Rock legend Suzi Quatro, Noiseworks singer Jon Stevens and Daddy Cool and Mondo Rock frontman Ross Wilson are among the headline acts on a new "Rock the Boat" cruise sailing out of Brisbane on Radiance of the Seas in November 2020; Rock the Boat 2019 is already sold out.
Music cruises of all varieties – classic, country, rhythm and blues, vintage rock and tribute acts – are hugely popular with fans around the world. As well as concerts every night, music-themed cruises typically offer artist signings, music workshops and the chance to mingle with the artists around the ship. Suzi Quatro is a big drawcard for Aussie fans; the rocker from Detroit has been writing and performing music for some 50 years, selling more than 50 million albums along the way.
Quatro enjoys performing to the cruise crowd and says, "I like the rock cruises because they are a great opportunity to combine a little R&R [rest and relaxation] and R&R [rock'n'roll]." The seven-night Rock the Boat cruise to New Caledonia, round-trip from Brisbane, departs on November 24, 2020. See www.cruiseexpress.com.au
Among Australian music-themed cruises coming up this year is P&O's second "Tribute to the King" cruise. The three-night Elvis-themed extravaganza on board Pacific Explorer sails out of Sydney on May 17 and promises wall-to-wall tribute artists presenting everything from Elvis' best-known hits to gospel music.
According to P&O Cruises' president, Sture Myrmell, the tribute cruises have become a phenomenon in their own right. So much so that the line has already confirmed dates for the third in the series, a four-night itinerary from Sydney to Moreton Island departing on May 17, 2020. See www.pocruises.com.au
"Cruisin' Country" returns for its ninth consecutive year on a seven-night, round-trip cruise from Sydney to New Caledonia, departing on October 12. The line-up on board Radiance of the Seas features more than 30 country music artists, including big names such as Lee Kernaghan, Colin Buchanan, Gina Jeffreys, Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey. Theme nights, open mic sessions and guitar workshops are added attractions. See www.cruisincountry.com.au
"Bravo – Cruise of the Performing Arts" showcases a range of musical styles that includes musical theatre, opera, cabaret and jazz, brought to fans by world-class international and Australian artists. Hard-working music-cruise ship Radiance of the Seas departs Sydney on November 12 for the seven-night round trip to New Caledonia.
High-profile performers include Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer Sir Bryn Terfel; musical-theatre star Lucy Durack; jazz king James Morrison; and the multitalented Jonathon Welch, who famously founded the Choir of Hard Knocks. See www.bravocruise.com.au
THE PORT Skagway, Alaska, US
WHO GOES THERE Alaska Dream Cruises, Azamara, Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, HAL, NCL, Oceania, Ponant, Princess, RSSC, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, UnCruise, Viking.
WHY WE LOVE IT Once the gathering place for thousands of stampeders bound for the gold fields in Canada's Yukon Territory, today Skagway is experiencing a boom in cruise-led tourism. Restored buildings from the 19th-century gold rush era sit alongside historic false-front shops and restaurants, and wooden boardwalks. It's important to understand Skagway's colourful but often tragic history; National Park Service rangers lead free walking tours of the historic district five times a day during summer.
TAKE A TOUR OR GO IT ALONE? Ships tie up at one of three deep-water docks (smaller ones go to Ferry Dock), all an easy walk from the town. Local operators offer flightseeing and dogsledding glacier tours by helicopter (Temsco; see www.temscoair.com); guided cycling tours, in and out of town (Sockeye Cycle Co; see www.cyclealaska.com ); sea-kayaking (Alaska Mountain Guides Sea Kayaking; see www.alaskamountainguides.com); and guided scenic motorbike tours (Skagway Scooters; see www.skagwayscooters.com ). The most popular excursion is the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow-gauge railroad climbs 914 metres in 32 kilometres and features steep grades, cliff-hanging turns, steep grades, tunnels, bridges, and trestles. Book through your ship or direct with the company (see www.wpyr.com ).
MUST SEE Skagway Museum & Archives, housed in City Hall – the first stone building in Alaska; Gold Rush Museum and Skagway Park Service Visitor Centre, in the former White Pass and Yukon Railroad Depot; the picturesque town of Haines, home to the biggest bald eagle population in Alaska – it's a 45-minute ferry ride from Skagway.
MUST EAT Alaska is justly famous for its five varieties of salmon, halibut and king crab. In the Chilkoot Dining Room, enjoy a side order of local history with your steak or seafood, in the form of E.A. Hegg's historic gold rush photos.
NEED TO KNOW You can pick up maps and audio guides at Skagway Visitors Centre, 245 Broadway, a short walk from where the ships dock, and hire a bike at Sockeye Cycles, 381 5th Avenue.
The life expectancy of a cruise ship is about 30 years. Cunard's QE2 sailed for nearly 40 years, clocking up more than 5.5 million nautical miles and crossing the Atlantic more than 800 times.
Riviera rolls out new river ships
A new river ship, two new cruise itineraries, a record number of passengers and a 73 per cent jump in Australian bookings mark the launch of Riviera Travel's 2020 program of European river cruises. As Riviera launches two new river ships this month – the 169-passenger William Wordsworth and 132-guest George Eliot – the rapidly growing cruise line has announced it will launch another 169-guest river ship in 2020, the Geoffrey Chaucer. The new vessel will bring Riviera's fleet size to 14 ships in 2020. Two new itineraries are on offer in 2020: a seven-night "Seine, Paris and Normandy" round-trip journey from Paris and a seven-night "Vienna, Bohemia and Treasures of the Danube" round-trip journey from Vienna. Both cruises include nine complimentary shore tours and drinks packages are available from $199 per person in 2020. See www.rivieratravel.com.au
Route to wellness
Programs for Seabourn's wellness cruises, designed by US integrative medicine practitioner Dr Andrew Weil, include meditation, mindfulness, yoga classes, and mind and body seminars. Every year Weil hosts a limited number of cruises and in February 2020 he will be aboard Seabourn Encore's 16-night Wellness in the South Pacific cruise from Auckland to Sydney. "Wellness is a growing phenomenon – and rightly so – as people around the world seek to live better, healthier, and more mindfully for the benefit of their overall wellbeing," noted Richard Meadows, president of Seabourn. Weil will be joined by four experts in integrative medicine, who will present lectures packed with information about improving mental and physical health. The sailing will also feature the Ventures by Seabourn program of optional, for-charge expedition excursions. See www.seabourn.com