It’s been a busy week for cruise lines looking to expand into the booming China cruise market.
This past Friday Carnival Corp. announced an order of two new ships that the company said would be the cruise industry’s first new cruise ships built in China for the Chinese market. The new ships will be built by China's largest shipbuilder, China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), and Italy-based Fincantieri S.p.A. The agreement also includes an option to order two additional ships. The two new ships will be based on Carnival’s Vista-class design and will operate as part of plans to launch a multi-ship domestic cruise brand in China. The first of the new ships is slated for delivery in 2022.
Meanwhile Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) is moving forward with its own purpose-built cruise ship for the China market, the Norwegian Joy. At a recent executive event outlining the cruise company’s plans for China cruises, officials said that the new ship will have the largest upscale shopping venue in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, with duty-free shops and high-end brands like Cartier, Omega, Bvlgari, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Versace. Additionally, newly announced entertainment options for the new ship include stage shows Elements and Paradis.
In addition to Norwegian Joy, NCLH brands Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises will all call on ports in China over the next 12 months. Norwegian Cruise Line will deploy the newly refurbished Norwegian Star to sail Asia-based itineraries in December 2016. In February 2017, Oceania will seasonally deploy the 684-passenger ship Nautica in Asia, along with sibling ship Insignia in March 2017. Regent Seven Seas Cruises will deploy the 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager in Asia for spring 2017.
Also this week MSC Cruises announced that it will deploy the MSC Splendida to China starting in May 2018 in a move that will introduce the line’s MSC Yacht Club concept to the Chinese market. The ship will join MSC Lirica, which has been serving Chinese guests since May 2016 and recently moved to its homeport in Tianjin to serve northern China during the winter season. More MSC Splendida itinerary details will be announced shortly, MSC said.
Crystal’s New Private Jet, Executive Appointments and More
Elsewhere in the cruise industry, this week Crystal moved forward with its brand expansion as Crystal AirCruises released details on the design for its new Boeing 777-200LR luxury aircraft. Set to take off in fall 2017, the 84-guest aircraft will offer perks such as fully reclining seats, a social lounge with stand-up bar, Bose Noise Cancelling headphones, Apple iPads, complimentary global Wi-Fi, 24-inch interactive TVs with on-demand programming and music library, individual USB ports and power outlets, and a live cockpit-to-ground listening channel, plus custom blankets, lumbar and pillows, plush duvets and mattress toppers and lavatories with ETRO amenities.
In terms of people to watch, NCLH made a number of changes to the leadership of its cruise brands this week. Bob Binder has been named president and CEO of Oceania Cruises, in addition to his current role as vice chairman of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which he has held since 2011. Additionally, Andy Stuart, president of Norwegian Cruise line, and Jason Montague, president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, will add the title of chief executive officer to their expanded roles with their respective brands, effective immediately.
Finally, in destination news, Qatar has made a number of updates to Doha Port aimed at making the arrivals process easier for cruise passengers. A passenger manifest will now be shared with immigration officials 48 hours in advance of the ship’s arrival, allowing immigration officials to process all relevant information and clear passengers before the ship docks. Additionally, cruise passengers are now eligible for transit visas due to the short duration of their stay.
Qatari officials also recently signed an agreement with VFS Global that will soon allow for a faster tourist visa application process.
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