Construction started today on Australia’s first five-star river ship, PS Australian Star, with Murray River Paddlesteamers also releasing, for the first time launch timing and details of the new, luxury $6.75 million vessel which will offer year-round, all-inclusive, overnight cruises on the Murray River from Echuca in Victoria.
Work has started on the site for the 38-guest ship beside the Murray in Mildura where PS Australian Star will be built using Australian materials and labour. Murray River Paddlesteamers has announced PS (Paddlesteamer) Australian Star will begin operations from Echuca in April, 2025, succeeding the smaller and older, 16-guest PS Emmylou which currently offers overnight cruises on the Murray.
Fusing heritage charm with contemporary luxury and stretching 35m, the deluxe PS Australian Star will become Australia’s first five-star river cruise experience, the largest paddlesteamer in the Southern Hemisphere and the only wood-fired, five-star accommodated paddlesteamer in the world.
PS Australian Star will offer cruises lasting three and four nights with guests able to combine the two cruises for a longer seven-night cruise. Fares, to be announced this July will be all-inclusive, covering rail transfers from Melbourne, daily shore excursions, a shoreside, campfire dinner under the stars and beer and wine with dinner. Bookings for Australian Star will open this spring.
Destined to attract luxe-seeking, high-yield visitors from around Australia and around the world, the unique vessel has been supported with $2.25 million in funding by the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Investment Fund.
The three-deck PS Australian Star will be 60 per cent larger than PS Emmylou, with more expansive and contemporary amenities including the panoramic Hopwood Lounge, multiple outdoor relaxation areas, the company’s first elevator for easy access to all levels and the Cadell Restaurant serving a different, fine-dining menu every day championing fresh, local produce.
PS Australian Star will also offer 19 modern and elegant staterooms, all opening to a deck and offering river views, ensuite, air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, luxury linen, TV entertainment system, seating and writing desk. Two of the staterooms will be spacious suites with private outdoor decks, one offering a Queen bed and the other a King bed. All other staterooms will offer Queen beds, with the option of splitting them into twin beds in 16 of the cabins – also a first for Murray River Paddlesteamers. Two of the cabins will also be available for guests with mobility issues.
The vessel will offer a modern, energy-efficient, hybrid diesel/steam propulsion system featuring a vintage, refurbished 1907 Richard Garrett and Sons wood-fired steam engine.
Murray River Paddlesteamers Director, Craig Burgess said PS Australian Star would revolutionise overnight river cruising in Australia and draw new high-yield domestic and international visitors and lucrative tour group business to Victoria.
“When she sails along the Murray for the first time in 2025, PS Australian Star will offer the ultimate in river cruising luxury, ushering in an exciting new era for tourism in Australia,” Mr Burgess said. “Australians love cruising, and they love the Murray River but they want comfort and facilities akin to those on European rivers. Interest in her is already high and when we open fares for sale this spring, we know demand will be robust,” he said.
“The support of the Victorian Government has been pivotal in this project, bringing forward the construction of this wonderful new ship by several years.”
* Murray River Paddlesteamers will offer a 10 per cent commission for travel agents plus bonuses for multiple bookings.
Savings for couples and solos for 2023 winter cruises aboard PS Emmylou
Meanwhile, Murray River Paddlesteamers is offering savings of 10 per cent and a cut in the solo surcharge for overnight cruises this winter aboard its current, 16-guest boutique riverboat, PS Emmylou. And if you cruise this July, you’ll also receive free entry to the spectacular Moama Lights Festival on the river.
The savings are for all overnight cruises this June, July and August. Including the discount, twin-share fares this winter are available from $1521 per person for a three-night sailing, $2070 per person for a four-night cruise and $3582 for the new seven-night journey.
A cutting of the solo traveller surcharge from 60 to 45 per cent means solo fares on the winter sailings this year are now available from $2451 for a three-night cruise, $3335 for a four-night sailing and $5771 for a seven-night journey.
Plus, all guests on sailings from July 1-23 this year will receive free tickets to see the spectacular Moama Lights Festival near Echuca which will see a sound and light show illuminate the Murray and surrounding redgums.
Cruise fares include return V/Line train trips from Melbourne or carparking in Echuca, all onboard meals, daily shore excursions, selected beers and wines with dinner and soft drink, bottled water and tea/coffee throughout the cruise and coach transfers during the cruise.
The famous, wood-fired paddlesteamer, Emmylou, starred in the hit 1980s TV mini-series, ‘All the Rivers Run’, starring Sigrid Thornton, and is still one of the most recognisable and iconic paddlesteamers in Australia. Powered by a restored 1906 steam engine and totally refurbished with deluxe cabins and ensuites, the charm-filled riverboat offers authentic, all-inclusive journeys along the mighty Murray with stops to visit wineries, historic farm stations, indigenous sites, wildlife along tributaries and country towns. Each evening, PS Emmylou ties up at tranquil and remote moorings, allowing guests to experience the serenity and wildlife of the bush at night.
Murray River Paddlesteamers offers a 10 per cent commission for travel agents.
* For bookings, call Murray River Paddlesteamers on 03 5482 5244 or visit www.psemmyloucruises.com