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China Cruises Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Cruises market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Key points included

  • Pilot fly cruises among high earners
  • Appetite for nostalgic and cultural experiences
  • Responding to demand for wellness in holidays is an opportunity to differentiate

Covered in this report

For the purpose of this report, a cruise is defined as any seabased or river-based trip taken by fare payers on board a vessel whose main purpose is the accommodation of guests.A cruise trip should include at least one night’s stay on the ship.

This report covers both outbound cruises (either leaving from a main port in China or passing through ports in China) and domestic lines (where the entire cruise trip is within mainland China).

For market size section and market share section, only overseas cruises departing from ports in mainland China are included.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Saskia Zhao, a leading analyst in the Travel sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Although the cruise market is currently in a transitional period, there is potential for market growth in the long term. It is important for companies to focus on service quality, differentiating activities and forming strong partnerships with travel agencies to achieve sustainable growth. Saskia Zhao
Travel Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Market has cooled since 2017
              • Figure 1: Overseas cruise market size in China, 2014-19 (est)
            • Reliance on travel agencies is still high
              • Potential for growth over the long term
                • A new cruise ticket system creates possibility to increase direct selling
                  • Companies and brands
                    • Leading companies in the China market
                      • Figure 2: Passenger volume share of leading cruise companies in China, 2017-18
                    • Competitive strategies of major cruise companies
                      • Key innovative on-board activities
                        • The consumer
                          • Recall of cruise products
                            • Figure 3: Recall of a cruise experience, December 2018
                          • High overall satisfaction for cruise trips
                            • Figure 4: Cruise satisfaction – Correlation analysis, December 2018
                          • Japan and South Korea are the most popular destinations
                            • Figure 5: Cruise destinations, December 2018
                          • Consumers want to have fun and be healthy on a premium cruise trip
                            • Figure 6: On-board activities associated with a premium cruise trip, December 2018
                          • Consumers associate cruises with variety, relaxation and being child-friendly
                            • Figure 7: Perception of ways of travel, December 2018
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                            • Responding to demand for wellness in holidays is an opportunity to differentiate
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Pilot fly cruises among high earners
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Appetite for nostalgic and cultural experiences
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                              • First decline in cruise market
                                                • Positive future outlook despite challenges
                                                  • Consumers aged 30-39 are important consumers in future
                                                    • Possibilities of reduced reliance on travel agencies
                                                    • Market Size

                                                      • Market experiencing a tough transitional period
                                                        • Figure 8: Overseas cruise passenger volume in China, 2014-19 (est)
                                                      • Supply reduced as companies are pressured by profitability
                                                        • Figure 9: Total ships visited at ports in mainland China, by vessel-times, 2013-18
                                                      • Consumer spending also falls
                                                        • Figure 10: Percentage of cruise spending to total consumer spending in UK and China, 2018
                                                        • Figure 11: Overseas cruise market value in China, 2014-19 (est)
                                                    • Market Factors

                                                      • Consumers are spending more on holidays
                                                        • Positive forecast for long-term market growth
                                                          • Figure 12: Penetration of cruise passengers to total population in three countries, 2017-18
                                                        • Increase in cruise passengers forecast by government
                                                          • Consumers aged 30-39 will be key to volume growth
                                                            • Figure 13: Forecast of Chinese population by age group, 2018-22
                                                          • Cruise ticket system installed to enhance consumer experience and direct selling
                                                            • Domestic ports are being upgraded
                                                              • Reliance on travel agencies is still high
                                                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                                • Cruise market in China is concentrated
                                                                  • The three biggest companies in terms of market share
                                                                    • Key players introduce new ships and new routes to the China market
                                                                      • Use paid onshore tours to encourage consumer spending
                                                                        • Target parents with on-board programs for children
                                                                          • Localise on-board performances to attract consumers from different regions
                                                                            • Innovation highlights
                                                                            • Market Share

                                                                              • Top three account for over 70% of the market
                                                                                • Two biggest companies in the market
                                                                                  • Genting Group is expanding fast
                                                                                    • Figure 14: Passenger volume share of leading cruise companies in China, 2015-18
                                                                                • Competitive Strategies

                                                                                  • Increase revenue through various paid onshore tours
                                                                                    • Developing new routes to destinations other than Japan
                                                                                      • Figure 15: Cruise routes of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd in China, 2019-20
                                                                                    • Family-friendly activities and facilities help target families
                                                                                      • Figure 16: Activities for children offered by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd in the China market, 2019
                                                                                    • Localised on-board entertainment
                                                                                      • Introducing new ships to the China market
                                                                                        • Costa Cruises covering more ports along the coastline
                                                                                        • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                                          • Previewing ships with VR technology
                                                                                            • VR-enriched on-board entertainment
                                                                                              • Figure 17: Finger Coaster on ship World Dream, 2019
                                                                                            • Personalised information service with AI-enabled digital assistant
                                                                                              • Figure 18: ZOE – Digital personal assistant launched by MSC Cruises, 2019
                                                                                            • Luxury fashion brands invited on board
                                                                                              • Figure 19: Bvlgari jewellery show on Costa Cruises in the China market, 2019
                                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                            • Market cruises as offering variety of activities and relaxing travel experience
                                                                                              • Service quality is very important to overall satisfaction
                                                                                                • Japan and South Korea are the most popular cruise destinations
                                                                                                  • Premium cruises should be fun and healthy
                                                                                                  • Recall of Cruise Products

                                                                                                    • Better recall of company names than cruise ship names
                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Recall of a cruise experience, December 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 21: Cruise company presentation on Tuniu, 2019
                                                                                                    • Royal Caribbean and Quantum of the Seas stand out
                                                                                                      • Figure 22: Recall of a cruise experience – Word cloud of cruise companies, December 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 23: Recall of a cruise experience, word cloud of cruise ships, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Who is better at recalling Royal Caribbean?
                                                                                                      • Figure 24: Recall of a cruise experience, Royal Caribbean, by demographics, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Who is better at recalling Costa?
                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Recall of a cruise experience, Costa, by demographics, December 2018
                                                                                                    • High-quality service impresses consumers
                                                                                                      • Figure 26: Recall of a cruise experience – Word cloud of experience, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Impressive features other than services
                                                                                                      • Figure 27: Recall of a cruise experience, key impressive features, December 2018
                                                                                                  • Overall Satisfaction and Satisfaction Drivers

                                                                                                    • Higher satisfaction leads to better recall
                                                                                                      • Figure 28: Overall satisfaction, December 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Overall recall of cruise experience, by satisfaction of the last cruise trip, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Who finds cruise trips very satisfactory?
                                                                                                      • Key drivers for overall satisfaction
                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Cruise satisfaction – Key driver analysis, December 2018
                                                                                                        • Food quality rather than food variety
                                                                                                        • Cruise Destinations

                                                                                                          • Consumer interest is reaching beyond Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia
                                                                                                            • Figure 31: Cruise destinations, December 2018
                                                                                                            • Figure 32: Cruise destinations, by past cruise experience, December 2018
                                                                                                          • Who is interested in niche cruise routes?
                                                                                                          • On-board Activities

                                                                                                            • When it comes to a premium experience, consumers want both fun and wellness
                                                                                                              • Figure 33: On-board activities associated with a premium cruise trip, December 2018
                                                                                                            • What themes to use for themed rooms?
                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Marimekko themed room with Dream Cruises, 2018
                                                                                                            • Communicate premium cruise ships with four features
                                                                                                              • Figure 35: On-board activity – TURF analysis, December 2018
                                                                                                          • Perceptions of Cruises

                                                                                                            • Cruises characterised by variety of activities and relaxation
                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Perception of ways of travel, December 2018
                                                                                                            • Impress consumers without cruise experience with opportunities to experience local life
                                                                                                              • Figure 37: perceptions of ways of travel – Cruises, by past cruise experience, December 2018
                                                                                                          • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                                            • MinTs also enjoy classic routes to Japan/South Korea
                                                                                                              • Figure 38: Cruise destinations, by consumer classification, December 2018
                                                                                                            • Themes are important for MinTs
                                                                                                              • Figure 39: On-board activities, by consumer classification, December 2018
                                                                                                          • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                                                                                            • Methodology
                                                                                                              • Further analysis used in this Report
                                                                                                                • Abbreviations