Fremantle has welcomed luxury cruise liner Queen Elizabeth and its 2000 passengers plus 900 crew into port, signalling the start of Cunard’s highly anticipated Australia and New Zealand homeport season.

Cunard has 59 scheduled Australian port calls in total for its three ships – Queen Elizabeth, flagship Queen Mary 2, and Queen Victoria which arrive in Australia in early 2024 contributing an estimated $81 million to local economies. Queen Elizabeth will homeport in Fremantle for four months.

“This is going to be Cunard’s biggest celebration of Australia yet. We are excited to welcome guests aboard our elegant three Queens as they embark on a voyage filled with luxury, cultural enrichment, and unforgettable moments,” Cunard President, Katie McAlister said.

Bespoke event voyages

Darren Purchese, with Cunard pastry crew, will be on board for the Great Australian Culinary Voyage.

An additional offer this season is another Great Australian Culinary Voyage, following on from the success of the inaugural program in early 2023. The now sold out Great Australian Culinary Voyage 2024 will feature some of Australia’s most acclaimed chefs including TV fave Karen Martini,  Indigenous chef  Mark Olive, celebrity chef Gary Mehigan and sweet treat maker Darren Purchese, alongside wine expert Katie Spain.

The program promises to offer foodies unparalleled culinary experiences at sea to captivate the most discerning of palates, plus a shore-based food tour by chef Purchese.

“I’m genuinely honoured to be onboard and it’s such a great opportunity to meet guests who are genuinely interested in food,” Purchese told Cruise Passenger.

Onboard Purchese’s unique twist on Cunard’s Champagne Afternoon Tea will include his signature Glamington in Peach Melba flavour and Royal Scones with gin and tonic jelly, juniper cream, fizzy white chocolate and lime curd.  

“I will be spreading sweet love everywhere,” jokes the chef who knows that fans of his Melbourne ‘sweet studio’, Burch & Purchese – which closed earlier this year – have already booked for their sugary fix.

While he will be hosting cooking classes on board during stops in Adelaide and Hobart,   Purchese will also be leading shore excursions to some of his top Melbourne sweet spots.

Darren Purchese’s Peach Melba Glamington will be on offer on the Great Australian Culinary Voyage.

Good sports

In new offerings, Cunard’s inaugural Sporting Greats and Wellness Voyage 2024 departs Sydney on February 13, 2024 with Channel 7 host Mark Beretta – himself a water ski champion – admitting the headliners of cricketer Brett Lee, AFL Swans footballer Adam Goodes and golfer Karrie Webb, will personally be the trip of a lifetime. 

Guests will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to interact with these national heroes during live talks, more intimate activities, and bespoke shore excursions. Over the course of the seven-night sailing, guests can also enjoy daily complimentary movement classes, breath workshops and ice bath sessions.

Rounding out the sporting experiences on offer is a wellness program with Dr Joanna McMillan and Professor Luigi Fontana providing education and inspiration on health and wellbeing.

Show-stopping performances

Talking of cricket, Cunard will also partner with Tim Marriot the star of one-man, award-winning show Jack’s Ashes, written by Mathew Banes. Marriot will perform his popular sold-out show during a seven-night Tasmania sailing on Queen Elizabeth in January. Jack’s Ashes was developed in partnership with Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association, and is a compelling and widely celebrated performance that will pack a punch for audience members of all walks of life.

Brisbane-grown contemporary circus company CIRCA, will also be providing entertainment on board Queen Elizabeth for a six-week residency from February 1 until March 10. will captivate guests throughout the season with dynamic and energetic stage shows.

“The 6-week residency will be the first time a major Australian performing arts company has partnered with a global cruise line, and we look forward to working with the team at Cunard to deliver what will surely be an unforgettable experience for their guests,” said Circa Executive Director, Shaun Comerford.

Cunard VP, Commercial for North America and Australasia, Matt Gleaves said it’s in Cunard’s DNA to deliver the very best of entertainment at sea, be it West End-style performances, carefully curated event voyages featuring global talent and partners, or renowned high-profile speakers.

“The collaboration with Circa promises to be a real treat for our Australian and New Zealand guests and highlights our ambition to work with world-leading and state of the art partners to inspire and entertain them while they’re on board with us,” he said.

Brisbane-based Circa is the first major Australian performing arts company to partner with a global cruise line in Cunard.

Esteemed guest speakers

Other Cunard guests onboard will offer their views on history, culture, sport and the arts,  and include talks from former Australian cricket captain Kim Hughes, former Governor-General of Australia and former military officer Sir Peter Cosgrove, and journalist Tracy Spicer (Q405).

Premium local produce

Over the course of  four-month deployment, Cunard will also showcase local produce from Australia and New Zealand, with 95 per cent of proteins such as meats and fish sourced from local producers. Cunard will provision 17 tonnes of fine local seafood including scallops, lobster and Moreton Bay bugs, 68 tonnes of premium Australian meats including beef, lamb and duck, 165 tonnes of fresh dairy products including milk and cheese and 500,000 fresh eggs for Queen Elizabeth’s passengers and crew.

In a first, premium Australian beef will replace USDA cuts at Cunard’s prestigious fine dining restaurant The Verandah. Cunard has also added Sydney Beer Co Lager to its local heroes menu.

For more details, go to

Queen Mary 2  Fremantle.
Queen Mary 2 cruising into Fremantle.