Business / Companies

Ctrip embarks on new venture with cruise liner

By Wang Wen (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-04 07:35

Ctrip embarks on new venture with cruise liner

A Chinese employee leaves the office building of Chinese online travel agency Ctrip in Shanghai, China, March 26, 2014.[Photo/IC] International Inc, the largest online travel agency in China, announced on Wednesday it is going to buy a liner from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd based in Miami.

The 1,814-berth liner, Celebrity Century, was built up in 1995 and refitted in 2006.

The online agency did not release the cost of the purchase.

Ctrip also signed an agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises to establish a joint venture on cruise ship operation.

"Chinese companies own very few cruise ships and do not have any operational experience or even facilities," said Zheng Weihang, vice-president of the China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association.

Ctrip embarks on new venture with cruise liner
Ctrip embarks on new venture with cruise liner
Merger could be ticket to success for Ctrip, Qunar 
Zheng said the cooperation may help Chinese operators learn from international companies.

China's cruise market is attractive for both Chinese and foreign cruise liner operators.

The number of Chinese residents taking outbound cruise trips will exceed 700,000 in 2014, Zheng said.

"The market will boom in the next two years," he said.

Statistics from the association show Chinese residents made 1.4 million trips on cruise liners in 2013 compared with about 10,000 in 2005.

"China will become one of the largest cruise markets in the world," said Fan Min, president of Ctrip.

Fan said the agency will make efforts to keep its leading position in the cruise market with the new liner.

The cruise market has already become one of the most important areas for Ctrip. Earlier this year, it invested more than 200 million yuan ($32.57 million) to launch 15 exclusive cruise trips.

As the largest cruise service agency, Ctrip has more than 10 percent of the market share in China, Fan said.

Two other Chinese companies also started their cruise business by purchasing secondhand liners from international operators.

Baohai Ferry Co Ltd, based in Yantai, Shandong province, spent $43.68 million on a liner renamed Zhonghua Taishan (Chinese Mount Tai) originally owned by Costa Crociere SpA. It sailed with 900 passengers on Aug 16 for South Korea.

"The company is not satisfied with one 14-year-old liner," said Yu Xinjian, general manager of Bohai Ferry. "We will build or buy five-star luxury ships in the future."

HNA Tourism, operator of Henna, has one cruise liner but expects to enlarge its fleet by 12 to 13 ships in the next 10 years.

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