As you can see in the infographic above, the Chinese market for cruising is growing extremely fast! The infographic was actually made for a class, but it does demonstrate how popular building a new ship for the Chinese market has been lately. With multiple new builds and even new cruise lines appearing, it is important to look and see how Chinese Cruising is impacting the industry as a whole.
One of the ships mentioned in the graphic is the Norwegian Joy. This ship recently debuted with a number of new technologies. Some first-at-sea features include karaoke rooms and a race-car track. The ship also was designed with a larger shopping area (with higher quality goods being sold) and a redesigned casino that is catered to an Asian population. The Norwegian Joy, which is a Breakaway-Plus class ship, looks nothing like its sister ship, the Norwegian Escape. From the outside, the entire top of the ship looks different, as there is significantly less pool space (and fewer water slides). You can check out a tour of a Breakaway class ship here!
One of the downsides to this is that it is hard for a US passenger to even book a Chinese-angled cruise. Many might want to sail the Joy and see all of the new things she has to offer, but are unable to do so. The NCL Joy did not even offer a re-positioning cruise for European passengers en-route to China. This creates some concern among the Western market.
While all of the innovation and excitement around the NCL Joy is great for the cruising industry, it brings to question: is the US market not getting ‘new’ anymore? The answer to this is tricky. There are a number of new features and ships being debuted on ships for the Chinese market, but that does not mean they won’t come to the US market eventually. For example, the Norwegian Bliss is NCLs next ship, and it is likely that it will feature a number of similar innovations to the Joy (as well as possibly new things as well). Many hope that the race-track is one of the features that will appear on Bliss when it sails Alaska next year.
This idea is what a lot of people point to when they discuss the benefits of Asian cruising. The US market set the stage for how cruises are run, and many of the amenities on a cruise in China follow that suit. But, with a new market appearing, benefits can be had for all cruisers. Ideas learned in China can make their way to the United States, and visa versa. This provides all travelers with even more options and an even better vacation!
Also, the US market is still getting new ships designed with the American cruiser in mind. First, you have Carnival, which continues to build for the US market (although having new ships tour Europe first). Carnival Horizon follows Carnival Vista’s demonstration of this path. Next, you have Royal Caribbean, which while trying Asian and Australian waters, still seems committed to bringing new arrivals to the US (ex. Harmony of the Seas with new features such as the Ultimate Abyss). Finally, you have MSC, which is actually heavily investing in the US and Caribbean markets! Not only are new ships/designs being build to be home-ported in Miami (think MSC Seaside), but the cruise line is even going as far as building a brand new private island in the Bahamas! Tour another Bahamian Private Island here!
Overall, there is more than enough cruising and innovation in the industry to go around for everybody. But I can see many folks getting mad that their dream ship might not be available to them. The good news is: ships are mobile. In due time, a ship for the Chinese market might move over to the US, and a ship for the US market might sail over to China.