HOL­I­DAYS ON THE WA­TER Ma­jes­ticPrincess

Has set sail from Shang­hai. The cruise ship of­fers a num­ber of fea­tures for Chi­nese tourists so that they can en­joy some­thing fa­mil­iar on board. re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

As more Chi­nese en­joy cruises with their fam­i­lies, many over­seas cruise brands are eyeing the Chi­nese mar­ket with new lux­ury ves­sels.

Ma­jes­tic Princess, which is cus­tom­ized for Chi­nese tourists, re­cently started oper­a­tions from its home port, Shang­hai.

The ship, which has a ca­pac­ity of 3,560 guests, of­fers a num­ber of fea­tures for Chi­nese tourists so that they can en­joy some­thing fa­mil­iar on board.

It has en­ter­tain­ment, which is pop­u­lar in China, such as well-dec­o­rated karaoke rooms and mahjong, be­sides soya milk and tra­di­tional Chi­nese tea. Also, guests can get iced bub­ble tea from Gong Cha, a pop­u­lar fran­chise in China.

Speak­ing about the fa­cil­i­ties, Arnold Don­ald, the pres­i­dent and CEO of Car­ni­val Corp, which owns the Cal­i­for­nia-based cruise brand Princess Cruises, says: “Tourists al­ways want a few things that are fa­mil­iar, but they are also in­ter­ested in learn­ing new things. And the Princess is about an in­ter­na­tional cruise ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Cruises are about ex­pe­ri­ences on a ship. They are about the des­ti­na­tions that the cruise will take you to. Peo­ple travel to see places and ex­pe­ri­ence things that they don’t get at home,” he says.

Those who travel with chil­dren can leave them in the youth and teen cen­ters, so they can en­joy other ac­tiv­i­ties on board.

In the day­time, guests can sam­ple food from home and abroad in 22 restau­rants and bars.

And while tak­ing in the sea view at the win­dow seats, they can sa­vor dishes pre­pared by two Miche­lin star chefs at the French restau­rant La Mer and the Chi­nese restau­rant Har­mony Spe­cialty.

They can also walk on an 18-me­ter-long glass walk­way and shop at duty-free out­lets selling lux­ury brands, such as Cartier in an area of about 1,100 square me­ters.

At night, trav­el­ers can watch the Las Ve­gas-style show, Fan- tas­tic Jour­ney, that cost $6 bil­lion to pro­duce.

Speak­ing about the guests’ pro­files, Wang Ping, the vi­cepres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of Princess Cruises China, says: “A lot of Chi­nese guests on Princess Cruises are from Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Guangzhou. But we also have po­ten­tial mar­kets in thir­dand fourth-tier Chi­nese cities.”

She adds that the cruise brand has three home ports in China — Shang­hai, Tian­jin and Xi­a­men — but is look­ing for more op­por­tu­ni­ties. She em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of good ties with travel agen­cies, with the help of whom they are able to at­tract more Chi­nese busi­ness.

Speak­ing about mar­ket­ing, Don­ald says: “Sum­mer means va­ca­tion time be­cause chil­dren are not in school. So, our mar­ket­ing strat­egy is straight­for­ward — to pri­or­i­tize China.

“We do con­ven­tional ad­ver­tis­ing as well as broad­cast on so­cial me­dia.”

Last year, 122 mil­lion Chi­nese tourists trav­eled over­seas, up 4.3 per­cent com­pared with 2015.

And in 2016, the num­ber of out­bound cruise pas­sen­gers from China was a record 2.12 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to Don­ald, this means that in China, those who travel over­seas on cruises ac­count for about 1.6 per­cent of the coun­try’s over­all out­bound trav­el­ers. So, many Chi­nese tourists still haven’t done a cruise yet.

“China is a huge mar­ket. Our big­gest chal­lenge is work­ing ef­fec­tively with the dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem, to help them tap the de­mand for cruises,” he says.

In 1995, Don­ald cruised with about 50 mem­bers of his ex­tended fam­ily — the old­est was over 80 and the youngest was 3. It was be­fore he en­tered the cruise in­dus­try.

“Some of them had never trav­eled out­side their home city. All of us had a fan­tas­tic time, and at the same time ev­ery­body could pur­sue the things they were in­ter­ested in. We could do what­ever we wanted and still be to­gether,” he says.

Speak­ing about the com­pany’s plans for China, he says: “China is the largest out­bound mar­ket in the world. And we are con­vinced that it will be the l argest cruise mar­ket in the world. We just want to be a part of that and a part of mak­ing that hap­pen.”

In 2015, Car­ni­val formed a joint ven­ture with China State Ship­build­ing Corp and China In­vest­ment Corp to cre­ate a Chi­nese cruise brand.

The joint ven­ture’s first ship is ex­pected to be ready in 2023.

Con­tact the writer at xulin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Ma­jes­ticPrincess, with a ca­pac­ity of 3,560 guests, is cus­tom­ized for Chi­nese tourists. The newly launched ship of­fers a va­ri­ety of ex­pe­ri­ences on board and des­ti­na­tions along the cruise’s routes.

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