The Benefits of Booking your Holiday with an Agency
As online influence and purchasing have increased exponentially in the last few years, it seems that personal interaction with your reputable...Read more
Keeping the Steam Dream Green
The Steam Dreams Rail Co. was the first rail charter to be carbon neutral and we are proud of our commitment to ensure our trains do not damage the environment.
Every time Steam Dreams Rail Co. run a steam charter (around 60 times a year) they make a donation to an organisation called Eco-Act, which invests in carbon reduction projects, to offset the carbon emissions that steam engines produce.
So for example, if trips produced 100 tonnes of carbon emissions through the use of coal, this can be can offset this by purchasing 100 tonnes of carbon credits to reduce the carbon impact to zero (to become carbon neutral).
Eco-Act’s carbon reduction projects usually take place in developing countries, in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and forestry. Each of their projects removes a measurable amount of greenhouse gasses or prevents the emissions in the first place, to reduce the total concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that contribute to climate change.
Projects are carefully monitored and verified so that each tonne of greenhouse gas reduction can be certified as a carbon offset credit, giving total peace of mind that offsetting is transparent and effective.
In 2019, Steam Dreams are investing in a solar power project in India. This project provides the following positive impacts:
- Provision of jobs in local communities across India for the construction and operation of solar plants;
- Improvement to the livelihoods of families employed by the projects;
- Awareness-raising of the impacts of climate change and how to mitigate them;
- Reducing the reliance on energy generation from fossil assisting communities across India to gain access fuels to renewable and sustainable sources of electricity.
If you are interested in learning more about Steam Dreams Rail Co. UK journeys, please call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 or visit our website today.
Whilst travelling 120km/hour
Stream Dreams – For over fifteen years, The Cathedrals Express steam train has been taking passengers on day trips to beautiful cathedral cities in the UK including Salisbury, Bath, Canterbury and York.
As soon as they board the train, passengers travelling in the Premier Dining or Pullman Style Dining classes are treated to a full English breakfast and a glass of champagne, with a four or five-course meal on the return journey – all cooked on the train in a renovated 1960’s kitchen car.
Serving up to five courses to almost 250 diners, The Cathedrals Express kitchen was specifically designed for Steam Dreams by a Michelin starred chef, bringing it up to date with modern restaurant requirements within the confines of a vintage carriage.
The modernisation was completed in June 2013 and the Head Chef, Tony Keene, is delighted with the result; “Since our kitchen car entered service, the modern bespoke facilities have enabled us to raise our food offering to a whole new level. The new space allows food to be cooked and presented as close to modern restaurant-style as possible, with all dishes plated and finished off at the last minute.”
“On most of our day trips, we serve over 200 diners across our Pullman and Premier Dining coaches as well as 30 members of staff. All meals are prepared on board, so preparing and serving this number of meals whilst moving at high speeds and often working to very tight deadlines can be very challenging.
Unlike any other kitchens I have worked in, we don’t have unlimited supplies, with finite amounts of cooking gas, water and electricity but the new onboard facilities have made a huge difference. The extensive new storage and preparation space has enabled us to develop our dishes to offer a modern British menu with a nod to the glory days of the British Pullman cars,” said Tony.
Tickets for Steam Dreams tours are available in four different classes, ranging from Premium Standard through to the top class of Pullman Style Dining. Passengers travelling in Pullman Style will enjoy a two-course champagne breakfast on the outward journey and a five-course dinner on the return, whilst those opting for Premium Standard will be seated at tables of four in open carriages and served with complimentary tea and coffee at their seats.
For further information on travelling to the UK onboard any Steam Dreams journey please call Cruise Express on 1300 766 537.
Sample Pullman Style Dining menu onboard The Cathedrals Express
Fresh Croissant with Preserves
Fruit Compote with Granola & Yoghurt
Porridge or Cornflakes
Full English Breakfast with Free Range Scrambled Egg,
Lincolnshire Sausage, Sussex Bacon, Hash Browns, Tomato,
Mushrooms, Black Pudding & an English Muffin
(v) Vegetarian Sausages, Roasted Portabello Mushroom
with Free Range Scrambled Egg, Tomatoes,
Hash Browns & an English Muffin
Smoked Mackerel Pâté,
Cucumber Pickle & Herby Leaves
(v) Chickpea Falafel with Beetroot Tzatziki
Sage Roasted Guinea Fowl, Crushed Sweet & New Potato,
Petit Pois & Wilted Baby Chard, Red Wine Jus
(v) Goat’s Cheese & Red Onion Marmalade Tartlet
with Thyme, Crushed Sweet & New Potato,
Petit Pois & Wilted Baby Chard
with Raspberry Coulis & Blueberries
Selection of English Cheeses with Grapes,
Celery & Biscuits
Coffee & Biscotti
Thank you to Claire Newton of Steam Dreams Co. UK for sharing this article.
The Northwest Passage
Having captured the hearts and minds of explorers and fortune seekers for centuries, this almost unconquerable sea passage, well beyond the Arctic Circle through the Arctic regions of North America, is the Northwest Passage.
Undisputedly one of the most remote and exciting travel destinations in the world, the Northwest Passage is the only possible shipping route between the Atlantic and the Pacific and is an epic adventure for true explorers. In summer, for a few short weeks, the temperature rises enough for the ice to melt, life reappears, nature is reborn and the mythical route is free for us to relive the polar adventures of previous generations of explorers – successfully!
Many have died crossing the waters connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, but probably one of the most famous was British Explorer, John Franklin, who in 1845 set sail from Greenland to the Arctic Archipelago (now known as Canada!) with 128 men onboard two ships, all of whom died. During the remainder of the 1800s, the American and British governments launched approximately 40 expeditions to find these lost explorers, but it wasn’t until 2014 when a team of Canadian divers found one of these ships at the bottom of a channel.
Any adventure across the Northwest Passage will include passing explorer sites and ship graveyards, yet despite this fascinating, if not grim history, there is so much more this destination has to offer. Visitors will be mesmerised by the landscape – the vast expanses of ice floe, myriads of jagged islands, blue-toned glaciers, mountain chains, expanses of tundra and vertiginous walls.
This truly is a remarkable journey and even today, few ships have the capabilities to successfully complete the Northwest Passage. At the heart of this vast labyrinth of icy channels, there are just three main routes that allow the Northwest Passage to be crossed.
Sailings often leave from Reykjavik and travel along the south coast of Greenland, reaching the Hudson Strait, named after the English sailor Henry Hudson, who mapped it for the first time in the early 17th Century. Then head towards the Fury and Hecla Strait, named after the ships of the explorer William Parry. Always covered in ice, this seawater channel is around 1,900 metres wide at its narrowest point, and represents an impassable obstacle for most ships. Entering the passage, you will have the privilege of visiting Igloolik, an Inuit village that was only discovered in 1822.
An unique sailing experience can be enjoyed a little further on in the Bellot Strait, amidst countless icebergs. Sail along Banks Island, famous for the wreck of HMS Investigator lying offshore, one of the ships tasked to search for Sir John Franklin’s lost expedition. There is also incredible wildlife at Fairway Rock, home to many marine mammals and sea birds.
Journeys across the Northwest Passage offer an exciting array of wildlife encounters, including arctic foxes, narwhals, muskoxen, bowhead whales, orcas, seals, belugas, walruses and the possibility of seeing one of nature’s most dangerous yet beautiful creatures, an imperial polar bear with her cubs. This is a superb destination for bird lovers, with over 26 species of sea birds that migrate, nest and fish in the region.
If you’re interested in learning more, or actually undertaking the journey, see here for details on the Northwest Passage in 2020 or for the Northwest Passage in 2021 click here. Alternatively call us on 1300 766 537.
As online influence and purchasing have increased exponentially in the last few years, it seems that personal interaction with your reputable Travel Agency is falling by the wayside – but is it?
Agency or DIY?
When it comes to important decisions like our large purchases and big-ticket holidays, we still crave a human at the end of the line, or shock horror, even face to face!
Outlined below are a few reasons why we believe developing a long-term relationship with a travel agency is so important to achieving your best holiday, for the best price without any unsuspecting traps for holiday disasters.
Expertise – just when you need it
Like any professional, whether it be a lawyer or doctor, a Travel Specialist is just that, a specialist. Highly trained and in most cases with many years if not decades of experience, they are fully invested to get to know you, to listen well, know what questions to ask, and to offer advice on how to make your holiday the best it can possibly be.
They also have all the inside knowledge of visa and passport requirements, port details, embarkation and so much more.
Most agents can also help you with little insights and tips – like where to find the best pizza in New York or a great bar in Santorini!
Great prices and value
With so many offers out there, it can be really confusing to know if you are getting the best deal and value for money. Remember that your Travel Specialist has access to exactly the same deals cruise lines directly offer, and in some cases are able to offer even lower pricing, intervening with suppliers on your behalf.
It pays to ask – depending on allocations and offerings for different ships and destinations, Cruise Express can be as much as 10 percent lower in price than the actual cruise line!
What you see online is not necessarily the best price, and prices do fluctuate frequently. We recommend that you simply always ask the question.
They get to know your personal needs and preferences
They aren’t just selling you a product, it’s also a service, and you can’t have one successfully without the other. Once a relationship has developed, your Travel Specialist will know so much more about you and will do everything they can to meet your needs within your budget.
Many clients return year after year knowing they will be taken care of so that their holidays are stress-free.
Although on occasion you may pay a slight amount more for agency expertise, the time and money you spend with them will be returned to you many times over in the form of perks, upgrades, convenience, great service and someone to call if things go wrong on your holidays.
Added peace of mind
Price isn’t everything and sometimes what you need is really good after sales support. If something goes wrong you have the peace of mind knowing you can call 24/7 and speak to someone.
Remember, if you buy online, you aren’t dealing with a faceless online booking agency or a website provider making it hard to contact anyone.
Escorted tours offer experiences like no other
Escorted tours are another travel agency specialty. Enjoy having a highly experienced tour leader who knows the ins and outs of your destination, insider tips on where to go, special access to places, special contacts with inside local knowledge, and touches that are not available to other travellers.
While most of us would like to spend much more of our lives travelling, for many it isn’t really an option, so when we do embark on these inspiring journeys, it’s important to do it to the best of your capability, utilising the best of the best available to you.
We recommend chatting with friends and family about their positive travel experiences and the travel agency they use and have developed a rapport with.
Call, email or drop in – and trust your instincts. And, of course, we are always here to help!
Click here for an ultimate holiday experience or call us 1300 766 537
An extremely geographically diverse region, twice as large as Victoria, many bird-watching enthusiasts would regard the Kimberley as an absolute bird paradise. Almost one-third of Australia’s 900 or so species of birds can be seen at some time of the year in The Kimberley. The area boasts a remarkable diversity of habitats, from coastal and inland salt-pans to wetlands, from inter-tidal mangroves to rugged sandstone escarpments, and from eucalypt woodland to seabird islands.
The convoluted coastline with a tidal range approaching 10m in places provides feeding and roosting areas for migratory shorebirds that breed in Siberia and spend the Spring and Summer in the region, such as Common Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Far Eastern Curlew. The diverse habitats in combination with the annual wet and dry seasons allow a rich bird fauna present in a relatively small area throughout the year.
Even in the dry season, there is plenty of food for birds throughout the Kimberley. The seabird islands support nationally and internationally, significant breeding populations of Brown Booby, Roseate and Bridled Tern, Lesser Frigatebird and Common Noddy. Resident shorebird species such as Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers nest above the tide line, with Crested and Caspian Terns nesting close by.
The mangroves and river systems provide rich feeding areas for fish-eating birds such as Osprey, Brahminy Kite and White-bellied Sea-eagle, Striated Heron and Eastern Reef Egret. Azure and Collared Kingfishers are readily seen in mangroves throughout the region. Comb-crested Jacanas can be seen walking on river plants whilst feeding. Black-necked Storks and Australian Pelicans, Intermediate and Little Egrets are frequently seen around river edges.
Woodland areas support populations of Little Corella, Black Kite, Brown and White-throated Honeyeaters, Red-winged Parrot, Yellow Oriole, Figbird, Rainbow Bee-eater and Silver-crowned Friarbird. White-quilled Rock-pigeon and Spinifex Pigeon are seen in the drier areas, as are Zebra, Double-barred and Gouldian Finches.
While some are unique to certain areas, many species can be found throughout the Kimberley. One of these is the spectacular Eastern Osprey, the ultimate predator along the Kimberley Coast skyline. When you visit we also suggest you keep an eye and an ear out for the Sacred Kingfisher with their distinctive calls. This region is also home to the Eastern Reef Egret and if you are lucky you may spot a dancing Brolga!
Located on Australia’s North West Shelf, 610 kilometres north of Broome is Ashmore Reef. This incredible life-sustaining reef provides several marine habitats and species in and out of the ocean.
It is here you will find around 50,000 breeding pairs of various kinds of seabirds, including colonies of Bridled Terns, Common Noddies, Brown, Red-footed and Masked Boobies, Eastern Reef Egrets, Frigate birds, Tropicbirds, Roseate, Crested and Lesser Crested Terns.
The Rowley Shoals
Another stunning destination to observe birds is The Rowley Shoals, about 260 km northwest of Broome. The Rowley Shoals is a group of three atoll-like coral reefs on the edge of one of the widest continental shelves in the world. It is home to many ocean bids as well as a nesting site for the Red-Tailed Tropicbird, home to one of only two of Western Australia’s colonies, and the rare, newly discovered White-tailed Tropicbirds.
Other beautiful species found at Rowley Shoals include the Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Brown Booby, Eastern Reef-egret, White-breasted Sea Eagle, Ruddy Turnstone, Large Sand Plover, Crested And Sooty Terns And The White-throated Needletail.
Browse Island also is a spectacular destination to observe breeding seabirds and migratory shorebirds including the Brown Booby, Frigate Bird And Eastern Reef Egret.
As the Kimberley is so extensive, it’s important to keep in mind that many species migrate or are nomadic and move with the seasons, so if you are really keen on spotting a particular species you may need to do a lot more in-depth research.
If you have extra time and are feathered friend keen then we recommend you take a look at the Broome Bird Observatory in Roebuck Bay, a super passionate organisation dedicated to educating visitors about the birds that live and visit the area.
Click here to find out more about our life-changing journey in 2020 with Ponant and National Geographic.
Thank you to Dr Eric Woehler for his insight and incredible knowledge.