Celebrity Cruises has introduced a new, personalised tour service called "Destination Insiders" which bring one-of-a-kind land experiences to its destination ports. It's part of the Celebrity Private Journeys shore excursion program aimed at guests looking for intimate experiences off the beaten path, which might range from lunch at an exclusive cliff-top restaurant in Santorini to a helicopter flight and champagne tasting in Dubai. The itineraries are designed from the personal recommendations of seasoned insider travellers, familiar with the world's ports from many years of working on Celebrity ships.
Phone 1800 754 500. See celebritycruises.com.au.
Star Clippers is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year by announcing a new sailing ship called Flying Clipper that will launch at the end of 2017. The company's fourth ship will be its biggest and most ambitious: carrying 300 passengers, powered by 35 sails, and a near replica of the 1911 France II that was the largest square-rig sailing ship ever built. Flying Clipper will be the largest ship of its kind afloat today. It will have three pools and a water-sports platform, library and open-air bar, as well as a bowsprit net.
Phone 1300 295 161. See starclippers.com.
Cunard's Queen Mary 2 returns to local waters in early 2018, with itineraries including a 13-night circumnavigation of New Zealand, and a four-night cruise to Kangaroo Island in South Australia. The New Zealand circumnavigation will see Queen Mary 2 making maiden calls to Dunedin and Tauranga, as well as sailing the Fiordland and visiting Akaroa, Wellington, Auckland and Bay of Islands. Other destinations in Australia, apart from Kangaroo Island, will include Fremantle, Busselton, Adelaide, Brisbane, the Whitsundays and Darwin as part of Queen Mary 2's round-the-world itinerary, before the ship heads north through Asia.
Phone 13 24 41. See cunard.com.
Cruise Express is offering a wine-themed cruise to New Zealand aboard Celebrity Solstice departing Sydney in April 2017. The 10-night "Voyage to the Vineyards" will be accompanied by wine experts from Torbreck in the Barossa Valley and Villa Maria in New Zealand, who will host special gourmet food-and-wine tastings and seminars, as well as two wine-pairing luncheons in the ship's specialty restaurant Tuscan Grille. Four complimentary wine-themed shore tours in Dunedin, Akaroa, Picton and Wellington are part of the package; the ship also sails through Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds.
Phone 1300 764 509. See cruiseexpress.com.au.
Family-owned Patagonian cruise line Australis, which offers expedition cruises to Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego, is building a new ship tailor-made for its voyages. The as-yet unnamed ship will launch in late 2017 and carry 200 passengers, replacing the current smaller vessel Via Australis. The company's other ship Stella Australis will continue to offer expedition voyages in southern Chile. Australis runs three- to seven-night cruises between September and April from Ushuaia and Punta Arenas into Tierra del Fuego, the Magellan Strait and Beagle Channel, with Zodiac excursions to Cape Horn, Wulaia Bay and Pia Glacier.