30 STYLE | travel ALL ABOARD The world’s insatiable appetite for cruising shows no sign of losing steam any time soon. With ever more routes and ships, there’s likely something that will float your boat. Words Gaynor Stanley RIVER When it comes to river cruising, Viking continues to expand and dominate industry awards, sweeping Cruise Critic’s 2019 Cruisers’ Choice Awards with 11 First Place Wins – including the new ‘Best for River Cruises’ category. Founded with four ships in Russia in 1997, today it has 78 with Viking welcoming seven more additions to its river fleet just in March. Of the seven ships, six are Viking Longships – Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali – which will be deployed on Viking’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. The seventh new ship – Viking Helgrim – was inspired by the Longship’s design and built specifically for the Douro River, bringing the company’s total number of sister ships in Portugal to four. LUXURY There’s a new fleet on the high seas and it’s a stunner. Polar expedition leader PONANT, the only cruise line flying the French flag, has begun introducing the super luxurious Explorers ships to expand its destinations to tropical and subtropical destinations, including New Zealand and the South Pacific. One of the first three, Le Lapérouse, above, has just finished her first season in New Zealand waters. Each small yet perfectly formed ship combines a limited guest capacity, sleek design, cutting-edge technology, respect for the environment and the service you’d expect from a luxury hotel. Some of next season’s New Zealand voyages are already booked out but a 14-night expedition cruise in conjunction with National Geographic sailing February 2-16 to Fiordland and the Sub Antarctic Islands (cruising Dunedin/Lyttelton) still has some exceptionally comfortable cabins available. And, if the Galapagos Islands are on your bucket list, mark 29 May in your calendar as that’s the date bookings open for Silverseas’ new Silver Origin 100-passenger, all-suite, all-inclusive ship launching in June 2020. Celebrity Cruises will base a luxury cruise ship in Melbourne for the first time during the 2020/21 season. The 2850 passenger Celebrity Eclipse debuts fresh from a multi-million dollar refit, which will include interiors by famous UK interior designer Kelly Hoppen.
STYLE | travel 31 MID MARKET P&O has bid a fond farewell to two of its most popular ships, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Eden – which have been retired having carried more than a million passengers on 646 cruises between them. In their wake Pacific Adventure will arrive in 2020 to transform P&O’s fleet as its first Grand Class vessel offering new guest experiences such as an onboard ‘beach club’. Guests staying in the swankiest of suites will be offered exclusive access to the private Byron Beach Club with its own outdoor pool, whirlpool spas and comfy seating situated on the top deck (16) of the ship. With expansive sea views, club-goers can enjoy pure relaxation and pampering in stylish surroundings. “It’s a very exciting time for Australia’s home brand with Pacific Adventure set to play an integral role in P&O’s next chapter of growth and innovation,” said President of P&O Cruises, Sture Myrmell. “This 3100-guest ship will be a showcase for P&O’s style of contemporary cruising offering diverse dining experiences including concepts from Australian chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan and award-winning Melbourne-based chef Johnny Di Francesco.” ADVENTURE The Northwest Passage through the icy Arctic waters of Canada ranks high on many cruise lovers’ lists. Now Crystal Cruises is launching a new voyage to take adventure seekers through the rarely cruised Russian controlled waters of the Northeast Passage. Crystal Endeavor, scheduled to launch in summer 2020, will begin its 28-night Northeast Passage cruise on 18 August, 2021, from Anadyr, Russia to Tromso, Norway. Endeavor will be the largest, most spacious purpose-built polar class expedition yacht in the world, accommodating just 200 guests in complete luxury. Highlights include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wrangel Island; the former Russian military watch point of Franz Josef Land; the New Siberian Islands; Severnaya Zemlya, the last charted archipelago on earth; and Cape Chelyuskin on the Taimyr Peninsula. The ship will sail through the East Siberian Sea, the White Sea, the Barents Sea and the Laptev Sea during its journey. Incidentally, among the few companies that cruise the Northeast Passage is Christchurch’s own Heritage Expeditions.