GREAT CRUISE ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Afloat - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

Cu­nard’s flag­ship Queen Mary 2 will cel­e­brate a decade’s ser­vice this year. Since its Jan­uary 2004 launch, the ma­jes­tic QM2has com­pleted 419 voy­ages car­ry­ing about 1.3 mil­lion pas­sen­gers, crossed the At­lantic more than 200 times and vis­ited 182 ports in 60 coun­tries. As part of the cel­e­bra­tions, QM2 em­barks on a sec­ond Royal Cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of Aus­tralia in Fe­bru­ary and March, and the an­niver­sary year will also see the three Cu­nard Queens visit Aus­tralia to­gether for the first time — QM2 ar­rives in Fremantle on Fe­bru­ary 12, Queen El­iz­a­beth in Syd­ney on March 1 and Queen Vic­to­ria in Bris­bane on March 3. More: 132 441; cu­nard.com.

APT has re­leased a range of of­fers for its 2015 con­ti­nen­tal river cruis­ing pro­gram; for ex­am­ple, book an all-in­clu­sive 15-day Mag­nif­i­cent Europe Royal Col­lec­tion voy­age from Am­s­ter­dam to Bu­dapest by April 15, 2014 (March 1, April 5, Oc­to­ber 1 and De­cem­ber 31, 2015 de­par­tures) and re­ceive free re­turn flights from Aus­tralia, in­clud­ing taxes. From $6595 a per­son, twin-share, with ‘‘royal’’ ex­tras such as a pri­vate tour of a Ger­man cas­tle and ex­clu­sive con­cert by the Mozart Boys Choir at Vi­enna’s City Palace. More: 1300 278 278; ap­tour­ing.com.au.

Ma­jes­tic Line has 10 per cent off its north­ern spring small-ship cruises along the west coast of Scot­land; there are three six-night itin­er­ar­ies avail­able from April 5 and a new wildlife cruise, Around Mull: Wildlife Ex­plorer, leaves Oban, about three hours by road from Glas­gow, on April 19, with op­por­tu­ni­ties to spot ot­ters, dol­phins and por­poises; white-tailed and golden ea­gles; and those car­toon­like puffins nest­ing on re­mote is­lands. More: the­ma­jes­ti­cline.co.uk.

Sil­versea has an 11-day round-trip voy­age ex Van­cou­ver on June 19 that takes in the best of Alaska’s wildly beau­ti­ful scenery. Sil­ver Shadow cruises the fjords of the In­side Pas­sage and then heads along the coast to Ketchikan, Juneau, Sk­ag­way and Sitka be­fore cruis­ing Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier; from $6350 a per­son twin-share, in­clud­ing but­ler ser­vice, meals and drinks, gra­tu­ities and myr­iad ex­tras. More: 1300 306 872; sil­versea.com.

Royal Caribbean is hold­ing a Royal Class Early­bird Sale with sav­ings of up to $2100 a per­son across a range of 50 cruises for the late 2014 to early 2015 sum­mer sea­son. Sail from Syd­ney or Fremantle on Rhap­sody of the Seas, Ra­di­ance of the Seas or Voy­ager of the Seas to lo­cal ports, New Zealand, and a va­ri­ety of South Pa­cific is­lands — note that book­ings must be made by Fe­bru­ary 28. More: 1800 754 500; roy­al­caribbean.com.au.

Fe­bru­ary 28 is also the book­ing dead­line for Celebrity Cruises’ An­nual Sale, which of­fers sav­ings of up to $1500 a per­son next sum­mer. The com­pany will have two ships — Celebrity Cen­tury and Celebrity Sol­stice — based in Aus­tralian waters for an ex­panded se­ries of 26 cruises from Syd­ney, Fremantle and Auck­land later this year and early next year. A seven-night Tas­ma­nia sail­ing from Syd­ney on De­cem­ber 15, for ex­am­ple, now starts at $899 a per­son for the low­est-cat­e­gory cabin. More: celebri­ty­cruises.com.au.

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