US luxury cruise operator Royal Caribbean International will start operating worldwide cruises out of Chinese ports again from the first half of 2024, becoming the first international cruise giant to return to the Chinese market after a three-year hiatus due to Covid-19.
“We're now more encouraged by all of the signals that we've had for our reopening in China in 2024,” President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bayley said on an earnings call. “And we still got some work to do, but we've now started to rebuild our sales organization in China. And we expect, hopefully, by late spring or early summer to be back operating outbound China,” he added.
The Miami-based carrier, which entered the mainland market in 2009, used to offer four cruises, namely Spectrum of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, from the ports of Shanghai, Tianjin and Shenzhen before the pandemic.
The resumption of its China business will be a big boost after a tough few years, although the firm is already on the path to recovery. Royal Caribbean’s losses narrowed 96% in the first quarter from the same period last year to USD 47.9 million, according to its latest earnings report. While revenue more than doubled to USD 2.9 billion.
China’s international cruise market is expected to swell more than 15 times by 2035 from 2019 to RMB 550 million (USD 79.6 million), data from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences showed. And more than 14 million Chinese people are expected to be taking international cruises by then, it said.
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