Ship-shape down under
The wave season will be bigger and better than ever
WHEN Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas arrives in Sydney on October 5, it will signal the start of a record-breaking 2013-14 wave season of international cruise ship visits to Australia.
Carnival Australia’s year-round resident ships — Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl, Sun Princess, Dawn Princess, Sea Princess and Carnival Spirit — will be joined by some of the most magnificent liners afloat.
They will open up a new window of sea holidays, ranging from a 41/ month return trip to England for people who don’t like to fly, to short ‘‘sampler’’ cruises for those who want to dip a toe in the water.
Worldwide Cruise Centres has come up with the ‘‘no-fly adventure’’. Passengers leave Sydney aboard Queen Mary 2 on March 14, on a 56-night voyage to Southampton via the Suez Canal. They depart Southampton on July 12 on a 49-night sailing back to Sydney via the Panama Canal aboard Dawn Princess (which will be returning from a world cruise).
‘‘The nine weeks between the two voyages are a perfect fit for visiting friends and relations,’’ says a spokesman for Worldwide Cruise Centres. ‘‘ The weather should be perfect for touring and our agents are on hand to make coach, train, car rental and European river cruise bookings.’’
At the other end of the spectrum, Celebrity Cruises is trying to win over timid sailors with a three-night round cruise to nowhere from Sydney on January 17 aboard Celebrity Solstice. The 2850-passenger ship, which arrives in Sydney on October 23 for a second extended season until April next year, will operate cruises to New Zealand and the South Pacific and will circumnavigate Australia.
Celebrity Millennium passes through Sydney in November en route from Hawaii to Hong Kong via Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Darwin.
Celebrity Cruises, founded by the Chandris Group, hence the distinctive Greek symbol ‘‘X’’ for ‘‘chi’’ on its funnels, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Caribbean International.
Royal Caribbean will have three ships in Australia again — Rhapsody of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas. (Rhapsody will be making a seventh extended season, Radiance a third and Voyager a second.)
Voyager of the Seas wowed Australians during its sell-out inaugural cruises with features such as an iceskating rink and DreamWorks animated characters. Barbie doll-themed cabins have since been added.
The ultra-luxurious Yachts of SeaDream is making its first visit to Australia next year with SeaDream II sailing from Bali on January 18 for Cairns via Indonesia, Darwin, Seven Spirit Bay, Cape York, Lizard Island, Low Island and Port Douglas. And speaking of ultraluxe, Silversea’s incomparable Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper are returning, along with Crystal Cruises’ 922-passenger Crystal Symphony.
Princess Cruises president and chief executive Alan Buckelew, who was in Australia this month, began operating annual trans-Tasman cruises in 2003 with Star Princess. The company’s 2670-passenger Diamond Princess returns in November and will be here until February. Ocean Princess and Pacific Princess will make brief visits.
Holland America Line, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, again will deploy two ships in Australia — the 1926-passenger Oosterdam and the 1432-passenger Volendam — and its Amsterdam will visit during a world cruise.
Volendam makes a 34-day round Australia voyage from Sydney on October 20 and Sean Connolly, execu- tive chef at The ney, will be th Centre during O Sydney, departi
Regent Seve parent company Cruises, is oper Seas Voyager. Oceania’s ho culinary direct Legion d’honn returns in Febru
Cunard is se beth, Victoria a ages next year. will be in our wa
QM2, the co circumnavigati its much publici
Seabourn sol star Cruises, 450-passenger Seabourn Odys Quest, launche
Seabourn O three months cr land, while Sea ports during a w
Despite its N Lines is as Britis