Cruise chief plots new wave of suc­cess

For­mer ath­lete sees tide of change ahead

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS COMPANIES - By XIE YU in Shang­hai xieyu@chi­nadaily.com.cn ADAM GOLD­STEIN

Adam Gold­stein was a for­mi­da­ble ath­lete but he had to give up track pur­suits be­cause of a back in­jury.

None­the­less, the for­mer mid­dle-dis­tance run­ner knows bet­ter than most the value of be­ing pre­pared, men­tally and phys­i­cally, for any course life throws at you.

His com­pany is rid­ing a wave of suc­cess, based on cruise lin­ers, and not sur­pris­ingly has made a splash among Chi­nese pas­sen­gers.

“China is al­ready our third- largest mar­ket in the world, be­hind the US and the UK, which is amaz­ing, and we be­lieve it will grow even more,” said Gold­stein, pres­i­dent and CEO of Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, the world’s lead­ing cruise com­pany. The com­pany was founded in the US in 1968.

The num­ber of em­bark­ing pas­sen­gers at Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional China home-port sail­ings quadru­pled to 115,000 last year from 25,000 in 2010.

It is ex­pected to wel­come guest num­ber 300,000 in China this year.

It will take some time for China to re­place the US as the big­gest mar­ket, but it is very likely that it will re­place the UK in five years, Gold­stein said.

The com­pany in­tro­duced the 138,000ton Mariner of The Seas to Shang­hai in June, and it docked at the Wu­songkou In­ter­na­tional Cruise Ter­mi­nal in Baoshan, its new home­port.

Three times as big as the Ti­tanic, the 15-deck su­per lux­ury liner is the new­est and dis­places the most wa­ter in Asia. Equipped with 17 bars, cafes and lounges, it can ac­com­mo­date 3,807 pas­sen­gers. More a float­ing city than a ship.

This is the sec­ond big ship that Royal Caribbean has in­tro­duced to China. With Shang­hai as its home port, the ship sails the seas to South Korea, Ja­pan and Tai­wan.

“When we first came to China in 2008, and talked about 2,000 peo­ple get­ting on in Shang­hai and get­ting off in South Korea, no one be­lieved it,” Gold­stein re­called.

Im­pres­sisve

For most Chi­nese peo­ple, the term cruis­ing brings to mind ferry trips on the Yangtze River with ba­sic on-board ameni­ties.

Zhang Jin, deputy man­ager of the cruise depart­ment, Shang­hai Air­lines Tours, has seen the pas­sen­gers re­act when they board the liner for the first time.

“It def­i­nitely wows them when they board the big lav­ish fancy Amer­i­canstyle ship, spoiled by recre­ations rang­ing from ice skat­ing to golf. There is a great va­ri­ety of food and drink avail­able,” Zhang said.

“Al­most all the big travel agen­cies in Shang­hai have set up cruise di­vi­sions.’’

The com­pany has in­vested $20 mil­lion to re­fur­bish the Mariner of The Seas, in­clud­ing ex­pand­ing the shop­ping ar­cade.

The com­pany re­al­ized that Chi­nese cus­tomers want to buy top-brand prod­ucts on board, and de­mand the best.

“Clearly, Chi­nese are very in­ter­ested in shop­ping, more than most. The de­ci­sion ( ren­o­vat­ing the shop­ping area) was made based on feed­back from the Chi­nese cus­tomers,” said Gold­stein.

More­over, to make Chi­nese cus­tomers more com­fort­able, signs in Chi­nese and there are many Chi­nese speak­ers among the crew.

“We want them to ex­pe­ri­ence new things, we want them to try Western food, to en­joy the ice skat­ing show, but we also want to make them com­fort­able,” said Gold­stein.

Full steam ahead

Royal Caribbean op­er­ates two world­class ships in China, with Shang­hai as their home­port.

“Shang­hai is vi­tally im­por­tant to our busi­ness and the mar­ket is grow­ing,’’ said Gold­stein.

Ac­cord­ing to the 2013 Shang­hai Cruise Tourism Fes­ti­val, Wu­songkou In­ter­na­tional Cruise Ter­mi­nal is the largest in Asia and re­ceived 120 cruise ships and 285,000 pas­sen­gers in 2012. This year 256 in­ter­na­tional cruise lin­ers are ex­pected to berth here, with 608,000 pas­sen­gers dis­em­bark­ing.

Shen Xiaosu, deputy di­rec­tor of the city’s Ur­ban Con­struc­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion, said Shang­hai should “take the op­por­tu­nity as in­comes surge and fur­ther nur­ture the cruise mar­ket by build­ing the city into an im­por­tant home­port for ma­jor lin­ers”.

How­ever, Shang­hai is fac­ing ma­jor com­pe­ti­tion from other coastal des­ti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Tian­jin, Qing­dao, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore.

For Gold­stein, he is more than ex­cited to see the com­pe­ti­tion and look­ing for­ward to de­velop more cruise lin­ers with the ports.

“We are very pleased that cities in­clud­ing Shang­hai, Tian­jin, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore built th­ese fan­tas­tic ports. Ev­ery one of the cities had se­ri­ous lim­i­ta­tions just a few years ago, and now they are build­ing some of the great­est cruise ter­mi­nals in the world,” he said.

As for Shang­hai, it is im­por­tant to strengthen con­nec­tions with South Korea, Ja­pan and even Rus­sia, so that we can bring new ships, more ships, big­ger ships, he added.

Hong Kong will prob­a­bly ben­e­fit, in weather terms, from the early spring and late fall.

But Shang­hai is go­ing to do well no mat­ter what Hong Kong does, based on the im­mense mar­ket here, Gold­stein said.

And the sea­sons in China and Aus­tralia are well suited in terms of cruis­ing.

The Asian cruise mar­ket to­day is sim­i­lar to the US in the 1980s.

Asians now take about 1.5 mil­lion cruises a year, sim­i­lar to the 1.4 mil­lion in US some 30 years ago. The num­ber of US voy­agers has grown to about 12 mil­lion, and Asia ac­counts for only 6 to 7 per­cent of the world’s to­tal cruises.

When you look at the in­come and wealth growth in China, es­pe­cially in the coastal cities, we be­lieve the po­ten­tial is huge. We also want to in­tro­duce Royal Caribbean to in­land cities, he added.

Fo­cus

The com­pany, which has fo­cused on des­ti­na­tions within Asia for Chi­nese cus­tomers, will even­tu­ally seek to take them to dis­tant shores, such as Europe.

The global cruise mar­ket is es­ti­mated to grow 4.5 per­cent this year to $36.2 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try data and anal­y­sis provider Cruise Mar­ket Watch.

Mean­while, world gi­ants are fo­cus­ing on the China mar­ket.

Star Cruises an­nounced that Xi­a­men will be its new home­port for three new itin­er­ar­ies from Oc­to­ber. Costa Cruises said it will of­fer the first roundtrip world cruise from China next year. The Costa At­lantica will de­part Shang­hai on March 22 on an 83-day cruise.

“Cruis­ing, as a new prod­uct in China, has a mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion that is still very low when com­pared to other mar­kets we op­er­ate in,” said Gianni Ono­rato, pres­i­dent of Costa Crociere, the par­ent com­pany of Costa Cruises.

“It is not easy to pre­dict how big the China mar­ket will be in 10 or 20 years.’’ How do you spend your week­ends?

Read­ing emails for work, run­ning, fam­ily meals and watch­ing sports on TV. What are your hob­bies?

Run­ning and ta­ble ten­nis. What is the say­ing that you like the most and why?

“Train or miss the train”, mean­ing if you want to be suc­cess­ful at work or in sports you need to ex­press your ded­i­ca­tion ev­ery day. Who is your icon?

There isn’t one per­son. I ad­mire any­one who achieves suc­cess with­out sac­ri­fic­ing ei­ther their per­sonal or pro­fes­sional in­tegrity. What book are you read­ing now?

I read mag­a­zines more than books, es­pe­cially news mag­a­zines. Over­all my fa­vorite books are the Lord of the Rings tril­ogy. What is your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness?

A healthy and happy fam­ily, sat­is­fied Royal Caribbean guests and share­hold­ers, run­ning 1,500 me­ters un­der 5 min­utes, the Philadel­phia Ea­gles win­ning the Su­per Bowl. What is your great­est fear?

Ill health. What is the qual­ity you most ad­mire in a man?

De­ter­mi­na­tion. What do you value the most in your friends?

Con­sis­tency. What do you dis­like most about your ap­pear­ance?

Not enough hair. What do you con­sider your great­est achieve­ment?

Be­ing part of a Prince­ton Univer­sity eight man boat crew that won the Head of the Charles re­gatta in 1978. What is your most trea­sured pos­ses­sion?

My chil­dren. What kind of “green” life­style do you have?

I drive a hy­brid car and be­long to a lead­er­ship group that is try­ing to ac­cel­er­ate the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of road trans­port. It’s an up­hill bat­tle but we’re push­ing hard. Name the places in China that most im­pressed and those you want to ex­plore?

I love the en­ergy of Shang­hai and en­joyed the World Expo. I also en­joyed vis­it­ing Bei­jing and see­ing the Great Wall on a beau­ti­ful day. So far I have only been to the big coastal cities. I’m look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing Xi’an. What’s the best way to break the ice with a Chi­nese busi­ness­man?

I try to make peo­ple laugh every­where in the world, in­clud­ing in China. What three words would de­scribe your im­pres­sion of Chi­nese busi­ness­men?

In­formed. Con­fi­dent. Am­bi­tious. What kind of ex­pe­ri­ence has shaped your thoughts the most?

Study­ing for my MBA in Europe and trav­el­ing the world for busi­ness and plea­sure has been my most mean­ing­ful ed­u­ca­tion.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Far des­ti­na­tions beckon for the cruise in­dus­try as the China mar­ket sails into new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

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