Emptynesters Mark and Jacqueline Traynor are a new wave of UK cruise passengers coming from the Northern Hemisphere – lured by our cheap cruises.

The couple, from outside Falkirk in Scotland, saw a deal they couldn’t refuse in August last year, cruising with Celebrity Solstice just days after having booked another cruise around the Caribbean. 

The 15-day package, included flights to Sydney, a two-night stay at a Novotel, then boarding Celebrity Solstice with stops in Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin, Bali and then on to Singapore with another hotel stay before flights back to the UK.

Add to that a balcony room, drinks package and wifi all for the princely sum of £3800pp and Mark says it was a “no-brainer”.

“It sounds like a heck of a lot of money,” says Jacqueline, but at today’s exchange rate that’s about AU$7250 for the package or just $483 per day. “So it was quite a good deal.”

Their Caribbean cruise last November, for just 10 days, was about the same price. 

“We jumped at it (the Sydney trip),” adds Mark. “It was an absolute no-brainer.”

The couple are not alone. Experts say hundreds of Europeans and Americans are cashing in on our rock-bottom prices and cheap cruises.

One expert explained that cruise lines are caught between cheap cruises and a hard place.

During Europe’s winter, the nightly cruise ship rate goes down and there are very few takers. The only option is to move vessels to warmer climates like ours. Hence the armada of big ships arriving this week.

But to tempt Europeans and Americans across when airfares are so high means lowering prices. The result: Australians get to enjoy some fabulous bargains.

Take a Cunard cruise from London to Southampton, taking in Northern Europe for 17 days. In the UK, it would cost $329 per person per night. But in Australia, a similar cruise from Singapore to Melbourne voyage would be almost $1000 cheaper at $259.

The Traynors, who have four children among them and seven grandchildren, had already experienced a family cruise when their two younger kids were in their teens and later, as the children had their own families.

“When we first went with the kids it was what we could afford,” says Jacqueline. “We were on level three and we were practically in with the staff!

“It was a window cabin with a porthole,” adds Mark. But overall, the trip around the Mediterranean was great, they say, and while the cabin was small, the kids were out and about most days and the cabin was just to sleep in and to change clothes. 

Guests who booked one of the cheapest cruise prices depart Sydney via Celebrity Solstice.
The Traynors depart Sydney.

They then took a big family trip with eight adults and three grandkids, the couple celebrating their Silver wedding anniversary where they renewed their vows onboard. They are now doing their own thing as a couple, first a cruise from New York to the Caribbean on Celebrity Silhouette, pre-Covid. Now the package to Australia is a taste of better things to come.

“We would come back and do two or three cities,” says Mark. “There’s too many things to do in Sydney alone, we are just scratching the surface, to say the least.”

And there’s no way they would want to cover the distance by air, with all three countries, the packing and unpacking, and airports and security.

As Celebrity Solstice is a sister ship with similar opinions to Silhouette, the Traynors have already planned out their dining options.

“We tend to do a lot of main room dining because the food is pretty decent and we have done the specialty restaurants too,” says Mark.

“We might do one or two where you need to dress up,” says Jacqueline.

Next up could be a river cruise up the Mekong or in India for a “big birthday” and their 30th wedding anniversary.

“The kids are asking where we are all going,” says Jacqueline. “I said ‘No, it’s where are we going’, you’re not coming!”

After the Traynors booked more than a year ago, international flights have been on the increase, an economy flight from Singapore to London, for example, is currently about $2000.

Mark and Jacqueline Traynor enjoyed a two-night stay in Sydney as part of the package they booked in the UK last year.
Mark and Jacqueline Traynor enjoyed a two-night stay in Sydney as part of the package they booked in the UK last year.