Royal Caribbean CEO: China Is Next Global Leader in Luxury Cruise Market.

The chief executive officer of Royal Caribbean, Michael Bayley, said that it is highly possible that China will hold the largest share in the market of international luxury cruise ships.

He explained that currently, China is already occupying second place in terms of number of cruise patrons. The top grosser is the United States. There are 1.5 million Chinese taking cruises every year.

The CEO explained that the rise in China’s middle class will push China to dominate the luxury cruise market. He said, “When you think about the different population, the size of the growing middle class, at some point in the future, we think there will be as many Chinese taking cruises, and we would like to be the major one.”

Royal Caribbean is serving about a million passengers annually. The luxury cruise line is poised to make the most of the increasing demand of cruise trips in China. Recently, Royal Caribbean launched The Ovation of the Seas in Tianjin.

The newly launched ship has a capacity of 4,500 passengers and 1,500 crew. Tours to Japan and South Korea are now available, and are set to depart from Tianjin. Tickets cost from 700 yuan to 1,300 yuan per night.

According to the Union Bank of Switzerland, a global financial and investment group, many Chinese are drawn to cruise vacations because of the onboard casinos. Gambling is illegal in China but not when gambling takes place in a ship. Other cruise amenities such as spas and bars are not so popular with Chinese vacationers.

Major players like Genting Hong Kong and Carnival plan to expand operations in China. Walt Disney is also planning to dock a ship when Shanghai Disneyland opens in late 2016.

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