I had a look back at the biggest headlines from the Cruise Sale Finder blog, and picked out a few of the greatest destinations from the year gone by. Cruise lovers, here's your 2015 in review!
New Ships in Australian waters
Cruise lines have been keeping up with the increased demand by deploying plenty of new ships in the South Pacific. Here are a few of the announcements we got in 2015!
- In January, Princess cruises announced that the Emerald Princess would be sailing out of Sydney for the 2016-2017 season. We look forward to welcoming this big ship next year!
- In April, we heard that the biggest cruise ship to ever visit the region is coming in the 2016/2017 summer season. Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas will run a series of cruises from Sydney in late 2016 and early 2017.
- Perhaps the biggest news for Australian cruise lovers in 2015 was the addition of the Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden to the P&O Cruises fleet. In May, Meghan and Sarah got onboard the Ryndam which was soon to transform into the Pacific Aria. They got the lowdown on P&O's vision for the ships, and everyone got a little more excited for these newcomers! The Five Ship Spectacular was announced in July, and some of the Cruise Sale Finder team were onboard the Pacific Aria to review the event as both ships were officially welcomed in Sydney Harbour.
- P&O also announced that the Dawn Princess will be moved to their fleet in 2017 and renamed the Pacific Explorer.
- NCL's Norwegian Star will cruise from Sydney and Auckland in 2017, the first time the line has been here since 2002.
New builds and upgrades
Although they are all set to sail primarily in the Northern hemisphere, Aussie cruisers were interested to hear of new ships being built, both small and large bringing cutting edge technology and fantastic new features to the table. New builds announced this year have included the Seabourn Encore, Harmony of the Seas, MSC Seaside, the Carnival Vista and more. IMAX theatres, aerial rides, family accommodation areas, multi-storey waterslides and entirely new levels of luxury await cruisers on these vessels.
P&O Cruises launched a few revolutions in 2015! Their entertainment offerings have expanded to include a range of fun themed parties and The Pantry debuted on the Pacific Jewel in June to widespread admiration from passengers. The Carnival Spirit received a Fun Ship 2.0 makeover and we reviewed the new features.
Tips for cruisers
As well as finding great deals on cruises, we have been working on the best tips and tricks for cruisers! Here are a few of the top helpful posts from the year past.
- Staying healthy onboard is very important so that you can enjoy your holiday to the fullest. Here are our top tips for cruise health which went down well - no spoonful of sugar required!
- Retiring at sea is something we all toy with! We had a look at the viability of a cruise ship retirement.
- Finding something you can eat onboard was made easy with the guide to special diets on cruise ships - helpful for those who are gluten free, vegetarian, paleo and on other regimes.
- The family cruising guide was tailored to the Australian industry and gave each line a rating to help you pick your cruise with kids.
- Amy shared some shipboard job tips from her 12 years working on Princess ships.
- The ports of the South Pacific are the heart of cruising in Australia - our "what to do in" series took an in-depth look at the ports, the practicalities of visiting and the activities on offer.
Unfortunately it wasn't all good news this year. In March, Cyclone Pam struck one of our favourite cruising destinations, Vanuatu, causing widespread devastation to property and some lives to be lost. It was very sad news for the cruising community, many of whom love the place and its people.
Cruise lines changed their itineraries while Vanuatu rebuilt, but did not turn their back on the island nation. The Pacific Dawn was the first to return, after some generous donations towards the rebuilding effort from various lines, and was also one of the ships sent in loaded with supplies for the people of Vanuatu. The New Zealand government announced an aid package in July to further help Vanuatu get back on its feet, and the nation is slowly returning to normal with the help of income generated by cruise visits - it is once more a beloved destination for Australia cruises, and even hosted its biggest ship yet in November.
The South Pacific region continues to open up, with new itineraries and new destinations offering more choices to Aussie cruisers. In April, Princess announced an epic South America cruise departing Sydney or Auckland and circumnavigating the continent - the first of its kind. They upped the ante even further with a Round World Cruise and Circle Pacific itinerary which depart Aussie ports for exotic destination.
In June, P&O made its maiden call to Dili in Timor Leste, and MSC Cruises began visiting Cuba. In September P&O added Wollongong to its itineraries, and in October, Fraser Island.
Bits and pieces
Of course, the year brought with it some interesting tidbits of information which don't easily fit into the above categories. Here are some more highlights:
- Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings established an office in Sydney, raising hopes for visits by their ships in the future - and they are coming in 2017!
- New programs for coming years were released by Carnival, P&O and other lines to give us a taste of what's to come, revealing a host of new ports and a trend towards short breaks which fit easily into busy schedules. We also heard about what's happening in the upcoming season for Royal Caribbean - and there's plenty there to get excited about!
- We drooled over luxury suites from Royal Caribbean, and amazing top-shelf upgrades for Azamara's already-fabulous ships.
- CLIA Cruise Week happened in September, and lots of Aussie cruisers nabbed a bargain.
- Mick shared with us his tales of six decades of Aussie cruising, which made for a fascinating read!
2016 is sure to bring more great things for Australian cruising - Cruise Sale Finder can help you find a cruise and become part of the story!