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Cruise travel news: 4 cruising updates that advisors need to know

Have you missed any recent cruise travel updates? Expert cruise contributor Sally Macmillan helps bring you up to speed with the latest intel in this weekly wrap of what's making waves in cruising right now.

Have you missed any recent cruise travel updates? Expert cruise contributor Sally Macmillan helps bring you up to speed with the latest intel in this weekly wrap of what’s making waves in cruising right now.

Welcome aboard! Our 2023-24 cruise travel season promises to be bigger and better than ever, and first-time arrival Disney Wonder is already making waves. Other newbies to look out for are Virgin Voyages’ adults-only Resilient Lady and Scenic’s ultra-luxury ‘Discovery Yacht’ Scenic Eclipse II.

The Edge

Cruise Travel
Celebrity Edge Martini Bar. Image: Steve Dunlop.

Celebrity Cruises has been sending ships Down Under for some years, but this year cruise travel fans are eagerly anticipating the arrival of one of the newest ships in the fleet – Celebrity Edge

Launched in December 2018, this revolutionary ship is the first in a series of five near-identical sisters and a game-changer for Celebrity. The fourth Edge-class ship, Celebrity Ascent, makes her debut in the Caribbean later this month and the company revealed the name of the fifth, Celebrity Xcel, in a steel-cutting ceremony last week

Celebrity Edge kicks off her maiden local season in December, sailing around Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from her homeport at Sydney’s Circular Quay until April 2024. Among her many outstanding features is the Magic Carpet, the tennis-court-size orange platform that moves up and down the outside of the ship, serving as a tender station on Deck 2 and roving restaurant and bar on Decks 5, 14, 15 and 16.

Celebrity Edge also introduces the fabulous multi-deck Eden complex at the aft of the ship – this beautifully designed space encompasses lounges, bars and restaurants, plus interactive live entertainment at night. 

For more information, visit celebritycruises.com.au 

Royal flush

Atrium on Discovery Princess, Princess Cruises
The atrium on Discovery Princess.

It’s all happening at Princess Cruises. Not only are four Princess ships sailing in local waters this season – two Royal-class ships, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess, plus fleetmates Grand Princess and Coral Princess – but the day Royal Princess arrived in Sydney, Princess Cruises’ President John Padgett revealed that Discovery Princess will call Sydney home for the 2025-26 season.

“Nearly half a century has passed since Princess Cruises introduced the Pacific Princess ship to Sydney’s shores. In commemoration of this milestone, we are delighted to unveil the future deployment of the Discovery Princess, further solidifying our belief in the Australian market,” Padgett said. 

“We are confident that both our international and Australian guests will be excited about the spectacular experience aboard Discovery Princess as she sails from Sydney in late 2025.”

Discovery Princess is the sixth and final ship in the Royal class series. She set sail in March 2022 and with a capacity for 3,660 rather than 3,560 guests, she is just a little bit larger than her sisters. Princess’s biggest ship so far, the 4,300-guest Sun Princess, is due to launch in February; she is the first of the line’s new Sphere class.

The smallest Princess ship is Coral Princess. She has a devoted following of guests who prefer a more intimate cruise travel experience; her 110-day world cruise departs from Auckland and Sydney in April 2024. 

For more information, visit book.princess.com

Ahoy, book lovers!

Library on board Queen Elizabeth by Cunard.
Library on board Queen Elizabeth.

Here’s one to bookmark: Queen Elizabeth by Cunard is hosting the Australian Literature Festival at Sea on a five-night return cruise from Sydney to Tasmania in December 2024. In partnership with Australia’s leading bookstore Dymocks, this activity-packed sailing offers guests the chance to meet and mingle with award-winning authors, passionate readers and aspiring writers, while experiencing all the splendour of travelling aboard a classic Cunard queen.

British author Alexander McCall Smith, best known for his series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and Australian author Fiona McIntosh, creator of the hugely popular Jack Hawksworth crime novels, are among the literary stars who will share their experiences, insights and creative processes with guests; Cunard will reveal more big names over the coming months. 

Queen Elizabeth is due to dock in Fremantle on 27 November and will spend the next three months sailing a series of short break and roundtrip voyages from Melbourne and Sydney. 

Fans of the elegant, 2,081-guest ship have been devastated to learn that this is her penultimate Australia-based season; she will return for summer 2024-25 but in 2026, she will be sailing in Alaska.

For more information, visit cunard.com

CLIA 2024 memberships now open

Back of woman looking at cruise ship while on a shore excursion

As cruise travel bounces back spectacularly, there’s never been a better time for travel advisors to join the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). 

CLIA Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz said the association is aiming to build on record levels of training to help members keep pace with cruising’s global resurgence.

“We want to build this further in 2024 through practical education, engaging events and other supporting benefits that will make CLIA agents the best-equipped cruise specialists in our region.”

Key benefits of CLIA membership in 2024 will include four frontline programs:

  • The CLIA Professional Development Program – giving advisors the knowledge needed to stand out as trusted travel advisors, and the ability to gain important industry standing through CLIA Certification.
  • The CLIA Events Program – uniting the CLIA community around inspirational event opportunities including the landmark Cruise360 Australasia conference, the popular CLIA Live training series in cities across the region, and the Cruise Industry Awards for Australasia.
  • The CLIA Members Hub – providing a one-stop shop for all online cruise training, insight and resources.
  • The CLIA Australasia Travel Agent Rewards Program – providing an opportunity to earn bonus commissions or other rewards on cruise bookings. The rewards are worth more than $2,000 in combined indicative value, paid either as extra commission, a rebate or a gift card.

For more information, visit cruising.org.au