Looking for a great deal or free expert advice about your next, or first cruise? Now's the time to check out what's on offer. We're in the middle of Cruise Month, just ahead of the summer cruising season, when Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)'s network of cruise-travel agents go all out to spread the word about cruising.
"CLIA-accredited travel agents have completed additional training to become cruise specialists, which means travellers can take advantage of their knowledge and find a cruise that best suits their tastes and needs," said CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz. "A specialist agent can give professional advice, personally tailor a cruise and travel arrangements and will be able to help out if any disruption is encountered."
Australia and New Zealand are up for a particularly busy cruise season this year, with more than 60 ships sailing in local waters between now and the end of April. That means more choice of cruise lines and ships, from family friendly to ultra luxe, to suit all budgets and lifestyles.
Newcomers include Dream Cruises' recently refurbished, 1856-passenger Explorer Dream, which will sail seven-night cruises from Sydney and Auckland; Princess Cruises' 3084-passenger Ruby Princess, which will join fleetmates Majestic, Golden, Sea and Sun Princess; Carnival Cruise Line's 3700-passenger Carnival Splendor, which will cruise regionally year-round alongside sister ship Carnival Spirit from December onwards; and Windstar's four-masted Wind Spirit, which will sail between Noumea, Cairns and Bali in February.
To find your nearest CLIA travel agent to help you navigate through the plethora of cruises available this summer, see cruising.org.au
FOCUS ON TASMANIA
Polish up your landscape-photography skills with award-winning photographer Andrew Wilson on a four-day cruise in Tasmania's magnificent World Heritage wilderness area – this one-off adventure starts on March 30, 2020. Tasmanian Boat Charters operates four, five and seven-day expedition cruises in and around Port Davey from January to May onboard the custom-built 10-passenger Odalisque; fares include return flights from Hobart to Bathurst Harbour, tailored itineraries including jetboat excursions, guided hikes and birdwatching tours, gourmet meals and Tasmanian wines and beer. See tasmanianboatcharters.com.au
SAIL AND SUSTAIN
Norwegian Cruise Line is replacing all single-use plastic bottles across its fleet of 16 ships, starting with Norwegian Encore, which makes its debut next month. NCL is working with JUST Goods to stock the ships with refillable, recyclable cartons of water as part of its Sail & Sustain Environmental Program. Andy Stuart, president and CEO of NCL, said, "It is imperative that we take meaningful steps to preserve our oceans and the destinations we visit. Partnering with JUST is one of my proudest moments as the head of our pioneering brand."
CRUISE WITH NOBU
Crystal Cruises' new 200-guest, uber-luxe expedition ship Crystal Endeavor will certainly make a splash when it arrives Down Under next year. Crystal Endeavor will not only be the youngest ship to sail in local waters but the most lavishly appointed – exploration equipment includes two helicopters, a mini-submarine and an onboard marina. Guests on the 16-night cruise from Bali to Cairns, departing Bali on October 15, 2020, will be joined by master chef Nobu Matsuhisa, who will host an array of special events and dining experiences. See crystalcruises.com.au
What is the name of the P&O Cruises ship that rescued three sailors in New Caledonia earlier this month? Last week's answer: Scenic Eclipse
Biome specialises in recyclable, sustainable, toxin-free products, ranging from cosmetics to fashion, kids' stuff and much more. Flexible and long-lasting silicone GoToobs come in several sizes – fill with your favourite shampoo, conditioner, lotions and bodywash to take on your next trip. Multi-colour three-pack 100ml bottles, RRP $42.95. See biome.com.au
SIMON AND KELLY O'KEEFE, ORAN PARK, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 15
LAST CRUISE The Pacific Islands on Carnival Spirit – we loved snorkelling at Amedee Island in Noumea and immersing ourselves in the local culture. We also took this time to reconnect with our friends Matt and Rose, who we hadn't seen in a while.
NEXT CRUISE Next month we're sailing on Carnival Spirit for our son's wedding. We have a large group of family and friends coming along to celebrate and we are looking forward to having fun.
DREAM SHIP Our near-perfect cruise ship is one that's not too big, not too small and where the staff treat you like family. This is what keeps us going back to cruising with Carnival. The staff and crew are so accommodating and friendly that we can't get enough!
DREAM CRUISE Our dream cruise is any cruise that involves our friends. Since our kids have grown up we've started going away with other couples as it's a great way to catch up with old friends.
DREAM PORT Island destinations are our favourites because the weather is always warm. We love Amedee, but the Isle of Pines is also stunning. There are so many options to do as much or as little as you like, so it's hard to pick one.
BEST CRUISE TIP Try a bit of everything. Some of our best memories come from getting to know the crew with our friends. You'll find yourself chatting years later about your server at dinner or the steward who made the towel animals in your cabin.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE
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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