Following weeks of speculation Royal Caribbean have confirmed their third Quantum-class Ovation of the Seas will be heading to China in 2016 following a trio of sailings from Southampton.

The keel laying ceremony for Ovation of the Seas took place on 5 March 2015 and the ship is due to be launched in April 2016, the same month the third Oasis-class ship Harmony of the Seas is due to be launched.

Three itineraries from Southampton will be offered on-board Ovation of the Seas:

  1. A five-night round trip cruise via France and Belgium, departing 17 April 2016
  2. A seven-night round trip cruise calling at Spain, the Channel Islands and Paris, departing 22 April
  3. A seven-night England to Barcelona cruise, departing 3 May

She will then embark on an epic 52-night global odyssey, departing from Southampton and sailing to Tianjin.

Ovation of the Seas will be based in Tianjin, China. A total of five Royal Caribbean ships – Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas – will sail in the China seas. For its inaugural season, Ovation of the Seas will home-port in Tianjin – approximately 70 miles south-east of Beijing, while Quantum of the Seas will sail from Shanghai. Mariner of the Seas will also sail from Shanghai, while Voyager of the Seas will sail from Hong Kong’s new Kai Tak Cruise Port. Legend of the Seas will offer a series of sailings from Tianjin before repositioning to its new home-port of Xiamen for the remainder of the season.

Royal Caribbean’s President and CEO, Michael Bayley said “Cruising has become very popular for Chinese consumers and Royal Caribbean is already capturing their imaginations with our industry-leading cruise ships. We are furthering our commitment by bringing two of the world’s newest and most advanced Quantum-class cruise ships to the region. In addition, we are significantly expanding our investment in the training and employment of Chinese talent so they can join us in delivering our amazing and distinctive vacations to Chinese travellers.”

In addition to committing ships to the region, Royal Caribbean also invested in creating a curriculum with the Tianjin Maritime College in August 2014 in order to attract, train and employ more Chinese talent. Students are instructed in the skills needed for a successful culinary or restaurant service career with Royal Caribbean. The company has hired more than 3,000 graduates so far and hopes to expand the program to accept more students and work with colleges in other Chinese cities.

Royal Caribbean is also investigating potential Chinese dry-dock facilities to revitalise Legend of the Seas as early as 2018 as well as potential logistics centres in China to supply its ships deployed in the region.

The three itineraries from Southampton will go on sale tomorrow (26 March) while the summer 2016 Asia adventures will open for booking in August 2015.

(Photo credit to Royal Caribbean)