GREAT CRUISING ESCAPES
A RECORD 330,949 Australians took a cruise in 2008, a 26 per cent rise on the previous year, according to figures just released. Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific were the most popular destinations.
International Cruise Council Australasia chairwoman Karen Christensen says the rise is the result of increased capacity in the market, more itinerary options and a growing awareness of cruising as a value holiday.
‘‘ In these tougher times cruise holidays have more appeal than ever because they include transport, accommodation, meals and entertainment in one fare,’’ she says.
European river cruising continues to capture the imagination of Australians, with figures in that area more than doubling. French flair: On the subject of river cruising, Victoria’s Outdoor Travel is offering 20 per cent off inclusive hotel barge cruises in France on selected trips in 2009. Its seven-day Burgundy cruise, starting in Dijon, is from $2820 (normally $3620) if booked by April 15; flights extra. Includes sightseeing with wine tasting and all meals. The discount also applies to its Amsterdam to Bruges eight-day Bike & Barge cruises, saving $465 a person. From $1675 a person (usually $2140). More: 1800 331 582; www.outdoortravel.com.au. Half price: Still in Europe, Cruise Express has halved the price of luxury cruises in France this August with a 15-day, all-inclusive trip from the beaches of Normandy in the north to the Mediterranean in the south. From $2788 a person, including onboard meals, wine with dinner and sightseeing; flights extra. Bookings must be made by the end of March. More: 1300 766 537; www.cruiseexpress.com.au. To the reef: Coral Princess Cruises has released its latest Barrier Reef schedule with new land and cruise packages. Coral Princess and Coral Princess II cruise weekly between Townsville and Cairns for three or four nights, departing Cairns and travelling north to Lizard Island. From $1496 a person, flights extra. More: 1800 079 545; www.coralprincess.com.au. Beat the rush: There’s nothing like getting in early. Cabins on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, under construction in Italy, go on sale on April 2, about 18 months before the debut of the $1.1 billion ship. Weighing 92,000 tonnes, the 2100-passenger liner is due to be launched in early 2010. Expressions of interest are invited. More: 1300 766 537; www.cruiseexpress.com.au. Barry Oliver