Princess Cruises Details “Down Under” Cruises and Cruisetours for 2011-2012

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SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (July 7, 2010) — Among the world’s most unique destinations, Australia and New Zealand hold a special allure for travelers who hope to journey “down under” at least once in their lives. Drawn by some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, exciting cities, unique native cultures and a population of iconic animals found nowhere else in the world, passengers have found that these “must see” countries are perfect for an action-packed cruise vacation. For these travelers, Princess Cruises has unveiled its 2011-2012 Australia and New Zealand season, offering a range of cruise and cruisetour options for exploring these dynamic destinations.

As the largest cruise operator in the region, Princess will provide myriad ways to explore the sixth largest country in the world (Australia) and the youngest country on earth (New Zealand). Princess itineraries range from classic Australia & New Zealand sailings to Australia & Asia adventures, aboard ships both large and small. Travelers can also opt to add a land tour to one of these voyages for a full land/sea adventure. Passengers can also choose to cruise “Aussie style” aboard Princess’ three locally-based ships.

“Australia and New Zealand have been long-time favorite destinations for us, that our passengers rave about every year,” said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. “Because we have such an extensive local operation in the region, we have a unique understanding of these remarkable countries, and strive to present a rich ?down under’ onboard program as well.”

The delights of Australia range from distinctive Sydney Harbour and its iconic Opera House — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — to the expanse of the outback and the world’s largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef. This unique land, famous for the unmistakable sound of the didgeridoo, also features the lowest population density in the world — only two people per square kilometer — plus more than 10,000 beaches, the most of any country.

Cruise passengers can explore the country’s wineries, history and wildlife with calls in Melbourne and Hobart, Tasmania. Here travelers may catch a glimpse of Australia’s many unique creatures, including kangaroos, koalas and the Tasmanian devil; ride horseback through the region’s finest vineyards; or even visit the country’s last penal settlement, the infamous Port Arthur.

If travelers choose to extend their time with an Australian cruisetour, they can experience much more of this surprising land. Highlights include the outback landmark Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, Australia’s sacred Aboriginal site and the world’s largest monolith. The Great Barrier Reef is famous throughout the world for its outstanding diving and snorkeling, brilliant tropical fish and scores of sea life. Northern Australia’s Kakadu National Park surprises guest with everything from aboriginal rock art formations to an amazing habitat of birds and other wildlife.

When cruising through New Zealand, the one attraction guaranteed to get everyone up on deck is the scenic sailing through Fiordland National Park. This must-see attraction is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the striking Fiordland crested penguin, as well as 14 towering fjords and five icy-blue lakes.

In “The Land of the Long White Cloud” passengers will also learn about the fascinating Maori culture and may take in an entertaining “haka” performance, a native dance. Near Tauranga, Rotorua’s geothermal wonders also get attention with fascinating steaming craters, exploding geysers and boiling mud. In a country where there are nine sheep to every person, a trip to a farm for a sheep shearing or dog herding demonstration is also a popular option; and daredevils will fit right in with bungee jumping, which originated here. And New Zealand’s spectacular scenery will make travelers feel as though they are in one of the many movies filmed here, such as “Lord of the Rings.”

Passengers are sure to see a kiwi, whether it be the national bird; a delicious fruit (which were originally known as Chinese gooseberries, but renamed by enterprising New Zealand farmers once they started cultivating them for export), or simply the local people, who have become known as Kiwis themselves.

Cruises
Princess offers several cruise options for exploring these dramatic countries, including voyages between Australia and New Zealand or Asia. Travelers can choose either a large amenity-filled vessel or small intimate ship, or they can opt to sail aboard one of Princess’ three ships based in Australia year-round.

Australia & New Zealand sailings — Princess offers exploring “down under” with a season of Australia & New Zealand sailings aboard Diamond Princess. These 12- or 13-day voyages travel between Sydney and Auckland, calling at Melbourne, Hobart (Tasmania), Fiordland National Park scenic cruising, Dunedin, Christchurch, and Tauranga along the way, with a call in Wellington, New Zealand also on the 13-day voyages. Sailings run from December 2011 to January 2012.

Australia & Asia sailings — Travelers can visit the best of two continents aboard Diamond Princess with sailings between Sydney and Singapore or Beijing. The Australia & Asia itinerary takes passengers on a 19-day journey from Singapore to the Asia ports of Ko Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Mihn City, and Bali; plus Australian calls at Darwin, Port Douglas and Airlie Beach for the Great Barrier Reef. The 23-day Australia & China route also sails via northern Australia and adds ports such as Taipei, Nagasaki, Busan (South Korea), Shanghai and Dalian. Sailings depart November 27, 2011 and February 4, 2012.

Small Ship Experience — Ocean Princess offers several journeys between Australia and the wonders of Asia or the beautiful islands of the South Pacific, featuring the intimate, classic cruising atmosphere of a small ship. The 20-day Australia & Asia voyages sail to northern Australia, including the Whitsunday Islands, Great Barrier Reef and Darwin; plus call in Bali, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and Bangkok and Ko Samui in Thailand. Ocean Princess sets sail on November 12, 2011 and March 17, 2012. The ship’s 16-day South Pacific & New Zealand voyages travel between Sydney and Papeete, Tahiti, with calls in Tauranga, Auckland, and the island paradises of Suva (Fiji), Apia (Samoa), Pago Pago, Bora Bora, and Moorea. Sailings depart on December 2, 2011 and February 29, 2012.

“Aussie Experience” sailings — Locally based ships Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess offer “Aussie-style” cruising to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific from Sydney, Melbourne and now Brisbane. Featuring Australian dollars as the onboard currency plus dining and entertainment options geared to Australian tastes, these sailings offer a true local experience to passengers from all over. Itineraries include voyages to Tasmania, New Zealand, Northern Australia and Round Australia sailings that circumnavigate the continent. These ships also feature sailings from Australia to the South Pacific, Asia and World Cruise options roundtrip from Sydney. Sailings depart throughout the May 2011 to May 2012 season.

Cruisetours
Three guided land tours of Australia can be added to a cruise to create a full land and sea vacation, covering some of the continent’s undisputed wonders. All cruisetours include a 12- or 13-day Australia and New Zealand cruise, plus time in cosmopolitan Sydney, including its world-famous Opera House and Bondi Beach.

Those who want to explore the extensive Great Barrier Reef will enjoy a high-speed catamaran tour of this living marvel with the Tropical Highlights tour, featuring four nights on land, including two nights in Sydney and two in Carins. Travelers will spend a day Great Barrier Reef, plus visit with some crocodiles, explore Kuranda Rainforest Village, and learn about the locals at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.

The six-night Australian Outback Adventure visits the Great Barrier Reef and ventures into the vast Australian Outback with two nights in Sydney, one night at Ayers Rock, one night in Alice Springs and two nights in Cairns. In the outback, travelers will visit the famed Uluru (Ayers Rock), touring the Olgas and 36 mysterious domes plus viewing Ayers Rock at sunset. They’ll also enjoy an Aboriginal cultural experience. In the town of Alice Springs travelers have the option to ride a camel and visit Desert Park to experience local wildlife.

The seven-night Ultimate Australia tour features the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock plus visits to Darwin and the majestic Kakadu National Park. This land itinerary offers two nights in Sydney, one night at Ayers Rock, one night at Kakadu, one night in Darwin and two nights at Port Douglas for the Great Barrier Reef. Travelers will experience Kakadu’s extensive wetlands, diverse wildlife and the largest number of accessible Aboriginal sites in Australia. In Darwin, visitors will explore the city, including the Darwin Museum and Windows of the Wetlands visitor center.

For additional information about Princess Australia & New Zealand itineraries, see a professional travel agent, contact Princess at 1-800-PRINCESS or visit the company’s website, www.princess.com.