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Bucket list trips with a twist

It’s time to up the stakes. Andrew Doherty rounds up the latest twists on classic bucket list experiences to pique your clients’ interest.

Anna Elsa and Kristophe Alesund Norway.jpg
Anna Elsa and Kristophe Alesund Norway.jpg

From watching a pod of blue whales leap majestically from the ocean to sleeping under the stars on an African safari, bucket-list adventures are tried and tested experiences that are sure to create lasting memories for your clients. Yet there’s always pressure to impress with new ways to experience some of the world’s most iconic sights. We ask the operators for the latest packages that offer an alternative way to enjoy some of those once-in-a-lifetime holidays.

Norwegian fjords on a Disney Cruise

Channel your inner fairy godmother for fans of Disney’s Frozen and suggest a Disney Cruise Line trip taking in the scenery of Norway, Denmark and Iceland.


The line’s 10-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland Cruise, onboard Disney Magic, will take clients to the lands that inspired the box-office-busting movie. The itinerary includes seven ports of call including a day out at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon.


Mark Pilkington, head of commercial at Disneyland Resort, says clients shouldn’t miss out on this experience as it’s the only Disney cruise to travel to Iceland in 2018.


“Sailing into the fjords is a breathtaking experience that everyone should do in their lifetime. With Disney Cruise Line, you also have thechance to go ashore and see some of the places that inspired the Frozen film as well as meet the characters Anna and Elsa. We are the only cruise line that can bring the magic of Frozen to the stunning landscapes of the fjords.”


Book it: Disney Cruise Line offers the 10-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland Cruise from £2,683pp, based on an August 16, 2018 departure.

A submarine in the Maldives

Exploring the corals below the surface of the Indian Ocean and discovering the colourful marine life that dwells there is a strong bucket-list contender. For those without a diving qualification, exploring the watery depths may be limited to the upper levels accessible with a snorkel. However, at Velaa Private Island clients can explore the surrounding reefs and corals in a three-person submersible from $395pp per hour.


The craft, which is controlled by a trained underwater pilot, will reach depths of five metres and is ideal for guests who aren’t qualified divers, says Jessica Abrams, product executive for Indian Ocean at Elegant Resorts.


“Located in the wonderfully named Noonu Atoll, Velaa Private Island has some spectacular and unique features, the main one being the resort’s private submarine.”


Book it: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights from £11,025pp based on two sharing a Beach Pool Villa, with Gatwick flights, seaplane transfers and UK lounge passes included. Price is based on a January 12, 2018 departure.

Search for the Northern Lights with an astronomer

Iceland in winter offers a magical experience with its twilight days and, with a bit of luck, a spectacular light show by night.


Explore’s senior operations manager Naomi Jackson, extols the virtues of the Icelandic winter. “The snow is deep, the ice sparkles and everything feels oddly exciting. Iceland makes you feel childlike again, and listening to stories of elves and Vikings with a crisp Icelandic beer is a highlight.”


But Explore ramps the excitement up further on its short break, Northern Lights with an Expert Astronomer. The tour is accompanied by astronomer Andrew Green and includes a lecture about the phenomenon. Clients explore the Golden Circle and learn about the volcanic eruption of 2010 at Eyjafjallajokull Museum. By night, they’ll aim to earn their bragging rights as they go in search of the Aurora Borealis.


Book it: Explore’s short trip, Northern Lights with an Expert Astronomer, costs from £1,115pp, including flights, three nights’ B&B, an Explore tour leader and an astronomer.

An African safari by private jet

An African safari is considered to be among the ultimate in bucket-list adventures, but how does zipping between popular wildlife destinations in a private jet sound?


With andBeyond’s Private Jet Journeys, clients will travel in the luxurious interior of a chartered Bombardier Challenger 350 and PC-12 aircraft, taking in an itinerary covering Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The tour includes an afternoon with the BBC’s Big Cat Diary host, Jonathan Scott, in the Maasai Mara, a hot-air balloon safari and a helicopter flight over the Cape Peninsula.


Joss Kent, chief executive at andBeyond, explains the ethos behind Private Jet Journeys: “AndBeyond’s private jet experiences are aimed at those seeking an immersive experience and who want to make the most of their time.


“We believe in tailoring the journey for the guests by providing guaranteed access to specialised guides as well as spectacular experiences. We want to allow our guests to experience these signature experiences that would be almost impossible to book otherwise.”


Book it: The luxury safari specialist offers the Private Jet Journeys from $70,000pp based on two sharing through Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. There will be two scheduled departures in 2019 – September 1-12 and September 12-24.

Venture into the Arctic’s most remote areas

When Scenic’s first discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse launches in 2019, it will feature the Scenic Sixth Star Experience, which professes to make the inaccessible accessible with an onboard helicopter and submarine.


“Only the supremely wealthy or explorers and adventurers could travel to the Arctic hinterland or venture below the ocean to witness polar wildlife in its natural habitat, but now we are making these experiences accessible to our guests while they travel in the utmost luxury and safety,” says Nichola Absalom, brand manager UK at Scenic.


The 11-day Ultimate Arctic voyage will offer clients the chance to spot the Arctic fox, polar bears and blue whales. Guests will take in two free discovery tours each day including snowshoe treks, Zodiac and kayak excursions, with optional extras such as the chance to dip beneath the waves in a submarine or take a helicopter ride over remote areas.


Book it: Departing June 25, 2019, the tour is priced from £8,995pp, based on two sharing.

Toboggan at the Great Wall of China

With the original structure dating back more than 2,300 years, the Great Wall stretches an impressive 13,170 miles across China and possesses a multitude of stunning views. Yet for Wendy Wu Tours’ eponymous founder, the wall offers so much more than the sections most commonly visited.


Wu explains that the new Ultimate Great Wall tour, which is yet to feature in the company’s brochures but is bookable now, will see clients take a 20-minute helicopter ride over the Wall’s Badaling section; experience a Tai Chi lesson with a master; explore the lesser-known Mutianyu area with an expert historian, with a chance to toboggan down the slopes; and have a champagne picnic at Jinshanling.


Wu adds: “If you look at the history of the Wall, you will see that the most visited areas are totally repaired; for instance you can see that the stairs are new. If you go to Jinshanling, the feeling is totally different – you will really understand the history of the Wall and even become more philosophical about it.”


Book it: The Ultimate Great Wall package starts from £12,950pp, including flights, meals, limousine transfers and private guides.

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