The potential of China’s cruise industry is becoming increasingly apparent, with various announcements in the past week by global cruise giants like Carnival Corp about upcoming strategic deployments in the China. The optimism of cruise market development is growing despite challenges the industry still faces, such as tour operators having to take losses in selling cruise products
Carnival Corp will bring two more of its liner brands to China
Global cruise liners line Chinese terminal wharves
On October 11, Carnival Corp announced that its Princess Cruises will add the Golden Princess Liner to its fleet in China. The company announced two days that it will bring its two major brands Carnival Cruise Lines and Aida Cruises in 2017 to add to its Costa Cruise Line and Princess Cruises brands already operating in China.
On October 14, Norwegian Cruise Line announced it was entering the Chinese market and would unveil an original liner in 2017 specifically targeting the local market.
Having made a successful introduction of its widely acclaimed Quantum of the Seas liner to the Chinese market this year, Royal Caribbean International announced that it will bring sister ship the Ovation of the Seas liner to China next year as well.
Star Cruise’s latest luxury liner Genting World and Costa Cruise Line’s Costa Fortuna will also debut in China next year. The introduction of the Costa Fortuna liner to China is expected to boost Costa Cruise Line’s overall capacity by 49%.
Positive long-term outlook for China’s cruise industry
The global cruise industry’s passenger volume has been growing at an annual rate of 3.4% since 2010, whereas China has been growing at 54.4% per year in the same period. Industry observers predict that China’s cruise industry will reach a scale of 900,000 trips this year and will grow to 7-10 million passengers a year by 2030.
The construction and distribution of cruise ports are key to the development of the industry. Besides Shanghai, cruise terminals are under construction in other port cities including Tianjin, Xiamen, Haikou and Qingdao. Tianjin has attracted an especially large number of cruise liners this year to become the second largest port in China’s cruise market after Shanghai.
Challenges facing the market
Although the current selling-by-charter model in China’s cruise industry isn’t regarded as very healthy, such sales model is still viable considering that direct sales only account for 20% of total sales in the more mature European and US markets, indicating that this industry’s long-term development hinges very much on tour operators, according to Royal Caribbean International’s APAC and China director Dr. Zinan Liu.
Princess Cruises’s executive vice president for international operations Anthony Kaufman said global cruise liners can promote niche cruise products to the local market in relatively mature cruise markets such as the UK and North America. Carnival Corp has a vast range of brands and many cruise products will probably be introduced to the Chinese market in the future with each product catering to a specific target audience.(Translation by David)