(8:00 a.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean's ship deployment Down Under for winter 2014/15 will remain the same as this year, the line has confirmed.
In an announcement yesterday, Royal stated that Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas will continue to be based in Sydney, offering two- to 17-night sailings around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The line offers the most ships and sailings from Sydney seasonally.
Its news comes a week after Carnival Cruise Lines said it would be deploying a second ship in Sydney from September next year. Carnival Legend will join sister ship Carnival Spirit, which moved there permanently last year.
And a month after sister brand Celebrity Cruises announced Celebrity Century will join Celebrity Solstice in Sydney in summer 2014/15, increasing capacity by half on the previous year. The 1,800-passenger Century was last based in Australia in summer 2011-12.
Earlier this year, Cruise & Maritime Voyages announced it would bring the Astor to Western Australia, to replace the gap left by the collapse of Classic International Cruises.
Two of the three Royal ships -- Radiance and Rhapsody -- have been extensively refurbished, with new features including new restaurants, the R Bar and flat-screen TVs in cabins. Voyager will be refurbished in time for the new season.
Australia is one of the world's fastest-growing cruise destinations and lines are falling over themselves to establish a strong presence Down Under. Some lines have “Aussified” their ships, to give them more of a local feel by introducing barbecues on deck and Australian wines, such as Carnival. Others lines have replaced the older ships they once deployed in Australia with brand new ones, such as Celebrity with Solstice.
Other international lines based in Australia include Princess Cruises, with Dawn Princess.
The region received a further boost last month when Sydney's new White Bay Cruise Terminal opened. The purpose-built AU$57 million (US$58 million) terminal will welcome about half of all cruise ships visiting Sydney; the taller ones will continue to dock in Sydney Harbour.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor