• Mashatu Botswana  - credit Bethan Evans

Whale Watching in South Africa

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There are several locations around the world where one can enjoy whale watching, but few can compare to South Africa. In June, the Southern Right whales leave their sub-antarctic feeding grounds and migrate north to mate and calve in the warmer waters of the protected rocky bays and inlets that occur along the South African coastline. From Cape Town, along to Hermanus, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay and Port Elizabeth, these magnificent mammals can be seen from the shore, their antics providing hours of entertainment for travellers intent on playing witness as literally tonnes of aquatic beast breach and tail-slap as if to order.

Hermanus

Hermanus provides the perfect base, with elevated views of the bay from the rugged cliff-top paths. The ‘Whale Crier’ patrols the streets blowing a kelp horn to inform passers-by of the best sightings of the day. From July through to October, good sightings can be almost guaranteed – and although Hermanus is well known for this, don’t discount sightings at other seaside towns.

De Hoop

For a more laid back place to stay and see the whales, the De Hoop will fit the bill. This place used to be the retreat of Presidents of South Africa up to the end of apartheid and subsequently is set in a beautiful bay and the land around is now a reserve for wildlife. Imagine standing on a sandy dune  watching whales in front of you while not far behind you are zebra browsing on the fynbos. This is a great place to relax, bike around and swim in the sea while being aware of the history of the place.

A tour of the Cape Peninsular, a stroll on the beach at Knysna or Plettenberg Bay, or a stay at Jeffrey’s Bay will also prove rewarding, and all can be combined in a self-drive route along this southern coast – please see “South African Highlights”.

Photographs by kind permission South Africa Tourism

SAT Hermanus          SAT Humpback whale

Kwazulu Natal

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This corner of South Africa has much to offer, and is home to battlefields and beaches, wildlife and vistas.

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Kwazulu Natal

A corner of South Africa with much to offer.  KZN is home of Zulu culture, battlefields, beaches, wildlife and vistas.

Day 1: Ballito
Day 3: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve
Day 5: Maputaland
Day 8: Hluhluwe
Day 9: Battlefields
Day 12: Northern Drakensbergs
Day 15: Depart Durban or Johannesburg
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Description

 

The Zulu Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal represents a holiday destination in its own right, and here we explore just such an itinerary including a little of everything, for everybody. The State of KwaZulu Natal is the traditional home of the Zulu people, a nation of tribes, ruled by a chief. They are lovely warm and friendly people, eager to please!

Day 1: Ballito
From Durban, drive to Ballito – a quiet little residential seaside town. At the right time of year, bottlenose dolphins, southern right and humpback whales can be seen.
Two nights Ballito

Day 3: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve
Head north, roughly following the coast, to Hluhluwe. The big five are present here, which hopefully you’ll spot on your game drives.
Two nights Hluhluwe/Umfolozi National Park

Day 5: Maputaland
Driving further north today, heading towards the Maputaland Marine Reserve. In the Coastal Forest Reserve are several lodges, offering a range of activities from scuba diving to horse riding and walking. At the right time of the year you will be able to see the turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.
Three nights Maputaland

Day 8: Hluhluwe
It is possible to get all the way to your next stop in one go, but it is a long day, and worth, we think, breaking the journey at Hluhluwe again. This time, we suggest choosing a lodge close to the St Lucia Wetlands for an overnight stay.
One night Hluhluwe

Day 9: Battlefields
Turn inland now to the Battlefields, to re-live the Zulu wars. For even the armchair historian or those with a passing interest, a tour is essential; one cannot help but feel moved by the stories of these epic battles.
Three nights Battlefields

Day 12: Northern Drakensbergs
Drive via the Spionkop Battlefield, to the Drakensbergs. See the Amphitheatre – the source of the Tugela River, and home of the second highest waterfall in the world.
Three nights Drakenbergs

Day 15: Depart Durban or Johannesburg 
Return to Durban or Johannesburg today for the onward or homeward journey.

SAT Drakensberg      SAT impalas KWN

 

SAT Isandhlwana      SAT zulu hut

 

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Little Gems

Fifty miles of pristine beaches, backed by dunes and only three lodges to choose from.  This is remote wild Africa at its best – we love it!
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Victoria

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Explore the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians National Park in this itinerary.

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Victoria

Each Australian state has its own highlights and Victoria is no exception

Day 1: Melbourne
Day 4: Yarra Valley
Day 5: Walhalla
Day 7: Mornington Peninsula
Day 9: Apollo Bay
Day 10: Warrnambool
Day 11: Port Fairy
Day 12 : Hall’s Gap
Day 14: Ballarat
Day 15: Mebourne

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Description

Each Australian state has its own highlights and Victoria is no exception, from cosmopolitan Melbourne to the beauty of the rugged coast, from the wines of the Yarra Valley to the walking trails of the Grampians.  This idea concentrates only on the state of Victoria, but could easily link in part of full to a wider Australian itinerary.

Day 1: Melbourne
Arrive into the city, where we recommend at least a 3 night stay. Hop on board the free City Circle Tram to visit the main city sights and attractions. Sports fans will enjoy a tour of Melbourne Cricket Ground. Explore Melbourne from the water on a cruise along the Yarra River past Melbourne’s parks and gardens and Herring Island. Explore historic Williamstown.
Melbourne 3 nights

Day 4: Yarra Valley
Collect a hire car this morning and drive out to Yarra Valley. Take an authentic historic steam train through the scenic Dandenong Ranges or perhaps take a hot air balloon ride for spectacular views of the valley and surrounding areas.
Yarra Valley 1 night

Day 5: Walhalla
Drive to the remote town of Walhalla, once a thriving gold mining town – visit the restored Goldfields Railway, or Long Tunnel Mine. The valley is a rain forest area with some lovely walks; the more adventurous may consider an extended overnight walk.
Walhalla 2 nights

Day 7: Mornington Peninsula
Back to the coast and the Mornington Peninsula to begin your journey along the Great Ocean Road. On Philip Island enjoy spectacular coastal scenery and an abundance of wildlife.
Mornington Peninsula 2 nights

Day 9: Apollo Bay
This morning take the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliffe. Drive to Apollo Bay for an overnight stay. Keen hikers may extend their time here to include one of the excellent guided or self-guided walks along the coastal path.
Apollo Bay 1 night

Day 10: Warrnambool
Continue along the Great Ocean Drive, stopping at the Twelve Apostles visitor centre where you can take a dramatic helicopter flight. Continue on to Warrnambool where you overnight stop could include dinner and the sound and light show at Flagstaff Hill.
Warrnambool 1 night

Day 11: Port Fairy
Begin your day with a second daylight visit to Flagstaff Hill followed by a tour of Tower Hill, an extinct volcano. Continue on to Port Fairy; keen golfers may consider a round here
Port Fairy 1 night

Day 12 : Hall’s Gap
Inland to The Grampians where a 2 night stay gives you a full day to explore the area – keen walkers may want to extend this.
Halls Gap 2 nights

Day 14: Ballarat
Head east with an overnight stop at Ballarat, Victoria’s largest inland city. Visit the former gold mining site of Sovereign Hill and the opportunity to pan for real gold
Ballarat 1 night

Day 15: Mebourne
Return to Melbourne for your return home or to continue your Australia exploration…

Photographs Tourism Australia Copyright

Great Ocean Road      Vic - Melbourne      Vic - Twelve Apostles

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Little Gems

A helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles will settle the conundrum of exactly how many ‘apostles’ there are once and for all.  You may like to buy a DVD of your trip to remind you of a great day out – and don’t forget to take your own camera too.

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Tropical North Queensland

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Explore Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest in this itinerary. ‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland 

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Tropical North Queensland

‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland and although travellers can and do visit year round, do beware that the months of December through to March are the wet season – you may get wet! 

Day 1: Cairns
Day 2: Cape Tribulation
Day 3: Palm Cove
Day 7: Return to Cairns

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Description

Day 1: Cairns
Arrive in Cairns and collect hire car before heading north; the Captain Cook Highway soon reduces to a single carriageway, hugging the coast as it wends its way to Port Douglas. Spend two nights in Port Douglas, a pretty little town with an attractive marina, good shopping and home to the famous Iron Bar on Macrossan Street.
Port Douglas 2 nights

Day 2: Cape Tribulation
Take a full day drive north to the Daintree National Park and on to Cape Tribulation. See the perfect white sandy beaches as Captain Cook saw them many years before. Stop at the one of the many excellent boardwalk trails into the Rain Forest, or climb the observation tower giving you fabulous views over the canopy.
Cape Tribulation 1 night

Day 3: Palm Cove
Return south to Palm Cove for a further 3 nights. We suggest that on one of the days here you take a full day trip out on the Great Barrier Reef; your boat will take you to the pontoon for the opportunity to dive, snorkel or view this amazing living garden from underwater observation decks. See exotic fish of all colours and sizes. On the other full day take a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail, a gondola journey skimming you over the top of the rain forest canopy to Kuranda. You will see the Barron Falls and may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the railway on the other side of the valley.
Palm Cove 3 nights

Day 7
Return to Cairns for your journey home or onward journey.

Photographs Copyright Australia Tourism

Cape Tribulation      Fitzroy Island Great Barrier Reef      Great Barrier Reef

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Little Gems

Hotels come and hotels go or change ownership, but the The Reef House in Palm Cove has remained one of our favourites for many years.  Simple colonial elegance probably describes it best and the honesty bar is still as good as ever it was – we love it!

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Client Feedback

The end of the rainy season and the box jellyfish season in Tropical Queensland was not an issue. Virtually no rain and as we are not avid sea-bathers the ‘stingers’ (as they call them) didn’t bother us so we didn’t bother them, although we did notice some areas of beaches had an anti-stinger (and anti-shark) boom around them. We would have no hesitation in recommending all of the aspects of the itinerary and no hesitation in recommending you and your company. Thanks for a wonderful holiday.

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The Wild West Story

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Start and finish in Denver on this spectacular drive.

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The Wild West Story

A round trip drive, starting and finishing in Denver, this itinerary offers a circular route overview through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Utah.  This itinerary works well in either direction, or simply take part of the itinerary for a more in-depth exploration of a smaller area.

Day 1: Denver
Day 2: Cheyenne
Day 3: Rapid City
Day 6: Ucross
Day 7: Cody
Day 8: Yellowstone National Park
Day 10: Jackson Hole
Day 12: Vernal
Day 13: Grand Junction
Day 15: Moab
Day 16: Mesa Verde National Park
Day 17: Colorado Springs
Day 18: Denver

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The West where spectacular scenery awaits including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Buffalo Bill country, Yellowstone and Mesa Verde National Park Meet real cowboys, stay on a ranch, visit Cody…

Day 1: Denver
Depart UK arrive Denver.
One night Denver

Day 2: Cheyenne
Pick up the hire car that awaits you and drive north to Cheyenne, take the Street Trolley Tour, a narrated tour detailing the town’s Wild West past.
One night Cheyenne

Day 3: Rapid City
Today you will travel into the Black Hills of South Dakota, famous for its granite needles, lakes and green forests. Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. A “must-see” and only a short drive away are The Badlands.
Three nights Rapid City

Day 6: Ucross
Traverse the cowboy country from South Dakota into Wyoming; passing through the town of Deadwood, a Gold Rush town and home to the famous Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
One night Ucross

Day 7: Cody
A short drive will take you to Cody, Buffalo Bill country. Arriving early afternoon will be time to visit the famous Buffalo Bill Museum; seven acres of American history. In the evening visit the rodeo show where real cowboys round up cattle.
One night Cody

Day 8: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, home to Bison, Wolves, Elk, Moose and birdlife. There are 10,000 thermal features, and endless lush forests and spectacular blue lakes.
Two nights Yellowstone

Day 10: Jackson Hole
Depart Yellowstone for The Grand Teton National Park where the magnificent Tetons rise from the valley. The famous Snake River flows through the park and white water rafting is a favourite pastime.
Two nights Jackson Hole

Day 12: Vernal
South to Rock Springs, skirting the Flaming Gorge National Recreation area and into the State of Utah.
One night Vernal

Day 13: Grand Junction
A short and scenic drive will take you into the State of Colorado to the delightful town of Grand Junction. Near Grand Junction is the Colorado National Monument and well worth a visit.
Two nights Grand Junction

Day 15: Moab
Drive to Moab, where you can visit the spectacular National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands
One night Moab

Day 16: Mesa Verde National Park
Today the short drive will take you to The Mesa Verde National Park, a World Heritage Site where you will see the famous Indian dwellings of the Pueblo Indians that date back to 1200 AD. You could include Durango for the famous Durango – Silverton steam train.
One night Mesa Verde

Day 17: Colorado Springs
Located on the plains at the foot of Pikes Peak. Visit the “Gardens of the God’s” red rock formations set against a back drop of the 14,000 feet Pikes Peak.
One night Colorado Springs

Day 18: Denver
Drive to Denver, for your scheduled flight to the UK

The Wild West - The Bighorn National Recreation Area in Wyoming      The Wild West - Canyonlands NP

 

 

The Wild West - yellowstone canyon      The Wild West - Mount Rushmore

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Little Gems

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Star Clippers

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Star Clippers is one of our favourite niche cruising experiences. Their beautiful tall ship sailing vessels offer a unique experience, appealing to those keen on smaller groups, a relaxed atmosphere and the peace and quiet that cruising under sail provides.

Guests are invited to help with the sailing if they wish, or sit and relax with a glass of wine if they don’t. There is no dress code on board, so passengers can wear whatever they feel most comfortable in.

Ports of call include small ‘off the beaten track’ destinations – some visited by no other cruise company. One ship will usually operate in the winter months in the Caribbean, often including Costa Rica – with rainforests, volcanoes, unique flora and fauna and incredible beaches, a cruise here offers a diverse experience, which can be dovetailed with a tailor-made ground tour of the country before or after the cruise.

Another exciting destination that will be available from 2014 is Cuba; inaccessible to cruise ships from the United States, a cruise around Cuba will offer a glimpse into a path less travelled with interesting culture, history and of course stunning beaches.

With three ships in total operating in the Mediterranean, Caribbean and beyond, Star Clipper provides an unusual and unforgettable way to travel – contact us for more information on the many and varied itineraries offered.

Star clipper photo      Star Clippers carib

 

Country: Madagascar

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While coming under the heading of Southern Africa, Madagascar should be in a category on its own. Firstly, being the world’s fourth largest island, there is much to do and see and almost all of it is unique. 80% of its flora and fauna is endemic added to which most of it is fascinating and beautiful to see.

This uniqueness also applies to the Malagasies themselves. Many being a mixture of African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origin, they vary considerably in looks and physique. Tourism has not reached mass market proportions and unlikely to do so in the near future. Expect the accommodation to be more basic than such places as Mauritius and the Seychelles, but this is part of the charm of the place.

There is so much to recommend to do for your trip to Madagascar but below are some of the highlights/suggested activities. For the fuller background to these places, do give us a call.

Highlights:

  • Spend 2 nights exploring Antanarivo, the capital, with its markets and French influenced quarters.
  • Swim with turtles at Nosy Be
  • Watch turtles laying their eggs and/or the eggs hatching at Nosy Be and other locations on the Island
  • Sail along this tropical paradise coastline on a dhow, camping on different beaches each night.
  • Visit the 30 species of lemurs in the indigenous forest National Parks that are found all over the island. Your drive to these Parks will take you through villages and paddy fields that are a feature of Madagascar.
  • Explore the drier south with its Spiny Forest in a 4×4.
  • Dive, fish or snorkel from almost all the beaches that surround Madagascar
  • Explore the old pirate haunts of the Eastern part of the Island. This is wilder and for the more adventurous.
  • Hike in the drier Western part of the Island.

Whatever your itinerary, ensure that you end with a few days lazing (or not) on one of the fabulous Madagascan beaches.

Golden Lemur          Green Turtle          Nosy Iranji

 

 

Region: Western Australia

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Western Australia, in our experience is a second-timers destination, and if you’ve enjoyed other parts of Australia already, just wait until you’ve seen what WA has to offer.  From the Kimberley, Broome and the Bungle Bungles in the north, through the pristine, untouched and relatively undiscovered Ningaloo Reef, to the extraordinary ecology of Shark Bay, the wild flowers in the spring, Perth and the award winning wines of the south-west – and we haven’t even started on the Nullabor, the Indian Pacific rail journey, the gold fields of Kalgoolie and the whales!

Hamelin's Pool Stromatolites Western Australia          Pinnacles Western Australia          Western Australia - KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Spend some time in Nairobi, Kenya

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Vicki Tester

 

Most people that travel to Kenya arrive early in the morning and shoot off on safari or perhaps take a night to recover from their flight before heading out. But it is well worth stopping a few days to explore what this city has to offer.

Nairobi National Park

Even if your visit to Kenya is limited to Nairobi you can still enjoy the country’s spectacular wildlife with a visit to this swath of wilderness just 15 minutes outside the city centre.

The 117 km square of protected space is home to lions, leopard, rhinos, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, gazelle, and a healthy collection of other species including over 400 different types of birds. The park can be easily navigated with a tour where you can explore the savannah and forests too.

At the Athi River hippo pool on the south western edge of the park you can stretch your legs and take a walk accompanied by an armed ranger who will not only protect you from feisty critters but can tell you a bit about what you’re seeing.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Animal Orphanage

Located at the entrance to Nairobi National Park, the orphanage is home to those animals that have been abandoned, confiscated from illegal traffickers or injured and unable to survive in the wild. It is a great place to learn about the different species.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Langata Giraffe Centre
The Langata Giraffe Centre, run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, is a sanctuary for the rare Rothschilds giraffe. Here you can observe, hand-feed or even kiss the giraffes from a raised circular wooden structure, and it is quite an experience. It’s a good place to get the close-up photographs.

For those of an adventurous nature, you could even stay at the Giraffe Manor for the night and have these wonderful animals as very close neighbours.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya’s National Museum and Snake Park

If you want to see the stuffed remains of the Man-eaters of Tsavo, or learn about this diverse and fascinating country’s history and geography, then the Museum is a must. You will easily loose half a day here.

In the grounds of the National Museum, there’s a recreated Kikuyu homestead and a Snake Park, where you can see black mambas, snakes of all types, some sad-looking crocodiles and giant dudus (creepy crawlies).

All in all, Nairobi should not be rushed – there is much to see and do here.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

A Little bit of Luxury

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Vicki Tester

 

If you have ever fancied a special luxury adventure cruise, then why not consider adding a True North Cruise to your bespoke Australia itinerary.  A number of exciting itineraries are offered – below are just three of these:

 

The Southern Safari (8 Nights) Adelaide – Ceduna / Adelaide

The is a real safari of the sea and a real adventure for those who like plenty of activities with a touch of luxury.  On this cruise you will stop for a scrumptious lunch at Maggie Beer’s farm, visit the famed Kangaroo Island and beautiful Coffin Bay where you can wash down oysters with champagne.  Then why not get up and close with the Great White Sharks in a cage dive and also take part in some of Australia’s most reliable fishing action, this is  safari with a difference!

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST EXPLORER (10 NIGHTS) Perth – Dampier

Relish in vibrant contrast – the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean lap the red sands of the ‘north’ as the West Coast Explorer winds its way north from Fremantle to Dampier. The Abrolhos are steeped in history; Ningaloo boasts world-acclaimed marine life and the Montes offer fishing paradise – the ‘West Coaster’ is a sojourn that tames Australia’s still-wild western shores! A must for snorkelers and divers, fishing enthusiasts, and for the adventurous at heart!

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CORAL ATOLL CRUISE (5 NIGHTS) Broome – Rowley Shoals – Broome

The Rowley Shoals feature exaggerated corals, mind-blowing fish life and stunning underwater clarity; but perhaps more important than anything else – even today they are visited by only a fortunate few! Guided by a marine biologist and a team of underwater naturalists; divers and snorkelers alike will revel in a diverse wonderland of coral habitats including maze-like lagoons, surging tidal canyons and breath-taking walls. And the keen anglers will match wits with big blue-water pelagics such as black marlin, sailfish, wahoo and yellow-fin tuna. Wander the enticing shores of Bedwell Island, see the rookeries of the red-tailed tropicbird and indulge in a True North favourite – sunset drinks on the beach – 300 kilometres from the shore! The Rowley Shoals are Western Australia’s premiere coral playground!

Picture courtesy of True North

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of our favourite cruises click here or if you would like more information on the amazing True North Cruises then please contact us

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