Royal Caribbean Cruises has announced that the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Shanghai International Port (Group) (SIPG). The memorandum will strengthen the strategic partnership between the two parties in areas of cruise operations in port, market promotion, staff training and management experience exchange. This cooperation will open more gateways to overseas visitors to Expo 2010 Shanghai and further boost China's cruise market, according to a prepared statement from Royal Caribbean.

By leveraging the opportunities brought by China's rapid economic growth and Expo 2010 Shanghai, the strategic partnership between the two parties is dedicated to jointly promoting the development of the Chinese cruise market.

Activities from SIPG include the development of the international cruise terminal with the addition of cruise-relevant retail outlets, market promotion, services as a ticket agent, and operating as a one-stop boarding and clearance service for Royal Caribbean guests. As part of the new commercial partnership, Royal Caribbean will share its operational experience of managing cruise terminals with new staff training and development, as well as key activities to improve the operations and logistics, service quality and infrastructure of Shanghai International Passenger Terminal.

Between February 14, 2009 and October 11, 2009, passenger volume has grown by 258 percent year-on-year at Shanghai Port, Royal Caribbean stated. Outbound/inbound passengers and voyage numbers both hit record highs at Shanghai Port during that period. It is forecast that the number of international cruise passengers will reach 600,000 at Chinese sea ports in 2010.

"We are committed to developing SIPG into a world-class water gateway," said Haihu Lu, Chairman of SIPG. "With a rapidly increasing number of cruise passengers, we have strengthened our investment in both infrastructure and management, and further upgraded our facilities and service levels in order to meet the growing demands of this market. Through this new strategic partnership we look forward to sharing their market-leading management and service experience, which will drive forward the cruise industry in Shanghai."

"Royal Caribbean enters China at a crucial time when the industry is undergoing a period of rapid growth, in fact developing our business in China is part of our global expansion plan," said Michael Bayley, senior vice president of international for Royal Caribbean Cruises. "Such strategic partnerships are an important and valuable element of our activity to increase penetration in the Chinese market."

Dr. Zinan Liu, Managing Director China, Royal Caribbean, added: "We have long enjoyed a mutually beneficial close working relationship with SIPG, and this new formal agreement gives each party a distinct opportunity to enhance the experience of both our domestic and international guests arriving or departing in China."

Royal Caribbean has enjoyed a strong reaction to its Chinese port-based 2010 itineraries, particularly in the domestic Chinese market with key cruises over peak holiday times sold out. Cruise options include a five-night sailing onboard Royal Caribbean International's Legend of the Seas from Shanghai calling at Kagoshima (Japan), and Busan (Republic Of Korea, South Korea) available in March 2010, and similar cruises throughout May and June 2010 and with the additional port of call of Fukuoka in Japan also included.