China is on track to become the second largest global cruise market after the U.S. by 2017, according to the Global Trends Report released today by World Travel Market and Euromonitor International.

The cruising industry in Asia is still very young with only 6 percent to 7 percent of cruise passengers coming out of the region, according to the release. However, both international companies and the Chinese government are moving quickly to take advantage of the growth ahead.

The number of Royal Caribbean‘s Chinese passengers quadrupled from 25,000 to 100,000 between 2011 and 2012. That number is on track to double to 200,000 passengers in 2013.

And Carnival Asia expects at least 7 million cruise passengers to come from Asia by 2020. According to the report, the group opened offices in five Chinese cities in the past year to build up its Princess Cruises brand.

The growth is due not only to China’s rapidly growing travel market, but to the country’s location near small, attractive islands. The cruise industry is poised to take advantage of the nearby landscape much as it has taken over the Caribbean islands near the United States.

“There’s good weather here, lots of islands to visit and a lot of experiences. Southeast Asia is not too different from the Caribbean in terms of these basic conditions,” Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and CEO of Carnival Asia, told Euromonitor.

To access the complete Global Trends Report 2013, click here.

Photo Credit: A Star Cruise ship floats through Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong. Ed Coyle / Flickr