Australia’s summer cruise season has officially come to an end, when Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas sailed out of Sydney Harbour last Friday evening.
A record number of 34 cruise ships visited Australia between October 2013 to April 2014, including Royal Caribbean’s mass-market vessels to Silversea boutique ships.
They made a total of 559 port visits during the season including regional ports in Eden, Burnie, Geelong, Kangaroo Island, Macquarie Island, Norfolk Island, Ashmore Reef and Port Lincoln.
This has been the busiest cruising period for Australia, which saw ships taking part in major celebrations while in harbour and a visit from everybody’s favourite Love Boat Captain.
To say farewell to the season, we compiled a list of 10 best moments from the 2013/14 Australian summer season:
Queen Elizabeth straps on the stiletto
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth lit up Sydney’s Harbour last month, just in time to celebrate Sydney’s famous gay and lesbian festival.
The royal ship was the ‘Queen of the Harbour’, as she sailed to the Overseas Passenger Terminal sporting a two-metre high stiletto and a 126-metre multi-coloured ‘Happy Mardi Gras’ banner.
Hundreds of onlookers gathered in Circular Quay for the majestic arrival.
Happy 5th birthday Solstice
It’s not everyday a ship turns five, so when Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice celebrated her fifth birthday in November last year, the line marked the occasion in style.
Celebrity held a canapé and cocktail party on the ship’s Lawn Club while she was docked in Sydney.
A live band provided entertainment while a special cake in the shape of Australia was cut by local cruiser, Magdolna Ori.
Newcastle welcomes largest ship
Celebrity Solstice also made headlines in March this year when she broke the record for the largest cruise ship to visit Newcastle.
The 317 metre-long vessel broke the record by just two metres.
She is scheduled to return to Newcastle in March next year.
Pacific Dawn’s unscheduled inaugural visit
A second record was broken in Newcastle during the final week of the wave season, when Pacific Dawn made an unscheduled inaugural visit to the town.
The ship was forced to leave Brisbane for the south to avoid the threat of severe weather conditions from Cyclone Ita earlier this month.
Dawn was originally scheduled to make her first visit to the port in March next year.
Holland America recruits first Aussie chef
Holland America added an Australian flair to its menus, when Mark Best signed on to be the first Australian chef to join the line’s Culinary Council.
Mark recreated around ten of his dishes for Holland America’s signature restaurant, The Pinnacle Grill.
The dishes included smoked eel, Red Gate Farm quail and mango mustard and coconut dessert.
P&O’s Australia Day celebrations go off
As always, P&O commemorated Australia Day in a big way – with an Aussie barbeque and fireworks.
Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl sported ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ banners and Australian flags as they met us in Sydney’s Harbour.
Guests on board the ships nibbled on barbequed sausages and hamburgers while listening to live entertainment.
And at 9.15pm there was a major fireworks display in between the two ships.
Silver Discoverer launches in Western Australia
It was a special occasion for Western Australia, when Silversea officially launched its newest expedition ship from Broome.
The 120-passenger Silver Discoverer departed on 3 April on a 10-day Kimberley cruise to Darwin.
Locals were the first to see the ship after her christening in Singapore.
Sun Princess’ $30 million makeover
Australians were among the first to see and experience a $30 million renovated Sun Princess when she arrived in December last year.
The refurbished ship showcased a bright and airy atrium, a new 47-seater sushi restaurant, Kai Sushi and a refitted Lotus Spa featuring an ‘ofuru’ bath tub made of cedar wood.
QM2’s 10th birthday portrait
Queen Mary 2 made a grand entrance when she sailed into Sydney in during the wave season.
The world’s largest ocean liner attracted a crowd in Circular Quay as she docked with her 2,500 guests and 1,200 crew.
However, it wasn’t just onlookers excited by her arrival, in a world first, more than 120 crew posed for a regal and romantic portrait to mark her 10th birthday.
The photo captured crew from every one of the line’s myriad staff positions from housekeepers to gentlemen dance hosts and florists.
Vow renewals with the Love Boat Captain
Princess Cruises recruited the world’s most famous captain, the Love Boat’s Captain Merrill Stubbing to give guests love tips and officiate vow renewal ceremonies on Princess Cruises’ Sun Princess.
The Captain aka actor Gavin MacLeod helped officiate the renewals while the ship was docked in Sydney Harbour.
He also offered some love wisdom, including surprising your partner with unexpected meals and TLC.
Check out Cruise Passenger‘s video montage of images taken during the 2013/14 cruise season: