Aus­tralia’s favourite cruise class – premium – is about to get some new play­ers. Pe­ter Lynch re­ports.

Cruise Passenger - - CRUISE NEWS -

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

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