Welcomed by bagpipes, a dockside orchestra and colourfully dressed young acrobats and circus performers, Royal Caribbean made cruising history today as the newest and biggest ship ever to be based in Australia – Ovation of the Seas – made its maiden visit in Fremantle.
Loaded with thousands of Australians who had joined the ship at the start of the voyage in Singapore, the 4,905-passenger giant sailed gently into Fremantle Harbour in Western Australia at around 7am, neatly performed a 180° turn and casually sidled up alongside the wharf as thousands of its occupants cheered and waved from balconies above.
The visit by the US$1 billion vessel to Western Australia marked the first call by the ship in an Australian port, as it cruises around the bottom of the country to eventually berth in Sydney where it will be based for the next two months, sailing to the South Pacific and New Zealand until late February when she returns to her off-season home in Singapore and China. Ovation of the Seas will return to Australia in the 2017/18 summer.
Speaking after the ship docked, Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett labelled the ship an “absolute triumph of engineering, of navigation, technology and entertainment”.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like Ovation of the Seas. This is really quite remarkable and I’m delighted Perth and Fremantle hosts the first visit of this magnificent ship. Cruising is a rapidly growing part of the global tourism industry. For whatever the motivation might be – only packing and unpacking once, safety, adventure, entertainment, people are going to this form of holiday in increasing numbers,” Premier Barnett said.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Australia & New Zealand managing director Adam Armstrong was equally jubilant at the ship’s arrival.
“Today we are making history. She ranks as the fourth biggest cruise ship in the world, beaten only by her three larger sisters, the Oasis-class of ships which are currently based in the Caribbean. Her 6,500 passengers and crew make her more populated than many towns in WA such as Margaret River, Kununurra and Kalgoorlie.”
Ovation of the Seas will continue on its maiden Australian journey to Adelaide and Hobart before making its grand arrival in Sydney on 15 December, 2016.