China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Gent­ing Hong Kong has been the pi­o­neer of the Asian cruise industry for long, but it re­ally came into lime­light when it cre­ated Dream Cruises and ac­quired Crys­tal Cruises in 2015, thus be­com­ing a global leisure, en­ter­tain­ment and hos­pi­tal­ity com­pany.

“The Asian cruise mar­ket, es­pe­cially in China, is rapidly grow­ing. We are will­ing to meet the needs of theemerg­ing gen­er­a­tion of con­fi­dent, in­de­pen­dent-minded and af­flu­ent Asian trav­el­ers. through our new brand,” said Thatcher Brown, pres­i­dent of Dream Cruises.

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

“Dream Cruises will spe­cially cater to the large and rapidly grow­ing pre­mium mar­ket in China and Asia,” said Brown.

The po­ten­tial for growth in the huge Chi­nese cruise mar­ket has al­ready at­tracted an in­creas­ing num­ber of luxury for­eign oper­a­tors, in­clud­ing Bri­tish- and Amer­i­can-owned Ital­ian cruise line Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

Gent­ing Hong Kong took on the bold ini­tia­tive to grow the Asia-Pa­cific mar­ket as an international cruise des­ti­na­tion with the found­ing of Star Cruises in 1993, build­ing a strong rep­u­ta­tion for top-class Asian hos­pi­tal­ity.

“In­te­gra­tion of the head com­pany’s ex­pe­ri­ence in luxury cruises over the past 20 yearsan­dun­der­stand­ing of the high-spend­ing Chi­nese trav­el­ers’ need will be a great ad­van­tage for us to cre­ate the new brand,” said Brown.

Dream Cruises, which Brown said is the first-ever Asian luxury cruise line, will in­au­gu­rate its maiden ship, the Gent­ing Dream, in November this year.

The maiden ship is set to sail from its home­port in Nan­sha of Guangzhou, the cap­i­tal of Guang­dong prov­ince, of­fer­ing two- to five-night cruises to Hong Kong, Da Nang and Ha­long Bay in Viet­nam, as well as Sanya in­Hainan prov­ince.

Its sis­ter ship, the World Dream, will be­gin oper­a­tions in­Novem­ber2017, ac­cord­ing to a com­pany source.

Both ships are cur­rently un­der­go­ing fit-outs at Gent­ing HongKong’s newly es­tab­lished Lloy­dWerft Group, which was an in­te­gra­tion of Lloyd Werft ship­yard in Bre­mer­haven and Nordic Yard’s three ship­yards in­Ger­many.

Ac­cord­ing to Gent­ing Hong Kong, the ship­yards will cap­i­tal­ize on the grow­ing de­mand for newcruise ship­san­dreal­ize the com­pany’s global ex­pan­sion plans for its three cruise brands.

Ac­cord­ing to com­pany sources, two mega cruise ships for Star Cruises and eight ves­sels for Crys­tal Cruises will be built ad­di­tion­ally in the ship­yards in the near future, with the first two ships be­ing de­signed with “Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics”, which will be the first pur­pose­built cruise ships to be de­ployed for the Chi­nese mar­ket.

“Gent­ing Dream, with its maiden cruises de­part­ing from Guangzhou, will be a re­sponse to the needs of Chi­nese trav­el­ers, as well as those from greater Asia,” Brown said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the com­pany’s ex­pan­sion plans in the Chi­nese main­land in­clude fur­ther moves into Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince, and a base in Sanya, of­fer­ing ser­vices geared specif­i­cally to ap­peal to Chi­nese trav­el­ers.

Brown said Dream Cruises is aware of what is needed to ex­pand its busi­ness in the highly com­pet­i­tive China mar­ket. The luxury sec­tor has seen the en­try of sev­eral lead­ing international play­ers into the Chi­nese mar­ket over the past fewyears.

“Gent­ing Hong Kong has a his­tory of over 20 years in the luxury cruise industry — that is the DNA for Dream Cruises. And we un­der­stand very well the needs of the Chi­nese trav­el­ers,” Brown told China Daily.

The ship of Gent­ing Dream, 335 me­ters in length and 40 me­ters in width, will fea­ture Chi­nese arts, cui­sine and other on­board en­ter­tain­ment fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Brown.

The ship will in­clude the largest piece of “float­ing art­work” by eminent Chi­nese pop artist Jackie Tsai, who is fa­mous for his work with international fashion de­signer la­bels Alexan­derMcQueen and Shang­hai Tang.

“The ma­jor­ity of our front line staff can speak Chi­nese and we will have Chi­nese spa ser­vices and of­fer the very best of Chi­nese re­gional, Asian and international cui­sine,” he said.

The cruise ticket is priced from 999 yuan ($152.3) to 4,999 yuan per night, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view with China Daily, Edie Ro­driguez, pres­i­dent of Crys­tal Cruises, said wealthy trav­el­ers from China have emerged as the dom­i­nant force in the travel industry.

“We see great op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­liver luxury cruise ser­vices to them,” Ro­driguez said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ro­driguez, Crys­tal Cruises’ share of Chi­nese trav­el­ers will dou­ble from 2 per­cent in 2015 to 4 per­cent this year.

Gent­ing Hong Kong, which is listed in both­HongKon­gand Sin­ga­pore, bought Crys­tal Cruises in May last year. The lat­ter is re­garded as the world’s most-awarded luxury cruise line.

“We will launch new classes of ves­sels, in­clud­ing yachts and river boats, and of­fer ocean and flight travel-like ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to Ctrip, one of China’s lead­ing on­line travel agen­cies, more than 2 mil­lion Chi­nese pas­sen­gers will travel over­seas­by­cruises in2017, with des­ti­na­tions cov­er­ing Ja­pan, South Korea, South­east Asia, Europe and theUnited States.

The Asian cruise mar­ket, es­pe­cially in China, is rapidly grow­ing.”

Guangzhou Sanya Haikou Xi­a­men * = Not avail­able Source: China Cruise & Yacht Industry As­so­ci­a­tion Dalian Yan­tai Qing­dao Zhoushan Shang­hai SU JINGBO AND WANG XIAOYING / CHINA DAILY

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