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Voyager of the Seas. Source: Royal Caribbean

It has sparked the biggest debate in cruise in a long time: has Royal Caribbean stolen the Aussie cruising market from under the noses of rival P&O?

Certainly, that august journal of business The Financial Review thinks they have.

According to its Monday edition’s marketing section, Royal Caribbean says it has claimed the top slot in the Australian market, outranking Australia’s very own P&O Cruises.

Royal Caribbean says it carries 200,000 of the 700,000 Australian cruisers per year.

If the cruise line sent five ships to Australia this year, each capable of carrying 3,000 passengers, then this would mean one and a third of those ships was filled with Australian passengers per week.

Royal Caribbean commercial director Adam Armstrong told Marketing & Media Australia is now the line’s third biggest market, overtaking Canada, other European countries and South America.

He said: “Australia considers cruising as a mainstream holiday.

“Its acceptance for cruising is very high.”

However, larger ships aren’t the only reason Royal Caribbean says it is getting ahead in Australia.

According to Royal Caribbean commercial director Adam Armstrong, newspaper ads continuously bringing in new business and are attracting older and younger cruisers.

He said: “We are supplementing that now with search advertising and social media but newspapers deliver out return-on-investment.

“We see a complete cross-section of people.

“The growth is across all demographics.”

A Royal Caribbean spokesperson told Cruise Passenger it is now the biggest brand in Sydney during the summer season.

The spokesperson explained: “This is based on the number of passengers carried in Sydney during the summer season.

“It has been a gradual but consistent growth over the last five years as RCI has added new ships to the region (Radiance of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas) as well as sending more Aussies to Europe and the Caribbean, the latter being particularly fuelled by Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.”

Cruise Passenger contacted P&O, but a response was not available at the time of publish.