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.
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.”
“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