Royal Caribbean will be deploying two Quantum-class ships to sail in local waters for their 2021/22 season – signalling renewed confidence in the region and a major investment.
The arrival of Ovation of the Seas as well as a new addition, Quantum of the Seas, will increase the line’s capacity – and in 2022 will coincide with the expected opening of the regions first private cruise resort – Lelepa, in Vanuatu.
With ports, states and Pacific nations producing differing health demands – just today, Queensland repeated that it will not allow cruise ships to dock until the “end of the pandemic” – the plan shows amazing prescience.
Having a destination under cruise line control means arrivals and departures are guaranteed. The line may bypass strict customs and health screenings should as similar pandemic to COVID-19 reoccur.
While lines like Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney, MSC and Carnival have a raft of these private sanctuaries in the Bahamas, Royal Caribbean, Lelepa will be the first this side of the equator.
The line’s website says the island will be available in 2022.
Royal Caribbean told Cruise Passenger today: “Our South Pacific private island destination will be created in partnership with the communities of Vanuatu, however a launch date for Perfect Day Lelepa has yet to be announced. We are reviewing our timelines to determine our best way forward, and we will share an update when we have more details.”
Meanwhile, the arrival of the new ships and Radiance of the Seas based in Brisbane has added new impetus to the push to get states and territories to agree to a cruise resumption and one set of protocols so embarkation and disembarkation can be assured.
Cruise Lines International Association has been working in America to produce guidelines, but so far the powerful Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has not considered any new measures.
Queensland Health today extended its halt on foreign cruise ships “until the end of the public health emergency”. It was to have expired on August 17.
A Royal Caribbean spokesperson said the line is currently negotiating with local health and government authorities itself.
“We are working with local health and government authorities to ensure proper safety procedures are in place for both guests and crew. Discussions with ports and local communities are ongoing. We will not sail until we know we are ready,” said the spokesperson.
Currently, only two ports in Australia will have the capacity to homeport Ovation and Quantum. Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal as well as Brisbane’s Luggage Point, have been earmarked.
And heads of the company have long said that Brisbane is an ideal destination for larger vessels, like Oasis-class ships, to sail and anchor near islands in the South Pacific.
When Royal Caribbean’s chairman Richard Fain visited Australia last year, he also spoke about the potential of the world’s largest ships like Symphony of the Seas berthing at Port Botany, and sailing to around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
The 2021/22 season will be Ovation of the Seas’ fourth Down Under.
Quantum of the Seas which was originally built for the Chinese market, had a multimillion dollar upgrade last year. Some of her new features include a pop-up escape room, a pop-up laser tag as well as updates to the interior of the ship.
The ship also had changes to its menu options and there is more entertainment on Quantum.
The line also revealed its biggest Brisbane season ever with the homeporting of Radiance of the Seas.
On the line’s website, there are a number of sampler cruises as well as an 8-night Great Barrier Reef cruise visiting Airlie Beach, Cairns, Port Douglas and cruising Willis Island.
“Royal Caribbean International has opened 2021/22 Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific holidays for sale, to allow our loyal guests to forward plan next year’s summer holiday,” said the RCI spokesperson.
“Quantum of the Seas will join sister ship, Ovation of the Seas, sailing from Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. Radiance of the Seas will sail from Brisbane’s International Cruise Terminal. Together they will offer two- to 14- night sailings around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
“Customers are offered increased flexibility on their bookings with adjusted cancellation policies, including our Cruise with Confidence policy, which allows cancellations up to 48 hours before a guest sails, and a future cruise credit good through 31 December 2021 or 12 months after the cancelled sailing.”
Perfect Day at Lelepa will mimic Perfect Day at Cococay, the line’s private island in the Bahamas. Cococay has a combination of activities for the thrill seekers like giant waterslides, zip lining, and much more.