Keeping Up With Australia's Hottest Tourism Products

Melbourne, Australia - BoripanC/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Melbourne, Australia // Photo by BoripanC/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Travel Agent breaks down the latest in Australia tourism from new hotels to keep on your radar to some of the latest cruise itineraries and flights.

Here's what you need to know. 

Hotel News

Photo courtesy of InterContinental Perth City Centre

The InterContinental Perth City Centre Opens in Western Australia

The InterContinental Perth City Centre recently opened its doors in Western Australia. The 16-story hotel’s 240 guest rooms take on a luxurious and residential feel, offering city views courtesy of the floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Among the various room layouts, guests have the option to book Club InterContinental rooms, which allow for exclusive access to a top-floor lounge and an executive meeting room. The penthouse perks include a complimentary a la carte breakfast, afternoon tea service and an evening canapes and drinks under the city-lit skyline.

The sandstone lobby walls compliment glass encased stairwells. One of the hotel’s largest installations is its floating glass lobby sculpture, “Forest Drift”, created by Margaret River glass artisan, Gerry Reilly. Reilly shares that the sizable sculpture’s shape and color scheme was inspired by Western Australia’s stunning landscapes.

The Gallery Meeting Suites is set to be a multi-purpose business center, accommodating a variety of business gatherings. Five meeting spaces are connected by a large open gathering lounge for breakout sessions. The Gallery Meeting Suites also house two open kitchens available for live culinary displays along with a terrace bar.

There are four dining venues at the InterContinental Perth, including Ascua, a ground-floor Spanish restaurant complete with an open kitchen.

Perth, Western Australia’s capital city, is undergoing significant urbanization bringing in new restaurants, bars, and travelers each year, which explains why 2018 is expecting 2,000 new hotel rooms.

The InterContinental sits on Hay Street, just down the street from His Majesty’s Theatre. Guests are just a few steps from King Street’s high end retailers ranging from Chanel to Kailis Pearls, with plenty of room for exploration of Perth’s many charming laneways and cafes.

New Pullman Hotel Set for Western Sydney

A five-star Pullman Hotel will be built as part of the Western Sydney Performing Arts Centre, which is due to open in October of 2019. The Centre will have a 2,000-seat theater to cater for large conference groups and events.

Two Hotels, Conference Center Added to Brisbane Airport Precinct

A 132-room, five-star Pullman Hotel, a 3.5 star ibis hotel and an adjoining Brisbane Airport Conference Centre, has opened within a short walk to the Brisbane Domestic Airport.

Brisbane Set to Receive New Luxury Hotel

The Mantra Group has opened a new luxury property, FV by Peppers, in Brisbane’s entertainment precinct of Fortitude Valley.

Guests can enjoy a heated u-shaped skyline swimming pool with views of Queensland’s capital city and Story Bridge.

Art Series Opens New Hotel

The Chen, the latest Art Series Hotel, has opened in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill.  The opening marks the first for Art Series Hotels new owners, Mantra Group. The 100-room hotel offers conference and event facilities, a rooftop pool and an in-house art library.

Flight News

Air New Zealand

Photo courtesy of Air New Zealand

Increased Flights Between North America and Melbourne

Air Canada has just last week commenced nonstop flights between Vancouver and Melbourne. The service will move to three times a week year-round in June. In addition, Qantas is preparing to launch a Melbourne to Los Angeles flight for mid-December.

Increased Access to Adelaide From New Zealand

Air New Zealand will increase its Auckland to Adelaide capacity by extending services from the peak summer period to year-round, starting the end of March. The move will increase passenger numbers to South Australia’s capital from New Zealand by 30 percent.

United Airlines Adds Nonstop Houston – Sydney Flights

In January, United Airlines began daily, nonstop service between its Houston hub and Sydney, Australia. The new flight, at 8,596 miles, is United’s second longest, just after United’s Los Angeles – Singapore service, which debuted in October. 

The new route also aims to serve more than 70 North American cities by enabling one-stop service to Sydney. United customers from Charlotte, North Carolina, for example currently must connect through Chicago to San Francisco before their flight brings them to Sydney. Come January 18, 2018, these customers and may others need only fly to Houston before taking off for Sydney.

United’s flight between Houston and Sydney is operated with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, each with a total of 252 seats: 48 flat-bed seats in United Polaris business class, 63 Economy Plus seats and 141 seats in United Economy. 

Dining and Nightlife

 
Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia // Photo by zetter/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Sydney’s Latest Restaurant Set to Open

A new 180-seat fine dining restaurant, Bea, opened in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct on December 16. Head chef Cory Campbell has created a contemporary Australian menu featuring native and local ingredients. The wine list features both popular Australian producers and up-and-coming producers from smaller regions. There is also a focus on biodynamic and organic wines.

Sydney Harbour Restaurant  to Undergo Major Renovation

Sydney restaurant Quay will close its doors in March for three months to undergo a major renovation of its kitchen and fine dining area. Quay will reopen with a transformed menu by Australian celebrity chef Peter Gilmore. The restaurant will be repositioned to maximize its views of the Harbour Bridge and will feature a series of small and intimate dining spaces.

The Star Gold Coast Expands Food and Beverage Offerings

The Star Gold Coast has launched a new bar called Cherry serving seasonal cocktails and drinks. Cherry will have a 72-foot long bar for prompt service and four VIP booths for small groups.

The resort will also launch a ninth venue called Food Quarter - offering a casual dining space for guests. Food Quarter will feature an open plan kitchen and extensive menu. In time for the Commonwealth Games, The Star Gold Coast will also complete a refurbishment of their 596-room, five-star hotel.

Australian Pub Reopens in Isolated Ghost Town, Population Zero

Betoota, in a near-inhospitable area of Queensland, is about 100 miles from the nearest populated locality and its temperatures can exceed 50C. The last permanent resident died in 2004.

But the former town’s only remaining building – The Betoota Hotel, a sandstone pub built around 1890 – is now set to reopen.

Robert Haken, a smash repairer, said he saw the pub 30 years ago and has since wanted to revive it. He plans to open in August and will serve fuel and drinks  as well as sausages, bacon and egg rolls, steak burgers, pies and sausages rolls.

Cruise News

Carnival Splendor

Photo by Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Splendor to Undergo Upgrade, Reposition to Sydney

Carnival Cruise Line is sending its largest cruise ship ever to Australia. In 2019, the cruise line said it will reposition the 3,006-passenger Carnival Splendor to Sydney, making it the newest and largest ship based year-round in Australia.

Carnival Splendor offers a number of signature Carnival brand amenities, including the El Morocco Lounge, which hosts comedy shows, musical performances and karaoke, as well as an onboard jazz club called The Cool. Carnival said that the ship will undergo a significant bow-to-stern upgrade prior to sailing from Sydney that will add features catering to Australian guests, including a variety of new dining experiences tailored to local tastes and a new waterpark.

The 113,300-ton vessel will make its inaugural voyage from Sydney in December 2019 following a repositioning cruise from Singapore.

Carnival Splendor currently operates seven-day Mexican Riviera and longer length voyages to Alaska and Hawaii from Long Beach, CA.  Carnival said that another one of its ships will be replacing Carnival Splendor on its Long Beach cruise program, which will be announced in the near future.

More than 800,000 Australians have cruised with Carnival since the company launched its Australia program five years ago with year-round sailings of Carnival SpiritCarnival Legend also operates seasonal departures from Sydney. The arrival of Carnival Splendor to Sydney represents a 66 percent capacity increase for Carnival Cruise Line in Australia, the cruise line said.

2018 Cruise Ports to Watch: Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia recently cracked Travel Agent's list of cruise ports to keep on your radar for 2018. New port facilities are expected to boost cruise tourism in Newcastle, where construction is under way on a new $12.7 million cruise terminal (see drawing below) at the Channel Berth. When completed later this year, it will allow the destination – along the Hunter River less than 75 miles north of Sydney -- to accept more ships and larger vessels in the future.

The port is expected to receive 10 cruise ship visits this prime cruise season (October 2017 through April 2018), double the number for last year. Norwegian Cruise Line is scheduled to call for the first time on February 21 with Norwegian Jewel. Top goal for the port? It hopes to position Newcastle as a home port or to eventually align cruise calls with such major local events as the V8 Supercars. The largest cruise ship to ever visit Newcastle, Celebrity Solstice, will make two calls this year, but an even bigger ship is on the way; Royal Caribbean International’s 3,300-passenger Explorer of the Seas will call in February 2019.

So what’s to do ashore? Cruisers can head for “tastings” at Hunter Valley wineries, bask on local beaches, view Australian wildlife at Blackbutt Reserve, head out on a pub crawl or sand dune adventure, take a dolphin spotting cruise or shop at downtown markets and shopping centers.
Most notably, Bathers Way, a pretty coastal walk between Nobbys Beach and Merewether Ocean Baths, offers a chance for cruisers to stop at Bogey Hole, an ocean bath created by Colonial-era convicts, and the 1880s-era Fort Scratchley, a museum and superb perch for city views or whale spotting.

Coral Expeditions Opens Bookings for New Ship, the Coral Adventurer

Australia-based cruise line Coral Expeditions has opened bookings for its new expedition cruise ship, the Coral Adventurer.

The Coral Adventurer is one of two new cruise ships being built for the line by Norwegian shipbuilder Vard. The new ship will debut with a series of “In the trail of Tasman” itineraries that retrace the historic explorations of Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who was the first to map the coastlines of New Zealand, New Guinea and Northern Australia in the 17th century. The first is a 17-night itinerary out of Singapore on April 24, 2019, and finishing in Darwin, Australia, with calls at the volcanic island of Anak Krakatau, Komodo Island and Pulau Alor. After that, the ship will sail two more 11-night cruises, both departing from Darwin in May 2019 following the trail of Tasman into the Gulf of Carpentaria, New Guinea and the Spice Islands and the Kimberley coast. Thereafter, the Coral Adventurer will slip into the regular Kimberley season between Broome and Darwin, which Coral Expeditions has been operating for 24 years.

Staterooms on the Coral Adventurer will be priced comparably to other Coral Expeditions trips, the cruise line said, and will remain all-inclusive with daily excursions, meals and beverages including beer and wine at meals included in a single cruise fare, offering compelling value.

Coral Expeditions has also announced further details on the interior design of the new ship. To stamp a distinctive tropical North Queensland identity for the vessel, the company has turned to reputed interior design firm Arkhefield of Brisbane. Arkhefield have combined Norwegian furniture and marine fixtures with wood, stone and fabric elements that reflect the colors and textures of Australia.

All cabins on the 120-passenger ship are outside facing, with the majority having French windows and private balconies. Two suites of 55 sq m will have bathrooms with picture windows. There are multiple indoor and outdoor bars with lounge seating inviting guests to sit back and watch the panorama unfold outside. A guest observation lounge located in the bridge will allow guests to immerse themselves in the navigation activity.

Norwegian Cruise Line Announces New Australia, New Zealand Itineraries

Following an expansive refurbishment, Norwegian Jewel will be cruising to both Australia and New Zealand for the 2018/2019 season.

Itineraries in Australia include stops in Melbourne, Cairns and Hobart. In New Zealand, the Norwegian Jewel will cruise to Milford Sound, Wellington and Tauranga.

In late October 2018, Norwegian Jewel will undergo a three-week dry-dock enhancement in Singapore as part of the Norwegian Edge multi-million-dollar revitalization program. It will emerge a nearly new ship for the Australian season with bow to stern refreshments and a new look across many of the ship’s public spaces.

“Norwegian Jewel’s Australia and New Zealand sailings have received a great deal of anticipation and excitement from guests both locally and internationally,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line, in a written release. “The region is a bucket-list destination for many of our guests with a warm culture, lush lands, sandy beaches, action-packed adventure and more. We are thrilled to be returning to this dream destination with the iconic Norwegian Jewel looking as if she were a brand new ship.”

Highlights for the new 2018/2019 season include a 19-day journey from Vancouver to Tokyo (Yokohama) via Alaska and Russia; a 19 day journey to Australia from Singapore with stops in Bali and Komodo Island; a new 13-day South Pacific itinerary. Other highlights include a series of sailings in and around Australia and New Zealand home-porting from Sydney, including a seven-day round-trip itinerary featuring calls in Tasmania just before the holidays in mid-December.

Accommodation options aboard Norwegian Jewel range from inside staterooms to balcony staterooms offerings ocean views and private outdoor areas. 

Interconnecting rooms and multiple-bedroom suites are also available for families. Norwegian Jewel’s exclusive The Haven by Norwegian is home to the ship’s most luxurious suites and villas, a private courtyard, whirlpools and dedicated private deck exclusively for Haven guests, as well as concierge services.

Carnival Says New Australia Cruise Program for 2018-19 Is Its Biggest Ever

Carnival Cruise Line launched its 2018-19 program, offering Australian holiday makers a larger number of cruises than ever before, according to a Carnival news release. 

The cruise line's new program, which opened for bookings on June 15, includes more than 70 sailings from Sydney and Melbourne, including a record 19 short cruises with weekend samplers and short local itineraries proving to be a popular, easy getaway option.

Fares on the four-night cruise to Moreton Island in Queensland on Carnival Spiritsailing from Sydney on November 21, 2019, start from $699 per person twin share.

With 43 longer cruises to the idyllic islands of the South Pacific and New Zealand included, the new program represents an increase of 13 percent on the 2018 sailings.

Carnival Legend sails from Sydney on an eight-day cruise to the South Pacific on November 24, 2019 with calls to Mare, Isle of Pines, Lifou and Noumea. Fares on the cruise start from $1,149 per person twin share.

Increased demand from the southern states has put Melbourne back on the map, with Carnival offering a series of roundtrip itineraries from the port city to New Zealand over 13 nights, the South Pacific over 10 and 11 nights as well as a popular four-night hop south to Tasmania.

Fares on the cruise to Tasmania sailing roundtrip from Melbourne on Carnival Legend on February 27, 2019 start at $699 per person twin share.

On the calendar for May of 2018 is Carnival Spirit's cruise from Sydney to Singapore over 19 nights, with calls to Darwin and Bali and maiden visits to Koh Samui and Phuket in Thailand and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. On the way to Singapore, Carnival Spirit will also stay overnight in Ho Chi Minh City, giving Aussie guests the chance to explore the vibrant sights, sounds and flavors of South East Asia before cruising on to Singapore. Fares on the cruise start at $2,549 per person twin share.  

Both Carnival's Australia-based ships, Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend, will enter dry-dock in May 2018 and emerge with new features in time for the bumper 2018-19 season.

Visit www.australia.com/en-us and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest travel news. Be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260

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