(8:35 a.m. AEST) -- Carnival Splendor will sail year-round in Australia from December 2019, it has been revealed this morning.
Visiting from Miami this week, Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy has just confirmed the 3,000-passenger, 113,300 gross tonnage liner will be based at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal. Currently operating out of Los Angeles, Carnival Splendor will become the newest and largest ship homeported year-round in Australia.
Built in 2008 and refurbished two years ago, Splendor is scheduled for another revamp before its arrival. The bow-to-stern upgrade will add new dining experiences tailored to local tastes and a new waterpark.
The maiden voyage from Sydney in December 2019 is set to be a repositioning cruise from Singapore. Bookings for Splendor’s 2019 sailings will open in March 2018 while sailings for 2020 are expected to go on sale in May or June.
“Today’s announcement reflects Carnival’s serious commitment to the Australian market," said Duffy, at a media conference onboard Carnival Spirit today. “We’ve had over 800,000 Australians cruise with Carnival since we launched in Australia just five years ago -- a number that would fill the Sydney Cricket Ground 17 times over."
About a year ago it was reported that Splendor would be rebranded and join the local P&O fleet next year, but rumours circulated that it would instead become Carnival Cruise Line's third ship in Australia. The biggest cruise line in the world, Carnival has had the smaller, older Carnival Spirit based in Sydney since 2012 and Carnival Legend sailing part-time.
Splendor will also have Carnival's first ever goddaughter -- six-year-old Matilda Jenkins, a patient at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, which the brand supports through an ongoing partnership.
The full-time deployment represents a 66 percent increase in the company's Australian capacity. Also Sydney-based, Carnival Spirit will remain in Australia when Carnival Splendor joins the local fleet, a spokesperson told Cruise Critic. Carnival Spirit’s 2020 itineraries are due to be unveiled in June 2018.
Today's announcement follows yesterday's arrival of Carnival Legend to its new seasonal homeport of Melbourne for 16 sailings in 2018 and 2019.
--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor