Travellers heading to New Zealand on a Princess Cruises voyage will notice elements of their destination creatively positioned all around their ship as part of a new cultural program to be introduced by the line.

The ‘Across the Ditch’ program is aimed at immersing guests into New Zealand culture, both indigenous and modern and in a variety of ways, ranging from food and wine through to the country’s abundant scenery, wildlife and more. Princess has developed the onboard immersion in response to figures showing that more than two-thirds of Australians cruising to New Zealand do so onboard a Princess Cruises ship.

From a culinary perspective, ‘Across the Ditch’ will see the ship serve up some of New Zealand’s favourite dishes to guests including racks of lamb, hokey pokey ice-cream and a Maori-style hangi dinner. Travellers will also be able to learn the secrets behind preparation of the dishes, with culinary shore excursions including a gourmet cooking class in Akaroa, gastronomic walking tour in Wellington and a visit to a Waiheke winery.

Many Princess Cruises ships also feature New Zealand Natural Ice Cream outlets near the main swimming pool.

Speaking of NZ wines, there will be plenty flowing around the ship, with Princess significantly increasing its order for cruises from Australia. Guests will be able to sample these at a new ‘Classic New Zealand Wine Trail at Sea’ which will feature tastings of Pinor Noir from Otago and Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region, near Blenheim.

Princess ships will be decorated with Kiwi colours and Maori artefacts as well as a pop-up display from the Auckland Museum being added to the ship. The iconic Kiwi ‘Haka’ war dance will be performed on occasion by a Kapa Haka group, along with traditional poi dancing and a celebration of the Matariki Festival – a well-known and cherished Maori celebration.

Additional entertainment will take the form of celebrations of rugby, including coverage of local matches and screenings of classic moments in the All Blacks rugby heritage. Classic New Zealand films will screen poolside as part of the line’s ‘Movies Under The Stars’ offering.

Those keen to learn more about the New Zealand way of life and its culture can attend regular presentations and seminars including features on wildlife, terrain and history, put together as part of the line’s partnership with the Discovery Channel. This will also see exclusively branded and themed shore excursions where cruisers can visit a penguin habitat, take a scenic cruise through the Fiordland National Park guided by a Park Ranger or embark on a zip-line tour on Waiheke Island in Auckland where you’ll zoom through the rainforest.

‘Across the Ditch’ is now in place on Emerald PrincessGolden PrincessSun PrincessDawn Princess and Sea Princess on voyages departing Australia and heading to New Zealand. For more information on the program, check out this new video.