Chinese consumers want to cruise in Asia, and cruise lines are jockeying to meet the demand. If the Asia experiment doesn't work out, lines can send their ships back to high-demand regions like the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
Norwegian Cruise Line has joined the rush to sell cruises to Chinese vacationers after tweaking the construction and design of an upcoming ship to solely serve China.
A Norwegian spokesperson confirmed to Skift the ship will be marketed only to Chinese cruisers, and not the traditional North American and European cruisers that compose the largest current cruise source markets in the world.
The company, of course, hopes high-spending Western cruisers will want to sail Asia on its second Breakaway Plus-class vessel.
“Our new purpose-built ship for China will have characteristics that are authentic to Norwegian Cruise Line and yet distinctively Chinese in all of its sensibility,” said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. “With this new ship, Norwegian will unquestionably offer our Chinese guests a superior product and introduce a new standard of innovation and excellence into the marketplace, with an unrivaled level of customization for the Chinese consumer. It will perfectly suit what modern Chinese travelers value from an upscale cruise experience.”
The ship was expected to be named Norwegian Bliss, but will be given a Chinese title as part of its new identity.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has quietly opened sales offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai which will sell all three of the company’s cruise brands including Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The company is trying leverage its scale and experience in Asia to provide Chinese cruises with experiences ranging from mainstream to luxury.
Last week Princess Cruises, a Carnival Corp. brand, announced that its newest ship will two different names: one a traditional English name, and a separate distinct Chinese name with both written on the ship’s hull.
The Majestic Princess, or Sheng Shi Gong Zhu Hao as it will be known in Asia, will begin sailing out of Shanghai in 2017. The Chinese name translates to Grand Spirit or Grand World.
“Majestic Princess will allow us to bring the best the world has to offer to more Chinese guests, for an unparalleled premium and international vacation,” said Princess Cruises president Jan Swartz.
Carnival Corp. has made clear its interest in China’s appealing emerging cruise market.
“We’ll have six ships home-ported in China next year,” Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald told Skift. “We do very well there. Higher than the average fleet overall financially.”
Royal Caribbean, as well, will homeport its newest ship in China beginning in 2017.
The Daily Newsletter
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Photo credit: Artist's rendering of an NCL Breakaway Plus-class ship. Norwegian Cruise Line