How is the Cruise Market Expanding in Asia and Australia?
According to Marine Log, by 2017 China is expected to emerge as the second largest cruise market in the world. China’s rapidly growing middle class has an extreme interest in consumer goods and tourism which is good news for the growth of the cruise industry in upcoming years.
China has the world’s largest number of tourists spending time and money overseas. Tourists from China made an estimated 98 million trips overseas in 2013 and spent over $120 billion on travel expenses. According to Richard Li, the Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management at HSBC Bank in China, Chinese tourist trips will increase to 130 million this year and are expected to exceed 200 million by 2020. This is three times the current number of departures from the United States.
Equally as exciting is tourism in Australia which has seen rapid growth in the cruise market, rising by 130 percent. In 2013, Australia had an estimated 800,000 cruise passengers. That number is expected to reach 1 million by 2016.
Cruise Companies React
Surprisingly China was not in the Top Ten global cruise markets. However in May 2014, the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, recognized the opportunity in tourism growth and declared that the company will be expanding four of its ships into China next year.
Royal Caribbean followed suit by repositioning its newest ship, the 4,180 passenger Quantum of the Seas in Asia. The new ship will join Mariner of the Seas and Voyager if the Seas in the area and increase Royal Caribbean’s presence in the region by 66%. Quantum will debut in November 2014 and make her first voyage from Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ. Come May 2015, the Quantum of the Seas will move to China and by June 2015 will be sailing three to eight night itineraries year round in Asia.
Carnival Corporation has not forgotten about the opportunity in Australia. Australia’s annual passenger rate has grown 20% in the past decade. Carnival’s brand P&O in Australia is planning for an additional two ships in November 2015. These two ships will be refurbished and join P&O’s three ships – Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl which are already sailing in Australia. The addition of ships will offer P&O Cruises greater flexibility with their cruise lengths.
The growth in Australia and Asia continues to be surprisingly impressive, however North America still makes up more than 55% of the estimated 21.7 million cruise passengers in 2014. Since 2013, the North American cruise market has grown by over 400,000 passengers. Europe is also still a large contender, sharing about 30% of the market.
Companies Continue Innovative New Builds
Companies across the globe are looking to continue to improve their fleets. Royal Caribbean says their Oasis III, expected Spring 2016, will be 20% more energy efficient than its previous Oasis class ships. These ships feature extraordinary “firsts” at sea such as an 82 foot-long zip line, a hand crafted carousel, the Rising Tide elevating bar, the AquaTheater high-diving performance venue, and the Central Park with more than 12,000 live trees and plants.
In Europe, MSC Cruises has also signed a contract with Fincantieri for the addition of two new vessels, with an option for a third. These will be the largest cruise ships ever built by Fincantieri. MSC Cruises plans to double their capacity of their fleet by 2022. Already they have launched an investment plan ordering new builds in Italy and France.
With tourism actively growing across the globe, it is clear that new and innovative builds will not be slowing down any time soon. The cruise industry is entering an incredibly exciting and competitive era.
Marine Log Staff. “The Allure of China.” Marine Log. June 2014: 35-39. Print.