There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the salty sea breeze flowing through your hair while you’re overlooking the ocean, cocktail in one hand.
Ocean cruising, which was once thought of as a holiday for cruisers to stuff themselves silly with food and booze, has come in leaps and bounds in the last 10 years.
It comes in all shapes and sizes – from big ships for families to smaller boutique vessels for the foodies, there is something for everyone these days.
Ocean cruising attracts 1.4 million Australians and not only do we sail domestically, but all around the world. From Asia, to the Baltics, Canada & Alaska to South Africa, there are more of us cruising than ever before.
The top international destinations for Aussies is South Pacific and New Zealand. And with the array of homeported ships in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle from brands like Carnival Cruises Australia, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and more, we are finding that we are stepping aboard to cruise around the country.
The difference between ocean cruising, and say river for example, is that there are lots more facilities available onboard. Ocean ships tend to have more restaurants, larger entertainment spaces, more activities for the kids and bigger facilities.
Ocean cruises can also visit a variety of different countries in one voyage. For example, in the Mediterranean, guests will cruise from Rome in Italy and visit destinations like Greece and Spain. Or, if you’re looking for the ultimate journey, many cruise lines offer world itineraries. Viking Ocean Cruises, in fact, has the longest world voyage visiting all seven continents over 245 days.
There are also different categories of ocean cruising. From contemporary, premium, small ship and luxury, there is an ocean cruise that suits all types of travel styles.
Contemporary ships are catered for the family market. At an affordable price point, brands like Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and P&O Cruises cater for families. With rides and activities like the surf simulator Flow Rider on Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, P&O’s Edge where guests can try the flying fox across one end of the ship to the other or Carnival Cruise Lines’ array of wonderful waterslides. The ships also have lots of interconnecting cabins, perfect for multigenerational families.
There are also large kids’ clubs which cater from babies as young as six months old, to teenagers.
Premium ocean cruise ships cater for an older market and don’t tend to have the rides like contemporary family ships have. The accommodation is well appointed and there are high end specialty restaurants from celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone with Princess Cruises, Mark Best with Dream Cruises, Roy Yamaguchi with MSC Cruises and more.
The spa facilities are usually larger on these ships – for example, Princess Cruises Diamond Princess has the largest Japanese spa at sea while Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Bliss has a beautiful thermal spa which features steam rooms, a salt room and even an ice room.
There are also boutique cruise lines like Azamara Club Cruises and Celebrity Cruises which offer bespoke experiences. Known for their smaller ships, these vessels can navigate into shallower waters and pull up right into the heart of cities like Bangkok in Thailand. Azamara Club Cruises also spend more overnights in ports around the world, so guests can experience the night life of international cities.
Other smaller lines like Paul Gaughin and Star Clipper, while ocean bound ships, are unique and offer itineraries around the Tahitian islands as well as the Andaman Sea. The Star Clipper fleet is made up of stunning tall mast ships where guests can take part in sailing the vessels.
So whether you’re a first time cruiser or looking for something different on the ocean, there is so much to choose from.