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Photo of the Day: Voyager of the Seas in New Zealand


Voyager of the Seas in at Waimahara Wharf in Shakespeare Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound.

Royal Caribbean announces Australia & New Zealand 2013-2014 plans


Royal Caribbean is offering its broadest range ever of itineraries in Australia and New Zealand come summer 2013-2014.  For the second consecutive cruise season, Voyager Of The Seas, Radiance Of The Seas And Rhapsody Of The Seas will offer cruises to the region.

Voyager of the Seas will offer 53 distinctive itineraries along with the recently revitalized Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas.  In total, Royal Caribbean will offer 55 cruises at 56 Australian, New Zealand and South Pacific ports, with departures from September 2013 to April 2014.

Royal Caribbean commercial manager for Australia, Adam Armstrong, commented on the news, "It’s with great pleasure that we can confirm that sister ships, Voyager of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas, will be back to wow Australian cruisers in summer 2013-14. For the next two summer cruise seasons, Royal Caribbean International will be the largest cruise line operating out of Sydney, and these newly revitalised “premierships” will offer the very latest in cruising – experiences guests previously had to travel to other parts of the world to have."

“We’ve added more cruises on Australia’s first megaliner Voyager of the Seas and some new itineraries across the entire fleet to ensure that there are even more options to suit different lifestyles and needs. It’s our widest ever range of cruises Down Under."

Voyager of the Seas will reposition from Singapore to Sydney on a 14-night cruise in late October 2013 that begins with an overnight in Singapore and calls at Port Keland for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Darwin and Brisbane, Australia. The ship then homeports at Sydney for nine sailings to New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. These cruises range from nine to 14 nights.

A nine-night Tasmania cruise in early February 2014 features an overnight at Hobart on a one-time-only itinerary. At the end of the season, Voyager of the Seas will sail an 18-night Australia and New Zealand itinerary to Perth before returning to the Far East on a 14-night sailing in late March to Singapore via Bangkok.

Radiance of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas also homeport at Sydney from October 2013 to early May 2014, and will operate a wide variety of itineraries ranging from seven to 15 nights.

The cruises visit Australia’s Tasmania and Queensland, New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. Radiance of the Seas will circumnavigate Australia twice with a 16-night north coast and a 17-night south coast and New Zealand itinerary.

Pacific crossings between Vancouver, BC and Sydney bookend both ships’ Australia season. These are a 12-night Hawaii and a 16- or 17-night South Pacific sailing, departing Sept. 13, 2013 and April 10, 2014 aboard Radiance of the Seas, and Sept. 6, 2013 and April 18, 2014 aboard Rhapsody of the Seas. 

New Zealand cruise passenger totals expected to rise in 2013


Demand for cruise ships is expected to rise in New Zealand by more than 20 percent in 2013 and Royal Caribbean's commercial manager for Australia and New Zealand cites Royal Caribbean's efforts to convince the public that cruising is still safe.

The effects of the Costa Concordia disaster have effected even New Zealand but Armstrong does not believe it will be a long-term concern, "Australians and Kiwis seem to have been able to process it as a one-off, probably human error, incident."

Royal Caribbean's business in New Zealand is growing quickly, with about 55,000 guests forecast for next season, compared to about 30,000 this year.

To meet the demand, Royal Caribbean will have five ships across two brands in the area.

Australian newspaper reports on Radiance of the Seas cruise down under


The Sydney Morning Herald sent a writer to check out Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise from Australia to New Zealand and they seemed to be impressed.

Radiance of the Seas departed Sydney for New Zealand's South Island and Milford Sound.  The water was described as "sapphire-blue" and the area as "an untouched wilderness with towering mountains plunging into a freshwater sound, icy water pouring off the hillsides in dramatic waterfalls and jagged, snowcapped peaks tearing through clouds in search of sunlight."

The cruise was of particular interest since this was Radiance's first trip back to Australia after its revitalization this past June that afforded it many new upgrades.  They described the changes as "the hallmarks of a modern liner, with interesting artworks and a trendy interior design. It also has excellent facilities for children, decent shopping opportunities, entertainment options and plenty to keep adults as busy as they choose."

What about the new restaurants?  The writer claims the new specialty restaurants, such as Izumi, Chops Grille and Rita's Cantina, are all worth the extra money.

In addition the upgraded staterooms offer more.  While they found the rooms a little "compact", they found the stateroom to be nicely appointed with plush furninishings.

You can read the full report of their voyage aboard Radiance of the Seas here.

New Zealand travel writer tries out Royal Caribbean


Travel writer Keri Welham took three generations of her family on an 8-night Royal Caribbean cruise of the South Pacific to try it out. As she puts it, cruising isn't just for bingo-playing seniors and hyper-tanned singles.

Welham brought her toddler to the cruise, which presented a challenge since she felt a lot of the ship's amenities for children were aimed at older kids.  She did mention there wer children's play groups scheduled but had to be canceled due to sickness. She did manage to find stuff for her child in the form of a kids pool.

Welham enjoyed the Royal Caribbean staff too, "The Royal Caribbean staff – who made a lasting impression with their friendliness and willingness to help – dropped us off a backpack of age-appropriate educational toys from the onboard toy library, which helped the toddler settle into our room and bought us roughly 10 glorious minutes of silence each day."

Food was also a big hit, "Mealtimes were a dream. Instead of standing in the kitchen trying to fathom where her food whims might lie today, I could wander around the buffet grabbing just a mouthful of a variety of things and she'd try them all until we found something she wanted."

In all, it sounded like Welham enjoyed her cruise, "It was certainly challenging at times but the trade-off was a once-in-a-lifetime experience: We got to take our little girl to Tahiti, introduce her to the spectacle of a mammoth, rolling buffet, dress her up for formal dinners, swim on the top of a 90,090-tonne ship on sunny days, promenade around the decks while moored off Moorea, and watch her fall under the delicate spell of elderly ballroom fanatics on a dance-floor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

You can read the full report here.

Video: Cruising to New Zealand and Australia


New Zealand excited to welcome Voyager of the Seas


New Zealand officials are excited for the arrival of Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas in 2012 as it's confirmed that the largest ship to ever cruise the region will be making a stop in Dunedin.

It was speculated that Dunedin would be a stop a few weeks ago and with the itineraries announced for Voyager of the Seas' visit to Australia and New Zealand earlier today, people in the Kiwi nation are excited.

Royal Caribbean indicated that the first visit to Dunedin will be on November 17, and will visit the city five more times after that.

Dunedin Chief Executive of Tourism, Hamish Saxton, thinks the cruise industry is doing well and the fact Voyager of the Seas is now going to visit Dunedin is further endorsement of the burgeoning New Zealand cruise market.

"The frequency of the trips to New Zealand and the inclusion of Dunedin is terrific news.

Cruise arrivals are continuing to grow, particularly after some more challenging years, [and] the growth in cruise ship passengers is tremendous." Dunedin had previously coped well with cruise arrivals totalling more than 5000 passengers, Mr Saxton said.

"This ship going to be a spectacular sight in our spectacular harbour."

Dunedin, New Zealand likely a stop for Voyager of the Seas


Last week Royal Caribbean made the big news that its Voyager of the Seas ship will be based out of Sydney, Australia for five months in 2012 and while a list of port calls is expected next month, news has come that very likely Dunedin, New Zealand will be among the stops according to the Otago Daily Times.

Voyager of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand, surpassing the previous record of the Queen Mary 2's 3056 passengers.

The move by Royal Caribbean to move Voyager of the Seas to Australia and New Zealand is to help meet the increasing cruise demand of the region, according to Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein, "there are clear opportunities in the China and Australia markets, which are key areas for Royal Caribbean International's global development".

Cruises generate over $1 million for a city


Royal Caribbean's Australasia managing director Gavin Smith says that a typical Royal Caribbean cruise that stops in Auckland, New Zealand can put $1.26 million into the local economy.  Royal Caribbean expects 6000 visitors to New Zealand in the 2010/11 season, rising to 36,000 in 2011/12 . Americans and Europeans made up about 70 per cent of guests.

Royal Caribbean's sister company Celebrity Cruises will have their 1800-passenger ship the Celebrity Century start or finish cruises out of Auckland from October 2011.

According to Smith, a full cruise ship helps create jobs in coaches, taxis, baggage handlers, customs and border control agencies that attended the pier and engagement with the airport and local hotels.

"We have local fresh produce provedoring requirements, we have fuel needs and we also have stevedoring needs because we'll do a full store in Auckland, in terms of container movements and the more industrial side of the business. The general figure that the cruise lines use is around a million dollars into the local economy on a turnaround day. And then you've got the additional upside of most of the Americans and Europeans and Australians that are getting on and off the ship will be buying one, two or three nights [accommodation] pre- or post cruise."

Smith also added that cruisers were more likely to spend money in the city on hotel stays because it was the place they would begin or end their cruise.