(6 a.m. AEST) -- Royal Caribbean has announced changes to its summer 2021/2022 programme in Australia due to ongoing global travel restrictions.
The line has cancelled Serenade of the Seas' cruise departures from Sydney that were due to run from October 2021 to February 2022, and has replaced Ovation of the Seas’ scheduled sailings with a new season of 24 domestic cruises that will operate from December 13, 2021, through March 31, 2022.
The 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas will offer a mix of two- to 10-night sailings visiting exciting ports such as Hobart, Adelaide, Brisbane, Port Douglas, Kangaroo Island, Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, plus excursions to the Great Barrier Reef.
The news follows a state-imposed COVID-19 lockdown in New South Wales, with similar lockdowns also occurring in state capitals across Australia in recent weeks.
Royal Caribbean International's Vice President and Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Gavin Smith, said: "We continue to encourage and assist federal and state governments to establish a clear pathway for the return of cruising, and hope that by December we will have guests holidaying with us once again.
"While Sydney manages its ongoing lockdown, several factors make us hopeful that domestic cruising will return this summer, from rapid advances in COVID-19 research, technology and an emphasis on swift vaccine distribution."
Passengers impacted by the cancellations have been contacted and offered the opportunity to change their booking to a new 2022/2023 cruise; a Future Cruise Credit equal to the value of 125 percent of their cruise fare; or a full refund.
Plans remain in place to offer 2022/2023 sailings covering Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific onboard Quantum, Ovation and Radiance of the Seas.
Royal Caribbean International’s director of sales, Australia and New Zealand, Dave Humphreys, added: "We are very encouraged by the great response we have had to our 2022/2023 season as guests plan ahead and remain confident and excited about a return to cruising in Australia. We’ve seen strong interest in cruises on Quantum,which will homeport at Brisbane’s new state-of-the-art cruise terminal."
This news comes in the same week as Royal Caribbean launches its long-awaited latest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, in the US, where sailings are slowly resuming out of Florida to the Caribbean.
Reservations for Ovation of the Seas' new 2021/2022 Australia sailings open Thursday, August 5.