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Words Teresa Ooi
It ’s big, brash and beautiful – but will it be
a game changer?
Voyager of the Seas, billed as Australia’s
biggest ship, has home-ported in Sydney
after a $70 million makeover in Singapore.
Voyager comes armed with Royal
Caribbean’s trademark high-tech gadgets, new
restaurants and amenities to give passengers a
revolutionary cruising experience.
Top of the list is FlowRider – a 12-metre-
long surf simulator on Deck 13 where you
can surf, boogie-board or wake-board.
Australians will be among the first to break
in the waves. Even Captain Charles Teige
has tested it and is reported to be “amped”
(that ’s surfer talk for enthusiastic, we’re told).
At 311 metres long with 15 decks and
capacity for up to 3,284 passengers, Voyager
may be big, but guests do not have to worry
about getting lost. The ship has been equipped
with an interactive digital “wayfinder” system
that, at the touch of a button, tells you where
Virtual balconies in 81 interior staterooms
will feature an 80-inch, high-definition TV
screen framed to look like a real balcony
showing real-time sights and sounds of the
ocean. And for social media addicts, Voyager
will have a faster bow-to-stern Wi-Fi service.
Filmgoers will get all the action at the
ship’s new 3D movie theatre plus there will
be a 20 sq m outdoor movie screen on the
No upgrade would be complete without
the addition of new restaurants. “Foodie”
passengers will be spoilt for choice with the
introduction of the signature Chops Grille
steakhouse, Giovanni’s Table Italian trattoria
and the cool Izumi Asian fusion restaurant.
Voyager’s former Champagne Bar has
been turned into the retro-chic R Bar, taking
patrons back to the swinging ’60s.
The main dining room, Sapphire, has
been completely refitted with new carpets,
chandeliers, chairs and menu, and can cater
for up to 1,700 guests in one sitting.
For families with kids, Voyager’s old
favourite facilities have been refreshed. These
include the ice-skating rink, a full-sized court
for basketball and volleyball, a nine-hole mini-
golf course and the nine-metre rock-climbing
wall that soars 61 metres above sea level.
The ship is also retaining DreamWorks
characters such as Shrek and Kung Fu
Panda, which parade around the ship to chat
Royal Caribbean says it has no plans to
“Aussify’’ its fleet. The line’s Asia Pacific
commercial director Sean Treacy says all of
its ships will remain “international’’ in style
The revitalised ship arrived in Australia
in December and will be home-ported in
Sydney until April next year.
We were among the first to
get a glimpse of the new-
look Voyager of the Seas
shortly before it headed for
a cruise season down under.
‘Top of the list is
FlowRider – a 12-metre-
long surf simulator.’
Suite taste of things to come
APT has given cruisers a glimpse of its new Myanmar river
ship, RV Samatha, by releasing artist’s impressions of the
An image of a Twin Balcony Suite showcases the design
standards that will apply to the 30 suites. A second image
shows the main restaurant, which will feature dishes from
APT’s Asia ambassador, Luke Nguyen. The ship will also have a
swimming pool, observation deck, spa, complimentary Wi-Fi,
lounge, bar and a second restaurant.
RV Samatha, due to launch in early 2016, will operate 18-day
itineraries along the Irrawaddy River. Cruises start from $9,395
per person, twin-share. Passengers who booked by March 31,
2015 will receive free return flights to Myanmar including taxes.
Offer is subject to availability and terms and conditions apply.
For more details, see aptouring.com.au.
CRUISE NEWS: Q&A
Q: Avalon Waterways is
launching two new Suite
Ships in 2015. Tell us what’s
new about them.
A: The Suite Ships are designed
with Australians in mind and
have been a huge success,
offering a more stylish and
spacious vessel with two entire
decks of suites. Avalon Tapestry
II marks the debut of our Suite
Ship concept in France, part of
a major expansion by Avalon on
the Seine and Rhône rivers. We
have two new Suite Ships set
for launch in Europe this March
and April - the Avalon Tapestry
II and the Avalon Tranquility II.
Q. Avalon has decided on the
Open Air Balcony concept. What
are the advantages of this?
A: River cruise ships are
restricted in their width, so
external balconies reduce the
internal cabin space and can
be quite narrow and cramped.
Avalon Waterways decided to
bypass this problem by turning
the entire cabin into an Open
Air Balcony, with floor-to-
ceiling glass windows that can
be opened to enjoy the fresh
air and scenery or closed to
create an intimate living area
that still takes advantage of the
Q. The Suite Ships have a
revolutionary design. Can you
tell us a bit about what cruisers
A: At 200 sq ft, Panorama
Suites are 30 per cent larger
than the industry standard. But
perhaps the best idea is one of
our simplest – the bed has been
turned 90 degrees to face the
Q. What kind of entertainment
and activities can guests expect
on the new ships?
A: A regular happy hour is
hosted in the in the Panorama
Lounge and there’s an occasional
outdoor barbecue held at lunch
time on the Sky Deck. There
are onboard lectures or tastings
sampling the local food and
wine of the region, and nightly
entertainment including local
bands and musicians.
Q. There are additional light
dining options on Avalon
Tapestry II. Are there other
cuisine initiatives on the ship?
A: Buffets sometimes have a
negative reputation among
healthy travellers, but ours
includes a healthy variety of
low-calorie, low-fat, high-fibre,
low-cholesterol and high-
energy options. There are regular
tastings of regional delicacies,
and our cruise directors are able
to recommend local restaurants.
Q. Do Avalon chefs use
A: Wherever possible our Chef-
inspired regional cuisines feature
the freshest local ingredients.
Travellers can expect four-
course dinners. And within
our Local Favourites program,
there is opportunity to join
a shore excursion to a local
farm or winery and bring back
Q. Will Tapestry II have some of
Avalon’s exclusive experiences
and shore excursions?
A: All Suite Ship itineraries
feature Avalon Choice that
allows travellers to customise
the pace and depth of activity
they undertake. Travellers will
experience food and wine tastings
onboard conducted by experts.
Local tour guides provide
included shore excursions but
there is plenty of opportunity to
experience additional excursions.
Avalon Waterways is introducing two new Suite
Ships next year. Marketing manager Adam Mussolum
explains their virtues.
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Above: Artistry II
on the Sky Deck
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