Royal Caribbean Cruise ships begin journeys to Far North Queensland
ROYAL Caribbean Cruises has started its “biggest, boldest season yet” with the arrival of the Radiance of the Seas in Sydney Harbour.

The liner – which sails into tropical waters in December
– is the first of seven Royal Caribbean (RCL) ships this season. For
the first time, all three RCL brands will be based Down Under, with Royal
Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and new arrival Azamara Club Cruises
offering 95 itineraries around Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and
Asia.

RCL Asia-Pacific regional vice-president Gavin Smith said
the company would carry 250,000 passengers during the season, with almost
60,000 coming from overseas, including the US, Canada, UK and Germany.
“Yesterday marked 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, about 20 per cent of RCL’s global fleet,” he said.
“For nearly a decade we have delivered the world’s biggest and best ships to
Australians, offering them a cutting-edge cruise product and a style of holiday
that they would previously have had to travel overseas to experience.”

Azamara Club Cruises will sail in Australia for the first
time this summer. Normally based in Europe and Asia, the
686-passenger Azamara Quest arrives in Cairns on January 4
after stopping over in the Torres Strait for New Year’s Eve. It
also visits Port Douglas and Cooktown. Legend of the Seas will
be based in Brisbane and returns to Cairns on December 5, then in January,
March, April and November next year.

Celebrity Solstice returns to Yorkeys Knob in
March and October and Celebrity Millenniumwill be here in March.

The ships will make 185 port calls and 85 turnarounds in
Australia this season, which is expected to inject more than $185 million into
the local economy in passenger spending alone. The
superliner Dawn Princess, which returns to the Far North in March
(Port Douglas), June and September (Yorkeys Knob) next year, will sail under a
new operator and name in 2017. The Princess Cruises Australian-based ship will
move to the P&O Cruises Australia fleet in May 2017. At 77,000
tonnes, the 2000-passenger vessel will be the largest superliner to sail under
the P&O flag.

Carnival Australia chief executive Ann Sherry said the
move reflected increased demand for cruise holidays in local waters and
continued investment in the P&O brand.

P&O senior vice-president Sture Myrmell said Dawn
Princess 
would be transformed and renamed before the transfer.“This
ship is a great addition to P&O Cruises’ fleet, with her larger size
opening up opportunities for new on-board product and experiences,” he said.