Cruise lines steam full ahead on new ex­pan­sion plans into China

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By GAO CHANGXIN and SHI JING in Shang­hai

Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional an­nounced on Thurs­day that it will per­ma­nently re­po­si­tion its most lux­u­ri­ous and hottest cruise ship to China, a move that un­der­scores the coun­try’s grow­ing im­por­tance in the world’s cruise mar­ket.

The 4,180-pas­sen­ger Quan­tum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s new­est ship, will move its home port to Shang­hai in May 2015, the Mi­ami, United States-based com­pany said at a news con­fer­ence in Shang­hai.

The ship will sail three- to eight-night voy­ages year­round from Shang­hai to Ja­pan and South Korea, fol­low­ing its maiden sea­son, which will launch in Novem­ber from the US to the Ba­hamas and the Caribbean.

“People in China have grown to ex­pect the best the world has to of­fer, and Quan­tum of the Seas meets that stan­dard like no other ship,” said Adam Gold­stein, pres­i­dent andCOOof Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

“We are ready to ac­cel­er­ate the growth of this vi­tal mar­ket with a ship that will cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of trav­el­ers look­ing for a one-ofa-kind va­ca­tion ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Cur­rently be­ing built in Ger­many, the new cruise liner will of­fer sky div­ing and an in­door sports and en­ter­tain­ment com­plex that will fea­ture bumper cars and roller-skat­ing.

A to­tal of 18 restaurants will be on­board, in­clud­ing one cre­ated in part­ner­ship with Bri­tish celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

Quan­tum of the Seas joins Royal Caribbean’s two ex­ist­ing ships that are ded­i­cated at least part of the year to the Chi­nese mar­ket: the 3,114-pas­sen­ger Mariner of the Seas and 3,114-pas­sen­ger Voyager of the Seas. The new ship will boost the com­pany’s ca­pac­ity in the re­gion by 66 per­cent.

Royal Caribbean is just one of a flotilla of cruise oper­a­tors seek­ing to en­large their pres­ence in China.

Car­ni­val Cruise Lines opened up five new of­fices in China and has fore­cast that Asia’s share of the global cruise mar­ket will dou­ble to 20 per­cent by 2020, with China be­ing a ma­jor growth en­gine.

A re­port jointly pub­lished by the World Travel Mar­ket and Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional last Novem­ber re­ported that China is on track to be­come the sec­ond-largest global cruise mar­ket by 2017, af­ter the US.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 Cruise Tourism Mar­ket Re­search re­port pub­lished by Baidu Inc’s travel web­site Qu­, more than half of re­spon­dents said they would spend 4,000 to 6,000 yuan on a cruise. Shang­hai is the city with the most people book­ing cruises in China, fol­lowed by Bei­jing, Hangzhou, Tian­jin, Suzhou andWuxi.

Gao Xing, prod­uct di­rec­tor for Qu­nar, said that al­though they started late in­China, safe and se­cure cruises have be­come quite pop­u­lar, and are mostly pre­ferred by par­ents with chil­dren and re­tired cou­ples.

Ac­cord­ing to Royal Caribbean’s Gold­stein, “Ev­ery trend we are see­ing in China tells us we can achieve real long-term com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage and ap­peal­ing re­turns on our in­vest­ments in this fast­grow­ing mar­ket by ac­cel­er­at­ing our pres­ence there.” Con­tact the writer at gaochangxin@chi­nadaily. and shi­jing @chi­

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