China will be launching a new domestic cruise brand with the help of Carnival Cruises in response to skyrocketing demand among the country’s middle-income and affluent holidaymakers.
After years of seeing double-digit growth in the region, Carnival announced plans to partner with the country’s largest shipbuilding company to launch a new cruise brand that will cater uniquely to the Chinese consumer’s tastes and culture.
The announcement comes amid the release of new figures from the Cruise Lines International Association, which showed that China added 480,000 more cruisers in 2014 since 2012 – a nearly 80% compound annual growth rate.
In total, about 700,000 Chinese holidaymakers boarded a cruise ship last year. The joint venture is the latest of its kind.
Recently, Norwegian Cruise Line also announced plans to build its first ship customised specifically for the Chinese traveller.
Expected to be ready for 2017, guests will dine on fine Mandarin, Cantonese and continental dining, and be offered entertainment in their native languages. Likewise, Royal Caribbean made a strategic move by making Shanghai the new homeport of its game-changing vessel, Quantum of the Seas, this year.
While China represented the seventh biggest cruise market in 2014, the most ambitious projections predict that the Asian giant will overtake countries like Germany and Britain, to become the second largest market after the United States, by 2017.
The report from the World Travel Market in London also predicts that figure to spike to 7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, given their limited vacation entitlements, Asian consumers seem to prefer shorter sailings.
Last year, the most popular package chosen by nearly half (48%) of travellers was four to six-day cruises, followed by two to three-night sailings (38%). Only 12% opted for seven to 13-night cruises.
This year, 52 international cruise ships will operate around Asia, with 1,065 sailings scheduled for 2015. – AFP Relaxnews