Readjustment Over as Chinese Cruise Market Returns to Growth

Costa Venezia

The readjustment period for the Chinese cruise market is coming to an abrupt end as capacity will be up for the first time in two years in 2020, according to the 2020 China Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

Annualized capacity with new ships from Costa Crociere and Royal Caribbean International are pushing market capacity, while full-year operations from the Piano Land will also contribute as will the 4,500-guest MSC Bellissima.

Following year-after-year of rapid growth, China saw its cruise supply drop due to an ongoing price war in 2018, as ships and operators left the market. This self-described readjustment period continued into 2019 and is now subsiding with more ships, more berths and more capacity in the market for 2020.

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Cruise Companies Pursue Different Brand Growth Strategies

Carnival Horizon and Mein Schiff 6

The multi-brand cruise companies will continue to grow their largest and most popular brands, but individual brand growth may surprise, according to the 2019 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

While Carnival Cruise Line brand will continue to be the dominant brand for Carnival Corporation over the next decade, carrying twice as many passengers as the second-largest brand, Costa Crociere will see the most capacity growth over the same time period, driven partially by its short cruises in China.

AIDA will be third in terms of capacity growth, followed by Princess Cruises.

Altogether the Carnival brands will grow their passenger capacity from an estimated 12 million (double occupancy) in 2019 to some 16 million in 2027, barring any ship withdrawals and deployment changes.

At Royal Caribbean Cruises, the Royal Caribbean brand will also continue to dominate and could be the single largest brand in the world by 2027, growing by an estimated 1.2 million passengers, twice the projected capacity growth for the Carnival brand over the same time period. TUI Cruises, which is 50 per cent owned by Royal Caribbean, will also see significant growth. However, Celebrity, which will see less growth over the same time period, will remain the second-largest brand at Royal Caribbean. The total capacity for the Royal Caribbean brands is forecast to grow to about 9 million.

MSC Cruises will move up to become the third-largest cruise company with the most capacity growth of any brand, from an estimated 2.4 million in 2019 to nearly 5 million by 2027.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings moves to fourth place, however, the Norwegian Cruise Line brand will see the second largest passenger capacity increase. Total capacity for the three Norwegian brands is estimated at 3.7 million in the nine-year forecast.

Genting will also see significant relative growth and remains the fifth largest cruise operator.

Costa Atlantica to Homeport in Shenzhen for 2018

Costa Atlantica

Costa Crociere is making a big deployment move in China and announced earlier this week the Costa Atlantica will now homeport in Shenzhen starting in late January and continuing for the rest of 2018.

The move will help strengthen the company’s position in Southern China, according to a press release.

“The Southern China market is an important part of Costa’s strategic plan in China,” said Mario Zanetti, president of Carnival China. “In recent years, Costa has opened several routes, including sailing from Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Xiamen”

Starting on Jan. 28, the ship will launch its new program, offering a variety of itineraries, with six-day cruises to Japan, six-day cruises to Vietnam and six-day cruises to the Philippines.

Compared to other companies offering cruises in China, this Costa deployment features slightly longer itineraries. Most cruises offered in the Chinese market are four to five days.

Japan itineraries include two port calls, either Okinawa and the Yaeyama Islands or Okinawa and Miyako Island.

Shenzhen opened its new Prince Bay homeport facility last July and has since seen 118 cruise ships and 159,000 passengers, according to a statement.