Back the square 1 – cruise planning 2017-19

A few months ago we began considering cruise possibilities beyond our two year 2014-2016 schedule. We set up a new survey to gauge interest in several different possibilities. Click here for the results of this survey. Many of the comments made and our responses have also been compiled into a separate blog post – click here to see these.

Further cruises 2017-2019– and two spanners in the works
We had decided to request a contract on a Sydney to Singapore cruise in April 2017, only to discover another group had booked the conference space ahead of us. We then identified another broadly similar relocation cruise from Brisbane to Hong Kong in April 2017. We modified our survey part way through to include this option, which seemed to have even more interest than the Singapore cruise. But only this week we learnt that one of the two conference rooms (both quite small anyway), will be out of commission in April 2017 for renovation. Unless we can get good time in alternative meeting rooms on the ship, it looks like this Hong Kong cruise option is also now out of the question. We should know more when we are on Legend of the Seas for our 9th cruise in December 2015.

Interesting new conferencing ship options
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships have been our best conferencing ships, especially Royal Caribbean. But from November 2015 two new (to Australia) ships will enter P&O Australia’s service for permanent year-round cruises in Australia. Previous P&O ships did not work well for us but this new development seems to bring exciting new options:

  • The two new ships, Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, each have 3 conference rooms seating 207, 120 and 60 people, probably equal if not better than Voyager of the Seas, the best ship to date for conferences.
  • Aria and Eden are ex Holland America ships, slightly smaller, though similar in many ways to the medium-size ship Volendam, which we used for our 2nd cruise. Volendam was an excellent ship, but does not have the same variety of conference rooms as Aria and Eden.
  • Aria and Eden also bring two more exciting new developments:
    • year round cruises in Australia. Almost all other cruise ships are here only for a summer season. Aria and Eden now add date choices from April to October as well.
    • cruises from other Australian ports. Most cruises in Australia operate out of Sydney, with a few out of Brisbane and Fremantle. Nearly 80% of Aria and Eden cruises will be from other ports – Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle.

Starting again with a clean slate
Survey-cartoonWith the loss of two preferred cruises for the 2017 and the arrival of seemingly excellent new conferencing ships/itineraries and home ports, we want to start afresh to see what new itinerary/home port options are of interest. Apologies for yet another survey soon after our previous survey, but the landscape has changed significantly – and with new developments we need to know your thoughts on new options. The survey is very simple, needing only a few minutes to complete.

We have listed 10 candidate cruises, though we expect the choice to quickly narrow down to six – a New Guinea cruise (in part with a WWII theme), Alaska, one of the two cruises to Asia – and one cruise option only from each of Melbourne, Adelaide and Fremantle (out of two listed for each).

CLICK HERE to see all 10 itinerary candidates – and do the survey.


  1. prices are a guide only – based on currently listed cruises in AUD, They do not include gratuities or the conference fee (which may add 15%-20% to the cruise cost).

    A future itinerary option

    A future itinerary option

  2. a new New Guinea cruise might be suited to 2017, in place of the lost Singapore and Hong Kong opportunities – if there is sufficient interest. 2017 will be the 75th anniversary of the Pacific war coming to both Australia and New Guinea. 1942 was the year:
    • the Japanese attacked the Australian mainland (Darwin and Broome by air and Sydney by midget submarines).
    • the Japanese attacked New Guinea including Rabaul and Milne Bay (places visited by the proposed New Guinea cruise) and the Kokoda Trail.
    • of Battle of the battle of the Coral Sea, the first time the Japanese were checked in their relentless southward advance.
  3. all cruise options have enough sea days to allow for a good, balanced conference program of interest to all. Some may include a few topics relevant to the cruise itinerary. A New Guinea cruise, for example, would feature a leading war historian to bring several topics on the Pacific war. The cruise options to Asia as well as to Alaska would likely feature at least one leading presenter from overseas. The other cruise options would feature leading Australian presenters.

Victorian Family History Expo
Seymour, Vic Saturday 17 Oct at Seymour – more details
Visit our stand at the Victorian Family History Expo on Saturday at Seymour if:

  • you have not been on the UTP cruise and wondered what a genie cruise is about?
  • you have been on a UTP cruise or booked for one to come – and want an update
  • you want to learn about the latest developments and cruises under consideration 2017-2019
  • you want to learn about a possible future cruise out of Melbourne – and tell us if you are interested?
  • you want to learn about our new cruise bonuses loyalty benefits ($500 – $1000 per cruise)
  • be in the draw to win a cruise discount voucher
  • see lots of exhibitors in one place, including our own sister brands, with lots of special offers and a $300 prize draw.

Also coming up 31 Oct – Western Victoria seminar: German, English & Australian ancestry research, Horsham, Vic

Latest on currently booking cruises

  • 9th Unlock the Past cruise – 2 night short cruise out of Brisbane from 8 December 2015 — extra benefits up to AU$500. Unsold cabins from our fixed price cabin allocation have now been recalled, but right now there are still a small number of cabins at good prices
  • 10th Unlock the Past cruise – New Zealand-Australia cruise, one way from Auckland to Fremantle (Perth) taking in various New Zealand and Australian ports. 18 nights from 14 February 2016 — extra benefits up to AU$820. Book soon before unsold cabins from our allocation are recalled (possibly in November or early December)
  • 11th Unlock the Past cruise — 7 nights from Brisbane to the Barrier Reef. 7 nights from 6 March 2016 — extra benefits up to AU$660. Book soon before unsold cabins from our allocation are recalled (possibly in December or early January)
  • 12th Unlock the Past cruise — Rhine river cruise – 7 nights from 31 July 2016 along the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel — extra benefits up to AU$1000. Only 5 cabins left in our allocation

Don’t forget … if you would like to join a cruise, but need a cabin share partner to help reduce costs we can often find one for you. Email us if you would like to know more.

Alan Phillips and the Unlock the Past cruises team