Where Are the Cruise Ships Originally Built for the Chinese Market?

Several cruise ships were specifically built to serve the booming Chinese market in the last decade.

Too much capacity followed by COVID-19, in addition to other factors, changing the course of the local business, all of the vessels are now sailing elsewhere.

Here’s what happened to all of the former China-bound newbuilds:

Ovation of the Seas
Company: Royal Caribbean International
Built: 2016
Capacity: 4,100 guests
Tonnage: 158,000
Current Sailing Region: North America

The Ovation of the Seas became the first Royal Caribbean International newbuild to debut in China when it arrived in Tianjin in 2016.

With several custom-designed features, the Quantum-class ship continued to serve the local market until 2018.

Beginning in 2019, the ship started to alternate summer seasons in North America – where it is currently sailing – and winter seasons in Australia.

Genting Dream
Company: Dream Cruises (Genting Cruise Lines)
Built: 2016
Capacity: 3,400 guests
Tonnage: 150,000
Current Sailing Region: Southeast Asia

As the first cruise ship to enter service for Dream Cruises, the Genting Dream originally served the Chinese market.

With several features to cater to Chinese guests, the Genting-owned cruise ship had already been repositioned out of China when the pandemic broke in 2020.

The health crisis, however, led to the collapse of Genting Cruise Lines and Dream Cruises. After a few months laid up waiting for a new operator, the 2016-built vessel was chartered by Resorts World Cruises in mid-2022.

Norwegian Joy
Company: Norwegian Cruise Line
Built: 2017
Capacity: 4,200 guests
Tonnage: 163,000
Current Sailing Region: North America

Norwegian Cruise Line made a grand entrance into the Chinese market in 2017 with the Norwegian Joy.

Built at the Meyer Werft shipyard, the vessel was custom designed to serve the local market with exclusive features that include a virtual reality gaming center, a tearoom and more.

The vessel was pulled out of China in early 2019. Following a refit – that removed all of the ship’s original purposely-designed features – the vessel repositioned to the North American market in time for a summer program in Alaska.

Majestic Princess
Company: Princess Cruises
Built: 2017
Capacity: 3,600 guests
Tonnage: 141,000
Current Sailing Region: North America

Following years of investment into the local market, Princess Cruises decided to send a custom-design newbuild to China with the Majestic Princess.

The 2017-built vessel was considered the first built specifically for Chinese guests, offering unique features such as a Cantonese restaurant, a VIP casino, a tea bar and karaoke rooms.

The Chinese venture, however, proved to be short with the brand dropping plans for a year-round deployment in the country just months after the debut of the 3,600-guest ship. Initially redeployed to Taiwan and Australia for most of the year, the Majestic Princess arrived in the North American market – where it’s currently sailing – in 2021.

World Dream
Company: Dream Cruises (Genting Cruise Lines)
Built: 2017
Capacity: 3,400 guests
Tonnage: 150,000
Current Sailing Region: Laid-up

The World Dream entered service for Dream Cruises in 2017. Sporting several features for the local market, the vessel originally offered an upscale product in China.

With Genting Cruise Lines collapsing earlier this year, the ship continues to wait for a decision regarding its future while laid up in Southeast Asia.

Norwegian Encore
Company: Norwegian Cruise Line
Built: 2019
Capacity: 4,200 guests
Tonnage: 163,000
Current Sailing Region: North America

Norwegian Cruise Line originally planned to send the fourth Breakaway Plus-Class cruise ship to China.

The vessel, which later became the Norwegian Encore, would add capacity to the local market, which was already being service by the 2017-built Norwegian Joy.

The plans, however, were scrapped while the ship was still being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard. Instead of China, the Norwegian Encore debuted in the North American market, where it’s still sailing to this day.

Spectrum of the Seas
Company: Royal Caribbean International
Built: 2019
Capacity: 4,200 guests
Tonnage: 168,666
Current Sailing Region: Southeast Asia

Royal Caribbean International sent a second newbuild to China in 2019 with the Spectrum of the Seas.

As the first Quantum Ultra-Class vessel, the 4,200-guest ship was designed with new features to cater to the local market, including an expanded VIP suite enclave and a set of new Asian specialty restaurants.

With the COVID-19 hitting Asia first, the Spectrum was briefly redeployed to Australia in early 2020 before entering a long lay-up status. Currently, the ship is offering short cruises departing from Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Terminal.

Costa Venezia
Company: Costa Cruises
Built: 2019
Capacity: 4,232 guests
Tonnage: 135,500
Current Sailing Region: Mediterranean

The Costa Venezia entered service in 2019 as Costa Cruises’ first designed-for-China newbuild.

Built in Italy, the 135,500-ton vessel offers custom-designed features, including a karaoke entertainment complex and larger casino and shopping areas.

With the pandemic, the ship spent most of the last three years laid-up in Asia. Currently in service for Costa Cruises in the Eastern Mediterranean, the ship will be positioned in North America starting in 2023, kicking off a series of cruises from New York City for the new Costa by Carnival concept.

Costa Firenze
Company: Costa Cruises
Built: 2020
Capacity: 4,232 guests
Tonnage: 135,500
Current Sailing Region: Mediterranean

A sister to the Costa Venezia, the Costa Firenze was set to debut in China in late 2020. Also custom-designed to serve the local market, the 4,232-guest cruise ship was equipped with several unique features.

The pandemic, however, forced Costa Cruises to change plans for the vessel. Unable to sail to Asia, the Firenze debuted in Europe in 2021 and has been serving Western markets ever since.

After a winter season in Brazil, the vessel is now set to debut in the United States in 2024, offering West Coast cruises under the Costa by Carnival concept.

Wonder of the Seas
Company: Royal Caribbean International
Built: 2022
Capacity: 5,448 guests
Tonnage: 227,625
Current Sailing Region: Mediterranean

Currently the world’s biggest cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas was originally bound for year-round service in China.

Featuring interior designs and concepts to appeal to the local public, the Royal Caribbean International ship was set to debut in the Chinese market in mid-2021, offering a series of cruises departing from Shanghai.

The pandemic, however, led the company to deploy the Oasis-class vessel in the Western Hemisphere, with a series of Mediterranean and Caribbean itineraries.

Global Dream
Company: Dream Cruises (Genting Cruise Lines)
Built: 2022
Capacity: 5,000 guests
Tonnage: 208,000
Current Sailing Region: Unfinished

Previously set for a 2022 debut, the Global Dream was poised to become one of the biggest ships in the Chinese market.

With custom-designed features and attractions, the 5,000-guest ship was under construction in Germany when Dream Cruises collapsed earlier this year.

Now sitting unfinished at its building dock at the MV Werften, the vessel is looking for a new operator.

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