Revealing the change of plans, Carnival confirmed that the ship will return to Australia right after its refurbishment in Singapore in May 2018. This means passengers will be able to book a 19-night cruise on the freshly revamped ship from Singapore to Sydney. Departing Singapore on June 6, 2018, Spirit’s return voyage to Sydney will sail via ports in Thailand, Indonesia, Darwin, Port Douglas and Gladstone.
Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke said the decision to stay full-time was based on the current success of operations in Australia and associated capacity needs.
“We recently welcomed our 500,000th guest onboard our local ships and our forward bookings are strong for next winter, so a decision has been made to keep Carnival Spirit in Australia throughout 2018."
The move follows the American company's postponement of its entry into China with the US-based Carnival Miracle and Carnival Splendor, which were originally due to relocate in 2017 and 2018. These plans have since been shelved until 2019.
Carnival's new Australian 2018 program, which opens for sale on November 4, 2016, now allows two 19-night cruises between Sydney and Singapore, with fares from $2,449 per person twin share. Other new winter cruises will include Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia as well as a range of three-night short cruises and four-night sailings to Moreton Island, and a Melbourne Cup cruise.
The line's other local ship, Carnival Legend, will return to Australia in October 2018 (after its usual six-month season overseas). Legend will resume cruising from Melbourne in November 2018, including a 10-night cruise to New Zealand, a three-night short break and a four-night cruise to Sydney via Hobart. Carnival Legend's inaugural series of seven cruises from Melbourne starts in early 2018; the rest of the time it will be based in Sydney.