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Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, arrived at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on Tuesday. Wang Hong, head of Shanghai's Baoshan district, said another two huge cruise ships will arrive in Wusongkou in July and August. [Photo/China Daily]
The world's leading cruise brand, Royal Caribbean International, is targeting the Chinese market, where it might cooperate more broadly with domestic companies, including work on ship renovation and maintenance.
The largest cruise ship in Asia, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, arrived at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on Tuesday to start its summer cruise itinerary.
The ship will sail to Japan and South Korea. Tickets for the maiden voyage sold out months in advance. Many other sailings are being offered by travel agencies.
"China's cruise market is young and vibrant. Royal Caribbean International is optimistic about the development of the cruise industry here and will continue investment in this market," said Lisa Bauer, senior vice-president, global sales and marketing, of Royal Caribbean International.
Bauer said the line's business has grown tremendously since its entry into the China market in 2008.
"The growth rate was above 50 percent at the beginning, when we entered China, and now it is over 100 percent," she said.
Shanghai is determined to make itself into a center for international cruises. Under the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), Shanghai will become the third cruise center in East Asia, after Singapore and Hong Kong.
The scale of the cruise economy is estimated to reach 15 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) to 20 billion yuan, the People's Daily reported last week.
As more huge cruise ships visit China, renovation and maintenance are becoming a market with huge potential, said Michael Liu, public relations and communications manager of RCI China.
"Currently, we have to sail the ships to Singapore for renovation," he said.
Some domestic shipyards do have experience in repairing cruise ships. A cruise ship under another international brand, Costa, was repaired within five days at a base in Changxing Island, Shanghai, in 2010.
Bauer said the line has strict requirements for repair facilities and port infrastructure.
"We are generally satisfied with the infrastructure here but also believe there is still room for improvement," she said, noting that the company is talking with local governments and companies about wider cooperation, including renovation for the ships.
Wang Hong, head of Shanghai's Baoshan district, said another two huge cruise ships will arrive in Wusongkou in July and August.
By 2015, the Baoshan International Cruiser Homeport will be completed, and more than 200 voyages will be received annually after that, she said.
"We will build an industrial chain, including logistics, purchasing and ticketing, to promote the development of modern services that integrate the cruise economy," she said.
Royal Caribbean plans to introduce Mariner of the Seas, the sister of Voyager, to Shanghai next year, to meet surging demand from Chinese customers.