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Cruise Ship Company Eyes Growing Chinese Market
   2015-06-28 19:59:42    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li

One of the world's largest cruise ship operators Costa Cruises makes a push to attract more customers from China. [Photo: CFP]

Costa Cruises, one of the world's largest cruise ship operators, is making a push to try to attract more customers from China.

CRI's Qian Shanming has more.

 

"It's really relaxing, this style of holiday. On the boat your (phone) signal might not be very good, so it's a different way of living, not looking at your phone every day. It's like a utopia. Very relaxing."

"This is the first time we've been on a cruise because we're giving it a go, seeing what it's like."

Thousands of eager tourists, young and old, are queuing to board the 'Costa Serena' which offers 3,780 capacities.

'Costa Serena' is the third ship based at Shanghai added to the fleet of Costa Cruises, which is owned by Carnival, the world's biggest cruise company.

James Roy, an Associate Principal at China Market Research Group, says the Chinese market is promising.

"Tourism overall originating from China and going overseas is still continuing to grow well ahead of the overall economy and ahead of retail sales. Outbound trips increased about 16 percent, outbound spending increased about 18 percent (in 2014). The cruise industry itself is growing much faster than that."

According to a recent report from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), between 2012 and 2014 Chinese passengers increased 79 percent per year.

In light of this, the US-based Carnival has announced to add a fourth ship next year to accommodate the rapidly growing market in China.

James Roy with the China Market Research Group said infrastructure is also underway to better facilitate the business.

"Billions of dollars are being spent on infrastructure all up and down the Chinese coast. Every major city, as well as many minor cities, have very large, new expensive cruise terminals."

Aside from Costa's fleet of ships, Royal Caribbean - the world's second biggest cruise operator - is set to move a brand new 'Quantum of the Seas' cruise ship to Shanghai.

But, while companies position themselves to fully exploit the growth of China's middle-class, it's not all smooth sailing.

Some Chinese travellers say it takes a while to adapt to this specific style of travel.

Unlike many passengers in the US or Europe, Chinese cruise travellers tend to be younger and therefore have less holiday time away from their jobs.

Buhdy Bok, President of Costa Asia, says they're adapting to the needs of Chinese customers.

"Based on the fact that the holidays that an average Chinese is able - or middle-class Chinese - is able to take is relatively short. Shorter cruises tend to be more popular, those four-day, five-day cruises tend to be more popular."

Teething problems aside, with rising tides of Chinese cruise passengers, international and domestic cruise operators appear to be here to stay.

For CRI, I'm Qian Shanming. 

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