Princess will next year lay claim to the crown of Australia’s biggest cruise line with a fleet of five ships and capacity for 13,790 passengers.
Even Royal Caribbean, with its four mighty megaliners, will only have room for 13,042.
But that’s not the whole story. The Princess program features 123 cruises sailing from six homeports, an astonishing spread around the country that includes 20 cruises to and from Adelaide – “the biggest ever cruise industry commitment to South Australia.”
Almost everything about the announcement from Princess this week was big.
Sydney will see the Majestic Princess and Regal Princess – both Royal class and the cruise line’s youngest and largest vessels at 143,700 tonnes – sailing from the harbour city – “the first time in history that Princess Cruises has deployed two Royal-Class ships from the same homeport outside Florida”, said Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Stuart Allison.
The biggest deployment ever for Princess from Sydney will be offering 35 cruises between them, and bringing capacity to record levels.
But it doesn’t end there. Sea Princess will be homeporting in Fremantle, Perth to sail the western coastline from Broome to Albany.
The Sapphire Princess, which boasts 16 dining venues, will be making her inaugural season in Melbourne while Regal Princess makes her maiden voyage to New Zealand – and will bring Ocean MedallionClass technology with her for the first time.
The technology means guests will get fast WiFi and staff will be able to call up information at their fingertips to know your name, cabin and preferences.
The featured ports in New Zealand include Tauranga, Picton (for the Marlborough wine region), Akaroa, Wellington and Lyttelton.
The Majestic Princess and Regal Princess will be making their first visits to the restored Lyttelton Cruise Terminal, the gateway to Christchurch, said Nick Ferguson, Princess Cruises’ Sales and Marketing Director.
“From short cruises visiting picturesque Australian coastal towns to exotic cruises to Papua New Guinea and Asia, the new program also includes a wide choice of roundtrip voyages to New Zealand from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, enabling guests to select a cruise based on the featured ports” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the five-state spread of vessels from Princess was its response to popular demand. Passengers would not have to fly to experience the line’s itineraries, and that was proving a big advantage.
In another exciting move, Princess Cruises Destinations Director Michael Mihajlov revealed that the line has created 30 unique shore excursions around Australia similar to the highly popular Across the Ditch New Zealand program.
While Princess Cruises is looking for a suitable name for the program – Cruise Passenger suggests Dinki Di Adventures or Ripper Trips Down Under – it will go on expanding.
But so far it features food, wine and wildlife experiences created by Mr Mihajlov’s team of local experts.
He told Cruise Passenger the excursions would involve up to 16 passengers and were an important step in ensuring sustainable tourism and spreading the benefits of cruising as wide as possible.
It would also go some way to counter overtourism.
“Princess will continue to invest in local experts who will deliver meaningful and bespoke boutique experiences to our guests as its these local artisans and cultural leaders who bring a destination to life.”
He added: “We want to share the passion of the locals with our guests.”
Among experiences: the Limoncello maker who is so successful that they are exporting the Italian iconic drink back to their home country; behind the scenes and exclusive access to special openings at museums and exhibitions.
The new 2020/21 program, between October 2020 and April 2021, goes on sale from April 11, 2019.
Princess Cruises 2020/21 highlights
Regal Princess’ maiden voyage from Sydney to New Zealand taking in some of the region’s most beautiful ports including Bay of Islands, Auckland, Picton (Marlborough Wine Region), Christchurch (Lyttleton), Dunedin and Fiordland. Fares for the 13-night cruise start from $2,199 per person twin share departing on December 2, 2020.
An unprecedented 20 cruises to and from Adelaide – a move that represents the biggest ever cruise industry commitment to South Australia. The deployment features six roundtrip cruises from Adelaide on Sea Princess and Sapphire Princess, as well as a further 14 one-way itineraries on Sea Princess, Sapphire Princess and Majestic Princess. Fares start from $2,199 per person twin share for the 14-night cruise to Southern and Eastern Explorer which departs Adelaide on November 16, 2020.
The 116,000-tonne Sapphire Princess will also sail to destinations including New Zealand, South Australia and Tasmania on a series of cruises from Melbourne and Sydney. Sapphire Princess will also sail on Princess Cruises’ much-loved Northern Explorer itinerary, taking holidaymakers from Melbourne to Fremantle via Darwin and the Kimberley region, with ports of call including the ship’s maiden visit to Eden. Fares start from $2,099 per person twin share for the 13-night New Zealand cruise which departs Melbourne on October 28, 2020.
In addition to sailing South Australian itineraries, Sea Princess will homeport in Perth (Fremantle) to sail the Western Australian coastline from Broome to Albany, and longer voyages to South East Asia. Fares start from $4,249 per person twin share for the 26-night Southeast Asia Grand Adventure cruise departing Perth (Fremantle) on January 11, 2021.
The announcement was made aboard Majestic Princess, on her last visit to Sydney this season. She will be back for next summer.
Captain Dino Sagani, who has become the face of the Majestic to his 70,000 guests during the season, bade a fond farewell announcing Sydney was his favourite port – next to his hometown of Trieste, where the vessel was built.