Two of Australia’s favourite cruise lines will be sailing head-to-head next year in a bid to woo the highly valuable premium cruiser.
Princess and Celebrity Cruises will be bring their best ships: the new Celebrity Edge will set the scene with futuristic new technology and brilliant design; Princess will be sailing the newly minted MedalllionClass ship Royal Princess.
Both vessels offer amazing experiences – each unique in its own way. And the lines are busy bundling must-have cruise inclusions like WiFi, drinks, onboard and shore excursion credits as well as specialty dining.
So what is a spoilt-for-choice Aussie cruiser to do? How can you choose?
Cruise Passenger compared a 13-day voyage between the new bold Celebrity Edge, and Princess’ Royal Princess on a 13-day voyage between Australia and New Zealand.
The ultra-premium cruise line, on every sailing, in every cabin for every guest, include drinks, WiFi and service charges are included for all passengers in the base fare. This will also include a range of onboard dining and experiences.
Guests then have an option to add onto this base fare.
Celebrity Cruises has two packages – Elevate, which includes beers, spirits, cocktails, liqueurs, frozen drinks and wine by the glass as well as shore excursion credit of up to $200 per guest. The package is priced from $30 per person per day.
Celebrity’s Indulge package includes premium drinks, shore excursion credit of up to $200 per person, free WiFi and up to $200 onboard credit to spend on specialty dining, spa treatments and more. And the cost of Indulge is priced at $60 per person per day.
Princess has two packages available for guests. Unlike Celebrity, guests will have to pay an additional fee in order to get drinks and WiFi. The line has a 3 for Free offer which includes free stateroom upgrade, onboard spending money of up to $200 per stateroom, and a specialty dining voucher for two.
The line also has a Princess Plus offer which includes drinks and WiFi. Included is the Premier beverage package where guests get cocktails, beer and wine, specialty coffees, smoothies and bottled water.
The 13-night cruise aboard the new Celebrity Edge includes eight ports and four sea days. The cruise departs Sydney from December 21, 2023 before heading to Newcastle. The ship will spend two days at sea before arriving on Christmas Day in New Zealand where the Edge will sail the Milford and Doubtful Sound.
Next on the itinerary is the picturesque town of Dunedin where the scenery and culture is borrowed heavily from Scotland. Next is Christchurch, home of Gothic architecture before heading to Napier, Tauranga, Auckland and the Bay of Islands.
The Princess 13-night itinerary is similar to Celebrity’s, but with a few differences. The cruise aboard the Royal Princess departs December 28, 2023 and spends two days at sea before sailing the lush Fiordland National Park.
She then heads to Dunedin before sailing to Christchurch, and then on to Wellington. This lovely city is the access to point to activities like quad biking, and Princess offers its special Local Connections program here where guests can visit the Zealandia Eco Reserve. The cruise then continues to Tauranga, Auckland before visiting the Bay of Islands.
Celebrity Edge is the line’s newest ship to be homeported in Australia. She made her debut in 2018 as the first of her class from the Edge series. The Edge can accommodate 2,918 guests and has been hailed as one of the most technologically advanced ship. But her crowning glory is the Magic Carpet – a floating platform that moves between 13 decks. On the top level, it acts as an extended dining area.
The Retreat is an exclusive section onboard Celebrity Edge and gives you access to a variety of suites, your very own private deck with a pool, a private lounge where you’ll have access to complimentary beverages, gourmet snacks and a dedicated concierge. It’s the ideal place to unwind with a cocktail by the pool or watch a game on the TV in the private lounge.
The Celebrity Theatre is a contemporary space that has four stage areas and eight giant, moving projected backdrops. Celebrity’s stage productions include Kaleidoscope, Colors of Life and A Hot Summer Night’s Dream.
Resort Deck includes a 25-yard lap pool and an ever-changing LED light art installation. You’ll also find the Solarium which includes an adults-only pool area. Sometimes you’ll be able to hear a live band in the Rooftop Garden.
The Royal Princess was refurbished in December 2018 and she can accommodate up to 3,560 guests. Guests onboard will be given a Medallion which they will be able to use for keyless access into their staterooms, and even to order food and beverages anywhere on the ship. The ship also has the largest thermal suite in the fleet which also has a Hammam, a Turkish-style steam bath.
The Royal Princess has several types of accommodation options ranging from interiors to suites. The penultimate suite comes with a separate sitting area, large balcony and additions like complimentary laundry, complimentary specialty dining dinner on embarkation evening and more.
The entertainment onboard Royal Princess includes Broadway-style productions, live music at the piano bars, and the kids have special areas like Camp Discovery, The Lodge and The Beach House.
Dunedin – Best of Dunedin: Taieri Gorge by Train and Larnach Castle
Dunedin – Larnach Castle Experience and Taieri Gorge Train
Save $82.67 with Princess
Christchurch – Journey to Middle Earth: Lord of the Rings
Christchurch – Journey to Middle Earth
Save $98.67 with Princess
Wellington – Te Papa Museum and Cable Car
Wellington – Wellington Panorama Botanic Gardens and Te Papa Museum
Save $2.66 with Celebrity Cruises
Auckland – America’s Cup Experience
Auckland – America’s Cup Sailing Tour
Save $51.51 with Princess
Bay of Islands – Glow Worm Cave & Puketi Kauri Forest
Bay of Islands – Glow Worm Caves & Kauri Forest
Save $39.14 with Princess
The ship has eight specialty dining restaurants. These include restaurants like Le Voyage from celebrity chef Daniel Boulud; Fine Cut Steakhouse; the French-style eatery Le Grand Bistrot and the marvellous Magic Carpet, the world’s first cantilevered platform.
Celebrity has dining packages which range from three specialty meals to 14. The line also offers two options, one of which gives you a larger range of dining options. This will include Le Petit Chef which the line’s immersive fusion of animation, entertainment and modern cuisine.
Le Petit Chef; Murano; Tuscan Grille; Lawn Club Grill, Sushi on Five
Eden; Fine Cut Steakhouse; Raw on 5; Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud; Le Petit Chef; Le Grand Bistro; Rooftop Garden Grill
Prices are all in USD
Prices are all in USD
Onboard the Royal Princess, guests will find restaurants like the Crown Grill, an old favourite which serves steaks and lobster, Harmony from Hong Kong powerhouse Chef Richard Chen and more. Princess does not offer specialty dining packages and charges specialty dining options in USD.
Prices in USD
$29 per person. Additional mains are $10
Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria
$25 per person
$29 per person
Bistro Sur La Mer
$29 with option $12 supplement
The Salty Dog
No additional charge
$3-$6 per plate of sushi
Cover charge varies
Celebrity Cruises offers premium drinks packages where you can enjoy an incredible array of beers, spirits, liqueurs, frozen drinks, specialty coffees, beers, spirits, premium bottled water and wines up to $15 per serving. Subscribers are also entitled to 20% discount on all bottles of wine.
Princess Cruises offers a premier beverage package that includes teas, bottled water, specialty coffees, fountain soda, spirits, beer, wine and cocktails. The package is $59.99 per person per day.
Price comparison and verdict
We picked a Sunset Veranda Stateroom on the Celebrity Edge which starts from $7,020 per person. Bear in mind, the sailing includes both Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Although, a 12-night Celebrity Edge to New Zealand departing on December 9, 2023 in a Sunset Veranda Stateroom is priced from $4,240 per person
While on the Royal Princess, we picked a Club Class Mini Suite at $4,719 per person departing on December 28, 2023.
Princess is more affordable across cruise fares, shore excursions and specialty dining. And Royal Princess will be the first of MedallionClass ship in Australia. But if you are looking for something new and never seen before in the region, perhaps the extra dollars may be worth it to see the Edge.