The biggest cruise ship ever to be based in Sydney is on its way to Circular Quay, with Royal Caribbean announcing this morning it will spend one billion dollars building the new superliner, Ovation of the Seas.
The 18-deck, 5000-passenger mega-cruiser will be the most technologically advanced ship at sea when it takes its first holidaymakers in December 2016.
iPad check-in with individual staff members will replace long queues at port desks; wrist-band technology will replace room keys and the need for cash; a new app will facilitate restaurant and activity bookings; and robots will make cocktails.
A retractable funnel will facilitate passage under bridges around Australia and New Zealand, though passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge remains out of the question for the 50-metre-tall, 348-metre-long ship, which if laid on its end would be taller than the nation’s tallest building, the Q1 on the Gold Coast.
Gavin Smith, regional vice president, Royal Caribbean, Asia Pacific said economic impact projections and based on CLIA daily spend figures, indicated the arrival of Ovation would pour around $3.5 billion into the Australian economy in its first season, with passengers ashore in Sydney expected to spend $2 million a day.
“The vast majority of Australians have never cruised and we want to change the way Australians think about cruising by dreaming big and offering the most imaginative holidays at sea possible,” Mr Smith said.
“Our ambition has always been to be game changers and through major technological advances Ovation of the Seas will mean passengers can not only personalise their holidays using our new app, but take advantage of the most innovative and varied entertainment we have offered yet.”
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The 2,100-cabin ship will have the first Ripcord by iFLY skydiving centre at sea, the North Star aerial observatory pod offering 360 degree views 90 metres above the ocean, plus the Bionic Bar, which will let guests place an order for their favourite cocktail via a tablet, before two bionic arms create the perfect mix in tune to the resident DJ, shaking and stirring without any human assistance.
SeaPlex, the ship’s indoor sports and entertainment complex, will offer bumper cars, a basketball court, roller skating and a circus school. A Flo Rider surfing machine and rock climbing will also be available.
Eighteen restaurants replace the traditional mega-seat main dining room, plus there will be a specialty dining option by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
“There are a lot of Australians who think you need to fly to Europe to get a super cruise liner experience but now the most innovative and amazing ships anywhere in the world will be available here on our doorstep,” Mr Smith said.
“This investment is a demonstration of confidence in the Australian cruising market.”
Ovation of the Seas will sail five itineraries around Australia and New Zealand with the first cruises going on sale next month. Lead-in fares will start from $199 per person a day, with balcony cabins on sale from $250.