(1.50 p.m. AEST) - Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas is leaving its two homes of Australia and Alaska after the line announced it will reposition to the U.K. in March next year, when it would usually be preparing for its Alaskan season, and then the Caribbean in November 2019, when it was expected to return for its annual Australian season.
At the end of the 2018/19 Australian summer, the ship has been scheduled to depart Sydney on a 46-night repositioning cruise through Asia, the Middle East and Europe, to be offered in four sectors.
Instead of its usual deployment to Alaska, Explorer of the Seas will be based in Southampton for almost six months, operating itineraries to the Baltic, Mediterranean and Canary Islands. The move sees Explorer of the Seas replace Navigator of the Seas in Europe and join Independence of the Seas for the Northern Hemisphere summer season.
Following the European season the 4,200-passenger Explorer heads to Miami on November 5, 2019 on a 14-night transtatlantic cruise with calls at several Caribbean islands including Barbados. There's no word yet where it will go after that sailing.
The four repositioning sectors on the Sydney to Southampton world voyage next year are a 15-night Sydney to Singapore cruise (departing March 29), an 11-night Singapore to Dubai (departing April 13), a 13-night Dubai to Barcelona (departing April 24) and a seven-night Barcelona to Southampton cruise (departing May 7).
The departure of Explorer follows last year's announcement that Royal Caribbean's other Sydney-based ship, Voyager of the Seas, would leave Australia in 2018.
--By Caroline Gladstone, Cruise Critic contributor