Ovation of the Seas Heading for China
PHOTO: A second Quantum-class ship is moving to China. (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)
Doubling down on its commitment to the Chinese cruise market, Royal Caribbean International announced plans to base its third Quantum-class ship in Tianjin, a port near Beijing.
Ovation of the Seas will move to China in April 2016, joining sister ship Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas. The five ships homeport in four metropolitan Chinese cities — Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen — primarily sailing three- to 12-night itineraries to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Royal Caribbean says it’s the largest deployment by a single cruise brand in China at this point. The brand’s parent company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., also is exploring starting a Chinese cruise line, called SkySea Cruises, in a joint venture with Ctrip.com International Ltd., a leading Shanghai-based travel seller. Meanwhile, rival Carnival Corp. is operating four ships in Shanghai this year, three from Costa Cruises and one from Princess, and has also partnered with a Chinese company to grow the market.
The attention-getting Quantum-class ships generate excitement with features such as the North Star gondola thrill ride, skydiving simulator, robotic bartenders and bumper cars. The first in the class, Quantum of the Seas, is moving to China next month as the second one, Anthem of the Seas, enters service, making Cape Liberty in Bayonne, N.J., its long-term home in November after a summer in Europe.
“We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region,” Royal Caribbean President and CEO Michael Bayley said during a Beijing press conference today. “In addition, we are significantly expanding our investment in the training and employment of Chinese talent so they can join us in delivering our amazing and distinctive vacations to Chinese travelers.”
Royal Caribbean also is investing in training people shoreside. The line created a curriculum with the Tianjin Maritime College in August 2014 to attract, train and employ Chinese crew. The line has already hired more than 3,000 graduates and hopes to expand the program to more colleges in China.
While clearly aimed at the burgeoning Chinese vacation market, Royal Caribbean said it also is exploring an inbound-tourism business model to bring North American travelers to sail on its ships in China.
The company also is exploring potential Chinese dry-dock facilities to renovate its ships as needed, as well as investigating logistics centers there to supply its ships.
“While China gets the newest Quantum class, North America is getting the newest Oasis class ship, Harmony of the Seas,” Bayley said. “There will be three Oasis-class ships sailing from two Florida ports starting in 2016, in addition to Anthem of the Seas from Cape Liberty, giving vacationers plenty of options for a truly memorable Royal Caribbean cruise.”
Ovation of the Seas will operate a 52-night voyage from Southampton, U.K., to Tianjin, which is also available in five segments. The voyage opens for sale on March 26.
For its inaugural season, Ovation of the Seas will homeport in Tianjin, located about 70 miles southeast of Beijing, while Quantum will complete a full year of sailings from Shanghai.
Mariner of the Seas will join Quantum of the Seas in Shanghai, while Voyager of the Seas will sail from Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Port. In addition to Japan and Korea itineraries, Voyager of the Seas will offer four- and five-night Taiwan and Vietnam cruises.
Legend of the Seas will sail from Tianjin and then reposition to its new homeport of Xiamen for the remainder of the season.
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