Set to sail in Novem­ber

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By QI­UQUAN­LIN in Guangzhou qi­uquan­lin@chi­

Gent­ing Hong Kong Ltd, the global leisure, en­ter­tain­ment and hos­pi­tal­ity cor­po­ra­tion, has an­nounced de­tails of its maiden cruises, de­signed specif­i­cally for high-spend­ing Chi­nese trav­el­ers.

Its in­au­gu­ral ship to op­er­ate out of China, the Gent­ing Dream, is set to sail in Novem­ber from its home­port of Guangzhou (Nan­sha Port), ac­cord­ing to Thatcher Brown, pres­i­dent of the com­pany’s Dream Cruises brand.

The ship will of­fer two- to five-night cruises to Hong Kong, Da Nang and Ha­long Bay in Viet­nam, as well as Sanya in Hainan prov­ince.

Its sis­ter ship, the World Dream, will be­gin op­er­a­tions 2017, he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the China Cruises and Yacht In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion, the coun­try’s 10 ma­jor ports han­dled 629 cruise ships in 2015, a 35 per­cent an­nual in­crease, with about 1.24 mil­lion Chi­nese cruise pas­sen­gers trav­el­ing overseas.

The po­ten­tially huge Chi­nese cruise-ship mar­ket has al­ready at­tracted an in­creas­ing num­ber of lux­ury for­eign oper­a­tors, in­clud­ing Bri­tish/Amer­i­canowned Ital­ian cruise line Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, which have both ex­panded their lo­cal of­fer­ings in re­cent years.

Gent­ing Hong Kong es­tab­lished its first brand Star Cruises in 1993, and has


late built a strong rep­u­ta­tion for top-class Asian hos­pi­tal­ity.

Its ex­pan­sion plans in Chi­nese main­land in­clude fur­ther moves into Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince, and a base in Sanya, of­fer­ing ser­vices geared specif­i­cally to ap­peal to Chi­nese trav­el­ers, said Brown.

The Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore-listed firm bought Crystal Cruises, which has been dubbed by some the world’s most-awarded lux­ury cruise line, in May last year and now plans rapid ex­pan­sion over the next three years, he said.

Edie Ro­driguez, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Crystal Cruises, added: “As wealthy trav­el­ers from China emerge as the dom­i­nant force in the travel in­dus­try, we see great op­por­tu­ni­ties in de­liv­er­ing them our lux­ury ser­vices.”

Her firm’s ex­pan­sion plans in­clude var­i­ous new classes of ves­sel in­clud­ing yachts and river boats, and of­fer­ing ocean/flight travel com­bi­na­tions.

“We are ex­tremely happy more wealthy Chi­nese peo­ple are tak­ing cruises,” said Ro­driguez.

She said Crystal Cruises ex­pects its share of Chi­nese trav­el­ers to dou­ble from 2 per­cent in 2015 to 4 per­cent this year, de­scrib­ing the Chi­nese mar­ket as key to its fu­ture growth as more wealthy peo­ple emerge in the coun­try.

“It has been won­der­ful to wit­ness the ex­cite­ment and en­thu­si­asm from our China travel part­ners for Crystal’s ex­pan­sion in lux­ury travel and hos­pi­tal­ity,” she said.

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