Fulfilling her dream, one cruise at a time
The vice president and GM of Princess Cruises China shares why the job is perfect for her and how the cruise liner intends to tackle the booming Chinese market
More than 30 years ago, Cherry Wang told her junior high school teacher that her dream in life was to travel around the world. Today, the 48-year-old has found herself doing just that. In fact, she’s even getting paid to do so.
“I’ve been to many countries but there are still many places that I have yet to travel to. In this sense, traveling around the world will always be my dream,” said Wang, vice-president and general manager of Carnival plc China.
Wang is responsible for the business operations of Princess Cruises.
Carnival Corporation and Carnival plc form Carnival Corp & plc, the world’s largest travel and leisure company. The other cruise brands under the corporation include P&O Cruises, Seabourn, Costa Cruises and the Carnival Cruise Line.
Before entering the cruise industry in 2005, Wang had worked in the tourism industry and at various hotels and multinational companies. She admits that working in the cruise industry has somewhat rubbed off on her as she has been taking yearly cruises with her family ever since.
“There are some places that cannot be reached by plane, such as Alaska, which is now my favorite destination. It is a place that can calm you down and purify your mind,” she said.
Since making her first trip to Alaska in 2005, Wang has returned to the American state five times. She is planning for another trip this May.
Princess Cruises has been rapidly expanding since it entered the China market in 2014. It currently operates 18 ships that carry 1.7 million guests to more than 360 destinations around the world every year.
Passengers of the cruise line are also spoilt for choice with the more than 150 itineraries that range from between three and 114 days.
This year, the cruise ship company launched a new homeport in Xiamen, Fujian province and looks poised to debut the 143,000-ton Majestic Princess next year at their Shanghai homeport.
The cruise liner has the ever-growing Chinese market to thank for its phenomenal development. In 2015, cruise travelers from China’s homeports totaled 1.11 million,
Cherry Wang, crossing the 1-million barrier for the first time, according to the 2015 China Cruise Industry Development Report published in late February this year. Throughout 2015, China’s 10 cruise ports received a total of 539 homeporting cruise calls, representing a year-onyear growth of 47 percent.
The total number of cruise ship travelers in China in 2015 had also soared 44 percent from the previous year to 1.24 million (or 2.48 million passenger trips) and the number of homeport Chinese travelers surged 50 percent to 1.11 million (or 2.22 million passenger trips) during the same period.
Like its international counterparts, Princess Cruises has also made Shanghai its most important homeport. As many as 320 homeport cruise calls and nearly 1.6 million homeport passenger trips were made in Shanghai throughout 2015.
Cheng Juehao, a deputy professor from the Shanghai Maritime University also forecast that Shanghai’s ranking among the top 10 global homeports is likely to jump two spot to sixth this year.
“The rapidly growing number of Chinese cruise passengers calls for the arrival of high-end cruise products,” said Wang, explaining why the company decided to launch the Majestic Princess, a cruise vessel that can carry 3,600 passengers and is designed to attract more affluent Chinese tourists.
Wang said the cruise line has consistently created customized offerings for local customers in the past two years, including Chinese speaking crews, local cuisine native to various Chinese homeports and even tai chi workouts.
“We worked with our chefs to design menus that best fit the palates of our Chinese guests. We believed that a variety of meat, seafood and vegetables simmered in soup stocks crafted using traditional Chinese methods will be a great option,” said Wang. Princess Cruises started to offer hotpot at their Chinese homeport trips since 2014.
Wang is confident of success in the China market as the growing middle-class in the country will naturally demand for better quality travel products as their spending power increases. However, she noted that cruises liners will still need to pay special attention to the unique sentiments of local consumers.
For instance, Chinese travelers do not usually have long vacations, and this means that cruise liners will have to design travel itineraries that fit the bill. According to Wang, the majority of Princess Cruises’ offerings to Chinese customers are short trips, such as those to South Korea and Japan, that span just four to six days.
Although cruise trips are becoming more widely accepted among Chinese travelers as compared to a decade ago, Wang concedes that the industry is still in the nascent stage and there are still numerous challenges ahead.
“It was extremely difficult to get work started a decade ago because we lacked knowledge of this special traveling solution. But I kept telling myself that a product will sell as long as it is good enough,” she said.
It was extremely difficult to get work started a decade ago because we lacked knowledge of this special traveling solution. But I kept telling myself that a product will sell as long as it is good enough.”
vice-president and general manager of Carnival plc China
Cherry Wang, vice-president and general manager of Carnival plc China, says that the group's upcoming Majestic Princess cruise liner is aimed at China’s affluent travelers.