Australia’s first-ever five-star river cruise experience is coming to regional Victoria

Subscribe to Forte Magazine


Australia’s first-ever five-star river cruise experience is coming to regional Victoria

A new 5-star, $6.75M million cruise vessel is heading for Murray River.

It’s time to round up the crew for a holiday to Echuca, because it will soon become home to Australia’s first 5-star river cruise experience and the only wood-fired, five-star paddlesteamer in the world.

The brand new $6.75 million, luxury 19-cabin vessel will be offering year-round, all-inclusive, overnight cruises from Echuca, a “game-changing” hero drawcard for the region and construction has now begun.

Keep up with the latest in local good news via our website.

Fusing heritage charm with contemporary luxury and stretching 35m, the deluxe 38-guest vessel – coined the 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.

Destined to attract luxe-seeking, high-yield visitors from around Australia and around the world, the unique vessel is expected to make its debut journey along the Murray in late 2024 and has been supported with $2.25 million in funding by the Victorian Government’s Regional Tourism Investment Fund which has brought the project forward by three years.

Boasting 19 luxury ensuite cabins, a fine-dining restaurant, panoramic lounge, function area, bars, outside relaxation space, and hybrid propulsion featuring a vintage,refurbished 1907 Richard Garrett and Sons wood-fired steam engine.

All accommodations will open to a verandah and encompass a range of styles from King & Queen suites to generously proportioned Queen & Twin bed cabins. All will offer luxury linen, ensuite, seating area, and a writing desk. There will also be a Discovery Lounge and outdoor seating offering panoramic views of the ever-changing scenery.

Built locally in Mildura and operating from the Port of Echuca, journeys of three, four and seven-night stays will be available with opportunities to explore riverside communities along the way.

As part of the cruise, authentic onshore experiences and onboard enrichment programs focusing on the region’s natural heritage, rich history, and indigenous culture.

The new boat will be the third vessel in our Paddlesteamer’ fleet based in Echuca, joining the popular and famous Paddlesteamers, PS Emmylou and PS Canberra. The 16-guest PS Emmylou currently offers a schedule of two, three, four and six-night cruises which are now 99 percent sold out for 2022. From 1st April 2023, these will change to the new scheduling of three, four, and a new 7-night cruise before PS Australian Star takes over the schedules.

Director, Rohan Burgess said PS Australian Star would prove a ‘game-changing” visitor experience that would meet surging demand for premium, overnight river cruises, reinvigorate the hard-hit, Covid-affected visitor economies of the Murray River border region around Echuca and attract new high-yield domestic and international visitors and lucrative tour group business to Victoria.

“The support of the Victorian Government in helping to fund this high-quality development is very much appreciated,” Mr Burgess said. “Australians love cruising, and they love the Murray River but they want comfort and facilities akin to those on European rivers.

“Demand for overnight cruises on the Murray is at record levels so as a hero visitor drawcard, PS Australian Star will help tap that demand, boost the local economy, create new jobs and cater for the most discerning of visitors, attracting new domestic and international visitors to our region for the first time”.

Mr Burgess said the new, bigger, and more luxurious vessel, which will be built in Mildura, Victoria on the banks of the Murray River using local contractors, trades and suppliers will have strong appeal to charter groups and also national tour companies seeking a larger capacity river vessel for their guests.

He said when PS Australian Star debuts in late 2024, PS Emmylou would focus on the booming business for day sightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises, and overnight charters, alongside fleet mate, PS Canberra.

Keep up with the latest updates here