Cruising is now the preferred option for a lot of travellers not just tourists. Today, you can cruise on small ships, adventure cruise to some of the world’s most exotic destinations, river cruise through most of Europe, or have a robot mix your cocktail!
Australians have really embraced cruising both domestically and overseas. Figures compiled by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia show that its member cruise lines will have 36 ships cruising Australian waters between October 2014 and the end of April 2015 making a total of 642 calls to Australian ports.
This season sees the maiden voyages to Australia of Carnival Legend, Compagnie du Ponant’s L’Austral and MSC Orchestra. 38 regional ports will also be featured strongly on itineraries including maiden ports such as Eden, Albany, Busselton, Port Hedland, Geelong and Esperance.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is leading the way to simplify the boarding process, and make connecting on-board a breeze. Guests can generate boarding documents at home, upload their ID photos and receive digital boarding confirmation. This will make the whole ‘sidewalk to ship’ time down to just 10 minutes with no check-in counter, no forms to fill in, check in luggage and no queuing.
On board Quantum of the Seas will offer new RFID WOWband wristbands which allow passengers to not only navigate their way around the ship but serves as a room key. New Cruise Planner and Royal IQ apps help to book dining reservations, shore excursions and spa appointments as well as keeping in touch with home via text and phone. www.RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas
Scenic Tours is partnering with Compagnie du Ponant to offer small ship cruising to idyllic locations including Alaska’s Inside Passage, and the Chilean and Norwegian Fjords. In July 2015 Scenic launches an 11-day Bordeaux River Cruise on board Scenic Diamond and the itinerary includes the jaw-dropping Gothic architecture, world-famous wineries but a chance to explore the picturesque riverside villages and earlybird fares are still available until October 15. www.scenictours.com.au
Seabourn Odyssey is upping the luxe with elegant Penthouse Spa Suites with direct access to the lobby of the spa below and with unlimited access to the spa’s Serene Area. These suites include spa amenities and 50 square metres of indoor space as well as private verandas. The bathrooms are stocked with Molton Brown specialty products and special healthy snacks and individual beverage preferences are included in the in-suite bar. www.seabourn.com
Ready to set sail on its maiden voyage in March next year, P & O’s Britannia will offer a state-of-the-art cookery school and 13 different bars and eateries. With culinary options created by the inimitable Marco Pierre White and other celebuchefs, master patissier Eric Lanard will be the man behind the patisserie. www.pocruises.com
The world’s largest cruise line Carnival, will have two ships Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend in Australian waters this season. Carnival Legend’s legendary Green Thunder waterslide will be top of the list with passengers of all ages. But, especially for the littlies the new Seuss at Sea program brings alive the much-loved books with special events such as a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast, photo opportunities with favourite Dr Seuss characters and screenings of the movies. . www.carnival.com
The small cruise ship experts Micro-cruising offers adventures in Alaska exploring inside Glacier Bay National Park. Besides paddle boarding, skiff tours, hiking and more a National Park ranger joins the passengers on board for an insider’s understanding of the park’s geology and it s flora and fauna. The waters are home to whales, sea lions and seals while mountain goats and a large variety of sea birds can also be spotted. www.micro-cruising.com.au
And, the cocktail-making robots? The Bionic Bar is where guests place orders via tablets and then are entertained by the robotic bartenders making their drinks aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. And for fans of the Naked Chef, Jamie Oliver’s first at-sea outpost will be aboard Quantum of the Seas. It’s probably advisable to dine at Jamie’s Italian after enjoying the first-ever skydiving experience at sea – RipCord by iFly. www.RoyalCaribbean.com/QuantumoftheSeas