Cruise boost for recovering South Coast bushfire zones

P&O's Pacific Explorer docks at Eden last year. The ship will return several times over the following months, adding stops to help boost the local economy after the bushfires. Picture: Ben Smyth
P&O's Pacific Explorer docks at Eden last year. The ship will return several times over the following months, adding stops to help boost the local economy after the bushfires. Picture: Ben Smyth

Bushfire recovery: P&O Cruises boosts Eden

P&O Cruises' Pacific Explorer will be making three additional calls to Eden this season in support of the Sapphire Coast economic recovery after the bushfire crises.

The ship will make three calls (on March 29, May 10 and May 16) in addition to its previously scheduled call on March 15. This will bring an additional 6000 guests to the region, sending out the message that Eden and the Sapphire Coast are open for business.

"We are delighted to be playing a part in the region's recovery and the three additional P&O ship visits will certainly contribute to much needed commercial activity and support the community's message that the region is on the path to recovery," said Sture Myrmell, president of Carnival Australia and P&O Cruises Australia.

The short but sweet river-cruise trend

Shorter river cruise itineraries are the new trend for 2020.

Cruises that are no longer than four nights require less investment of time and money and are much sought after this year. It's these shorter cruises that are the best way for people to sample the experience of river cruising, according to the Allianz Global Assistance report. And the stats show that once they've tried it, they more often than not become loyal returning guests.

Avalon Waterways has many taster cruises from four to six days, while Crystal River Cruises has seven-night itineraries visiting Vienna, Amsterdam, Basel and more.

Silversea's Grand Voyage 2021

The 51-port Grand Arctic itinerary on the Silver Cloud is now on sale, and comes after Silversea completes its first-ever Expedition World Cruise.

The 63-night voyage will sail between Norway and Alaska, traversing the famous Northwest Passage. The ship first sails to Reykjavik before continuing to Kangerlussuaq in Greenland and Nome in Alaska.

The line also has a series of exclusive experiences for guests sailing the full voyage. They include visiting the Eureka Research Station on a private charter flight that crosses the 80th parallel in the High Arctic, as well as flying above the Greenland ice cap in a helicopter, before landing on a glacier with a glaciologist. Guest can also take a husky sled ride atop a glacier.

River barges a hit with Aussies

Barging, the slower, more immersive way of exploring rivers, is a quickly growing market among Aussie travellers.

About 20 per cent of clients are now Australian, up from just 2 per cent two decades ago, says Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways. The company dominates the market with 17 vessels, while Belmond has seven and CroisiEurope five.

France is the home of barge cruising with the 300-year-old Canal du Midi still the most popular place by far for first-time barge cruisers. But there are other less-travelled destinations, such as in Scotland, Ireland, Holland and Italy.

New beach club in Antigua for Royal Caribbean

The cruise line has signed an agreement with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to start planning the development of the first Royal Beach Club in the Caribbean.

It will span 800 metres of Antiguan beachfront and will be exclusive to Royal Caribbean cruisers.

The experience allows guests to enjoy the stunning setting of a Caribbean beach with the services and amenities of Royal Caribbean vessels. Beach clubbers will be able to laze in private cabanas, do laps in a sprawling pool with swim-up bar and dine on local cuisine, including island-style BBQs.

There will also be live music and experiences like jet skis, paddleboarding, snorkelling and a family splash pad to delight travellers of all ages.