NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The voyage to China next year for Royal Caribbean's ( RCL) new 168,688 gross ton " smartship" Quantum of the Seas may be a little cheaper because of the plunge in crude oil prices.
The combination of a lower fuel bill for the ship, and others in the company's fleet, as well as the sales opportunities from the emerging Chinese cruise market could lead to some strong earnings reports in 2015 and 2016.
Initial "sales (bookings) are very good" for the Quantum of the Seas, said a Royal Caribbean executive at a presentation on board the vessel that was attended by TheStreet. The Quantum of the Seas, which cost the company more than $1 billion and took more than three years to construct in Germany, is scheduled to arrive in China by mid-2015. Once there, the ship will sail three to eight-night itineraries year-round from Shanghai to Japan and Korea.
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In a 2013 report, the Asian Cruise Association projected that demand in the area will surge to 3.8 million annual cruisers in 2020, with 1.6 million coming from China alone. By comparison, there are more than 12 million annual cruisers in the U.S.
Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas won't be alone in the Chinese waters in 2015. Rival Carnival (CCL) will have four ships positioned in Mainland China next year, and 12 marketing offices in the region to get the word out on the relatively new concept of cruising.