GREAT CRUISE ESCAPES
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.