New arrivals signal a packed summer cruise season
Australia is gearing up for a packed 2019-20 cruise season, with new vessels, extended visits and more than 60 ships on offer in one of the busiest summers experienced on the southern seas.
Four CLIA cruise lines will introduce first-time arrivals this year, joining regular visitors, home-ported vessels and one new cruise brand making its debut in Australian waters.
“This summer will undoubtedly be one of the busiest and most diverse cruise seasons we’ve ever experienced in Australia,” said Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz.
“The choice in cruise lines and ships is broader than ever and the range of itineraries offered this year will ensure the economic benefits of cruise tourism are spread far around the country and throughout our region,” he said. “This will be backed by significant infrastructure improvements in regional ports like Broome, Cairns and Eden, making them more attractive to both cruise lines and passengers well into the future.”
New to Australia this year is Dream Cruises which will operate its Explorer Dream in local waters for the first time. Sailing from Sydney, the ship will offer a series of Queensland coastal itineraries before crossing the Tasman for a season of New Zealand cruises from Auckland. It will then return to Sydney for a series of Tasmania cruises before returning to Asia via Cairns and Darwin.
Princess Cruises will have its largest ever season in Australia with the maiden visit of Ruby Princess, joining Majestic Princess which has returned for her second season. Princess will also offer its Golden Princess, Sun Princess and Sea Princess. During her first local season, Ruby Princess will make 18 maiden visits to Australian and New Zealand ports.
Carnival Cruise Line also welcomes a newcomer, with Carnival Splendor arriving later this year to become the newest and largest ship homeported year-round in Australia. Sailing from Sydney, Carnival Splendor will join sister ship Carnival Spirit before Spirit relocates to Brisbane in October next year.
Windstar Cruises will bring its four-masted sailing ship Wind Spirit to Australia for the first time next year, arriving in Cairns after a crossing from New Caledonia. The ship will then sail onwards through the Torres Strait and across the Top End to Darwin before heading to Indonesia.
Royal Caribbean International will bring three ships to the region this summer, including the recently modernised Voyager of the Seas and the largest ship to operate in Australia this season, Ovation of the Seas. They will be joined by Radiance of the Seas and together will operate 61 sailings to destinations in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia.
Regent Seven Seas will have three vessels in Australian waters this summer: Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Navigator and Seven Seas Mariner. The trio will offer itineraries to local Australian ports, New Zealand, Asia and the South Pacific, with Seven Seas Mariner visiting as part of her 2020 World Cruise. They will be joined by visiting ships from sister brands, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel and Oceania Cruises’ Regatta, both of which will sail a variety of itineraries to ports in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
The Australia-based P&O Cruises fleet – Pacific Explorer, Pacific Dawn and Pacific Aria – will offer an extensive season in the region, sailing from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide as part of the line’s year-round presence. Together the ships will make a total of 202 calls to Australian ports.
Other lines with a big presence in Australia this season include Holland America Line which will have three ships in local waters: Noordam, Maasdam, and Amsterdam - the latter on her world voyage. Between them, the trio will make 75 calls to ports around Australia.
Celebrity Cruises returns this year with Celebrity Solstice to offer her eighth season in local waters. The ship will visit several new destinations including Eden on NSW South Coast, Port Vila in Vanuatu and Mare in New Caledonia – a maiden call for Celebrity Cruises.
Azamara will mark its fifth local season with Azamara Journey offering a series of sailings around New Zealand, Australia and Asia. The line will introduce several new South Pacific ports of call on route to Australia, including New Plymouth and Doubtful Sound in New Zealand.
Cunard returns once more this season with Queen Elizabeth based in Australia for a record 101 days from December to March. Sister ship Queen Mary 2 will spend 18 days in local waters visiting eight ports from Darwin to Sydney and across to Fremantle as part of her 99-night world cruise.
Luxury line Seabourn also returns with several sailings aboard Seabourn Encore, which will make maiden calls to destinations including Portland in Victoria, Hobart, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. Sister ship Seabourn Sojourn will visit as part of a world cruise, visiting six local ports including Brisbane and Airlie beach for the first time.
Small-ship luxury operator Ponant will offer an extensive program aboard its 184-passenger Le Laperouse, visiting Darwin, Cairns, Sydney and Hobart. It will also sail an expedition cruise from Hobart to Dunedin in New Zealand via the Sub Antarctic Islands before heading north for a series of Kimberley voyages between Darwin and Broome.
Silversea Cruises will offer its newest ship Silver Muse, sailing between Sydney and Auckland for a number of itineraries that include the north-east coast of Australia, New Zealand and several maiden calls in the South Pacific. It will be joined by Silver Whisper next year as part of its world cruise, which continues to Singapore via ports in Australia and Asia.
Crystal Cruises will welcome its 980-passenger Crystal Serenity to Australia as part of a world cruise of 105 nights. The luxury vessel will arrive in Sydney after a visit to New Zealand and will then sail up the East Coast via destinations including Mooloolaba, Hardy Reef, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Darwin.
MSC Cruises will welcome its MSC Magnifica in March as part of a world cruise, visiting ports including Hobart and an overnight stay in Sydney before heading north for maiden calls to Cairns and Darwin.
Coral Expeditions will offer its flagship Coral Adventurer alongside Coral Discoverer and Coral Expeditions II, operating a program of itineraries to destinations including the Great Barrier Reef, The Kimberley, Tasmania, Cape York, Arnhem Land, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
Other visitors to Australian waters this year include AIDA Cruises’ AIDAaura and AIDAvita, Costa Cruises’ Costa Deliziosa, Hapag Lloyd’s Bremen and Europa, and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Boudicca.