Most talk of the the Asian cruise market has focused on newer ships sailing for the major lines. This week news broke that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, holding company of Celebrity Cruises, will sell its oldest ship to a Chinese travel company. The Celebrity Century, a vintage 1995, 71,000 GRT ship will sail for Ctrip, a Chinese company that specializes in packaged travel and accommodations.
The deal is not yet finalized however, all that currently exists is a “memorandum of understanding,” but the implied details are interesting to those sizing how the major lines are engaging the Asian market. The Celebrity Century was well maintained and surely has a great deal of life left in her. However in capacity and design she was increasingly out of step with her younger fleet sisters. The Ctrip deal adds to the plans to send Quantum Class ships and more Voyager class ships to the Asian market. The deal also could prove advantageous in that it establishes a direct relationship with a government friendly partner, something often normal for deeper and more expansive projects in China.