December 6, 2014
Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

Where MSC Orchestra’s Grand Voyage Begins

While cruising the Mediterranean, from Athens to Venice, at the height of this year’s European Summer, it seemed like every port we visited there was always one of MSC’s large white elegant ships already docked. Not surprising really, as MSC is synonymous with the Mediterranean.

Their modern luxury cruise ship fleet exudes Italian style and comfort, so no matter which one of their twelve ships you choose to sail on, the experience will be one to remember.

From Italy, Spain, the Greek Islands, Turkey, Croatia, France, Greece and Northern Africa they have the Mediterranean covered and with their flexible embarkation ports, joining a cruise could not be easier.

MSC funnelMSC also sail further afield with their programme of Grand Voyages, allowing passengers to enjoy such regions as the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Now it’s Australia’s turn to welcome MSC to our shores.

MSC Orchestra will embark on her maiden voyage to Australia when she sets sail from Dubai on 21 February 2015. The 33 night Grand Voyage will visit many exciting ports such as Mumbai and Cochin in India, followed by Colombo, Phuket and Langkawi before arriving in Singapore, where there will be an overnight stay, giving passengers plenty of time to explore this ever changing city. Benoa, on the Indonesian island of Bali, will be the final Asian port before cruising on to Australia.

Cairns is the first Australian port of the Grand Voyage, with MSC Orchestra due to arrive on 13 March 2015. From Cairns she will begin a partial circumnavigation of the Australian Coast. After visiting Brisbane, it’s Sydney’s turn to greet her and where she will make another overnight stay prior to visiting Melbourne, Adelaide and finally Fremantle on 26 March 2015.

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra's Godmother

Sophia Loren, MSC Orchestra’s Godmother

Lynne Clarke, Managing Director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand said “We are thrilled to be bringing MSC Orchestra to Australian waters. We will be equally excited for our loyal passengers to have the chance to see the cruise ship in their home waters.”

MSC Orchestra was launched on 14 May 2007, the second of the ‘Musica-class’ line of cruise ships that offer a blend of design, comfort and safety, along with MSC Cruises’ signature Italian style. In tune with the musical theme, her decks are named after the instruments in an orchestra such as Mandolino, Clarinetto, Saxofono and Violino.

Passengers will be spoilt for choice with so many dining options. The two main restaurants, L’Ibiscus and Villa Borghese, serve a selection of fresh produce, ranging from traditional and tasty Mediterranean fare to the most refined international dishes. La Piazzetta buffet restaurant also offers a large variety of Italian and international cuisine. The speciality Shanghai Chinese Restaurant serves Szechuan style food from the spicy northern region as well as Cantonese, the sweeter fare of the south. Mid-morning Dim Sum specialties from every region of China are also available.

Kids are not forgotten with their very own Jungle Adventure playroom and teens can meet in the Teen’s Club.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


September 3, 2014


With a change of venue to Wharf 3 at Walsh Bay, Luxperience has returned to Sydney, bigger and brighter than before. Held over four days, this annual travel trade event, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, showcases luxury and high-end travel products on offer from Australia and various countries around the globe, to overseas and local buyers.

Veronica Rainbird & Sandra Tiltman

Veronica Rainbird & Sandra Tiltman

With so many exhibitors at the event, buyers schedule appointments every fifteen minutes. On the quarter hour bells ring to remind everyone that it’s time to move on to the next appointment.

Especially welcome were the lounge areas for relaxing between appointments.

I particularly enjoyed visiting the Arabian themed Luxe Pamper Lounge with its large sofas and ottomans where Sasy n Savy, in partnership with Dubai Tourism, were offering ten minute shoulder, neck, arm and hand treatments using Sasy n Savy products.  It was great to catch up again with Dubai Tourism’s Veronica Rainbird and Samea Maakrun Managing Director of Sasy n Savy. The massage certainly revitalised me, giving me renewed energy to visit more of the exhibitors.

At the other end of Wharf 3, I stopped for a coffee in the lounge sponsored by Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand.

I was also pleased to run into Helen Wong and Mike Smith at the Macau Government Tourist Office stand, as I had just returned from a wonderful stay in Macau.

Sandra Tiltman with Samea Maakrun, CEO of Sasy n Savy

Sandra Tiltman with Samea Maakrun, CEO of Sasy n Savy

The day I visited, the Sydney Showboat drew up to Wharf 3 to board delegates for a lunch time cruise around Sydney harbour, where those from overseas and inter-state were excited to see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, while dining.

Looking forward to next year’s Luxperience.

For more photos GO TO:

Sandra Tiltman      Photos: John Pond


June 16, 2013


Stockholm is the latest city that Emirates Airlines has added to their ever increasing list of European destinations.

Flights to this Scandinavian city will commence from 4September 2013 and to celebrate, Emirates is offering special fares for Australian travellers wishing to fly to Stockholm.  These special airfares are valid for travel between 4October – 5December 2013 and 16January – 24March 2014.  All bookings must be completed by 26August 2013.

Emirates Image, Emirates Aircraft at Dubai Airport84 flights per week are operated by Emirates from Australia to Dubai, with daily onwards connections to Stockholm, where one of the highlights for Australians will probably be the newly opened Abba Museum.

Emirates boasts a network of 34 European destinations, all via one convenient stop in Dubai.

I’ve flown to Europe and back several times with Emirates and thoroughly enjoyed the flight experience.  The fantastic service from their international crew, great food and wine and most important of all, comfortable seats, makes the time go so quickly.

To break up the long journey to Europe, I always spend a couple of days in Dubai, staying in one of the many luxurious hotels.  There are so many five star hotels to choose from, guests are spoilt for choice.

If you prefer to fly straight on to your European destination, Dubai is one of the easiest airports to transfer to another flight.  There are so many shops to tempt you, with selections of watches, cosmetics, clothing, computers and much much more while you wait for your connecting flight.

Sandra Tiltman.


June 9, 2013
Sandra Tiltman Enjoying Emirates A380 Business Class

Sandra Tiltman Enjoying Emirates A380 Business Class

Emirates now offers passengers two daily A380 from Sydney to Dubai.  Upgrading flights EK 414 and 415 to the Airbus A380-800 has increased capacity by 1,890 seats per week or 38%.

Set in a three-class configuration, the Emirates A380 has 399 seats in Economy Class on the lower level, 76 fully flat-bed mini-pods in Business Class and 14 First Class Private Suites on the upper level.  Passengers in the First Class cabin can freshen up in one of two on-board shower spas.

Since flights to Melbourne commenced in 1996, Emirates footprint in Australia has created more than 3,500 jobs, carried over 16 million passengers and 350,000 tonnes of cargo, as well as invested more than $85 million in Australian arts, community and sports sponsorships.

Sydney first joined the network in 2000 and received its first A380 service in February 2009, just the third destination on Emirates’ expansive international network to receive the state of the art aircraft.

With 57 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, 33 currently in the fleet and a growing network of more than 20 A380 ready airports, Emirates is now working towards Brisbane joining this network in October 2013.

The second daily Sydney A380 launch precedes Brisbane’s first A380 service and follows a period of growth for Emirates’ presence in Australia.  In 2012 Melbourne received a daily A380 service and daily services to Adelaide commenced, while in March of this year, Perth services were upgraded to three times a day.

“As part of our commitment to Australians, our newest A380 service between Sydney and Dubai is also a key element of the growth of our Global Aviation Partnership with Qantas,” said Barry Brown, Emirates Vice President Australasia.

Emirates’ non-stop EK414 service leaves Dubai at 02.15 and arrives in Sydney at 22.05, then departs Sydney as EK415 the next day on its return journey to Dubai at 06.05, arriving at 14.30.  The flight connects conveniently with a range of European and UK services including London, Rome, Milan, Zurich, Moscow and Munich, with A380 services all the way through to both London and Moscow.  Sandra Tiltman


July 9, 2012

Emirates Airlines is embarking on a major expansion of its network, with three additional destinations to be launched in the next six months.  From 1 November, Emirates will launch four weekly flights to Adelaide from Dubai, growing to a daily service from 1 February 2013.  Adelaide will become Emirates’ fifth destination in Australia.

The current twice daily service to Perth will expand to 19 weekly flights from 1 December, becoming a triple daily operation from 1 March next year.

“Emirates is currently in a concentrated and sustained period of global expansion,” said His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group (Pictured).  “The addition of Adelaide to our network and the boost to our Perth operations demonstrates our commitment to investment and growth in our Australian operations and highlights the economic strength and global demand for the two cities as business, leisure and investment destinations.  We will also grow capacity to Melbourne with the introduction of daily A380 services in October, in addition to our existing double decker flight into Sydney.”

The French city of Lyon will also be added to Emirates’ network from 5 December, making it their third French destination along with Paris and Nice, plus a daily service to Warsaw, Poland will begin on 6 February 2013.

The airline currently has a fleet of 176 aircraft, including the world’s largest Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 fleet, flying to 124 destinations and supported globally by more than 60,000 staff.

Emirates has one of the world’s most generous baggage policies, allowing passengers in Economy 30 kg, Business 40 kg and First 50 kg of checked baggage.  These generous allowances are a huge bonus to Australians, who always seem to travel with a lot of luggage.  When planning a trip and choosing an airline, I am sure generous baggage allowances act as an incentive to book with Emirates.   Sandra T.