Australia’s favourite cruise class – premium – is about to get some new players. Peter Lynch reports.
Douglas Ward publishes the Berlitz guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships – a weighty door-stop for the true aficionado, which rates vessels from just about every angle. Here’s what he has to say about luxury ships: “Luxury cruises versus large-resort-ship cruises are like the difference between a Bentley automobile and a motor scooter...”
We think we know what he means. But today, there is a little more Bentley about most modern ships – even those “large resort ships”.
They offer better value and more of what was once defined as luxury than ever before, with white-gloved butlers and dress codes giving way to a more relaxed view of what defines the finer things in life.
Technology means many new vessels have raised the bar and blurred the lines in everything from cuisine to service.
In one class in particular, the battle lines have been drawn. Premium cruising – the sandwich class sitting between an improving contemporary sector and a burgeoning luxury market – is fighting back.
When Majestic Princess sails from Sydney in September, 2018, she will redefine premium, a class Australians have made their own.
In Majestic Princess, premium has a new standard bearer. She has six specialties restaurants, including a French bistro from a Michelin-starred chef, a huge spa and the largest shopping mall at sea. But she won’t hold the title uncontested.
Celebrity Solstice, a Royal Caribbean brand that boasts of “modern luxury”, has just been refurbished. And its sister ships in the Edge class have some truly astonishing hardware.
Meanwhile, newcomer Norwegian