As far as holidays go it would be difficult to suggest anything more appealing than spending 18 days in luxury, cruising along the rivers of French cities such as Paris, Lyon and Monte Carlo or the European countries of Holland, Austria, and Budapest. But what if you were accompanied by three of Australia’s most well known celebrity chefs and knew that you were ‘cruising for a cause’ at the same time?That is the reality of ‘Cruise for Mates’.
Two luxury European river cruises will take place in 2013, one through France with Manu Feildel, Alastair McLeod and Janelle Bloom on board and the other from Amsterdam to Budapest with George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan and Damian Heads joining holidaymakers. Both cruises will help to raise funds for fellow chef Matt Golinski who tragically lost his wife and three daughters in a home fire on Boxing Day in 2011. Matt sustained third degree burns to over 40% of his body and spent several months in a medically induced coma. He is currently undergoing extensive rehabilitation.
Cruise for Mates is the brainchild of Brisbane based travel agent Hilary Weir from Harvey World Travel Garden City. Hilary was inspired by the successful national ‘Plates for Mates’ fundraising campaign first conceived by the six chefs to support Matt. Hilary thought Cruise for Mates could be a natural fundraising extension.
“I first met the six chefs as part of a Plates for Mates fundraising event and was so impressed by their genuine, ‘whatever it takes’ commitment to help their mate, Matt. They were so likeable, kind and generous – and loads of fun.
“Although the circumstances that brought them together were obviously tragic, I started to wonder how we could use the positive aspects of their true friendship to continue to support Matt. That’s when the idea for Cruise for Mates was born.”
“Because the chefs are donating their time, the starting cost of each luxurious, privately chartered cruise is around $10,000 which includes include return airfares from Australia, accommodation and cruising, daily shore excursions, transfers, beer and wine with dinner, all meals on board and the privilege of meeting and holidaying with these super-star chefs. Both cruises will be aboard the beautifully appointed Avalon Waterways ships, which are more like five-star floating hotels.
“With only 80 staterooms available to join the ‘Grand France’ or ‘Magnificent Europe’ Avalon Waterways cruises, the atmosphere on board will be very intimate. Each guest will have the chance to mingle with the chefs, swap foodie stories and explore some of the most beautiful places in the world. “River cruising is often considered to be the holiday of choice for mature travelers – however thanks to the chefs’ involvement these cruises will no doubt be attractive to travelers of all ages, particularly those with a keen interest in food. We’ve exclusively chartered the luxurious and modern Avalon Waterways ships, the MS Avalon Scenery, MS Avalon Creativity and the MS Avalon Expression to be the ‘foodie ships’ of Europe next year. By chartering the vessels we have full control of the entertainment and activities planned.
“The chefs are all high energy, enthusiastic individuals and are great fun to be around so we’re encouraging guests to pack their dancing shoes and their laughing gear. By the end we might have to rename the ships the MS Shenanigans and the MS Mischief!
“Having said that, it won’t just be about food, wine and fun, these cruises are incredibly romantic, the scenery on both is breathtakingly beautiful and it is so relaxing to float by and take it all in. I’ve had many people who have been on similar cruises say it has reignited their relationships and I’ve already had one gentleman enquire about buying tickets to one of these cruises as a gift for his food-show-mad wife’s 40th birthday gift – how romantic is that!”.
Speaking on behalf of the six chefs, Celebrity Chef Alastair McLeod said, “For us, Cruise for Mates is all about mateship and I know I can speak for everyone when I say we are all very happy to be on board, if you’ll pardon the pun. We’re really looking forward to meeting other like-minded passengers who share our love of food and travel as well as the desire to help our mate, Matt.
“These river cruises will be a new experience for each of us and although some of us may have visited or lived in the destinations we’re visiting, we have never had the chance to enjoy them from the perspective of cruising the waterways. We’re all really excited about stopping off at the little villages along the way and exploring the local delicacies.
“I know that Janelle, Manu and I are really looking forward to eating in France, bring on the bouillabaisse! I hear that Gary, George and Damian are pretty keen on sampling the delicious cakes and pastries in Vienna. They all have a sweet tooth.
Hilary reports that there has already been keen interest in the trips. “The enquiries started before we had even finalized the itineraries, I don’t know how people heard about it but the feedback we’ve had so far has been amazing. With only a maximum of 80 rooms or 160 people on board each cruise, we expect both to sell out quickly. Who wouldn’t want the chance to dance through France with Manu or swap soufflé tips and jokes with two of the hosts of MasterChef? It’s a wonderful recipe for fun and friendship combined with fundraising.
The first of the cruises is at the beginning of the European summer from 17 June to 5 July, 2013 with Janelle Bloom, Manu Feildel and Alastair McLeod as hosts. The brand new ‘MS Avalon Scenery’ will be the vessel cruising northern France and then transferring to the recently refurbished ‘MS Avalon Creativity’ for southern France. Both of these luxurious ships have been chartered for the exclusive use of Cruise for Mates. This fully escorted 19 day tour, ex Australia cruising from Paris to Port St Louis starts from only $10,193 AUD (twin share and ex Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Perth) and will take in Paris, Provence, Lyon, Beaujolais, the French Riviera and Monte Carlo.
“Grand France” Cruise for Mates includes:
· Return airfares flying Emirates
· An overnight stop over in Dubai with breakfast and transfers enroute to Paris, France
· 16 nights Grand France Cruising
· Luxurious twin window stateroom with private ensuite (upgrades available)
· All on board meals plus wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner
· 1 extra night’s accommodation at the Fairmont Hotel, Monte Carlo
· Arrival and departure transfers, taxes, fuel charges and fees and prepaid gratuities
The second Cruise for Mates trip is from 27 August to 13 September, 2013 and travels from Amsterdam to Budapest on the brand new ‘MS Avalon Expression’, which is only being launched in 2013. George Calombaris, Damian Heads and Gary Mehigan are hosts. Once again the ship has been exclusively chartered to take guests on an incredible journey from Amsterdam to Budapest, traveling through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. This fully escorted 18 day tour starts from just $9,185 pp (twin share and ex Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Perth).
“Magnificent Europe” Cruise for Mates includes:
• Return airfares flying Emirates
• 14 nights in a luxurious twin window stateroom with ensuite (upgrades available)
• All onboard meals plus wine, beer and soft drinks with dinner
• An extra night in Dubai enroute to Amsterdam with breakfast & transfers
• Arrival and departure transfers, taxes, fuel charges and fees and prepaid gratuities
With only 80 staterooms per cruise available, these dream holidays will sell out quickly, bookings are being taken on a first come first served basis.
Holiday makers are guaranteed of spending a minimum of seven days with each chef joining the cruises. Some chefs will be present for the whole cruise.
Guests can also consider the option of extending their holiday with Emirates airlines flying in and out of over 36 different cities in Europe.
Enquiries and bookings for these exclusive Cruise for Mates holidays are not available through other travel agents and can onlybe made by:
1. Visiting www.cruiseformates.com.au
2. Visiting “Harvey World Travel Garden City” in Brisbane only.
3. Calling 1800 DREAMS (1800 373 267)