Published on : Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The cruise market of China is growing slowly. The delivery of the World Dream from Meyer Werft to Dream Cruises on October 26 in Bremerhaven, Germany, marked the third new cruise ship completed this year dedicated to the Chinese market.
While it underscores the cruise industry’s continued long-term confidence in the market, near-term the Chinese market appears to be entering a period of adjustment after extraordinary growth.
Even before the addition of the 11,000 new berths in 2017 from the World Dream, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy and Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess, the Chinese market had already become the world’s fastest-growing major source market for passengers.
Between 2012 and 2016, passenger counts recorded an astounding 76 percent CAGR. In 2016 alone, mainland China sourced more than 2.1 million cruise passengers.
Over the past decade, cruise lines have been adapting their products to suit local preferences.
The newest ships have been most successful prompting, for example, Royal Caribbean International to deploy in China both the newly built Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas that feature bumper cars, a skydiving simulator and an observation pod.
As the competition increases, the lines are now adding further unique amenities, such as a small deep-sea submarine on the World Dream.
Responding to Chinese tastes has also meant, for example, adding the largest shopping space at sea, karaoke rooms and a mahjong and gaming area to the Majestic Princess.
Princess Cruises will relocate the Majestic Princess to Sydney, Australia, between September 2018 and March 2019, joining Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, which is also splitting its year between China and Australia.
Costa Cruises’ Costa Victoria is re positioning to Europe, while Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas returns to Miami. MSC Cruises will be doubling its capacity in the Chinese market, replacing the 1,984 passenger MSC Lirica, which departs for Europe in April 2018, with the 4,363 passenger MSC Splendida, which will arrive in China in May 2018. The MSC Splendida, however, will only be seasonal as she is scheduled to return to Dubai late in 2018.