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Vanuatu Becomes Royal Caribbean's First Carbon-Neutral Private Cruise Destination

Royal Caribbean has added a new destination to its Perfect Day Island Collection — a new private island on Lelepa, Vanuatu, roughly 1,200 miles northeast of Brisbane, Australia. Michael Bayley, the company's president and CEO announced "Perfect Day at Lelepa, Vanuatu" on Monday with the country's prime minister, Charlot Salwai.

Lelepa is roughly five kilometers in length and has an area of 160 hectares. Its highest point is Mt. Tifit, which rises 202 meters over the island. With a population of approximately 500 people, the island only has one school, a kindergarten and two churches. The local language, also known as Lelepa, is spoken by about 400 people and is often considered a dialect of South Efate language.

Attractions include Fels Cave, on the southwestern side of the island, which features countless rock etchings, some up to 3,000 years old. The drawings include birds, fish, and anthropomorphic figures, as well as, abstract designs and geometric figures like angles, triangles and diamond shapes. In 2008, the cave became part of Chief Roi Mata's Domain, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is also famous for being featured in the opening sequence of the Survivor: Vanuatu, in which the contestants are shown on the beach of Lelepa.

“Anyone who has encountered the tremendous natural beauty of Lelepa can understand why it is the perfect setting for ‘Perfect Day,'” Bayley said. "Our guests who travel to the South Pacific are seeking authentic adventures and genuine relaxation, and they will find both here.” Salwai agreed that it is an ideal location, calling Vanuatu a "true paradise" for both locals and visitors alike.

Interestingly, the island will be the first carbon-neutral private cruise destination, according to Royal Caribbean. "Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations," Salwai said.

The cruise line has worked with the Australian-based Cox Architecture firm to develop the project, which will be constructed with sustainable materials to safeguard the ecosystem. “We believe our destinations should be sustainably designed,” Bayley said. “That idea goes beyond simply protecting the ecological features of Lelepa and includes showing respect for the people and traditions that make this a special place.”

In Vanuatu, the local community, will contribute ideas and take part in the decision-making process. Meanwhile, an independent third party will audit and certify Lelepa's carbon-neutral status. The latest "Perfect Day" destination is also expected to provide employment and educational opportunities.

"The Ni-Vanuatu people look forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean guests from around the world to enjoy extraordinary adventures and relaxation during their Perfect Day at Lelepa," Salwai said.

Although the attractions that will be available at Lelepa have not yet been revealed, Bayley said it will "have a different look and feel" than Royal Caribbean’s first Perfect Day destination at CocoCay in the Bahamas. The cruise line invested $250 million there, constructing attractions like Daredevil's Peak, the "tallest waterslide in North America" and the largest wave pool in the Caribbean.

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"Our guests around the world all have different definitions for their perfect day – and all of them are right," he said. "Our designers and nature have created the ideal South Pacific experience and we expect the results will be stunning.”

Passengers will be able to enjoy all Vanuatu has to offer when the ship docks near the private island. Royal Caribbean is expected to add Vanuatu to its itinerary in 2022.

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