It's only a couple of weeks until the beginning of the 2015/16 New Zealand / Australia / Pacific summer cruise season. And with a number of new ships due in the region it's certainly going to be an exciting one. There will be a record number of ships visiting New Zealand this season with over 600 port calls. This also includes several inaugural visits as cruises from New Zealand become more popular each year.
Diamond Princess will be the first ship to arrive in New Zealand for the 2015/16 season. She will be cruising through Fiordland on 2nd October then making her way up the coast of New Zealand with port calls in Dunedin, Christchurch, Picton, Tauranga, Auckland and Bay of Islands. For those wanting to cruise from New Zealand without needing any flights Princess Cruises will be offering 13 night roundtrip cruises from Auckland this season.
Princess Cruises will be increasing her Australasian fleet this year and will now have five ships based in Australia. This includes Golden Princess who will be arriving in October for her first Australasian season. She will be based in Melbourne from October to April. Diamond Princess will be back again and sailing from Sydney along with Dawn Princess. Sun Princess will be sailing from Brisbane and Sea Princess will be sailing from Freemantle. Princess Cruises is celebrating her 50th Anniversary this year and for those sailing in 2015 there will be some festive onboard celebrations including a themed menu, cocktails and entertainment.
P&O Cruises Pacific Pearl has recently emerged from dry dock after refurbishment and is looking great. She will be based in New Zealand from February through to June offering a number of roundtrip Auckland departures including new 4 night Bay of Islands cruise and Napier cruises and an 8 night "Fiji Encounter" cruise itinerary. For those wanting to cruise with children during the school holidays there is a 9 night Pacific Island cruise departing on 18th April.
P&O is also expanding its' fleet to 5 ships with the arrival of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November. These ships were originally Holland America's Statendam and Ryndam and have been fully redesigned and refurbished . Both ships will feature P&O's largest range of dining experiences including Angelo's Italian, Dragon Lady, Salt Grill, Chef's Table and the Waterfront Restaurant. There is also an Open Kitchen where you can learn to cook. Another exciting addition is P&O's latest food revolution "The Pantry" which will be onboard both ships. The Pantry replaces the traditional buffet and includes an exciting variety of food outlets including Mexicana, Curry House, Sugar Bar and Fat Cow. The Pantry is currently offered on Pacific Jewel who had a refit in May this year.
Royal Carribean International
Royal Caribbean is following suit and increasing her fleet size with four ships cruising in Australia and New Zealand this year. Explorer of the Seas will be arriving in November and will be the largest ship ever to be based in Australia - until next year when we have the arrival of Ovation of the Seas. Explorer of the seas will be joining sister ship Voyager of the Seas for a rendezvous in Sydney harbour on 28th November.
Both Voyager and Explorer have some exciting onboard features including FlowRider surf simulator, an ice skating rink and Royal Promenade which has parades and evening dance parties. Radiance of the Seas will also be back this year and cruising from Sydney. The fourth ship from the Royal Caribbean Fleet to be based in Australia is Legend of the Seas who will be replacing Rhapsody of the Seas. Legend of the Seas will be the first Royal Caribbean ship to be based in Brisbane and from there she will be cruising to the South Pacific and Queensland.
Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will be back in New Zealand in 2016 offering departures from Auckland. At the time of writing there was still some availability on the World Cruise Sectors including a 77 night cruise from Auckland to Southampton onboard Queen Mary 2 as well as some shorter trans-tasman sectors.
Other Cruise Lines
New Zealand will receive inaugural visits from Holland America Line's Noordam, Golden Princess, Explorer of the Seas, Costa Luminosa, Ponant's Le Soleal and Azamara Quest who will be the first Azamara Ship ever to Visit Australasia. Some of the ships returning this season include; Celebrity Solstice, Seabourn Odyssey and P&O International's Aurora and Arcadia.
With the increase of ships visiting New Zealand and Australia it's certainly an exciting time to be cruising and there are currently some great deals available.
Keep Calm and Cruise on!