(10:05 a.m. AEST) — Sydney’s port schedule makes intriguing reading for Australian ship-spotters, with a whole host of hints and revelations.
For several months Carnival Legend has been booked year-round in Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal, starting 2018, instead of its usual routine of leaving Australia every winter.
And the brand new Ovation of the Seas is booked to return every summer until 2021.
But P&O ships are only showing until 2020 and Holland America Line drops off in 2019.
Meanwhile, Diamond Princess is scheduled for the next five years but it’s supposed to be replaced next year by Emerald Princess and go to Japan.
A week ago we revealed Viking Ocean Cruises would make its maiden calls down under, while NCL’s Norwegian Star looks like it’s spending six months here.
Last week we also noticed extra bookings at Port Kembla, near Wollongong, for Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, but those itineraries are not on the Royal Caribbean website.
What does it all mean?
Slots are sometimes booked to “save a space” and then switched to other ships or cancelled.
Most cruise lines prefer to announce their programs when the cruises are actually available for sale — usually a year or two in advance. Some like to fire up the publicity machine as soon as possible, while others keep their new itineraries a closely guarded secret to deter copycats.
Planning those new itineraries would have started many years ago, but unexpected things can change along the way, from the world economy to terrorism, or an oversaturated market, so it can be safer to wait.
Just last week, Carnival Cruise Line delayed its inaugural season in China, scheduled for next year, less than five months after officially announcing it.
When asked about Legend staying full-time based in Sydney, Carnival told us: “We have not made a decision on Carnival Legend’s deployments for 2018 and beyond, but given ongoing capacity constraints in Sydney we are being prudent by holding bookings for the ship.”
As for Diamond Princess, a spokesperson for Princess Cruises advised that the company makes “long-term port bookings all over the world and have used Diamond Princess for these bookings locally as she frequently visits the region. Anything beyond the current programs is purely speculative and no ships have been locked in.”
Royal Caribbean, Viking Cruises and NCL are also remaining quiet about their fleets’ future movements in our region.
Whether confirmed or not, these early bookings point to one sure thing: the fierce competition to snag Australia’s most prized berth, opposite the Sydney Opera House, which in turn demonstrates the continued confidence in local cruising.