Fam­i­lies set sail on al­lur­ing cruises

A hol­i­day on the ocean wave is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, es­pe­cially for par­ents. Book­ings rose nearly 50 per­cent year-on-year in July. Yang Feiyue re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at yangfeiyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Lyu Lian has booked a late Au­gust cruise for her fam­ily since the kids are on va­ca­tion. The Bei­jing res­i­dent will travel with her daugh­ter, hus­band, par­ents and her sis­ter’s fam­ily, from Shang­hai to Na­gasaki in Ja­pan aboard a cruise ship op­er­ated by the Florida-head­quar­tered Nor­we­gian Cruise Line.

Lyu says it would be dif­fi­cult and de­mand­ing to keep the fam­ily to­gether if she chose any other means of travel.

“We have al­most 10 peo­ple trav­el­ing to­gether, and tak­ing a cruise al­lows us to spend qual­ity time to­gether,” says Lyu.

The fam­ily group will visit Shang­hai’s Dis­ney­land for two days be­fore board­ing the ship on Aug 22, and re­turn to Bei­jing via Tian­jin.

Many Chi­nese like Lyu are now tak­ing cruises, es­pe­cially those with chil­dren.

Cruise book­ings from the main­land rose nearly 50 per­cent year-on-year in July, China’s big­gest on­line travel agency Ctrip re­ports. And the av­er­age age of Chi­nese cruise trav­el­ers who booked through Ctrip this sum­mer stands at 36.

Par­ent-child trips, such as the one fea­tur­ing a chance to see dol­phins in Yat­sushiro, saw book­ings surg­ing 600 per­cent month-on­month in July.

Yuan Ping, the se­nior sales vi­cepres­i­dent with Hong Kong-based Gent­ing Cruise Line, says: “Our cruises for July and Au­gust sold out.”

The cruise com­pany has ar­ranged spe­cial events for chil­dren, in­clud­ing sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion lec­tures and fenc­ing train­ing, says Yuan.

“Cruises are good op­tions for fam­ily trav­el­ers who have the el­derly and chil­dren with them,” she says, ex­plain­ing that they don’t have to move around check­ing into ho­tels or tak­ing buses, and there is a lot of en­ter­tain­ment to en­sure qual­ity fam­ily time to­gether.

Gent­ing’s ship cur­rently cov­ers Tokyo, Osaka, Fu­jiyama and Kagoshima.

Ctrip’s cruises have also in­te­grated a pen­guin at­trac­tion in Na­gasaki, Uni­ver­sal Stu­dios in Osaka and the aquar­ium in Fukuoka for cruise pas­sen­gers with chil­dren. Chi­nese food is also avail­able. Mean­while, China is the fourth-big­gest cruise mar­ket glob­ally, says a re­port of the Bei­jing­based World Tourism Cities Fed­er­a­tion’s cruis­ing branch.

Chi­nese ports re­ceived 955 cruise ships last year, up 65 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous year, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The re­port also says that China han­dled 4.39 mil­lion cruise pas­sen­gers last year, up 82 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous year, and the coun­try is ex­pected to be­come the sec­ond-big­gest cruise mar­ket in the world, af­ter the United States, by 2020.

The growth of the cruise mar­ket rep­re­sents an in­creas­ing aware­ness of this travel mode, says Liu Xiaolyu, the cruise travel gen­eral man­ager with Ctrip.

Also, new cruise ships and do­mes­tic ports are driv­ing the mar­ket, says Liu.

Many new cruise ships en­tered the Chi­nese mar­ket in July, and this has stim­u­lated trav­eler in­ter­est.

The Nor­we­gian Joy cruise ship be­gan to op­er­ate from Shang­hai on June 27, the Su­per­Star Virgo from Star Cruises launched its maiden voy­age on July 6, and the Ma­jes­tic Princess from Princess Cruises en­tered the Chi­nese mar­ket on July 11.

Th­ese ships, be­sides the Quan­tum of the Sea and Mariner of the Seas, both from Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, and the Costa Ser­ena all of­fer varied ex­pe­ri­ences.

The Nor­we­gian Joy saw the most book­ings for July and Au­gust, with the Ova­tion of the Seas and the Quan­tum of the Sea right be­hind it.

More cruise ports have also made things eas­ier.

Shang­hai and Tian­jin are the main de­par­ture ports, but Xi­a­men in Fu­jian prov­ince, Qing­dao in Shan­dong prov­ince and Shen­zhen in Guang­dong prov­ince, now give trav­el­ers more choices.

Liu says: “Peo­ple used to flock to Shang­hai ear­lier, but many north­ern­ers now opt for Tian­jin.”

Now, trav­el­ers from the south can de­part from Xi­a­men or Shen­zhen, while those from cen­tral and western China can go for ports based on prox­im­ity, says Liu.

Also, ships de­part­ing from Shang­hai, Tian­jin and Qing­dao mostly visit Hon­shu, Kyushu and Shikoku; while those leav­ing southern ports mostly travel to the Ryukyu Is­lands, Viet­nam and Hong Kong.

For now, Na­gasaki, Fukuoka and Nichi­nan are the top three des­ti­na­tions for cruise trav­el­ers, but Ki­takyushu, Yat­sushiro and Kochi are also at­tract­ing trav­el­ers.

For Lyu, the up­com­ing cruise is more about bond­ing.

“It’s rare for us to spend time to­gether, and the cruise will al­low us to do things to­gether,” she says.

It’s rare for us to spend time to­gether, and the cruise will al­low us to do things to­gether.” Lyu Lian, cruise trav­eler

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

China han­dled 4.39 mil­lion cruise pas­sen­gers last year, up 82 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous year. The coun­try is ex­pected to be­come the sec­ond-big­gest cruise mar­ket in the world, af­ter the United States, by 2020.

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