What Can Be Gleaned from the Asian Cruise Boom
Photo courtesy of AIDA Cruises
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its 2016 Asia Cruise Trends study, and a number of interesting findings are had within, not the least of which is a 24 percent increase from 2014 to 2015 in sourcing Asian passengers, with 2.08 million in 2015 alone. What is particularly interesting is what can be gleaned from the raw data and how it applies to AIDA Cruises’ and other lines’ new endeavors in the region.
As one would expect, there are now more cruises offered in the region aboard more cruise ships and cruise lines. For 2016, 1,560 voyages are scheduled, up 43 percent from last year, and 60 ocean ships will ply Asian waters, up 15 percent from 2015. Of those, 14 operate year-round, and, in fact, AIDA Cruises is looking to become one of them.
Come April 2017, the primarily German brand will deploy its AIDAbella (pictured above) in China throughout the year as a so-called "cruise vacation Made in Germany" for the Chinese market. The ship will remain largely unchanged, but food and services will be geared towards Chinese guests.
This new marketing campaign just goes to show how globalized the cruise industry has become and how the line between source markets and cruise destinations is rapidly blurring.
Carnival Corporation clearly believes in sending fleets of any origin where burgeoning markets exist. This has also been seen with the reworking of British P&O Cruises’ Adonia for Fathom in Cuba. Back in Asia, Carnival Corp. also intends to launch a dedicated Chinese cruise brand in the near future.
Of course, the destination itself is a growing target for travelers as well. In total, there are 204 destinations available in 17 countries, and Japan, China, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore lead in descending order. This is important to note because as much as Asian citizens are flocking towards cruising so too are international cruisers heading to the region.
READ MORE: The Cruising Tide Rises in China
As for Asian travelers themselves, there is a preference for shorter sailings and ones closer to home.
Half of local cruisers enjoy 4- to 6-night cruises while 30 percent take ones that are only 2- to 3-nights in length. And just as Americans enjoy the conveniences of local home-porting, Asians cruisers predominantly travel domestically with 84 percent staying in Asia. Elsewhere, Asians travel by cruise to Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean.
Also worth recognizing are Asian millennials who are similarly driving the industry there. The average age of Asian cruisers is 43, and about 42 percent are actually under the age of 40. CLIA indicates that cruise lines are recognizing the need to bring their best to the area to accommodate.
Whether the best that resonates is a line’s newest ship like Norwegian Cruise Line’s upcoming Norwegian Joy or an existing ship like the aforementioned AIDAbella is still to be determined.
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