Cruising Rides a Wave of Optimism


LATEST DATA shows the Australian cruise market is making a swift recovery from its pandemic suspension.

Some 457,200 Australians set sail during the latter part of 2022, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) figures show.

“Cruising initially returned to Australia in a very limited form and relatively recently, but the response from cruise fans has been terrific,” said Joel Katz, CLIA Managing Director Australasia.

The data shows that cruise travel among Australians accelerated significantly in the lead-up to the summer season. It’s estimated that by the last quarter of the year passenger numbers had reached approximately 90 per cent of the levels seen in the same quarter of 2019.

“All the indicators suggest Australia’s cruise recovery is progressing faster than other parts of the world where operations resumed much earlier.”

Australian cruisers showed a clear preference for local sailings in 2022, with 90 per cent choosing to cruise in this region, up from about 75-80 per cent in past years.

“Cruising resumed in Australia with just a handful of ships, but by the end of summer this year we had welcomed more than 40 international vessels to local waters,” said Ben Angell, CLIA Chairman for Australasia.

“By next summer we expect to welcome around 60 international cruise ships to local waters, which is similar to 2019 levels.”


CONSTRUCTION HAS just started on a luxury $6.75 million paddlesteamer, Australia’s first five-star river ship.

The PS Australian Star will offer year-round, all-inclusive, overnight cruises on the Murray River from Echuca in Victoria.

Work has started on the site for the 38-guest ship beside the Murray in Mildura where PS Australian Star will be built using local materials and labour.

She will begin operations from Echuca in April 2025, succeeding the smaller and older, 16-guest PS Emmylou which currently offers overnight cruises on the Murray.

“When she sails along the Murray for the first time in 2025, PS Australian Star will offer the ultimate in river cruising luxury, ushering in an exciting new era for tourism in Australia,” said Craig Burgess, Director Murray River Paddlesteamers.

Fusing heritage charm with contemporary luxury and stretching 35m, the vessel will be the largest paddlesteamer in the Southern Hemisphere and the only wood-fired, five-star accommodated paddlesteamer in the world.

She will offer cruises lasting three- and four-nights with guests able to combine the two cruises for a longer seven-night cruise.

PS Australian Star will offer 19 staterooms, all opening to a deck and offering river views, ensuite, air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, luxury linen, TV entertainment system, seating and writing desk.

Murray River Paddlesteamers will offer a 10 per cent commission for travel agents plus bonuses for multiple bookings.


ORANGE WAS the colour of the evening when Holland America Line hosted a party to celebrate its 150th birthday recently.

The evening saw 150 stakeholders, media, trade partners and staff at Bar M in Rushcutters Bay in Sydney.

The cruise line marked the occasion with an orange themed party in homage to its Dutch heritage complete with orange cocktails, as well as historical images projected onto the walls of the venue.

Guests also enjoyed interactive food experiences, including a pasta and antipasti station inspired by the menu at Canaletto Restaurant onboard, and a poffertjes station serving Dutch style pancakes in another nod to the cruise line’s Dutch heritage.

“It’s been an incredible 150 years for Holland America Line and what an amazing way to mark this significant occasion with so many integral people here tonight who have played a part in our ongoing success,” said Ryan Taibel, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Holland America Line in Australia.

“The celebration of 150 years is about more than our history though; it’s about how we are building on the legacy of a great brand to make it relevant for the next 150 years.”


SHE’S BEING described as the most environmentally conscious ultra-luxury cruise ship ever built.

Silver Nova will become the 12th ship in Silversea’s fleet when she launches later this year. The ship recently celebrated her float out from the yard in Germany where she’s being built.

Commemorating the important milestone and in observance of shipbuilding traditions, Captain Cosimo Pontillo welded a special coin to a wall on the pool deck. The coin will remain visible to future guests as a symbol of good luck.

“Silver Nova is unlike anything we have seen in the luxury cruise industry so far,” said Roberto Bruzzone, SVP Marine Operations, Silversea Cruises.

“As well as being the most sustainable ultra-luxury ship at sea, Silver Nova will introduce our guests to a new level of comfort.”

The 728-guest ship will offer the largest choice of bars, restaurants and lounges in ultra-luxury cruising, some of the most spacious guest suites at sea and a range of innovative features, including an asymmetrical design and horizontal layout.

“Silver Nova embodies the vision of our cruise line and the evolution of our fleet,” said Barbara Muckermann, President and CEO, Silversea Cruises.


PRINCESS CRUISES is celebrating its 40th anniversary sailing the Mediterranean by featuring two of its newest and largest ships there in 2025.

The Star Princess will join her new sister-ship Sun Princess in the Mediterranean for her debut season of cruising.

Her maiden voyage departs on August 4, 2025, sailing a nine-day ‘Grand Mediterranean’ voyage to Italy and Greece roundtrip from Rome. This will be followed by a variety of 10-day cruises, also roundtrip from Rome, that visit destinations such as Florence, Barcelona and Mykonos.

Sun Princess will sail a series of seven-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona, Rome or Athens, that will visit destinations including Istanbul, Naples and Santorini.

Both of the cruise line’s newest ships offer next-generation features, host 4,300 guests, offer more than 1,500 balconies and 29 restaurants and bars throughout 21 decks.


AVALON WATERWAYS is adding new 2023 departures and extending its 2024 season to cope with increased demand.

The cruise line is just coming off its strongest global first quarter sales season ever.

“While the Rhine River is leading this wave of interest, our most popular destination for 2023 is France,” said Pam Hoffee, President of Avalon Waterways.

“We expect both the Seine and Rhône Rivers to sell out this year.”

Avalon is also experiencing a rise in off-season travel, with the company’s Festive Season cruises nearly sold-out for 2023.

To cope with demand the company has added two new cruises featuring some of Europe’s best Christmas Markets on the Danube, between Budapest and Vienna, in late November to provide cruisers more availability and options.

Special interest cruises are also proving extremely popular, so Avalon has added two additional wine-themed cruises along the Rhône River through Burgundy and Provence in early- and mid-November.

Finally, Avalon is extending its 2024 season into November on the Seine and Rhône while also adding additional departures on the Rhine and Danube Rivers, including more festive cruises.


PONANT IS preparing to become the first cruise line to sail through both geographic and magnetic North poles in one journey.

The polar expedition will be onboard Le Commandant Charcot in September 2024, almost a century after Umberto Nobile crossed the Artic via the North Pole aboard the Norge airship.

The itinerary will take travellers from Alaska to Svalbard through both geographic and magnetic North poles while simultaneously conducting an international scientific mission.

Guests will leave Nome to navigate through the Bering Strait before reaching the Beauford Sea and its ice floes. During the 21-day adventure passengers will witness the Northern Lights, bears, polar foxes and whales before arriving in Svalbard.

Here, passengers will explore the Søraust-Svalbard Nature Reserve, the second-largest protected area in Norway, known for its broad range of landscapes such as icy shores, mountains with multi-coloured strata, fjords and glaciers.

Where traditional ships are limited to sailing in existing water passages, Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury icebreaker, was purposefully designed to make her own transpolar maritime routes and go where no one else has ever been.

The journey is also the opportunity to experience some of PONANT’s new activities such as kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing and polar plunge.

‘Transarctic, the quest for the two North Poles’ is priced from $66,010 per person.


AN IMPRESSIVE line-up of star talent will be on hand for the second edition of Cunard’s Great Australian Culinary Voyage next year.

Karen Martini, Mark Olive, Darren Purchese, Gary Mehigan and Katie Spain will all be involved when the cruise departs Melbourne on January 5.

They will celebrate Australian produce and culinary excellence through engaging activities, including special interactive dining events, live talks and carefully curated experiences on board and ashore.

“We are really looking forward to creating unique experiences and memorable interactions that our guests and talent don’t get to experience every day,” said Katrina McAlpine, Director Cunard Australia and New Zealand.

“For us, a successful event voyage is when our guests and talent disembark feeling that they had the best time and they can’t wait to share that with their friends and family.”

The voyage will see Queen Elizabeth chart a course to some of the country’s most vibrant foodie destinations including Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne.

The four sea days will boast a raft of culinary experiences while the port of calls will offer guests the chance to explore the local food and drink scene through bespoke excursions.

“I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and show off my cooking skills on board the beautiful Queen Elizabeth!” said Gary Mehigan, a former judge and co-host of MasterChef Australia.

Fares start from $2,529 per person in a twin share Balcony Stateroom.


ROYAL CARIBBEAN has opened bookings for its 2024-2025 season from Australia.

The season will feature fan-favourite itineraries, as well as more weekend sailings than ever before from Australian shores.

There are 40 sailings on Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas between October 2024 and April 2025, offering guests a variety of domestic and international itineraries across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

“After a triumphant return this season, we are thrilled to welcome back the two ships Australian holidaymakers have been raving about,” said Gavin Smith, Royal Caribbean’s Vice President and Managing Director in Australia and New Zealand.

“Guests can’t get enough of the range of unique and unforgettable experiences only found on Royal Caribbean, and summer 2024-2025 will see even more of it.”

Quantum will be returning for her third season sailing from Brisbane, offering 11, seven- to eight-night cruises to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Other options include local Queensland getaways or a 14-night cruise to New Zealand.

Based in Sydney, Ovation will offer six, 10- to 11-night cruises to New Zealand for guests looking to discover boutique wineries and natural wonders at destinations such as Bay of Islands, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dunedin, Wellington and Picton.