Norwegian Cruise Line books a Sydney sabbatical in 2024/25

A reshuffle of the Australasian fleet will see NCL’s presence Down Under heavily modified but opens up some exciting new opportunities for cruisers, as MATT LENNON finds.

For the first time since the brand debuted in Australia in 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line will not have a ship based in Sydney during the upcoming 2024/25 season.

The line has been forced to make a temporary, albeit major, adjustment to its schedule, with the 1,936-passenger Norwegian Sun instead operating a brief schedule from Melbourne between Dec 2024 and Mar 2025 which will include just a single visit to Sydney.

This is due to fleet-mate Norwegian Spirit – which normally calls Sydney home – heading out to complete charter operations in Asia during the peak summer months in Australia. The ship is scheduled to return to NSW in late Dec 2025 to resume its regular residency.

After a series of five one-way sailings crossing the Tasman between Melbourne and Auckland during its four-month stay, Norwegian Sun will embark on a series of 14 voyages in the South Pacific which will also include a variety of port calls in Far North Queensland.

It marks the first time Norwegian Cruise Line has returned to the northernmost part of Queensland since before the pandemic in 2019.

“NCL’s 2024/25 Norwegian Sun season will offer departures from Melbourne and Cairns, inviting travellers to explore Australia’s diverse coastline and scenic wonders,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Managing Director APAC, Ben Angell.

“The refreshed local offering includes diverse ports in Far North Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, giving guests even more options to explore Australia’s scenic wonders.”

Among Norwegian Sun’s new series of 14 cruises will include three sailings between Cairns and the Fijian port of Lautoka, the first time NCL has used either city as a turnaround point, with maiden calls in Port Douglas and Townsville also scheduled.

Additional maiden calls for Sun will include Mystery Island, Port Vila, Dravuni Island and Noumea.

Travellers will be able to explore the South Pacific in greater depth, with Sun to offer three island-hopping itineraries between Fiji and Tahiti which also call in Aitutaki in the Cook Islands.

The revised deployment confirms the operations of Norwegian Sun after NCL last year cancelled seven months’ worth of sailings as a result of a “fleet redeployment”.

Sun is the slightly larger and younger fleet-mate of Norwegian Spirit and offers 15 dining options including French, Italian, Brazilian, Japanese and other Asian cuisine options.

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