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Rather than wait for lucrative Chinese tourists to land upon their shores like the rest of the industry, cruise companies had the ability to show up at their docks where they found a population eager to take a ride.
While North America is mature and Europe sputters, (cruise) passenger counts in much of Asia are growing by double digits. Old ports are expanding, new ports are being developed and China is taking steps to apply its industrial might to building cruise ships.
The first trickle of interest in China as a source market came in 2006, when Carnival announced it would send the 820-passenger Costa Allegra to begin developing a Chinese clientele. Now the test period has yielded to a growth stage, in which bigger ships are being substituted for smaller ones.