Celebrity Sails Down Under

Amid Maori war chants and songs from a New Zealand repertory theater company, Celebrity Cruises announced Thursday that it would begin 14-day itineraries on Mercury in Australia and New Zealand in December 2007. Booking for the new cruises opens May 17. The decision to enter this market was an "easy one," according to President Dan Hanrahan, who added that considerable research showed that "Celebrity belongs in this part of the world." Six open-jaw sailings between Auckland, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia, will operate December 2007 through March 2008, making port at Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound in New Zealand, as well as Melbourne, Newcastle and Sydney, Australia, and Hobart, Tasmania. Before the start of this service, the ship will reposition from Tahiti and French Polynesia. A series of cruise/tour packages in the region will complement the cruise, including two-night stays in Sydney, an escorted three-night experience in Sydney and Cairns, or a five-night adventure featuring Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef. The expansion of Celebrity's offerings is among approximately 40 new ports of call that have been added to the line's roster, said Hanrahan. "When cruisers make a choice of what cruise to take, they go by the itinerary and destination," said Hanrahan. "We knew we had to offer something different."