The cruise business in China appears to have all the ingredients in place for a strong 2024.
After years of uncertainty, the local market is set for a big year with the return of international brands and the service resumption of local brands.
Deployment is also going through a positive turn as itineraries to Japan and South Korea return.
With the Chinese government greenlighting travel agents to resume sales of outbound group tours to the two countries, cruise ships are once again able to visit a series of destinations.
Another important development taking place in the market is the introduction of Adora Cruises. After years in the making plans to add its first China-built, purpose-designed newbuild into service in early 2024.
Serving the North, East and South China regions, the brand also operates the former Costa Mediterranea, which started revenue service at the end of September out of Tianjin.
Other local operators currently in service include China Merchants Viking Cruises, who has been operating the ultra-luxury Zhao Shang Yi Dunin the country since 2021, and Blue Dream Cruises.
More local brands expected to resume service soon include Astro Ocean Cruises and Bohai Ferry. There’s also Tianjin Orient International Cruise Line, which acquired the former Sea Princess in 2023 and is already sailing.
The year of 2024 will also see important relevant developments for international brands, with Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises returning to Chinese ports for the first time since 2020.
After revealing plans to deploy the 4,500-guest MSC Bellissima in the country starting in the upcoming summer season, MSC announced that the 3,300-guest MSC Splendida will also sail from China during the 2024-2025 winter.
Royal Caribbean is returning to the country with the 4,200-guest Spectrum of the Seas, which is set to kick off a year-round program from Shanghai in April.