Film locations are always compelling destinations and New Zealand, the setting for The Hobbit, will come back into focus in 2013.

Something for everyone

London - Shorter cruises are all the rage, says leading cruise line P&O (0843 374 0111;, which is adding nine new two- to five-night trips to the Channel Islands, Belgium and the Netherlands, all departing from Southampton.

A two-night cruise on Azura to St Peter Port, Guernsey, costs from £199pp (R2 763), including meals and entertainment. Departs April 16.

Cruise-and-stay holidays are also becoming increasingly popular, according to Thomas Cook (0800 169 4557;, with travellers looking to extend ocean cruises with city breaks and beach holidays to make the most of their time and money.

It has responded with a variety of offers, such as the “Aegean Adventure Stay Cruise” from £979.

This includes a week in an all-inclusive hotel in Crete followed by seven nights on board Costa Cruises’ ship Costa Mediterranean, calling at Santorini, Mykonos, Izmir, Samos, Kos and Rhodes.

The price includes accommodation, transfers and easyJet flights from Gatwick to Crete, departing June 21.

Camp for the night in Antarctica. Groups of up to 15 guests travelling to the region with Hurtigruten (0844 448 7601; are being offered the opportunity on its Ultimate Explorer Experience cruise. Guests joining the night camp, developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, will be fully kitted out with specialist equipment.

The 10-day voyage costs from £3 295 each full board, departing February 13 and November 22.

Flights from the UK to Buenos Aires and on to the departure point at Ushuaia, plus two nights’ bed and breakfast in Buenos Aires can be arranged for £1 392.

The camping expedition can be booked once on board at £330 each.

Getaways for the active

The Egyptian Red Sea resort of El Gouna ( will open a “cable water park” in July.

Water-skiers, and wake-boarders will be towed around the El Gouna Watersports Complex ( which features a slalom course and two “easy rides” for beginners and youngsters.

A week at the Captain’s Inn El Gouna with Holiday Designers (020 3384 0023; costs £595 each, including easyJet flights from Gatwick to Hurghada, transfers and breakfast. Departs August 9.

Keep the children occupied on a one-week holiday with Activities Abroad (01670 789991; activities

Adriatic Family Adventure uses the Croatian countryside as a playground for activities including sea kayaking, river canoeing and hiking.

From £995 each, based on a child sharing with two adults, including return flights from London to Split, transfers, accommodation, breakfast, five meals, activities, equipment, instruction and guides.

A portfolio of new properties in Ireland is to be launched by cottages4you (0845 268 0760; featuring more than 450 cottages. Rentals start at £199 a week.

Second-home owners should take a look at, a new luxury travel club featuring holiday homes available to rent to fellow members and their families and friends.

Finally, Mr & Mrs Smith is launching Smith&Family (, a collection of child-friendly hotels that should help devotees of its romantic breaks to adjust to the next stage in their relationships.

Star struck

Film locations are always compelling destinations and New Zealand, the setting for The Hobbit, will come back into focus in 2013.

Explore (0844 499 0901; has two tours taking in scenes from the film on the North and South islands, featuring Hobbiton, Tongariro National Park and the Franz Josef Glacier.

The price of £4 561 each includes Air New Zealand flights from Heathrow to Auckland and out of Christchurch via Los Angeles, accommodation and transport.

All eyes will be on the National Mall, Washington DC, on August 28, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech.

A special tour to mark this key moment for the civil rights movement has been arranged by Archers Direct (0800 668 1892;

It visits the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where he was assassinated, the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site in Atlanta and the White House.

The trip costs £1 929 per person, which includes United Airlines flights from Heathrow to Memphis and out of Washington DC, transport, room-only accommodation and guided sightseeing.

In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum (00 31 20 674 7000;; e15/R170) reopens on April 13 after a 10-year renovation, featuring a renewed building, refreshed displays and a new Asian Pavilion.

EasyJet Holidays (0843 104 1000; offers a three-night room-only trip from £170 per person in Amsterdam, including flights from a range of UK airports.

Nature lovers

Learn how to make paint, then depict images of the landscape on a holiday in Almeria, Spain.

On this new one-week course, set at a countryside retreat, you’ll learn how to source natural products found in the soil to make paints, before using them to re-create the colours of the surrounding mountains, orchards and desert.

The course, run year round, costs £834 with GoLearnTo (0845 625 0445; including full board, six days’ painting and drawing tuition, plus equipment. Travel to Spain not included.

Serious foodies should sign up for the new three-night truffle appreciation course offered in Tuscany by Sapori e Saperi (00 39 339 763 6321; Learn from a truffle hunter about these precious fungi. Find out about the different types, their life cycles and the history of hunting and watch a demonstration of how truffle hounds are trained.

Then go on a truffle hunt with your expert guide and learn how to cook them, Italian style. The courses take place February 8 to 11 and November 15-18, and cost e1 180 (R13 300), including transfers, accommodation, all meals and activities. Travel to Italy not included.

Sharpen your photography skills and learn how to take great pictures of wildlife in the Tambopata region of Peru, at the Amazon rain forest photographic workshop. The seven-day trip with Andean Trails (0131 467 7086; costs £1 740 (R24 100) each, including transport, all-inclusive accommodation and tuition. Flights can be arranged for £1 050.

Breakfast for couples

The vintage carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (0845 217 0799; head for Scandinavia next year, visiting Stockholm for the first time.

A seven-night package from Venice to Stockholm, including two nights at the Hotel Cipriani, two nights’ full board on the train, one night in Copenhagen and two in Stockholm at the Grand Hotel, plus BA flights from Heathrow or Gatwick (into Venice, out of Stockholm) on April 6 is £4 860pp.

If that’s outside your budget, a new trip along the Pembrokeshire coast on the Orient Express’s Northern Belle leaves Cardiff and Swansea on March 2, and Bath, Bristol and Cardiff on May 9, from £340 each, including brunch and a four-course dinner.

Travel back to the days of the Cold War and ride Marshal Tito’s Blue Train between Belgrade in Serbia and Bar in Montenegro.

The new 12-hour journey in the 1950s carriages will cross the Serbian plains and Montenegrin mountains, with talks by experts.

A one-week break, featuring the train ride, costs £699, based on two sharing, with Explore Montenegro (020 7118 1002;, including JAT Airways flights from Heathrow into Belgrade, out of Tivat to Gatwick with Montenegro Airlines, two nights’ B&B in Belgrade and five nights’ self-catering with car hire in Montenegro.

The Rocky Mountaineer (, is launching its first Coastal Passage route in 2013. The double-decker train with panoramic views will head from Seattle along the shores of the Pacific to Vancouver and on into the Canadian Rockies to Banff.

Trailfinders (020 7368 1200; is offering a week from £3 099, including Delta flights from Heathrow to Seattle and out of Calgary, three nights’ half-board on the train, six nights’ room-only accommodation in Seattle, Vancouver and Banff, and three days’ car hire. Departs August 21.

- The Independent