carnival legend in melbourne

(11:15 a.m. AEST) -- Carnival Legend has arrived into its new homeport, Melbourne, to embark on a record 16 cruises in 2018 and 2019. Sailings to New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Zealand, Sydney and Tasmania will depart from the city in February, March and November.

As announced in 2016, Carnival Cruise Line has taken a big step to base a ship in the Victorian capital, giving locals a more convenient way to get aboard its family-friendly holidays. The brand expects passengers from Victoria to double in the next year. Previously, the ship was based for half the year in Sydney.

The 2600-passenger Carnival Legend docked at Station Pier at 6am today with thousands of holidaymakers who had sailed from Sydney. The first Melbourne departure heads to New Caledonia this afternoon for an 11-night cruise visiting Noumea, Maré, Lifou Isle and the Isle of Pines.

Welcoming the ship to its new home, Carnival Cruise Line’s global president, Christine Duffy, said: “Today’s news is in response to the unprecedented demand for Carnival fun in Victoria, our second biggest Australian market. Since launching in 2012 [in Australia], over 117,000 Victorians have sailed with Carnival Cruise Line -- a number which would fill the Rod Laver arena twice."

Legend will undergo a AU$57 million upgrade in May to add the Alchemy Bar, with cocktails handcrafted by mixologists, the Mexican-inspired BlueIguana Cantina and Tequila Bar, and Guy's Burger Joint curated by Californian restaurateur and Food Network TV personality Guy Fieri.

Duffy, who flew in from Miami for the event, added: “I understand Victorians love good coffee, so we’ve started there and upgraded our espresso machines on board, ahead of Carnival Legend’s arrival into Melbourne, ensuring guests can get their morning caffeine fix.”

These new features will accompany the existing 45 activities across the 12 decks of Carnival Legend, including Green Thunder -- the fastest and steepest waterslide at sea, three swimming pools, the adults-only Serenity Retreat and more than 20 bars and dining options.

Mornington Peninsula couple and avid Carnival lovers, Jennifer and Dennis McCarthy, said today’s news will make it even easier for them to cruise with their favourite brand. “Now with our very own ship in Melbourne we’re able to cut down on interstate travel pre-cruising and jump straight into the fun.”

Destinations include the South Pacific, New Zealand and Tasmania, with cruises departing from Melbourne in February, March and November. During other months, Carnival Legend will be in Moreton Island, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Hawaii and Sydney.

--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor