Cruise ships are staying longer Down Under and there are some excellent deals to be had, writes Bernadette Chua.
The Australian cruise season has been extended, with popular cruise ships, including Sapphire Princess and Queen Elizabeth, sailing in our waters.
The move is the result of the coronavirus in Asia, and means thousands more cabins, port calls and itineraries for Aussie cruisers.
This week, Princess Cruises and Cunard announced they would be extending the Australian season for an extra 60 days, meaning that this is the best time to snag deals. There are cruises which are priced from as little as $69 per person, per night.
"The extension of Queen Elizabeth's Australia and New Zealand season is a result of the current uncertainty due to travel restrictions and port closures in Asia and their effect on cruise operations in the region," said Katrina McAlpine, commercial director for Cunard Australia.
"In response to the operational uncertainties in Asia, Queen Elizabeth will instead remain in local waters for another 60 days. This extended Australia season will benefit local tourism with 29 visits to ports around the country during her additional 60-day deployment."
Like Cunard, Princess Cruises also revealed it would be basing the Sapphire Princess in Australia and moving the ship away from Singapore and China.
"With the ongoing uncertainty of travel restrictions and port closures in Asia impacting our cruise operations in the region, we hope that this extended deployment in Australia will benefit local tourism, particularly in regional areas with 102 visits to regional ports around the country during her year-long deployment," said Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises' senior vice-president in the Asia-Pacific.
Joel Katz, the Cruise Lines International Association's Australasia managing director, welcomed the season extension.
"These new itineraries are great news, especially at a time when the tourism industry is focused on recovery," he said.
"The extra deployments cruise lines have announced in Australia will boost visitation and provide new economic opportunities for destinations around the country.
"This is especially welcome in many of our regional communities impacted by the summer bushfires, so it's great to see destinations like Eden and Kangaroo Island included in some of these new cruises. It's also good news for cruise travellers, who now have greater choice and new options in this region.
"Importantly, cruise lines have put in place important procedures to ensure that the health and safety of passengers and crew remains the top priority, including enhanced screening measures prior to boarding. Together with the increased ability to cruise within our own region, this will help give reassurance to travellers."
Royal Caribbean has also announced it will bring the Ultra-class Spectrum of the Seas to Australia and offer free cruises to those involved in fighting the bushfires. The ship will be sailing this weekend.
"In light of the ongoing coronavirus issues in China, Royal Caribbean has announced it will move Spectrum of the Seas to Australia as a gesture to thank the humanitarian efforts put forth to combat the wildfires", says a Royal Caribbean fans' blog, an unofficial site run out of the US.
"Spectrum of the Seas will travel to Australia and be deployed on complimentary cruises sailing from Sydney in support of Australia's first responder community, who worked tirelessly over many weeks of the bushfire crisis."
Further afield, the Norwegian Spirit, which was bound for Asian ports after her refurbishment, has been redeployed to the Mediterranean.
Cruiseco has fly-cruise-stay packages aboard the Norwegian Spirit. Starting from $4560 per person, twin-share, the package includes return flights, a 12-night cruise, a two-night stay in Rome as well as a two-night stay in London, free beverage package, shore excursion credits, specialty dining package, free wi-fi as well as US$200 worth of onboard credit.
Sailing from Sydney and calling at a number of iconic Australian ports, Queen Elizabeth will be sailing on a 27-night cruise from Sydney. She will visit places such as Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Fremantle, Busselton, Kangaroo Island and more. The cruise departs on 12 April 2020 and is priced from $1799 per person, twin-share.
- $66 per person, per night
Holland America Line
Cruiseco has a South Pacific crossing voyage which includes a 19-night fly, cruise and stay package from Sydney to Honolulu. Departing 16 April 2020, the Noordam cruises to Noumea, Ile des Pins and several ports in Fiji before heading to American Samoa. The voyage includes several days at sea before reaching Hawaii. The package includes a three-night post-cruise stay and flights. It is priced from $2825 per person, twin-share.
- $148 per person, per night
Norwegian Cruise Line
With the Norwegian Spirit homeported in the Mediterranean, Cruiseco also has a Greek Islands 10-night stay and cruise package. The seven-night cruise from Athens visits Rhodes, Kusadasi, Istanbul, Mykonos and Santorini Island. The package includes a two-night pre-cruise stay as well as a one-night post-cruise stay. The deal is priced from $1320 per person, twin-share.
- $132 per person, per night
On offer is a 13-night fly, stay and cruise package aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Departing from Sydney on 11 June 2020, you'll fly to Vancouver where you will spend a night in the Canadian city. The cruise starts on 12 June 2020 and sails Alaska's Inside Passage. Port calls include Skagway, Sitka, Juneau and more. The cruise package is priced at $2999 per person, twin-share.
- $230 per person, per night
Cruise1st is offering a 19-night roundtrip from Sydney to Hawaii. The package includes the cruise, hotel stays and flights. Celebrity Solstice departs Sydney on 25 April 2020 and visits Auckland and the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. She then sails to French Polynesia, and on to Maui and Honolulu in Hawaii, before you fly back to Sydney. The package is priced from $2699 per person, twin-share.
- $142 per person, per night
There is 17-night Northern Explorer itinerary sailing between Sydney and Perth aboard the Sapphire Princess. The cruise visits destinations such as Geraldton and Cairns. For the 8 June 2020 departure from Fremantle, fares start from $1299 per person, twin-share.
- $76 per person, per night
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