In a move that came as a shock to many, Royal Caribbean announced this week that after an initial season in the New York market the line would send its newest (and presumably greatest) ship, the 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas, to China – permanently.
The ship, which debuts in November, has been highly promoted for such first-at-sea features as bumper cars, a simulated sky diving experience and a mechanical arm that takes riders high above the ship for views, plus a whole new dining scheme.
Quantum of the Seas to China
So why send Quantum to China? Simply put, Royal Caribbean sees bigger opportunity there than in the well-established, and some would say increasingly saturated, Caribbean.
Royal does not view China as a slow-developing market, Royal officials made clear in a media briefing this week.
“The world is changing. How we are sourcing is changing. We have tried to take a balanced view to try to maximize our markets,” said Lisa Lutoff-Pero, Royal’s executive vice president of operations. “Some decisions are strategic in nature.”
Between the two Quantum-class ships, Freedom-classLiberty of the Seas will fill the New York-area void – in the process becoming Royal Caribbean’s largest ship to cruise to Bermuda and on a New England/Canada route. Later, the 3,634-passenger Liberty will bring Freedom-class cruising to Galveston.As part of the move, Royal also changed its mind about sending sister ship Anthem of the Seas to Fort Lauderdale for winter 2015. Instead, after an initial summer season cruising from Southampton, England, Anthem will home port in Bayonne, New Jersey, beginning in November 2015 – doing wintertime cruises to the Caribbean.
For those keeping track, that’s good news for China, Bermuda, Boston and Galveston.
The South Florida market now won’t see a new Royal Caribbean ship until at least 2016. Lutoff-Perlo, a diehard New England Patriots fan, compared it to rooting for a team that nearly always wins. Then suddenly they don’t.
“Maybe South Florida is so spoiled having gotten this amazing hardware for so long they kind of need to share the wealth a little bit,” she said. “There are other emerging markets in the world.”
Before Quantum lands in its new home port, Shanghai, there will be some adaptations made for the Chinese market in areas including retail, gaming and menus – but not too many, officials said. The idea is to introduce the latest and greatest in American-style cruising to the Chinese market.