The Majestic Princess will be the first ship in the Princess Cruise line to be based in China when it sets sail in 2017. Image: Princess Cruises via Youtube

American Cruise Companies Sailing into Chinese Market


The American cruise industry is tapping into the blooming potential of the Chinese market. In early 2016, there was an increased push by American cruise companies to appeal to Chinese passengers, including giving vessels Chinese names and committing ships to operate out of Chinese ports.

In late February, Florida-headquartered Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings named their newest addition to the fleet “Norwegian Joy”, with the Chinese translation “喜悦号” (Xǐ Yuè Hào) largely displayed next to the English name on the side of the ship. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings hopes to get the “Norwegian Joy” fully functioning by the summer of 2017 specifically for the Chinese market, and is promoting it as the first ship ever built specifically for Chinese consumers. The company also hopes to have five more new ships operating in China by 2019.

California-based cruise company Princess Cruises also revealed the newest addition to their fleet in February 2016. The “Majestic Princess” will be the first ship in Princess Cruises’ history to be built for Chinese consumers, and will be based in Shanghai. The vessel will hold 3,560 passengers. Florida-based Carnival has also connected with China, partnering and sharing information on building cruise ships.

While the US is still the leading source of cruise tourists globally, the Hong Kong Tourism Board projected that China can easily surpass those numbers, especially at the fast rate of expansion seen in recent years. The Cruise Line International Association trade group has calculated that between 2012 and 2014 the demand for luxury cruises in China grew by about 80%. There was also a 300% increase in cruise passengers in China between 2014 and 2015.

Lian Eytinge is research intern at the East-West Center in Washington and a student at the University of Southern California.