{ GREAT ES­CAPES AFLOAT }

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - MERRY KIRK­WOOD

Bal­cony bonus: Book an out­side cabin with Cruise Ex­press aboard Celebrity Equinox on a Mediter­ranean cruise-tour by Septem­ber 30 for a free up­grade to a bal­cony cabin; from $5590 a per­son twin-share ($400 up­grade in­cluded). The Mediter­ranean Magic tour de­parts Aus­tralia on May 14 and in­cludes re­turn flights with Emi­rates from Sydney, Mel­bourne, Perth, Ade­laide or Bris­bane, plus two nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion in Barcelona be­fore a 12-night round-trip cruise. More: 1300 764 509; cruise­ex­press.com.au. Christ­mas call­ing: Ex­plore French Poly­ne­sia over the up­com­ing sum­mer fes­tive break on a 10-night fly-stay-cruise pack­age with Cruise 1st, vis­it­ing the is­lands of Ra­iatea, Ta­haa, Bora Bora and Moorea; from $5418 a per­son twin-share for an ocean-view state­room aboard Paul Gauguin, in­clud­ing re­turn Qan­tas flights from Sydney de­part­ing De­cem­ber 19, a pre­cruise stay at In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Papeete and trans­fers. Pack­ages are also avail­able from other main Aus­tralian ports in­clud­ing an ex­tra night’s stay pre­de­par­ture. More: 1300 596 345; cruise1st.com.au. Sea spa: Princess Cruises has an­nounced de­tails of the Lo­tus Spa on its new Royal Princess, to de­but in June 2013. The so­phis­ti­cated space is de­scribed as fea­tur­ing more treat­ment rooms than ex­ist­ing Princess spas, with Cou­ples Vil­las, a ham­mam-style steam room, cal­dar­ium (herbal steam room), la­co­nium (dry-heat sauna) and sen­sory show­ers, plus the line’s first hy­drother­apy pool. More: princess.com. Sum­mer sale: Plan a voy­age on Royal Caribbean’s Ra­di­ance of the Seas’ eight-night Pa­cific Is­lands cruise de­part­ing Sydney De­cem­ber 12 and the sec­ond pas­sen­ger re­ceives a 50 per cent dis­count; from $1999 a per­son twin-share for the first pas­sen­ger and $1199 for the sec­ond. The itin­er­ary cov­ers the trop­i­cal wa­ters of Noumea, Mys­tery Is­land and the pop­u­lar Isle of Pines. More: roy­al­caribbean.com.au. Amer­i­can beau­ties: Also from Cruise Ex­press, book a 32-night fly/cruise pack­age ex­plor­ing the Americas in­clud­ing Hawaii, Mex­ico and Alaska, and re­ceive VIP treat­ment, on­board cred­its and a free up­grade to a bal­cony cabin; from $7999 a per­son twin­share for an ocean-view cabin in­clud­ing re­turn flights from Aus­tralia, five nights’ ac­com­mo­da­tion (in Honolulu and Seattle), a 20-night cruise around the Hawai­ian is­lands aboard Celebrity Solstice, and a seven-night round-trip cruise to Alaska aboard Wes­ter­dam from Seattle. Fly to Hawaii to start the pack­age by April 23. More: 1300 764 509; cruise­ex­press.com.au. Won­der week: The In­ter­na­tional Cruise Coun­cil Aus­trala­sia’s (ICCA) in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Cruise Week runs Septem­ber 3 to 9, promis­ing such great sav­ings as dis­counts of up to 40 per cent, free cabin up­grades and 50 per cent off part­ner fares. The 28 mem­ber cruise lines will of­fer the spe­cial dis­counts through hun­dreds of ICCA travel agents across the coun­try. More: na­tion­al­cruise­week.com.au. Mod­ern fam­i­lies: In a bid to make hol­i­days afloat more re­lax­ing for fam­i­lies, Ital­ianowned MSC Cruises has an­nounced a se­ries of ini­tia­tives in­clud­ing Happy Dinners (chil­dren served from a ju­nior sailor’s menu while din­ing with par­ents, then col­lected by staff while mum and dad fin­ish their meals); Fun Time Dinners (chil­dren dine sep­a­rately, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of en­ter­tain­ment staff) and an ex­tra nanny hour each day from 5pm to 6pm de­signed for tots from 10 months to three years old. More: msc­cruises.com.au.

There are free bal­cony up­grades on Celebrity Equinox

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