Cruise lines supporting Australian bushfires

CARRY ON CRUISING

As communities across the country continue to battle horrific fires and contemplate the devastating aftermath, companies, charities and individuals are digging deep to help. Cruise lines that have close ties with hard-hit ports and towns around coastal NSW, South Australia and Victoria are no exception.

Carnival Australia has pledged $350,000 to support the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund and president Sture Myrmell says the global organisation has 19 ships based in local waters or visiting over this summer cruise season.

"Our cruise lines [P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Cunard and Holland America Line] carried hundreds of thousands of Aussies and international guests on voyages this summer, and this gesture is a sign of our solidarity with the local community."

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises – regular visitors to Australia – has also committed $250,000 to the fund.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages has re-opened onboard donations to the Australian Red Cross for bushfire relief, following passengers' requests when Vasco da Gama was on standby for Kangaroo Island evacuation on January 2. In December, CMV matched dollar for dollar all donations and more than $10,000 was donated to the Australian Red Cross; the company has also pledged $10 from every booking made during January.

While a few itinerary changes have been made, it's more important than ever that cruise passengers continue to visit ports and support local businesses – we can all help contribute to the massive rebuilding that lies ahead.

SCENIC 2020 SPECIALS

Now's the time to scoop up some Scenic bargains, on its river ships in Europe and Asia or on the Newcastle-founded company's first ocean-going ship, the super-luxe "discovery yacht", Scenic Eclipse. Offers include $125 return flights to Europe on select departures of the 15-day Jewels of Europe cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the 15-day Romantic Rhine and Moselle itinerary from Zurich to Amsterdam. Special fares also apply to Scenic's 14-day Nile and 13-day Mekong cruises and many more land, sea and river trips. Available until March 31, 2020, or until sold out. See scenic.com.au

AURORA EXPEDITIONS

Following the success of Aurora Expeditions' first new build, the Greg Mortimer, the Aussie company has announced that its second purpose-built expedition ship – due in October 2021 – will be called Sylvia Earle. Earle is an acclaimed marine biologist, oceanographer and scientist and she says "I see great synergy in working closely with a company that shares my vision for the future and which is, from the top down, passionate about the marine environment." Like its sister ship Greg Mortimer, the 126-passenger Sylvia Earle will feature a wave-cutting X-bow and the "lowest polluting marine engines in the world". See auroraexpeditions.com.au

ALL GO AT P&O

As part of its summer 2021 program, P&O's upcoming new ship, the 3000-passenger Pacific Encounter, will offer 11 cruises out of Brisbane, from November 2021 to January 2022. Itineraries include the Pacific islands and Queensland coastal destinations; Queenslanders can also sail into their home city on Pacific Encounter's inaugural cruise which departs Singapore on November 11, 2021 calling at Kuala Lumpur, Lombok, Darwin, Cairns and Airlie Beach before arriving at Brisbane's new International Cruise Terminal. Meanwhile, Pacific Explorer will sail four cruises from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, including a 10-night itinerary that also visits the Solomon Islands. See pocruises.com.au

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CRUISEQUIZ

What is the name of the Cunard queen that is now cruising Down Under? Last week's answer: Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV)

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CONSTANT CRUISER

JULIE HARRIS, SOMERSET, TASMANIA

NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN

Nine

LAST CRUISE

Cairns to Wewak (Papua New Guinea) onboard Coral Expeditions' new Coral Adventurer, for 12 days. I visited local villages, watched dances, snorkelled over beautiful coral reefs and learnt about Australia's role in World War II in this area, and how it affected the people of PNG.

NEXT CRUISE

I'd like to cruise around the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat. I'm interested in finding out more about the local culture and doing more activities such as snorkelling.

DREAM SHIP

I prefer smaller ships that have a maximum of 100 passengers, where you can get to know your fellow passengers and crew, and go to remote places. Travelling on ships where you learn something new every day is a big part of the appeal.

DREAM CRUISE

A two-week cruise from Darwin to Broome with Coral Expeditions was amazing. I loved learning about Indigenous culture, birds and wildlife. The staff on the ship are young Aussies who are really knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Expert expedition staff deliver great lectures.

DREAM PORT

Burnie, Tasmania. There is a large group of enthusiastic volunteers to greet passengers, answer questions and help with directions. The mayor of Burnie dons his mayoral robes and greets everyone as they get off the ship.

BEST CRUISE TIP

If you're travelling alone, sit at a big table at mealtimes. This guarantees you'll meet people and never feel lonely on the cruise. And if you're sailing in tropical climes, make sure you bring your water bottle, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Heatstroke is a real thing.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE

Send 250-word submissions for Constant Cruiser to sally.macmillan@traveller.com.au. Use the same format as right and attach a high-resolution photo of yourself. All published contributions receive a $50 voucher from Travelgear.com.au

Travelgear.com.au has a huge range of travel accessories, from international SIM cards to luggage and gift suggestions and ships free to Australia and New Zealand. See travelgear.com.au

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