June 30 - Austral Asia Line (AAL) has introduced a passenger service where travellers can experience life on board a cargo ship while enjoying the views of the Asia Pacific region.
Whilst the main role of the line is to provide liner and tramp shipping services for industrial project, shipping, two of its 31,000 dwt vessels will now carry passengers to places in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Rim.
The two ships are AAL Newcastle and AAL Hong Kong. The service will start in the middle of July onboard AAL Newcastle departing from Melbourne, and from the middle of August onboard AAL Hong Kong departing from China.
Both vessels are currently employed on AAL's Australia East Coast and New Zealand service and cover the following ports: Brisbane, Newcastle, Melbourne, Lyttelton, Wellington, Tauranga, Tianjin, Qingdao, Shanghai, Inchon, Pusan and Khaosiung.
They may also call Mackay/Townsville, Nelson and Napier on inducement basis.
The liner service covers the full rotation in approximately 93 days but the duration and ports called can vary based on various circumstances.
Passengers have the option of completing a full round voyage or alternately selecting their desired embarkation and disembarkation ports (subject to visa and local regulations).
"Although AAL used to offer a passenger service on a similar route over 10 years ago, this was stopped when the AAL services were operated with long term chartered tonnage. Now that AAL has successfully completed its newbuild delivery programme with parent company Schoeller Holdings, and operates group tonnage, we are proud to be in a position to offer this service again," says Christophe Grammare, managing director of AAL.
AAL has appointed Hawke's Bay Travel Center & Freighter Travel of New Zealand and Freighter Expeditions of Australia as the travel agents.