Cruise megaliner Explorer of the Seas to be biggest ship ever based in Australia

Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas will join the region's local fleet in 2015, making it the biggest ship to be based in Australia to date.

The 3800-guest, 138,000-tonne ship will replace the smaller 2400-guest Rhapsody of the Seas which is due to leave Sydney on April 2015 after eight consecutive seasons.

The ship's maiden Australian season will take in ports across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, along with repositioning cruises both to and from Singapore.

Explorer of the Seas will arrive in Sydney on 28 November 2015 and meet up with Voyager of the Seas, currently the largest ship based here during cruising season. Between them there will be more than 10,000 guests and crew onboard. The Explorer is currently based in Cape Liberty, New York, sailing the Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada.

In 2015, the ship will spend the northern summer in Southampton, England on its first European deployment before making its journey to Singapore in October.

From there, Explorer of the Seas will tour western and southern Australia, making maiden port stops at Fremantle, Adelaide, Melbourne and New Zealand. It will then make its way to Sydney.

Explorer of the Seas was built in 2000 at a cost of $500 million.

The cruise ship will join its slightly smaller sister ship Voyager of the Seas, making it the second megaliner for the cruise line in Australia. 

Together the two ships include several innovative features, including a FlowRider surf simulator, an ice-skating rink and 10 pools and whirlpools. The Royal Promenade, an interior boulevard that runs almost the length of the ship, features restaurants, lounges and boutiques. Parades and evening dance parties are also held in the Royal Promenade.


Radiance of the Seas completes Royal Caribbean International's three-ship fleet in Australia for the 2015-16 season.

All three ships will feature the "Royal Advantage" fleet revitalisation program, which involves "bow-to-stern renovations" as well as the addition of new amenities, including speciality restaurants, a nursery, a poolside movie screen, new shops and lounges.  

Cruising is booming in Australia, with a record 260 passenger ship visits to Sydney Harbour in the past summer season. The cruising scene in Australia has seen extraordinary growth in recent years, with close to 700,000 trips taken by Australians in the 2012-13 season. The figure is estimated to hit 1 million by the 2016-17 season.

Royal Caribbean International expects Rhapsody of the Seas' farewell summer 2014-15 season to be in high demand as passengers bid adieu to one Australia's most popular cruise ships.

Rhapsody of the Seas will be based in the Mediterranean from May to October 2015.

The 2015-16 Australia and New Zealand cruise season will go on sale in late April 2014.