Royal Caribbean’s new boss in Australia Susan Bonner promises a big wave season beginning in October, with the line’s longest deployment ever.
And she hopes to bring the new wave of Celebrity Cruises ships – the modern and technologically advanced Edge class – to Australia. The first, the stunning Celebrity Edge, will be launched at the end of the year.
“We hope to bring even more bigger ships and newer ships, like Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class, to our shores in future,” she said.
Ms Bonner, Vice President and MD of RCL Cruises, Australia and NZ, told Cruise Passenger: “This wave season (2018/19) will be our longest season yet for our three locally-based Royal ships, with Ovation of the Seas here from October to April.
“Celebrity Solstice – which remains Australia’s highest-rated cruise ship – returns for her seventh season, and continues to be a firm favourite here.
“And Azamara Quest returns for the line’s fourth season, offering new turnarounds in Perth, Melbourne and Cairns.
“We may have a few more announcements in store, but all in good time…”
Ms Bonner arrives at a time when competition is stepping up.
The next wave season promises to be a bumper experience for Australia’s cruise passengers, with Royal Caribbean’s ships, Princess homeporting the Majestic Princess and more small luxury vessels sailing our waters.
Looking further out, Carnival Cruises has a new ship arriving and Cunard plans a Melbourne season for the Queen Elizabeth.
Royal Caribbean, however, has lifted its game, especially over the last few years, with amazing facilities aboard its vessels and new food offerings that move its contemporary ships close to the premium sector.
And, they boast the largest ships in the world.
Ms Bonner said she was especially excited to be taking over Australia, one of Royal Caribbean’s biggest growth areas.
“I have travelled all over for personal and business reasons, and I also have a best friend who lives in Melbourne with her family – so when this opportunity came up I already felt a strong connection with Australia, and jumped at the chance.
“With the highest market penetration for cruising of any country, this region offers immense opportunities for growth, and for all three of our brands to further cement themselves as industry leaders in the minds of Australians.”
On attracting new cruisers to the brand, Ms Bonner said: “Bringing new, premium hardware and experiences to the market is always going to be important in attracting the new to cruise guest, and all three of our brands constantly make this happen.
“Revolutionary ships like Ovation of the Seas, the biggest and most modern ship to ever visit Australia to date, have been incredibly effective in breaking through to new demographics, with first-at-sea features like the iFly skydiving simulator, Jamie’s Italian and the Flowrider surf simulator.
“We hope to bring even more bigger ships and newer ships, like Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class, to our shores in future. Continuing to work closely with communities on port development and infrastructure throughout the region is going to be instrumental in increasing market penetration in this region and meeting demand.”
Royal Caribbean has had a huge year internationally.
“Internationally, this has already been a huge year for us, with the launch of the brand new Symphony of the Seas, the biggest ship in the world in March.
“Azamara Pursuit, the triplet of Journey and Quest, joins the fleet in July, and will offer extraordinary new itineraries to South America, Antarctica and Africa.
“And the year culminates with the launch of the much-anticipated Celebrity Edge, a ship that is set to revolutionise cruising with its modernity.
“We’re also making big strides in terms of our environmental commitments, recently announcing we’re removing all plastic straws from our entire fleet by the end of 2018. But this is just a continuation of a long journey started by our company.
Ms Bonner said of Sydney Harbour’s long-running capacity problems: “We are very aware of the capacity constraints in Sydney and continue to bring these to the attention of all stakeholders, particularly the NSW and Federal Governments.
“The cruise Industry needs a new terminal east of the Harbour Bridge as soon as possible. Our support for Port Botany as an option is pragmatic.
“We believe a solution there is possible but we are providing input into the Government’s consideration of both options. We just want a solution and to meet its full potential the industry needs this sooner rather than later.”