(1:00 p.m. AEST) — RCL Cruises Australia has kicked off its most significant season with this morning’s arrival of Radiance of the Seas to Sydney – the first of seven of the biggest and youngest ships to sail local waters this summer, and the first time all three brands (Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and newcomer Azamara Club Cruises) will sail around Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Asia.
“Today marks the start of a record-breaking season in which we will double our guest capacity, introduce a new cruise brand to the region and offer a total of seven ships – around 20 percent of RCL’s global fleet,” said Gavin Smith, regional vice president, RCL Cruises Asia-Pacific.
The first of three new ships to join the local fleet this season, the 686-passenger Azamara Quest arrives in Darwin on 28 December, before calling at Cairns, Thursday Island, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.
Then the 3,800-passenger Explorer of the Seas , which departed Barcelona today, will set up a new home in Sydney, taking the title of Australia’s largest cruise ship from twin sister Voyager of the Seas. The two freshly refitted ships will meet in Sydney Harbour on the evening on 28 November for an historic rendezvous.
Finally, Royal Caribbean will base a ship in Brisbane for the first time, from 8 December, when Legend of the Seas starts sailing 15 itineraries from Portside Wharf.
Explorer of the Seas’ first ever Aussie port will be Fremantle (Perth) on 13 November, while Voyager commences in Sydney from 5 November.
Celebrity Solstice arrives for its Sydney season on 21 October, followed by a visit from Celebrity Millennium on 26 March 2016.
Of the quarter of a million passengers RCL will carry this season, almost 60,000 of them come from overseas countries including the US, UK, Canada and Germany.