Due to the current uncertainty around travel restrictions and port closures in Asia, many cruise lines are redeploying ships to Australia or extending current local seasons. This brings a deluge of additional cruises, leading to unprecedented value on last-minute deals for Australians, including some luxury cruises selling for less than budget brands.
Leading the way is Cunard Line, which has switched plans for the iconic Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth. As a result, an unscheduled voyage on QM2 from Fremantle to Sydney was created, priced from a crazy AU$950 per person for 17 nights (AU$55 per night). Unfortunately this ship has sailed -- it departed yesterday on February 19.
However, Cunard today announced a two-month extension of Queen Elizabeth's current Australian cruise season, keeping it in local waters until May.
Among the six new itineraries introduced for the luxurious ship is its first-ever 27-night circumnavigation of Australia, departing April 12, and a 24-night transpacific voyage via New Caledonia, Honolulu, Maui, Los Angeles and San Francisco, departing May 9. Both of these cruises have inside cabins starting from AU$1,799 per person twin share.
Queen Elizabeth's new Australia and New Zealand itineraries will go on sale on cunard.com from 9am tomorrow (February 21).
Princess Cruises is also making significant changes with the early redeployment of Sapphire Princess to Australia. This move will add a massive 44 new cruises from Australia's five largest cities -- Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth (Fremantle) -- between May and October 2020.
By arriving six months earlier than planned, the refurbished 2670-passenger ship will be based in Australia for a whole year. Sapphire's new winter and spring cruises are expected to be priced low, with special launch fares announced this week.
Among the new options is an inaugural Australia circumnavigation sailing roundtrip from Adelaide, with similar options from Fremantle and Sydney, and 19 maiden calls along the WA coast. Other affordable deals include a 10-night Coral Coast voyage from Fremantle to Broome, Geraldton and Exmouth, departing May 12, priced from AU$699 per person twin share. The full range of Sapphire Princess' specials will open for booking next Thursday (February 27).
Royal Caribbean's almost brand new Spectrum of the Seas will also be heading to Sydney in the next few weeks, offering free cruises for bushfire heroes. Details of other Spectrum sailings are yet to be released but we'll update as soon as available.
Dream Cruises' Sydney office said there will not be an extended Australia/New Zealand season for Explorer Dream, although its Asia cruises have been cancelled until 4 April 2020.