Today, Royal Caribbean is the second largest cruise line in the world, after Carnival, but it certainly does not seem content to stay in that position for long. RCCL’s strategy is to devote great attention to China’s exploding cruise ship market in the form of new ships and ports.
This year Royal Caribbean has already taken possession of the Ovation of the Seas, a 4,180-passenger ship built especially for the Chinese market by the famous Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, making RCCL now the largest cruise line in China.
In addition to acquiring specially designed ships, RCCL has expanded its Chinese Port system. For example, the Ovation of the Seas will be based out of Tianjin, which is about an hour’s drive southeast of Beijing.
RCCL also designates Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Xiamen to be “home ports” for its other ships–the Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, and Legend of the Seas–which have typically provided 3- to 12-night cruises to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
RCCL has already experienced some of the cultural differences between operating cruise ships out of the Port of Miami, where it maintains its corporate headquarters, and operating in China, where it is now catering to a wealthy, demanding, and powerful demographic. Last September, when Typhoon Goni forced RCCL to reroute the Quantum of the Seas from its intended itinerary of three Japanese ports to South Korea, passengers were displeased and demanded to be compensated by RCCL, even though RCCL provided the entire ship with free Wi-Fi and complimentary lobster dinners during the voyage.
Ultimately, when RCCL denied the request for reimbursement, some 300 angry passengers staged a “sit in” and refused to disembark the ship, having to be forcefully removed by crew members, who then transported the angry passengers to a nearby hotel, where negotiations continued for hours.
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