Royal Caribbean Cruises, which has based ships in China for more than a decade, is seeing “significant growth” in the number of Chinese passengers sailing in locations such as Alaska and Europe.
Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty said during an earnings call Wednesday that 75% more Chinese passengers are taking a trip that doesn’t include China now compared to three years ago. Cruises in Europe and Alaska, he said, have seen the number of passengers from China more than double.
The cruise company was the first to station its newest hardware in China in 2015, a departure from earlier years when operators sent their older, smaller ships to test the waters of the emerging market. Since then, Royal Caribbean has continued to move new ships to China, with the 4,246-passenger Spectrum of the Seas coming up next in June.
“The Royal Caribbean International brand name in China is very strong and if you trust that brand in China, you will trust that brand elsewhere,” Fain said. “That’s part of our whole thinking in going into China.”
Larger competitor Carnival Corp. also noted a growing number of what executives call “fly-cruise” passengers from China, meaning those who fly to a destination and then take a cruise.
Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said consumers and travel agents appear to be excited about the introduction of the newest ship. That has been good for business, as has a 15-20% capacity decrease industrywide. Last year, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it was moving its built-for-China ship to North America, and other cruise lines reduced capacity in the market.
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