The wild west | Ireland
While there’s no guarantee of good weather, the idea of traversing Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way is certainly a romantic one. Belmond launches its first emerald isle journeys aboard the Grand Hibernian this year, covering three routes departing from Dublin. The Realm of the Giants tour takes in two nights from Dublin to Belfast, with visits to the Titanic Experience, Old Bushmills Distillery and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway.
Legends and Loughs, a four-night experience, sees guests travel in a southerly direction, first to Cork, then via the west coast to Westport, with places of interest along the route including the dramatic Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle and Gardens, home of the Blarney Stone, and the magnificent Ashford Castle in County Mayo.
The Grand Hibernian offers contemporary carriages inspired by Dublin’s Georgian architecture and accommodation for up to 40 guests, allowing guests to step back into another time as they embark the train.
Delicious food, featuring the best of Irish ingredients, is served on board, while the Observation Car makes for the perfect place to relax and watch the scenery pass by. En-suite cabins feature wardrobes and a writing desk, with large windows Aallowing passengers to admire the view.
With each carriage named after an Irish county and decorated to march their county’s tartan. The Kerry carriage boasts sophisticated shades of purple, while Sligo, for example, featuring the sophisticated restaurant in shades of blue and yellow.
An experience aboard Belmond Grand Hibernian is arguably the most luxurious way of seeing and experiencing this beautiful country. Belmond Grand Hibernian launches journeys from Dublin on 13 August 2016, from £2,338.40 per person for two nights.
Highlights: Watching the picturesque Connemara countryside from the comfort of the beautifully restored train; sampling Galway oysters with a traditional pint of Guinness and experiencing falconry at Ashford Castle.
Jungle fever | Peru
Finding your sea feet is easy on board Aqua Expeditions’ custom-built three-, four-, or seven-night 12-suite Aria Amazon or16-suite Aqua Amazon in the Peruvian Amazon. Designed by Peruvian architect Jordi Puig, the river cruisers are elegant, timeless and culturally sensitive, incorporating new finishes such as woodwork, painting and awnings.
Facilities include a lounge and bar area; the dining room, overseen by executive chef, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino; air-conditioned deluxe suites, each one with a large panoramic window; a boutique and the Observation Deck, offering 360-degree views of the Amazon River. There’s no internet on board, but if you’re looking to get away from everyday life, this is definite plus.
Schiaffino brings his award-winning Peruvian cuisine, with locally-inspired dishes such as hearts of palm soufflé; scallops with wild almonds and umari fruit; and grilled paiche with Amazon huatia potatoes to the attention of guests on board.
For those seeking thrilling on shore adventures, excursions deep into Amazonia are available. Spot green iguanas and endangered Taricaya turtles along the shoreline and keep an eye out for monk saki monkeys in the tree canopies.
Highlight: Enjoying a sundowner in the Observation Deck, while passing through the jungle.
This incredible multi-state, 15-day journey travels through game reserves and wild open plains, from South Africa to Tanzania, via Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Starting in Cape Town, guests experience tours in the village of Matjiesfontein, the diamond town of Kimberley and the capital Pretoria, before spending two nights in the Madikwe Game Reserve. The train journey then crosses into Botswana and Zimbabwe, before taking in the spectacular Victoria Falls.
Later, as the train climbs the Tanzanian border before descending into the Great Rift Valley, passengers enter the largest game reserve in Africa, Selous Game Reserve, before ending their journey in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The train is classically decked out, with observation, dining, lounge and club cars.
Naturally, evenings are a formal affair, with meals featuring a varied and finely curated menu, including local game specialties, complemented by a selection of fine South African wines.
Suites on board include the Royal, Deluxe and Pullman Suites, with features including luxury toiletries and large windows so guests can take in the passing landscape. The largest, the Royal Suite, features a private lounge area and a bathroom featuring a Victorian-style roll top bath and separate shower.
Highlights: After dinner, enjoy a digestif and cigar in the Club Lounge as the African wilderness passes by.
Polar expedition | Antarctic
Venture in the steps of some of the world’s greatest explorers with Abercrombie & Kent’s 12-day Classic Antarctic luxury cruise. Sailing aboard the Le Lyrial vessel, which caters for up to 199 passengers, guests start their journey in Buenos Aires, before travelling to the tip of South America, Ushuaia, which is known as the Gateway to Antarctica. Following that, guests cruise through the Drake Passage, one of the most important trade routes of the 18 and 19 centuries. Reaching Antarctica by day five, guests then have the option of two daily (weather dependant) excursions. On board offers plenty of luxuries and facilities to enjoy during sea days, too, with Le Lyrial equipped with a spa; two restaurants and three bars; Panoramic Lounge and Terrace and The Club.
All of the ship’s outside staterooms and suites have a balcony, with butler service available on deck six. For those braver passengers, there’s an outdoor heated pool and for slightly warmer pastimes, there’s a library with an extensive book collection, a theatre, plus a hair salon and fitness centre. It is however the passing icebergs and snow-drenched landscape that will render passengers speechless.
Highlight: The opportunity to discover some of the world’s rarest, most magnificent wildlife and landscapes, while learning about Antarctica’s environment and scientists’ efforts to protect it.