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Horizon & Co. Titanic Expedition Cruises

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 21 12:01 PM

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A cruise to see the world's most famous shipwreck on the 100th anniversary of its sinking? Yeah, that gave us pause, too. But if you're willing to tempt fate, you can get up close to the disaster that launched a thousand Celine Dion remixes.

Horizon & Co.'s 15-day Titanic Expedition Cruises, departing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, include a dive 12,500 feet below the surface in a Russian Mir submersible piloted by members of the Titanic movie's expedition team. Back on the surface, there will be lectures and seminars, a memorial service, and as on all cruise ships, lots and lots of food. Sorry, Leonardo DiCaprio isn't part of the package.

Horizon & Co. Titanic Expedition Cruises, from $12,498 per person (excluding the dive) and $66,257 per person (including the dive). 2012 sailings depart July 12, July 27, and August 6

Photo: Courtesy of A.F. Archive / Alamy

Variety Voyager Cruises to the Arabian Gulf

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 13 10:52 AM

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Our boating tastes run more to super-yachts than supersize cruise ships, so an exotic new excursion from a luxury line is reason enough to break out the Champagne. Variety Cruises, whose small upscale fleet mostly plies the Mediterranean, is branching out into the Middle East with a brand new vessel, Variety Voyager.

Starting in 2012, the 36-cabin vessel will introduce cruise passengers to the Arabian Gulf and Omani coast. Highlights of the eight-day itinerary include sailing the fjordlike Musandam Peninsula aboard a traditional Omani dhow, cavorting with dolphins near Telegraph and Seebi islands, and exploring the third-century, pre-Islamic fortress of Nakhal in Sohar, Oman. The ship's decor is a mix of muted creams and sand with glam marble and mirrored touches. Because variety is the spice of life.

Variety Voyager's Arabian Gulf cruises, from $2,790. Sailings from Abu Dhabi: November 29, 2012 to April 4, 2013; sailings from Muscat: November 22, 2012 to March 28, 2013.

Photo: Courtesy of Variety Cruises

AdventureSmith Explorations Antarctica Cruise

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, July 19 07:00 AM

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It's an amazing experience to watch the dramatic landscape slide past your stateroom window on a cruise to Antarctica. But AdventureSmith Explorations' new Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Cruise goes one step further. For the first time ever, cruisers can get off the ship and camp on the frozen tundra.

It might not be as comfortable as your cabin, but you'll be provided with mattresses, polar sleeping bags, and all the other cozy gear required to protect you from the elements. Sailing time is kept to a minimum in order to maximize opportunities for hiking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and glacier walking. While on board the 110-passenger Plancius, you'll be schooled by photography experts on how to capture the icy surroundings and amazing wildlife. If you've ever dismissed a cruise as a sedentary vacation, this is the trip that will change your mind.

Antarctic Peninsula Basecamp Cruise, 2012 departures: February 27-March 9, November 22-December 3; 2013 departures: February 25-March 9. Doubles from $8,350 (2012) and $8,790 (2013) per person; 877-620-2875.

Photo: Courtesy of AdventureSmith Explorations

Compagnie du Ponant Antarctica Sailings

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 09 07:00 AM

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Sometimes one megayacht just isn't enough. At least that's Compagnie du Ponant's take on the matter. Come November, the luxury cruise company will launch two new ships, L'Austral and Le Boréal, on nine round trips from Ushuaia, Argentina, through the Drake Passage to Antarctica.

The 132-cabin twin vessels double your chance to chill out with Champagne as you sail past whales, penguins, and sea elephants. After a long day of exploring glaciers with experts in hydrobiology and polar wildlife, you can retire to the marble tub in your luxury suite or get a massage in the spa. Because who wouldn't want a little extravagance on an Antarctic expedition?

Sailings from November 2011 through February 2012, from $4,860

Photo: Courtesy of Philip Plisson, Compagnie du Ponant

Discovery Adventures, Galapagos Island Cruises

By Conde Nast Traveler Saturday, May 28 07:00 AM

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With the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week set to make its usual splash starting July 31 (this time with SNL's Andy Samberg as Chief Shark Officer), here's an idea: How about taking the plunge yourself on a shark cruise?

This is your chance to get off the sofa and into flippers and a wet suit to meat--sorry, meet--the toothy predators on their own surf. On Discovery Adventures' Galápagos cruises, you'll see scalloped hammerheads, Galápagos, reef, white-tipped, and whale sharks. Itineraries include snorkeling trips to Española Island (to swim with reef sharks) and to Black Turtle Cove, where the Galápagos Islands' white-tipped sharks hang. Who knows, once you get a taste for shark diving, you might get hooked.

Machu Picchu & Galápagos Islands Trip (14 days), from $4,499, 2011 departures: June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9
Galápagos Islands Cruise (10 days), from $4,199, 2011 departures: June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17
Galápagos Islands Cruise (7 days), from $3,099, 2011 departures: June 21, July 19, August 23, September 20
Galápagos Islands Cruise (6 days), from $2,699, 2011 departures: June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17

Photo: Courtesy of Bill Curtsinger / National Geographic / Getty Images

Get Two Trips for the Price of One

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, May 11 11:00 AM

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Train journey, or cruise? Canadian Rockies, or Alaska's Glacier Bay? If you're finding it tricky to decide on your next vacation, cruise company Holland America and Canada's luxe private train operator Rocky Mountaineer are offering 12 innovative Rail & Cruise packages that will appeal to the indecisive traveler.

All packages include seven days cruising along the west coast of Canada into Glacier Bay, Alaska, passing porpoises and whales on the way to hardscrabble frontier fishing villages like Sitka and Ketchikan. While rail options chug past rocky peaks and trees as far as the eye can see--which is pretty far, thanks to the panoramic glass-domed viewing carriages.

Train stops can include top Canadian Rockies highlights (Jasper, Yoho, and Banff) and overnights at posh hotels such as the Fairmont Banff Springs, depending on class of service. Keep an eye out for the Silverleaf option, a new mid-range level debuting on select routes. Think of it as the ultimate ode to enjoying the journey.

Rocky Mountaineer Rail & Cruise Packages, departures from Seattle or Vancouver May 8 through September 11, 2011, starting at $2,755

Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Food and Wine Trails Cruise, Australia and New Zealand

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 12 03:49 PM

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Beatles vs. Stones. N.Y. vs. L.A. Tyson vs. Holyfield. History's great rivalries are seldom easily settled. But a new Food & Wine Trails sailing with Oceania Cruises will take on perhaps the biggest debate of all: red wine vs. white.

Next February, the godfather of zinfandel, Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson, and the king of cabernet, winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez of Robert Mondavi, will enter the swilling ring aboard Oceania Cruises' Regatta. As they sail from Auckland, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia, they'll host onboard tastings and dinners in an attempt to win over the die-hard oenophiles in their midst. On-shore excursions to top wine estates could spell a grape escape for whites or a crushing victory for reds. But don't expect a clean fight--spitting is encouraged.

Photo: Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Jean-Michel Cousteau Oceanography Sailings, South Pacific

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, March 22 06:51 PM

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Children are our future, and if you treat them well--perhaps with a luxury cruise in the South Pacific--you'll be surprised by how they lead the way. At least that's the idea behind Paul Gauguin Cruises' new ten-night sailing headed up by Jean-Michel (son of Jacques) Cousteau.

Cousteau aims to get your kids on board with conservation by giving them an up-close introduction to the wonders of French Polynesia. Lectures aimed at both parents and children describe the ecology of the Society Islands and the Tuamotus, and the explorer leads dives to legendary spots like Rangiroa, home of the world's second-largest lagoon. Because what kid (or kid at heart) wouldn't want to protect the ocean after coming face-to-face with a playful dolphin?

Paul Gauguin Cruises' Jean-Michel Cousteau Oceanography Sailings, May 25 and June 29, 2011, $4,447 (double occupancy).

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises, S.S. Antoinette, Germany

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 24 03:18 PM

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The 82-room S.S. Antoinette, Uniworld River Cruises' newest boutique vessel, is a ship of firsts. It's the first river vessel to have an on-board cinema. The first to have deck-level guest rooms with open-air private balconies that convert to enclosed conservatories. And it makes a majestic first impression: The two-story lobby is lit by a 10-foot Baccarat crystal and sapphire chandelier; Brazilian marble shines on the walls and floors; and a 19th-century Venetian glass mirror multiplies all the sparkle.

Like the ship itself, the Antoinette's inaugural itinerary, Castles Along the Rhine, promises to be a regal affair when it launches on March 27. The eight-day journey includes Alsatian wine tastings, excursions to the medieval town of Koblenz, and walks through the Black Forest. Or you can simply size up the royal competition through windows framed by Figueroa silk-taffeta drapes.

Photo: Courtesy of Uniworld River Cruises, Inc.

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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