisbane in the past 12 months

Ovolo The Valley has opened its doors in the heart of Brisbane’s vibrant and cultural precinct of Fortitude Valley as a contemporary oasis for urban dwellers.

Inspired by the diverse culture and iconic history of Fortitude Valley, guests of Ovolo The Valley can expect an eclectic and whimsical interior featuring plenty of colour and art, quirky details, fun wallpaper, eccentric furniture and illustrations curated throughout.

The launch of Ovolo The Valley marks another milestone for the boutique hotel collection and is the second Queensland hotel to fall under the design-led hotel group, following the opening of Ovolo Inchcolm earlier this year.

With a rooftop swimming pool looking over the unique vista of Fortitude Valley, Ovolo The Valley comprises of a gym, a sauna and a unique meeting room aptly named ‘B.I.G’. The large-scale project was led by award-winning global architecture firm, Woods Bagot, who have been behind a long list of recent hotel overhauls and new developments including West Hotel and Primus Hotel in Sydney, and The InterContinental Hotel Perth.

“Our brief to Woods Bagot was that each of our hotels must have their own unique personality and style, inspired by local surrounds, culture, heritage and Ovolo’s playful, forward-thinking spirit, and they’ve delivered exactly that,” said founder and CEO of the Ovolo Group, Girish Jhunjhnuwala, adding that an element of fantasy, escapism and play comes to the fore at Ovolo The Valley.

Ovolo The Valley seems to have been designed with the aesthete in mind, showcasing eye-catching design in every space and each of the 103 rooms, creating a frenzy of colour. Guests can choose from five styles of room – Medium, Large, Large Spa, The Valley Suites and Rockstar Suites – with each designed to cater to different levels of space and indulgence.

Go all out and book one of the Rockstar Suites and expect a king size bed and a separate lounge, bar and dining area featuring a dining table, arm chairs, speaker unit and original art pieces by Daniel R. Watkins and Gerwyn Davies.

The art displayed throughout the hotel is put front and centre rather than as complementary décor additions, with art curator, Kathleen Wilson, having been commissioned to create playful and quirky artwork pieces for the hotel’s unique public spaces.

The new Ovolo The Valley will feature the Ovolo brand’s ‘effortless living’ ethos, with 24-hour room service, large flat-screen televisions, Google Chromecast, additional wall plugs, phone chargers in every room and even Amazon’s Alexa cloud-based voice service, to assist guests with just about every command.

As a brand standard, guests who book directly with Ovolo will also receive complimentary Wi-Fi, self-laundry, breakfast, social happy hour, mini-bar and a bag full of treats.

A restaurant and bar will open at Ovolo The Valley in early 2019 headed by chef and restauranteur, Justin North, who has also worked at Sydney’s Ovolo 1888 darling Harbour’s restaurant, Mister Percy.

The opening of Ovolo The Valley comes during a period of massive development in the city of Brisbane, which is being marketed as ‘Australia’s new world city’ on an international stage. 24 new hotels and more than 1200 hotel rooms have opened, on average, each year in Brisbane in the past four years, with the most recent being The Westin Brisbane, The Calile, Emporium Hotel Southbank and The W Brisbane.

Tourism Industry Development Minister, Kate Jones said of Ovolo The Valley’s opening: “Following on from the Ovolo Inchcolm opening last year, we see the group’s second hotel as a major vote of confidence in Brisbane.

“With investments totalling approximately $90 million, this project is helping to solidify Brisbane’s reputation as a world-class destination.”

Ovolo The Valley is now open for bookings.

 

ovolohotels.com.au/ovolothevalley/

We’ve Found the Ultimate Winter Wonderland

Macao Winter Extravagaza Launch Ceremony - The Venetian Macao
Macao Winter Extravagaza Launch Ceremony - The Venetian Macao

With the arrival of cooler temperatures, Macao has been transformed into a festive winter wonderland, heralding the start of the holiday season

Throughout December, visitors to Macao can take in a colourful spectacle from a ‘magical’ ice-skating rink to a larger-than-life toy train decorating the territory’s major resorts. Both The Parisian and The Venetian on the neon-lit Cotai Strip  are among a host of resorts to embrace the festive season in spectacular style this year.

Expect colourful, Christmas lighting and 3D projections on display all over Macao, with a highlight being a stunning 20-metre long inverted Christmas tree hanging from the ceiling in the lobby rotunda of The Parisian. Visitors will also be able to watch in awe as the Eiffel Tower plays host to a grand illumination show as skates slice across the ice rink, as if by magic, on the tower’s level 7 observation deck.

While The Parisian celebrates its winter in Paris, established neighbour The Venetian is celebrating a winter in Venice with more bright lights and entertainment of its own. Mirrored in the waters of the resort’s lagoon is the figure of a 16-metre high brightly-decorated Christmas tree and a giant-sized The Venetian Express Christmas Train the kids will love.

Adding to the Christmas cheer in Macao and taking the colourful displays up a notch, its cobblestone streets and squares and UNESCO-listed historic sites will be lit up with the annual Macao Light Festival, a must-see for the silly season. Taking place every evening until December 31 this year’s festival revolves around the concept of time and focuses on the city’s east-meets-west cultures as well as the nostalgic stories and childhood memories of the Macao people.

Besides projection mapping shows, interactive games and light installations showcasing the gastronomic culture of Macao, ‘Food Truck x Light’ and Gastronomy Night Market are also up and running.

And for film buffs visiting Macao, the International Film Festival and Awards: Macao opens on December 8 and will run until December 14, and feature Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage as a talent ambassador. A star-studded list of directors and actors will take to the red carpet for the festival and awards along with young promising movie makers.

The Macao Government Tourism Office currently has a limited number of free TurboJet ferry tickets available for travel between the popular Asian centres of Hong Kong and Macao during the festive season until December 31, 2018, so be quick to get yours by calling the number below.

 

(02) 9264 1488

www.visitmacao.com.au