Princess Cruises has a loyal following of dedicated Australians who have travelled on the locally based mid-sized ships and the superliners that come Down Under in summertime. Now there’s even more choice with the arrival of Golden Princess to cater to Princess’s Melbourne fan club, and with cruises operating from four Australian capital cities, there’s no reason not to get on board. Warm balmy January nights are ideal for reclining on a deckchair, watching a movie under the stars with popcorn and drink in hand. All Princess ships have a big outdoor screen and an adults-only retreat called The Sanctuary. Lovers of Japanese culture will be clamouring to book the Diamond Princess to try its authentic bathhouse and excellent sushi restaurant. Every ship is individually styled and each delivers a classic holiday experience, but these are the best Princess cruises in January 2016.
January 4, 2016: Sun Princess 4 night Western Australian Getaway – departing Fremantle
There’s nothing like a little getaway to blow the cobwebs away. This short’n’sweet sojourn on the high seas combines a dash of history with wine-tasting some of Australia’s finest wines. From Fremantle, the Sun Princess heads south to Albany, a city steeped in Anzac legend. Tours will trace the journey of the WWI soldiers who set off from Albany in 1914, on a journey that would eventually lead to Gallipoli. At Busselton, passengers can walk on the longest wooden jetty in the Southern Hemisphere, which stretches 2km out to sea. The township is also the gateway to Margaret River, an area synonymous with quality wine. There will be time to tour the vineyards and stop in one of the wine region’s lovely villages, known for their gourmet food shops and stylish homeware boutiques.
January 10, 2016: Golden Princess 13 nights New Zealand – departing Melbourne
Golden Princess is Melbourne’s new golden girl. The superliner will call the city home during the coming summer and head out on a dozen journeys to New Zealand. Passengers will have a chance to explore Gisborne, which due to its east coast position claims to be the first city to greet the new day. It also produces a good drop of chardonnay and pinot gris. Rotorua’s geothermal delights and Maori culture are just an hour away from the port of Tauranga, while the highlights of Wellington are literally minutes from the cruise terminal. The quaint village of Akaroa is a passenger favourite for its French signposts and fascinating past, while a day’s cruise through the Fiordland National Park is the perfect way to end this great fortnight at sea.
January 11, 2016: Diamond Princess 12 nights New Zealand cruise on board – departing Sydney
New Zealand is beautiful in January when the days are warm and sunny and the nights are mild. However, if things do get chilly on the high seas, the beautifully refurbished Diamond Princess is fitted with an authentic Japanese bathhouse where a two-hour session in a variety of hot baths and steam rooms will banish or chills and ills. This itinerary is a mix of “big town” visits and a blissful day spent weaving in and out of three ancient fiords – Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds – on the west coast. A certain highlight will be the cute town of Akaroa, which has a decidedly Gallic flair. Here many of the street signs and place names are French, in honour of a very short-lived French settlement back in 1836.
January 12, 2016: Sea Princess 10-night New Caledonia and Vanuatu – departing Brisbane
Brisbane residents can now enjoy the convenience of a round-trip cruise to the islands from their own doorstep. Just days after embarking, the Sea Princess folks will be sipping espressos in cafes and trying on French fashions in Noumea. In Vanuatu, ports of call will showcase the island nation’s well-known friendliness and laid-back charm. Mystery Island and Wala tick all those tropical paradise boxes, but for sheer beauty nothing quite equals Champagne Bay. Voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, there’s a wide sweep of soft sand and turquoise waters that literally sparkle and fizz. Luganville is a sleepy little town, while Vila has it all, from authentic village life to gourmet dining and great shopping.
January 22, 2016: Sea Princess 14-night Papua New Guinea cruise – departing Brisbane
For many, a trip to Papua New Guinea is a homecoming or a pilgrimage. Generations of Australians are connected to this rugged island nation through residency, work or war. Today it’s possible to retrace history in style, taking a journey to this “Last Frontier” on the luxurious Sea Princess. Beginning at Alotau in the Milne Bay Province, passengers will learn how the Australians fought the Japanese in 1942. A visit to Rabaul will have passengers walking in the shadow of a smoking volcano, the same one that destroyed the town in 1994. In Kitava and Doini islands, there is little to do but flop on the soft sand and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters. And with four days at sea, there will be time to have cocktails at the Sundowners Bar, catch a movie on the big outdoor screen and relax with a massage in the Lotus Spa.