Google “What kind of cruiser are you?” and you’ll be greeted with dozens of fun questionnaires designed to establish your cruise personality. We’ve even got one at Cruise Passenger. Try cruisepassenger.com.au/quiz-type-cruiser/ They’re fun, but there is a serious intent. Travelling with like-minded people and making new friends on your trip are important, so you want to be sure you’ll be sitting in the bar at the end of the day sharing stories with people you actually like.


Cruise lines and travel agents have devoted huge amounts of energy trying to work out how to get you on the right cruise. We think each line has a character of its own, and that’s best captured by the passengers it attracts. So who’s who on board which line?


Here’s our editor in chief Peter Lynch’s (by no means) comprehensive (and very) personal guide.

Read our reviews and don’t forget to check out who won our People’s Choice awards this year at cruisepassenger.com.au/best-cruise-lines-2019/

OCEAN CRUISE LINES

Aranui

It’s fitting we begin with something unique. The tiny Aranui 5 is a real cargo vessel supplying the Marquesas Islands, but she has been designed to accommodate 250 cruise passengers who can share this amazing route. The Polynesian staff and crew will make you welcome, and when you arrive in port, the community welcomes you because you have brought them not just tourist dollars but vital supplies. This is what sustainable tourism is all about. Adventure seekers without pretentions will love this experience. See aranuicruises.com


Carnival Cruise Line

Fun rhymes with pun – and doesn’t Carnival know it! From “funbelievable” to The Fun Ones, the line is all about, well, fun. So if waterslides and waiters standing on tables at dinner singing cheesy ballads are not your thing, you won’t enjoy this rather nice line that specialises in family cruising with the kids. She’s just got a new ship for Australia, Carnival Splendor. Kidults should check out carnival.com.au


Celebrity Cruises

This upscale premium Royal Caribbean brand, strong on food and wine, is making an all-out effort to attract millennials with its high-tech and classy new Edge-class vessels. Passengers are likely to be well travelled and sophisticated, but the atmosphere is relaxed. They have homeported ships in Australia – including one with a real lawn on its roof! Good for social cruisers. See celebritycruises.com


Cruise & Maritime Voyages

CMV has managed to create a whole new class of cruising: traditional. In other words, they do what cruise ships should do really well: entertainment, food and relaxation. Strong on value with lovely itineraries, they are for grown-ups and their fleet of six ships – soon to be eight – offer Australia and the world. Value seekers like this line with good reason. See cmvaustralia.com


Coral Expeditions

This 35-year-old Aussie line recently took off after new investment, and now has a refreshed fleet and some exiting regional adventure itineraries. The ships are small so they can nip in and out of uncrowded ports. There is no entertainment, swimming pools or multiple restaurants, instead, it’s all about guest lectures, experts and enrichment. Culture vultures with a sense of adventure will like these journeys a lot. coralexpeditions.com


Cunard

It’s the line for the debonair lounge lizard who loves tradition – it was founded in 1838! The famous Queens – Mary 2, Elizabeth and Victoria – appeal to older, more seasoned cruisers. Don’t expect formal nights to mean anything but black tie. Class matters: some parts of the ship are off limits to the hoi polloi. Elizabeth spends a good deal of time in Australian waters with some great short itineraries. Pack the tuxedo and ball gown! cunard.com


Crystal Cruises

Crystal epitomises luxury cruising and has a rusted-on following (we once interviewed a guest who had been sailing nine years!) White-gloved butlers, a Nobu restaurant, sophisticated entertainment and a well-heeled clientele. They are adding more adventurous itineraries and launching a yacht, Crystal Endeavour, this year. You’ll be comfortable ordering the best of everything if you sail with Crystal. crystalcruises.com.au


Dream Cruises

A new brand backed by the mighty Genting gambling empire and claiming Asia’s first luxury line, Dream has three ships, some taking 9,000 passengers, and is building a vast fleet. The Palace, a private area of butler-serviced suites and dining lays claim to fully-fledged luxury. Watch for some amazing fare bargains, but also take care over incidental charges like tipping and GST. It’s for adventurous multi-cultural cruisers who don’t mind some very adult entertainment! dreamcruiseline.com


Holland America Line

A grand dame of cruising, this line has had a bit of a facelift in recent years. New ship Koningsdam, exclusive music offerings and Oprah Winfrey events have helped, as has a culinary overhaul. Its main appeal is still to sophisticated, older American cruisers who pick trivia nights over rock climbing. Its local offerings are on older ships. One for your aged aunt. hollandamerica.com


Katarina Line

Now here’s something different: a cruise line with 60 ships each taking fewer than 50 passengers around the stunning coastline of Croatia. Live like a millionaire on a private yacht, stop for lunch at a shoreside eatery, swim off the ship and explore walled cities. Considering Croatia’s well-deserved popularity but Dubrovnik’s antipathy towards bigger ships, Katarina is a great alternative for younger cruisers looking for real cultural immersion or adventure-seeking mature sailors.
katarina-line.com


MSC Cruises

MSC has transformed itself in the past four years, launching new high-tech ships, opening new routes in America and the Middle East and investing $9 billion in its fleet. The Yacht Club, a luxury ship-within-a-ship concept, is superb. The line covers just about every demographic and many unique routes. It’s the world’s largest cruise line in private ownership, and was started 300 years ago by the Aponte family from Sorrento. For cosmopolitan cruisers who love cappuccino with everything. No local offering. msccruises.com.au


Norwegian Cruise Line

Another cruise line that has poured investment dollars into its fleet, producing cutting-edge vessels, like Encore and Bliss, with amazing activities like go-kart racing, epic Broadway shows including Burn the Floor and great food. With strong Europe and America itineraries at great prices, party animals and first-timers love this line, well known for its brightly painted hulls. Jewel also sails local waters from Sydney during the season. ncl.com


Oceania Cruises

Oceania’s small-ship cruising is perfect for foodies, culture vultures and art aficionados. Recent OceaniaNEXT upgrades and a focus on food – they claim the best cuisine at sea – makes them a favourite with a loyal following. And for their ultra-premium class, they are strong on value. You’ll sail with a sophisticated, well-travelled international crowd. oceania.com


Paul Gauguin

Recently bought by French line Ponant, the word boutique might have been invented for Paul Gauguin. It has cornered the market on French Polynesia and attracts what one writer calls “water babies and artsy adventurous passengers”. It’s a younger crowd of mostly Americans, who find sailing with the line in this gobsmackingly beautiful part of the world cheaper than most resorts and hotels. paulgauguincruiseline.com


P&O Australia

Sometimes referred to as “the kindergarten” because so many first-timers start cruising with this brand, P&O is Australia’s oldest line, starting home-based cruising in 1932. In the last decade, it has transformed into a much more sophisticated brand, with new ships, food by Luke Mangan, themed and event-driven cruises, strong entertainment and enriching new itineraries to places like PNG. Short cruises are a speciality. New, bigger ships will join this year and next, so expect more at strong value prices. Who sails on P&O? Contemporary cruisers who prefer Australian holidays and savvy savers out for a good time. A third are families, almost half are couples and 22 per cent are groups of couples or friends travelling together. The line limits children to about a third of its passengers. pocruises.com.au


Ponant

Chic, intimate French ships and a terrific adventurous heart have driven Ponant to become a highly-popular small ship line. Luxurious, but with a true expedition ethos – we love that they ask locals if it’s OK to come ashore, for instance – Ponant’s ability to take you where the others can’t mark them out, as does the enthusiasm and knowledge of their staff. Their fleet of 12 takes about 250 French and international passengers, and good local sailings include Kimberley, New Zealand and PNG. Expect sophisticated, urbane well-travelled companions. au.ponant.com


Princess Cruises

This line is Australia’s favourite, with eight ships based here – more than any other. The line sails from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as Auckland and Singapore. A frequent Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice winner, Princess is a premium line with all the goodies you’d expect: great food, strong entertainment and fine ships. The line is stepping up with Majestic Princess joined by Regal Princess in December. The line’s shore excursions include the Across the Ditch program, immersive New Zealand experiences. Princess ships are elegant but laid back, and you’ll find all types on board. There are formal nights, which are fun, but there are alternatives for those who don’t want to dress up. It represents good value, and its Ocean Medallion high-tech device is making personal service and fast WiFi a line attribute. princess.com


Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Last year, Regent launched Explorer – “the most luxurious ship ever built” – which is heading our way this year. In February, it launched Splendor, which “perfected luxury”. You get the picture! Regent claims to be the world’s most inclusive luxury experience, and it has a strong case. Its owner’s suites feature great art works (think Picasso!) and range up to 408sqm, with private spas, gold taps, grand pianos and butler service. Its five ships visit 450 destinations, and host great shows, offer enrichment programs and include shore tours. All-inclusive means you should do your sums – with flight bargains these luxury offerings can offer real value. Expect chic, well-heeled fellow travellers from all over the world. Australians are appearing onboard more frequently and Regent is powering up its local offerings. rssc.com


Royal Caribbean

You want megaliners? Royal Caribbean has megaliners! Among the world’s biggest, in fact, along with some of the biggest attractions: 10-storey waterslides, rock climbing, surfing pools, dodgem cars, Broadway shows and mega suites for multi-generational families. The US line has been sailing in our waters for more than a decade, and now offers exceptional ships such Ovation of the Seas and newly restored Voyager of the Seas. Many new cruisers worry about size, but Royal Caribbean is a well-oiled machine handling, up to 5,000 with relative ease. Surprisingly, you don’t often feel the crowd on board. The line ramped up its culinary game, introducing Wonderland, a fine food restaurant, and a Jamie Oliver offering. Suite Class offers the chance for guests to live in private luxury while their kids enjoy resort-style activities. You’ll find just about everybody onboard Royal Caribbean, though predominantly working families. Ships sail around Australia and across to New Zealand as well as the Pacific. Try a two-day sampler for size. royalcaribbean.com


Seabourn Cruise Line

What can you say about a line that offers free caviar and charges for the internet? Decadent or dumb? Seabourn is an American (almost) all-inclusive luxury line with stylish small ships offering a country-club ambience. It’s Ralph Lauren on the water. Food is good, thanks to a Thomas Keller partnership, and the line claims one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios. Passengers are mostly American, well-to-do and well-travelled. Seabourn Encore sails our waters. seabourn.com


Silversea

Food glorious food. It’s Silversea’s speciality – even more so since it introduced the S.A.L.T. (sea and land taste) program this year, which includes cooking classes and trips to produce markets. The small-ship line with a fleet that’s half luxury and half expedition commands extraordinary loyalty from devotees who love its standards of service, grown-up approach to destinations and onboard activities. It has quiet, elegant ships, including the lovely Silver Muse that has eight restaurants and plies our waters. Expect to accompany well-to-do, friendly Americans, Europeans and a growing army of Australians. Royal Caribbean recently took a stake in the line and provided extra investment for expansion. The line offers a range of sailings around Australia and New Zealand. Check prices for special offers which can be good value. silversea.com


Viking Ocean Cruises

Just five years old and Viking Ocean has managed to make a huge dent in the cruising market, thanks to a terrific vessel design and a value proposition that is almost second to none. The sister line to Viking River, the world’s biggest inland waterway carrier, it will have 16 ships by 2027. The line stoically denies a luxury label – it calls itself “deluxe” – but it’s all-inclusive pricing, which means a daily shore excursion, breakfast, lunch, high-tea in the beautifully designed Winter Garden with scones and crust-cut sandwiches, and dinner with wine and beer are all in the fare. The spa staff are forbidden to try and sell you products, and there is a strict “no nickel and diming” policy. The line’s “no kids and no casinos” and “the intelligent person’s cruise” slogans have struck a chord with baby boomers eager to see the world aboard a fleet of identical ships that carry 930 guests in all-balcony suites. Expect up to 50 per cent Australians aboard Viking Orion, which sails our waters. A strong suite of Australian, New Zealand and Asian itineraries along with on-trend destination Northern Europe make Viking a strong contender for your cruising dollar. vikingcruises.com.au

RIVER CRUISE LINES

APT

APT enjoys a strong reputation for quality among Australians for its all-inclusive luxury river cruising in Europe, Asia, South America and even Africa. Its European ships are run in partnership with Amawaterways, which means the new Amamagna – the largest on Europe’s waterways – is on the list! Cruising with chef Luke Nguyen in his native Vietnam is a high point. APT also uses Ponant, Coral Expeditions and its own fleet of small ships for ocean cruising. APT says “everything is taken care of so you can live fully”, and that message resonates with mature, well-travelled guests looking for a relaxed journey. Look out for APT’s air deals. aptouring.com.au


Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways’ river cruise ship beds face the wall-to-ceiling windows so you can enjoy the view. I know, seems obvious, right? But not everyone does it! The Globus line offers a great mix of luxe inclusions, from free WiFi and cappuccinos to flexible dining options. Beer and wine are also included, along with some great fares. And at last a river cruise line that recognises that activities like hiking, kayaking and cooking classes are more interesting than a piano man and a coach tour. Avalon is offering shorter cruises of four days in Europe to let newcomers experience the joys of river cruising. Expect a younger crowd of all nationalities and some great deals. avalonwaterways.com.au


Crystal River Cruises

The same luxury ethos you find aboard this line’s ocean ships is here on its river ships – four ships with butlers in every suite, overnight stays in cities with shore excursions included, along with drinks, cycles, WiFi and airport transfers. However, the line has limited European itineraries. crystalcruises.com.au


Evergreen

Most European river ships are the same dimensions, thanks to the locks that allow vessels to move up and down inland waterways. So the difference comes with interior design. Evergreen – a sister brand of Scenic – is fiendishly clever. Thanks to Australian owner Glen Moroney’s formidable shipbuilding skills, its four ships pack in a swimming pool (which converts to a cinema), spa, hairdressing salon and shop. The vessels are contemporary, smart and classy considering this is the “value” brand of the Scenic family. Great inclusions and earlybird deals make this a good bet. evergreentours.com.au


Le Boat

Did you know you could cruise Venice in your own hire cruiser? You can’t get more immersive than Le Boat – a smart fleet of little ships which can take on the canals and rivers of France. You can pull up where you want, and feast on the wonderful food offerings that only inland waters can bring. This is a freedom holiday! Le Boat operates in France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and even Canada. leboat.com.au


Teeming River Cruises

Full marks to Jeff and Gina Paglialonga for spotting a gap in the market: many river cruise lines offering all-inclusive food, wine and shore excursions were putting the price beyond many travellers. What would happen if they rented vessels and offered more choices? Suddenly, the price of a river cruise came tumbling down. Teeming uses good ships – former Scenic vessels, for instance – but charges about a third of the price. Explore more for less is the mantra – and it’s working. Six ships, 10 rivers, 12 countries and still growing. Expect to travel with Americans, Brits and Australians. teemingrivercruises.com


Travelmarvel

Value for money – that’s the promise of this APT brand, which offers river cruises in Europe, Russia, Asia, the Amazon, Egypt and China. And that promise has prompted the line to order three new contemporary ships, the first arriving early this year. Travelmarvel gives guests all they need – from shore excursions, WiFi and meals to a great ship and professional crew. But on a typical tour, it might be $3,000 cheaper than a five-star brand on the same journey. travelmarvel.com.au


Scenic

Once the darling of Australian river cruising, Scenic still outspends most of its rivals in advertising but it has found itself facing stiff competition recently from high-value new brands at cheaper price points. Scenic is five star all-inclusive and offers many exclusive shore experiences. You get a butler with every suite. But it has a price to match: an eight-day Douro cruise, for instance, costs $1,500 more than its sister brand, Evergreen. It recently took back management of its fleet after outsourcing many of its services. scenic.com.au


Uniworld

With 19 vessels across Europe, Egypt, Asia, China and Russia, Uniworld is a major operator. It’s also wonderfully quirky – internal designs feature crystal chandeliers, cut-glass decanters in state rooms and artworks along its corridors. “Each ship is a luxurious floating boutique hotel,” says the website. And they aren’t joking. All inclusive: certainly. But at around $650 a day, it’s for well-heeled luxury travellers. uniworld.com


Viking River Cruises

Welcome to the biggest fleet on the inland waterways – Viking is in the Guinness Book of Records for launching 14 ships in one day. This year, it is launching another four of its famous “long ships” in France where demand is soaring, taking its tally to more than 70. Why is Viking so popular? Its Scandi-chic designs, all-inclusive pricing and value make it difficult to beat in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Russia, where it all started. It’s the Aldi of cruising – Good. Different – with cosy, stylish ships, a shore excursion in every port, wine and beer with every meal and no “nickel and diming”. Expect to cruise with Americans, Europeans and an increasing contingent of Australians. vikingrivercruises.com.au

WHO’S WHO
OF CRUISE

WHO’S WHO OF
C
RUISE

Google “What kind of cruiser are you?” and you’ll be greeted with dozens of fun questionnaires designed to establish your cruise personality. We’ve even got one at Cruise Passenger. Try cruisepassenger.com.au/quiz-type-cruiser/ They’re fun, but there is a serious intent. Travelling with like-minded people and making new friends on your trip are important, so you want to be sure you’ll be sitting in the bar at the end of the day sharing stories with people you actually like.


Cruise lines and travel agents have devoted huge amounts of energy trying to work out how to get you on the right cruise. We think each line has a character of its own, and that’s best captured by the passengers it attracts. So who’s who on board which line?


Here’s our editor in chief Peter Lynch’s (by no means) comprehensive (and very) personal guide.

Read our reviews and don’t forget to check out who won our People’s Choice awards this year at cruisepassenger.com.au/best-cruise-lines-2019/

OCEAN CRUISE LINES

Aranui

It’s fitting we begin with something unique. The tiny Aranui 5 is a real cargo vessel supplying the Marquesas Islands, but she has been designed to accommodate 250 cruise passengers who can share this amazing route. The Polynesian staff and crew will make you welcome, and when you arrive in port, the community welcomes you because you have brought them not just tourist dollars but vital supplies. This is what sustainable tourism is all about. Adventure seekers without pretentions will love this experience. See aranuicruises.com


Carnival Cruise Line

Fun rhymes with pun – and doesn’t Carnival know it! From “funbelievable” to The Fun Ones, the line is all about, well, fun. So if waterslides and waiters standing on tables at dinner singing cheesy ballads are not your thing, you won’t enjoy this rather nice line that specialises in family cruising with the kids. She’s just got a new ship for Australia, Carnival Splendor. Kidults should check out carnival.com.au


Celebrity Cruises

This upscale premium Royal Caribbean brand, strong on food and wine, is making an all-out effort to attract millennials with its new Edge-class vessels. They are high-tech and classy. Passengers are likely to be well travelled and sophisticated, but the atmosphere is relaxed. They have homeported ships in Australia – including one with a real lawn on its roof! Good for social cruisers. See celebritycruises.com


Cruise & Maritime Voyages

CMV has managed to create a whole new class of cruising: traditional. In other words, they do what cruise ships should do really well: entertainment, food and relaxation. Strong on value with lovely itineraries, they are for grown-ups and their fleet of six ships – soon to be eight – offer Australia and the world. Value seekers like this line with good reason. See cmvaustralia.com


Coral Expeditions

This 35-year-old Aussie line recently took off after new investment, and now has a refreshed fleet and some exiting regional adventure itineraries. The ships are small so they can nip in and out of uncrowded ports. There is no entertainment, swimming pools or multiple restaurants, instead, it’s all about guest lectures, experts and enrichment. Culture vultures with a sense of adventure will like these journeys a lot. coralexpeditions.com


Cunard

It’s the line for the debonair lounge lizard who loves tradition – it was founded in 1838! The famous Queens – Mary 2, Elizabeth and Victoria – appeal to older, more seasoned cruisers. Don’t expect formal nights to mean anything but black tie. Class matters: some parts of the ship are off limits to the hoi polloi. Elizabeth spends a good deal of time in Australian waters with some great short itineraries. Pack the tuxedo and ball gown! cunard.com


Crystal Cruises

Crystal epitomises luxury cruising and has a rusted-on following (we once interviewed a guest who had been sailing nine years!) White-gloved butlers, a Nobu restaurant, sophisticated entertainment and a well-heeled clientele. They are adding more adventurous itineraries and launching a yacht, Crystal Endeavour, this year. You’ll be comfortable ordering the best of everything if you sail with Crystal. crystalcruises.com.au


Dream Cruises

A new brand backed by the mighty Genting gambling empire and claiming Asia’s first luxury line, Dream has three ships, some taking 9,000 passengers, and is building a vast fleet. The Palace, a private area of butler-serviced suites and dining lays claim to fully-fledged luxury. Watch for some amazing fare bargains, but also take care over incidental charges like tipping and GST. It’s for adventurous multi-cultural cruisers who don’t mind some very adult entertainment! dreamcruiseline.com


Holland America Line

A grand dame of cruising, this line has had a bit of a facelift in recent years. New ship Koningsdam, exclusive music offerings and Oprah Winfrey events have helped, as has a culinary overhaul. Its main appeal is still to sophisticated, older American cruisers who pick trivia nights over rock climbing. Its local offerings are on older ships. One for your aged aunt. hollandamerica.com


Katarina Line

Now here’s something different: a cruise line with 60 ships each taking fewer than 50 passengers around the stunning coastline of Croatia. Live like a millionaire on a private yacht, stop for lunch at a shoreside eatery, swim off the ship and explore walled cities. Considering Croatia’s well-deserved popularity but Dubrovnik’s antipathy towards bigger ships, Katarina is a great alternative for younger cruisers looking for real cultural immersion or adventure-seeking mature sailors.
katarina-line.com


MSC Cruises

MSC has transformed itself in the past four years, launching new high-tech ships, opening new routes in America and the Middle East and investing $9 billion in its fleet. The Yacht Club, a luxury ship-within-a-ship concept, is superb. The line covers just about every demographic and many unique routes. It’s the world’s largest cruise line in private ownership, and was started 300 years ago by the Aponte family from Sorrento. For cosmopolitan cruisers who love cappuccino with everything. No local offering. msccruises.com.au


Norwegian Cruise Line

Another cruise line that has poured investment dollars into its fleet, producing cutting-edge vessels, like Encore and Bliss, with amazing activities like go-kart racing, epic Broadway shows including Burn the Floor and great food. With strong Europe and America itineraries at great prices, party animals and first-timers love this line, well known for its brightly painted hulls. Jewel also sails local waters from Sydney during the season. ncl.com


Oceania Cruises

Oceania’s small-ship cruising is perfect for foodies, culture vultures and art aficionados. Recent OceaniaNEXT upgrades and a focus on food – they claim the best cuisine at sea – makes them a favourite with a loyal following. And for their ultra-premium class, they are strong on value. You’ll sail with a sophisticated, well-travelled international crowd. oceania.com


Paul Gauguin

Recently bought by French line Ponant, the word boutique might have been invented for Paul Gauguin. It has cornered the market on French Polynesia and attracts what one writer calls “water babies and artsy adventurous passengers”. It’s a younger crowd of mostly Americans, who find sailing with the line in this gobsmackingly beautiful part of the world cheaper than most resorts and hotels. paulgauguincruiseline.com


P&O Australia

Sometimes referred to as “the kindergarten” because so many first-timers start cruising with this brand, P&O is Australia’s oldest line, starting home-based cruising in 1932. In the last decade, it has transformed into a much more sophisticated brand, with new ships, food by Luke Mangan, themed and event-driven cruises, strong entertainment and enriching new itineraries to places like PNG. Short cruises are a speciality. New, bigger ships will join this year and next, so expect more at strong value prices. Who sails on P&O? Contemporary cruisers who prefer Australian holidays and savvy savers out for a good time. A third are families, almost half are couples and 22 per cent are groups of couples or friends travelling together. The line limits children to about a third of its passengers. pocruises.com.au


Ponant

Chic, intimate French ships and a terrific adventurous heart have driven Ponant to become a highly-popular small ship line. Luxurious, but with a true expedition ethos – we love that they ask locals if it’s OK to come ashore, for instance – Ponant’s ability to take you where the others can’t mark them out, as does the enthusiasm and knowledge of their staff. Their fleet of 12 takes about 250 French and international passengers, and good local sailings include Kimberley, New Zealand and PNG. Expect sophisticated, urbane well-travelled companions. au.ponant.com


Princess Cruises

This line is Australia’s favourite, with eight ships based here – more than any other. The line sails from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, as well as Auckland and Singapore. A frequent Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice winner, Princess is a premium line with all the goodies you’d expect: great food, strong entertainment and fine ships. The line is stepping up with Majestic Princess joined by Regal Princess in December. The line’s shore excursions include the Across the Ditch program, immersive New Zealand experiences. Princess ships are elegant but laid back, and you’ll find all types on board. There are formal nights, which are fun, but there are alternatives for those who don’t want to dress up. It represents good value, and its Ocean Medallion high-tech device is making personal service and fast WiFi a line attribute. princess.com


Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Last year, Regent launched Explorer – “the most luxurious ship ever built” – which is heading our way this year. In February, it launched Splendor, which “perfected luxury”. You get the picture! Regent claims to be the world’s most inclusive luxury experience, and it has a strong case. Its owner’s suites feature great artworks (think Picasso!) and range up to 408sqm, with private spas, gold taps, grand pianos and butler service. Its five ships visit 450 destinations, and host great shows, offer enrichment programs and include shore tours. All-inclusive means you should do your sums – with flight bargains these luxury offerings can offer real value. Expect chic, well-heeled fellow travellers from all over the world. Australians are appearing onboard more frequently and Regent is powering up its local offerings. rssc.com


Royal Caribbean

You want megaliners? Royal Caribbean has megaliners! Among the world’s biggest, in fact, along with some of the biggest attractions: 10-storey waterslides, rock climbing, surfing pools, dodgem cars, Broadway shows and mega suites for multi-generational families. The US line has been sailing in our waters for more than a decade, and now offers exceptional ships such Ovation of the Seas and newly restored Voyager of the Seas. Many new cruisers worry about size, but Royal Caribbean is a well-oiled machine handling up to 5,000 with relative ease. Surprisingly, you don’t often feel the crowd on board. The line ramped up its culinary game, introducing Wonderland, a fine food restaurant, and a Jamie Oliver offering. Suite Class offers the chance for guests to live in private luxury while their kids enjoy resort-style activities. You’ll find just about everybody onboard Royal Caribbean, though predominantly working families. Ships sail around Australia and across to New Zealand as well as the Pacific. Try a two-day sampler for size. royalcaribbean.com


Seabourn Cruise Line

What can you say about a line that offers free caviar and charges for the internet? Decadent or dumb? Seabourn is an American (almost) all-inclusive luxury line with stylish small ships offering a country-club ambience. It’s Ralph Lauren on the water. Food is good, thanks to a Thomas Keller partnership, and the line claims one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios. Passengers are mostly American, well-to-do and well-travelled. Seabourn Encore sails our waters. seabourn.com


Silversea

Food glorious food. It’s Silversea’s speciality – even more so since it introduced the S.A.L.T. (sea and land taste) program this year, which includes cooking classes and trips to produce markets. The small-ship line with a fleet that’s half luxury and half expedition commands extraordinary loyalty from devotees who love its standards of service, grown-up approach to destinations and onboard activities. It has quiet, elegant ships, including the lovely Silver Muse that plies our waters that has eight restaurants. Expect to accompany well-to-do, friendly Americans, Europeans and a growing army of Australians. Royal Caribbean recently took a stake in the line and provided extra investment for expansion. The line offers a range of sailings around Australia and New Zealand. Check prices for special offers which can be good value. silversea.com


Viking Ocean Cruises

Just five years old and Viking Ocean has managed to make a huge dent in the cruising market, thanks to a terrific vessel design and a value proposition that is almost second to none. The sister line to Viking River, the world’s biggest inland waterway carrier, it will have 16 ships by 2027. The line stoically denies a luxury label – it calls itself “deluxe” – but it’s all-inclusive pricing, which means a daily shore excursion, breakfast, lunch, high-tea in the beautifully designed Winter Garden with scones and crust-cut sandwiches, and dinner with wine and beer are all in the fare. The spa staff are forbidden to try and sell you products, and there is a strict “no nickel and diming” policy. The line’s “no kids and no casinos” and “the intelligent person’s cruise” slogans have struck a chord with baby boomers eager to see the world aboard a fleet of identical ships that carry 930 guests in all-balcony suites. Expect up to 50 per cent Australians aboard Viking Orion, which sails our waters. A strong suite of Australian, New Zealand and Asian itineraries along with on-trend destination Northern Europe make Viking a strong contender for your cruising dollar. vikingcruises.com.au

RIVER CRUISE LINES

APT

APT enjoys a strong reputation for quality among Australians for its all-inclusive luxury river cruising in Europe, Asia, South America and even Africa. Its European ships are run in partnership with Amawaterways, which means the new Amamagna – the largest on Europe’s waterways – is on the list! Cruising with chef Luke Nguyen in his native Vietnam is a high point. APT also uses Ponant, Coral Expeditions and its own fleet of small ships for ocean cruising. APT says ‘everything is taken care of so you can live fully’, and that message resonates with mature, well-travelled guests looking for a relaxed journey. Look out for APT’s air deals. aptouring.com.au


Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways’ river cruise ship beds face the wall-to-ceiling windows so you can enjoy the view. I know, seems obvious, right? But not everyone does it! The Globus line offers a great mix of luxe inclusions, from free WiFi and cappuccinos to flexible dining options. Beer and wine are also included, along with some great fares. And at last a river cruise line that recognises that activities like hiking, kayaking and cooking classes are more interesting than a piano man and a coach tour. Avalon is offering shorter cruises of four days in Europe to let newcomers experience the joys of river cruising. Expect a younger crowd of all nationalities and some great deals. avalonwaterways.com.au


Crystal River Cruises

The same luxury ethos you find aboard this line’s ocean ships is here on its river ships – four ships with butlers in every suite, overnight stays in cities with shore excursions included, along with drinks, cycles, WiFi and airport transfers. However, the line has limited European itineraries. crystalcruises.com.au


Evergreen

Most European river ships are the same dimensions, thanks to the locks that allow vessels to move up and down inland waterways. So the difference comes with interior design. Evergreen – a sister brand of Scenic – is fiendishly clever. Thanks to owner Glen Moroney’s formidable shipbuilding skills its four ships pack in a swimming pool (which converts to a cinema), spa, hairdressing salon and shop. The vessels are contemporary, smart and classy considering this is the “value” brand of the Scenic family. Great inclusions and early bird deals make this a good bet. evergreentours.com.au


Le Boat

Did you know you could cruise Venice in your own hire cruiser? You can’t get more immersive than Le Boat – a smart fleet of little ships which can take on the canals and rivers of France. You can pull up where you want, and feast on the wonderful food offerings that only inland waters can bring. This is a freedom holiday! Le Boat operates in France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Italy and even Canada. leboat.com.au


Teeming River Cruises

Full marks to Jeff and Gina Paglialonga for spotting a gap in the market: many river cruise lines offering all-inclusive food, wine and shore excursions were putting the price beyond many travellers. What would happen if they rented vessels and offered more choices? Suddenly, the price of a river cruise came tumbling. Teeming uses good ships – former Scenic vessels, for instance – but charges about a third of the price. Explore more for less is the mantra – and it’s working. Twelve countries, 10 rivers, six ships and still growing. Expect to travel with Americans, Brits and Australians. teemingrivercruises.com


Travelmarvel

Value for money – that’s the promise of this APT brand, which offers river cruises in Europe, Russia, Asia, the Amazon, Egypt and China. And that promise has prompted the line to order three new contemporary ships, the first arriving early this year. Travelmarvel gives guests all they need – from shore excursions, WiFi and meals to a great ship and professional crew. But on a typical tour, it might be $3,000 cheaper than a five-star brand on the same journey. travelmarvel.com.au


Scenic

Once the darling of Australian river cruising, Scenic still outspends most of its rivals in advertising but it has found itself facing stiff competition recently from high-value new brands at cheaper price points. Scenic is five star all-inclusive and offers many exclusive shore experiences. You get a butler with every suite. But it has a price to match: an eight-day Douro cruise, for instance, costs $1,500 more than its sister brand, Evergreen. It recently took back management of its fleet, after outsourcing many of its services. scenic.com.au


Uniworld

With 19 vessels across Europe, Egypt, Asia, China and Russia, Uniworld is a major operator. It’s also wonderfully quirky – internal designs feature crystal chandeliers, cut-glass decanters in state rooms and artworks along its corridors. “Each ship is a luxurious floating boutique hotel,” says the website. And they aren’t joking. All inclusive: certainly. But at around $650 a day, it’s for well-heeled luxury travellers. uniworld.com


Viking River Cruises

Welcome to the biggest fleet on the inland waterways – Viking is in the Guinness Book of Records for launching 14 ships in one day. This year, it is launching another four of its famous “long ships” in France where demand is soaring, taking its tally to more than 70. Why is Viking so popular? Its Scandi-chic designs, all-inclusive pricing and value make it difficult to beat in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Russia, where it all started. It’s the Aldi of cruising – Good. Different – with cosy, stylish ships, a shore excursion in every port, wine and beer with every meal and no “nickel and diming”. Expect to cruise with Americans, Europeans and an increasing contingent of Australians. vikingrivercruises.com.au