Sydney was treated to a fabulous cruise ship spectacle on Saturday as the two biggest cruise ships based in the southern hemisphere met in Sydney Harbour for the first time.
Over 10,000 people celebrated, surfed and partied in style as Royal Caribbean International’s newest Australian cruise ship, Explorer of the Seas, was welcomed to its new Aussie home by twin sister Voyager of the Seas.
The colossal size of the ships is illustrated graphically by photos showing them passing on either side of Fort Denison, built on a little island in the middle of Sydney Harbour. The two ships completely dwarf the historic island, known to convicts as ‘Pinchgut’.
Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas brought almost 10,400 passengers and crew and almost AUD 1.6 million into the Sydney economy in passenger spend on the one day alone.
It was the second time in a week that Sydneysiders had been treated to a cruise ship spectacle on Sydney Harbour. Last Wednesday, P&O Cruises fielded its fleet of five ships on the harbour to mark the debut of the two latest: Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. See: Flawless Sydney day for P&O’s harbour spectacular.
On Saturday, it was Royal Caribbean International’s turn.
“With over 10,000 people on board the two ships, it’s the equivalent of having the entire population of Byron Bay out on the harbour at one time,” said Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Royal Caribbean International.
Explorer of the Seas arrived in Sydney, concluding a 16-night epic Australia and New Zealand voyage from Fremantle, with guests from more than 30 countries aboard eager to witness the new ship’s maiden Sydney arrival. While Voyager of the Seas departs Sydney on a seven-night Tasmania sailing bound for her first port, Melbourne, on Monday.
“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,” Adam continued.
“We’ve invested USD 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 twin sister ship Voyager of the Seas.
During its coming five-month season Explorer of the Seas will inject almost AUD 44 million into the Australian economy including almost AUD 41 million in Sydney in passenger spend alone.
Explorer of the Seas joins already revitalised sister ships Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Legend of the Seas. The line says this makes the Royal Caribbean fleet the newest and most feature packed ships sailing in the region – a total investment of more than USD 280 million.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, which owns Royal Caribbean International, is the world’s second-largest cruise line operator, after Carnival Corporation (which, incidentally, owns P&O). Royal Caribbean Cruises also owns Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises.
In the 2015/2016 cruise season Royal Caribbean International will increase the local fleet to four ships: Legend of the Seas home porting in Brisbane; along with Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas home porting in Sydney. Celebrity Solstice will also sail her fourth local season out of Sydney, while Azamara Club Cruises will deploy its first ship ever to Australia with Azamara Quest in the 2015/16 season. December 2016 will see the arrival of Ovation of the Seas, a Quantum Class vessel billed as Australia’s biggest, newest and most technologically advanced ship.
Written by Peter Needham