Celebrity Cruises, part of the Royal Caribbean Group, has announced in Sydney that its ships will be among the first in the world to perform legal marriages for the gay and lesbian community.

President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said when Celebrity Solstice arrives in Sydney for the start of its sixth season next week, it will offer the ceremonies for the first time.

Other lines do offer ceremonies – and Carnival are planning legal ceremonies shortly.

A spokesperson for Princess told Cruise Passenger: “Although same sex couple commitment ceremonies are not new to Princess, we are delighted by the ruling and look forward to hosting same sex marriages on our 13 ships which are registered in Bermuda. We are currently working on developing a range of services and amenities to meet the needs of same sex couple ceremonies and will release full information on these shortly.

Ms Lutoff-Perlo explained Celebrity ships are registered in Malta. The Maltese parliament voted 66-1 to legalise same sex marriages, and that’s why Celebrity Cruises can offer a full service now.

Coming as Australia votes on the issue of same-sex marriage, the move could be seen as controversial.

But Ms Lutoff-Perlo said Celebrity was proud to be the first cruise line in the world to offer same sex marriage.

She also announced the line would be the lead sponsor for the 2018 Australian LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex) Awards.

“Starting immediately, our captains will be able to offer same sex marriage. We believe we have the opportunity to open up the world in very many ways.”

She added: “At Celebrity Cruises, we’re committed to opening up the world to everyone, and championing diversity in all its forms.”

Ms Lutoff-Perlo said Australia was now Celebrity Cruises’ third largest market, with a loyal following.

“Australia is a significant market for Celebrity Cruises, ranking as the third largest source market worldwide. More than 50,000 Australians cruise with us each year – both in Australia and overseas

She presented Celebrity Edge – the new ships shaping the future of the line – and announced a $400 million refurbishment program for the rest of the Celebrity fleet.

She refused to be drawn on when a Celebrity Edge vessel might visit Sydney, though she certainly didn’t rule it out.