What’s new in cruis­ing for 2018

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - FRONT PAGE - BRAD CROUCH


Open your travel diaries, cruis­ers, be­cause it’s time to start plan­ning for next year.

The 2018-19 cruise sea­son will set new stan­dards in terms of en­tic­ing itineraries de­signed to show pas­sen­gers un­fa­mil­iar des­ti­na­tions and fresh ways to ex­pe­ri­ence the world’s great oceans and rivers.

Whether you want to drink mo­ji­tos and dance the salsa in the Caribbean, see a tribal dance group on a re­mote Pa­pua New Guinea is­land or watch the north­ern lights dance in the Nor­we­gian night sky, there’s a voy­age for you.

Tempt­ingly, cruise com­pa­nies are now re­leas­ing their 2018-19 brochures with lu­cra­tive early­bird deals in­clud­ing free air­fares, while com­pa­nies such as Imag­ine Cruis­ing are pack­ag­ing deals in a sea­son with many high­lights. Here are some.


Largely off lim­its for so long, cruise lines such as Car­ni­val and Nor­we­gian are set­ting course to the com­mu­nist out­post of Cuba.

Hol­land Amer­ica Line next year will run round-trip cruises from Fort Laud­erdale, Florida, fea­tur­ing calls at Ha­vana and Cien­fue­gos as well as Caribbean ports, priced from $1199 a per­son, twin share, for a sea­son end­ing April 18, 2018.

Aus­tralia’s Scenic is fa­mous for river cruis­ing but in Au­gust 2018 launches its lux­ury ocean mega-yacht Scenic

Eclipse, com­plete with two heli­copters and seven-seat sub­ma­rine, with des­ti­na­tions in­clud­ing Cuba in its sights. A 14-day round-trip cruise from Mi­ami de­part­ing Oc­to­ber 5, 2018, calls at nine ports sail­ing around the na­tion, priced from $14,295 a per­son, twin share.


Princess Cruises’ 2018-19 Aus­tralia and New Zealand pro­gram fea­tures four ships: new flag­ship Ma­jes­tic Princess, Golden Princess, Sun

Princess and Sea Princess. They will of­fer al­most 100 cruises from Syd­ney, Bris­bane, Mel­bourne, Ade­laide, Fre­man­tle and Auckland over seven months, call­ing at 72 ports in 18 coun­tries in­clud­ing Queensland’s More­ton Is­land.

One of the more fas­ci­nat­ing maiden calls will be to the re­mote Con­flict Is­lands in Pa­pua New Guinea. This idyl­lic archipelago of 21 is­lands with pris­tine reefs and abun­dant marine life was bought sight unseen by Aussie ty­coon Ian Gowrie-Smith who wants to turn much of it into a marine re­serve.

A 12-day Bris­bane round-trip cruise de­part­ing De­cem­ber 16, 2018 calls at Alotau, Ki­tava, Rabaul, Kiri­wina Is­land, Con­flict Is­lands, Kawanasausau Strait and Milne Bay.

P&O made its maiden call to the tran­quil is­lands last year and is ex­pand­ing its PNG of­fer­ings tak­ing guests to fas­ci­nat­ing ar­eas such as the Tro­briand Is­lands. A 14-night P&O trip, de­part­ing Bris­bane on Fe­bru­ary 9, 2018, calls at Alotau, Madang, We­wak, Vitu Is­lands, Rabaul, Kiri­wina Is­land in the Tro­briand group, Ki­tava and the Con­flict Is­lands, priced from $1299 a per­son, quad share.


River cruise com­pa­nies such as Uni­world, APT and Scenic are see­ing strong de­mand for the food and winethemed cruises out of beau­ti­ful Bordeaux, par­tic­u­larly from trav­ellers who have en­joyed the bet­ter known Eu­ro­pean river cruises.

Leisurely itineraries ex­plore the Garonne and Dor­dogne rivers as well as the Gironde es­tu­ary, the vil­lages, winer­ies and chateaus of the Aquitaine re­gion and his­toric towns such as Co­gnac and Berg­erac.

Bordeaux it­self is a won­der­ful draw­card with its gor­geous hon­ey­coloured stone build­ings and re­vi­talised, pedes­trian-friendly Port of the Moon water­front area, so named be­cause of the cres­cent shape of the Garonne River at that point.


Kan­ga­roo Is­land, Ko­modo Is­land and the Kimberley are among re­gions close to home on the hot list’s hori­zon for many cruise trav­ellers. Vik­ing Cruises’ new ship Vik­ing

Spirit, sched­uled for de­liv­ery next year, will spend the sum­mer of 201819 based in Aus­tralia. Its itineraries in­clude calls to Lom­bok and Ko­modo Na­tional Park in In­done­sia to see the famed Ko­modo dragons, as part of a 17-day Syd­ney-Bali or re­verse trip call­ing at 11 ports with de­par­tures on Novem­ber 30, 2018 and March 10, 2019.

The French are also com­ing, with French-flagged line Po­nant run­ning ex­pe­di­tion cruises to the re­mote, spec­tac­u­lar Kimberley re­gion next year.

Four 10-night voy­ages on L’Aus­tral dur­ing July and Au­gust 2018, be­tween Dar­win and Broome, will in­clude high­lights such as the Hunter River, King Ge­orge Falls, Mitchell Falls, Mont­gomery Reef and Hor­i­zon­tal Falls and the chance to see the Gwion Gwion and Wand­jina rock art.

In 2018-19, P&O will have record ship de­ploy­ments for both Bris­bane and Ade­laide. Calls in SA will in­clude Kan­ga­roo Is­land and Port Lin­coln, both mag­nets for overseas and lo­cal trav­ellers. See KI’s famed wildlife and land­scapes and sam­ple Port Lin­coln’s de­li­cious aqua­cul­ture – per­haps even take a shark cage dive.


For river cruis­ing, Myan­mar’s Ir­rawaddy and Chind­win rivers are stand­out des­ti­na­tions for 2018 and com­pa­nies such as Avalon, APT and Sanc­tu­ary Re­treats of­fer lux­ury cruises.

Like Cuba, the for­mer Burma was largely off lim­its for tourism for many years. Cities such as Yan­gon and Man­dalay are fas­ci­nat­ing, the di­verse mix of cul­tures is some­times be­wil­der­ing and the tem­ples and pago­das are ex­tra­or­di­nary.


For trav­ellers past their po­lar pi­o­neer­ing prime, com­pa­nies such as Sil­versea, Po­nant and Scenic with its new Scenic Eclipse are of­fer­ing lux­ury ex­pe­di­tion voy­ages tak­ing in places such as Ice­land, Green­land, the Rus­sian Arc­tic and Antarc­tic itineraries, while ma­jor cruise lines sail Canada-Alaska routes.

The Nor­we­gian archipelago of Sval­bard, where po­lar bears out­num­ber hu­mans, is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar cruise des­ti­na­tion – as well as ex­pe­di­tion


lines, main­stream cruise lines such as Princess Cruises, MSC and Hol­land Amer­ica Line putting it on 2018 itineraries.


Wa­ters less trav­elled have an in­trigu­ing ap­peal for the cruiser and the Baltic Sea of North­ern Europe, which has ports in Poland, Es­to­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Rus­sia, Fin­land and Swe­den, fits the cri­te­ria. Com­bine his­toric cities such as St Petersburg with rugged land­scapes, add nearby Scan­di­navia and you have cruise pack­ages that sell out well in ad­vance.

Ade­laide travel agent Phil Hoff­mann says about 30 per cent of his clients fly­ing to Europe last year were con­nect­ing with a cruise hol­i­day, with the Baltics pop­u­lar.

A 15-day Vik­ing Cruises “Vik­ing Home­lands” trip in June, 2018, calls at 11 ports in­clud­ing Stockholm, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Gdansk, Helsinki, Copen­hagen and Ber­gen, priced from $8299 a per­son, twin share.


New­cas­tle is emerg­ing as a lo­cal cruise hot spot thanks to an up­graded cruise ter­mi­nal paving the way to visit the re­gion’s beau­ti­ful beaches and Hunter Val­ley wine coun­try.

The up­grade will al­low big­ger cruise ships to visit – Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional’s Ex­plorer of the Seas will make its maiden visit on Fe­bru­ary 10, 2019, as the largest cruise ship to call. RCI will base three ships in Aus­tralia for the 2018-19 sea­son – Ova­tion of the Seas, Ra­di­ance of the Seas and Ex­plorer of the Seas – and will of­fer 61 sail­ings rang­ing from three to 23 nights, sail­ing to ports in Aus­tralia, NZ, Fiji, French Poly­ne­sia, Malaysia, New Cale­do­nia, Sin­ga­pore, the US and Van­u­atu.


NZ’s South Is­land Fiord­land Na­tional Park, with its ma­jes­tic land­scapes of Mil­ford, Dusky and Doubt­ful sounds, makes our trans-Tas­man neigh­bours an on­go­ing hot spot for cruis­ers.

Ro­torua, from the port of Tau­ranga in the North Is­land, is an­other pow­er­ful draw­card with its bub­bling mud pools and steamy geysers.

All ma­jor lo­cal lines have cruises planned for 2018-19 with a wide va­ri­ety of itineraries on of­fer.

RCI’s Ra­di­ance of the Seas has a 10-night NZ voy­age de­part­ing Mel­bourne on Fe­bru­ary 23, 2019, and call­ing at Syd­ney, Dunedin, Akaroa, Welling­ton and Pic­ton with a cruise of Mil­ford Sound, be­fore ar­riv­ing in Auckland.


Vik­ing ship Odin at Bu­dapest on the Danube River (main); and the glo­ri­ous vis­tas of Nor­way await when you visit Breiskred­nosi ob­ser­va­tion site (above right).


Cruis­ers trav­el­ling with Po­nant can view the unique rock for­ma­tions of the Kimberley first hand, with the cruise line run­ning ex­pe­di­tion cruises there (above); view the colour­ful houses of Ber­gen, on a “Vik­ing Home­lands” tour; watch monks in Old Ba­gan, Myan­mar, as the coun­try opens up to tourism (right); and visit the re­mote To­briand Is­lands, PNG.

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