The newest addition to Sydney’s homeported fleet, Emerald Princess, is already virtually sold out until April next year – with a wait-list of passengers hoping of cancellations.
As the biggest Princess Cruises’ ship to be based in Sydney takes her second journey into the Pacific, passenger numbers reveal just how Australian cruisers have whole-heartedly embraced the vessel.
The 3,082-passenger ship is making 13-round trips to New Zealand, the South Pacific and Tasmania.
Hotel General Manager Andreas Pitsch said there had been a tremendous response from Australia. Christmas is booked out. And a waiting list established for this first tour.
Stuart Allison, Vice President Australia and New Zealand, confirmed the strength of bookings, saying there were still a few places left on Emerald’s Pacific sailings, but New Zealand was virtually sold out.
“People can register for the wait lists or book now for next summer on sister ship Diamond Princess as sales are already strong,” he told Cruise Passenger.
An astonishing two-thirds of the passengers – 2058 – on her second journey are repeat customers, and part of the line’s reward’s program.
While there are 40 different nationalities among the passengers, two thirds are Australian.
“It’s amazing. We love the Aussies because they know how to party and they know how to have fun,” said Mr Pitsch, who has spent 22 years at sea.
Princess Cruises has invested a lot in the “Aussification” of the Emerald Princess to make sure the local market took to her, he said.
“We have converted the whole ship from US to Aussie. We have changed all our menus, we have changed beverage selections, coffee. We have added 80 seats in the piazza because we know Australians love their coffee – that doubled the capacity.”
Food and beverage manager Dieter Welp added: “We’ve got local dishes, we are using a lot more lamb. Pavlova is always available.
“In the hamburger bar, we’ve put in beetroot because we understand Aussies love their beetroot. We buying locally mayonnaise because it is sweeter than the American one.”
Curtis Stone’s signature restaurant, SHARE, has been another big draw card, according to Mr Pitsch.
As one of only two ships to start SHARE restaurants, Emerald has scooped a tremendous amount of publicity. “Thirteen million read the reviews of the restaurant – almost half the population of Australia,” he said.
Mr Pitsch said the secret which still beats technology and newer ships is old-fashioned service.
“I know Royal Caribbean have all these features with ice skating rings and rock climbing – and we don’t have this. But people are blown away with the service they get.”
Meanwhile, the line has started its new entertainment series The Voice of the Ocean with talent face-offs.
Passengers get to compete, receive coaching from crew members and then face judges sitting in red chairs similar to those on the hit TV series.
Former Hi-5 star Nathan Foley is one of those taking part.