(9 p.m. EST) – As cruise lines continue to jump into the growing Chinese cruise market, Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA — both owned by Carnival Corporation — announced that they will have ships in the country by 2017.
The move by Carnival Corp. means that four of the company’s 10 brands will have a foothold in China. Costa Cruises has been offering voyages in China since 2006, while Princess Cruises has been in China since 2014. In 2015, Carnival expects over 500,000 passengers in China, up from about 350,000 in 2014 — a 43% increase year over year.
The news coincides with the 10th Annual China Cruise Shipping and International Cruise Expo taking place in Shanghai. Said Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald: “We are excited to introduce our Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises brands to our fleet in China, giving us a total of four global cruise brands in the market and a unique opportunity to provide a diverse lineup of brands and cruise offerings to Chinese guests who are looking for a great vacation experience.
“As we execute our multi-brand growth strategy in China, we are emphasizing choice and variety in our offerings to match the different tastes and preferences of Chinese travelers.”
The Carnival and AIDA ships that will be deployed to China will be new, the company said in its release, but gave no other details. Carnival Corp. has already committed a new Princess ship, Majestic Princess, to China for 2017; the ship will be custom-built for Chinese passengers.
Even without the new Carnival and AIDA ships, Carnival Corp. has a significant presence in China, with six Costa and Princess vessels slated to be in the country in 2016 (three sail there year-round and three visit seasonally). All in all, the company says it will have a 58 percent increase in total capacity in China in 2016.
Cruise lines have been pouring resources into developing ships for the Chinese market, which has already proven to be growing; industry analyst Robin Farley of UBS Financial Services notes that for the past two years, a ship based in China brings in more profit than one based in the Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean moved Quantum of the Seas to Shanghai earlier this year, and has already promised that its next Quantum-class newbuild, Ovation of the Seas which debuts next year, will homeport in Tianjin near Beijing. In her analyst note, Farley noted that Quantum has been selling its cabins at a 35 percent higher price than it was in the Caribbean.
Just yesterday, Norwegian Cruise Line announced it was sending its second Breakaway Plus-class ship — originally called Norwegian Bliss and aimed for the U.S. market — to China instead. The 4,200-passenger vessel is under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard and is scheduled for delivery in spring 2017.