From the Amalfi Coast to Imperial China, we round up our picks of the best new luxury tours for 2018.
Ancient History on the Amalfi Coast
Art and history aficionados can now cruise the azure waters of Italy’s Amalfi Coast on a luxury boat tour led by archaeologist Dr Sophy Downes and art historian Francesca del Vecchio. The eight-day journey takes guests on an enlightening exploration of the famous coastline, stopping off at a number of popular sites, including the Isle of Capri and Pompeii, as well as some specially selected lesser-known sites such as the ancient underwater city at Baia and the Roman frescoes of the Villa Oplontis. Guests will stay onboard a newly refitted traditional Turkish gulet with just six cabins, accommodating a maximum of 10 guests each trip. The trip is run by archeological tour specialist Peter Sommer Travels and departs Naples on September 2 and September 9, 2017. Rates start from £3,975 (about A$5,660) per person twin share, including airport transfers, seven nights aboard the gulet, all entrance fees, expert guided excursions and WiFi when coverage permits.
High-End China with Imperial Tours
Peninsula Hotels has partnered with high-end travel designer Imperial Tours to launch an exclusive range of private jet tours through China. Centred on culture, gastronomy or family travel, the three journeys will take travellers through Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing with stays at a Peninsula Hotel in each city.
The Culinary Voyage through China is a 10-day journey beginning in Beijing where guests will meet Peninsula Beijing chefs and watch them prepare Peking duck as well as partake in an introduction to Northern Chinese cuisine cooking class. Other highlights include dinner at a Michelin two-star restaurant in Shanghai, a Cantonese dim sim class at The Peninsula Hong Kong, and a helicopter flight over the city and surrounding coast. Rates start from HKD202,230 (about A$34,500) per person, twin share.
Families can embark on the 10-day Family Tour of China where they will be taken on private tours through Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, see a Chinese acrobatic show in Shanghai, and go behind the scenes of the panda enclosures at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Rates start from HKD792,760 (about A$135,360) for a family of four.
The Culture & Heritage of China tour features a private exploration of 798 Art District in Beijing, a Chinese calligraphy painting class and private visits to Hong Kong’s contemporary art centres. Rates start from HKD198,190 (about A$33,840) per person, twin share.
Dive the Titanic
More than 100 years after the RMS Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage, intrepid history lovers now have the chance to rediscover the world’s most famous shipwreck hidden thousands of metres under the sea. Blue Marble Private are offering an eight-day journey, led by OceanGate Expeditions, on which guests enter a specially designed titanium and carbon fibre submersible alongside a crew of deep sea experts to explore the ship firsthand. The journey will begin with a helicopter journey from St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, to the expedition support yacht where adventurers will learn how to assist the crew and how to participate in a successful deep-sea mission. Dives will take place over a number of days, with a limit of three passengers at a time accompanying the pilot and deep-sea expert while the remaining passengers support the mission from on-board the ship.
Rates start from US$105,129 (about A$139,675) per person, which is the equivalent of a First Class passage on the Titanic’s inaugural sailing after adjusting for inflation. The missions will launch in May 2018, with further dates already planned for summer 2019.
Meet Indian Royalty
Epic India Travel has become the first ever tour company to offer face-to-face meetings with Indian royalty as part of an exclusive itinerary. Their newly launched 17-day Indian Royal Tour features meetings with royals in four separate palaces across the country. Guests will receive royal receptions at each palace, entering the grounds on an elephant or in a horse-drawn carriage while trumpets and drums herald their arrival. During the visits, guests will dine on secret recipes and homemade liquor served exclusively to royals and their guests. The tour will also take in the highlights of the country including an exploration of the bazaars of New and Old Delhi, a boat trip down the River Ganges, a visit to the holy Buddhist site of Sarnath and, of course, a trip to the Taj Mahal for a luxury high tea. Guests will also be treated to exclusive experiences like a bush dinner on the desert dunes of Jodhpur and a private dinner on a 150 year old boat used by Maharajas. Prices start from £66,640 (about A$113,300) per couple.
Kingdoms, Slaves and Voodoo with Abercrombie and Kent
Experiential luxury pioneer Abercrombie & Kent has released a 16-day West African itinerary that uncovers the fascinating culture and history of this rarely visited region. Starting in the coastal region of Togo, West Africa, the Kingdoms, Slaves and Voodoo tour will explore the traditions of the area, including a visit to a voodoo practitioner and the chance to observe a traditional ceremony complete with trance-dances. The group will then journey inland to the Ashanti kingdom in Ghana to attend an Akwasidae Festival, where the local people pay respect to their ancestors, as well as a traditional Ashanti funeral ceremony. The tour ends in Benin, whose shore includes the area formerly known as the Slave Coast. Guests can visit the infamous ‘Slave Castle’ and see relics of the area’s haunting past. Other highlights of the trip include a meeting with a traditional witch doctor, a boat trip to a stilt fishing village in Ganvie and a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Abomey Palaces.
The two 2018 tours will run from 27 March to 11 April and from 23 October to 7 November. Prices start from A$12,150 per person twin share.