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

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

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.

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