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Ctrip cruise bookings rise fast, company sees 'strategic foothold' in China with SkySea Cruises

Ctrip.com International's cruise booking business continued its strong growth in the third quarter, delivering a triple-digit gain, and SkySea Cruises, the new joint venture with Royal Caribbean, is expected to establish a 'strategic foothold' in the fast-growing Chinese market, company management said Wednesday.

Through SkySea Cruises, Ctrip will have influence in China's burgeoning cruise market, vice chairman and president Min Fan said during the company's third quarter earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

SkySea Cruises is the partnership with Royal Caribbean involving Celebrity Century. Fan said this venture would combine international expertise with tailor-made products and services for Chinese travelers.

'Outbound travel is a promising market and we will keep working hard to solidify and extend our leadership in this area,' he added.

Meanwhile, Ctrip's new cruise booking platform, launched in September, connects directly with all major cruise lines, making it the world's largest cruise reservation platform in the Chinese language, according to chief operating officer Jane Sun. The system allows travelers to search, compare and book.

Ctrip admitted some catching-up to do in overall technology but claimed to be one of the world leaders in mobile products, design and functionality.

By the end of Q3, accumulated downloads for the company's travel app reached 350m and activated accumulated downloads reached 150m, up 75% and 50% quarter over quarter, respectively, according to chairman and ceo James Liang. He said more than 5m daily unique users access the app on peak days. Total mobile transactions nearly tripled year over year.

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