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Royal Caribbean, Ctrip move ahead on national cruise line for China

Anne Kalosh
Richard Fain - looking forward to building a national cruise line for China, with Ctrip
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and International have agreed to form a strategic partnership through SkySea Cruises, a joint venture to serve the Chinese cruise market.

Royal Caribbean and Ctrip will each own 35% of the new company, with the balance owned by SkySea management and a private equity fund.

The transaction is expected to close before the end of November.

'We look forward to working with Ctrip, a Chinese travel leader, to build a national cruise line for China,' Royal Caribbean chairman and ceo Richard Fain said. 'SkySea Cruises represents an important strategic milestone in our expansion efforts in the Chinese market.'

'Our partnership with Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will allow us to bring the very best cruise vacations tailor-made for Chinese travelers,' stated Min Fan, chairman and ceo of SkySea Cruises. 'We expect SkySea cruises to be an integral part of China's fast growing cruise market.'

The new cruise line will begin service in the middle of 2015 and will operate with one ship. The venture anticipates the potential for additional vessels to be added over time. Sales and marketing activities have commenced.

In September Royal Caribbean confirmed it was selling the 1995-built Celebrity Century to a holding company led by and the two companies said they were pursuing a possible partnership. is a provider of accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management. It claims to be the largest online consolidator of accommodation and transportation tickets in China in terms of transaction volume.

The fast-growing company was founded in 1999. Shares are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market as CTRP.