Royal Caribbean International claims to be “upping the ante” in Europe next summer with 12 ships deployed in the region – one more than this year

Independence of the Seas will be positioned year-round in Southampton for the third consecutive year while sister Freedom-class ship Liberty of the Seas will run new five-night western Mediterranean itineraries from Barcelona in spring 2012.

Voyager of the Seas and sister ship Mariner of the Seas return to Europe and slightly smaller Serenade of the Seas makes its European debut sailing from Barcelona.

In addition to ships based in 12 homeports including Amsterdam for the first time, the company is offering eight “interports” – where passengers can board cruises en route – creating 20 options for embarkation and disembarkation. These include Toulon, Marseille and LeHavre in France; Genoa, Messina and Bari in Italy; Valencia; and Kusadasi in Turkey.

Maiden calls will be made at Arhus in Denmark, Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands and Leknes, in Norway with itineraries ranging in duration between three and 16 nights.

Escorted land tour options include four nights in Madrid and Barcelona; five nights in Venice, Florence and Rome; three nights in Lake Como and Venice; four nights in Paris and London; and four nights in Istanbul and Cappadocia.