GREAT CRUISE ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat -

The glam­orous god­mother: The launch of MSC Cruises’ Preziosa in Genoa this week­end by the line’s so-called god­mother, Sophia Loren, will con­sol­i­date the Ital­ian fam­i­ly­owned com­pany as the world’s third-largest pas­sen­ger line, be­hind Car­ni­val Cruises and Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional. MSC now has an an­nual ca­pac­ity of 1.45 mil­lion pas­sen­gers across its 12 ships. Preziosa is the fourth Fan­ta­sia-class ship and there are launch spe­cials in May and June, in­clud­ing Emi­rates fares from Aus­tralia. More: 1300 028 502; msc­cruises.com.au. Gala­pa­gos in style: Sil­versea Ex­pe­di­tions has in­tro­duced mul­ti­ple­day soft-ad­ven­ture land ex­cur­sions to com­ple­ment voy­ages to the Gala­pa­gos Is­lands aboard its 50-suite Sil­ver Gala­pa­gos, set to de­but in late Septem­ber. Guests can choose trips in style to the Ama­zon, Puno and Lake Tit­i­caca or to Machu Pic­chu in the Peru­vian An­des. Sil­ver Gala­pa­gos will sail each Satur­day on seven-day roundtrip voy­ages from Bal­tra Is­land, fol­low­ing a west­ern or north cen­tral route. More: 1300 306 872; sil­versea.com. Cool yule: Cruise Ex­press has a 15-night es­corted sub-Antarc­tic fly­cruise package aboard the ex­pe­di­tion ves­sel Orion. Flights de­part Aus­tralian ports for Auck­land on De­cem­ber 19, overnight at Hil­ton Auck­land and then hop aboard a 14-night Christ­mas and New Year voy­age to Dunedin via the re­mote and wildlife-rich isles of the sub-Antarc­tic, in­clud­ing World Her­itage-listed Mac­quarie Is­land. All-in­clu­sive, with flights, at $9700 a per­son, twin-share ex Syd­ney, Bris­bane and Mel­bourne or $10,100 from Ade­laide and Perth. More: 1300 766 537; cruise­ex­press.com.au. Ready, set, cruise: Celebrity Cruises has a 123 Go! Sale cov­er­ing free ex­tras on se­lected cabin cat­e­gory book­ings made by April 15 for world­wide sail­ings be­tween June 2013 and March 2014 (ex­clud­ing Celebrity Xpedi­tion). Pas­sen­gers can choose bev­er­age pack­ages, on­board cred­its or a gra­tu­ities of­fer. More: 1800 754 500; celebri­ty­cruises.com.au. Re­turn to Sin­ga­pore: Cruis­ing the pic­turesque Malacca Straits and two nights at Sin­ga­pore’s Shangri-La Ho­tel are in­cluded in a 12-night fly-cruise package aboard Di­a­mond Princess de­part­ing Sin­ga­pore on Novem­ber 4. Book by April 1 for a spe­cial of $2879 a per­son twin-share, in­clud­ing re­turn econ­omy air­fares from Syd­ney or Mel­bourne. More: ecruis­ing.travel. North to Alaska: A free week in Hawaii is the lure for Cruise 1st’s Alaska package. De­part­ing May 9, the deal in­cludes a flight to Honolulu and seven nights at a well-lo­cated Waikiki ho­tel be­fore fly­ing to Seat­tle to board the five-star Celebrity Sol­stice for a seven-night roundtrip cruise. The hol­i­day in­cludes one night post-cruise in Seat­tle and re­turn flight to Aus­tralia. From $3299 a per­son twin­share ex Syd­ney; $3599 ex Bris­bane; $3549 ex Can­berra; $3699 ex Ade­laide; $3899 ex Perth; or $4299 ex Mel­bourne. More: cruise1st.com.au. Ice maiden: Se­abourn has con­tracted highly ex­pe­ri­enced ex­pe­di­tion lec­tur­ers and guides for the line’s Ul­ti­mate Antarc­tica and Patag­o­nia cruises aboard Se­abourn Quest dur­ing its first sea­son on ice. The team in­cludes nat­u­ral­ists, sci­en­tists and po­lit­i­cal and his­tor­i­cal ex­perts. On Novem­ber 20, Se­abourn Quest will sail on a 21-day voy­age be­tween Val­paraiso (Chile) and Buenos Aires, in­clud­ing the Chilean coast and fjords, Bea­gle Chan­nel, Glacier Al­ley, Tor­res del Paine Na­tional Park, Cape Horn, the Falk­land Is­lands, Mon­te­v­ideo and five days of cruis­ing and land­ings in the Antarc­tic. There’s also a 24-day cruise de­part­ing De­cem­ber 11 that in­cludes two days around the sub-Antarc­tic wildlife refuge of South Ge­or­gia Is­land. More: 132 402; se­abourn.com. Ahoy, ju­nior sailors: Cruise Guru now has the fam­ily-friendly Dis­ney Cruise Lines live on its site. Check avail­abil­ity, fares, pick your cabin and con­firm a cruise to, say, Alaska or the Caribbean. More: 131 303; cruise­guru.com.au.

MSC Preziosa will be launched by Sophia Loren this week­end

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