Where to cruise in 2020: Bargain cruises close to home

If you're thinking of postponing an overseas cruise because of all the doom and gloom surrounding coronavirus, such as port closures, severe passenger restrictions, itinerary changes and the thousands of people affected by it – then this could be the ideal time to book a cruise close to home. Not only are there some amazing bargains to be had, but coastal towns that have been hard hit by the recent bushfires will welcome cruise passengers with open arms as they embark on rebuilding their communities.

Eden, on the New South Wales Sapphire Coast, has become a fixture on local itineraries in recent years and although it had to temporarily close in January because of the fires, it is well and truly open for business again. Ships visiting Eden between now and Christmas include P&O's Pacific Explorer and Pacific Aria, Seabourn's Seabourn Encore, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice, Holland America Line's Noordam, Princess Cruises' Sapphire and Sea Princess, NCL's Norwegian Jewel and Star Cruises' Star Breeze.

Who was it said that laughter is the best medicine? P&O is running three-night comedy cruises from Sydney onboard Pacific Explorer that includes a day in Eden; departure dates are March 27, May 8 and May 15 and fares start from as little as $474. Later in the year, Pacific Aria will sail to Eden on its Sapphire Coast Food Festival cruise, a three-night round-trip from Sydney departing on November 13; fares start from $513.

In South Australia, Kangaroo Island suffered "catastrophic" fires in early January but, amazingly, the port of Penneshaw was welcoming its first cruise ship back less than three weeks later. Passengers and crew were greeted by South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, as the state government launched its Book Them Out campaign to encourage Australians to holiday on Kangaroo Island and in the Adelaide Hills.

Sun Princess was the first of 10 ships scheduled to call at the island between now and the end of 2020, some of them several times. Its fleetmate, Sapphire Princess, will visit in November on a six-night round-trip from Melbourne. P&O's Pacific Aria has four-night round-trip cruises departing from Adelaide on March 19 and 23; Pacific Dawn is cruising round-trip from Melbourne on November 30.

Overseas visitors that call at Kangaroo Island later in the year include Cunard's Queen Elizabeth, Silversea's Silver Muse, HAL's Maasdam, Windstar's Star Breeze, Azamara's Azamara Pursuit and Oceania Cruises' Oceania Regatta.

To book a cruise with any of these lines, you can find an accredited cruise travel agent near you at cruising.org.au

10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Azamara is celebrating a decade of its award-winning Destination Immersion programs with a one-off Grand AzAmazing Evening event in Koper, Slovenia on October 8, 2020. The boutique line's three ships, Azamara Journey, Pursuit and Quest, will meet in Koper, where the city's Ukmar Square will be transformed into a private venue for all guests. Live music, regional cuisine and a wine blended specially for the event are among the highlights. Le Club Voyage guests can also join an exclusive post-cruise AzAmazing Journey, a three-night tour taking in Milan and Lake Como that includes three nights in Bellagio at Hotel Villa Sebelloni. See azamara.com

OCEAN CRUSADERS

Sailors are invited to do their bit for the environment on a week-long yachting holiday in Thailand later this year. Sunsail and The Moorings yacht charters have teamed up with Ocean Crusaders for a flotilla sailing out of Phuket, from September 26 to October 3, 2020 on an itinerary that includes exploring the region's idyllic islands and spending an hour or two each day cleaning up a beach. You can either charter your own yacht, with or without a skipper, or join a small number of others on a skippered catamaran in a private ensuite cabin. See sunsail.com.au

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FREE EXPEDITION EVENTS

Leading Arctic expedition cruise operator Adventure Canada is holding free information sessions in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney next month to showcase its 2021 series of Arctic cruises. The events will be hosted by Craig Bowen, managing director of small-ship specialist Cruise Traveller which represents Adventure Canada in Australia, and Martin Aldrich from Adventure Canada. Complimentary refreshments will be available along with prizes and giveaways and exclusive offers for Adventure Canada's award-winning expedition cruises through the high Arctic. Space is limited and early registration is recommended. Brisbane CBD, March 24; Melbourne CBD, March 25; Sydney CBD, March 26. See cruisetraveller.com.au

CRUISE FACT

Royal Caribbean's 26-strong fleet includes the world's four biggest cruise ships.

STOW IT

WELLBEING ON THE GO

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CONSTANT CRUISER

SUE & TIM GOLINSKI, BULLI, NSW

NUMBER OF CRUISES TAKEN 25, including six river cruises

LAST CRUISE A 35-day sailing with Princess Cruises round-trip from Sydney, covering the Pacific Islands, then the Hawaiian Islands and then Suva, Pago Pago, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora and Auckland. It was very relaxing, and we didn't have to take any flights.

NEXT CRUISE We have a big year of cruising lined up, with four ocean cruises and one river cruise. Our next one is the Mexican Riviera, on Holland America Line's Maasdam.

DREAM SHIP We prefer smaller ships, up to 2000 guests. They can access a lot more ports than megaships and it is quicker to get on and off when visiting ports or using tenders. We have travelled with a lot of different cruise companies and it is hard to go past Cunard, Oceania and HAL. One of our most memorable cruises was on Queen Elizabeth to Iceland.

DREAM CRUISE Antarctica is the only continent we haven't been to. We want to be able to get off the ship and onto the ice, so we're looking at Ponant's small luxury-expedition ships.

DREAM PORT Valletta, Malta. Cruising past 16th-century fortifications and docking in the famous Grand Harbour make it a must-cruise port.

BEST CRUISE TIP Before you pay the final balance of your cruise, regularly check the price online as the price can be reduced, or a new package with inclusions added. In a lot of cases you can get the new price or offer – we have!

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CRUISE

Send 250-word submissions for Constant Cruiser to sally.macmillan@traveller.com.au. Use the same format as below and attach a high-resolution photo of yourself. All published contributions receive a $50 voucher from travelgear.com.au, which has a huge range of travel accessories. See travelgear.com.au

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