2020: YEAR OF ADVENTURE
Adventure cruisers will be spoilt for choice by this year's impressive collection of new expedition ships. All are built to explore Polar regions as well as remoter parts of the world, while featuring lavish spas and sophisticated dining; some are equipped with helicopters and mini-submarines, along with the regulation fleet of zodiacs; and none carries more than 200 passengers.
Possibly the most luxurious is Crystal Cruises' first "megayacht", Crystal Endeavor. The 200-passenger, all-suite ship will be sailing in Australia and New Zealand during its inaugural season – from October to December – offering uber-luxe facilities with six restaurants, butler service, and suites fitted out with heated storage for drying cold-climate kit.
Ponant welcomes two more Explorer-class ships to its fleet, Le Bellot and Le Jacques Cartier, in March and June respectively. Le Bellot will sail beyond the Arctic Circle for its inaugural season then cruise in Northern Europe for the summer, while Le Jacques Cartier will sail in the Norwegian fiords and the Baltic.
Hurtigruten's MS Fridtjof Nansen, sister to hybrid-powered MS Roald Amundsen, is sailing a series of short pre-inaugural cruises in March before it spends the northern summer exploring Greenland and Iceland. The two ships will then sail together in Antarctica.
The Hurtigruten duo will be joined by at least three new expedition ships in Antarctica for the 2020-21 season: Crystal Endeavor, Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Endurance (the smallest in terms of its passenger capacity of just 126) and Quark Expeditions' Ultramarine.
Silversea's Silver Origin will be based in the warmer waters of the Galapagos archipelago, year-round from July 18, 2020; the line says it will be the "most elegant ship to ever sail the region" and that it has been purpose built with the environment top of mind.
The world's most famous waterfall – Niagara Falls – the motor city of Detroit, bustling Chicago and the vast Great Lakes all feature on a new, 10-night cruise package offered by boutique American cruise company Victory Cruise Lines and Australian small ship specialists Cruise Traveller. North America's Great Lakes cover 244,000 square kilometres; attractions include fishing ports, canals, locks, surf beaches, car-free islands and indigenous culture. The trip starts in Toronto on July 4, 2020 before the nine-night cruise on the 202-passenger Victory I. Savings apply for bookings made by March 31, 2020. See cruisetraveller.com.au
CELEBRITY APEX GODMOTHER
Reshma Saujani, founder and chief executive of international non-profit Girls Who Code and author of international bestseller Brave, Not Perfect will be the godmother of Celebrity Apex, the second ship in Celebrity Cruises' Edge series. She will name the new ship at an official ceremony in Southampton, UK, on March 30, ahead of its inaugural season in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Celebrity will collaborate with Girls Who Code to offer educational coding programs as part of its Camp at Sea program onboard Celebrity Apex and Celebrity Edge, along with related experiential offerings and products. See celebritycruises.com/au
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Sun Princess was the first cruise ship to dock at Kangaroo Island after the January bushfires ravaged half the island and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz said the ship's visit was a major milestone on the island's path to economic recovery. "Cruise tourism is worth more than $5 billion a year to the Australian economy and will play an important role in supporting local communities as they recover from this summer's fires," Katz said. "The island's tourism businesses have shown great determination in preparing to welcome cruise visitors and our industry is grateful for their support and commitment." See southaustralia.com
Which is the longest river in India: the Ganges, Brahmaputra or Indus? Last week's answer: MSC Cruises
COFFEE TO GO
Bringing your own mug on a cruise ship means you can fill up with a decent-sized tea or coffee that will stay hot – or a cold drink that will stay chilled – while you wander on deck to sip at leisure. The Hydro Flask Coffee Mug is strong on insulation and has a press-in lid for temperature control and splash-resistant transport. RRP $39.95. See rushfaster.com.au
SUE CRUTCH, NEWPORT, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 4
LAST CRUISE At the end of September 2019 we sailed from Civitavecchia (Rome) on MSC Divina for seven nights. We called at Palermo (Sicily), Cagliari (Sardinia), Palma de Mallorca and Valencia (Spain), Marseille (France) and Genoa (Italy). The ship was full to capacity (4345 passengers) with a lot of families aboard. We probably wouldn't choose MSC again, but it did take us to some great places, the highlights being Palma de Mallorca, Valencia and Portofino. The cabins were a good standard but the service elsewhere on the ship, attitude of crew and cleanliness in the buffet as well as below-average entertainment let the ship down in our experience.
NEXT CRUISE We're looking at an ocean cruise to the Greek Islands and a river cruise that links to the French Riviera, possibly back to back.
DREAM SHIP Celebrity Solstice. The attention to detail, staff's professionalism and friendliness, food and entertainment were all first-class.
DREAM CRUISE I'd love to experience the grandeur of one of the Cunard queens.
DREAM PORT My dream port to depart from will always be Venice. It was an experience like no other and I feel very privileged to have sailed out of this magnificent city.
BEST CRUISE TIP Familiarise yourself with the ship ASAP, take a highlighter pen to mark off selected activities/excursions on your daily program and book early before they sell out. Be up and ready early to get off the ship and onto the first buses to make the most of your days in port. Wear comfortable shoes, especially in Europe as there are a lot of cobblestones and there can be a fair amount of walking.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE
Send 250-word submissions for Constant Cruiser to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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