There is no doubt that the cruise industry has become one of the most actively and rapidly developed segments in the entire tourism and leisure market. In recent years, the global cruise industry has accelerated the pace of transferring from the European and American markets to the Asia-Pacific region with exciting growth rates, especially to China. As the largest component of the Asian market, China is undergoing rapid development in terms of both infrastructure construction and cruise ship/passenger service. In the dual thrust of the national "515" and "The Belt and Road" strategy, China has become the strategic emerging market for international cruise lines. Since the first ocean cruise ship's arrival in 2006, there had been more than 20 homeporting ships from 4 cruise groups (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC and Norwegian) sailing from more than 10 sea ports of China as of 2017. All cruise companies are trying to create competitive and distinctive cruise products and services for Chinese tourists. At present, the emerging market is facing difficulties and challenges on effectively cultivating cruise culture, enlarging the tourist market, and enhancing awareness of cruise product and cruise brand identification. The key is to better understand local tourists' perception of cruise tourism. We collected 1691 cruisers' online comments from www.ctrip.com, the largest OTA in China, on four cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean Cruises, Costa Cruises, Princess Cruises and SkySea Cruises. We analyzed these comments and explored Chinese cruisers' perception of image, emotion and satisfaction for cruise tourism itself and different cruise brands. The data contain both cruisers' review contents and satisfaction scores for six attributes of service: accommodation, shore excursion, dining, entertainment and guide leader. The content analysis shows that for Chinese tourists, cruise tourism is perceived as a leisure vocation with a high level of service, dining, accommodation and entertainment, offering the opportunity of shore excursions, suitable for the family, elderly and children. High-frequency words and relevant semantic networks illustrate that there is no significant difference in perceived image between different cruise lines. The sentiment analysis shows that Chinese cruisers express overall positive and optimistic emotions toward cruise tourism. In addition, results of the satisfaction analysis show that cruisers are strongly satisfied with the cruise features of service, accommodation, dining, entertainment and sports, while weakly satisfied with shore excursion. There is significant difference in dining, accommodation, entertainment and shore activity between brands; no significant difference is found in service and guide leader. Finally, according to the results, some implications and suggestions for promoting the cruise tourism in China are proposed.