WHAT’S YOUR BUDGET?
There’s a ship and a trip for everyone, no matter how much you want to spend on a holiday
The advantages of a cruise holiday are legendary. Board the boat and unpack once, wake up in a new destination every morning, eat and drink at restaurants and bars a short stroll from your bedroom, endless activities to occupy every member of the family, and that’s before the money stuff is even mentioned.
Not only are eating, sleeping and seeing included in the cost – and the bulk of the bill paid upfront to make bank-account maintenance a breeze – but cruise companies are working harder than ever to guarantee something to suit every holiday budget.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
A recent finder.com.au report reveals Australians can cruise for as little as $107 a person a night on a P&O ship with the average price sitting at $115 for Royal Caribbean, $137 on Holland America Lines, $144 with Princess, and $185 on Celebrity.
“Cruising can be a great option for those looking to save a little money as
not only is accommodation and transport covered in the cost but food and entertainment are too,’’ says finder’s travel expert Angus Kidman.
“The average cost of a domestic cruise with Carnival is $150 per person per night and a hotel of a similar standard, such as the Mantra, costs an average $96 per person per night. So while cruises may seem a little more expensive, you need to remember that, unlike a traditional hotel, it’s an all-inclusive holiday.
“If you find it hard sticking to a budget while on holidays then cruising is an option worth exploring and because it’s largely all inclusive, and you pay upfront, that limits on-board spending and helps avoid the dreaded postholiday bill shock.’’
SEEKING SOMETHING LUXE
It’s rich pickings for those eager to treat themselves with Azamara and Cunard bringing vessels to Australia during cruise season, Viking and Scenic – traditionally river cruising companies – expanding to the ocean, and hotel chain Ritz-Carlton building a lavish yacht to let guests explore the seas in style.
Cruise Express managing director Meg Hill says “the luxury end of the market is growing rapidly’’ with brands investing in new ships and refurbishing the existing fleet to serve those looking to spend more money.
“Cruising is perfect for people considering a luxury holiday experience as ships tend to be smaller, offering an intimate and sophisticated boutique experience, as well as the personalised service,’’ she says.
“These small ships call at less-visited ports, providing the luxury of stepping off the vessel in the centre of town rather than facing a long coach transfer from the commercial port, and many offer extras from shore excursions and an open bar to specialty dining and shipboard Wi-Fi.
“Luxury brands are increasingly focused on destination and experience immersion – the trend is to spend longer in port – and it’s also common to co-ordinate their visit with key events like the Monaco Grand Prix.
“Fares can be more affordable than people think, especially at the beginning or end of the season such as the Mediterranean in March or October, but expect to pay from $500 a person a day for a lead-in balcony suite on a premium ship.’’
A CHOICE IN CABIN COST
Not only is there variety between ships but travellers must decide on cabin category. Staterooms start with simple inside rooms without a window, increasing in size and service to grand multistorey villas that come with higher price tags.
As an example, Celebrity Solstice,
Celebrity’s “local’’ ship sailing Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific itineraries – lets travellers embark on a 12-night journey to the Great Barrier Reef from $2349 a person for an interior cabin or $3109 a person for a balcony suite right up to $29,725 a person for the penthouse.
“Celebrity represents a level of attainable luxury for those looking to step up their holiday,’’ says Royal Caribbean Australia general manager Adam Armstrong. “We offer a range of staterooms, catering to different needs and budgets, and 85 per cent of the staterooms have balconies.”
ITINERARY FOR EVERY BUDGET
Just as ships and cabin categories cater to different holiday budgets so do itineraries. TravelManagers personal travel manager Debra Mavin says holiday makers can set sail for as little as $100 a night on a repositioning trip.
“A repositioning cruise is when a ship needs to relocate from one location to another at the beginning or end of a season, with embarkation and disembarkation ports different, and it’s an ideal way to pick up a non-traditional itinerary that’s exceptional value as they can be half as much as regular sailings,’’ the NSW-based agent says.
“A shore or ‘taster cruise’ from two to five nights is an affordable introduction to cruising and I’m seeing growth in popularity here with extended family and friends celebrating special milestones on a ship due to the affordability with transport, accommodation, meals and entertainment included in the fare.
“A longer cruise is ideal for people who like variety – multiple countries, exploring different cities, enjoying on-board experiences at leisure – and they can start at $149 a person a night for a six-night trip to Tasmania to $245 a person a night for an 111night around-the-world voyage on the Queen Victoria.’’
The luxury cruise market is expanding, but there are ships to suit all budgets.