ROYAL Caribbean will reduce its deployment in local waters due to capacity constraints, basing three ships in Australia in 2018/19, down from five ships this season.
“For the 2018/19 summer season the port congestion in Sydney has reached such a point that we cannot secure the slots we need to offer optimal cruise itineraries in order to maintain four RCI ships in Sydney,” the cruise line said in a statement.
Royal Caribbean said it was only able to secure enough berths in Sydney for two ships during Jan and Feb 2018, and three ships in shoulder seasons.
“For a number of years now, we have warned that an acute lack of cruise infrastructure in Sydney will constrain the growth of the industry and limit the flow-on effects to the NSW economy. That time has come”.
Asia is the benefactor of Sydney’s infrastructure debacle, where Voyager of the Seas will instead operate year-round.
During the season, Asia will also welcome the yet-to-be-named, first Quantum Ultra-class ship.
Meanwhile Radiance of the Seas will bypass Sydney to offer her first turnaround from Melb plus three from Auckland.
In addition, Royal described the NSW cost environment as “amongst the least competitive in the world for cruise home-porting,” leading to a global deployment decision “to make the most of both cost-efficiencies and guaranteed berth availability in Asia for Voyager of the Seas”.
The deployment will also mark Ovation of the Seas’ third and longest season ever down under.
Royal Caribbean said it hoped to see a fourth ship return to Australia for the 2019/20 season.
Bookings open 16 May.