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.
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
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.