Cruise lines steam full ahead on new expansion plans into China
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 Qunar.com, 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 @chinadaily.com.cn