Cruising from Australia has become very popular over the past few years, with more cruise lines positioning ships down there. For many years there was only P&O, the Australian branch of the well known British line. Royal Caribbean now have three ships Down Under for their summer season. Rhapsody of the Seas was first in 2007 followed by Radiance in 2011 while Voyager joined them in 2012. Others have begun to catch up. But passengers from that side of the world aren’t the only ones to book cruises. Other nationalities may be the minority but are also taking advantage of such great itineraries. I have been to Australia twice, 2001 and 2006, both times to visit my friend in Perth and only seeing things in Western Australia. These cruises are a great way to see New Zealand or some Pacific Islands. Most are round trip Sydney or Brisbane. There are some one-way to and from New Zealand (such as on Celebrity Solstice).
In a couple of weeks I’ll be one of the minority boarding Radiance of the Seas for my biggest cruising adventure yet outside Europe. I had already decided the next time I flew to Perth, I’d like to do a cruise and had intended to try P&O to compare to our own and get a true Aussie experience. However, unlike theirs where you can book UK cruises, there appears to be no way you can book P&O Australia as a non-Aussie or resident. If someone has, please let me know how! Also there’s the single supplement – ouch! The cruise I’d looked at was visiting the Pacific Islands, 10 nights, 4 islands but near enough two thousand – bugger that! As I searched itin after itin from all the cruise lines, I came across an absolutely fabulous one offered by Royal Caribbean. This began in Fremantle, half an hour from Perth – handy! – and ended in Sydney 18 nights later, visiting Albany, Esperance, Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne. From there it’s down to Fiordland in New Zealand before heading to Dunedin, Akaroa and Wellington then up to Sydney. The cost was on par with the P&O one. I’d intended to do it in 2014 but then Royal Caribbean stopped that particular itinerary, replacing it with 17 night ones. Voyager had an 18 but with 10 sea days to our 8 so this was the only chance I had to go as it stood. It enables me to not only see a little bit more of Australia, but also visit New Zealand, where I’ve wanted to go for decades but the flight time puts me off. Australia’s bad enough!
It staggers me to this day how many people still knock cruising. “Butlins at sea” or “Floating prison” are the most common terms I read in newspaper comments from those who say they’ll never go. Each to their own. Personally travelling to several places in the same amount of days as a cruise, but on crowded trains, coaches, planes with lack of sleep isn’t for me. Ditto resorts lying on the beach for a week or two while getting skin cancer and premature wrinkles. No ta. Cruising gives you a taste of many places then you may go back for a longer stay if you like them. I certainly couldn’t visit all these places in Australia and New Zealand in 18 days without robbing a bank and being completely exhausted so I’ll stick to the relaxing way and carry on cruising!