(9 a.m. AEST) — The two biggest cruise ships based in the southern hemisphere met in Sydney Harbour last night when Royal Caribbean International’s Explorer of the Seas was welcomed to its new Australian home by twin sister Voyager of the Seas. The two ships carried more than 10,000 passengers and crew down under for the historic celebration.
Explorer of the Seas was concluding a 16-night Australia and New Zealand voyage from Fremantle, with passengers from more than 30 countries eager to witness the ship’s maiden Sydney arrival. Voyager of the Seas departed Sydney on a seven-night Tasmania sailing, bound for Melbourne tomorrow.
Watching the event near the Opera House, Cruise Critic member aussielozzie18 said: “At 6pm the water tug started its magic near Fort Denison, in front of Explorer, and Voyager started its departure manoeuvres from the OPT. The water tug was doing a nice show as the Voyager headed towards the Explorer. They passed each other at Fort Denison. Nice view from the Opera House, but an even better view would have been on the Manly ferry, which was waiting off Fort Denison for Voyager to finish her manoeuvres before it headed to Circular Quay.”
The big rendezvous moment didn’t go exactly as planned, with Explorer arriving early to bring an ill passenger to shore, Hazydavo reported on the Australia & NZ Cruisers board.
Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Royal Caribbean International said: “It really was double the fun on the harbour with guests on both ships surfing Sydney Harbour as the ships passed Fort Denison thanks to our unique FlowRider surf simulators on the top deck of each ship.
“We’ve invested US$160 million in makeovers on both ships in recent years and the result is two spectacular cruise ships offering the biggest choice of incredible Australian-first features including ice skating rinks, exceptional dining options, Broadway-style shows, 3D cinemas, completely refreshed public spaces and staterooms, rock climbing walls, full size sports courts and the Royal Promenade – an indoor street running the length of the ship with shops, a cafe and bars.”
At 138,194 gross tons, 311 metres long and 38 metres wide, Explorer of the Seas takes the crown of Australia’s largest cruise ship from Voyager of the Seas. The twins join Radiance of the Seas in Sydney and Legend of the Seas in Brisbane, making the Royal Caribbean fleet the newest and most feature packed ships sailing in the region — a total investment of more than US$280 million.