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:
Cruise from $98 per person: 3-day P&O sale
Valid on select P&O Cruises booked before 26 January. Sample fares include a 2-night cruise from Sydney-Melbourne for $98, 2-night cruise from Melbourne-Adelaide for $149 and a 3-night cruise from Sydney for $248.
Up to 80% off top cruise lines
Enjoy up to 80% off top cruise lines with Norweigian Cruise Line, Costa, Royal Caribbean cruises and more at Cruise Direct. Conditions apply
20% off sailing adventures
Valid on departures between 1 April - 10 May. Destinations include Thai islands in Asia, Greece and Croatia in Europe.
3 for Free Sale: Upgrades, Drinks & Credit
Cruise on selected voyages and you can enjoy a free stateroom location upgrade, plus free onboard spending money, plus a free Wine and Dine package T&Cs apply. See site for details.
Up to 30% off + onboard credit on Royal Caribbean Cruises
Valid on sailings departing before 22 April and also includes 50% off deposits when you book select cruises in Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Transpacific and Asia repositioning cruises and more at CruiseAway. T&Cs apply.
Save up to $4,620 on select cabins and departures in Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada
Save up to $4,620 on select cabins and departures in Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada. Valid for select 2018 departures, for travel between June and September 2018. Conditions apply.
Up to $600 onboard credit + free specialty dining
Get up to $600 free onboard spending money per stateroom. Plus book a Balcony, Mini-Suite or Suite and receive free specialty dining. T&Cs apply.
Up to $8,300 off select Antarctic voyages
Get up to $8,300 off select Antarctic voyages departing in the 2017-2018 season at Peregrine Adventures. T&Cs apply.
Up to 30% off select river cruises
Valid on select river cruises departing before 31 July in the Amazon, Ganges, Mekong and in Burgundy.
Fred. Olsen's Cruise Sale + freebies and more
Enjoy big savings, freebies and more when you book a cruise during Fred. Olsen's Cruise Sale.
10% off Croatia adventure cruises
Valid on Croatia Coastal Cruising Adventure only, all available cabin types, Dubrovnik to Sibenik or reverse, all 2017 departures: Discount excludes Private Groups. Discount applies to new bookings made and deposited between 9 Dec 2016 and 27 Feb 2017.
$1 deposits with P&O + free drinks package
Valid on cruises departing between 1 March 2017 and 31 January 2018. Cruises longer than seven nights will get a free premium beverage package. Cruises less than seven nights will get a free soft drinks package.
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.
10% off adventure cruises
Get 10% off adventure cruises at Peregrine Adventures.