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.
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.
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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.