Cruise news round up, September 2016


Celebrity Solstice multi-million-dollar makeover
Celebrity Solstice is to undergo an extensive revitalisation worth $11.25 million before she returns to her Sydney home-port on 14 Nov, following a 14-night cruise from Singapore. The revitalisation will see various enhancements and additions implemented throughout the ship, including; “A Taste of Film” feature which pairs big-screen movies with gastronomic experiences, brand new alcove-style cabanas on The Lawn Club, new dining experience Sushi on Five, offering an array of Asian-inspired cocktails and delicacies, a modern new Photo Gallery and Art Gallery, and new modern luxury enhancements added to suites, including new patio furniture on suite balconies.


October is Cruise Month
October will be known as Plan A Cruise Month with cruise lines releasing great deals through cruise specialist travel agents, in the first ever Cruise Month promotion. Starting 1st October, the deals will be built around four weekly themes; luxury and expedition cruising, river cruising, cruising from Australia and New Zealand, and international cruising. To find a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) certified agent, go to


Oceanwide Expeditions “Spectacular Ross Sea” voyage
The Ross Sea is an immense bay south of the Antarctic Circle, one of the planet’s most remote areas and where few expeditions venture. This unique and adventurous 32-day voyage will sail from South America to New Zealand on the ice-strengthened vessel Ortelius, which is specially equipped with two helicopters to access hard-to-reach sights. The itinerary sails into the Antarctic Peninsula, crosses the Polar Circle, visits Peter I Island, and sails in the Bellingshausen Sea along the ice-edge of “deep Antarctica” into the Ross Sea where voyagers will be treated to a helicopter landing on the towering Ross Ice Shelf, a massive glacier, before continuing to the uninhabited sub-Antarctic Campbell Island and ending in Bluff, New Zealand.


Explore the Galapagos Islands with Contours Travel
As one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, the world-renowned nature sanctuary of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands boasting more than 26 species found nowhere else on earth, including the giant Galapagos tortoises. Contours Travel is offering a range of eight-day cruises on board the MV Evolution, a 32-passenger expedition yacht providing spacious staterooms and social areas while ensuring guests can experience nature in an up-close and personal way. Starting on Baltra Island, cruise highlights include snorkelling on Isabela Island, hiking to the summit of Bartolome Island, and a visit to the pristine white-sand beach Las Bachas on Santa Cruz Island, a major sea turtle egg-laying site and home to a large land iguana population and the Charles Darwin Research Station. Last-minute savings of up to 35 per cent are now on for cruises departing October 22, November 5 and December 10 and 17.


Celebrity Cruises’ 2017/18 European sailings
With four modern cruise ships sailing European waters next year, Celebrity Cruises will offer 40 itineraries in Europe, with 61 overnight stays in 19 different European cities. Visits to the best of Europe’s three Rivieras has doubled, with the cruise line’s newest ship, Celebrity Reflection, sailing to the French, Italian and Spanish coastlines. Two new ports of call have also been added to the new program, with Celebrity Constellation sailing to Sète, France and Monte Carlo, Monaco. Other highlights include a variety of special culinary events, a Kids’ “Summer Camp at Sea” program, three Signature Event sailings including The French Open, The British Open and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, as well as a whopping 109 shore excursions, including a theatrical performance of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ in Mykonos, a sailing experience on Paraggi Bay, Portofino and a Belgian chocolate workshop. Celebrity’s Europe Earlybird discount is available on bookings before 30 September 2016.


Azamara Club Cruises 2017 European voyage
Boutique cruise line Azamara Club Cruises’s immersive and all-inclusive 2017 European voyages are offering guests the opportunity to explore Europe in luxury and style with a special upgrade deal. When booked before 30 November 2016, guests will receive a Club Verandah Stateroom for the price of a Club Interior Stateroom on most voyages. Program highlights include the unique seven-night “Tapas and Wine” voyage onboard the recently revitalised Azamara Journey, departing Barcelona 7 June 2017, and visiting Europe’s culinary highlights in Spain, Gibraltar and Portugal, and the 10-night Amalfi Coast and Sicily Cruise onboard Azamara Quest. Departing Rome on 16 September 2017, the cruise will call at Sorrento and Amalfi in Italy, before continuing on to Sicily, Malta, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Venice.
In related Azamara news, Azamara Journey is set to make her Australian debut in less than six months, arriving in Darwin 8 February 2017. Fresh from her $33.5 million refurbishment, she features a beautiful redesign and rework of her suites and staterooms, new venues and technologies, and a complete refresh of all public spaces.


European Waterways’ 2017 collection
Europe’s largest all-inclusive, luxury hotel barging company has released its 2017 brochure featuring a wide range of exclusive hotel barge cruises on the canals, rivers and lakes of mainland Europe and the British Isles, including France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. The beautifully illustrated 88-page brochure showcases all 17 of the company’s vessels, including the new double-decker hotel barge Finesse. Highlight cruises include France’s Champagne region and the popular Wine and Whisky regions. The 6-night cruises include all gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar, daily escorted excursions, local transfers and use of all on board facilities such as bicycles and spa pools.


Royal Caribbean puts Fiji on the map
Royal Caribbean International has added Fiji to its summer season, making 40 calls to the island nation. Four ships will be sailing, including the South Pacific’s twin sister ships, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, which both feature the FlowRider surf simulator, ice skating rinks, and Royal Promenade, making them ideal for families. Departing Sydney on 6 April 2017, the cruise includes calls to Lautoka and Suva in Fiji, as well as other South Pacific gems including Noumea and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia and Mystery Island in Vanuatu.


French Polynesia with Aranui Cruises
In response to demand, Aranui Cruises has added two additional sailings to its 2017 schedule, with the full 2018 program to be released later in the year. The new 125-metre long mixed cargo and passenger vessel features all the mod cons of a new freighter, and includes a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of added value such as shore excursions through the 17 scheduled ports of call, a twice weekly laundry service, all main meals and a complimentary glass of wine with on board lunches and dinners. Offering a great value way to experience Tahiti, taking guests to nine islands in the Marquesas, Tuamotus and Society Islands. With 2016 full, and 2017 almost at capacity, Aranui Cruises has released earlybird deals for Aranui 5’s first three sailings in 2018, with a discount offer of 10 percent across all accommodation categories until 31 December 2016.


Regent Seven Seas’ Asia Pacific season
Seven Seas Voyager and Seven Seas Navigator are preparing to embark on the luxury cruise line’s highly anticipated Asia Pacific season, with 20 sailings taking place across the region from November 2016 to May 2017. Ranging from 12 to 60 nights, the itineraries will include sailings from Barcelona to Sydney, Los Angeles to Auckland, and Perth to Singapore, taking in diverse destinations and unique ports of call that are inaccessible to larger ships. Renowned for its intimate ships, all-suite accommodations, and incredible free inclusions, the six-star cruise line’s Asia Pacific season is jam packed with complimentary offers such as a three-night Temples of Angkor Wat pre-cruise program, luxury hotel stays, immersive land programs, exciting on board entertainment and activities, exceptional dining, expert-led Smithsonian Journeys enrichment program, and much more.


Princess Cruises gets festive
Princess Cruises is offering festive season cruises all around the world with roundtrip itineraries from Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Fremantle to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the South Pacific and Indonesia on board four of its ships. Highlights include the 11-day Diamond Princess itinerary, departing Singapore and calling at Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, with Christmas Day spent at Ko Samui. At Christmas time, Princess ships are transformed into a festive wonderland with a giant Christmas tree in the atrium, and decorations and festivities all throughout the ship. Guests can get into the spirit with a gingerbread challenge, card-making activities, carols, festive feasts and plenty more, as well as a visit from Santa of course.


Pandaw’s dolphin destination
Pandaw has relaunched its popular Saigon-Siem Reap “Classic Mekong” river expedition to penetrate further up the Mekong than any other operator, offering the rare opportunity to see the playful and elusive Mekong dolphin. The Mekong Pandaw vessel’s low draft enables it to sail 100 kilometres further into the heart of the Cambodian interior than any other passenger vessel, with the new itinerary now going as far as the picturesque colonial river port of Kratie, from where passengers can travel by local transport into the habitat of the Mekong’s shy but charismatic dolphin population. Other highlights include exploring local villages, markets, churches, temples, the vast Mekong Delta, Phnom Penh, and the Tonle River.


Carnival heads across the Tasman
Carnival Cruise Line is taking the family fun across the Tasman in January, with  a one-off, action-packed school holiday cruise to New Zealand. Departing Sydney on January 7, 2017, the 10-night Carnival Legend cruise will call at three New Zealand holiday hotspots, with the ship making its maiden visits to the country’s capital Wellington, as well as Akaroa and Dunedin in the South Island, and will cruise through the famous Doubtful Sounds in Fiordland National Park. There will also be plenty of family-friendly fun onshore, with a host of exciting excursions including a chance to follow in the footsteps of the Lord of the Rings in Wellington, swim with Hector’s Dolphins in Akaroa and get close to nature during an off-road cross country tour while in Dunedin.

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