Ovation of the Seas in TianjinThe major news for Royal Caribbean International in China this year is the introduction of the new Ovation of the Seas, sailing from Tianjin, targeting the Northern China market, according to Dr. Zinan Liu, vice president of China and the North Asia region.

“The new ship is building on the success we had when we introduced the Quantum in Shanghai last year,” Liu told Cruise Industry News in an exclusive interview.

“Already, the Ovation is the best selling cruise ship in Northern China. When consumers visit or call travel agents, no matter where they are, the only ships that they request specifically are the Quantum or the Ovation. This is what travel agents are telling us,” he said.

Royal Caribbean expects to source some 800,000 passengers in China this year, which, according to Liu, is about double the number of passengers sourced last year. He said that since Royal Caribbean first entered the market in 2010, the brand has grown its sourcing by almost 100 percent year-over-year.

“We have also grown our market share faster than any other cruise line,” he said. “And we have been able to do this without lowering prices.”

Liu explained that over the past six years, the brand has grown capacity and yield simultaneously. It was only after 2015, because of the industry-wide capacity increase and constraints in the distribution system that yields declined somewhat.

“If you compare the magnitude of the yield decline with the magnitude of the capacity growth, the yield decline has been very modest. The market is very robust and in light of the growth has done much better than any other market,” he added.

To improve yields again, Liu said he believes the distribution system needs to adapt better to the capacity growth.

Next year, Royal Caribbean International will have four ships in China: the Quantum of the Seas sailing year-round from Shanghai, and, sailing seasonally from May to October, the Mariner also from Shanghai, the Ovation from Tianjin and the Voyager from Hong Kong.

The seasonal ships will also be deployed from Singapore and Australia, in addition the Ovation has a short season from Hong Kong.

“This is a big market with unlimited potential. We have done very well and will continue to do so. We want consumers to recognize Royal Caribbean as the best brand,” Liu said. “We are determined to own this market.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2016