Imagine a place where cruisers can meet on a regular basis, share pictures, talk to industry leaders and form new friendships. Imagine the group is run by true cruise fans, with the purpose of giving people who share an interest in ships, activities and on shore explorations a place to converse.
Imagine no longer, because such a social club exists.
Cruise Mates, formerly known as Cruise Ships Australia, is turning the tide when it comes to social cruise gatherings in Australia.
Launched in the 90s in Sydney, the club started off with a handful of people who would meet to share cruising tales.
It wasn’t until four years ago, when experienced cruiser and self-confessed cruiseaholic, Sean Quealy attended his first meeting that the group saw a bigger purpose for the Club.
“There’s a growth in cruising here in Australia,” he told Cruise Passenger. “The Club is a work in progress but it’s unique in Australia.”
“I want it to grow and become a place for cruisers to meet and talk about different cruises and compare them. It’s a real social thing and it’s a lot of fun.”
Mr Quealy says when he joined the club in 2009 there were less than 25 members. Today the group boasts over 35 members ranging from people in their mid-30s to people in their early-70s.
There’s no age restriction to join the Club and there’s certainly no minimum “cruising experience” requirement.
Mr Quealy says currently there are members who have sailed on a handful of cruises, to members like himself who have been on over 35 ships.
In addition to talking about cruising, Mr Quealy says members share photos and DVDs of their cruise experiences and are given an opportunity to chat to industry leaders.
Among the guest speakers to attend Cruise Mates meetings over the past few years include; photographer, Phillip Masaad; ferry expert, John Darroch; and a former representative at Classic Voyages.
The Club has also acted as a means to bring people together, and even helps solo cruisers avoid paying single supplements.
“We have had a few members go away together because they’ve gotten to know each other through the club,” he added. “It’s limitless what we can do.”
The Club currently meets one Saturday a month between 2.00pm and 6.00pm at a conference room in the Sydney Central Youth Hostel.
There is a $10 entry free for each session. This covers the cost of room hire and refreshments.