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

What's wave season?

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.

RoyalCaribbean.Ovation2Image: 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:

16-Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
Cruise Direct
15-Night Australia & New Zealand Cruise
Cruise Direct
12-Night Asia Cruise
Cruise Direct


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:

7-Day Sydney to Perth Cruise
Princess Cruise Lines
7-Night Vietnam & Thailand Cruise
Princess Cruise Lines
8-Day Japan & Korea Cruise
Princess Cruise Lines


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:

7-Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise
Cruise Direct
7-Night Western Caribbean Cruise
Cruise Direct


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:

6-Night Western Caribbean Cruise
Cruise Direct
10-Night Mediterranean Cruise
Cruise Direct
11-Night Southern Caribbean Cruise
Cruise Direct


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:

7-Night River Cruise from Amsterdam
Cruise Direct
9-Night River Cruise from Budapest
Cruise Direct
7-Night River Cruise from Paris
Cruise Direct

Cruise lineGratuities
Royal CaribbeanRecommended US$12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suites)
Princess CruisesRecommended 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 LinesRecommended US$12 per person, per day
Carnival Cruise LinesRecommended US$12 per person, per day
Viking River CruisesRecommended €5-7 per person, per day

Looking for the best deals on cruises? Check out our coupon codes and discounts:

50% off deposit and $1000 OBC per cabin

Book on select Seabourn 2017 voyages departing between 01 January 2017 and 31 December 2017 to get 50% off deposit and $1000 OBC per cabin. Conditions apply.

20% off Amazon riverboat journeys

Valid on select riverboat journeys in Peru until 15 December.

Show code & visit site17****

After the store tab opens, come back to copy the code

Norwegian FREE at sea offer

Book select Norwegian cruises for 3 nights or longer to avail the Norwegian free at sea offer. Includes Ultimate Beverage Package, 3rd or 4th guests sail free on select sailings and more. T&Cs apply.

Second passenger cruises for just $1

Valid on select sailings until March 2018. Book select MSC Cruises sailings and the second passenger pays just $1 with a full-priced first passenger. Sample cruises include a 7-night Mediterranean sailing for $861 for two people, or just $430.50 each.

Up to $6000 off 2016/2017 Antarctica sailings

Valid on select sailings departing between November and February.

Get up to $400 onboard credit

Book close-to-home cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific and get up to $400 onboard credit, or book world cruises for up to $2000 onboard credit.

Save up to $4000 on cruises

Get up to $4000 off launch fares on select cruises and $1000 off fly/cruise holidays for sailings in Europe, Alaska, Japan and world cruise segments.

30% off select river cruises

Save 30% on select river cruises at G Adventures. Valid on select sailings departing before 31 December in Burgundy and on the Mekong, Ganges or Amazon Rivers.

Show code & visit site17****

After the store tab opens, come back to copy the code

Browse all current deals with Princess Cruises

Find Princess Cruises’ best weekly cruise offers here.

Up to 79% off Carnival Cruises

Save up to 79% on the brochure rate of Carnival Cruise sailings when you book with CruiseAway.

Up to $1000 in onboard credit

Book a Royal Caribbean cruise with Cruise Direct and get up to $1000 in onboard credit.

Get discounted flights, hotels and everything else

Discover the world of low cost travel with BYOJet.

Save on last-minute bookings

Find discounts on last-minute travel bookings at Expedia

Alex Keshen

Alex takes care of the travel section here at If there's a new sale on tours or cruises, discounted flights or hotels, or anything else that can be on offer, she'll fill you in.

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