The day the ‘Fun’ returned to Australia

The iconic red, white and blue colours of the Carnival Cruise Line brand back in Australian waters was a sight for very sore eyes for plenty of people working in the cruise sector, with the line the latest to return to local the market for the first time since the pandemic closed the country's borders.

CARNIVAL Splendor’s return, along with a raft of other ships this month, represents a “new phase”, according to CLIA Australasia MD Joel Katz, with 20 CLIA cruise lines scheduled to sail in Australian waters between now and the end of April.

Speaking prior to the milestone Splendor departure from Sydney, Carnival’s Global President Christine Duffy said that the return to the Australian market for Carnival represented “the final piece of the puzzle” for the cruise line, which has already restarted operations in most major ports.

“We know Aussies have been patiently waiting for Carnival to return to their sunny shores for some time, but now we’re pleased to say that fun is officially back on the water,” Duffy declared.

Carnival will station Splendor year-round in Sydney, ahead of its first deployment for the newer Luminosa in Brisbane from November, which will serve the summer season from the newly-constructed Brisbane Cruise Terminal.

“We feel adding a ship in Brisbane will really help drive demand…and even though we opened bookings quite late, [Luminosa] has done very well,” Duffy said.

Carnival’s Global President Christine Duffy shares her excitement as Carnival returns to the Australian market.

Speaking about how Aussies will receive the brand after a three-year hiatus, Duffy told travelBulletin she was confident Carnival’s ships will not only continue to resonate with Australian passengers, but will likely became an even more appealing option in a world that represents more challenges to the hip pocket than it did in 2019.

“Carnival has always been seen as great value for money and in these times which are challenging for many families, people are able to take a holiday that is affordable and accessible,” she explains.

“This is especially true for people who are able to drive to our ships, that’s one of the big things for us in the United States, people can pack up the car and drive to the ship and avoid expensive airline tickets,” she added.

Bookings for Carnival in Australia are tracking well so far, with Brisbane slightly behind Sydney departures for now, partly explained by the lateness of opening Luminosa for sale, Duffy explained.

The Carnival chief also confirmed that the travel trade will continue to play a crucial role in the cruise line’s success, revealing that she had squared off plenty of time while Down Under to meet with top-performing advisors to pick their brains about what the company could do better in the future.

“We need to spend time doing that because this is a different market and travellers have heaps of options so it’s a crowded space,” Duffy reasoned.

“Agents are so important so that we can get the right guest on the right cruise.”

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