April 26, 2014
Voyager of the Seas

Voyager of the Seas

The Australian summer cruise season officially ended on 18 April with Royal Caribbean Line’s Rhapsody of the Seas sailing from Sydney.

Proving that cruising is still one of the most popular holiday choices with Australians, RCL Cruises Ltd’s two brands, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, hosted a record 190,000 guests, 12% up on last cruise season.

RCI's Adam Armstrong congratulates "WOW'' winner

RCI’s Adam Armstrong congratulates “WOW” winner

During the season, Royal Caribbean held the world’s first Instagram Film Festival which culminated in a grand finale event on board Voyager of the Seas. The creator of the winning “wow” moment won a cruise on the brand new Quantum of the Seas.

Some of the other milestones celebrated included Celebrity Solstice’s fifth birthday plus her maiden calls to Napier in New Zealand and Newcastle, where she was welcomed with an official gun salute at Fort Scratchley.

Another exciting event in New Zealand was Voyager of the Seas meeting up with Celebrity Solstice in Wellington and Tauranga, temporarily increasing local populations by over 8,000 people.

Voyager of the Seas also made her maiden calls in Brisbane and Darwin.

The upcoming 2014/15 summer cruise season looks set to be even bigger. Highlights will be Celebrity Century arriving in October 2014 for her three month season which will feature 11 sailings, before she leaves the Celebrity Cruises fleet in April 2015. Celebrity Solstice will depart Honolulu on 5 October 2014 for a 17 night cruise to Sydney via French Polynesia and Voyager of the Seas will arrive in Sydney on 8 December 2014, fresh from a $75 million refurbishment.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond

Lawn Club on Celebrity Solstice

Lawn Club on Celebrity Solstice




March 17, 2014


One of the highlights at this year’s Taste of Sydney was the Celebrity Cruises Lawn Club, which replicated Celebrity’s unique Lawn Club, the only real lawn at sea, found on board Celebrity’s fleet of five Solstice Class cruise ships.

In Centennial Park, visitors to the Lawn Club had the opportunity to relax in style and imagine life on board as they soaked up some of the atmosphere they will experience when cruising Celebrity

IMG_4796During the afternoon, I called into the Lawn Club to try one of Chef John Suley’s two exclusive martinis, which were inspired by Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Century. I tried the Celebrity Century, made with pear vodka, sage, lime, rose syrup & brut champagne with whipped egg white on top. I could not resist this pink martini as it matched my outfit.

Celebrity Cruises’ Associate Vice President of Food & Beverage Operations, Chef John Suley, flew in from Florida especially for Taste of Sydney, where he hosted exclusive Food & Beverage Matching Masterclasses inspired by Celebrity Cruises.  The masterclasses gave visitors the chance to enjoy an indulgent tasting plate paired with matching beverages.

Chef Suley joined Celebrity Cruises in 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the USA’s top up and coming chefs. Known for his edgy, innovative and IMG_4802unique cooking style, he provides passion, vision and inspiration to the more than 3,000 food and beverage professionals that he leads.

Chef Suley said “Celebrity Cruises’ partnership with Taste of Sydney highlights our continuing dedication to achieving the highest levels of consistency, quality and innovation in our onboard culinary experience.

The Celebrity Cruises culinary team proves that dining at sea can be as enjoyable, tasteful and memorable as the best dining experiences on land.”   Sandra Tiltman        Photos: John Pond



March 10, 2014

Celebrity Solstice 2014-03-09

Local residents lined the foreshore early on Sunday morning, to watch as luxury cruise liner Celebrity Solstice entered the Port of Newcastle, where she received a very warm Novocastrian reception on her record breaking maiden visit.

The Captain of Celebrity Solstice responded to the ship’s rockstar welcome with a few more healthy blows of the horn than usual, much to the delight the cheering guests on board.

The Lord Mayor of Newcastle greeted guests as they arrived on shore, and later in the day, a Fort Scratchley gun salute was fired to honour Celebrity Solstice’s visit.

With so much to see in the region, I don’t know why more cruise ships don’t make Newcastle a regular stop on their itineraries.

The 317 metre long Celebrity Solstice is now the largest ship to visit the port. The record was previously set by the 315 metre long bulk carrier, the Iron Pacific, in 1986.

The superliner will return to Newcastle in March 2015.

Sandra Tiltman        


January 25, 2014
Justin Montgomery, Joint MD, Cruise Guru

Justin Montgomery, Joint MD, Cruise Guru

At the Lawn Club, a park like space with real grass on the top deck of the luxurious “Celebrity Solstice” berthed in Sydney this week, I attended the announcement of a partnership between Qantas and Cruise Guru which will launch Qantas into the fast growing cruise market. 

Cruise Guru, part of the Travel the World Pty Ltd group of companies, is a specialist cruise website that began operation in January 2012, offering a one stop shop for Australian cruise customers.  Being 100% Australian owned and operated, Cruise Guru provides consumers with the best prices and most up to date deals with the convenience of full live online booking for major cruise lines.

The Laawn Club, Celebrity Solstice

The Laawn Club, Celebrity Solstice

Qantas customers can now book cruises online through Qantas.com using the technology of Cruise Choice, powered by Cruise Guru.  Unique to Qantas Cruises is the ability for customers to access a full range of cruise lines and ships, with live cabin availability and prices plus instant confirmation.

Cruise Choice allows the consumer to book their cruise online 24/7 with up to the minute live pricing and availability.  With 17 international cruise lines, 162 ships and over 10,000 cruise itineraries, the consumer will be in control of their cruise holiday from start to finish, having the ability to choose the latest specials and prices, cabin type, cabin number and confirm their cruise without delays.

Cruise Guru Joint Managing Director, Justin Montgomery, said he was thrilled to be able to use Cruise Guru’s unique technology to create new opportunities and services for the growing number of Australians choosing to holiday by cruise.

An added bonus with the partnership between Qantas and Cruise Guru means that all Qantas Frequent Flyer members will receive Qantas Frequent Flyer points for their bookings.

Sandra Tiltman   PHOTOS:  John Pond