Drinks industry capitalises on cruise boom

Cruise holidays in Australia are booming and the drinks industry is getting into the spirit with exclusive partnerships, special releases and themed sailings.

Australia is gearing up for a record cruise season this summer, with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecasting cruise ship visits will surpass pre-pandemic levels.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said the 2023-24 season was likely to be one of Australia’s busiest, with the number of ships visiting the region set to exceed pre-pandemic levels.

“Australia will welcome around 70 cruise ships over the 2023-34 season, which is well above the 60 or so scheduled to visit in 2019-20,” Katz said. “Together these ships will spend a total of 1848 port days in Australia – 18% more than in 2019-20 – resulting in billions of dollars in passenger spending in communities around the Australian coast.”

With passenger numbers on those cruise ships ranging into the thousands, the drinks industry is capitalising on the opportunity to raise awareness among a captive audience on holiday.

Royal Caribbean uncorks Ponting Wines partnership

Royal Caribbean International has uncorked an exclusive cruise drinks partnership with Ponting Wines, co-founded by Ricky Ponting, one of Australia’s most celebrated cricketers.

From October 2023 to April 2024, passengers can raise a glass of Ponting’s rosé, red or white wine on two to 18-night getaways from Brisbane and Sydney.

On board Ovation, Quantum and Brilliance of the Seas, holidaymakers will be able to enjoy six of Ponting’s award-winning wines, including fan favourites Ponting First Session Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc and Ponting Mowbray Boy Tasmanian Pinot Noir. The collection will be available by the bottle and the glass across all restaurants and bars, from Jamie’s Italian to Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse, Chops Grille, and the Vintages wine bar.

From left to right: Royal Caribbean MD Gavin Smith, Ricky Ponting, Rianna Ponting and Kathryn Lock.

Ponting said: “{My wife] Rianna and I have always shared an affinity to explore and taste wines at vineyards as we travel the world. Ponting Wines is an embodiment of our shared passion for beautiful wines and the dedication and passion that has driven me throughout my career. Sustainability is at the forefront of every decision, ensuring that all our fruit is ethically sourced from local growers in Tasmania and South Australia.

“We take great pride in our partnership with Royal Caribbean that aligns with our core values. We look forward to holidaymakers creating new memories while savouring a glass of our range of Ponting Wines.”

Royal Caribbean International director of marketing in Australia and New Zealand Kathryn Lock said” “We are delighted to unveil our exclusive partnership with Ponting Wines, raising the bar of our already extensive variety of food and beverage experiences.

“As Royal Caribbean gears up for the Australian summer season, our goal is to offer the best holidays to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, which will now be enriched by the exceptional wines curated by the talented Ricky and Rianna Ponting alongside [winemaker] Ben Riggs. We strive to choose partners and products that adhere to sustainable practices and are committed to engaging local Australian suppliers.

“Through this collaboration with one of Australia’s most premium winemakers, we look forward to elevating our guests’ holidays even further. The Royal Caribbean team is celebrating this exciting partnership with a glass of Ponting’s The Pinnacle McLaren Vale Shiraz!”

Four Pillars sails with Celebrity Cruises

Year two of a cruise drinks partnership between Four Pillars and Celebrity Cruises will include the release of a limited-edition Celebrity Cruises x Four Pillars Navy Strength Gin, as well as a new Celebrity Cruises signature cocktail available onboard Celebrity Edge.

Returning for the second year in a row, Celebrity Cruises and Four Pillars Gin will also be offering the ultimate gin-inspired holiday.

Travellers on a six-night sailing to Tasmania, departing Sydney on March 7, 2024, will be hosted by Four Pillars Ambassador Lizzie Willans.

This marks Celebrity Cruises’ second gin-focused sailing, providing culinary-curious travellers with the opportunity to refine their palate with exclusive gin tasting and food pairing experiences designed to enhance guests’ knowledge, appreciation, and love of gin.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Australia’s leading craft distillery, Four Pillars for a second season, as we celebrate the upcoming debut of Celebrity Edge in local waters,” Celebrity Cruises VP/MD APAC Tim Jones, said.

“Not only will we see crowd-favourites from last year return, but we also look forward to showing our guests how more happens on the Edge, with new bespoke offerings for the culinary curious, as exciting as the diverse destinations we’re visiting.”

Four Pillars director of global travel retail David Hogan said the partnership saw Celebrity become the first cruise line to offer custom-curated Four Pillars cocktails at sea.

“We couldn’t be happier to be working with the Celebrity Cruises team again to offer a unique experience to all on board,” Hogan said.

Coopers Brews up P&O beer partnership

P&O Cruises Australia and Coopers Brewery announced a collaboration last year on a special brrew called P&O Pacific Lager.

Described as pairing well with a wide range of food and good company, the limited edition P&O Pacific Lager is available for guests onboard all P&O ships.

With a mission to find a beer that encapsulated the spirit of P&O with a distinctively Pacific taste, P&O and Coopers engaged a taste testing panel comprising those who know P&O guests the best – a group of hand-selected P&O cruising enthusiasts, known as The Adventurers.

And after visiting the Coopers Brewery in South Australia and sampling a variety of brews, the lager was crowned the standout winner, and the P&O Pacific Lager was born. The resulting P&O Pacific Lager offers a refreshing citrus taste of lime and lemon, combined with subtle floral aroma notes and a clean, crisp bitterness.

“Straight away, the lager reflected that laid-back feeling you get when you’re sailing on a P&O Cruise. It’s a really refreshing beer that you can easily imagine yourself sipping by the pool, enjoying while you’re watching a show or at one of the many bars and restaurants,” said taste tester Ed Stuttard.

Coopers Brewery National Sales Manager Heath Grosvenor said it was the first time Coopers had taken to the seas, with the cruise line collaboration a first for the brewery.

“It’s been an exciting journey to partner with another great Aussie brand and at a time when cruising is well and truly back on the holiday agenda,” he said.

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