In its greatest commitment ever to the Australian market, elegant ocean liner brand Cunard has unveiled the centrepiece of its 2019 cruise schedule, which will see Queen Elizabeth spend two months home ported in Australia, offering cruises from both Sydney & Melbourne.

Announced to select specialist cruise and travel media in Sydney today, Cunard will run seven round-trip voyages to New Zealand and Tasmania between February and April 2019 in a move which the line says reflects strong growth in demand among Australians for its brand of luxury and glamorous cruising.

The 2,092-passenger ship will begin its season based in Melbourne, the first time a Cunard ship has spent an extended period of time in the Victorian capital. Having sailed in via the Southern Ocean, Queen Elizabeth‘s season will comprise of the following voyages (itineraries are still subject to change):

  • First up will be a seven-night voyage to Tasmania and South Australia, leaving Melbourne on 10 February 2019 and visiting Kangaroo Island (12 Feb), Port Adelaide (13 Feb) and Hobart (15 Feb).
  • A three-night one-way cruise from Melbourne to Sydney, departing 17 Feb and arriving into the NSW capital on 20 Feb.
  • Departing 20 Feb will be a 12-night round-trip voyage to New Zealand, visiting both islands and returning to Sydney on 04 March.
  • A five-night round-trip cruise from Sydney to Tasmania, departing 04 March and calling in Hobart (06 March) and Port Arthur (07 March) before returning to Sydney on 09 March.
  • The reverse one-way voyage from Sydney to Melbourne, sailing on 09 March, which will also include a stop in Burnie (11 March), arriving in the Victorian capital on 12 March.
  • Next will be a six-night voyage to Tasmania, departing from Melbourne on 12 March and visiting Hobart (14 March) and Port Arthur (16 March).
  • Then, the ship will sail from Melbourne on 18 March for a 12-night round-trip cruise to New Zealand, focusing primarily on the South Island and returning on 30 March.
  • Queen Elizabeth will then return to the Northern Hemisphere that afternoon, making one final stop in Sydney on 01 April. It is then expected to venture north to Japan.

By the time Queen Elizabeth reaches Australia for its two-month residency, it will do so fresh from a major “remastering” dry dock in Europe during the northern winter, setting sail from Southampton in the first week of January 2019. Details on what enhancements will come to the ship are due to be released in the coming months.

Cunard Vice President of International Development David Rousham told Cruise Advice yesterday the decision was a big step away from a traditional World Cruise, for which the British line was well known and hugely popular with Australians.

“The reasons why we decided upon this were because of the ongoing development and the success that we’re seeing in the Australia market, and the continued growth and continued appeal that the Cunard brand has. We’re very confident that this will be a successful program and that’s based on the growth that we’ve been seeing.

Australians are flocking in droves to Cunard ships, wherever they may be around the world. Already in 2017, only two months into the year, the line has seen a 40% increase in the number of Australians flying to Europe to join a Cunard voyage. The same growth has been seen on the line’s iconic Trans-Atlantic voyage between Southampton and New York.

Rousham said a particularly noteworthy habit among Australian travellers was the propensity to fly to the Northern Hemisphere and join two or even all three Cunard ships in one holiday. He suggested one way this was possible was by flying into New York and crossing the Atlantic on a seven-night cruise to Southampton, before spending time in London and then embarking on separate cruises into the Baltic and/or Mediterranean region before flying home.

Cunard’s 2019 season, including Queen Elizabeth‘s two-month stay in Australia, will be on sale from 30 March 2017, giving you nearly two years to secure your stateroom.