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It’s all glitz and glamour for the launch of Seabourn Encore

It was a glittering champagne party, as befits one of the world ultra-luxe cruise lines. Now Seabourn’s first launch in years, the Seabourn Encore, is already on her way to Australia.

The world’s best-selling soprano Sarah Brightman presided over the naming ceremony as Godmother of the new 600-guest ship, sending a bottle of champagne smashing against the bow in a time-honoured ship christening tradition. “The launch of Seabourn Encore marks the start of a new era of ultra-luxury cruising,” Seabourn President Richard Meadows said.

“This ship is stunningly beautiful and I know guests are going to be absolutely captivated as they step aboard and see it firsthand.” And our own Steven Hopkinson, from sister publication Cruise&Travel Asia, was indeed captivated.  His view: “It’s just so elegant”.

You’ll be able to decide for yourself when she heads south to Australia for its maiden season of cruising down under. She’ll be in Darwin on January 22, and will cruise the Queensland coast before debuting in Sydney on February 2. She will depart Australia on March 17, returning for an encore season Down Under from December 2017 to February 2018.

Click here to read Steve Hopkinson’s piece

Speaking of luxury…

The new Crystal Esprit luxury yacht is already bulging with bookings, their air travel takes flight shortly and new ice-breaking Polar class ships will follow. Silversea Cruises has completed a major renovation of Silver Whisper for a 116-day epic voyage from San Francisco to Monte Carlo this month. And the newly refurbished Regent Seven Seas Voyager popped in this week – and will be back in Sydney early next month. All the lines have beefed up sales operations in Australia – a tribute to the number of Australians who have fallen for the white gloved pampering of five-star sailing.

What’s new for 2017

Cruise Lines International Association’s cruise outlook suggests no end to the travel sector’s popularity, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to sail in 2017.

Cruise lines will launch 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2017 worth US$6.8 billion.

The top 8 Cruise travel trends 2017:

  1. New Generation Takes to the Water, including Millennials and Generation X
  2. Travel Agent Use Increases
  3. River Cruise Demand Increases
  4. More Private Islands on Cruise Itineraries
  5. New Cruisers Will Take to the Sea
  6. Drivable Port Locations in Favour
  7. Lure of Celebrity Chefs
  8. Demand for Expedition Cruises

Charity work with Uniworld

Three cheers for Uniworld, the river cruise line, launching next month their global Treadright initiative – a really practical way tourists can help a whole variety of laudable charity projects. Global CEO Ellen Bettridge will talk about the work on her first visit to Australia next month – but a quick look at the website reveals at least five Australian projects being supported, from the Kimberley Land Council to the Tasmanian Devil. Linking travel to making a difference is an excellent way of giving back for the change our visitations makes to local communities. See www.treadright.org.

Cunard increases specialty dining fees

The luxury British line Cunard has increased its priced in its specialty dining venues in all three of its ships. Notably, the Verandah restaurants are seeing the substantial price hikes. The Kings Court buffet on the Queen Mary 2 and Lido restaurant on Queen Victoria has increased from $15 to $17.50 and the Lido buffet restaurant on the Queen Elizabeth has risen from $10 to $17,50 a person. The charge for the Verandah restaurant on the QE has increased from $15 to $25 per person for lunch and $24 to $35 for dinner. But on the QM2 and QV Verandah restaurants, the prices have increased from $35 to $49.95.