5 best cruise ships to set sail on this wave season
Find your next cruise deal during the industry’s best sale season
Packed with everything from waterslides and luxury spas to bumper cars and rock-climbing walls, cruise ships are becoming more and more like floating resorts each year, bracing the likes of celebrity chefs to their restaurants and movie studios to the ships’ entertainment areas.
Not surprisingly, the industry is starting to attract record numbers of passengers. Last season, Australia saw a 13.4% increase in the number of ships calling to its ports and one of the highest growth rates of cruisers.
With an increasing number of options for Australians, choosing the perfect cruise isn’t easy. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of five of the best cruise ships you should set sail on this year.
Feature image: Princess Cruises
In Australia, wave season generally refers to the six months where cruise ships line just about every major port. It runs from about October to April.
The latter half of that, from January until March, is also known for being one of the best times to book a cruise with some of the lowest rates of the year available during this time.
Image: Royal Caribbean
Best for families:
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s newest ship is set to grace Australian shores at the end of 2016. Ovation of the Seas is part of the line’s Quantum Glass of ships and offers features like Dynamic Dining (where there are no set dining times or formal nights) and newly designed staterooms.
- Take in 360-degree views from 300 feet in the air on the North Star capsule
- Join activities like bumper cars, roller skating, indoor skydiving, surf simulators and rock-climbing walls
- Enjoy fine dining, bars run solely by robots and celebrity restaurant experiences, like Jamie’s Italian
Book a Royal Caribbean cruise
Top itinerary picks:
Image: Princess Cruises
Best for couples:
Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess
After underdoing an extensive $30 million refurbishment in 2014, the Diamond Princess now features a 817-square-metre Japanese bath and garden complex and sushi restaurant to cater to the growing Japanese passenger base. Offering cruises around New Zealand during the early part of the year before moving to Asia, the ship's baths complex is perfect on a cool evening after exploring the coastline.
- 81% of cruisers on Cruise Critic love the ship
- Anytime dining option available
- Range of itineraries available including Australia, New Zealand and Asia sailings
Book a Princess Cruises sailing
Top itinerary picks:
Image: Disney Cruise Lines
Best for children:
Disney Cruise Lines’ Disney Fantasy
Create the ultimate kid’s holiday with a Disney-themed cruise that departs from Port Canaveral, Florida (located less than an hour from Disney World). The House of Mouse-owned ship offers plenty of family-friendly entertainment options and activities for children of all ages and is one of the few Disney ships to run seven-day sailings.
- Recommended by 94% of reviewers on CruiseCritic
- Features the AquaDuck water coaster and AquaLab splash park
- Disney character experiences for a magical touch during dining
Book a Disney cruise
Top itinerary picks:
Image: Carnival Cruise Lines
Best for budget sailings:
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Vista
Carnival’s newest megaship, the Carnival Vista, will be the line’s largest ship to date when it debuts in May 2016. She’ll sail around the Mediterranean before crossing the Atlantic later in the year to run a series of six- and eight-day Caribbean itineraries. Among its new features, the ship will play host to the first IMAX at sea and pedal-powered capsules.
- Features an adults-only deck
- Offers new Cuba-themed Havana staterooms and suites that are strictly for guests aged 12 or older and Family Harbor staterooms complete with complimentary babysitting in the evening
- Cruises start at just $60 per person, per day
Book a Carnival cruise
Top itinerary picks:
Image: Viking River Cruises
Best luxury liner:
Viking River Cruises’ ‘Longship’ fleet: Alruna, Egil, Kadlin, Rolf, Tialfi and Osfrid
Condé Nast Traveller recently listed Viking as one of “the cruises we want to take right now” on the publication’s revered Gold List, noting the line’s Longships offer “swankier staterooms”. Viking is launching six of these new ships in 2016. The river cruise line also branched out into ocean cruising in 2015, launching its first ocean liner, the Viking Star.
- Join hands-on demonstrations, cooking classes, traditional dance performances, and local tastings at no additional charge
- Lounge on a sundeck with 360-degree views, an organic herb garden and putting green
- Free internet access and 24-hour beverage bar for all passengers
Book a Viking River Cruise
Top itinerary picks:
|Royal Caribbean||Recommended US$12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suites)|
|Princess Cruises||Recommended US$12 per person, per day ($12.50 for Concierge Class and AquaClass plus $3.50 per person, per day for in-room butlers)|
|Disney Cruise Lines||Recommended US$12 per person, per day|
|Carnival Cruise Lines||Recommended US$12 per person, per day|
|Viking River Cruises||Recommended €5-7 per person, per day|
Looking for the best deals on cruises? Check out our coupon codes and discounts:
Up to 30% off Alaska cruise holidays with Royal Caribbean
Valid on select Alaska sailings in 2018.
Up to $500 OBC + $100 internet credit per stateroom
Enjoy the fantastic bonus extras when you book select Holland America cruises at CruiseAway. Valid for departures from 1 June - 30 March 2018. Conditions apply.
Up to 50% off cruises + up to $300 flight credit
Valid on select cruises in New Zealand, Hawaii, South Pacific, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Caribbean.
Save up to 50% per person on launch fares + up to $300 eZair credit per stateroom
Save up to 50% per person on launch fares and receive up to $300 eZair credit per stateroom when you book select Princess New Zealand, Asia, Alaska, Europe, South Pacific, Caribbean, Panama Canal and the world cruises with Princess Cruise at CruiseAway. T&Cs apply.
FREE balcony upgrade: Royal Caribbean
Receive a free balcony upgrade for the price of an oceanview when you book select Royal Caribbean cruises before close of business on 31 March 2017. Conditions apply
No single supplement
Book select cruises as a solo traveller and pay no single supplement.
Last-minute cruises from £599pp
Valid on select sailings in Europe until 19 May.
Up to 50% off red hot cruise deals
Get up to 50% off red hot cruise deals at CruiseAway. Conditions Apply
Save up to GBP£200 per person + GBP£150 of reward vouchers
Save up to GBP£200 per person on selected holidays and receive GBP£150 in vouchers per couple for their next holiday/flight at Canadian Affair. T&Cs apply.
Up to 41% off Antarctic expeditions with Peregrine
Valid on select tours including 41% off the 11-day Antarctic Explorer, 27% off the 7-day Antarctic Express and 27% off the 14-day Crossing the Circle.
Up to 41% off Antarctic and Arctic trips with Intrepid
Valid on select tours departing until in Antarctica and the Arctic. Sample expeditions include the 11-day Antarctic Explorer for 41% off, 8-day Arctic Watch Lodge for 22% off and the 11-day Antarctic Express for 22% off.
Save up to 50%: Mates Rate Sale
Valid on select sailings until 30 April 2018. Get the second passenger in your cabin for up to 50% off on select P&O sailings. Conditions apply.
Up to 14% off Antarctic cruises
Valid on select Antarctic expedition cruises from Quark Expeditions, Antarctica XXI, Silversea an Hurtigruten.
Up to 30% off rivercruises
Valid on select cruises departing until 30 April on the Ganges, Mekong and Burgundy.
Up to 72% off P&O Cruises
Valid on select cruises in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Islands. Sample discounts include 72% off a 3-night cruise from Brisbane, 85% off a 2-night cruise from Sydney to Melbourne and 56% off a 10-night South Pacific cruise from Sydney.
50% off second passenger on Azamara + free internet
Book outside cabins or higher on select Azamara cruises departing 12 June 2017 until 26 April 2018 and the second passenger sails for free, plus get free unlimited internet.