For the second year running, Australia’s own APT took out a swag of gongs at the National Travel Industry Awards last weekend. The company won Best River Cruise Operator as well as Best Tour Operator International and Domestic.

Founder Geoff McGeary has told his amazing story many times. Australian Pacific Touring was founded by his father, who put a bus body on a tray truck and ferried passengers during a Melbourne cable-car strike.

Today, APT operates a fleet of river and luxury ocean ships around the world. Kimberley Wilderness Adventures has a network of lodges and unique 4WD coaches. The company even owns the Golden Eagle luxury train company which operates from Russia to Europe.

But it is still family run from Australia by Geoff, and his son and daughter.

“While domestic travel is still an important part of the APT business, through a progression of strategic partnerships and acquisitions, over the years we have added new and innovative styles of travel, enabling APT to diversify to include international destinations,” says Geoff.

“For example, at the turn of this century, APT introduced river-ship cruising for the Australian and New Zealand traveller in Europe, Russia, and later into Asia – with Burma, China, Vietnam & Cambodia, Thailand and Laos – North America, South America, Africa and India.

“In doing so, we’ve helped nurture the river-cruise market, which has proved to be such a huge success today.

“In 1997 we acquired Travelmarvel, a more affordable product line that has also become extremely successful and covers the same regions as APT. Specialist garden tour operator Botanica World Discoveries was established by Judy Vanrenen and I in 2000.

“More recently, through APT’s significant investments in Noble Caledonia and Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, we have entered the luxury small ship and expedition cruise market, and introduced the Golden Eagle Luxury Trans Siberian Express across Russia, respectively.”

APT operates an impressive portfolio of luxury river cruise ships throughout Europe and Asia as well as destinations such as China, India, Africa, the USA and on the Amazon; a small fleet of expedition cruise ships operating in both the northern and southern hemispheres; wilderness lodges and a fleet of adventure coaches in the Kimberley and Outback Australia; and a cruising and touring product range featuring a combination of cruise, coach, rail and air travel throughout Europe, North America, Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), India and Antarcticaa.

“So as you can see, it’s been an exciting journey. Luckily for us, it’s only just beginning” says Geoff.

Other big cruise winners on the night were Royal Caribbean International for Best Cruise Operator – International Deployment and its sister company Celebrity Cruises for Best Cruise Ship in Celebrity Solstice.