Luxury cruise line Cunard has announced that its world famous ship Queen Elizabeth will be based in Australia for an unprecedented 101 days over the 2019-20 summer.
Queen Elizabeth will sail on six roundtrip cruises from Melbourne and two from Sydney during the season, which will feature an array of itineraries to South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between December 2019 and March 2020.
The new 2020 Australian deployment will be almost double the length of Queen Elizabeth’s scheduled 54-day season Down Under early next year, which will see the ship sailing from Sydney and Melbourne during February-March 2019.
Cunard Senior Vice President Simon Palethorpe said Queen Elizabeth’s record 2020 season reflected the importance of the Australian cruise market to Cunard as well as Melbourne’s growing attraction as a cruise hub, with the Victorian capital providing the ship’s homeport for two months.
"Over the past few years we’ve seen unprecedented growth in demand for the Cunard experience in Australia so it made sense for us to invest further in the market and extend the sailing season of Queen Elizabeth even more in 2020," Mr Palethorpe said.
"Our new 2019-20 summer season will not only feature more cruises, it will also offer some exciting new itinerary options which we hope will entice even more Australians to experience Cunard’s legendary service and style."
Mr Palethorpe said the December arrival of the 2080-guest Queen Elizabeth meant she would spend Christmas in local waters - a first for Cunard’s current fleet of Queens.
Travellers will be able to sail from Melbourne to New Zealand over the festive break with Christmas Day spent cruising the Tasman Sea, Boxing Day in the tranquil waters of Fiordland National Park and New Year’s Eve in Auckland Harbour, enjoying the world’s first firework spectacular as a new decade begins.
Other cruises from Melbourne will include voyages to South Australia and Tasmania. Following her two-month Melbourne deployment, Queen Elizabeth will sail to Sydney where she will cruise on two roundtrip voyages from the city before heading north.
Her Sydney offerings will include a new 14-night cruise to Papua New Guinea, featuring the cruise line’s maiden calls to the beautiful Conflict Islands and Kiriwina in the Trobriand Islands.
Other maiden visits during the summer season include Cunard’s first call to Esperance in Western Australia, while Queen Elizabeth will be making her inaugural visits to Albany, Whitsunday Islands and Darwin.
At 90,900 tonnes, Queen Elizabeth is the second largest ship ever to sail in Cunard’s fleet. Launched in 2010, she is also the youngest in the cruise line’s current trio of Queens with features including more than 10 restaurants and cafes, a Games Deck featuring paddle tennis, croquet and bowls, a two-storey library, a ballroom and a three-deck Royal Court Theatre seating 800 guests and offering private boxes.
Full details of the 2020 World Voyage season will be released on March 13, with the program scheduled to go on sale on March 20, 2018.