Australian Literature Festival at Sea 2024

Take your love of the written word to the water on the inaugural Australian Literature Festival at Sea, in partnership with Dymocks.

December 11–16, 2024, Queen Elizabeth

Find yourself captivated by award-winning authors and fellow readers on the inaugural 5-night Australian Literature Voyage at Sea, curated in partnership with Australia’s oldest bookstore, Dymocks.

With a line-up of acclaimed authors including Alexander McCall Smith, Fiona McIntosh, Anita Heiss, Graeme Simsion, Anne Buist, Paul Cleave, Sue Williams, and Elizabeth Stanley, this sailing is the perfect way to indulge your love of literature, surrounded by the spectacular vistas of Australia’s coastline.

Take part in thought-provoking talks with like-minded literature enthusiasts. Hear accomplished authors part ways with the secrets of their creative process. Finesse your own literary skills in hands-on workshops and interactive Q&As. And gain a fascinating glimpse into the art of storytelling, from celebrated writers who have taken the literature landscape by storm.

Transformative experiences that enrich the mind. Stimulating discussions that spark creativity. Author encounters that inspire everlasting memories. Take your love of the written word to the water and immerse yourself in five unforgettable nights on board the luxurious Queen Elizabeth.

In partnership with Dymocks

Curated in partnership with Australia’s oldest bookstore Dymocks, the Australian Literature Festival at Sea will see passionate readers, aspiring writers, and award-winning authors connect across five nights of literature, adventure, and relaxation, surrounded by stunning vistas of the Australian coastline.

Special guests on board

Alexander McCall Smith

British author, Alexander McCall Smith, has written more than 100 books and is one of the world’s best-loved writers. A writer of novels, short stories (including stories set in Australia), operatic libretti and poetry, he is perhaps best known for his acclaimed series ‘The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency’, which has sold over 20 million copies in the English language alone.

On board the Australian Literature Festival at Sea, McCall Smith will share his remarkable story in intimate talks and Q&A sessions. He will join a panel of authors as they take guests on their writing journeys and discuss literature trends.

Fiona McIntosh

Fiona McIntosh is one of Australia’s favorite storytellers across various genres. She is author of the hit Jack Hawksworth crime series, the fourth installment of which (Dead Tide) ranked #1 bestselling Australian fiction title in its first week of release. Fiona is also a writer of blockbuster historical fiction and hosts one of Australia’s most successful writing masterclasses, producing some of the country’s newest and most popular authors.

During talks and Q&As, McIntosh will reveal the source of her inspiration and how she approaches writing. She will also host a series of lectures* offering guests the opportunity to learn first-hand from this acclaimed author.

Dr Anita Heiss

Dr Anita Heiss is one of Australia’s most prolific authors. Her writing spans many genres, including non-fiction, historical fiction, children’s novels, poetry, social commentary, and travel articles. She is a regular at writers' festivals and travels internationally, lecturing on Aboriginal literature.

Join Anita as she takes you through the power of storytelling, shedding light on her experiences as an Indigenous writer, navigating the worlds of literature and advocacy.

Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist

Married for 35 years, Graeme and Anne have co-authored novels such as Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Onward, and The Glass House. Graeme has also written the hugely successful, The Rosie Project series, while Anne has authored five crime novels, including the Natalie King series.

Discover the secrets to penning a novel that holds mass appeal with global readers, as Graeme takes you on an anecdotal journey through his creative process. And join Anne for a riveting exploration that will delve into the delicate interplay between psychology and storytelling.

Paul Cleave

Paul is an award-winning author whose novels are set in Christchurch, New Zealand. He has won the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award, is a three-time recipient of the Ngaio Marsh Award, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar, the Barry, and the Ned Kelly awards.

During talks and Q&A sessions, Paul will share his creative process with you, expand on his source of inspiration, and take part in a panel discussion on literature trends with his fellow authors.

Sue Williams

Sue Williams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who’s written for all of Australia’s leading newspapers and magazines. Sue spent many years traveling the world solo and then exploring Australia, with books that include Getting There: Journeys of an Accidental Adventurer, Women of the Outback and Welcome to the Outback. She has also written numerous biographies and historical novels, Elizabeth & Elizabeth and That Bligh Girl.

Sue will bring her extensive knowledge of editorial and travel writing, as well as writing both non-fiction and fiction books, to guests of The Australian Literature Festival at Sea, presenting workshops* on how to write travel stories, memoirs and fiction.

Elizabeth Stanley

Elizabeth Stanley is an experienced, award-winning writer/illustrator who has a background of English teaching and Educational Psychology. For five years she was the Director of the Dromkeen Children’s Literature Museum in Victoria and subsequently became an inaugural board member of the Fremantle Children’s Literature Museum, modeled on Dromkeen.

Elizabeth will be conducting workshops* on the art of writing for picture books and understanding visual literacy. These will be both informative and interactive, evaluating picture books for their impact on children’s development. A must for parents and grandparents of inquisitive children.

Nick McKenzie

Hosting the literature voyage will be 16-time Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist Nick McKenzie. Known for his work exposing corruption and criminal wrongdoing, McKenzie will engage guests with facilitating insightful talks and a special session detailing his most exhilarating cases.

Activities on this voyage

Cunard’s entertainment and activities, both on board and ashore, will boast unmissable literary experiences:
  • Join a prestigious panel of bestselling authors, including Alexander McCall Smith, Fiona McIntosh, Paul Cleave, Anita Heiss, and Graeme Simsion, for a lively discussion on literature trends, all expertly moderated by the renowned journalist Nick McKenzie.
  • Test your literary knowledge and challenge our celebrated authors in a one-of-a-kind trivia session, offering a unique opportunity to engage with your favorite writers.
  • Dive deep into the art of storytelling with Fiona McIntosh’s interactive workshop, where she will share her secrets and techniques to crafting compelling narratives.

  • In her thought-provoking keynote, Anita Heiss explores the common threads that unite us through shared human experiences, in a world often divided by differences.
  • Join acclaimed international author Alexander McCall Smith as he shares captivating stories from his illustrious career, reveals the inspirations behind his award-winning books, and discusses the challenges he has overcome.
  • Immerse yourself in the thrilling world of crime fiction with Paul Cleave and Fiona McIntosh, as they discuss their gripping novels and the allure of crime storytelling.
  • Enjoy bespoke literature-themed shore excursions* in and around Hobart, designed to enrich your literary journey with local culture and scenic beauty.
  • Purchase your favourite author’s book on board* and have it personally signed, creating a treasured memento.

Interactive workshops on board include:
  • Fiona McIntosh: Enhance your storytelling by engaging all five senses of your readers*.
  • Award-Winning Travel Writer Sue Williams: Discover the secrets to writing compelling travel narratives that transport readers to new destinations.
  • Gain insights into the creative process behind Graeme Simsion's six best-selling novels and learn how to craft your own literary masterpieces*.
  • Anita Heiss: Develop dynamic characters and immersive settings that captivate your audience*.
  • Elizabeth Stanley: Learn the art of creating engaging picture books that delight children, with practical tips and creative exercises.

*This experience is not included in the cruise fare and must be booked via My Cunard prior to sailing. Spaces for this experience are strictly limited and additional charges are in USD. Terms and conditions apply. 

Discover more for book lovers

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