Plan a Cruise Month Special Edition
SHIPS I PORTS I FOOD I ACTIVITIES
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All you need to create the perfect cruise 26/08/2016 1:57 pm
BEST RIVER CRUISE OPERATOR
BEST INTERNATIONAL TOUR OPERATOR
BEST DOMESTIC TOUR OPERATOR
The best just got better APT’s Best Celebration Savings are on for a limited time. Don’t miss out.
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BEST RIVER CRUISE LINE OVERALL
It’s official! Once again, APT has been named the Best River Cruise Operator. And, there are so many reasons why, from the places we go, to our dedicated team and of course our valued guests, people like you. To celebrate them all, we’re offering the best deals across all the best destinations.
Visit aptouring.com.au or call 1300 205 285 or see your local CLIA cruise expert APT4779
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SUPER CRUISING THE ALL-NEW
OVATION OF THE SEAS Soar 92 metres above the ocean in a panoramic viewing capsule. Surf and sky-dive in the middle of the high seas. Enjoy perfect cocktails mixed by robot bartenders. Explore 18 different world-class restaurants. And be transfixed by spellbinding aerial shows. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a taste of the Supercruising experience aboard the all-new Ovation of the Seas, a ship that redefines cruising. The biggest, most technologically advanced cruise ship Australia has ever seen, arrives December 2016.
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NOW IS THE TIME TO TRY CRUISING
elcome to Australia’s first Plan a Cruise Month – four weeks of activities and deals from the shipping lines and travel agents that make our country such a great cruise destination. Last year, more than one million of us took to the water for holidays. The cruise lines are determined that there will be double that number by 2020. And that means more value and even better ships. So stand by for 31 days of special prices. And expect a special welcome from travel agents who are organising information sessions for cruise newbies who want to hear more. Look out for those agents who have been trained by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Our cruise season begins in October and this year we have more ships and destinations than ever. If you still think cruise is about belt-busting buffets, boring parlour games and bands that can’t get a gig anywhere else, these new vessels will prove you oh so wrong.
The star is Ovation of the Seas, our newest and most technologically advanced vessel. Cruise Passenger magazine has already been on board (you can read our reviews at cruisepassenger.com.au). The ship is terrific, with amazing food, astonishing activities and an ambience that really is a game changer. But Royal Caribbean, which operates Ovation of the Seas, is not alone in pushing the boundaries. Even our oldest and
favourite cruise line, P&O, has completely refurbished its fleet with new adventures and food offerings. And Princess, our favourite premium line, is adding Emerald Princess to its fleet. There are so many reasons to fall in love with cruising. It has opened up the world and made travel easy. The growing fleet calling Australia home means many destinations can now be reached without air travel.
Celebrity cruisers ................................................6 10 cool reasons to book a cruise right now..................................................................8
Ships call Australia home.............................10 World map of cruising...................................12 Ocean.......................................................................14
Adventure.............................................................16 Luxury......................................................................17 Food..........................................................................18 Activities.................................................................20 Cabins......................................................................22 PLAN A CRUISE MONTH
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WHY CELEBRITIES ARE ALL AT SEA
Some of Australia’s – and the world’s – biggest stars are now cruise fans.
amish and Andy are two of radio’s biggest stars. So when they launched a “People’s Cruise” earlier this year, millions of Australians tuned in. The intrepid pair took their popular show on a live five-day journey aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit. Delivering what was considered one of the world’s biggest broadcasts at sea, the comedic pair were heard across Australia via satellite all the way from the South Pacific. It was a proud display of Carnival’s upgraded onboard internet access. Hamish and Andy took more than 100 lucky listeners for one day in Sydney Harbour, three days at sea and another at the uninhabited Mystery Island in Vanuatu. “Carnival shares the same fun ethos as Hamish and Andy. We’re all about fun, free-spirited, holidays for social, outgoing holidaymakers – people like Hamish and Andy and their listeners, who don’t take themselves too seriously and are always up for a laugh and some fun,” Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke said. “Everyone thinks we’ve decided to broadcast from a cruise ship with 110 listeners just so we can drink and relax by one of four pools on board the ship each day. They are wrong … ‘cause there are only three pools,” said Hamish. The young radio stars are part of the new generation harnessing the popularity of cruise. And vice versa. Jessica Mauboy and Kate Ritchie became the world’s first stars to “Tweet” the launch of P&O’s new ships, Pacific Aria and 6
Pacific Eden, in a spectacular event in Sydney last year. They performed in a concert as five of the line’s ships, all either newly refurbished or due to have a bit of a facelift, anchored in the world-famous harbour. Author and comedienne Kathy Lette launched Scenic Jasper in Europe last year. The luxury river ship was her first time on the waterways of Europe, and Lette has since become a particular cruise fan. “What’s not to love?” she said. “It’s no hassle. You unpack once. I’m totally converted.” Blair Underwood, who plays Dr Andrew Garner in TV’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, sailed on Viking River Cruises’ Viking Beyla on the river Elbe with his wife and their three teenage boys. Princess Cruises pulled off what perhaps ranks as the greatest coup of recent times, getting the Duchess of Cambridge to
launch Royal Princess in 2013. The pictures went around the globe; Princess hadn’t produced so much publicity since Diana, Princess of Wales, christened the original Royal Princess in 1984 in Southampton. Queen Elizabeth II has also christened a number of Cunard ships. Minor royals are also favourites with cruise lines. Just a few months ago, Princess Charlene of Monaco launched Regent Seven Seas’ Seven Seas Explorer – dubbed the most luxurious ship ever built – in a starstudded ceremony. Movie stars are also keen cruisers. Sophia Loren is well known as godmother of the MSC Cruises fleet. And the rather more contemporary Fan Bingbing, a huge star in China and across the Asian region, was Royal Caribbean’s choice as godmother for Ovation of the Seas, the world’s second largest ship.
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STAR CRUISERS Credit: S_Bukley / Shutterstock
almost 10 years. The cast was brought back together two years ago for the launch of Regal Princess. All six main Love Boat stars, Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director Julie), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Stubing) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter), showed up dressed in their old cruise work uniforms.
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Norwegian Cruise Lines has, perhaps, the most unlikely “godmother”. The vast Norwegian Escape was christened by rapper Pitbull last November at a ceremony in Miami where he also provided the entertainment. Pitbull’s career sales have exceeded six million albums and 70 million singles worldwide. He has scored No. 1 hits in more than 15 countries, his videos have more than eight billion views, and his social media reach matches the audiences of some television networks. Next March, he will be performing an “after dark party” cruise on Norwegian Pearl from Miami to the Bahamas. Many ships now host musicians of every genre, from opera singers to cover bands. Perhaps it is no surprise that Cunard, the regal line from Britain, attracts stars. Empire star Terrence Howard, Jane Seymour and Uma Thurman, as well as The Muppets, singer-songwriter James Taylor, Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and Rod Stewart are among those who have cruised aboard the legendary transatlantic vessel Queen Mary 2. Sting performed on the ship to promote his musical The Last Ship last year. Oprah Winfrey rented out the entire Norwegian Gem so 1,700 of her friends and their families could cruise around the Mediterranean for 10 days. The television host stayed in a three-bedroom Garden Villa. Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio is a big fan of adventure cruising with Lindblad Expeditions, and has become a keen environmental campaigner as a result. In 2010, DiCaprio took a Galapagos cruise with purpose – an environmental TED charter Mission Blue sailing. Others on board included actors Edward Norton, Glenn Close, Chevy Chase and musician Jackson Browne. And who can forget the original cast from the well-loved TV show The Love Boat, an American series set on a Princess Cruise Lines vessel, which aired from 1977 for
From far left: Edward Norton, Glenn Close, Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Seymour, Sophia Loren, Uma Thurman and Blair Underwood Below: Hamish and Andy Below left: Kate Ritchie
“Carnival shares the same fun ethos as Hamish and Andy. We’re all about fun, free-spirited, holidays for social, outgoing holidaymakers – people like Hamish and Andy and their listeners, who don’t take themselves too seriously and are always up for a laugh and some fun.”
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REASONS TO CRUISE
NEW SHIPS This cruising season is big – literally. Not only is Princess Cruises sending its biggest ship, and Royal Caribbean’s Quantum class Ovation of the Seas setting new standards in terms of size, but every new ship is pushing the envelope in every way. Along with the world’s biggest cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas, other new ships are entering the market, fully loaded not only with passengers (though with their high profiles, that’s almost a given), but with activities, technology and the latest cruising hardware to keep it all steady in the highest of seas. Cruising has never been this advanced.
10 COOL REASONS TWO
TO CRUISE TODAY 2
Ocean-sailing ships porting in Australia (and around the world) now sport eateries that list like a Who’s Who of the culinary arts today: Luke Mangan, Curtis Stone, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White… each offering a cruise linespecific foodie experience on board. You will often also find signature restaurants, chef’s tables, galley tours and even cooking classes to perfect your own haute cuisine skills, all masterminded by some of the world’s greatest chefs.
The days of overcrowded, overexposed cruise stops are long gone. Australian homeporting ships are rediscovering regional Australia, from Wollongong and Newcastle in New South Wales to Queensland’s Moreton Island and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. Internationally, as passengers want new and more authentic experiences, even the major ocean cruise lines are striking out into fresh territories: think Papua New Guinea, Portugal and Bangladesh.
Butler service and VIP access have been a feature of cruising for generations, but the new ships are bringing this level of service to the people, so to speak, spreading four- and five-star service throughout the ship. Those lucky few in the top suites don’t miss out, though, with cruise lines reaching ever higher to outdo each other here, too. The behemoth Harmony of the Seas holds three Royal Genies, super butlers for guests in the top 10 suites, who strive to grant every wish.
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Sky diving, aerial cycling, 10-storey water slides, bumper cars and simulated surfing – activities on new ships are tending toward the extreme, but there’s plenty for those who would prefer to keep their feet on deck. Order a drink from a robot bartender on Royal Caribbean’s newest ships, blend your own wine on Koningsdam or watch first-run movies in Carnival Vista’s IMAX theatre. The sky is (sometimes literally) the limit when it comes to shipboard activities. You’d be hard-pressed to get a game of shuffleboard going.
7 SHORE EXCURSIONS
The all-inclusive nature of cruising has always spelled relaxation for passengers; how else can you see five different countries, dine in your choice of restaurants (or enjoy 24-hour room service), experience sports, activities, pools and spas, and have your accommodation waiting for you every night at this kind of price? Furthermore, as competition is getting fiercer and standards are being raised ever higher, the value for money represented by cruising is getting even better.
Innovation and adventure doesn’t end on board (although many ships are now destinations in their own right). Multiple cruise lines are offering gourmet food tours that feature tastings, Michelin-starred stops and wine-tasting. Adventurers can channel their inner David Attenborough – or Indiana Jones – as they kayak, snorkel with turtles, dog sled, horse ride, walk through lava tubes and take roads less travelled with small-group tours. Say goodbye to the tour bus.
As competition is getting fiercer and standards are being raised ever higher, the value for money represented by cruising is getting even better.
There’s so much more to cruising than getting on a big white ship these days. How about small-ship adventures to deserted islands, or once-in-a-lifetime expeditions to wildlife-rich spots, such as Patagonia or Africa. River cruising takes you further into your destination than ever, as shallow-draft vessels delve deep into France and the USA. If a big white ship is your thing, intense competition means each vessel has its own points of difference, from food to activities to destinations. The old cliché “there’s something for everyone” now holds true.
From Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises or Holland America’s Koningsdam family suites and family staterooms, featuring multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, through to P&O’s interconnecting rooms that combine in every way (quad-quad, twin-quad, triple-triple, twin-twin), families of any shape and size are catered for. Carnival’s family cabins can offer an extra bathroom, while lines such as Celebrity make the most of their cabins with Pullman beds or convertible single/ queen beds.
IT’S PLAN A CRUISE MONTH
October is when it all happens – travel agents have all the tools they need to get you cruising, whether you are an old salt or a first-time cruise passenger. In fact, three-quarters of the world’s travellers count on travel agents to organise their cruising holidays, and this month these agents are concentrating on cruising even more than usual, which means they have the latest information at their finger tips and the greatest deals for you.
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SHIPS CALL AUSTRALIA HOME
Our Australian fleet of cruise ships will be even more accessible to Australians this year. Teresa Ooi tells you where to board.
hey call it the wave season – the peak six months of the year when most ships are sailing in or out of Australia. And one of the biggest changes – and benefits – of our love affair with holidays on the water has been the arrival of more and better ships that call Australia home. Homeporting – basing vessels at cities around the country so passengers don’t need to fly to cruise – is becoming more popular. And expanding Australia’s ability to enjoy cruising. Instead of taking a flight to Sydney, passengers from Western Australia and Queensland will now be able to take a taxi-ride to their local ports in Fremantle and Cairns. It saves time and money. This wave season will have one of the biggest fleet of international cruise ships based not only in Sydney, but also in Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Fremantle and Adelaide. The ships offer a range of itineraries, 10
many circumnavigating Australia while others heading for more local attractions such as South Australia’s Kangaroo Island and Tasmania. It makes cruising to New Zealand, exploring the more exotic Pacific islands and Papua New Guinea (PNG) or even heading north to Southeast Asia to discover Myanmar and Vietnam much more affordable. Here what some of the local ports have to offer this year: For the first time, Cairns will become the homeport for P&O’s Pacific Eden which will call it home from September to November this year. Eden is slightly smaller than most P&O ships. She offers cruises to PNG, Pacific Islands and Melanesia. There’s even a three-day comedy cruise departing Cairns on October 22. Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas will be homeported in Brisbane, offering easy cruising options to the South Pacific or a 14-day cruise to New Zealand. Further south on the eastern seaboard, Golden Princess will
be based in Melbourne from November to April. She will offer six-night voyages to Tasmania calling at Wineglass Bay, Great Oyster Bay, Port Arthur, Hobart and Phillip Island. Fremantle will be home to Dawn Princess in September and sister-ship Sun Princess will also be based in WA in November, offering cruises around Australia and Indonesia. If you are looking for a short cruise on Sun Princess, a two-night Western Australia getaway departs on December 3, followed by a five-night Southern Australian Explorer departing December 5, visiting Albany and Kangaroo Island and ending in Adelaide. If you have always dreamed about cruising on the majestic and newly refurbished Queen
Mary 2, then pencil in February 25 2017 when the two queens, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth will rendezvous in Sydney. In a first for QM2, she will make two historic journeys from Sydney and Melbourne with maiden visits to Tasmania and South Australia’s Kangaroo Island. The voyages are part of QM2’s world cruise, which will also take her on a maiden call to Busselton in WA. The flagship liner has just undergone a $170-million face lift with flaming red carpets in the main lobby and the installation of 15 single cabins another first for her.
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Ovation of the Seas
The biggest cruise ship ever to visit Australian waters is also the most technologically advanced. Ovation of the Seas features the iFly skydiving simulator, North Star observation pod and the Seaplex with basketball, roller skating and dodgem cars.
Arriving in February 2017 after she is officially named in a ceremony in Singapore, the luxurious Seabourn Encore will make nine maiden calls to Australian ports including Darwin, Hamilton Island, Cairns, Townsville, Mooloolaba and Phillip Island.
P&O’s Pacific Explorer (a refurbished Dawn Princess) will arrive Down Under in June 2017. She will have exciting dining options including Nic & Toni’s (Mediterranean), a poolside lobster and burger bar, two water slides and a water park with flying fox.
The new Emerald Princess will make her way to Australia from the UK for her first season in the region. She will be based in Sydney from November to April. Her dining options include Salty Pub Gastropub, Crown Grill and Cafe Caribe (Caribbean and Mediterranean).
Calling Australia home from October 2017, Norwegian Jewel features a “ship within a ship” called The Haven with 24-hour butler service. She has plenty of dining options, with 16 restaurants from teppanyaki to Brazilian churrascaria and no pre-assigned seating.
Holland America Line will send MS Maasdam to Australia for the first time this wave season to join sister-ship MS Noordam. She will homeport in Sydney from October to February and will sail on a 17day Australia and New Zealand itinerary over Christmas and New Year.
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A WIDE WORLD OF CRUISING
From the Artic to Antarctica and everywhere in between, if there is a river or an ocean, there will be a cruise ship ready to take you exploring.
CANADA & ALASKA
EGYPT CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
“For a completely different safari experience, a handful of small riverboats cruise along the Zambezi and Chobe rivers.” 12
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AUSTRALIA The Australian cruising industry is the second fastest growing in the world, with new ships, itineraries and ports. Large ships are homeported in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, sailing around the coast to visit islands, regional towns and beach resorts.
RUSSIA Russia’s two great cities, Moscow and St Petersburg, are connected by water and ships cruise between them on a network of canals, rivers and lakes.
MEDITERRANEAN The Med is the most popular long-haul destination for local cruisers. Cruises in the western Mediterranean focus on Spain, France and Italy and Portugal. In the east is the Adriatic coast of Italy and Croatia, the islands of Greece and across to Turkey.
The most popular destinations include New Caledonia, Vanuatu, the Loyalty Islands and Fiji, while some ships travel farther afield to the islands of French Polynesia.
NEW ZEALAND Australians and New Zealanders both love to cruise around the islands of New Zealand, with more than 100,000 passengers arriving each year.
EUROPE Europe, the spiritual home of river cruising, is still the most popular destination for cruisers from around the world. Popular routes include the Rhine, Rhône, Danube, Moselle, Seine and Douro rivers.
NORTHERN EUROPE Northern Europe isn’t as popular as the Mediterranean, but cruising is one of the best ways to see Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltic. CARIBBEAN The Caribbean welcomes millions of happy cruisers each year. It’s famous for white-sand beaches, turquoise water and fun in the sun. Caribbean cruises typically depart from the US and island hop. CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA This vast continent offers everything from tropical jungle and wildlife to icy fiords. The Panama Canal is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It’s a region full of wildlife. ANTARCTICA The real focus here is on excursions: Zodiac boats to see vast penguin colonies and watch icebergs calving from glacier cliffs. CANADA AND ALASKA From the Inside Passage to the Northwest Passage and along the east coast through Canada and New England, wildlife abounds and scenery is unbeatable. ASIA The cruise world’s newest playground is an ideal fly/cruise destination. More ships than
SOUTHEAST ASIA The Mekong is now the most popular destination for river cruising in Southeast Asia, with small, shallow-draft vessels carrying fewer than 50 passengers through Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. INDIA Only a handful of boats sail the Ganges, Hooghly and Brahmaputra rivers in India, an emerging river cruise destination. CHINA The Yangtze River is the third-longest in the world. Cruises travel between Chongqing and Yichang, through the dramatic scenery of the Three Gorges region. UNITED STATES There are two main options for river cruising in the US – the Mississippi, running through southern states between New Orleans and Memphis, and the Snake and Columbia rivers in the Pacific Northwest. SOUTH AMERICA The Amazon River stretches close to 6,500 kilometres, through six countries and endless swathes of unexplored forest. Small expedition ships depart from Iquitos to explore more than two million hectares of rainforest EGYPT The Nile is arguably the most famous river in the world and has been a destination for cruisers for more than a century. Despite political unrest, several lines still operate. SOUTHERN AFRICA For a completely different safari experience, a handful of small riverboats cruise along the Zambezi and Chobe rivers through Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. The cruises don’t travel far, but days are adapted around animal sightings, birdwatching or fishing stops.
ever are sailing the region, based in Singapore, Hong Kong and ports in China.
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WIDE BLUE YONDER Do you see yourself crisscrossing the ocean on a fully loaded liner? Jac Taylor explains why ocean cruising may be the holiday for you.
he archetypal ocean cruise ship, often imagined as a dazzling white behemoth towering above its port waters, is the first thing many people associate with a holiday afloat. However, there is a surprisingly wide variety of cruise ships available, from boutique (50-250 passengers) and small (2501-750 passengers) through to mid-size (751-1750 passengers) and those large resort vessels (1751-6500 passengers). Itineraries range from three days to six months or more, offering a much greater choice of journey length than river or expedition cruising, generally speaking. The common feature of most ocean cruises, long or short, is the whistlestop quality of their shore stops. An ocean cruise is an ideal way to get a general feel for a region – for example, a nine-night cruise of the South Pacific could easily take you to four tropical islands over three different countries; an 11-night European cruise could take you to as many as seven countries. Since ocean cruises usually include sea days, with greater distances covered than river or expedition
SIZE MATTERS The scale of the new ocean cruiser is astounding. There’s a rock-climbing wall on Harmony of the Seas that takes you 60 metres above the sea – or take the 690-metre jogging track around Royal Caribbean’s Oasisclass ships. 14
cruises, they have developed a finely honed love of activity, entertainment and dining. With so many passengers aboard, the choices in these areas can be dizzying – it’s not unusual on the ‘new’ ocean cruiser to learn to cook haute cuisine in the morning, go skydiving or cycling in the afternoon followed by taking a peek behind-the-scenes in the theatre, and capping it off with a hearty steakhouse meal and a stargazing session. With rooms able to connect and contort in a hundred different ways, thanks to sofa beds and Pullmans, the sheer number of cabins on offer onboard these cities at sea make cruising particularly friendly to families. Kids’ clubs abound, alongside adventure clubs, art rooms and age-appropriate dining options. The numbers associated with larger ocean cruisers mean good value for savvy passengers, too. With this many cabins sailing on so many routes, wave-season deals and last-minute bargains are most possible with this style of cruising. Sign up to newsletters and social media groups to catch wind of the latest savings to be had.
5 Reasons to cruise the oceans
ENTERTAIN ME! If you love to do something new every day, activities from extreme sports to Hollywood-scale stage productions and exotic spa treatments mean you are never short of something to do.
TAKE ME AWAY Ocean liners can reach greater speeds (Queen Mary 2 can fly along at 29 knots), so you can reach destinations further away – perfect if you’d like to see the South Pacific or Asia in a limited time.
GET RIGHT INTO IT With more ships homeporting in Australia, you’re able to step straight on an ocean cruise from your closest port city, saving money and time.
WHAT’S MY SCENE? Whether you’d enjoy a themed rock’n’roll cruise or just a ship with an emphasis on art, there is a ship and theme to suit every taste. A themed cruise brings together likeminded people, too.
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RACE TO THE RIVER European river cruises are a magnet for Australians wanting to taste the cultures of the continent in an easy, relaxed way. Teresa Ooi reports.
t’s a bit like a Christmas cracker conundrum: how can you see five countries, but unpack only once? The growing army of Australian river cruisers already know the answer. It has to be the easiest, most relaxed way to travel across the continent. Your hotel travels with you, and you just enjoy the ride, stepping off for shore excursions, electric bike rides into the countryside armed with a GPS commentary, or some local shopping. River cruising is, perhaps, the most misunderstood experience. But like the rest of the cruise experience, it has transformed itself in the past decade. Australians who are new to river cruising head to Europe to taste what it is like to journey down the Rhine, Main and Danube, APT head of marketing Justine Lally says. “Being new to cruising, they want the diversity of countries and rivers. As APT tours are all-inclusive, they will get to experience a holiday covering the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. “They know they will only have to unpack once and wake up every morning in a new city or medieval town. The old medieval cities in Europe have been built around the rivers before autobahns were built,’’ she says. Fiona Dalton, managing director of
Uniworld, says the boutique river cruise line has noticed the same trend. River cruising has grown exponentially over the past five years with Australians making a beeline for Europe’s famous waterways, she says. “Whether it is a celebration or anniversary cruise, Australians tend to gravitate towards Europe. Even second- and third-time river
Ships plying rivers to Russia and in China are also larger, giving those who like to explore waterways inland enormous variety. cruisers still prefer to head to Europe to experience a cruise in Russia, Portugal or Italy. Uniworld is only cruise operator on the River Po, the longest river in Italy.” APT has been running European river cruises for a decade, and is among the most experienced. The line has two styles of ships: Aria, carrying 120 guests in 74 suites, and Concerto for 150 passengers in 81 cabins.
More recently, Europe has come under a strong challenge from Asian destinations. APT operates a week-long cruise on the recently refurbished Ama Lotus on the Mekong and launched the luxury boutique ship RV Samatha to cruise the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar in July. Multi-generational families are another growing trend in river cruising. “Increasingly, we are seeing more families sign up for river cruises. Instead of spending their children’s inheritance, grandparents are taking their older grandchildren with them,’’ Ms Lally says. Adventures by Disney is chartering ships for families with youngsters, and Uniworld offers on-shore excursions for children, including gelato tasting. Only children from five years of age are allowed on Uniworld’s multigenerational packages, however. While European river cruisers are inhibited by the locks and moorings, meaning they are often exactly the same size, Asia and South America have no such problems. As a result, smaller ships with more luxury have started to appear, adding to the variety. Ships plying rivers to Russia and in China are also larger, giving those who like to explore waterways inland enormous variety. PLAN A CRUISE MONTH
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BE AN EXPLORER
From the wilds of the Arctic Circle to far-flung African lands, cruising will take you further into adventure than ever before. Roderick Eime reports.
or those with a yearning for cultural and outdoor experiences, there’s expedition or adventure cruising. This type of travel has been around for decades, but has only really gained mainstream popularity in the past 10 years. Traditionally, passengers were adventurous travellers such as backpackers, hikers, mountain climbers and scientists. Today it’s a very different affair. Cruise lines such as Silversea, Ponant and now Crystal have launched mini fleets of ships to bring their own specific brand of luxury cruising to the adventure market. Once the domain of sturdy but dated former Soviet vessels, this new wave of high-class ship is offering champagne and caviar, sumptuous cabins and fine dining to those who wish to experience remote destinations such as Antarctica and Greenland in style and comfort.
Now passengers are demanding new adventure destinations and cruise lines have responded. There are polar bear expeditions in Svalbard, remote river cruises in the Amazon, scuba diving adventures in the mid-Pacific and visits to once-inaccessible lands in Africa, Russia and Latin America. ARE YOU AN ADVENTURE CRUISER? If you are asking “how many polar bears can I see?” or “when is the best time to visit a king penguin colony?” you are probably the right person for an expedition cruise. If you
are more concerned about the brand of champagne, the type of spa treatments available or the thread count of your cotton sheets, then perhaps not. That said, it is now very possible to combine luxury shipboard experiences like you would find on the world’s toprated cruise ships with a dash of adventure as you sail among the Arctic ice floes. Crystal Cruises and Scenic are both promising a new breed of cruise ship. Small, but luxurious with helicopters, submarines and incredible stabilisers to cope with big seas. Today, the choice of adventure is yours.
Moviemakers love expedition cruising Neil Nightingale and Karen Bass have each spent more than 25 years, travelling the globe filming awardwinning nature and wildlife documentaries for the BBC and National Geographic. Several of the seminal TV programs presented by Sir David Attenborough are a result of their work. The couple are converts to expedition cruising. “One of the things that struck me early on is that everyone is here for the same purpose,” says Neil. “Sure, some may come to see a particular animal and others may just be generally interested in nature and wildlife. Some will have saved for a trip of a lifetime, others will be on their third or fourth trip. This all comes together to create a special atmosphere on these voyages that is very different to your typical cruise.” Neil wraps up his motivation to choosing an expedition cruise: “Put simply, this is the only way for the regular person to experience these remote wildlife spectacles like a polar bear on ice or a rare bowhead whale, and compared to what we’ve often endured to film these animals, this is quite luxurious!”
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LIVE THE HIGH LIFE
With more luxury ships than ever, it’s a good time to live it up at sea.
here was a real-life princess, an opera star, the Monaco skyline. Guests had wolfed down 907 kilograms of lobster, much of it off Versace place settings, washed down with 2,148 bottles of champagne. Welcome to the inaugural cruise of the world’s most luxurious ship, Regent Seven Seas Explorer, the latest addition to a growing fleet of super-luxe liners. The US$450-million vessel is the masterpiece of Regent CEO and President, Frank Del Rio. He chose the US$6 million worth of artworks hanging on its walls, including two Picassos. And such is his confidence in the luxury sector, he is already working on another ship to be completed by 2020. He is not alone. Seabourn, Silversea, Ponant and Crystal Cruises are all expecting new builds in the next few years, and even smaller lines such as Scenic are stepping up their capacity in the adventure sector. So what sets luxury cruising apart from the rest? Service is personalised, with butlers ready to do everything from unpack your bags to
book your restaurant table. A high crew-to-passenger ratio ensures staff have enough resources to pander to your every whim (Explorer has 1.36 guests to each crew member). Gourmet food at speciality restaurants, champagne, generous-sized suites with walk-in wardrobes, marble bathrooms and all-inclusive itineraries with free onshore
Seabourn, Silversea, Ponant and Crystal Cruises are all expecting new builds in the next few years excursions are other hallmarks of luxury cruising. Oceania Cruises, like sisterline Regent, is renowned for great chefs and dining venues including the Grand Dining Room, Toscana and Jacques Bistro by famed chef Jacques
Pepin, and Red Ginger serving classic Asian cuisine. The line’s owner’s suites are a generous 185 sq metres with Ralph Lauren furnishings in its living, dining and bedrooms, butler service and unlimited access to the ship’s Canyon Ranch SpaClub’s private spa terrace. Silversea the mid-sized luxury line is also known for its fine dining especially Le Champagne, offering meals with wine pairings designed by Relais & Chateaux. The line will invest US$170 million to give three of its ships a major facelift this October, with an overhaul of restaurants, bathrooms and suites. There will also be an upgrade of its technology hub to improve internet speeds. The line which has a fleet of eight ships will launch a new luxury vessel, Silver Muse, in April next year. Seabourn prides itself on having a spa complex with a pool, therapeutic lounges and whirlpool. Its new 600-passenger Seabourn Encore has signed a deal with chef Thomas Keller to open The Grill restaurant. She will also have a marina deck where guests can
windsurf, kayak and pedal boat, and an alfresco Sky Bar. Encore will be in Sydney early next year. The French line Ponant will build four new expedition ships with the first one to head for Australian waters in 2018. The ship will have an underwater observation lounge and infinity pool. Crystal Cruises which promotes itself as the world’s most awarded luxury cruise line will launch a polar-class megayacht, Crystal Endeavour for 200 guests at the end of the year. She will have a remote operated vehicle and offer extreme adventure itineraries. The line has expanded into river cruises with the Crystal Mozart launching in Europe this year. Crystal will launch four new-build ships over the next two years. PLAN A CRUISE MONTH
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Bernadette Chua reports on the best dining afloat.
ruise lines are now so confident of the quality of their restaurants that at least one has approached Michelin asking to have them star rated. Today’s ship’s galley is as capable of turning out fine-dining fare as any on land, which is why many celebrity chefs have lent their names to new venues on the oceans. The produce is fresher and there are more fine-dining menus than ever before. Even for the health conscious cruiser, there are lines which have dieticians who will create a healthier spa menu for you. CELEBRITY CHEFS It’s the era of the celebrity chefs and many cruise lines have partnered with some big names to produce the best dining options.
Aussie chef Curtis Stone has teamed up with Princess Cruises. His SHARE restaurant, on Sun Princess, homeported in Melbourne, and Emerald Princess, sailing to Australia this summer, is about charcuterie platters, butter poached lobster, beef cheek pie, wild mushroom ragu and dark chocolate cremeux. Hungry yet? Luke Mangan, famous for Glass Brasserie in Sydney’s CBD, has had an ongoing partnership with P&O for several years. Salt Grill is on board all P&O ships and will be on the new Pacific Explorer, the line’s newest vessel due out next season. Guests can try signature dishes such as crab omelette, enoki mushroom salad with miso broth, and liquorice parfait with lime syrup. Over on Royal Caribbean, Jamie Oliver’s
restaurants are a relatively new addition. You can find Jamie’s Italian on Ovation of the Seas, which will be homeported in Sydney from December 2016. Try Jamie’s truffle tagliatelle, crab spaghettini, and Italian signature porchetta. Seabourn Encore, the newest luxury ship to be sailing to Australia in January 2017 has Thomas Keller’s The Grill. The Michelinstarred restaurateur has created a menu inspired by an American steakhouse, featuring top-class steaks and sides such as collard greens and mashed potatoes. BYE, BYE BUFFET P&O made a bold statement last year with the arrival of its two new ships, Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria: the buffet was dead. Guests instead found a chic new dining area called The Pantry, with eight food stations. Guests can try butter chicken from the Curry House, tacos from Mexicana, sizzling noodles and stir-fries Stix or cured ham legs and marbled beef scotch fillets from Fat Cow.
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SPECIALTY DINING Wonderland on Ovation of the Seas is an ode to gastronomy. You’ll be served dishes that are not what they seem. Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, dining in this restaurant will make you feel like you’re falling down the rabbit hole – in a good way. You’ll be served dishes such as “liquid lobster” with bone marrow and caviar, Vanishing noodles with chicken, duck and truffle, crispy tempura kim chee leaves with marinated melon and cheesecake with apple and wasabi air. At Kai Sushi, on Princess Cruises, you can
watch carvers slice salmon, kingfish and tuna sashimi right in front of you. Many cruise lines also have Chef’s Tables where you can book a private table with a full degustation menu. River cruise lines such as APT, Scenic, Crystal and Uniworld have also upped the ante, with speciality dining. Some lines offer their speciality restaurants as included in the fare. Others have a nominal charge.
Assigned tables and set meal times are a world away for today’s cruise passenger. On most modern ships, you can choose between a dining room or a speciality restaurant and many allow you to walk in, sit down and order when you want. Norwegian Jewel, to be homeported in Sydney from 2017, offers 24-hour pizza delivery service. On the pool deck of Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend, guests can build their own burger at Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint or watch your quesadilla grilled at the Blue Iguana Cantina.
SHOP WITH THE CHEF APT offers a cruise hosted by Luke Nguyen, known for his Vietnamese restaurant, The Red Lantern in Sydney. He takes visits to the food markets in Ho Chi Minh City where guests can shop for fresh local produce, and then learn how to cook it. Regent Seven Seas, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn and P&O’s Britannia also offer a shop with the chef experience, and some have cooking schools. Britannia is dedicated to foodies. The ship has specialty dining areas such as patisseries designed by pastry chef Eric Lanlard. Britannia’s cooking school takes its lead from foodie icons Marco Pierre White and James Martin.
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Perhaps one of the biggest myths of modern cruise ships is that you’ll be bored. Stand by for a list of activities that put land holidays to shame. Sarah Loughlin reports.
n 2016, if you can dream it, it’s probably already on board a cruise ship. The largest cruise ship, launched recently by Royal Caribbean, boasts a full-sized duty free shopping mall, a park with over 12,000 plants and trees, and offers scuba diving lessons in the pool! SHORE EXCURSIONS The days of dreary coach sightseeing tours are long gone. Welcome to 2016, the era of volcano tours by helicopter, shark cage diving and ziplining through the jungle. Luxury cruise lines and river cruises are leading the way in extraordinary shore experiences. Australian cruise company APT offers exclusive shore excursions such as Champagne at sunrise over Angkor Wat, or a private classical concert at Vienna’s City Palace. Expedition tours offer unique experiences such as searching for the Northern Lights and wildlife spotting by Zodiac. SHOWS Cruise entertainment has moved on from tired tribute acts and lounge singers. You’ll now find fireworks (NCL & Disney), ice carving (Princess), and glass-blowing demonstrations (Celebrity). Ice skating performances, diving shows and Broadway musicals are offered by Royal Caribbean, while Cunard has an Illumination show at its onboard planetarium. Norwegian has musicals with wine tasting, or dinner and a show. Carnival cruises has a host of Playlist Shows, and Carnival has singing waiters! TEENS/ KIDS Ships now offer everything from kids’ club, kids pools, water parks and family play areas. You will be lucky if the kids stop by to say hello between activities, which can include juggling classes, acting classes, arts and crafts, pyjama parties, contests, and treasure hunts. Character themed activities and parades are becoming increasingly popular with Dr. Seuss on Carnival, DreamWorks 20
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on Royal Caribbean, Nickelodeon on NCL, and Disney with its classic cast of characters. Among the most innovative activity currently at sea is the interactive family game show Hasbro aboard Carnival Vista. Adult-only areas are also a favourite on bigger ships with their own pools, bars, and Jacuzzis. NCL’s innovative Ibiza-styled Spice H2O offers a quiet sanctuary during the day, and an open-air club at night. ACTIVITIES/ RIDES Onboard activities include sky diving tunnels (Royal Caribbean), racing-car simulators (MSC) and mini marinas with kayaks, sailing boats and a sea pool (Seabourn). P&O’s Edge has 19 activities including rock climbing, laser tag, ropes courses, slacklines, trampolines and segways. NCL is offering Wii tournaments on giant screens, and Carnival’s newest ship offers the SkyRide, which hangs from a rail above the ship. Carnival Vista has an outdoor gym, while Royal Caribbean has taken its sports facilities indoors with the SeaPlex which has bumper cars, rollerskating and trapeze lessons. Some ships have up to 23 pools, from those with retractable roofs to swanky adults-only pools. Royal Caribbean is currently leading the way with its brand new water park aboard Harmony of the Seas.
ENRICHMENT Enrichment programs are becoming more inventive, including painting, book clubs, talks from explorers, academics, and historians, Rossetta Stone language lessons and computer lessons. A number of lines, including Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas, have cooking schools., and if your favourite activity is an afternoon tipple, you won’t be disappointed, with ships offering wine or beer tasting.
NCL has an onboard Ice Bar, and Royal Caribbean has robot bartenders, and a levitating bar. Even the promenade deck is getting a makeover with Princess’s SeaWalk, a glassbottomed walkway, adding excitement to your morning stroll. Royal Caribbean has bought us the North Star, an observation pod 90 metres the sea with 360-degree panoramic views. What next? Who knows, but it is sure to be exciting.
Experience the revitalised Azamara Journey on her maiden season in Australia and New Zealand and enjoy these inclusions: • House beer, wines and spirits • Prepaid gratuities • Gourmet cuisine • Friendly and attentive service • Concierge for onboard and onshore reservations • Luxury accommodation • Shuttles to and from some ports • An AzAmazing Evening shore excursion (included on most voyages)
To book visit your CLIA accredited travel agent.
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HOW SUITE IT IS…
Space – the final frontier of cabin cruise design. Accommodation is getting bigger, better and more like a hotel suite, with private balconies, flat-screen TVs and high-speed internet. Sarah Loughlin reports.
he standard of cruise ship cabins has come a long way. With each new ship comes bigger and better accommodation. Regent Seven Seas recently launched Seven Seas Explorer, which boasts a suite of 412 square metres. Modern cruise ships cater to all types of passenger, and there is a lot to consider when choosing a cabin, such as position on the ship, amenities, view, budget and included services. Remember to ask your travel agent how much it costs to trade up. A balcony can cost less than you think. BUDGET CONSCIOUS CABINS Gone are the days when an inside cabin meant sacrificing your view. Disney has installed virtual portholes in interior cabins displaying a live feed of the ocean, and Royal Caribbean has floor-to-ceiling “virtual balconies” with real-time ocean footage in interior rooms. Royal Caribbean has also two new categories, Interior Central Park View and Boardwalk View Cabins, with a picture window or balcony overlooking the interior “streets” of shops and promenades. 22
FAMILY CABINS Cruise lines are making a huge effort to accommodate all sizes of family, with suites that sleep five or six and a range of interconnecting cabins. If you have a large family or are travelling in a group, it may be cheaper to get a suite than two interconnecting cabins, plus you often get extra bonuses such as priority boarding and butler service. SINGLE CABINS Travelling alone used to be expensive due to single supplements, but innovative lines are making it more affordable. Holland America Line will match solo travellers who want to share a cabin, and there are now a number of online agencies to help you meet fellow travellers before you cruise. When you book a single Studio Cabin with Norwegian Cruise Lines, you get access to the Studio Lounge, an exclusive area for solo travellers to socialise. River cruise lines such as APT, Avalon and Evergreen are offering more single cabins on rivers in Europe.
LUXURY CABINS & SUITES Suites on modern ships rival the most luxurious hotels, with walk in wardrobes, balconies with hot tubs, fire places, grand pianos, and a private bar! Many even have a butler to unpack and serve you canapés and drinks before dinner. Plus you can access exclusive areas of the ships such as sun decks, fitness areas, pools and restaurants. Norwegian has introduced The Haven, a luxury area perfect for people who want the luxury and privacy of small ship cruising and the activities of a big ship. Royal Caribbean’s suites now include duplex accommodation with massive balconies. And spa suites are available for those who just wanted to be pampered all day long. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK… Getting the right cabin is really important. Cruise travel agents are trained to ensure you get the best experience matching your needs, from disabilities to special diets. So make sure you know exactly what you want and ask a trained professional.
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VIETNAM & CAMBODIA
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*Conditions apply. Price is based on per person (pp), twin share and include port charges. Information is correct as at 24 October 2016. A limited number of offers are available until sold out. Offers are subject to availability, available on new bookings and can be withdrawn any time. Offers cannot be combined with any other offer, unless otherwise stated. A non-refundable deposit of $1,000 per person is due within seven days of booking; a second non-refundable payment of $1,000 per person is due by 28 February 2017. However, if fares increase and/or changes in ticketing requirements occur, the second payment may be required earlier. FLY FREE: Available when booking any tour within this brochure that includes a Vietnam & Cambodia holiday 12 days or longer, Myanmar, China or India. Based on wholesale airfares in economy class with Singapore Airlines (W Class), Cathay Pacific (V Class) for China or an airline of Travelmarvel’s choosing, and are subject to availability of the related airline booking class as specified in the conditions of each offer. Includes taxes of up to $600 per person with Singapore Airlines and $200 per person with Cathay Pacific from select cities in Australia. Flights must be booked by Travelmarvel. Once sold out surcharges will apply. Airline schedules are subject to change without notice and Travelmarvel is not liable for any additional costs incurred due to airline schedule changes once booked. For full terms and conditions please refer to our website www.travelmarvel.com.au. Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd ABN 44 004 684 619. ATAS accreditation #A10825. TM3167
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