Stand by to be wooed as never before. Australia’s biggest ocean cruise season is just around the corner, and the industry wants to win you over.
Whether you are a switcher keen to try new brands or a new cruiser, there’s a lot on offer.
A flotilla of new ships, a host of new experiences and exciting destinations.
Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) is launching Cruise Month in October. But bookings are already booming.
So what should you watch out for? Disney Wonder triggered so much interest its first season is already sold out and a second already announced. Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady is on her way with a new and very different child-free experience, as well as rock star suites and 20+ restaurants or try seeing the Great Barrier Reef aboard a submersible, thanks to Scenic Eclipse II.
Celebrity Cruise Line’s Celebrity Edge, with its 170 suites and six villas, will also debut in Australia and New Zealand waters for the first time. Its maiden voyage will include a first-time arrival in Darwin on December 2. There is also a visit to Kangaroo Island off the South Australian mainland. As for mega luxury trips, Celebrity Edge is offering a 40-night grand journey starting in Rome and ending in Sydney.
Europe is a huge draw card
The action won’t just be in our waters. Europe is a huge draw card. One line that comprehensively covers this amazing continent’s cruise destinations is Norwegian Cruise Line. When you holiday with Norwegian Cruise Line in Europe, every day is a new day.
Unpack once and wake up in a new city nearly every morning. Visit iconic sights in Barcelona and recount your excursion over dinner at Onda by Scarpetta on The Waterfront one day. Wander the famous winding streets of Santorini, then come back on board to unwind in Mandara Spa another day.
Wherever the sea breeze takes you, there’s something for everyone every single day of your cruise. So come aboard and experience a different tomorrow with NCL. For more information, click here
Cruise terminals expect record numbers
About 70 cruise ships are expected to operate in Australia’s ocean waters during the coming peak period, from October to April, says Cruise Lines International Association.
“Together, these ships will call for 1848 port days in Australia. Assuming they’re full, that represents more than 2.5 million passenger days in Australia,” CLIA Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz says.
Cruise terminals across the country are expecting record numbers. The new Brisbane International Cruise Terminal greeted 138 vessels and almost 650,000 passengers at its terminal in the first 12 months of operation.
More than 160 vessels will now berth at Brisbane International Cruise Terminal during the 2023/24 cruise season.
In Victoria, the ports of Melbourne, Geelong, Portland and Phillip Island are also expected to have bumper years. Ports Victoria says the 2023/24 season is shaping as its busiest yet, with 127 visits scheduled and about 350,000 passengers and crew are expected to arrive at Station Pier in Port Melbourne.
The cruise revival in Sydney is also well underway, with one million passengers passing through Sydney cruise terminals up to the end of 2022-23 financial year.
Princess crowns off new features
There is some big news from Princess Cruises, consistently one of Australia’s favourite lines. They are launching a brand new class of ship in February, 2024. The Sun Princess is a brand new design and a first for Princess, launching for a maiden season around the Mediterranean. The ship will target multigenerational passengers with more facilities than ever.
The Park19 top-deck adventure area is the most engaging family activity zone ever featured on a Princess ship. Located on the top decks, Park19 features nine engaging activities for the entire family to enjoy in a new space perfect for fun and sun for all generations.
Also new on board are the Sea Breeze roll glider, Infinite Tilt Wall and a climbing wall.
There are two new entertainment venues: The Dome and The Arena. Both offer amazing entertainment and technological spaces to offer elevated entertainment, including a partnership with world renowned Cirque Éloize. Rest assured, fan favourites like Sabatini’s, Alfredo’s Pizzeria and sophisticated live music and cocktail bars like Crooners are still front and centre as part of the Princess Cruises experience. And there is a massive new Lotus Spa over two floors with a brand new layout. For more information, click here
What’s new on board?
Disney Wonder’s inaugural cruises range from two to six nights, departing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as Auckland. While kids enjoy entertainment from Toy Story, Frozen, Star Wars, parents can also retreat to the luxe Senses Spa & Salon.
Virgin Voyages’s Resilient Lady docks for the first time in Port Melbourne this December. While in Australia, Resilient Lady will also visit Sydney, Hobart and Burnie, and it’s then off to New Zealand. Resilient Lady will return for a second Australian season after the bookings success of its inaugural voyages Down Under.
Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge will debut on December 9 with its inaugural sailing from Sydney. Itineraries include six to 13 nights itineraries, visiting 22 ports across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Scenic Luxury Cruises’ Scenic Eclipse II sets sail around Australia and the South Pacific for the first time from April 2024. Apart from dining experiences, bars, lounges and a spa, Scenic Eclipse II is the first to offer underwater exploration of the Great Barrier Reef in a submersible. Meanwhile, its discovery program in the Kimberley features two helicopters.
But these new stars won’t be the only ones to shine.
Royal Caribbean will be making a splash with Quantum of the Seas sailing from Brisbane, and Ovation of the Seas and Brilliance of the Seas sailing from Sydney.
Princess Cruises will field four Medallion Class ships – Majestic Princess, Royal Princess, Grand Princess and Coral Princess – and will sail to 117 destinations in 43 countries across Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and Southeast Asia.
In the luxury sector, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea Oceania, Viking and Cunard will all be sailing in our waters or passing through.
Tahiti looks nice this ocean cruise season
One destination that you need to get on your cruise radar this year is Tahiti. It’s often referred to as the ”Queen of the Pacific” and it’s the largest island in French Polynesia, featuring stunning landscapes, over-water bungalows and crystal clear waters. One line stands out in this idyllic location: Windstar.
Windstar Cruises is known for its small ship experience, combining the charm of traditional sailing with modern luxury. Wind Spirit, the iconic sailing yacht, bids farewell to Tahiti in February 2024, to be replaced by Star Breeze, which promising to continue the legacy of exceptional experiences in this tropical paradise. Windstar promises access to smaller ports and hidden gems that larger cruise ships simply can’t reach, including visits to Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti itself. You can explore multiple islands in one seamless journey, or enjoy watersports and world-class cuisine with a Tahitian twist. For more information, click here
It’s going to be a magical season.