REACH FOR THE SKY
Princess Cruises' latest and greatest ship, Sky Princess, sets sail this weekend (2-3 November, 2019) from Civitavecchia (Rome) for its US homeport, the massive Port Everglades terminal in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The 28-night journey follows its inaugural shakedown cruise from the shipyard city of Trieste to Athens, where the ship was shown off to travel agents and media from around the world.
After what promises to be a glamorous naming ceremony in Fort Lauderdale on December 7 – the godmother's identity hasn't yet been revealed – Sky Princess will sail alternating seven-day Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale until early April 2020, when it will relocate to Northern Europe. The week-long Caribbean cruises can be combined for up to three weeks back-to-back.Late-night stays during every visit to St Thomas in the Virgin Islands and Cozumel on the Mexican coast are a bonus.
The 3660-passenger Sky Princess is the fourth Royal-class ship, after Royal, Regal and Majestic Princess; Enchanted and Discovery will make up the complete set by 2021. Each ship is an evolution of the one before – while they are the same size and hull design, some interior features are changed. In the case of Sky Princess, a partial extra deck was added to accommodate the line's first Sky Suites, two supersized suites that have enormous balconies overlooking the pool deck and the giant movie screen. Guests in the Sky Suites have extra services such as a "suite experience manager" who can arrange a live music performance in-suite and the option of choosing which movie is to be played on the ship's big screen.
Sky Princess is the first ship to be built with Ocean Medallion technology (wearable, smart ship technology); Ruby Princess, which arrived in Sydney last week, will also be fully Medallion-enabled by early next year. Watch this space for my ship review and see princess.com
Sally Macmillan travelled as a guest of Princess Cruises.
ALASKA SHIP TO SHORE
Regent Seven Seas Cruises is expanding its onboard and onshore experiences on all its Alaska sailings in 2020 with its new Inside Alaska/Luxury Goes Exploring program. "First, we are bringing the destination to life onboard Seven Seas Mariner with unforgettable raptors, renowned folk singers, Tlingit historians, and cuisine and culture unique to the destination," says the line's president and CEO, Jason Montague. "Next, we are enhancing shore excursions with new Go Local Tours and other engagements led by residents. Finally, for the first time, Regent has curated Alaskan excursions for youth enrolled in our Club Mariner Youth Program." See rssc.com
WRITER AT SEA
Acclaimed Australian author Thomas Keneally, who has more than 30 novels and screenplays to his name, is returning as a guest lecturer onboard two Silversea ships next year. Keneally will join Silversea's newest flagship Silver Muse's 17-day cruise from Auckland to Sydney, departing February 1, 2020 and an 18-day segment of Silver Whisper's world cruise from Sydney to Singapore, departing March 20, 2020. All-inclusive fly/cruise fares start from $9900 in a Vista Suite for both cruises and guests booking by November 30 will also receive free business-class flights from select Australian and New Zealand gateways. See silversea.com
The newly arrived ship Explorer Dream and two historic express trains that once linked Sydney and Melbourne star in a new "slow travel" rail and sail escape hosted by Cruise Express. The seven-night journey starts on February 9, 2020 with a four-night cruise from Sydney to Hobart, Port Arthur and Melbourne, where guests spend two nights before boarding the privately chartered Spirit of Progress train to Albury, and then take the Southern Aurora to Sydney. Fares start from $2990 and special offers are available if you book by November 30. See cruiseexpress.com.au
The Panama Canal opened in 1914. Which two oceans does the 82-kilometre waterway connect? Last week's answer: The River Danube
CRUISE GUIDE 2020
Known as the cruise bible, the 2020 edition of the annual Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships is now available, in paperback and with a free app. Author Douglas Ward and his team have updated the guide and as always it is divided into two main sections. The first part delivers a detailed overview of cruise lines, types of cruising, and safety and environmental issues, while the second part contains reviews and independent ratings for 300-plus ocean-going cruise ships. Published by Insight Guides and available at online and high-street bookshops, RRP $35.
ROBERT WINSLOW, WOOLLOOMOOLOO, NSW
NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN
A 14-night cruise from New York to New York via the Caribbean on Norwegian Breakaway. The cruise left New York for three days at sea bound for Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, then went on to Willemstad in Curacao (aka the Netherlands Antilles). After another day at sea our next ports were Bridgetown, Barbados; St Lucia; and St John's, Antigua. We spent three more days at sea then returned to the Big Apple. It was my first sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line and I was impressed by the decor and service onboard. The views from my aft cabin were spectacular.
A 10-night Christmas cruise on one of my favourite ships, Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas, to the Pacific Islands. Once again I have booked an aft cabin with a wraparound balcony.
To me, all ships have something special, from food to accommodation, but Celebrity Millennium stands out for her size – she accommodates 2218 passengers, so she's middle-sized these days – and beautiful decor,especially in the restaurants.
Of course it would be a world cruise but if I take a reality check, I would love to cruise the Norwegian fiords and then sail on to Russia and see places such as St Petersburg.
Venice. It is amazing.
BEST CRUISE TIP
Make sure you take advantage of the dining rooms for all your meals. The service at breakfast and lunch is un-rushed and relaxing because most people eat at the buffet at these times.
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