The trend of home porting in Australia continues, with the Portuguese cruise ship, M/V Funchal to be based in regional Australia during the 2015-summer season.
The ship is the latest in a line of vessels moving to Australia during the peak wave period.
This year, Carnival Legend and Celebrity Century will be based in Sydney, while Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas will be based in Brisbane and Golden Princess in Melbourne during the 2015/16-wave season.
Operated by recently launched cruise line, Portuscale Cruises, M/V Funchal will arrive on 17 February 2015 in Newcastle after a 45-day voyage from Barcelona.
Although other line are basing their ship out of major Australian cities, M/V Funchal will be home ported in satellite city, Geelong for the season, where she will sail four, six and eight day itineraries.
Chief executive Rui Alegre told Cruise Passenger Geelong was chosen for its long Australian maritime history and because it’s the gateway to Victoria.
“Although the port is one of the busiest and most economically important in Australia, Geelong maintains its character as a personable and relaxed yet thoroughly modern regional city,” he explained.
Despite the extra ships moving to Australia over the 2014/15 season, Mr Alegre said he isn’t concerned about competition because M/V Funchal is in a class of her own.
“We are niche for classic cruise lovers who love the sea and a cosy personal atmosphere,” he explained.
The 20-year-old ship underwent a $22 million refit last year and was fitted with two restaurants – Restaurant Lisboa, Ilha Verde Lounge and Restaurant Coimbra; five bars and lounges – Havana Cigar Club, Porto Bar, Gama Lounge and Lido Bar; several restaurants; a casino; a wellness & beauty centre; sauna; and a gym.
The ship also has 241 cabins over six separate decks and an iTeen Room with electronic game consoles for younger passengers.
To promote the ship in Australia and New Zealand, Portuscale Cruises appointed Discover the World.
Discover the World chief executive Jenny Adams said the line offers small but beautiful cruises and focuses on sailing to unique destinations.
“With a majority of Portuguese crew specially trained, guests will feel welcomed as soon as they step aboard the M/V Funchal, and they will discover the gastronomy offerings and encounter an excellent atmosphere,” she said.
Following her Australian visit, she will sail north on a 57-day voyage to Europe, which will include the Gallipoli centenary anniversary.