The countdown has begun for Australia’s cruise season – and there is plenty on offer this year that’s new.
Cruise lines are becoming more inventive, visiting new ports, planning different itineraries and creating never-before-experienced shore excursions.
Here are some of the new offerings that we’ll see in the next six months.
Leading the charge will be Princess Cruises laying claim to the crown of Australia’s biggest cruise line with a fleet of five ships sailing from five different homeports.
Sydney will have the Majestic Princess and Ruby Princess sailing from the emerald city.
South Australia will see a surge in cruise ships with Golden Princess, Sun Princess and Majestic Princess completing itineraries to and from Adelaide.
Golden Princess returns to Melbourne sailing to destinations in NZ, SA and the South Pacific. Highlights include a new 14-day Queensland cruise calling at Airlie Beach, Yorkey’s Knob, Port Douglas, Brisbane, Newcastle and Sydney and a new seven-day Southern Australian journey with late night calls in Adelaide.
Sun Princess will homeport in Fremantle to sail the western coastline from Broome to Albany as well as itineraries to Southeast Asia and Africa. She will sail 141 cruise days out of Fremantle including a 46-day Indian Ocean and South Africa Odyssey cruise with a maiden call to Zanzibar in Tanzania.
This season, Sea Princess will call Brisbane home and offer voyages to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Coral Sea, South Pacific and Hawaii. Highlights include a new 10-day voyage to Tasmania calling at Burnie, Port Arthur, Hobart and Sydney.
Princess has also curated 20 new shore excursions in six ports across Australia featuring food, wine and wildlife experiences. For instance, during a Busselton port call, guests will be able to head out to Margaret River wineries to enjoy wine tasting and savour some of the best food and canapés in the region. There is also a Narlijia Heritage and cultural tour in Broome with a local expert, Bart Pigram and a full-day tour with a behind-the-scenes look at artisanal coffee roaster, St Ali’s Port Melbourne Roastery, hosted by founder Salvatore Malatesta.
Royal Caribbean will kick off the season with the arrival of Radiance of the Seas to Sydney on 9 October 2019, Ovation of the Seas on 20 October and Voyager of the Season 30 November 2019. The three megaships will call Sydney home for the 2019-2020 season.
Together the three ships will offer 61 sailings to nine countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Indonesia, Singapore and the USA.
Voyager of the Seas will homeport in Sydney, after a one-year hiatus and a multi-million makeover. She will replace Explorer of the Seas which returns to cruising in Europe and the Caribbean. Voyager will focus on South Pacific itineraries and sampler cruises.
Azamara Journey will offer five itineraries in Australia and New Zealand between January to April 2020. The line also offers unique pre-and post cruise land excursions featuring Kuranda Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru and Ayers Rock. For those wanting to stay longer in Sydney to take in the local attractions, the line offers a real glimpse into how Sydneysiders live and where they hang out visiting Double Bay, Rose Bay, Nielson Park, Bondi Beach and the Gap in South Head peninsula.
This summer Celebrity Solstice returns for her eighth season and sail 20 itineraries in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific. She will offer Great Barrier Reef voyages in October and January including visits to six ports on the East Coast.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
Cruise & Maritime Voyages will debut its newly revamped Vasco da Gama flagship for its upcoming Australian season. It will also offer themed cruises, the first-ever gin and culinary voyage and the world’s first Fringe on the Water event in Fremantle.
The seven-night Boutique Gin and Culinary Cruise from Adelaide to Fremantle in January 2020 will showcase the very best local produce from SA and WA and feature gin tastings, cooking demonstrations and culinary shore excursions.
Vasco da Gama will also offer Military History cruise from Sydney to Adelaide in December this year. There will be lectures by ex-military officers, war and military-themed trivia and films on board with shore excursions to historic monuments and memorials in Melbourne.
The 1220-passenger Vasco da Gama will also host a one-night Fringe on the Water festival in Fremantle on 1 February. Highlights include a Fringe headline act in the main theatre, roving performers onboard the ship’s bars and lounges, live music and DJs and overnight accommodation on the ship.
The line also has a 10-night Christmas round-trip Adelaide cruise on 21 December, celebrating the Christmas Day at sea, Boxing Day in Phillip Island and visit Burnie and historic Portland before returning to Adelaide.
Regent Seven Seas
Luxury line Regent Seas Sevens will have three ships Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager ply local waters this season offering sailings to Singapore, Papeete, Bali and New Zealand. Seven Seas Voyager will head to Australia departing from Singapore on an 18-night itinerary on 20 December this year. She will spend Christmas and Boxing Day in Bali before arriving in Darwin on 29 December. Passengers will celebrate New Year’s Day in Cooktown in Far North Queensland and arrive in Sydney on 7 January.
At Cooktown, guests will visit two iconic sites, Black Mountain and the Lion’s Den Pub, a local fixture in the bush for more than 135 years.
Oceania Regatta is offering five cruises to Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia this wave season. On a 15-day itinerary from Sydney to Bali departing on 6 December, Regatta will visit Brisbane, Whitsunday Island, Cairns, Papua New Guinea, Darwin, Komodo before arriving in Bali.
At Cairns guests will take a ride on the Kuranda Railway to view the magnificent rainforest. There are also excursions to watch wildlife including koalas and emus at a rainforest park and learn about Aboriginal tradition and culture.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Jewel returns to Australia for its third season this wave season with new itineraries from Auckland. The Jewel kicks off with a 17-day journey from Papeete to Sydney departing on 14 November calling at French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and arriving in Sydney on 1 December. She then offers several itineraries from Sydney to Auckland and vice versa over December to February 2020. There’s a 12-day Australia NZ itinerary departing Sydney on January 23 calling at Eden, Melbourne, Burnie, Milford Sounds, Dunedin, Akaroa, Marlborough, Napier, Tauranga and Auckland.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will be based in Australia for 101 days for this wave season. She will sail six round trips from Melbourne and two from Sydney featuring a range of itineraries to South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between December 2019 to March 2020. One highlight is the festive sailing from Melbourne to New Zealand with Christmas Day spent cruising the Tasman Sea, Boxing Day in the Fjordland National Park and New Year’s Eve in Auckland Harbour
After her two-month deployment in Melbourne, QE will head to Sydney and offer a new 14-night cruise to PNG featuring maiden calls to the Conflict Islands and Kiriwina in the Trobriand Islands. She will also make inaugural visits to Albany, Whitsunday Islands and Darwin.
Silversea’s Silver Muse will return for another season between November 2019 and March 2020 with 11 sailings to Sydney, Auckland and Singapore. Silver Whisper on a world cruise will also arrive in Sydney in March next year. The season begins when Silver Muse departs Singapore on 18 November on an 18-day cruise to Sydney visiting Semarang, Bali, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane before arriving in Sydney on 6 December. At Semarang, the Gateway to the ancient ruins of Borobodur, Silversea offers seven excursions from a walking tour of the spiritual centre of Buddhism, a three-hour drive to visit the Sambi Sari Temple to a tour of Gereja (Church) Blenduk, the oldest church in Central Java.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Australia’s newest and biggest ship, Carnival Splendor to be launched in December will be homeported in Australia year round this season. Carnival Spirit will become the line’s first ever ship to be based in Brisbane from October 2020. Carnival Splendor will offer a number of sailings from Sydney including short cruises to Moreton Island, Tasmania and weekend samplers, a themed cruise to Melbourne Cup and longer journeys to the South Pacific and New Zealand.
P&O Cruises Australia
P&O will dedicate six cruises to the colourful and cultural paradise of Papua New Guinea calling at Alotau, Kitava, Rabaul, Kiriwina Island and the remote Conflict Islands. There will be five, 10-night PNG cruises departing from Brisbane during this season and one departing from Sydney. The line’s three mid-sized ships, Pacific Explorer in Sydney and Pacific Aria and Pacific Dawn in Brisbane also offer themed cruises on food, wine, comedy and major sports events this season.
Ponant’s luxury Le Laperouse will return to Sydney to witness the exciting start of the 75thanniversary Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day. She will then embark on an eight-day itinerary down the eastern seaboard to Hobart calling at the picturesque locations of Trousers Point and Wineglass Bay in Tasmania with commentary of the race by two yacht racing veterans. Guests will be able to walk the white sandy beaches of Trousers Point on Flinders Island and swim in crystal clear waters. At the world-renowned Wineglass Bay in Tasmania, they will be able to explore the pink granite peaks and walk to the lookout for fabulous views of the region. In Hobart, guests will stay on board the ship for three nights before preparing to welcome in the New Year with Hobart fireworks.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking Orion will arrive in Sydney in December for a three-month season sailing 14-night itineraries each way between Sydney and Auckland. She will close the season with a grand voyage of 92 days from Auckland, Sydney, Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong Tokyo to Vancouver. She returns to Sydney in November 2020.