Cruise operators ready to sail for rebound as COVID tide turns
Amid relaxed COVID-19 prevention rules in China, cruise operators are ready to set sail in the new year with localized strategies, eyeing a rebound in the domestic tourism market.
The itineraries of cruise tours were mainly outbound tours before the COVID-19 pandemic even as the domestic luxury cruise market has shown great potential, tourism analysts said.
China Merchants Viking Cruises has announced its routes and strategies for 2023 to lure Chinese tourists.
It is not just the magnificent scenery along China's coastlines that have inspired the cruise routes' design but also numerous national cultural gems, the luxury cruise ship operator said.
One of the routes lasting eight days starts from either Shanghai or Shenzhen and the other two legs are Xiamen and Zhoushan.
It will take passengers to savor the glamour of China's intangible cultural heritages and Buddhist art, and appreciate the charming coastal scenery.
In Xiamen, Fujian Province, tourists will be able to explore the integration of traditional stone sculpture techniques and painting art, and experience "embroidery on stones." An architecture trip revealing stories behind houses on the island of Gulangyu, a mecca of piano virtuosity, a vegetarian feast featuring 24 Solar Term elements, a cultural trip about tulou (earthen houses), and a journey into Anxi Tieguanyin Tea Garden are also among the offerings.
Zhoushan, in the northeast of Zhejiang Province, is known as the "city of a thousand islands," and is also China's only city based on islands.
In Zhoushan, a fishing trip with local fishermen and a Zen retreat on Putuo Mountain will be arranged to enrich travelers' experiences.
Another route strings the popular resort city of Sanya, Hailing Island in Yangjiang City, and Shenzhen, and passengers will explore the secrets of Nanhai No. 1 cargo ship, a sunken ship from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) at the Maritime Silk Road Museum, learn the old technique of kite making, get close to the culture of the Li ethnic minority, and enjoy a helicopter trip in Sanya.
The ship has installed ventilation and purification facilities in rooms and public areas and deploys ultraviolet robots for disinfection.
As of November, 375 cruise ships of 85 brands globally had resumed operation, accounting for 86 percent of the total, a report on the cruise ship industry's development by the China Tourism Automobile and Cruise Association and the Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute revealed recently.
It is estimated that the global cruise industry will welcome a full recovery no later than 2023, according to the report.
The number of cruise tourists is estimated to grow 12 percent by 2026 from 2019 globally, it added.
The number of cruise ship construction orders have been scheduled until 2027, reflecting the confidence of cruise operators and the brilliant future of the global cruise industry's development, the report noted.