Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas has made its maiden voyage to China, stopping in Shanghai on Tuesday to begin the ship's summer itinerary. The arrival culminates Royal Caribbean's shift in attention to China and already, the company is making good on its investments.
Lisa Bauer, senior vice-president, global sales and marketing, of Royal Caribbean, commented on the market in China, "China's cruise market is young and vibrant. Royal Caribbean International is optimistic about the development of the cruise industry here and will continue investment in this market."
Bauer said Royal Caribbean's business has grown tremendously since its entry into the China market in 2008, "The growth rate was above 50 percent at the beginning, when we entered China, and now it is over 100 percent."
Shanghai is aiming to make itself a major cruise center, with a new Five-Year Plan to hopefully become the third cruise center in East Asia, after Singapore and Hong Kong.
Michael Liu, Royal Caribbean China public relations and communications manager, thinks as more mega ships arrive in China, renovation and maintenance are becoming a market with huge potential, "Currently, we have to sail the ships to Singapore for renovation."
Bauer said the line has strict requirements for repair facilities and port infrastructure.
"We are generally satisfied with the infrastructure here but also believe there is still room for improvement," she said, noting that the company is talking with local governments and companies about wider cooperation, including renovation for the ships.
Royal Caribbean plans to introduce Mariner of the Seas, the sister of Voyager, to Shanghai next year, to meet surging demand from Chinese customers.