SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA -- Americans traveling internationally often expect foreign resorts and cruise ships to bend their styles and tastes toward those of the United States, providing big urns of coffee, cold American beers in a bottle, and piles of bacon strips at breakfast.
The tables have been turned in Australia, where Carnival, perhaps the most American of the world’s cruise lines, is sending a ship to be based fulltime in Sydney.
Here are the messages from Down Under: Aussies despise American coffee. They won’t drink the beer. They insist on a better cut of bacon. And, by the way, nobody — not a barman, a steward, or a waiter — will be paid a tip.
Carnival says it got the messages, and by the time Carnival Spirit pulls into Sydney harbor in October, the ship will be armed for Australia’s tastes and styles, including but not limited to food, as the Spirit also sports a new waterslide, Green Thunder, which starts with a swift drop and is the world’s steepest and fastest on a ship.
So, if you are among the North American Carnival aficionados who plan to cross the Pacific for voyages out of Australia to New Zealand, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji, be prepared to experience some serious Aussification.
That’s what locals are calling the changes on Carnival Spirit, which begins cruising out of Sydney on Oct. 20 for a series of 8- to 11-night cruises. The first voyage is to the beaches of New Caledonia.
“We set out to make the Aussies welcome and comfortable,” said Jennifer Vandekreeke, general manager of Carnival in Australia. “We’re not turning North Americans away, but if they’re going to sail on Carnival Spirit, they’ll need to learn a new way to drink coffee.”
The ship’s old coffee machines, based on the North American style of dripping water through coffee grounds, have been replaced by more complicated machines that make coffee brewed like espresso — by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground beans.
“We will be serving flat whites just the way the Aussies like them,” said Vandekreeke.
What about a decaf latte with skim milk?
“There’s not a lot of that going on,” Vandekreeke said. “It’s just not part of the Australian culture.”
Gone also will be most of the beers that Americans know, including Foster’s, the brand that many Americans associate with Australia but which is not consumed there. Americans tend to like beer in bottles; Australians prefer beer from the tap.
Among other foods, expect snags (sausages), more lamb, more fresh fruit and vegetables, and Australian bacon, which is similar to Canadian bacon.
The ship will have an outdoor barbie (that’s Australian slang for barbecue) and has been modified for larger families by increasing the number of interconnecting cabins to 86. The gym has been expanded, because Australians tend to exercise more than Americans, said a Carnival spokesperson.
Australia may seem like a stretch, a financial risk for a cruise line that prides itself on providing a middle-American vacation experience. President Gerry Cahill has pointed out that his passengers are most comfortable when surrounded by people with a common language and an interest in participating in group activities.
“Yes, it’s risky,” said Cahill. “But I’m confident that Carnival fits what Australians are looking for.”