AROUND AUSTRALIA IN 30 DAYS
There aren't many cruises that circumnavigate Australia but those that do usually take about 30 days. Coral Expeditions' 35th-anniversary circumnavigation, departing from Darwin on November 7, 2020 is an epic 59 nights. Senior Master Gary Wilson has designed a voyage on the 120-passenger Coral Adventurer that will celebrate history, culture, nature and Australian maritime history. An expedition team and guest lecturers will be on hand to add a deeper perspective, both ashore and onboard. See coralexpeditions.com
A shorter option is Sea Princess' 26-day cruise from Sydney, departing on February 21, 2021 and arriving in Brisbane on March 18 (the October 2020 voyage has already sold out). Eleven ports of call include Hobart and Burnie in Tasmania; Albany, Margaret River, Perth and Broome in WA; a day's scenic cruising on the Kimberley coast and a day in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. See princess.com
Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas joins Ovation, Radiance and Voyager of the Seas in Australia for the 2020-21 season. The 2146-passenger ship will depart Sydney on February 15, 2021 on a two linked 16- and 18-night cruises that call at Newcastle, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Darwin before heading to Bali; it then visits Port Hedland, Geraldton, Fremantle, Esperance, Adelaide and Melbourne before going to New Zealand and finishing in Sydney. See royalcaribbean.com
Holland America Line's popular, 1258-passenger Maasdam is offering a pre-Christmas Australia circumnavigation, departing Sydney round-trip on November 19, 2020. Maasdam will head north, visit Bali after Darwin, then sail down the West Coast. It is the only HAL ship equipped with Zodiacs so it can offer more adventurous shore tours in places such as Townsville and Cairns. See hollandamerica.com
The company that began as Viking River Cruises in 1997 and expanded into ocean cruising in 2015 is now adding expedition cruising to its ever-expanding portfolio. Viking Octantis will begin sailing in January 2022, to Antarctica and North America's Great Lakes, while Viking Polaris will make its debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. Each will accommodate 378 passengers and an "industry first" feature is the Hangar, an enclosed, in-ship marina for easy embarkation onto Zodiacs and RIBs. Expedition tools include two six-person submarines and a working laboratory for scientists; adventures ashore will be free. See vikingcruises.com.au
Award-winning film directors, famous authors and much-travelled diplomats are among Seabourn's line-up of speakers for its 2020 Seabourn Conversations program. There's a mix of returning and first-time speakers – Sir Tim Rice, whose show An Evening With Tim Rice is currently playing fleetwide on all five Seabourn ships, is among them.
"Our guests have interesting backgrounds themselves and they truly enjoy hearing about and learning diverse insights, stories and perspectives on a variety of global topics from speakers all over the world," says Chris Austin, Seabourn's senior vice president of global marketing and sales. See seabourn.com
RETURN TO EDEN
Norwegian Jewel was the first cruise ship to return to Eden after bushfires closed the port temporarily, bringing about 2000 passengers to the town and surrounding areas. Ben Angell, Norwegian Cruise Line's vice president and managing director Asia Pacific, thanked the emergency services volunteers and the local community for their amazing efforts and the warm welcome the ship received: "NCL is dedicated to supporting the local tourism economy, not just on this first visit to Eden but across our Australian itineraries throughout 2020 and beyond." Norwegian Jewel is sailing its third season in Australia.
How many countries lie within the Arctic Circle? Last week's answer: The Indus is the longest river in India.
Who doesn't need a bit of help organising all the tech stuff you need to travel with these days? Bellroy's smart Tech Kit keeps everything neatly separated in a zip-out bag measuring 130 x 230 x 72 millimetres, with stretch mesh pockets and a floating wall with an elastic cable organiser inside. Made from recycled woven fabric in light grey or black, it has a three-year warranty. RRP $85. See bellroy.com
KIRSTEN WALLA, VAUCLUSE, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN
About 15 – I've stopped counting.
A P&O cruise to Papua New Guinea and the Trobriand Islands. It was my fourth cruise to the region, which shows how much I enjoy a mix of sea days for total relaxation, the chance to swim and snorkel in crystal-clear warm waters and, most of all, meeting the locals and being treated to colourful entertainment by the Kitava and Kiriwina Islanders.
Will be in April this year on Aranui Cruises' cargo-cruise vessel Aranui 5, sailing from Tahiti to the Pitcairn Islands via other less visited South Sea islands.
Any ship that will take me to the destination I want to go to without charging an arm and a leg for single occupancy. This said, my favourite ship so far has been Aranui 3, a small cargo-cum-passenger vessel which took us (I don't always travel solo) from Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands. It was my overall best cruise experience to date. Aranui 3 was replaced by the purpose-built Aranui 5 in 2015.
Australia to Europe or vice versa, via the Caribbean. And the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East is on my wish list.
For sheer scenic beauty, sailing into Hanavave Harbour on Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands at sunrise would be hard to beat.
BEST CRUISE TIP
For solo travellers: know when it's best to enjoy your own company. Also, Aranui 5 offers a few berths of dormitory accommodation comprising bunk beds for up to four passengers.