THERE is no disputing the cruise industry is buoyant around the world with passenger numbers continuing to grow. Even those who consider themselves landlubbers are now dipping their toes into international waters.
Most cruise lines are opting for larger ships to meet demand, turning them into lively resorts at sea with onboard attractions to suit all-comers.
australiancruisingnews.com notes that the latest arrival to Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Symphony of the Seas, (zip-lining is one of a myriad of onboard activities) has instantly become the world’s largest cruise ship as she sails her maiden voyage in the Mediterranean from the increasingly popular Spanish port of Barcelona.
So which are the mega giants of the seas, and what are their vital statistics?
Symphony of the Seas, launched just weeks ago, tonnage 228,081, carrying 5,518 passengers.
Harmony of the Seas, launched 2016, tonnage 226,963, carrying 5479 passengers.
Allure of the Seas, launched 2010, tonnage 225,282, carrying 5492 passengers.
Oasis of the Seas, launched 2009, tonnage 225,282, carrying 5400 passengers.
Quantum of the Seas, launched 2014, tonnage 168,666, carrying 4180 passengers.
Anthem of the Seas, launched 2015, tonnage 168,666, carrying 4180 passengers.
Ovation of the Seas, launched 2016, tonnage 167,666, carrying 4180 passengers.
Cruising international waters is no longer the sole domain of “the nearly dead, the over-fed, and the newly-wed” so it is crucial that travelers know what is happening on the cruise scene on the world’s mighty oceans and rivers.
With that focus in mind, Australiancruisingnews.com has returned.
As a seasoned travel writer who stumbled on the joys of cruising years ago, I am now addicted to life on board a ship, be it big or small. I constantly dream of sea-going adventures and hope that my sharing these days at sea will inspire my readers.
Right now a fleet of international cruise ships are navigating the Southern Hemisphere tempting Australians and New Zealanders to stretch their ‘sea legs’ with a vast array of cruise choices.
Not that those Down Under need much convincing as cruising is the fastest growing area on the travel scene.
The South Pacific remains the most popular overseas destination for Aussie cruisers due to the proximity of those island. But, the place to watch is across “the ditch” – the Tasman Sea with over 100,000 passengers cruising to New Zealand annually.
It is the preferred destination of the super liners such as Ovation of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s fleet, which carries around 8,000 passengers and crew. Ovation, and other cruise ships of its size, need deep harbors and have no trouble finding those around New Zealand’s North and South Islands.
Within months, a fleet of cruise ships will be leaving Australasian waters for summer ports in the Northern Hemisphere.
Australiancruisingnews.com will keep readers posted, so keep on checking in…
Not content with a fleet of 64 small ships on the world’s great rivers, Viking Cruises spread its wings last year by launching the company’s first ocean ship, the 930-passengerViking Star. Viking Sea followed this year, and Viking Sky launches next year, with more ships in the pipeline for coming years.
Crystal Cruises, which has Crystal Symphony, Crystal Serenity and the Crystal Esprit in its luxury ocean fleet, has made its début on the river scene with Crystal Mozart making her maiden voyage from Vienna this year. She sails on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers, and four new river ship are planned by Crystal in coming years.
australiancruisingnews.com notes that the latest move comes from Scenic, already a major cruise player with a fleet of 21 river cruise ships throughout Europe, Russia and South East Asia.
As it celebrates its 30th year in the tourist industry, Scenic has announced plans for an ocean ship called Scenic Eclipse, which will marry luxury with discovery. Guests will be taken to places previously thought inaccessible with the new ship’s two on board helicopters and seven-seat submarine.
Scenic’s chairman Glen Maroney says “Our goal with Scenic Eclipse is to open up the private yacht experience so that guests can discover regions previously only visited by a fortunate few.”
He adds, “In many cases only the supremely wealthy or explorers and adventurers, could travel to the Antarctic hinterland or ventured below the surface to witness Polar wildlife in its natural habitat. We plan to make these experiences accessible to our guests while they travel in the utmost luxury and safety.”
Scenic Eclipse, carrying 228 guests, will be launched in the Mediterranean in August 2018, and her maiden voyage season will include The Americas, Antarctica, Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as the Arctic and the Scandinavian fjords.
Australia’s near neighbours all want part of the action as Australian cruise passengers punch well above their weight on the international cruise scene.
This week alone, Indonesia has sent a high level tourist delegation to Sydney to spread the word that Indonesia is not all about Bali, and that there are many wonderful ports that could also be visited by cruise ships.
australiancruisingnews.com notes that larger cruise ships usually sail into the port of Benoa in Bali, which is the gateway to the resort towns of Kuta, Nusa Dua and Ubud, and remains the number one destination for Australians holidaymakers. Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess and Golden Princess, Holland America Line’s Maasdam, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice, Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas, and P&O’sPacific Eden will all be there in coming months.
Smaller expedition ships such as Silversea’s Silver Explorer and Ponant’s L’Austral already feature Indonesia’s remoter places on their itineraries as well as the better known Komodo Island, where the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard, rules.
Recent changes to Indonesia’s customs, immigration, quarantine, and port procedures have made it easier for ships to also embark and disembark passengers in the ports of Tanjung Perak in Surbaya, Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, and Belawan in Medan.
Indonesia says the country offers many advantages for cruise operators year-round as there is no winter climate and the possibility of storms is very low. Unlike sunshine ports in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Indonesia sees itself as relatively undiscovered and natural beauty and cultural richness unlike anywhere else in the word.
Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Mr Arief Yahya, says, “We want to promote Bali and Beyond so that ports close to Bali can also develop. After enjoying Bali, visitors can continue on to other destinations such as nearby Lombok.”
The Ministry has set a target of 1.4million visits from Down Under in the next twelve months.
Currently, Indonesia (which has over 17,000 islands) is developing priority destinations that have been labelled the “10 new Balis” and are being prepared for a tourism influx. They are Lake Toba, Tanjung Kelayang, Tanjung Lesung, Seribu (Thousand) Islands, Borobudur, Bromo-Semeru, Labuan Bajo, Mandalika, Wakatobi, and Morotai.
Tomorrow one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Norwegian Getaway, docks at Rio de Janeiro’s Pier Maua where she will stay until the world’s greatest sporting event, the summer Olympics, closes on August 21.
Over that time the 145,000 tonne superliner, launched in 2014, will be a floating hotel for corporate sponsors, members of the International Olympic Federation and National Organizing Committees.
australiancruisingnews.comnotes that the 4000-passenger NorwegianGetaway, part of the fast growing Norwegian Cruise Line, is taking a break from her usual year-round cruises to tropical islands in the Caribbean. Her 40-day charter at the 2016 Olympic Games has been brokered by Miami-based charter specialist Landry & King.
Also in Rio for the Games is the luxury cruise ship Silver Cloud, from the Silversea cruise fleet, which carries no more than 300 passengers at full capacity. She will house the high-profile U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams who make it a practice not to stay in the Olympic Village.
Cruise ships have previously acted as floating hotels for major sporting events such as World Cricket in the West Indies.
Pier Maua, the main Rio cruise ship terminal, has recently undergone major renovations that have revitalized the port area, which is close to downtown Rio de Janeiro, and a 20-minute taxi ride from the iconic Copacabana beach.
The high season for cruise ship arrivals in Rio runs from November to April with Oceania, Seabourn, MSC, Princess, and Cunard cruise lines all featuring this lively port on upcoming itineraries.
The world’s third largest ship, the US$1-billion-dollar Ovation of the Seas, has been officially handed over to the Royal Caribbean fleet, and will sail a series of short cruises from Southampton (UK), before her 52-night ‘Global Odyssey’, via the Suez Canal, to Beijing (Tianjin) China.
Following her inaugural China season from June 24, Ovation of the Seas cruises to Australia in December to be home ported in Sydney for a summer Down Under.
Adam Armstrong, managing director of Royal Caribbean in Australasia, says Ovation of the Seas represents the single biggest investment in Australian and New Zealand cruising by any cruise line.
He calls she is “a game changer” and will be the biggest, the newest and the most technologically advanced cruise ship ever to call Australia home.
Adam say it is the first time a cruise line has brought a newly built mega liner Down Under, and Ovation of the Seasis testament to Royal Caribbean’s commitment to Australia, and the company’s confidence in the future of cruising in the region.
Ovation of the Seas carries almost 5000 passengers and 1500 crew, and has all manner of attractions on board from a heart-pounding skydiving experience, to a pod that lifts passengers 90 metres above the ocean, to dodgem cars, an ice skating rink, and a circus school.
The mega-liner has 18 restaurants, including British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Italian”, many bars including one with robots as bar staff who mix and shake cocktails, and a state-of-the-art theatre, fitness centre and spa.
During her season Down Under, which runs until late February next year, Ovation of the Seas will visit ports around Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific, royalcaribbean.com.au
Australia’s newest, largest, and most innovative cruise ship, Explorer ofthe Seas, arrives in Fremantle (Perth) late this week for the start of her summer season Down Under.
From Western Australia Explorer of the Seassails for 16 nights around southern Australia and the South Island of New Zealand, before a rendezvous on Sydney Harbour in late November with her twin sister Voyager of the Seas, which has been a familiar sight in Australian waters in recent summers.
But, come December next year, another ship from the Royal Caribbean fleet, the spanking new mega liner Ovationofthe Seas will outshine both her sisters to become the largest cruise ship ever to call Australia home.
Currently under construction in Italy, she will carry almost 5,000 guests, have 1,500 crew, and be the most technologically advanced ship ever to be based Down Under.
At the same time, australiancruisingnews.com notes that Cruiseco, – a leading cruise agent in Australia and New Zealand – has an exclusive charter on Ovation of the Seas’ inaugural voyage to Australia from Singapore on November 30 next year, with ports of call in Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart and Sydney.
Cruiseco’s Amber Wilson says, “Sailing into home waters on an inaugural voyage is an extremely special and memorable occasion, and we are thrilled to offer this opportunity to join Ovation of the Seas on this milestone voyage.”
Ms Wilson adds, “Ovation of the Seasis set to redefine the cruising industry with its on board ground-breaking venues, all-inclusive entertainment, and 18 dining options. Intuitive technology features the Bionic Bar offering a robotic barman that can mix up to two cocktails per minute, as well as state-of-the-art entertainment such as a sky-diving simulator and the North Star which carries passengers over 300-feet above sea level in a glass capsule. There is no doubt Ovation of the Seas will take cruising to extraordinary new heights.” cruising.com.au
Sometimes australiancruisingnews.com balances travel by taking a road trip rather than an ocean adventure.
Most recently it was to explore Cape York in Australia’s Far North Queensland before the wet season set in and dry creek beds turned to raging torrents.
To explore one of the world’s last wilderness areas, we took a custom-built 4WD coach with the Australian headquartered tour company APT which has explored remote Cape York for many years.
With 16 other travellers, it was the easy option for travelling north from the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest to the rusty-red dirt tracks of the true outback. Along the way we saw rare wildlife and birds only found there, as well as the endangered cassowary which is a flightless prehistoric bird.
Our destination was The Tip, the most northerly point of mainland Australia, that often features on travellers’ bucket lists.
On the last leg, APT’s tour guide Steve Grainger took us on the more challenging path to reach The Tip. We climbed up and over large irregular boulders that made it all the more rewarding when we reached our destination. Naturally we hung around for “selfies” beside the small notice that confirmed that we really were at The Tip.
There was little traffic on the drive along a dusty track to The Tip, but when we got there it was crowded. Below zodiacs on the beach confirmed that the extras were off a small ship anchored further out to sea.
It was even more surprising to discover that the ship was the Caledonian Sky which is part of APT’s fleet of small ships, aptouring.com.au
San Francisco’s Kate McCue has broken through the corporate glass ceiling to become the first American female captain of a cruise ship.
As Captain McCue she takes command of Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Summit for sailings between the eastern United States and Bermuda.
She joins Royal Caribbean’sCaptainKarinStahre–Janson, P&O Cruises’Captain Sarah Breton and Cunard’s Captain Inger Olsen, who were pioneers in taking command of international cruise ships, royalcaribbean.com; pocruises.com.au; cunard.com
On board Captain McCue will be responsible for the safe navigation of the 91,000-ton, 965-foot cruise ship, as well as being responsible for the on board experience of its 2,158 guests and 952 crew members.
A graduate of California State University’s California Maritime Academy, 37-year-old Captain McCue, began her maritime career as a cadet and deck officer. But as australiancruisingnews.com notes, being the captain of a cruise ship has been her goal for as long as she can remember.
With over 15 years in the maritime industry. Captain McCue has managed ship logistics while sailing worldwide itineraries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, and through the Panama Canal. She has also sailed several transatlantic and re-positioning cruises.
Celebrity Cruises has won a reputation for advancing the role of women in leadership, with Lisa Lutoff-Perlo named as President and CEO of the cruise line in December last year,celebritycruises.com