European and Australian Garden Tours 2014

Travelrite International have launched their 2014 Garden Tours to Europe and Australia

There are Seven Exciting Tours to consider including visits to the Chelsea Flower Show:

2014 Helen Young Garden Tour to France and England
May 4 to May 25, 2014

Visiting the French Riviera, Provence, the Dordogne, Bordeaux and London for the Chelsea Flower Show.
This wonderful tour takes in the best gardens of the French Riviera and Provence, the spectacular sights of Carcassonne, Albi, the gorgeous town, where Toulouse Lautrec was born and Scarlet a wonderful Medieval town in the Dordogne region and the historic city of Bordeaux, the centre of the famous wine region. Highlights will be the superb Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, Chateau Val Joanis, Jardin de la Noria and Les Jardins de l’Imaginaire. We conclude with a delightful four nights in London and a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.

2014 Garden Tour with Angus Stewart to England, France and Spain
May 20 to June 9, 2014

Visiting London for the Chelsea Flower Show, Canterbury, Paris for Jardine Jardin, Amboise, Clermont-Ferrand, Avignon & Barcelona.
We begin with three nights in cosmopolitan London before travelling to Kent and Canterbury, the Garden of England, where we will visit Sissinghurst. We then visit Paris, the Loire Valley and Avignon.  Highlights will be Claude Monet’s house and garden at Giverney, the Chateau’s of the Loire and the Festival des jardins de Chaumont. We finish with three nights in spectacular Barcelona.

2014 Garden Tour with Tony Fawcett to England, Switzerland & Italy
May 17 to June 7, 2014

Visiting Stratford-upon-Avon, London for the Chelsea Flower Show, Venice, Ascona on Lake Maggiore, Siena and Rome
20 exciting days exploring the fine gardens of England, Switzerland and Italy including London for the Chelsea Flower Show.  Highlights include Hidcote and  Kiftsgate Court in the Cotswolds, the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Villa Carlotta, Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore, Villa Gamberaia and Villa Cetinale in Tuscany.


2014 Sue McDougall Garden cruise of the Baltic and St Petersburg aboard Celebrity Constellation
5 July to 24 July, 2014
Visiting Amsterdam, Netherlands; Warnemunde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia; St Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark

2014 Deryn Thorpe Garden Tour to England, Italy and France including the Chelsea Flower Show
20 May to 9 June 2014

Visiting London for the Chelsea Flower Show,staying in the gorgeous village Bagno Vignoni, where we have typical Tuscan meals every night, Florence, the Italian Lakes & Nice.


2014 Jane Edmanson Autumn Delights Garden Tour to the NSW Southern Highlands, Bundanon and Canberra
May 4 to 9, 2014

A delightful six day tour to Bowral, Nowra and Canberra.  With a four day extension tour of Canberra – May 9 to 12, 2014


2014 Deryn Thorpe Garden Tour to the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show and Ballarat
March 22 to 29, 2014

A exciting eight day tour to Ballarat and Melbourne, for the 2014 Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. We visit Paul Bangay’s spectacular garden, Stonefields, the Australian garden at Cranbourne, Heronswood Garden and Cloudhill in the Dandenongs.

For more details visit www.travelrite.com.au

Travelrite Garden Tour at Chelsea Flower Show

Neville and Sandra Walliss (Directors of Travelrite) were traveling with a garden tour in France and Italy with a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show. We were very interested in hearing the results of the judging of the Show Gardens entered at the Chelsea Flower Show on Tuesday 21 May 2013. Flemings Nurseries from Victoria, Australia had a garden designed by Phillip Johnson as their 8th entry in 9 years. They were hopeful that this year they might get Best in Show. There were many people who thought that a non Australian garden could never win in England, where they were expecting a different type of garden.

We listened with bated breath as the results were announced and it was Best in Show for the Flemings Garden. All our group clapped and shouted. We visited the Show on Thursday morning 23 May 2013 and went first to the Flemings site, where we were allowed on the site by Leanne long time employee of Flemings. The team there were very excited at their win. The design featured a billabong and a waterfall in an urban setting with a studio structure integrating into the design.

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The water is recycled and naturally cleaned. There are native plants used though out the design. There are lush ferns, kangaroo paws, bogle brushes and bottle trees.

We continued our visit looking at the other superb show gardens. We then visited the pavilion where we were able to see wonderful examples of many different plants. The best and straightest blue delphiniums, the most wonderful and sweetest smelling bunches of roses and gorgeous displays of gladioli. When we returned to our hotel later in the day we had experienced a highlight of gardening. The only time a non English garden had won Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show.

If you are interested in a Garden tour to the Chelsea Flowe Show please visit our website for upcoming tours.

P&O Releases 2014 Itineraries – Cruise from all mainland state capitals

P&O Cruises is thrilled to present our 2014/15 Program Release. Among a few exciting firsts, this release spans from October 2014 to September 2015 so you have more time to plan your next holiday with Cruise Offers, Australia’s low price cruise website.

More Australian home ports than any other cruise line
For the first time ever, we’re offering round trip itineraries from all mainland state capitals. Cruise from Adelaide, Fremantle, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as Auckland for our New Zealand passengers.

Introducing P&O Asia Itineraries
Sailing from Fremantle, these new 12 and 14-night itineraries visit Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam, with maiden calls to Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City.

Cruise with P&O during the Australian Open
We’re bringing Australia to the Australian Open with two brand new 4 and 5-night itineraries to coincide with the quarter and semi-final matches for singles and doubles.
Plus three Australia Day Cruises to Sydney Harbour in 2015 with front row seats to all the action on Sydney Harbour.

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for all of your latest cruise deals and itineraries

Travelrite consultant Emma Philpot receives Trafalgar Top Performer Award

Travelrite International is excited that Emma Philpot, who works at our Travelrite  Heathmont office, won the Trafalgar Top Performer Award for 2012. Congratulations Emma.

Trafalgar Tours managing director Matt Cameron-Smith, left, presents its top performing agent award to Emma Philpot from Travelrite International with Magellan general manager Andrew Macfarlane

Berlitz reveals highest rated ships and recommends booking through a Travel Agent for the best deals

The good news is that some of the top rated ships will be visiting Australia in the coming months including Celebrity Solstice and Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

Hapag-Lloyd, Seabourn, SeaDream, Crystal, Celebrity and Cunard are the winners of the annual ranking of cruise ships for 2013. The top-scoring vessels of the 2013 Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships have been revealed three weeks before the book is published in October. Small and boutique ships were again the best rated, with only the premium class of one big ship awarded over 1,700 points out of a possible 2,000.

Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa retained its number one spot for the 13th consecutive year, scoring the most points of the 284 ships rated (1,852) and topping the small ships category. SeaDream I and SeaDream II were the next highest scorers (1,788 and 1,786 respectively), which also placed them in the top two of the boutique ships category, followed by Seabourn Legend (1,774).
Seabourn had three ships in the top 10 of this category as well as three in the top 10 small ships, including Seabourn Quest (1,776) and Seabourn Odyssey (1,775) in second and third place after Europa.
Queen Mary 2 (Grill class) dominated the large resort-style ships (1,702), followed by joint runners-up Celebrity Solstice, which will be based in Australia this summer, and Celebrity Equinox (1,611).
The best of the mid-size ships, according to the Berlitz rating system, was Crystal Serenity (1,717). Oceania Cruises’ new Riviera (1,702) and Crystal Cruises’ other ship Crystal Symphony (1,701) came a close second and third. The reviews, devised by British cruise critic and author Douglas Ward, take into account 400 items based on personal cruises, visits and revisits to almost all of the world’s ocean-going ships.

In the new book, Ward also outlines his six biggest cruise line rip-offs and 15 ways that costs are cut.
To get the best value for money, he recommends choosing an older ship and booking through a travel agent.

The 2013 Berlitz Guide app will be available on iTunes on 15 September; the book is due out 1 October.

To make bookings on all cruise lines please call Travelrite International:
Balwyn 1800 630 343
Heathmont: 1800 033 436

Source: Cruise Weekly

National Cruise Week 3 – 9 September 2013

The International Cruise Council Australasia is very pleased to announce that the week of 3rd to 9th September 2012 will be ‘National Cruise Week’.

National Cruise Week is a week-long promotion giving ICCA members exclusive access to a range of offers from all our Member Cruise Lines. With 28 Cruise Lines involved in this one major promotion we will be delivering the largest promotion of cruising ever seen in this market!

The week forms part of our continued efforts in raising the awareness of cruising as a great value holiday option. This event has been a huge success in both North America and the United Kingdom for many years.

Each cruise line will be offering specials. For more information and quotes please contact Travelrite International Tel:
Balwyn: 1800 616 434
Heathmont: 1800 033 436
Email: sales@travelrite.com.au

Cunard’s QM2 to Circumnavigate Australa in 2014

In February 2012, Queen Mary 2 completed an historic maiden Royal Circumnavigation of Australia. The fastest, most magnificent ocean liner ever to undertake such a voyage, she charted a course around Australia in celebration of Matthew Flinders’ first circumnavigation of the continent. A record number of bookings were made within the first sale day and the voyage had sold out within weeks.
After the popularity of this voyage, Cunard is pleased to announce that Queen Mary 2 will return in February 2014 to sail her second Royal Circumnavigation of Australia.
2014 Royal Circumnavigation features:
• Roundtrip sailings available from Perth (Fremantle), Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane
• Fares start from AUD $6,499* per person twin share for an inside stateroom for 22 nights
• Past Passengers booking roundtrip sectors will receive an on board credit of USD $175 per person (applicable to the first two passengers sharing a cabin) until 31 December 2012
Bookings go on sale on 20 February 2012.
Departure dates are:
Fremantle 12 Feb 2014
Melbourne 17 Feb 2014
Sydney 19 Feb 2014
Brisbane 21 Feb 2014
To preregister please contact Travelrite International on 1800 616 434 or email balwyn@travelrite.com.au

Shannon’s London and Paris Trip

LONDON AND PARIS EDUCATIONAL
By Shannon Benson

Qantas Flight
The A380 is an amazing aircraft, quiet and smooth. QF crew were very friendly and accommodating, found the AF crew a little less helpful however they were still pleasant. Overall the flights booked were good times and excellent connections.

London Hotels:
Thistle Kensington Gardens:
Excellent location and well equipped for large groups, however the reception area is rather small to handle more than one arriving at the same time. Having the early check in available was awesome as we all wanted a shower and change before heading out touring.
Rooms are clean and modern, great value for money for people who want to spend the majority of their time out seeing London, proximity to tube is also a plus.
May Fair hotel:
Loved this place, the staff were fabulous and the rooms were quite unique. The whole ambiance of the hotel was relaxed but stylish. For clients who are looking for an up market hotel I would certainly recommend this hotel, I would also recommend anyone going to London to dine at their restaurant, best food I have had, mmmmm yum the lamb was the best. The restaurant staff know the menu very well and are helpful and friendly. I was impressed with the interaction between all the staff in the hotel, they seem to be great friends and that feeling creates a very homely vibe.
Park International hotel:
This is a very charming hotel and excellent value for money. I am glad to have seen this property and now better understand the rooms are all different sizes/layouts due to heritage restrictions. Was impressed at how quiet it was, being on Cromwell Road I thought noise would have been an issue. Also glad that I saw the lower ground rooms with view of street above, need to make clients aware of the view (I don’t see it as a negative but its best they are aware) and also need to advise the lower their room is located the larger it is. Very funky restaurant/bar area.
Collignham Gardens:
Great for people who are staying in London for a longer period of time, who like extra space or families/friends travelling together. Having a laundry is also a plus for people who are travelling around UK/Europe and London is at the end of their trip. Staff are very friendly and the apartments are located close to the action but in a quiet street.
Presidential Kensington Gardens:
Kind of had an Ikea feeling, minimal and no charm. The apartments are modern and have all you need but lacked atmosphere. The additional bedding was unusual, they are couches that fold out to a mattress which sits on the floor, ok for kids but I wouldn’t recommend adults travelling together. Wasn’t keen on its location opposite a backpacker with another located up the road.
Think Earl Court Apartments:
Massive Tesco located next door therefore good for people staying a long period of time. Location is a bit out of the way but excellent for people who are visiting the exhibition centre. The apartments are new and bright white but the hall ways are dark with minimal lighting (on purpose, not dodgy lighting!). Apparently they are still working on the property with construction of a gym/pool area on the bottom floor.

Paris Hotels:
Waldorf Trocadero hotel:
Really cute typical Parisian building in a quiet street away from the hustle and bustle. The breakfast room is tiny, you wouldn’t want many people in there at the one time but the décor is really interesting with all sorts of art pieces. Location is pretty good with an easy walk to the Champs Elysees.

Tours / Activities:
LONDON:
Used the Oyster Card for the first time, awesome sums it up, can we please have the tube here!! It was a great idea to have optional tours, for those who had seen Madame Tussauds before they could experience something they hadn’t done before. I personally wasn’t too keen on going to Madame Tussauds however found it to be quite fun. Getting in was horrible though, we were shunted to all different lines, no one seemed to know what was going on.
The London Eye is fantastic, we saw excellent views of the Thames and Parliament and it was very organised.
Most of us decided to go to a show that evening, we sure We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. What a show!

PARIS:
The Eurostar is the best way to travel between London and Paris, from the centre of London to the centre of Paris without the hassle of lengthy check in times and waiting for luggage. The seats are really comfortable, the food served is nothing special but for such a short trip it is fine.
The first evening we did the Dinner Cruise, Eiffel Tower and Moulin Rouge tour with Cityrama. The driver was very nice and gave clear instructions as to where to meet etc. The cruise was lovely and a great way to see both banks of the city, the food like all mass produced tourist dinners was ok. Having fast track tickets up to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower was fantastic and there was plenty of time to see the lights/sights, good timing after dinner. By the time we were ready to head off to Moulin Rouge I was ready for bed!! Perhaps my tiredness, the wait in line to get in and the amount of people crammed into the theatre was the reason I didn’t enjoy it. I think the three in one tour is too much, if clients have time I will certainly recommend they do Eiffel and cruise one night and then do the early show at Moulin Rouge another night. Would not recommend Moulin Rouge to people who suffer from claustrophobia.
The Eternal Paris – Essential Ride is the best tour I have done in Paris, the drivers are extremely knowledgeable and take you to all the major sights in Paris. People must be prepared to have their photo taken, we turned into a tourist attraction ourselves! They dropped us at Sacre Coeur and we spent the afternoon wandering through the Montmartre area. Working out the metro was a little more difficult in Paris but after being offered advice for a fee from a generous Parisian we worked it out. For dinner that evening we went to the Latin quarter which is very petty to wander, the restaurant choice wasn’t great but the dessert made up for it, mmmm gelato and wandering Paris, simple but enjoyable!
We missed the guided tour of the Louvre however Saskia organised audio tours which are on individual Nintendo DS systems. This was far better as we were able to explore what we wanted to see. After the Louvre we explored the city on Les Cars Rouges, this is a great way to see the city and take your own time. I have done Le Open Tour before and found that they cover more areas of the city however have more than one route, I found it very easy on Les Cars Rouges as they have just the one route. The afternoon was spent shopping on Champs Elysees and chasing Mariah Carey out of Louis Vuitton, not even a fan but when in Paris!! The paparazzi were amazing zipping in and out of traffic on their scooters.
Saskia bought some champagne and strawberries on the way back to the hotel and we enjoyed a glass in the lounge of the Waldorf Trocadero, it was very nice of the hotel to allow us to do this, we kind of took over!

If you would like more information on London and Paris holidays or to make a booking contact Travelrite International on (03) 9836 2522 or balwyn@travelrite.com.au

Royal Caribbean and Celbrity Cruises 2012 and 2013

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will start the year with aggressive pricing and highly visual campaigns that focus on ship features, rather than itineraries.GAVIN Smith, general manager, Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia, has told Cruise Weekly that the company’s two local brands are set for an exciting new direction.

“Royal and Celebrity are bringing two of the world’s best ships down here, so for the first time in Australia, I think ships will become the destination, and the ports of call will be complementary,” he said. Agents can expect to see a strong marketing push for Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice over the next few months.

“Until now we have been focused on telling the consumer about the current summer season, but in Jan/Feb we will delivering the imagery on the onboard amenities – the ship will be the hero. “We will bring the visual appeal of the ships to life during the first half of the year, and I am very confident that we can generate a lot of excitement.”

The new Voyager campaign is designed to highlight the introduction of the Dreamworks program, which was quietly announced last year.
“We haven’t wanted to confuse people who might think they would get the Dreamworks characters and parades and breakfasts on Radiance and Rhapsody, but now we will really be promoting our great family appeal.” The Solstice advertising will highlight unique features such as the Lawn Club.
Pricing for both brands will be “very genuine, to make us more relevant as a holiday option,” Smith said.

“I don’t think we can leave aggressive pricing until later in the year because those passengers will just travel with someone else.” The arrival of the two new ships will also affect the focus of others ships in the fleet next season.

“As agents will note in the summer deployments for 2012-13, our ships are spending a lot of time in Australia, and not so much time in the South Pacific, so Voyager and Solstice will become our Australia-New Zealand ships and Radiance and Rhapsody will become our South Pacific ships,” Smith said. “This is because the Royal and Celebrity model is very dependent on Americans and Europeans travelling to Australia – 35-50% of our guests are inbound – and they are most interested in coastal Australia and New Zealand.”

Visit www.cruiseoffers.com.au for fares.

Queen Mary 2’s Annual World Cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong in Style

Another fantastic Travelrite International group cruise upon the famous Queen Mary 2 concluded in late March upon arrival into Hong Kong. Our group of 45 enjoyed a wonderful four week cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong with interesting ports of call as well as plenty of days at sea to enjoy the ship. The Queen Mary 2 certainly did not disappoint. We all enjoyed beautiful meals in the sumptuous Britannia Restaurant, spectacular shows in the Royal Court Theatre, fascinating lectures on history, geography and film stars as well as our own bingo, deck games and trivial pursuit.
We boarded in Sydney on 22 February 2011 and had overnight on the ship with a free day in Sydney to explore the sights and make ourselves at home on board the QM2. Our first destination was to be Christchurch but this was curtailed due to the devastating earthquake there. We instead enjoyed a lovely tour of Wellington, the New Zealand Capital. After day at sea we visited Auckland with a tour of the City of Sails. Our next port of call was Guam. Guam was the site of World War II fighting between the USA and Japan is now a popular tourist destination. We stopped at the WWII museum and beautiful Two-lover’s point.
From the heat of Guam we travelled to the cold of Japan. We berthed in Osaka and had a sightseeing tour of nearby Kyoto. During our tour of the Golden Pavilion we actually had snowfall. Our next port in Japan was to be Nagasaki, however the terrible earthquake and tsunami occurred on route and the port was closed by the time we arrived. We continued on to our fourth country; China, where we had wonderful tours of Beijing (and we saw the Forbidden City) and Shanghai (a highlight for many tour members).
Our final destination was Hong Kong which was enjoyed by all – especially the shoppers.
The Queen Mary 2 is certainly a grand Cruise Liner. I would happily recommend joining its world cruise – with a superb mix of interesting ports of call and days at sea to enjoy the ship. Photos from this tour have been loaded on our facebook page: Travelrite International. Please visit our web site for future fully inclusive escorted cruise tours: www.travelrite.com.au

Nigel Walliss
Tour Manager