Royal Caribbean International said it will deploy Ovation of the Seas to China in 2016. The ship is the second newbuild that will be devoted to the Chinese market.
The 4,000-passenger Ovation will be homeported in Tianjin, near Beijing, adding a fourth port in China to Royal Caribbean’s lineup.
In May, Royal Caribbean will redeploy its Quantum of the Seas to Shanghai from its current homeport in Bayonne, New Jersey. Ovation is also a Quantum-class ship, meaning two of the three Quantum ships will be sailing from China year-round.
No other cruise line has put a newbuild in China, much less two.
“We are furthering our commitment [to China] by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region,” Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley said at a news conference in Beijing.
Ovation of the Seas, the third Quantum-class vessel, is scheduled to enter service in spring 2016. The second Quantum ship, Anthem of the Seas, will make its debut in Southampton, England, on April 22 and will sail from New Jersey after a summer season in Europe.
Bayley said that Royal Caribbean is taking other steps to strengthen its cruise operation in China. It has created a curriculum with Tianjin Maritime College to train culinary and restaurant service employees and hired more than 3,000 students since the academy opened in August 2014, Bayley said.
Also, Royal Caribbean is investigating potential Chinese drydock facilities to revitalize Legend of the Seas as early as 2018 and potential logistics centers in China to supply its ships deployed in the region.
It is also looking at an inbound-tourism business model that would bring thousands of North Americans to visit China.
The addition of Ovation will bring to five the number of Royal Caribbean ships sailing in China by 2016. In addition to Quantum and Ovation, the cruise line has positioned Mariner of the Seas in Shanghai and Voyager of the Seas in Hong Kong. Legend of the Seas will sail from Tianjin in 2016 until Ovation’s arrival, and then reposition to Xiamen.
A 52-day cruise from Southampton to Tianjin on Ovation opens for sale on March 26.