GREAT CRUISE ES­CAPES

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

Buoy­ant re­sults: The lat­est State of the Cruise up­date from the Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion high­lights the growth of Aus­tralian cruis­ing, with an in­crease of 130 per cent in pas­sen­ger num­bers over the past five years. Car­ni­val Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Ann Sherry says Aus­tralia’s high rank­ing in the top five in­ter­na­tional growth mar­kets is ‘‘a fur­ther sign of the dy­namic na­ture of cruis­ing in this re­gion’’. Car­ni­val Aus­tralia ac­counts for about 80 per cent of the lo­cal mar­ket across seven cruise brands. More: car­ni­val.com.au. The top 10: Avalon Wa­ter­ways has an­nounced an ad­di­tional two Suite Ships — Avalon Ta­pes­try II and Avalon Tran­quil­ity II — will join its fleet in 2015, mak­ing a to­tal of 10 such ves­sels cruis­ing Europe’s most pop­u­lar rivers; early book­ing dis­counts of up to $1000 a cou­ple are avail­able on se­lected 2015 de­par­tures, in­clud­ing 19 itin­er­ar­ies on the Rhine, Seine, Moselle, Danube and Main rivers. Book by June 30 for the dis­count deals. More: 1300 230 234; aval­on­wa­ter­ways.com.au. Su­per sum­mer: The lux­ury wind­jam­mer Sea Cloud will cruise the Spo­rades Is­lands on an eight-night sail­ing that in­cludes a pri­vate con­cert amid the ru­ins of Eph­e­sus. De­parts Ku­sadasi in Tur­key on June 30 for Is­tan­bul; from ($5820) a per­son all-in­clu­sive. More: 1300 583 572; sea­cloud.com. Dream believ­ers: SeaD­ream Yacht Club’s north­ern Europe cruise pro­gram from June to Au­gust this year in­cludes overnights in har­bours along the Baltic coast, through the Nor­we­gian fjords and in St Peters­burg, with a range of shore ex­cur­sions; there are itin­er­ar­ies from seven to 14 days aboard the bou­tique SeaD­ream I from $US4124 ($4725) a per­son twin-share, drinks, gra­tu­ities and most ex­tras in­cluded. More: sead­ream.com. Flag­ging change: P&OCruises World Cruis­ing has re­vealed it will en­hance the liv­ery of its eight-ship fleet, in­clud­ing newly re­fit­ted Aurora, by fea­tur­ing the Union Jack and new blue fun­nels. The line’s flag­ship Bri­tan­nia, which will be the largest cruise ship ex­clu­sively for the Bri­tish mar­ket when it launches in Fe­bru­ary next year, will dis­play the world’s long­est ver­sion of the flag, at a not-to-be­missed 94m. More: 132 428; pocruises.com. Twice as nice: Cruiseco has an­nounced that its sec­ond cus­tombuilt ship, Cruiseco Ex­plorer, is sched­uled to start cruises from Oc­to­ber 21; the 56-pas­sen­ger ves­sel will op­er­ate on the Chind­win and Aye­yarwady rivers in Myan­mar. More: (02) 9492 8520; cruis­ing.com.au. Scent to sea: Cu­nard has joined with Bri­tish per­fumers Pen­haligon’s to pro­vide in-cabin ameni­ties aboard Queen Mary 2, Queen El­iz­a­beth and

JAMES MOR­GAN Queen Vic­to­ria; the royal war­ran­tholder’s Quer­cus body lo­tion, shower gel, soap, sham­poo and con­di­tioner will be in­tro­duced across the fleet this year; the uni­sex Quer­cus scent was cre­ated in 1996. More: 132 441; cu­nard.com. Look ahead: Scenic Tours has re­leased its 2015 Euro­pean river cruise pro­gram with a guar­an­tee of 2014 prices for early­bird book­ings. New all-in­clu­sive itin­er­ar­ies in­clude pic­turesque Bordeaux, The Nether­lands and the Black Sea; More: scenic­tours.com.au. Whale tales: Get cruisey with ce­taceans and save $200 a cou­ple on an eight-day whale-swim hol­i­day in Tonga; Aus­tralia-based eco-op­er­a­tor Ma­jes­tic Whale En­coun­ters runs trips from July to Oc­to­ber to the is­land of Foa, 40 min­utes by air from Nuku‘alofa. The spe­cial sav­ings ap­ply to July 31 and Au­gust 7 de­par­tures. More: ma­jes­ticwhaleen­coun­ters.com. Sail and save: Re­gent Seven Seas Cruises has new and ex­panded itin­er­ar­ies for 2014, in­clud­ing French Poly­ne­sia and south­ern Africa. There are also Mediter­ranean cruises, such as Seven Seas Mariner’s 10-night VeniceRome sail­ing from Septem­ber 23, cov­er­ing ports in Croa­tia, Al­ba­nia and Greece. Two for the price of one on se­lected cruises if booked by March 31. More: (02) 9265 7100 or 1800 251 174; wiltrans.com.au.

Aus­tralia is one of the world’s top five cruis­ing growth mar­kets

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