RCI-Royal Caribbean revives operations in China, plans second ship by 2025

   April 27, 2024 ,   Cruise Industry

RCI-Royal Caribbean International is set to resume cruises for the Chinese market this weekend after a nearly 4-year hiatus, with plans to deploy a second ship in 2025.

The decision to redeploy to China signifies RCI's return to an important market after withdrawing in early 2020 due to the pandemic. During Royal Caribbean Group's Q1 earnings call on Thursday, executives noted that booking volume and prices for cruises in China have surpassed 2019 levels.

Michael Bayley (RCI's President and CEO) highlighted the success in the Chinese market by stating they had already deployed a second ship into the China market which gave an indication of how well the first ship was doing in the China market.

Currently, Spectrum of the Seas (debuted in Shanghai in 2019) is sailing from Singapore to Shanghai and will commence homeporting starting April 27th. The ship will embark on a 4-day Shanghai roundtrip to Hakata-Fukuoka Japan, on the same day. Later this year, Anthem of the Seas will take over from Spectrum OTS, and in 2025, will be joined by Ovation of the Seas (to be homeported in Tianjin), according to Jason Liberty (RCG's CEO).

Michael Bayley previously mentioned that net revenue from a Chinese passenger is slightly higher than that from an American one when announcing the brand's return to the region a year ago.

In response to changes brought about by the pandemic, Royal Caribbean's sales strategy in China now emphasizes direct sales. Despite challenges faced by retailers during the pandemic, the brand had already been investing in technology, resources, and personnel to strengthen its direct business in the region, as stated by Bayley during the earnings call.