Royal Caribbean sending 2 cruise liners to China

Associated Press

BEIJING — Royal Caribbean Cruises is sending what it says will be Asia’s two biggest cruise liners to serve China’s growing tourism market.

The 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas is due to arrive in Singapore this weekend en route to Shanghai, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said Friday. Its sister ship Mariner of the Seas will be sent to China next year. The two ships will carry Chinese cruise passengers on routes to Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea.

“2012 is for our company the year of China,” said Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International brand, at a news conference.

Royal Caribbean is taking the unusual step of committing a second ship to a new market before its first vessel has arrived because of China’s significance to the company’s plans, chairman Richard D. Fain said. The U.S.-Norwegian line is based in Miami.

“We see Asia in general and China in particular as a major strategic objective for our company,” Fain said. “China has proven to be a very special market.”

The ships, with 15 guest decks, are equipped with ice rinks, a 9-hole miniature golf course, three swimming pools each, a rock-climbing wall, restaurants and shops. Royal Caribbean said it has hired chefs in China to create menus for Chinese passengers.

The outfitting of the two ships bound for China is part of a $300 million investment program for Royal Caribbean’s fleet, Goldstein said.