Princess Cruises, which is in the middle of a major coronavirus outbreak on the Diamond Princess in Japan, is moving the Sapphire Princess from Asia to Australia in May.
The 2,600 passenger vessel has been sailing out of Singapore and China, but was due to be moved to Australia later in the year. Asian sailings have virtually halted due to the virus so the move will help shore up revenues.
Carnival Australia’s Sture Myrmell is in Singapore trying to deal with the fallout from the global publicity surrounding the Diamond Princess, where another 99 passengers fell victim to the virus overnight.
Princess maintains the move will help local tourism and add 44 new cruises from the major Australian cities of Sydney, Perth (Fremantle), Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Princess Cruises Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Stuart Allison is quoted as saying Sapphire would add a much-needed boost to Australia’s domestic tourism.
“With the ongoing uncertainty of travel restrictions and port closures in Asia impacting our cruise operations in the region, we hope that this extended deployment in Australia will benefit local tourism, particularly in regional areas with 102 visits to regional ports around country during her year-long deployment,” he is reported as saying.
On sale from Thursday February 27, Sapphire Princess’ year-long program will include 171 port calls including an inaugural Australia circumnavigation voyage sailing Adelaide roundtrip with similar options from Fremantle and Sydney and 19 maiden calls along Western Australia’s coast including Geraldton and Exmouth.
Sapphire Princess will arrive into Perth (Fremantle) following a multi-million dollar refurbishment and will receive the new MedallionNet feature from June 4, offering guests the best Wi-Fi at sea. Guests will be able to share their cruise experiences with friends and family back home and around the world, with MedallionNet offering unprecedented connectivity that’s fast, unlimited, reliable and affordable.
Mr Allison said highlights of the new Sapphire Princess’ program included:
A 3-night West Australia Getaway roundtrip sailing from Perth (Fremantle) and calling into Margaret River (Busselton). Departing May 1, 2020, fares start from $249 per person twin share.
A 10-night Coral Coast voyage sailing from Perth (Fremantle), visiting West Australia’s coastal destinations such as Broome, Geraldton and Exmouth. Departing May 12, 2020, fares start from $699 per person twin share.
Returning favourites include a 17-night Northern Explorer between Sydney and Perth (Fremantle) visiting destinations such as Geraldton and Cairns. Departing Perth (Fremantle) on June 8, 2020, fares start from $1,299 per person twin share. Northern Explorer depatures also available from Sydney and Brisbane.
Australia Circumnavigation voyages from Sydney, Adelaide and Perth (Fremantle) including an inaugural 29-night Round Australia cruise out of Adelaide visiting Port Lincoln, Kangaroo Island, Port Arthur, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Yorkeys Knob, Alotau, Darwin, Kimberley Coast (Scenic Cruising), Broome, Geraldton, Perth (Fremantle), Margaret River (Busselton) and Adelaide. Departing from Perth (Fremantle) 10 August, 2020, fares start from $3,249 per person twin share.
Roundtrip voyages to Fiji from Brisbane and Sydney including a 12-night Fiji cruise sailing from Sydney visiting Dravuni Island and Lautoka departing June 25, 2020, fares start from $999 per person twin share.