Cruise lines see growing gold mine in China
Cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp., have sent an armada of luxury vessels to China to tap the world’s fastest-growing market, but they face turbulent waters. Now Chinese companies are building their own big ships.
“Right now it’s a learning process,” said Ken Muskat, chief executive officer at SkySea Holding International Ltd., a Shanghai-based cruise operator. “Everybody is adapting and learning more about what the Chinese market is looking for.” The number of passengers in China has risen tenfold in five years, to around 2 million in 2016, and the government expects 4.5 million by the end of the decade. Most make shorter trips — five days on average — and call in South Korea and Japan, the top two destinations in Asia outside of China, according to industry body Cruise Lines International Association.
With so much potential companies are bringing bigger and better ships to the Yellow Sea, tailoring their offerings and seeking new destinations in an effort to persuade Chinese travelers that a cruise is more than just a form of transportation.