Australians are known for a love of the ocean and outdoors. The attraction of sun and surf also drives visitors from around the world, with tourist numbers skyrocketing on a yearly basis, especially during the summer months and the Christmas holiday season. Cruise ship visits to Australia have followed the trend, with more than 900 calls to ports around the nation in 2016.
Our cities have a charm of their own and Melbourne is no exception. It’s Australia’s cultural capital with more than a hint of European style, and cruise options abound. Last minute Christmas cruises from Melbourne in 2016 include a New Zealand circumnavigation, a South Pacific sojourn, or the Australian east coast experience.
13-night South Pacific Cruise: 16 December 2016
P&O Australia have continually expanded their fleet, with Pacific Jewel introduced as the seventh ship to sail under the brand. Pacific Jewel has been completely remodelled to suit the P&O style, and is an extremely sturdy vessel capable of withstanding South Pacific and Tasman Sea swells. Previous passengers will be amazed at the onboard improvements that include an all new dining concept called The Pantry, where bespoke eateries offer a mouth-watering array of culinary options.
Although Melbourne is located on the Southern coast of Australia, the South Pacific Islands are not far away. This voyage is an ideal introduction to cruising as time is divided equally between sailing at sea and visiting exotic destinations. Pacific Jewel accommodates under 2,000 passengers, allowing plenty of privacy along with lots of discovery. Onshore visits include five full days to explore the South Pacific treasures of Vila, Mare, Isle of Pines, Mystery Island and Noumea.
13 night New Zealand cruise: 17 December 2016
The Golden Princess has become a familiar sight in Melbourne since late 2015. With a passenger capacity of 2,600, Golden Princess is the biggest Melbourne based cruise ship, and one of Australia’s most popular. To put size into some context: Golden Princess is large enough to house four swimming pools, ten restaurants and cafes, big screen movies under the stars, plus an abundance of cabins with outdoor balconies.
Summer is the perfect time to cruise New Zealand waters, and Golden Princess is purpose built for cruising pleasure. The onboard services and entertainments are the ideal way to celebrate the festive season. Cruising the coast of New Zealand is an absolute treat, and stopovers at major NZ ports and cities are a great introduction to our Kiwi neighbours. However, nothing compares to the awe-inspiring beauty of Fiordland National Park, and Golden Princess passengers are treated to a full day exploring the deep pristine harbours of the south-west New Zealand coast.
Can’t link to the cruise page but you can search for it here.
11-night New Year’s East Coast Cruise: 29 December 2016
Some people think cruising is still the domain of retirees and honeymooners. A New Year’s cruise on Pacific Jewel will soon rectify that misconception. Cruising is still a place for romance and style, but there are options for younger and more adventurous cruisers who want to celebrate life on the high seas. For this reason, there are restrictions on the number of minors and infants on some cruises. Drunken buffoonery is still frowned upon, although a party atmosphere is obviously evident on a cruise that incorporates New Year’s Eve celebrations as part of the experience.
After departing Melbourne, Pacific Jewel sets anchor at the iconic destinations of Eden, Sydney, Moreton Island, Gladstone and Mooloolaba. That’s three states, Australia’s biggest city, the Sunshine Coast and an offshore island experience, all in a week and a half.
Pacific Jewel is having a busy Christmas season, also offering a range of shorter voyages during December. A three-night journey to Wilsons Promontory, or four nights to Eden and return are tantalising short getaways. Although the uptake of cruising has been astounding during the last decade, there are still millions of Australians yet to take their first ocean vacation, and these short cruises are a great way to test the waters.
As Australians, we gaze at the ocean, magnetically attracted to the horizon. It’s only a matter of time for most of us before the draw becomes too strong and we embark on a cruising voyage of discovery.