Just as this year’s Australia cruise season is heating up, Cunard Line has announced that it will have no Australia-based ships in the region from 2026 onward.
Guests will still be able to sail Down Under with the iconic cruise line after the 2024-2025 season, but only on select segments of world voyages.
Cunard Line Leaving Australia
Cunard Line has homeported the 90,901-gross-ton, Vista-class Queen Elizabeth seasonally in Australia since late 2019. Despite a lengthy hiatus during the industry-wide pandemic shutdown, the ship has remained popular for her Down Under itineraries.
In fact, the ship is already underway toward her 2023-2024 season in Australia, having left Barcelona on Monday, October 23 on a 35-night voyage that will end in Fremantle, Australia on Monday, November 27 by way of the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, India, Singapore, and Indonesia.
“We know that many guests in Australia and Japan love to sail with Cunard and Queen Elizabeth is already on her way to Australia to begin her 2023/2024 homeport season starting 27 November,” said Matt Gleaves, Commercial Vice President of North America & Australasia for Cunard Line.
This season, the iconic ship will offer a range of itineraries departing from Fremantle, Melbourne, and Sydney through mid-March, visiting top destinations like Tasmania, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Zealand, and of course a variety of destinations in Australia.
Queen Elizabeth will also offer exclusive Australia sailings in 2024-2025, but after that point, will be repositioned elsewhere.
“The ship will also return for her scheduled 2024/2025 season,” Gleaves confirmed. “From 2026 there will be no locally based program.”
Instead of returning to Australia, Queen Elizabeth will be based in the Caribbean for the winter seasons, offering tropical destinations from North America homeports and strengthening the cruise line’s presence in that popular market. In the summer, the ship will offer Alaska itineraries.
No detailed explanation for the deployment shift has been given, but it is not unusual for cruise lines to regularly adjust where ships are based. Bringing a ship to a new market or deployment region can spark interest from new travelers, as well as continue to engage loyal guests who are interested in new destinations.
Sailing to Australia With Cunard Line
Not to worry, travelers loyal to Cunard Line will still be able to visit Australia and New Zealand, but only on special sailings.
“Australia and Asia will remain important destinations on our round-the-world voyages and we look forward to welcoming guests from these regions wherever they chose to sail with us,” said Gleaves.
Cunard Line offers spectacular global journeys visiting amazing ports of call on different continents, including “World Voyages” and “Grand Voyages” that are more extensive itineraries with unique destinations.
World Cruises are typically longer than 100 nights, while Grand Voyages are often shorter segments of 20-40 nights, though exact lengths vary for each sailing depending on the vessel and where she is sailing at the time.
Itineraries for 2026 and beyond have not yet been released, but are sure to include segments in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.
New Options for Cunard Line
The news about Queen Elizabeth‘s future deployment comes as the cruise line is preparing for its first new vessel in 14 years. The highly-anticipated Queen Anne is scheduled to debut in May 2024, sailing from Southampton with itineraries around the British Isles, to the Canary Islands, into the Mediterranean, to Iceland, and along Northern Europe.
This will bring new experiences and amazing new opportunities for Cunard travelers and cruise lovers to explore on the new and innovative vessel.
Queen Anne will also visit Australia and New Zealand during her 107-night Maiden World Voyage, leaving Southampton on Thursday, January 9, 2025. By mid-February, Queen Anne will be sailing in the South Pacific for the first time, with her inaugural call to Sydney, Australia on February 28.