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Newer, Larger Ships Facilitate Record-Breaking Ocean Cruise Growth

May 16, 2017 Cruise No Comments Email Email

Australia’s record breaking year for ocean cruising saw the largest rise in cruise passengers yet, facilitated by newer and larger ships sailing down under. A 21 per cent increase in the number of ocean cruisers year on year means the equivalent of 5.3 per cent of the Australian population took a cruise in 2016, to reach a total of 1,281,159 ocean cruisers in a single year.

RCL Cruises’ Managing Director, Adam Armstrong, said the figures reflected the wealth of choice now available to Australian travellers, as well as the influx of larger, newer ships to Australian shores.

“We are seeing a cruise market that is on a growth path quite unlike anything that’s been seen in the world, outside of China,” Armstrong commented.

“The question everybody wants to understand is just how much potential growth there is for this market. I believe the only impediment to reaching our target of two million Australian cruisers by 2020 is port infrastructure. Sydney is already full. We need to upgrade all of our ports to enable them to handle the largest of the world’s cruise ships,” Armstrong continued.

RCL Cruises – incorporating big ship cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises as well as boutique line Azamara Club Cruises – added two ships to its locally based fleet in 2016, including Ovation of the Seas, the country’s largest and most modern megaliner, and carried over 20% more Australian guests compared to 2015.

Royal Caribbean is now the single largest cruise line sailing in Australia during the summer cruise season, operating the three largest ships based down under; Ovation of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

On 6 December 2016, the line welcomed Ovation of the Seas to Australia for the very first time. With capacity for 4,905 passengers – the largest cruise ship based down under – she carried more than 18,000 guests on six cruises in the 2016 calendar year.

Meanwhile the full year effects of adding Explorer of the Seas – twin sister to Voyager of the Seas – to the local fleet were realised in 2016. Sailing round-trip Pacific island cruises, the second and third largest ships based in Australia became known as the South Pacific Sisters.

Together with Radiance of the Seas, Legend of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice and Azamara Quest, it’s estimated that RCL Cruises’ guests from Australia and overseas injected more than $200 million into the national economy in passenger spend alone.

Plus, Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas made the industry’s maiden cruise ship call to Port Kembla, marking the start of a new tourism era for Wollongong and the Illawarra.

“We are now at the cross roads of the future of cruising in Australia. In order to continue to capitalise on the very significant economic benefits that cruising brings, the government and people of Australia, particularly NSW, now have the opportunity to review the berthing capacity for big ships in Sydney, east of the Harbour Bridge,” Armstrong concluded.

The coming 2017/18 summer season will see six RCL ships sailing down under, including Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas, joining Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice and Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Journey. 

Earlier this year, Royal Caribbean International announced that three of its four locally-based megaliners would return to Australia for the summer cruise season in 2018/19. Voyager of the Seas will not return to Australia for the 18/19 cruise season, instead sailing from Asia year-round, however Ovation of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Radiance of the Seas will continue to be based in Sydney for the summer.

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