Christmas 2016 cruise guide: Best cruises this Christmas holiday period
CRUISEY CHRISTMAS ON THE HORIZON
Can you believe Christmas is only two months away? If you’re haven’t planned your holiday yet, there are spots available on several ships cruising out of Sydney, Auckland and Melbourne over the festive season – it’s a wonderful way to escape the madness and celebrate at sea. Here’s a rundown of Christmas cruises:
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas is departing Sydney on December 20 on an eight-night round-trip Pacific islands cruise; Radiance of the Seas is departing Auckland on December 16 for a 10-night cruise to Sydney.
Christmas is celebrated on the ship with a gourmet Christmas meal, meet and greet with Santa and his elves, Christmas movies, music, carol singing and lots of festive decorations. Midnight Mass is held on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Kids’ activities include Christmas cookie decorating and Christmas Eve story time.
Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice is departing Sydney on December 23 for a 12-night round-trip to the Pacific islands and Fiji. Celebrations include special menus on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, a midnight “tree trimmers’ buffet” on Christmas Eve, brunch on Christmas Day and a big New Year’s Eve party. Santa Claus gives presents to every child from three to 17 and religious services will be held.
Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Legend and Carnival Spirit are departing Sydney on December 17 and 18; Legend on a 10-night round-trip New Caledonia and Vanuatu cruise and Spirit on an 11-night round-trip New Caledonia and Fiji cruise. Both ships will have Christmas trees and “snow” in the atrium, traditional Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, photos with Santa, carolling and religious services.
P&O Cruises’ Pacific Pearl is departing Sydney on December 17 for a 10-day round-trip Pacific island cruise and Pacific Eden departs Sydney on December 18 for a 10-day round-trip Queensland cruise. Festive highlights include snow machines in the atrium, gifts for all children from Santa, Christmas carollers, cookie decorating, church services, a Christmas Eve concert with guest entertainers and Christmas movies. Traditional lunch and dinner will be served.
Princess Cruises’ Golden Princess is departing Melbourne on December 17 for a 12-night round-trip cruise to New Zealand and Emerald Princess departs Sydney on December 19 for a 13-night round-trip, also to New Zealand. Passengers can get into the Christmas spirit with a gingerbread challenge, carols, a holiday variety show, a traditional reading of The Night Before Christmas and a stocking turndown service. Foodie treats include eggnog, roast turkey or goose, gingerbread mousse, mince pies, chocolate Yule logs and special Christmas cookies. Christmas mass and an inter-denominational church service are held aboard.
MEET THE CREW
NAME Brilliantes Gac-ang, from the Philippines
POSITION Senior Restaurant Manager, P&O Cruises’ Pacific Jewel
MY JOB … is to be a proud ambassador for P&O Cruises by delivering a flawless dining experience with friendly and personal service, as well as serving as a role model to junior staff.
A TYPICAL DAY I assist the maître d’¸ to ensure that the restaurants are operating smoothly with the aim of guaranteeing that all guests are happy with the food being served. My day ends with preparing reports and schedules for all my staff.
FAVOURITE CRUISE MOMENT Enjoying a meal with my wife, who also works on-board, and being able to share how our day went at work.
FAVOURITE CRUISE PORT It has to be Port Vila. It offers a variety of activities and we get to eat Filipino cuisine in the Filipino restaurant.
INSIDER TIPS Before your cruise, make sure you inform your travel agent or P&O about any dietary and special requirements. When you leave your house, leave all your worries behind because when you step aboard P&O’s ships, you will only have fun and enjoyment!
A torch you can recharge on a standard USB recharger is a handy tool wherever you’re travelling. The Black Diamond Ember Power Light torch costs $86.95; see travelgear.com.au.
LOWEST PRICES FOR 2017 RIVER CRUISES
European river cruise operator Amras has rebranded as Amadeus River Cruises, promising to provide high-end voyages at significantly lower prices than its competitors for the 2017 season, and beyond. Amadeus is represented in Australia by McLachlan Tours and Gil McLachlan, CEO of McLachlan Travel Group, said, “What differentiates Amadeus River Cruises from many of its competitors is the fact guests can choose whether to purchase an all-inclusive package, or to explore ports by themselves and create their own adventure.” McLachlan Tours is offering a 15 per cent discount on cruises booked before November 30; for example, eight-day tulip-themed cruises, round-trip from Amsterdam departing in April and May, start from $1985 at earlybird prices. See amadeus-rivercruises.com.au.
Renaissance Tours’ Mediterranean Opera and Music Cruise will appeal to all lovers of classical music and traditional tall-ship sailing. The nine-night voyage on the elegant, three-masted Sea Cloud II starts on April 23, 2017, in Lisbon and calls at Cadiz, Malaga, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca on the way to Nice. The cruise will be hosted by one of Australia’s leading broadcasters of classical music radio – ABC Classic FM’s Christopher Lawrence – and will feature a program of opera and classical music performed by top singers and musicians. Concerts by Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Orchestra and the Valencia Symphony Orchestra are also on the itinerary. Special deals are available for the first 20 people to book. See renaissancetours.com.au
NEW FERRY SERVICE TO WHITE BAY
Captain Cook Cruises will operate its popular White Bay Cruise Ship Terminal City Ferry from King Street Wharf No.1 (Barangaroo) from Friday, November 4, cutting ferry travel time by up to 15 minutes. The new departure point is made possible by the recent opening of the Wynyard Walk, providing accessible access from Wynyard Station transport hub to King Street Wharf and Barangaroo. The six-minute Wynyard Walk gives access to the waterfront, avoiding steep inclines and road crossings; good for people with a disability, the elderly and people with strollers and luggage. Ferries will run every 15 to 20 minutes on cruise ship arrival and departure days and will cost $9 one way. See captaincook.com.au
DEAL OF THE WEEK
Sail to Singapore from Sydney aboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas and along the way explore Australia’s east coast with this 17-night cruise/stay/fly offer from Cruise1st. Departing Sydney on April 19, 2017, the package includes a 14-night cruise visiting Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and Darwin, two nights accommodation in Singapore and return flight to Australia. From $1799; phone 1300 596 345, see cruise1st.com.au.
TRAVELMARVEL is offering a range of early-booking deals on its new Vietnam and Cambodia holidays to mark the launch of its 2017/18 brochure. For example the 12-day Essential Vietnam & Cambodia includes two nights in Siem Reap, an eight-day Mekong cruise and two nights in Ho Chi Minh City. From $4295; phone 1300 196 420, see travelmarvel.com.au.
CRUISEAWAY has a 23-night fly/cruise package that includes a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show, Eurostar train trip to Brussels, 14-night cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest on board Emerald Dawn and three nights in Prague. Departing Australia May 23, 2017, fares start from $10,840. Phone 1300 887 590, see cruiseaway.com.au.
The story Christmas 2016 cruise guide: Best cruises this Christmas holiday period first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.