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
16-Night Eastern Mediterranean Cruise

Cruise Direct

15-Night Australia & New Zealand Cruise
15-Night Australia & New Zealand 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:


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:

Cruise line Gratuities
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:

Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

No single supplement

Book select cruises as a solo traveller and pay no single supplement.

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