Royal Caribbean International (RCI) has set its sights on returning
to cruising from China by 2024. According to Michael Bayley, president
and CEO of RCI, the company has begun rebuilding its sales organisation
in China, and it expects to be operating out of the country by late
spring or early summer of 2024.
Bayley said that RCI was encouraged by all the signals for its
reopening in China in 2024, and the company had built a significant
business there before the pandemic. He also stated that the brand was
the number one cruise market by volume, with a few homeporting ships.
The fifth Oasis-class vessel, Wonder of the Seas, was planned to debut
in China before the global cruise shutdown.
During the pandemic, RCI operated the Quantum-class Spectrum of the Seas from Hong Kong on cruises to nowhere. The ship was later redeployed to Singapore in early 2022 as measures to contain the Omicron variant waged on, and its Singapore deployment has since been extended into 2024.
Bayley noted that the value of a Chinese customer was very high, and
he put the net revenue from a Chinese passenger at around the same level
as an American, adding that onboard spending skews differently in
different areas. He expects the Chinese market to return to its
pre-pandemic level, as it was a significant business for RCI.
Meanwhile, Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group,
said that the company's deployment would shift slightly going forward
with China's expected comeback, and the Asia-Pacific region lighting
back up in 2024 and 2025. However, the Caribbean would continue to be
where the majority of its capacity is, with a little more indexing into
short cruises and China.
Bayley also noted that outbound travel from China had started to
return but on a much smaller base. The company expects to see the market
bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels, and with its strong position in
China, RCI is well-placed to capitalise on the potential growth in the