Baoshan cruising to world status
Shanghai’s former iron and steel production center in the north is about to become China’s first demonstration zone for cruise liner tourism.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has given an official nod to the city to create the nation’s first “cruise liner tourism development demonstration zone.”
Since the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Baoshan District opened in October 2011, Shanghai has become the biggest port for cruise liners in Asia and overtook Barcelona to become the world’s fourth largest in 2016.
Thanks to Wusongkou, China is now the second largest cruise liner destination after the United States, by passenger numbers.
The new title, an upgrade of the previous “experimental zone” gained in 2012, will become a milestone for the city’s cruise liner industry and help to make “great leaps” on policy innovation, influence scope, growth potential and service standard, the city government said on Tuesday.
The world’s leading cruise liner companies, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, MSC and Genting, have deployed their biggest, newest or most high-tech cruise liners to the Chinese market. Shanghai has become home port for a group of new cruise liners from industry leaders.
This year, the 135,500-ton Costa Venezia, the largest cruise liner from Costa Cruises, and tailor-made for the Chinese market, and the 168,000-ton Spectrum of the Sea from Royal Caribbean International have set off from the Wusongkou terminal.
MSC Cruise will operate its MSC Bellissima from the Baoshan port around 2020, while Costa, Star Cruises and Royal Caribbean plan to base brand-new vessels at the Baoshan port around 2021, said Wang Bin, director of Baoshan’s waterfront development and construction management service center.
“These flagship vessels are expected to bring new vitality to the already dynamic cruise industry,” Wang said.
In January, three of the world’s newest luxury cruise liners — the Majestic Princess, the Norwegian Joy and MSC Splendida — berthed at Wusongkou, a first for the terminal.
It received some 26,000 inbound and outbound passengers that day, more than any other cruise liner port in Asia.
Shanghai has one of the world's largest onshore electricity systems to power the liners while berthed to cut air pollution. It also has the world's first maritime traffic management center for cruise liners.
The city aims to create a “China Standard” for cruise liner port construction as well as drive the international cruise liner economy to the “China Era,” according to the Shanghai government.
To further expand the capacity of Asia’s largest cruise liner port, the Wusongkou terminal has opened two new terminal buildings.
Their 55,000 square meters allow the Wusongkou terminal to receive some 6 million passengers a year, more than double the number in 2018.
A 620-meter-long new approach bridge and a riverside berth covering 82,000 square meters have also been built to boost capacity and services. Extra electric generators have been installed to power the liners while berthed.
The dock has been extended to 1.6 kilometers along the Yangtze River from the original 770 meters to cater to two cruise liners of over 150,000 tons each and another two of over 220,000 tons each at the same time.
“The capacity of the Wusongkou terminal has been doubled with the newly opened facilities, and its services will also reach the world’s top standards for passengers from both home and abroad,” said Su Ping, deputy director of the Baoshan District government.
First liner to Shanghai
Shanghai received 59 international cruise liners and more than 80,000 passengers in 2006 when the Costa Allegra became the first holiday cruise liner to dock at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal.
Traffic surged to 466 ships and nearly 3 million passengers last year, accounting for nearly 60 percent of China’s total number of cruise liner passengers.
To serve the larger number of passengers to the terminal at the mouth of the Yangtze River, the district’s transport authority has also been expanding road access. The 2-kilometer Binjiang Boulevard connecting the cruise liner terminal, long-distance bus stations and riverside parks will open soon.
Apart from the large number of passengers, the city is also looking at the whole industrial chain of the cruise liner industry.
The Baoshan government has signed a letter of intent with the China State Shipbuilding Corp, the nation’s largest shipbuilder, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to develop the Shanghai CSSC International Cruise Industrial Park in Baoshan.
Meanwhile, China State Shipping Corp Ltd has reached an agreement with US-based Carnival Corp and Fincantieri for six large-scale cruise liners.
Under the scheme, China’s first domestically developed luxury cruise liner is expected to set off on its maiden voyage from Baoshan by 2023.
The Wusongkou terminal also offers high standard and quality services to cruise liners and companies from around the world. Currently, over 50 cruise liner companies, including Costa Cruise Lines and MSC Cruises, are operating in Baoshan.
Baoshan plans a riverside commercial complex covering 250,000 square meters and duty-free stores around the Wusongkou terminal to showcase the city’s “shopping” brand. It will comprise sightseeing tourist offices, a shopping center themed on aerial and marine explorations and a five-star business and leisure hotel.
As a highlight, the first duty-free store for arrival passengers on the mainland will open at the Wusongkou cruise liner port in November during the second China International Import Expo.