The Independence of the Seas will become the first Royal Caribbean International ship to be based in the U.K. full-time, when it homeports year-round in Southampton, England, beginning in 2010.

Last year, the Brilliance of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean ship to operate year-round in Europe, sailing out of Barcelona.

"Royal Caribbean is committed to continuing to grow its presence in the British and Irish markets," Robin Shaw, Royal Caribbean's vice president and managing director in the U.K., said in a statement.

"When Independence of the Seas first sailed from the U.K., it was one of the best performing ships in the fleet. ... It is great news that Independence of the Seas will call Southampton home for the long term and means that we firmly cement our position as one of the leading players in the U.K. cruise industry."

The Independence will spend its second season out of Southampton this summer, before relocating to Fort Lauderdale. The ship will not return to Fort Lauderdale for the 2010-2011 winter season, when both of Royal Caribbean's new Oasis-class ships will be in Fort Lauderdale.

The Independence will operate winter cruises from Southampton in 2010 and 2011, visiting places such as the Italian Riviera, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.


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