Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Bigger, better, best - Royal Caribbean wraps up monumental season

This evening, Rhapsody of the Seas departs Sydney for the last time this season, marking the official end to Australia's summer cruise season and wrapping up a season full of superlatives for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises – bigger, grander, more beautiful and more popular than ever before.


Australians enjoyed the biggest and most innovative ships ever to be homeported here with features never before seen in the region – like ice skating on Voyager of the Seas – as well as a real life lawn on Celebrity Solstice, the newest and most stylish superliner based down under.


In all, the cruise company had five ships from two cruise lines in Australia for the summer, carrying 170,000 guests – nearly twice as many as the previous season.  With three ships sailing in the region, Royal Caribbean International became the largest cruise line in Sydney while sister brand Celebrity Cruises had two ships here for the first time. 


"Just three years ago we had one ship offering 15 sailings from Sydney; today we have a fleet of five world class superliners and almost 70 cruises on offer," said Adam Armstrong, commercial director, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited Australia.  "This season we also introduced the two largest and newest superliners ever based in Australia.  The arrival of Voyager of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice made headlines across the country and redefined Australian cruising forever."


Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the SeasRadiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas, and Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Millennium sailed a total of 67 cruises and visited 54 ports in 14 countries. Compared to the previous season, the number of cruise nights doubled while the total number of cruises sailed increased by 50 per cent.


During the season, the three Royal Caribbean ships sailed 53 cruises and called on 49 ports in 14 countries, including new ports calls to Singapore,Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Picton, New Zealand. Celebrity Cruises' 2012-13 Australian season featured 14 cruises calling on 35 ports in nine countries. This included first visits for the cruise line to Port Douglas, Port Hedland, Noumea, Singapore and Bali.


Guest Nationality

Australians and New Zealanders made up three quarters of all guests sailing on the two cruise lines over summer.  Overseas guests came from 116 countries – including some unexpected nations like Botswana, Uzbekistan and Guatemala – with a large 176% growth in guests from China.  Overseas guests were particularly drawn to Celebrity Solstice, accounting for some 55% of guests.  "This is one of the unique selling points of our ships in this region; we offer a very international cruise experience in which Aussies and Kiwis will holiday alongside a diverse mix of interesting nationalities," said Armstrong.  "It creates a fantastic, cosmopolitan atmosphere onboard."


Popular Cruises

South Pacific itineraries proved the most popular on Royal Caribbean ships, while New Zealand itineraries were the hot favourites on Celebrity Solstice.  "Demand was very strong for Fiji and New Year cruises, as well as Voyager of the Seas' repositioning cruise from Asia to Perth, which attracted a large number of newcomers to Royal Caribbean from WA.  Several Voyager of the Seas sailings were over 90 per cent filled six months prior to departure – demonstrating strong demand for the maiden season of Australia's first megaliner," said Armstrong.


The 2013-14 Season

Royal Caribbean will be back for another big summer this October, with Rhapsody of the Seas the first ship off the mark, arriving in Sydney on 5 October 2013, followed closely by Radiance of the Seas on 11 October and Voyager of the Seas on 7 November. Celebrity Solstice arrives in Sydney on 23 October and Celebrity Millennium calls in for a brief visit on her way from Alaska to Asia.


According to Armstrong, "Booking momentum is solid for both cruise lines – and prices are increasing –although it's not too late to book for next summer, with cruises available from under $1,000 per person for seven nights."


A seven-night Tasmanian cruise on Radiance of the Seas departing 27 January 2014 starts from just $899 per person, while a pre-Christmas seven-night cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas departing 12 December to Tasmania starts from $999 per person.  If you want to experience the many attractions on Australia's largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas, 11 nights on a New Zealand cruise departing 24 January 2014 will give you plenty of time to explore – and fares start from just $1,399 per person.  If modern luxury is more your style, then try the 12-night New Zealand cruise on Celebrity Solstice departing from Sydney on 28 November 2013 and sailing to Auckland, with fares from $1,309 per person.