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Royal Caribbean is moving Ovation of the Seas from China to the burgeoning Alaskan market in the summer of 2019 – sparking questions over whether she will return for the Australian season.

The mega-ship, which will sail in Australian waters this season, has already become a favourite here and in Singapore.

She is being moved after Norwegian Cruise Lines announced Norwegian Bliss will take on the Alaskan market.

Royal Caribbean told Cruise Passenger today it could not confirm whether or not Ovation of the Seas would return for a Sydney season after Alaska.

But the surging demand and increased presence of lines like Princess and Norwegian means Royal Caribbean could field larger ships from its Oasis class, the world’s largest passenger vessels.

“Our itineraries are planned at least 18 months in advance, while we appreciate that our guests and travel agents are excited to see ships come to their homeports, we cannot confirm plans for 2019 yet. Stay tuned for more information,” a Royal Caribbean spokesman said.

Alaska is a hugely popular destination for cruise. And the moves represent a significant up-sizing in ships in the area.

The Ovation, able to carry up to 5,000 passengers, will operate seven-night sailings to Alaska out of Seattle after re-positioning from Sydney in the spring of 2019.

It was unclear last night whether she would be in Sydney for 2020.

Norwegian Bliss also will be based in Seattle.

The two ships represent a sizeable step up in this market – an acknowledgement of the popularity of the destination.

Two other Sydney favourites – Royal Caribbean’s 138,194-ton Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ 121,878-ton Celebrity Solstice – were the largest in the area.

Princess has Ruby Princess and Emerald Princess on the route.

Ovation’s move to North America appears to be part of a step-down of capacity in the China market.

Demand for cruises in China has softened.

Princess Cruises announced recently that Majestic Princess, would redeploy to Australia for nearly eight months of the year.

Royal Caribbean’s new Alaska sailings on Ovation will be available to book the week of Dec. 11.

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