Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go awry. For more than 5,000 Australians who had booked holidays on 20 different cruises aboard MS Athena, awry may seem somewhat of an underwhelming adjective. Classic International Cruises, which had booked Athena for its 2012-2013 cruise season, has gone into voluntary administration following the ship being impounded in France over unpaid debts and crew wages. Western Australia’s Department of Consumer Protection has indicated that most passengers have paid deposits of 40 per cent. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Anne Driscoll, Commissioner for Consumer Protection, has advised passengers to contact their travel agent to ascertain whether funds had already been paid to CIC, and to register as a creditor with the administrator, Lawler Partners.

Gliding into Fremantle on November 5, the 137,270-ton Voyager of the Seas is the biggest ship to be based in the region. She boasts a range of big-resort features that will particularly appeal to kids of all ages, including an ice-skating rink, a four-deck-high food, shopping and entertainment ‘main-street’, and a rock-climbing wall. Grown-ups will enjoy the nightclub and Broadway-style shows. As well as eliciting excitement over its sheer size, Voyager of the Seas’ visit to Australia has highlighted the important role cruising plays in stimulating local economies through increased tourism. International Cruise Council Australasia general manager Brett Jardine said that the ship’s one-day visit to Adelaide would be worth about $1 million to South Australia’s economy.

Celebrity Solstice is due to make her Australian debut this summer, arriving in Darwin on December 8. Her first visit to our southern shores is all the more fitting given that many of her features are themselves a long list of ‘firsts’. These include the first Lawn Club at sea, the first Hot Glass Show, and the first cruise line to have five ‘Leading Ladies’ redesign the staterooms.

Words: Riley Palmer