Royal Caribbean executives think the Chinese cruise market will re-open later this year, with 2024 a realistic date for the market to be back.
“There’s currently two impediments to the China cruise market opening up,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. “One of them is there is still a ban on cruising and group travel in China.”
Bayley, speaking on the company’s year-end and fourth quarter earnings call, also said there is still a requirement for Chinese tourists visiting Japan to test for COVID-19, which could also lead to quarantine. Prior to the pandemic, most China-based sailings were short cruises that called exclusively on Japanese ports.
“We understand both of these conditions will drop away at some point,” said Bayley, adding it should happen during the first half of this year. That would in-turn lead to operations resuming later this year and being back in full in 2024.
Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, said he was very optimistic about China, as it was previously a very high-yielding, highly profitable market for the company.