Four Royal Caribbean ships will sail from three cities in Aussie waters over the 2017/18 Australian cruise season, as the line today released details of its next summer deployment which will run from September 2017 until April 2018. Bookings for the season will open for sale on Thursday 21 April 2016.
The season sees confirmation that Ovation of the Seas will return to Australia for a second year, while Radiance of the Seas returns for its seventh season; Voyager of the Seas will spend its sixth summer here and Explorer of the Seas will spend its third year in local waters. Together, the fleet will offer 66 individual cruises ranging in length from 2-23 nights.
Alongside the return of Ovation, the other big news to come from the announcement is that after only two seasons based in Brisbane, Legend of the Seas will say goodbye to its relatively new Queensland home as it finds itself deployed in Europe from May 2017 after one final summer in Brisbane. However, the news is not all bad for Queensland but more a message of ‘sit tight’ as progress continues on the construction of a brand new terminal east of the Gateway Bridge, which will allow ships significantly larger to not only visit the Qld capital but to be based from the city in future years.
Over the course of the season, the four ships will visit 46 different ports across Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific, as well as Asia and North America. With the exception of repositioning sailings to and from Singapore, Honolulu and Seattle, cruises in the 2017/18 season will depart from Sydney, Fremantle and Auckland.
Highlights of the season will see Radiance of the Seas focus on cruising in Australia and New Zealand. The popular Aussie mainstay will offer two one-way sailings between Sydney and Auckland, allowing travellers to extend their holiday if they so choose with a stay on land at either end. The ship will also undertake a complete 33-night counter-clockwise circumnavigation of Australia, broken up into two separate voyages comprised of a 16-night cruise from Sydney to Fremantle via Darwin and a 17-night journey from Fremantle back to Sydney via Melbourne and New Zealand.
Ovation of the Seas will return to Australian waters from November 2017 for a three-month stay through to February 2018 where it will primarily focus on New Zealand. Nine cruises will be offered by the near-5000 passenger ship including a 12-night New Year’s Cruise to NZ which visits both the North and South Islands. The ship will also visit Tasmania and New Caledonia on separate sailings in January 2018 before returning to Asia in February.
Mid-cruise land stays will become a possibility from the 2017/18 season, with both Radiance and Ovation booked to stay overnight in Adelaide during scheduled visits, meaning guests can head to the Barossa or Clare Valleys for the night if they wish. Radiance will visit the SA capital during a nine-night Tasmania cruise from Sydney, departing on 13 December 2017, while Ovation will stop overnight on a similar cruise, leaving Sydney on 27 January 2018.
Sister ships Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas will mostly sail cruises of 2-12 nights duration to the South Pacific during the 2017/18 season, both based once again from Sydney. These will visit ports in New Caledonia including Noumea, Isle of Pines and Lifou along with Mystery Island and Port Vila in Vanuatu. Explorer of the Seas will visit Tasmania on a cruise which includes a stop in Port Kembla, while Voyager of the Seas will also cruise the Queensland coast visiting ports such as Brisbane, Willis Island and the Whitsundays.
Both ships have been extensively refurbished bow-to-stern over the last few years to the tune of US$180 million (AU$235 million) with enhancements including the Flowrider surfing simulator, ice skating rink, rock climbing wall and multi-purpose sports court.