Carnival Corporation & plc, the world’s largest travel and leisure company, today announced plans to further expand its operations in China with the deployment of two additional cruise brands in China in 2017. Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises in the Chinese market, making Carnival Corporation the first company to operate four brands in China – which is expected to eventually become the world’s largest cruise market based on surging demand for cruise vacations by Chinese travelers.
As a result of Carnival Corporation’s expansion in China in 2017, four of its 10 brands will have at least one homeported cruise ship in China, further bolstering the company’s industry-leading presence in the market. The plan to deploy two additional ships – one new ship each for both its Carnival and AIDA brands – and operate four total brands in China in 2017 embodies Carnival Corporation’s long-term, multi-brand strategy to provide Chinese travelers with a variety of vacation options and experiences to meet growing demand across all segments of the Chinese market.
“We are excited to introduce our Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises brands to our fleet in China, giving us a total of four global cruise brands in the market and a unique opportunity to provide a diverse lineup of brands and cruise offerings to Chinese guests who are looking for a great vacation experience,” said Carnival CEO Arnold Donald, who was in Shanghai to announce the news at the 10th Annual China Cruise Shipping and International Cruise Expo (CCS10). “As we execute our multi-brand growth strategy in China, we are emphasizing choice and variety in our offerings to match the different tastes and preferences of Chinese travelers.”
Added Donald: “As more and more Chinese are discovering why cruising is the best vacation experience, they are having a great time on our Costa and Princess brands, and we look forward to even more Chinese travelers enjoying vacations on our AIDA and Carnival brands. This is an exciting time in China for the cruise industry, and as the world’s largest cruise company and the first global cruise operator in China, we are more committed than ever to helping China become one of the world’s most popular regions for cruise vacations.”
Further details on plans for Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises to enter the Chinese market in 2017 will be announced soon by each brand.
Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line, said: “We greatly look forward to introducing Chinese guests to the exceptional vacation experience that has made Carnival the world’s most popular cruise line with more than 4.5 million guests a year. With cruise demand rapidly increasing in China and our ability to work in partnership with other Carnival Corporation brands to leverage our collective experience and scale, it provides an outstanding opportunity for Carnival Cruise Line to enter the Chinese market.”
Added Felix Eichhorn, president of AIDA Cruises: “We are honored to join our Carnival Corporation sister brands in China in 2017, including Costa Cruises, which pioneered cruising in China for the entire industry back in 2006. We look forward to offering Chinese guests our authentic AIDA experience of German style on the seas. By focusing on the interests of our guests in China, there is a significant opportunity to grow cruising demand for our brand, Carnival Corporation and the industry at large.”
Two New Brands Build on Other Recent China Expansion Announcements for 2016 and 2017
Carnival Corporation announced in July that its existing brands already sailing in China – Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises – will continue to expand in 2016 with each brand introducing a new ship to its fleet in China in 2016, making Carnival Corporation the first global cruise company with six total ships based in China and extending the company’s industry-leading market presence in the overall market.
The expansion of Carnival Corporation’s China fleet to six ships will represent a 58 percent increase in total capacity in China in 2016, including three year-round ships and three seasonal ships in the market. Together, the Costa and Princess brands will potentially offer about four million passenger cruise days in 2016, giving Chinese guests more choice and flexibility in both the contemporary and luxury segments.
Building on its expanding presence in China in 2016, Princess Cruises, a leader in worldwide destinations, just announced last week the name of its new ship that will be based year-round in China when it is introduced in summer 2017. Based in Shanghai, the all-new Majestic Princess will be the first year-round cruise ship built specifically for Chinese guests incorporating a unique blend of international and Chinese features.
Carnival Corporation is also exploring potential joint ventures in China with China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC) and China Merchants Group (CMG) designed to accelerate the growth of the overall cruise industry in China, including the possibility of launching a world-class Chinese domestic cruise brand, building new ships in China, and supporting port and infrastructure development. These efforts support Carnival Corporation’s commitment to help China realize its goal to develop cruising as a key economic driver for its economy and become one of the leading cruise markets in the world.
Additionally, to underscore the company’s commitment to the region and developing the strong growth opportunities for cruise vacations across Asia, Carnival Corporation recently announced Michael Ungerer as chief operations officer for Carnival Asia, a newly created position for the company that became effective Sept. 1. Ungerer, formerly president of AIDA Cruises, will help lead the execution of Carnival Corporation’s growth plans across the region, especially in China.
Alan Buckelew, global chief operations officer (COO) for Carnival Corporation, relocated to China over a year ago to more closely oversee Carnival’s growing operations in the country and capitalize on the significant opportunities to accelerate growth in the market. Buckelew, who has extensive experience in Asia from nearly four decades in the cruise industry, leads all the company’s initiatives in China in this expanded role, while retaining his overall global responsibilities for the corporation, including oversight of all maritime and port operations around the world and other related functions as part of his COO position.