Cruising is now more popular than ever. The benefits of cruising are becoming more well known and the industry is the fastest growing holiday segment in the world. This growth means more choice... and more possibilities.
Cruising has developed from being the sole province of the rich in the 1920s, to now being a viable, desirable and accessible holiday option for everyone from families to singles. The different cruise styles, companies, itineraries and destinations now on offer are enormous. That's where this guide can help.
Compare different cruise companies on a like-for-like basis, to make comparisons easier and see the differences in what they offer more readily. This will make your cruise holiday decision easier.
The guide also examines the differences between ocean cruising and river cruising. It offers maps so you can see at a glance, which routes can be accessed from which ports.
All of which is designed to make your decision-making process more straightforward. If you still can't decide, your local Flight Centre consultant can answer any question you might have on which cruise option is best for you. In fact, most of our stores have at least one cruise specialist on staff who is well-equipped to answer all of your queries and help you find the holiday you want.
So why wait? Take a look through this guide and start preparing your next, or first, cruise holiday.
Bon voyage and happy cruising!
Set sail on your floating resort. Meet new friends, dine like never before, be pampered or go non-stop... the choice is yours.
More Australians than ever before are enjoying the fabulous benefits of cruising. There are lots of reasons why.
Traditionally, cruises have been considered as part of the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
These days, however, highly-competitive prices mean that the market has opened up for more of us to experience the pleasures of cruising. In fact, cruising is now the fastest growing holiday segment in the world, with new ships entering the market on a monthly basis.
The reasons behind the growth in cruising are simple. First, it's a very relaxing way to travel as you only have to unpack once and the exciting ports come to you. Even better, the cruise ships of today are destinations in themselves, with a huge range of activities available to appeal to all kinds of passengers.
On a cruise you can see the world, completely unwind, experience new cultures, dance the night away, feast on fabulous cuisine, learn new skills, make new friends and bond with your family. The possibilities are endless. Check out our Top 10 Reasons to Cruise, and set sail for your next horizon.
One of the most exciting aspects of a cruising holiday is the varietyof fascinating ports you can visit on any one journey.
One of the best ways of making the most of your port stops is by exploring the new sights, exotic cultures and world-renowned landmarks you can find there, by joining in some shore excursions. From the marvels of the Mediterranean to the pearls of the Pacific, the list of cultural opportunities and adventurous activities offered by your ship will be surprising.
If you're travelling to overseas ports on your cruise, you're in for not only a very exciting, but also a very culturally enlightening experience. Large cruise lines may take you to several different countries on your cruise, or even continents, and you will have the choice to immerse yourself for a short time in a completely different existence to your own. Get set to learn, absorb and explore the world around you.
It's time to go ashore! Some of the smaller port stops are relatively easy to explore independently, however one of the best ways to experience the very best of your ports of call is to participate in your cruise ship's pre-booked shore excursions.
Designed to cover a range of tastes, shore excursions arranged by your cruise ship include anything from cultural walking tours, cooking schools and shopping tours to adventures such as helicopter rides, mountain biking, canoeing, white-water rafting and wildlife treks. Travelling on these shore excursions you will meet like-minded people from your cruise.
The cruise ship's shore excursions have been designed to make the most of your port in the time frame you are given - they want you to see the best, but still make it back to the ship before departure. Quite often excursions offered by the cruise ship take considerable planning and would be difficult to arrange yourself once in port, so they make life much easier for you.
Another benefit of shore excursions arranged by the cruise line is that you have some cover on their insurance policy. This however, doesn't replace having your own travel insurance policy. Also, the ship will not depart until all shore excursions have returned.
It's a good idea to start planning your shore excursion choices early. Ideally the excursions should be booked as soon as you arrive on the ship, as the most popular trips have a tendency to fill up very quickly. Some cruise lines will even allow you to book in advance of your cruise, either online or with your travel consultant. You will most likely receive a program of your ship's shore excursion options with your cruise documents once you have booked and paid for your holiday. Shore excursions are generally an additional cost to your cruise and can be billed to your shipboard account. Once on board, first timers may wish to attend the very informative 'shore excursion and debarkation talks' that are sometimes hosted by the ship's cruise directors. These are a great way to find your feet on shore.
When you book a cruise holiday, the first step is to select a destination. Quite a task when you consider the amazing options on offer! A myriad of cultures, history and incredible landmarks awaits. Take a closer look at each of the Top Five.
Azamara Cruises' two deluxe ships - Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, provide an exclusive and intimate on-board experience. Azamara Cruises will pamper you in style with personalised service, extraordinary cuisine, off-the-beaten-path destinations and exotic excursions.
Azamara Cruises is a deluxe cruise experience for discerning travellers who long to reach out-of-the-ordinary destinations, immerse themselves in luxury and experience service unparalleled on the high seas. The unique offerings of Azamara are beyond compare - butler service is provided in every stateroom and shore excursions are designed to let guests immerse themselves in the culture of each destination. Enrichment programs offer everything from culinary to photographic explorations; Azamara's two specialty restaurants provide guests with the finest cuisine at sea and live entertainment nightly. Travel to the far reaches of the earth and explore a myriad of ports and cities that most can only dream of. From French Polynesia to the warm waters off the islands of St Barts, whatever your passion, Azamara will take you there in magnificent style. The Azamara experience will see you journey through the lands of Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal and the Transatlantic.
Azamara's entertainment theatre features a talented cast of singers performing some of the hottest shows. Sip a cocktail in soft comfortable seating whilst you sit back and marvel at talent extraordinaire.
From casual eateries to culinary masterpieces in the specialty dining rooms, there is a wealth of choice and your palate will be completely satisfied in Azamara style. Aqualina and PrimeC, Azamara's two specialty dining rooms, both provide exquisite cuisine with signature flavours in a unique setting. Both also boast breathtaking ocean views.
Expect much more than head-to-toe pampering, Azamara's world-class spa provides complete luxury with the finest therapists and exclusive Elemis treatments. For those looking to stay in shape, Azamara offers yoga at sunset, pilates and access to the on-board Wellness Consultant.
Azamara Cruises' accommodation provides all the comforts of home plus a world of extras. Each stateroom includes wireless internet, butler service and concierge-style amenities. Guests can choose from an abundance of verandah staterooms, which offer spectacular views of whichever port you call into.
Azamara's on-board events and programmes include everything from dance lessons to spirited competitions. Each evening a programme will be delivered to your stateroom listing the activities for the upcoming day.
Number of ships: 2.
Ship sizes: 30,277 tonnes, 710 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Carnival Cruise Lines is the largest and most popular cruise line in the world, with 23 ships operating voyages of three to 18 days in length to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Hawai'i, New England, Canada, Bermuda, Northern Europe, Panama Canal, South America and the Mediterranean. Carnival continues to redefine contemporary cruising with 'Today's Carnival', a term coined by the line to describe its commitment to enhancing all aspects of the cruise holiday experience.
What is it about Carnival that separates it from the rest? For starters, its fleet of 23 ships feature everything you would find in a quality land-based resort and then some. More than that though, it's an attitude. It's a commitment to consistently deliver fun, memorable vacations to its guests. Not to mention all of the beautiful destinations they visit. And best of all, you'll only have to unpack once. It's truly an incredible vacation and unbelievable value.
If that isn't reason enough, how about celebrating on Carnival? It's more than just birthdays, family reunions and anniversaries. It's anything that makes you feel like celebrating. Carnival knows how to make a party into an even more special event. No matter your age or what your idea of a good time is, there's always something entertaining for you to do on board Carnival's ships. Looking to just relax and unwind? Want to add a little excitement to your life? Bringing the children? Carnival has all the answers.
Dress up or stay casual, wear your jewels or your jeans. Carnival evening entertainment takes many different forms to suit your every mood. In addition to the main-stage extravaganzas, you'll find dance clubs, jazz clubs, karaoke bars and comedy acts. Don't forget the themed sports bars, cigar bars, piano bars, casinos and late night lounges. With the dramatic increase in family cruising Carnival continues to expand the activities and facilities of 'Camp Carnival', the top-rated children's programme.
Dining is considered the highlight of any cruise holiday and 'Today's Carnival' has resulted in a diversity of new dining options. Carnival's Total Choice Dining is the industry's most comprehensive dining programme, offering the widest variety of formal and casual options. Try Carnival's new Georges Blanc Signature Selections which include a variety of gourmet appetizers, entrees and desserts to be served in Carnival's main dining rooms, Lido restaurants and the reservations-only supper clubs.
With demand for dedicated shipboard meeting space growing, Carnival has incorporated purpose-built 100 square metre conference centres. 'Today's Carnival' has also resulted in the introduction of fleet-wide internet cafes including a wireless internet service. Responding to the needs of today's health-conscious consumers, Carnival continues to update the impressive array of exercise equipment and pampering treatments available.
Carnival staterooms are comfortable and some of the most spacious at sea. Whether it's an Inside, Ocean-View, Verandah, Suite or a Penthouse Suite, Carnival makes it easy to find a stateroom that fits your needs and your budget.
Number of ships: 23.
Ship sizes: 46,502 - 110,000 tonnes, 793 - 2106 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Celebrity Cruises has seven out of the top 10 ships in the 2007 Berlitz's Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships. Celebrity ships are continuously renovated to reflect a modern living standard, yet retain the distinctive style of class and elegance which has become the hallmark of Celebrity. Days of discovering fascinating ports of call are perfectly complemented by nights of exquisite dining, top class entertainment and exceptional choice.
With Celebrity Cruises, you have a choice of over 170 destinations with sailings 365 days a year. The fleet moves with the seasons to different locations around the world and carefully selected shore excursions will ensure you make the most of every port of call.
With an unprecedented one-staff-for-every-two-guests policy, Celebrity are able to go that little bit further to indulge and make sure that every moment of your cruise is just as you'd wish it to be. With butler service and complimentary 24-hour room service, the aim is to make you feel completely at home, relaxed and special.
Celebrity's renowned range of dining options has won accolade after accolade so wherever you choose to eat, expect every meal to arrive beautifully presented and prepared using only the finest ingredients. Throughout the ship you will find intimate cafes, bars and lounges such as Michael's Club or the Martini Bar to relax in. Nightly entertainment includes the latest West End style shows, live music and dancing.
When it comes to elegant and sophisticated evening entertainment, Celebrity is committed to bringing you the best. The stylish venues feature performers you'd normally find playing to audiences in the great cities of the world. Take in a fabulous West End style show, take to the dance floor in the classy night club, or relax among friends in Michael's Club piano bar.
On board Celebrity, you will be indulged with award-winning menus which are prepared from the finest and freshest of ingredients. Nothing makes an occasion as special as dining in the specialty restaurants with a five-course menu creation in a sophisticated ambience. Then there's the relaxed environment of Casual Dining Boulevard, so you can enjoy an afternoon tea. Whatever your tastes, sit back and enjoy the journey!
Celebrity Cruises are all about wellbeing and balancing your mind, body and spirit. It is its goal to leave you feeling invigorated and relaxed during your voyage. Luxury begins in the world-famous Elemis Aqua Spa and extends to healing at the Acupuncture at Sea service, and the state-of-the-art fitness centre overlooking the ocean.
Comfort is a signature of Celebrity style where you'll find a wide choice of accommodation. Whatever your choices are, from a stateroom with 24-hour room service to an expansive suite with a separate sleeping area and butler service. Every room is beautifully furnished with meticulous attention to detail which is designed to make you feel at home.
Number of ships: 9.
Ship sizes: 2842 - 91,000 tonnes, 92 - 2038 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Each year Costa ships call at 250 different ports and offer more than 1100 excursions in the Mediterranean, northern Europe, the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean, South America, the United Arab Emirates, the Far East and the Indian Ocean. Costa Cruises has 60 years of cruising experience with ships that are elegant and comfortable. Whatever cruise you choose, Costa's 14,000 staff from 80 countries work to make your holiday unforgettable.
With 60 years of cruising experience Costa Cruises is the ultimate Italian-style cruise holiday. It's cruise ships are spectacular, elegant and comfortable, built to provide the perfect on-board experience.
As an Italian company, Costa takes its culinary skills seriously. You'll enjoy a superb selection, from authentic Italian fine dining to the more casual pizzeria or international dishes. To compliment the cuisine, more than 80 different wineshave been selected by the Italian Sommeliers Association.
Costa provides you the freedom to create a holiday which is relaxing, entertaining and cultural.
Entertainment for all ages is guaranteed on its ship, which are designed to keep the whole family happy. Parents can relax as qualified staff take care of your children ensuring fun, attention and safety while you enjoy a variety of fun-filled activities including Italian cooking classes and luxury treatments in the Samsara Spa & Ischia Wellness Spa.
Costa's staff are ready to keep you amused around the clock. During the day there are games, craft workshops, sports, cards tournaments, karaoke, dance lessons, cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions and more. At night there are extravaganzas staged by professional artists, live music, themed parties, disco parties, and the casino. And every evening the theatre comes alive with a show including ballet, comic acts, mime shows, acrobatics, juggling, circus performances and magic shows.
Costa takes its culinary skills seriously. Their chefs treat cuisine as an art and enrich it with the best international dishes that are creatively interpreted and elegantly designed. More than 3500 different ingredients are used during each cruise for the many gastronomic experiences enjoyed by its passengers.
On board Costa ships there are dine-in restaurants, buffet restaurants, club restaurants, bars, a chocolate and cigar bar, swimming pools, jacuzzis, multi-purpose sports court, outdoor jogging track, fitness centre with gym, treatment rooms, sauna and steam room, theatre, casino, disco, internet point, library, shopping centre and a Squok club. Samsara Spa is one of the largest and most elegant wellness centres ever built on-board Costa Concordia, Serena, Pacifica and Luminosa.
Costa provides a wide range of cabins to satisfy every need. With modern furnishings and the latest amenities, there is everything you need to keep you in the holiday mood. A Steward is assigned to each cabin and for guests staying in the Suites, Panorama Suites, Grand Suites and Samsara Suites, a butler is on call.
Number of ships: 12.
Ship sizes: 26,000 - 114,500 tonnes, 963 - 3780 passengers.
What's included in the price:
The future: In 2009, Costa will introduce two new ships. Costa Luminosa (92,600 tonnes) is characterised by the most exclusive interiors you've ever seen. Costa Pacifica (114,500 tonnes) is a ship inspired by music. Its interior design is filled with musical inspirations and a huge central chandelier made from Murano glass.
With 135 years of experience, Holland America Line is recognised as the undisputed leader in premium cruising. With the introduction of the ms Eurodam in mid 2008, Holland America Line's fleet will grow to 14 ships, offering nearly 500 cruises from more than 25 home ports. Itineraries range from two to 108 days and visit all seven continents, including new Australia/New Zealand and Asia sailings, a world cruise and popular ports in the Caribbean.
Holland America Line has a proud tradition of delivering extraordinary holiday experiences, and with their recent $487 million Signature of Excellence® initiative, that experience is now better than ever. Signature of Excellence enhancements encompass virtually every area of their ships and range from new facilities and public spaces to added services and amenities. New facilities include the Culinary Arts Centre, presented by Food & Wine magazine - the only fleet-wide dedicated state-of-the-art show kitchen at sea where guests can learn about cooking techniques and test new recipes with world-class chefs and celebrated guest culinary experts. Another popular enhancement is the Explorations Cafe, powered by The New York Times, where guests can relax with a latte, browse through one of the most extensive libraries at sea, enjoy music or surf the internet. Signature of Excellence is a promise from Holland America Line to their guests - a commitment to provide a truly extraordinary experience.
Nights on a Holland America Line cruise ship glitter with choices. Begin with drinks and dancing in the Ocean Bar. Watch a recent-release movie or try your luck at the blackjack table. Catch an extravagant Las Vegas-style production in the state-of-the-art show lounge or visit one of the many lounges for award-winning entertainment.
Enjoy delicious menus across a broad range of dining venues. From a casual bite poolside to a formal five-course affair in the classic main dining room, the crew of Holland America Line will orchestrate a truly memorable dining experience. Led by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, the exceptional culinary staff create signature dishes using only the freshest produce, while knowledgeable wine stewards are adept at pairing the perfect wine with every dish.
These include 24-hour room service, massage, sauna, Mandara spas, Bar Central, beauty and hair treatment, connecting rooms and suites for families and groups, internet cafe, jogging and walking tracks, basketball courts, library and meeting and conference rooms.
Luxurious living is found in every detail, from a personal bathrobe to fine chocolates on your pillow at night. Staterooms are 25 per cent larger than other ships in their class. Outside Staterooms average 18 square metres, Inside Staterooms average 17 square metres and the Verandah Cabins are actually Mini Suites at 26 square metres. The new Vista Class features more Verandah Outside Staterooms than ever before as well as the latest and best value in cruising today, the Deluxe Verandah Suites which measure a full 36 square metres.
Number of ships: 14.
Ship sizes: 37,848 - 86,700 tonnes, 793 - 2106 passengers.
What's included in the price:
The future: Launching her maiden voyage in July of 2008, the ms Eurodam marks Holland America Line's new Signature Class vessels. The ms Eurodam furthers the evolution of Holland America's sophisticated mid-sized ships with 11 passenger decks, a new topside Pan-Asian restaurant and lounge surrounded by panoramic views, an Explorer's Lounge Bar, a new Italian restaurant adjacent to the Lido, elegant luxury jewellery boutique, new atrium bar area, an enhanced and reconfigured show lounge and a new photographic and imaging centre.
A family-owned and operated Italian cruise line, MSC Cruises, prides itself on excellent service, good traditional Italian hospitality and authentic Mediterranean and international cuisine. From elegant cross-continent Ocean Voyages to stunning Europe and America cruises, beauty, passion and style abounds.
MSC Cruises' famous International ambience surrounds you, from the colourful destinations to the heart-warming service and smiles.
Experience the finest hospitality afloat, with fresh produce worked into a range of traditional Italian and international cuisines for six meals a day.
An extensive range of activities, entertainment and facilities allow you to rejuvenate both body and mind, while MSC show their commitment to families with their 'Children under 18 years cruise for free when sharing with two adults' offer making family cruising a dream.
While the Mediterranean is MSC's home, they also offer a number of other cruising options. Enjoy the dramatic architecture and exquisite scenery of Northern Europe, experience the rhythmic vibes of the Caribbean and South America, and marvel at the exotic wildlife in South Africa. For a longer cruising pleasure try MSC's Ocean Voyages. Variety, style and value for money make MSC Cruising the right choice.
From the vibrant nightly shows to the buzzing bars and clubs, MSC Cruises can entertain you from dusk to dawn. Try your luck at the casino, go for a morning jog, enjoy a game of tennis or perfect your swing at the golf simulator. For true wellbeing try the Turkish baths, saunas or sensational spa treatments. The children's club also offers selected free activities for those aged three to 16 years.
MSC's chefs take great pride in ensuring guests enjoy authentic Mediterranean and international cuisine carefully prepared with loving attention. Selected cruises offer unique dining experiences such as sushi bars or fine dining options. Plus, there's an extensive selection of European wines and the services of a wine sommelier to assist in your selection.
From shopping galleries with duty-free stores to relaxing libraries, internet cafes, pools and Jacuzzi's, there are plenty of on-board facilities to enjoy.
Waking is a delight in MSC's comfortable Inside Cabins or upgrade to an Outside Cabin for the view. Around 80 per cent of MSC's cabins offer balconies, including 4-berth cabins on selected cruises for families. Newer vessels are technologically advanced with slimline interactive televisions and, coming in 2009, VIP suites with butler service.
MSC's commitment to social responsibility is ongoing. Energy conservation systems monitor cabin and public area water usage and water recycle treatment units provide the highest of environmental standards.
Established: 1995. Number of ships: 11. Ship sizes: 35,143 - 133,500 tonnes, 850 - 3274 passengers. What's included in the price:
The eye-catching hull design of Norwegian Gem reflects Norweigan Cruise Lines' (NCL) determination to operate the world's youngest and most vibrant cruise fleet. Norwegian Gem is the most recent addition to NCL's 12-strong international fleet which offers its revolutionary 'Freestyle Cruising' concept. Add luxurious accommodation and a choice of fine restaurants and Norwegian Gem is about as close as you'll get to heaven on a ship.
NCL's luxurious, modern ships roam the world's oceans calling at destinations in North and South America, Hawai'i, the Caribbean, Alaska, Europe, the Mediterranean and Bermuda. And while believing that holidays are as much about the journey as the destination, NCL endeavours to transform its ships into destinations themselves. For that reason, the NCL cruise experience is a memorable journey which may linger far longer in cruise passengers' minds than anything else about their holiday.
The high cruising speeds and maneuverability of NCL ships allow for swift passages and full days on shore. The evenings are devoted to an array of social and recreational activities as passengers are luxuriously conveyed to the next port.
NCL's cruise itineraries and shore excursions are extremely varied and offer the contrast of helicopter flights over Alaskan glaciers and Brazilian rainforests, to golf games on championship Hawaiian courses; and cultural tours of Naples/Pompeii and Istanbul.
Each ship features lavish stage shows and circus acts, dedicated children's centres with video arcades and the latest in interactive computer games, internet cafes, movie cinemas, libraries, karaoke rooms, swimming pools, spas and saunas, gymnasiums and beauty treatments. The most recent ships also feature ten-pin bowling, climbing walls and Nintendo's Wii Fit games.
The theme of innovation and choice permeates NCL cruise ship restaurants, bars and lounges where passengers can easily enjoy a quick plate of oysters with champagne or savour a full degustation menu in one of the fine specialty restaurants. There are a variety of ethnic cuisines available as well as vegetarian and Kosher food and room service in your cabin. And for those who equate cruising with grand dining rooms, NCL delivers with Norwegian Gem's 558-seat Grand Pacific Main Dining Room.
These include 24-hour room service, massage, sauna, Mandara spas, Bar Central, beauty and hair treatment, connecting rooms and suites for families and groups, internet cafe, jogging and walking tracks, basketball courts, library and meeting and conference rooms.
NCL truly excels in shipboard accommodation. Many of the cabins on its young fleet of ships have their own balconies and there are a variety of suites. Three bedroom villas spanning 408 square metres with private gardens, courtyard swimming pool and a grand piano in the lounge room are ideal for those once-in-a-lifetime cruise events. The choice of on-board accommodation caters for couples, singles sharing, families, conferences and social groups.
Number of ships: 12.
Ship sizes: 34,000 - 93,500 tonnes, 1100 - 2400 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Oceania Cruises is the world's only upper-premium cruise line offering a unique combination of the finest cuisine at sea, luxurious accommodation, exceptional personalised service and extraordinary value.
As a leader in destination cruising, award-winning Oceania Cruises sails to more than 190 ports in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. European Voyages stretch from Egypt in the south, as far north as St Petersburg, east to Istanbul and west to Portugal.
Rated five-star and featuring three elegant mid-sized ships, Regatta, Insignia and Nautica, the on-board atmosphere is relaxed and reminiscent of the casual elegance of a country club. With more than 400 staff to cater for only 684 guests, Oceania offers a high level of personalised service. Guests enjoy the flexibility of four open-seating restaurants, so they dine when, where and with whom they choose.
Oceania Cruises continues to set the benchmark for worldwide destination cruising with more overnight port stays than any other cruise line in its class. With cruise prices starting from just over $2000, it's the pinnacle of great value.
With more time in port, there's a chance to discover the entertainment your destination has to offer. Back on board, you'll also discover a diversity of headline acts consisting of singers, comedians and illusionists.
Guests will enjoy the flexibility of four open-seating restaurants so they dine when, where and with whom they choose from five-star menus created by master chef Jacques Pepin. The Grand Dining room offers fine French dining while gourmet Italian is served at Toscana. Steaks, chops and seafood are served at the Polo Grill and Mediterranean specialities at Tapas on the Terrace.
Facilities on board Oceania Cruises include the Spa by Mandara, internet centre, a well-stocked library, card room, duty free shopping, eight bars and lounges, large heated pool and three whirlpool spas, eight private cabanas, a state-of-the-art gymnasium and a small casino.
Ranging in size from 15 to nearly 90 square metres, 70 per cent of accommodations on board Oceania feature private teak verandahs. All staterooms feature luxurious tranquillity beds with 700-thread-count Egyptian cotton linen, goose down pillows and silk-cut Italian duvets.
Upgrade to a concierge level Verandah Stateroom to receive a wealth of privileges including priority embarkation and restaurant reservations, welcome bottle of champagne, refrigerated mini-bar and DVD player.
Number of ships: 3.
Ship sizes: All 30,277 tonnes, 684 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Orion Expedition Cruises is Australia's luxury expedition cruise line. Orion provides access to remote and intriguing areas while providing an unexpected and unmatched range of on-board facilities. With 75 crew and a maximum of just 106 passengers, Orion offers the highest staff-to-guest ratio of any ship based in Australian waters.
Step on board Orion and discover breathtaking sights and unique shore adventures. The vessel itself is sleek, modern and comfortable and heavy-duty zodiacs enable guests to be whisked away to experience an array of shoreside expeditions. On one adventure, explore the beauty of Australia's North-West Kimberley coast featuring gorges abundant with wildlife and waterfalls. On another, be touched by the culture, handicrafts, beaches and amazing diving of Papua New Guinea and Melanesia, where WWII relics seem to be everywhere. On yet another, discover the New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands as well as Antarctica. As if that's not enough, Orion's inaugural voyages to Asia will visit Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, highlighting ancient temples and the diverse culture of this region. There are many unique opportunities for enriching experiences that will engage the mind and fuel the soul. At last, the path less travelled can be travelled in luxury.
Orion offers a range of light entertainment including trivia, dancing and a singing duo later in the evening.
In contrast to the wilds of Antarctica or rugged adventures in the Kimberley, the onboard cuisine is distinctly civilised. Award winning Sydney chef Serge Dansereau of 'The Bathers' Pavilion' fame has created signature menus inspired by local culinary traditions featuring produce and flavours reflecting the regions you are visiting. Each dish has been designed to complement our other alternatives allowing you to sample from each menu at your whim.
Orion provides an unmatched range of on-board facilities. Five-star amenities include a spa, sauna, masseuse, hairdresser, boutique, several lounges and a well-stocked library with a wide variety of informative books and journals on its destinations. The library also has a laptop for internet access. A magnificent glass atrium wraps around the elevator, which dominates the centre of the ship and serves Orion's decks.
All 53 suites and staterooms offer ocean views, room to relax during the day and a choice of queen or twin bed sleeping arrangements. All of the staterooms and suites have the same high standard of amenity. The marble bathrooms are well appointed, with Grohe tapware, Lanvin toiletries, fluffy towels and robes. All rooms offer conveniences such as ample storage space, complimentary 24-hour room service, a flat-screen TV, DVD/CD player, internet connectivity, a personal safe, hairdryer and a mini-bar continuously stocked with complimentary bottled water.
Number of ships: 1.
Ship sizes: 4000 tonnes, 106 passengers.
What's included in the price:
In 2009 P&O Cruises World Voyages' magnificent superliners Arcadia, Aurora and Oriana chart different courses across the globe, visiting over 71 destinations in 34 countries. Discover rich cultures, intriguing cities and exotic islands. Witness unique panoramas as you travel from one destination to another while being spoilt with timeless British hospitality.
On any of P&O Cruises World Voyages itineraries you will experience more than most people would in a lifetime. The superliners offer individual cruise experiences. The choice on board allows endless possibilities day and night so you have the time to indulge as you please.
Experience balcony dining and the luxury of indoor and outdoor living. You will have a personal steward to look after you and surprise you each day.
Whilst you sail the shimmering oceans, taking time out for yourself becomes a way of life. You can spend each languid day at sea any way you wish. Laze on a deck chair, relax in the jacuzzi or take a massage to sooth aching muscles.
Whatever you choose to do, you will be pampered with P&O Cruises' unique style of British hospitality. You'll be spoilt with impeccable service, sensational entertainment, engaging activities and world-class cuisine.
When the sun sets, your superliner is at its most magical. From cocktail bars to theatres, lounges and casinos, P&O Cruises' ships have all the glamour of a city. Find yourself transfixed by a lavish musical show or enjoying a classical cabaret, playing roulette or listening to live bands, laughing at great comedy or enjoying cool jazz.
P&O Cruises is passionate about food. Only the finest ingredients will find their way to your table. Buffets and bistros, stylish cafes, elegant dining rooms and poolside snack bars - many venues provide a constantly changing menu.
You can even sample the cuisine of well-known British chef, Gary Rhodes, on two ships. Try the Arcadian Rhodes or Oriana Rhodes for something deliciously different. And of course, 24-hour in-room dining is available.
Fascinating port lectures will fuel your imagination. You could learn a new language, listen to a celebrity speaker, participate in a dance class or engage your mind in a workshop.
Alternatively, you could play a game or two of Bridge, borrow a book from the library or surf the net in the Cyb@centre.
P&O Cruises' offer a wide selection of accommodation. From inside cabins to outside cabins, staterooms, suites and luxury penthouses, you choose the style best suited to you. Many cabins offer balconies for you to enjoy your own private views.
Number of ships: 6.
Ship sizes: 45,000 - 115,000 tonnes, 1260 - 3574 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Princess Cruises offers a great variety of itineraries in Europe, Alaska and Canada, and exotic destinations such as Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Americas and New Zealand. Relax in style and awake to a new horizon every day. Leave behind the traffic and schedules and let Princess Cruises be your host as it takes you to each spectacular destination.
Princess Cruises offers a spellbinding variety of voyages exploring parts of the world you have always dreamed of visiting.
Imagine being pampered at a luxurious resort and waking up each morning to a stunning view of the world. That's just what it's like on a Princess Cruises voyage. Its ships boast all the amenities you'd expect from a land-based vacation and more, including many choices of restaurants and live entertainment.
Each day can be a different adventure on board a Princess Cruises ship. Whether you're on the putting green, in the casino or taking a dip in the pool, you're bound to find fun around every corner. There's even a Kids' Club and video arcade for younger guests. At night, enjoy fine dining, live music, dancing, and dazzling stage shows.
Princess Cruises brings you the world like no one else can, boasting over 350 destinations worldwide, with 17 amazing cruise ships and one of the youngest fleets at sea.
The night is yours to have fun. Do it all - over several nights or a single night. Spend the evening dancing under the stars, watch an award-winning movie or catch a live theatre production.
Every cruise features lavish productions performing today's Broadway hits and long-running classics. Move to the rhythm of the disco beat, take a spin in the ballroom, catch a stand-up comedy act or belt out a song in the karaoke bar.
It's your holiday. You decide whether to go formal or casual, eat early or late, in the traditional dining room, specialty restaurant or in the privacy of your stateroom. Dine on local specialties from around the world, in the setting and ambience that can take you there without ever leaving the ship. This will be one of the highlights of your voyage with Princess Cruises.
Get pampered from head to toe in the Lotus Spa® or spend some time with a personal trainer in one of the world-class floating gyms. From lectures to cooking demonstrations, digital photography workshops and ceramic painting lessons, ScholarShip@Sea® enrichment programmes are designed to make learning fun. Swim, sun and enjoy yourself in the many pools. Relax underneath a retractable glass dome, on a terrace above the rolling wake, or make your own waves in a swim-against-the-current pool.
Imagine cruising through some of the most amazing scenery in the world and viewing this from the comfort of your own balcony. Princess Cruises offers more balcony staterooms than any other cruise line - providing you with the luxury of relaxing in style and never missing out on a single spectacular sight.
Number of ships: 17.
Ship sizes: 30,200 - 113,000 tonnes, 670 - 3070 passengers.
What's included in the price:
Royal Caribbean International offers a world of innovation and adventure with some of the world's newest and largest passenger ships. From catching a wave, and conquering the rock climbing wall to exploring the world, there are endless days of discovery on board every Royal Caribbean International ship and every Royal Caribbean International destination.
Royal Caribbean International offers amazing cruising experiences for active travellers looking for a holiday thats adventurous, relaxing and refined. Its ships offer an array of innovative on-board activities and services, including rock climbing walls, lounges, bars, Las Vegas-style entertainment, cinemas, swimming pools, beauty salons, gym facilities, shopping and gourmet dining. Children on Royal Caribbean International cruises participate in a range of fun, supervised activities - from scavenger hunts and shipbuilding, to discos for teens. Royal Caribbean International ships offer spacious accommodation - allowing guests to travel in complete style and comfort - and incredible itineraries. The ships visit a host of amazing destinations worldwide and offer shore excursions that allow guests to truly experience another culture. After all, cruising isn't just about being at sea, it's also about exciting places to visit - you come on board, unpack once and then visit a host of different places.
Royal Caribbean International's incredible cruise ships offer a huge range of hot bars and clubs, delicious cocktails and even lift-access to a top-deck club where the doors open straight onto the dance floor. There's so much on offer, just try and choose a favourite. The 'Shall We Dance' lounge is great for a fun night out, with theme parties and karaoke happening until the early hours.
Royal Caribbean International offer a wide range of dining, from the casual atmosphere of the Windjammer Cafe, to a fine dining experience in the elegant setting of Portofino, its specialty restaurant. Discover a culinary experience to satisfy every palate. There are countless treats in store for your journey.
Each ship features something surprising: ice-skating rinks, running tracks, rock climbing walls, wave pools, boxing rings, short-game golf courses, basketball courts and more. And all ships offer fully-equipped gyms and AquaSpa day spa centres with a range of relaxation therapies.
Whether you choose a luxurious Suite, a spacious Stateroom with private balcony, or an Ocean View or Interior Stateroom, you will be surrounded by all the comforts that you would find at home. If you are travelling with family, Royal Caribbean International also offers Family Staterooms and Connecting Staterooms.
There is a world of choice for everyone on board a Royal Caribbean International cruise. As well as all the amenities such as the pools, spas, gym, cafes and lounges, there are also daily activity programmes that offer exciting new things to do and learn.
Number of ships: 21.
Ship sizes: 70,000 - 160,000 tonnes, 2076 - 3634 passengers.
What's included in the price:
SuperStar Virgo is the flagship of Star Cruises' Asian fleet which operates eight vessels to a range of exotic locations including islands and cities throughout the region. SuperStar Virgo offers so much more than first class dining and entertainment - it takes you to places where the sun, sea, people and culture blend colourfully well.
Star Cruises is Asia's undisputed cruise industry leader, having collected numerous awards during its 15-year history. With cruise hubs in Singapore and Hong Kong, Star Cruises continues to open up the region to cruise enthusiasts from around the world. Cruise destinations range from popular resorts in Thailand, Malaysia and China such as Phuket, Penang, Langkawi, Koh Samui and Halong Bay; to the bustling cultural and historic metropolises of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Star Cruises has built a reputation as much for revolutionising the cruise experience as for pioneering new cruise destinations. Acknowledging changing tastes and social trends, Star Cruises created Freestyle Cruising to turn the cruise experience into a more relaxed, holiday experience. The main feature of Freestyle Cruising is casual dining and multi-restaurant options, ensuring passengers can eat when, where and with whom they like. Freestyle Cruising is available on all Star Cruises ships.
Star Cruises offers everything from lavish stage shows and circus acts to dedicated children's centres with video arcades and the latest in interactive computer games. Plus there's internet cafes, movie cinemas, libraries, karaoke rooms, swimming pools, spas and saunas, gymnasiums and even beauty treatments. Truly something for everyone.
In addition to casual snacks in bars and cafes and buffet-style dining, the finest Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French and Modern European cuisine is served in specialty restaurants on certain Star Cruises ships. Here, classically-trained chefs from around the world produce meals, complemented by wine lists you would expect to find in recognised regional restaurants. SuperStar Virgo, for instance, offers eight restaurants, five bars and lounges.
These include 24-hour room service, business centre, massage, sauna, beauty and hair treatment, supervised Childcare Centre, baby-sitting services, extensive children's games rooms, jogging tracks, fitness centre, karaoke lounges, casino, night club, and meeting and conference rooms.
The variety of choice extends to on-board accommodation to cater for couples, singles sharing, families, conferences and social groups. Connecting cabins and cabins for physically-challenged passengers are also available.
Number of ships: 8.
Ship sizes: 19,000 - 76,800 tonnes, 800 - 1870 passengers.
What's included in the price:
With the outstanding choice of cruises, ships and itineraries available for every budget, a cruise represents almost unlimited travel experiences. With choices ranging from intimate yacht-like vessels with as few as 50 passengers, to massive mega ships stretching longer than three football fields and carrying up to 4000 people, choosing the right cruise could be seen as slightly overwhelming. Regardless of physical dimensions, all cruise ships offer the same basic ingredients: accommodation, entertainment, activities, an abundance of food, good service and exciting ports of call.
It's just that some may offer that special 'something' that will suit you better than some other options.
The number of passengers on board your ship is an important consideration, if you want to meet and socialise with lots of people or want to enjoy quiet time with your partner.
Selecting the cruise line and fellow passengers that best match your personality is crucial, as it could make or break your experience.
Do you enjoy a highly planned holiday, with assigned dining times and timetabled activities? Do you want an adventure across the oceans or a meander along a river? These are just a sample of the many questions you will need to ask yourself when deciding which cruise ship is right for you.
Ships come in three principal categories and are measured in Gross Registered Tonnes (GRT) and the number of passengers that they carry.
Let us take you through some of the discerning attributes of each, to help you break through to the cruise horizon and have the cruise holiday you have always dreamed about.
1200-4000 passengers, 90,000-160,000 GRT
Creating a resort environment, these are the ships to choose if you enjoy a very social atmosphere with loads of entertainment and an endless supply of food. They provide a well-packaged cruise holiday experience that can range from standard to luxury.
One of the best things about large ship cruising is the extensive range of entertainment facilities and programs available for people of all ages and interests. During the day, busy yourself with a workout at the gym, indulge in a pampering spa treatment, take a cooking class, play a round of mini-golf... or enjoy hundreds of other options. At night, be entertained in grand venues such as casinos and nightclubs. If you are travelling with children, large ships are well suited due to the extent of children's programs on board.
On the list of advantages is the amazing selection of restaurants and dining, from 24-hour room service menus to smorgasbord buffets and gala five-course formal dinners. Large ships are perfect for those who like their days to be busy as there are always activities happening across the ship.
500-1200 passengers, 30,000-90,000 GRT
Somewhere in between larger resort ships and small ships, mid-size ships tend to offer a premium cruise experience. Mid-size ships are very well suited to smaller ports due to their ease of manoeuvrability. This allows many cruise lines to operate itineraries not possible for large resort ships or small and boutique ships, such as some round-the-world cruises and longer journeys that take in many exotic locales.
Neither too big, nor too small, these ships' size and facilities generally strike a happy balance. You can easily find your way around, and there is still a range of activities and excursions to participate in.
With regards to entertainment, there is ample. While mid-size ships don't offer as wide a range of facilities or productions as those on large ships, they do offer a greater range of facilities than small ships and more than enough to keep everyone entertained, particularly when considering the ratio of passenger numbers to facilities. So if you are wanting the best of both worlds, a mid-size ship is the perfect choice.
50-500 passengers, 5000-30,000 GRT
If you're seeking an intimate cruise experience with personalised service, then a small ship cruise holiday will probably suit you best. With small ship cruising, you could find yourself on the deck of some of the world's most exclusive cruise ships. This can be on coastal vessels with basic amenities, river cruise ships, sailing ships and expedition ships that take you on nature-based cruises to frontiers such as Antarctica and along the Amazon.
This is the kind of cruise you should choose if you enjoy a quiet and relaxed experience out to sea, with fewer passengers, facilities, entertainment and dining options than large ships. This is the right choice if you would like a more unique adventure or an educational journey that provides a rather intimate ambience.
Furthermore, if you would like to access some off-the-beaten-track ports that large ships aren't generally able to access, this is the definitely the cruise for you. Small ship cruising allows you to experience culturally rich and unique port destinations, in a more intimate environment and more exclusivity in your shore experiences.
Some of the most important questions you need to ask your travel consultant when booking your cruise are:
One of the most important decisions you'll need to make when booking a cruise is your cabin type and location.
Sometimes there can be up to 20 different cabin categories, so how do you go about choosing the perfect cabin?
Basically your decision will come down to three different variables: size, type and location.
Your choice will be a personal lifestyle preference or may depend on your budget. The best thing to do is to talk with your Flight Centre travel consultant - spend some time thinking about what is important to you and consider the cost differential, and they will recommend the most suitable cabin type for your needs.
Many cruise ships today have standard cabins of similar size and amenities, so the price differential may eventually be based on the cabin location - the level of the deck and then location on that deck. Cabins on higher decks tend to be the most expensive as they are nearer the pool and sun decks - particularly attractive on warm-weather cruises. Mid-ship cabins also attract a higher premium, as their central location provides the smoothest ride. Inside Cabins on the lowest decks are often the most affordable due to their position in relation to common areas such as pools.
These are the lowest category of cabin and the cheapest, in the internal section of the ship, with no window or porthole to the ocean. Some of the newer ships may have windows into the atrium of the ship, but inside cabins tend to be best suited to passengers who intend on being out and about a lot and don't require any natural light. Talk to your Flight Centre consultant about the price difference between an Inside and Outside Cabin as the difference may be quite small.
Generally, Outside Cabins are almost identical in size and amenities to the Inside Cabins, the only difference is the sealed window or porthole to the ocean, offering natural light into the room. The Porthole Cabins are on the lower decks and are generally the least expensive. Most modern ships have large picture windows rather than portholes, but these windows cannot be opened, so if you want a sea breeze in your room, you'll need to get a Balcony Cabin.
The Balcony (verandah) Cabin is the next step up from Outside Cabins, generally offering the same amenities, but with the added advantage of sliding glass doors that give you access to the outside and ocean views from anywhere in your cabin. They are a place for you to sit, dine, enjoy the view or even have a massage. Enquire about the price of a Balcony Cabin, as it sometimes won't cost you much more than an Outside Cabin, and may have the added bonus of a butler.
Above the Balcony Cabin category, there's a range of luxury cabins that offer more space and facilities than other cabin categories. Suites come in all shapes, sizes, and locations. Some have private balconies, others come without; others may offer interconnecting cabins for families and may accommodate groups of up to 14 passengers. They are a wonderful treat, especially if you have a lot of days at sea. A new trend is the spa cabin, offering direct access to the ships' spa.
One first step in choosing a cruise is deciding where you want to go, but it's worth remembering that different cruise lines travel in many different regions of the globe.
Different cruises depart from different ports or hubs. Your choice of cruise affects your departure point.
From the frozen wonderland of Alaska, to the tropical paradise of Cancun, cruising North America is an incredible experience. Your departure point depends on the cruise you choose. If Canada and Alaska are your cruising destinations, you will need to depart from Vancouver or Seattle. If you are looking to cruise the New England area, you will need to depart from Quebec or Montreal. If the Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal whet your appetite, you will have to depart from Los Angeles. Combine a short stay before you leave to take in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.
For a Southern Caribbean departure you will need to make your way to San Juan, however if you're heading to the eastern or western Caribbean, then your departure point is Miami. Finally, if the islands of Bermuda and a Transatlantic crossing are beckoning you, then your departure city is New York.
Where else can you experience so many different cultures and cuisines than Europe? But where you want to explore on this great continent affects where your cruise will depart from.
If you're planning a Mediterranean or Transatlantic cruise then your departure point will be Southampton. It is located on the coast south of London and near the New Forest.
If the western Mediterranean is where you are headed, your departure city will be Barcelona, while cruises for the eastern Mediterranean, including the Croatian coast, depart from Rome or Venice.
Should you wish to cruise both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greek Isles, however, then your departure points are different again, with cruises departing from either Athens or Istanbul. You'll need to factor in some extra time to explore these ancient cities.
Blue skies, warm sunshine, countless islands... who wouldn't want to spend their days cruising the beautiful Pacific? But the part of the Pacific you want to cruise affects your departure point.
To cruise the Pacific generally you will need to depart from either Sydney, Brisbane or Auckland.
However, if you're looking to cruise Tahiti and her islands, you will need to depart from her glamorous and unique capital Papeete. So if you live in Australia and want to cruise this part of the Pacific, you will need to fly there first.
Similarly, if cruising the Hawaiian islands is more your speed, you will need to make your way to Honolulu in order to depart.
Once you've enjoyed the highlights of these cities, set sail on a cruise of a lifetime over the world's largest oceans from Australia to the American sub-continent.
Long to explore South America, Asia, the Middle East and more? Then make sure you head to the right departure point to head off on the cruise of a lifetime.
If you plan to cruise the shores of South America and wilds of Antarctica, then there are two possible South American departure points - Santiago or Buenos Aires - depending on the individual cruise you choose.
By contrast, if you're cruising anywhere in the Middle East you will need to depart from Dubai. And if you're looking to explore South East Asia, then you will need to head to Singapore, which is generally your departure point for South East Asian cruising.
However, if Vietnam, China and Japan are your specific destinations, then your cruising departure point will be the glamorous port of Hong Kong. This former UK territory is a glamorous mix of China and the new world.
With all the options for action, fun, exercise and education available on many cruise ships, you'll probably need to pencil in some time for rest and relaxation.
First-time cruisers may not know about all the facilities on board their ship and may be concerned about filling in the days on the open sea.
There is no need to have any concerns as the options are endless.
What activities are available? The range of activities available on most cruise ships is extensive. On larger ocean-going cruises, you'll usually find activities such as swimming, exercise classes, computer training, art auctions, photography classes, dance lessons, shuffleboard, deck quoits, basketball and tennis, to name a few.
You could attend lectures on the culture, history, flora and fauna of the region you're cruising in or perhaps even learn some tips on cooking the regional fare. If games of bingo, trivia quizzes, crafts and board games are more your speed, you're also catered for.
Facilities on board the ship may include anything from day spas, gyms and saunas to wave pools, cinemas, ice-skating rinks, mini-golf courses, ten-pin bowling alleys and rock climbing walls. The children are looked after too with dedicated child and teen facilities offering hangouts and activities geared to the younger set.
For night owls, every night on a cruise ship is an entertainment spectacular. Consider your ship a floating capital city, with nightclubs, movies, live music, themed parties, magic, comedy, cabaret, Broadway and West End-style shows and casinos to keep everyone entertained.
If you're after something a little quieter, sit back and relax in one of the many cosy lounges and bars on your ship, enjoying cocktails, the talent of a live pianist and some quiet conversation.
Remember, how you spend your time is your choice. There is no pressure to join in any organised activities or social events. Spend your days on the open water catching up on that thrilling novel or spending quality time with your family and friends.
The activities schedule Generally there will be all kinds of 'goodies' in your cabin when you first arrive on your ship. These will include a programme of on-board activities that is generally updated on a daily basis: a new copy is placed in your cabin each night to show you exactly what you can participate in the following day.
To get your bearings on the ship, it's a good idea to go exploring prior to sailing, that way you'll know exactly where to find facilities such as the gyms, theatres, dining rooms, lounges, casinos and nightclubs for when you need them.
Many of the hassles of a traditional land-based holiday are completely eliminated in one convenient package on a cruising holiday. Not only does cruising offer you great value for money, exciting activities, exotic new horizons, a wonderful choice for romance and relaxation and fabulous dining options, it also provides the ultimate in convenience.
Here are some of the benefits.
No other kind of holiday allows travellers to visit different countries with the convenience of only unpacking once. Once on board your ship, you really have arrived at your home away from home. No need to live out of a suitcase.
On a cruise, there's no need to stress about making flight connections as you travel from one destination to another, or the hassle of waiting for flight check-ins and luggage collection.
With your ship being your mode of transport, unless you opt for rental cars or scooters in ports of call, you need never pick up a set of keys or navigate foreign traffic and road maps when you're on a cruise.
Enjoy dining out? There are options aplenty. You won't have to worry about any lengthy waits for available tables at the dining room on a cruise. If you're craving a late-night snack, head for the nearest pizzeria or sushi bar, or maybe spoil yourself with a lazy midnight room service order.
No need to call ahead and hope that your favourite restaurant will have a spare table: your seat is always reserved for you. On a traditional holiday, not only might you need to endure such trials, you are also usually limited to a narrow area of dining and entertainment within walking distance of your hotel.
No need for your wallet Use your cruise ID card to pay for souvenirs, drinks and other items on board the ship and then settle the bill at the end. In fact, you should only need to use your wallet for any trips on shore.
If you're keen to keep fit while on board, it's easy to do. You don't need a gym membership to visit a cruise ship's fitness centre or to join in one of the workout classes.
Rather than spending hours researching your destination, simply read over the ship's daily newsletter, usually placed in your cabin each night, for a heads-up on the activities and shore excursions schedule. It's all sorted for you! Your Flight Centre consultant can also help pre-book your shore excursions so all you have to do is turn up and enjoy.
A holiday wouldn't be a holiday without enjoying great food and service.
You'll be happy to know that cruise ships take food to a whole new level. In fact, the choice and quantity of food available on many cruise ships needs to be seen to be believed: welcome on board your 'floating smorgasbord'.
The thrill of anticipation that comes with dining out at a fine restaurant at home is the same feeling you get on board the ship.
At sea, dining in elegant, friendly and comfortable surroundings stimulates an appetite that is heightened by the fresh ocean air. From five-course meals in the main dining room to poolside barbecues and pizzerias, your tastebuds are certainly covered on a cruise.
It is common for most standard ships (particularly large 'resort' ships) to offer two seatings for dinner. You must select, at the time of booking, between either an early or late sitting: you will then dine at the same time and at the same table each night with four to 10 other passengers.
Some ships are free from strict dining times and dress codes however, offering 'open seating' dining. Passengers can choose from any available table and sit with whomever they choose at whatever time they choose, affording a much more relaxed experience. There are also alternative dining rooms available on some ships that require an additional fee, but offer four- to five-star service and food: worth it if you are wanting to splurge.
For those who enjoy dressing up to the nines every now and then, formal nights are offered. Men will be expected to wear a dark suit and tie, or perhaps even a dinner jacket, while ladies can dress up in a cocktail dress or evening gown. Some ships also have semi-formal nights. Alternate dining options will be available for those who would prefer a more casual dining experience.
Although food on cruise ships generally has a reputation for being grand and rich, today's emphasis on low-fat and low-salt diets mean most ships will have menu options for healthy eating, some even include basic nutritional information such as fat, protein and carbohydrate content. If you have any specific dietary requirements, advise your Flight Centre consultant when booking and get the cruise line to confirm they can support your needs.
Many ships offer restaurants that specialise in world cuisines such as Italian, Japanese, French or Chinese. In these restaurants, you can dine for a nominal fee at a table for two or more, at your discretion. Bookings must be made once on board.
Many ships have self-service buffets available for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. These are quick, convenient and a relaxed way to dine while out on the open seas.
Most ships offer a room service menu, that is more often than not, accompanied by convenient 24-hour service and is usually complimentary.