BIG SHIP TURNAROUND
Many people wonder why overseas cruise lines don't operate year-round in Australia – even though the season now extends to April and May in some cases. The obvious answer is that ships move on to sunnier climes in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, or to Alaska and the Baltic, and further north before harsh winters set in; in other words, more profitable cruising grounds.
P&O Cruises operates ships year-round from Australian ports, as does Carnival Cruise Line (Carnival Splendor) and Princess (Sun and Sea Princess), but cruise fans keen to sail locally throughout our mild winter months want a greater choice of ships. Now, because of the disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), three high-profile ships that were scheduled to sail in Asia are spending more time Down Under.
Cunard has extended Queen Elizabeth's current season by 60 days, offering six new itineraries until it departs for Alaska on May 9, 2020. Highlights include Queen Elizabeth's first 27-night full circumnavigation of Australia, from April 12 to May 7; two six-night Tasmania and two 11-night voyages to New Zealand, both from Sydney; and the 24-night trans-Pacific crossing from Sydney to Vancouver. Fares for the circumnavigation and trans-Pacific cruises start at $1799. See cunard.com
Princess' Sapphire Princess is arriving six months earlier than planned, adding 44 new itineraries from May 1, 2020.
"Never has there been a better time to cruise from your doorstep, with convenient new departures from Sydney, Perth (Fremantle), Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane between May and October 2020 at unprecedented value, with special launch fares for cruises departing within the next three to six months," says Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises' senior vice president Asia Pacific.
Sapphire Princess is also sailing its first Australia circumnavigation cruise, from Sydney, Adelaide and Perth; fares start from $3249 from Perth, departing on August 10, 2020. Other new itineraries include round-trip cruises to Fiji from Brisbane and Sydney; fares for the 12-night Fiji cruise departing Sydney on June 25, 2020 start at $999. See princess.com
Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas is giving its China season a miss and heading towards our shores instead. The first of the line's Quantum Ultra Class ships, Spectrum, will offer two free cruises to fire-fighters and "first responders" who worked tirelessly during the recent bushfires; at the time of writing, dates and itineraries are yet to be confirmed. See royalcaribbean.com
As Explorer Dream's inaugural Australia and New Zealand season comes to a close, Dream Cruises has released details of the ship's return deployment from October 2020 to February 2021. Explorer Dream will offer new itineraries such as Singapore to Fremantle via Broome and Exmouth (departing October 17, 2020), with the option to cruise on to Sydney via Adelaide and Melbourne. The 1856-passenger ship will cruise around New Zealand from Auckland in November and December, then returns to Sydney in January 2021 for a series of seven-night Tasmania round-trips departing every Sunday. Fares start from $611 for a seven-night cruise from Sydney to Auckland. See dreamcruiseline.com
LUKE NGUYEN'S KIMBERLEY CRUISE
Join popular chef, author and TV personality Luke Nguyen aboard APT's 114-passenger Island Sky for a one-off Kimberley cruise and 4WD land package, a round-trip departing from Kununurra on June 27, 2020. Following on from his highly successful cruises on the waterways of Asia, Nguyen will bring his characteristic charm and culinary expertise to the far northwest on the 13-day exploration, which includes an eight-night cruise and two nights at APT's exclusive Bungle Bungle Wilderness Lodge. Nguyen will also host a special three-course meal at the lodge. Flights are included in the fare for a limited time. See aptouring.com.au
RIVIERA'S LATEST RIVER SHIP
When the 169-passenger Geoffrey Chaucer sets sail on Europe's rivers next month, it will be the 13th ship in Riviera Travel's growing fleet. The new ship and an expanded cruise program mean the company will carry 45,000 passengers on 13 ships over 300 sailings on 15 different cruise itineraries this year. Already the biggest river cruise operator in the UK market, Riviera Travel has become particularly popular with solo travellers. The line offers solo cabins with no single supplement on every cruise as well as a range of exclusive, solo-only cruises each year. See rivieratravel.com.au
Viking Sun's 245-day voyage round-trip from London is the longest-ever world cruise.
Sensori+ is an aromatic mist designed to eradicate unpleasant smells while purifying the air – perfect for spritzing around your cabin, hotel room or even on your clothes for an instant refresh. It's made in Australia with a plant-extracted compound and comes in a range of non-allergenic scents. RRP 100mL, $70, 30mL $29. See sensoriplus.com
JILL AND DAVID MUELLER, BUSBY, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN
37, since 2005
We took two back-to-back cruises on Voyager of the Seas over Christmas and New Year, which were wonderful. The first cruise started on December 20 and arrived in Sydney on the 29th, giving us nine days at sea including Christmas. Royal Caribbean really knows how to throw a party. We left the ship for a few hours when back in Sydney for the changeover and caught the ferry to Manly. Arriving back at the ship we were accompanied like royalty back through immigration and check-in and cruised for another 12 days (in the same cabin). There was another great party for New Year's Eve.
We have booked a 15-night cruise on Sun Princess to Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands this month. We have been there before but are very interested in the wartime history of the area and its people.
Pacific Princess. This beautiful small ship offers every opportunity to meet all the crew and other passengers. It's very personal.
Fort Lauderdale to Sydney on Pacific Princess via the Panama Canal, Easter Island and Pitcairn Island.
Easter Island. What a fascinating place. Very eerie and we were lucky to get ashore as the weather often prevents landings.
BEST CRUISE TIP
We chose from the start to always use the same travel agent, namely ecruising.travel who have proved to be reliable and know exactly what we need with complete packages and no hiccups. We would recommend them to all.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE
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