The third National Cruise Week starts next Monday, but did you know that this year cruises worth more than $100,000 can be won? Cruise Lines International Association member cruise lines (which includes most of the big names in cruising) will be offering amazing specials from September 1-8, through association accredited travel agents around the country.
Here are the ocean cruises you could win:
Compagnie du Ponant: eight-night cruise for two to Japan and South Korea, worth $10,500.
Celebrity Cruises: eight-night cruise for two on Celebrity Century from Sydney to Adelaide, worth $3360.
Carnival Cruise Lines: eight-day cruise for two on Carnival Spirit to the Pacific Islands, worth $2958.
Cunard: two-night cruise on Queen Mary 2 from Brisbane to Sydney, worth $1900.
P&O Cruises: four-night cruise for two on Pacific Pearl from Melbourne to Sydney, worth $1798.
P&O Cruises World Cruising: a three-night cruise for two on Arcadia from Sydney to Brisbane, worth $1400.
APT: 13-day Bali to Manila cruise for two on MS Caledonian Sky, worth $24,980.
... and the river cruises:
Evergreen Tours: 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest cruise for two on one of the new "Star Ships" (flights included), worth $20,000.
Scenic Tours: 13-day South of France cruise for two on a Scenic "Space Ship", worth $19,240.
Avalon Waterways: 13-day Mekong cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia (flights included), worth $15,000.
You can enter the competition at cruiseweek.org, and find an association travel agent in your area on the same site.
In other cruise news, the Italian government has banned ships from the heart of Venice after much international and local debate and changes of plan by regional government and port authorities. From next year, all cruise ships exceeding 96,000 gross register tonnage (GRT) will be banned from Saint Mark's basin and the Giudecca Canal and visits by smaller ships restricted. Cruise Lines International Association Europe released a statement on behalf of the European cruise lines it represents, praising Italy's decision.
EVERGREEN TOURS: EMERALD SKY
LAUNCHED April 2014; identical sister ship Emerald Star launched in May 2014.
PASSENGERS & CREW 182 (double occupancy); 47 crew.
ACCOMMODATION Emerald Sky has 92 cabins, including a variety of balcony suites - the largest, Owner's Suite, is 29 square metres - plus staterooms with picture windows.
REGULAR HAUNTS Emerald Sky and Emerald Star sail eight- to 15-day itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, from April to November.
PERFECT FOR Couples and singles, 50-plus.
DINING The Horizon Restaurant, which features floor-to ceiling windows, serves buffet breakfast and lunch and a la carte dinner; the Terrace has an earlybird breakfast and lunch service and the Horizon Bar offers tea and coffee 24/7. The skybar and barbecue is a "pop-up bar" on the sun deck.
PARTYING These new additions to the scene boast stylish, relaxing lounges and bar areas. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner.
DOING The heated pool that converts to a cinema is a first for river ships. There are bicycles on board for shore tours, and on the sun deck you'll find a walking track, giant chess board and golf putting green.
DID YOU KNOW? Evergreen Tours will launch two more "Star Ships" next year, Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn. Evergreen is Scenic's sister cruise line but whereas Scenic offers butler service and all-inclusive fares, Evergreen's fares are less expensive and passengers can pay for excursions or do their own thing.
THE DETAILS Book any Emerald Stateroom (D/E category) on a deluxe Emerald "Star Ship" for a 15-day Splendours of Europe river cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest next year, and return flights are included in the fare. From $6925; offer valid until October 15, 2014. Phone 1300 383 747, see evergreentours.com.
OFFER OF THE WEEK
Save $4000-plus on a 40-night fly/cruise/land package on board Norwegian Sun, visiting Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Departing Australia on November 1, 2015, the $6999 fare includes accommodation in San Diego, Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls and tours. Offer valid until September 30; phone 1300 369 848 or visit ecruising.travel.
MSC CRUISES is offering seven-night wine-themed cruises in the Mediterranean. Departures from Genoa, Italy on MSC Splendida on November 2 and 9, and December 14. Itineraries include Italy, Tunisia, Spain and France. Fares from $664. Phone 1300 028 502, see msccruises.com.au.
WINDSTAR CRUISES has a seven-night Papeete, Tahiti round-trip cruise leaving October 31, 2014 on Wind Spirit, a 148-passenger motor-sailing ship. Includes scuba diving, snorkelling and fire dancing on a private island. Book now and the $3073 fare includes a $646 saving. Phone 1300 857 437, see traveltheworld.com.au.
It's a winning combination - country music star Adam Harvey is performing a one-off concert on board Captain Cook Cruises' Sydney 2000 to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation community breast cancer nurse program. The musical cruise, which is on Sunday October 12, includes a two-course lunch, drinks package and lucky door prizes; tickets are $99 an adult, normally $129, and $69 a child (five to 14) when you book and pay before September 15, 2014. See captaincook.com.au.