Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Eclipse to be based in Melbourne for 2020/2021 summer season

Royal Caribbean International has announced it will base luxury ship Celebrity Eclipse in Melbourne during the 2020/2021 summer season.

The 2850-guest, 120,000-tonne cruise ship will arrive in Melbourne on December 23 2020 for her inaugural season, which will run until April 2021.

It will first undergo a $700-million modernisation, which will see accommodation, culinary programs, and public spaces updated.

From Melbourne, guests will be able to choose from seven round-trip sailings, between eight and 14 nights, to destinations in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia.

The inaugural season will finish on  April 4, 2021 with a 19-night Melbourne to Honolulu cruise.

"Melbourne was an obvious choice as a home port for this beautiful ship, which will be brand new to our shores," said a spokesperson. "The ship's modern luxury design, and award-winning wine and food programme fit perfectly with the state's rich cultural and culinary scene."

Royal Caribbean expects passengers for the ship to inject more than $13 million into Victoria's economy during her first season.

The announcement of another major ship basing itself in Melbourne comes as Sydney struggles to cope with the number of cruise liners visiting Australia. Earlier this year, Cunard announced the Queen Elizabeth would be based in Melbourne for the 2019/20 season. 

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia 2017 figures show NSW is the biggest source of cruise passengers, accounting for 53.5 per cent of the market, with Victoria ranking third (12.8 per cent) behind Queensland (21.3 per cent). 

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Port Melbourne's Station Pier is set to host more than 100 ship visits this cruising season, from October through to April 2019.

"As long as we can solve the lack of cruise infrastructure development in Sydney and across the region, we'll see further increases in passenger numbers," CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz said.

"As long as infrastructure and regulatory policy allows, we will increasingly see vessels home-porting outside of Sydney in cities including Brisbane, Melbourne, Fremantle and Adelaide, and visiting regional ports such as Broome, Eden, Geraldton and Gladstone, to cater to this demand."

Australian cruise passenger numbers hit a record high in 2017, with 1.34 million passengers taking an ocean cruise, according to CLIA. Australia is now the world's fourth-largest market for cruising.

The majority of passengers cruise locally, with the Pacific islands (35 per cent) and Australia (34 per cent) the two most popular destinations.

A study by CLIA) Australasia and the Australian Cruise Association found cruise tourism was worth $4.8 billion to the Australian economy during the 2017-18 financial year. 

See also: Megaships - new cruise giants launching this year

See also: 25 insider tips about cruise ships

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