26 November 2007

Cruise Ship Season

November through to April sees the cruise ships head down to the Pacific for the Southern Hemisphere summer cruise programme.

Melbourne has quite a few visits lined up this season and you can see the full list of ships due to dock on the Port of Melbourne website.

First in was Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas - the best looking and most modern ship so far.

Over the long holiday weekend, 2 ships visited on Emirates Melbourne Cup Day, to allow the passengers to experience the excitement of one of the most famous horse races in the world, billed as "The Celebration that stops a Nation". Unlike the Dubai races, official betting is allowed!

Holland America Line's Statendam berthed on one side...

... and P&O's Pacific Sun was stationed on the other, behind 2 Australian Navy vessels.

Last Thursday, Regent's Seven Seas Mariner graced the cruise ship terminal.

The red hulled ship that you can just see in the above image is the Spirit of Tasmania I. She and her sister ship Spirit of Tasmania II (funnily enough), ferry back and forwards over Bass Strait, delivering freight, vehicles and passengers to and from Tasmania. Depending on the weather, the trip is often very rough and takes 9 hours.

On Saturday, P&O's Pacific Star was in town.

The P&O vessels look old and somewhat dilapidated, and judging from comments that I've overheard from some of the passengers, they are less than impressed with the onboard facilities.

I often find myself playing tour guide when some of the passengers and I share the tram on the way into the city. I tell them where to get off for the main shopping area, as well as which trams will take them to the zoo and the Queen Victoria Markets. It's fun!

For me, highlights of the season will be the visit of Cunard's new Queen Victoria on February 21st, and a nostalgic goodbye to Queen Elizabeth 2 on February 29th. Most people mistakenly think that she was named for the current Queen of England, but the human queen is actually known as Elizabeth II, whereas the ship is QE2 as she is the second of Cunard's vessels to bear the Queen Elizabeth name.

This cruise is her last Southern Hemisphere cruise as she ends her service next year to be retired and sailed into Dubai, to become a floating hotel.

Because Dubai doesn't have enough hotels and the Dubai Government had a spare $100 million to buy her.


Jin said...

I'd love to go on a cruise - trouble is I'm allergic to seawater! I have this fear of being stranded, then scratching myself to death. I'm strange, I know, you don't have to tell me!

nzm said...

Jeez - I'd hate to be allergic to seawater. My tropical diving hobby would be no more.