Royal Caribbean Announce Chinese Cruise Venture

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Recognising the growing demand for cruise holidays from the public of China and surrounding nations, Royal Caribbean have announced they are forming a brand new cruise line, SkySea Cruises.

The project will be jointly operated by Royal Caribbean and Chinese online travel group, Ctrip.com. The venture will start with one ship under the SkySea Cruises branding, but plans are in place to increase the fleet.

With Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, set to relocate to China partway through 2015, the company is targeting this region more heavily than ever before. The Chinese cruise industry is experiencing significant growth, with the number of cruise passengers in the region estimated to triple by 2020 – making it the world’s largest regional cruise market.

More liberal laws regarding immigrations and freedom to travel are helping more Chinese nationals enjoy cruise holidays than ever before. With more than 1 billion citizens, the potential for the market is incredibly high.

China - Tom Thai

Royal Caribbean and Ctrip.com will both own 35% of the new company, with the remaining 30% split between the incoming SkySea management and a private equity fund.

Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean, enthused: “We look forward to working with Ctrip, a Chinese travel leader, to build a national cruise line for China.

SkySea Cruises represents an important strategic milestone in our expansion efforts in the Chinese market.”

SkySea Cruises chairman and CEO, Min Fan, continued: “Our partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises will allow us to bring the very best cruise vacations tailor-made for Chinese travellers.

“We expect SkySea cruises to be an integral part of China’s fast growing cruise market.”

This news comes just over a month after Carnival Cruises announced plans to also build a luxury cruise ship for the Chinese market.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Ed Coyle, Tom Thai

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Claire Wilde

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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