What big business insiders are saying

Yang Jian
Top executives from the world's major cruise lines, government officials and industry stakeholders focus on the development of shipbuilding and improving the services in Baoshan.
Yang Jian

Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific, the region’s leading cruise industry event, was held in Baoshan between October 9 and 11, featuring the latest developments in China’s cruise industry via exhibitions, forums and exchanges.

Top executives from the world’s major cruise lines, government officials and industry stakeholders have been focusing on the development of shipbuilding and improving the services at Baoshan’s Wusongkou cruise terminal.

This year’s congress focuses on “expanding Asia’s cruise market through sustainable growth.” The speakers stage discussions of the current position of the Asian market, the challenges facing the region and the next steps for ensuring sustainable growth. The conference also provides a unique opportunity to delve into individual trends and sectors across several key areas of the Asian cruise market.

It is the fourth time Baoshan has hosted the Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific conference. The first congress in this district was held in 2016.

Andrew Williams

General Manager of the Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific Congress

Asia continues to be the cruise industry’s third largest market source after North America and Europe.

Cruise Lines International Association released figures showing a record-high of 4.24 million Asian people taking an ocean cruise in 2018, an increase of 4.6 percent a year.

Within the global ocean cruise passenger share, Asia accounted for 14.8 percent in 2018, a slight drop on the previous year. The Chinese mainland continues to top the sourcing chart in the region, accounting for 55.8 percent of all Asian passengers. This is despite the market going through a period of adjustment with a mar­ginal 1.6 percent decline in passenger numbers.

After more than 10 years of rapid development, the China cruise scene has completely changed the global cruise tourism map: It is now the larg­est source market in Asia, and the second largest globally.

The Chinese mainland is also on a positive road in becoming a cruise shipbuilding hub. The first “Made in China” ship, Greg Mortimer, built by China Merchants Heavy Industries, was handed over this year, and there are another nine cruise ships planned for Chinese yards between 2020- 2025. Cruise lines in general remain confident in the market. In fact, Costa Cruises, Royal Carib­bean International and MSC Cruises have added new ships to the market.

New this year, Costa Venezia, designed for the Asian market, set off from Italy in March 2019. Following the trip of the Italian explorer Marco Polo, it first called in on Singapore and eventually reached its new home Shanghai. Its sister ship Costa Firenze, which is currently under construc­tion at Fincantieri’s Marghera yard and is sched­uled to be launched in October 2020, will also be dedicated to serve the China market.

MSC Bellissima, the line’s second Meraviglia-class ship, will be deployed in Asia in spring 2020. The ship will be MSC Cruises’ newest flagship in the region and will be based in Shanghai and serve its home market. Royal Caribbean’s Spec­trum of the Seas was named in Shanghai in June 2019. It is the first Quantum-Ultra ship and is cus­tomized for the China market.

China, and Shanghai in particular, is sparing no effort to fully boost the cruise sector and de­velop the upstream and downstream supply and service chain as well as upgrade the facilities at Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal. An in­bound duty-free shop will open at the end of this year, covering 1,700 square meters, one of each at the two passenger terminal buildings.

Liu Zinan

Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Asia

2019 marks the 10th year for Royal Caribbean International in the China market. During the process of becoming a leading brand in China’s cruise market, Royal Caribbean is the witness, contributor and promoter of the nation’s market development. Today China has become one of the most important cruise markets in the world, and Shanghai has become one of the most popu­lar cruise departure places. All this is the result of great efforts made by the whole industry.

In June this year, Spectrum of the Seas, the new cruise ship of the Quantum Ultra Class, with innovative breakthroughs in both hardware and software, completed its maiden voyage and was successfully deployed in Shanghai.

At the same time, Royal Caribbean has de­ployed Quantum of the Seas, the most popular cruise ship in North China, and Voyager of the Seas in South China. The Chinese cruise indus­try, which has experienced the first round of rapid growth, has begun to transit from the early adop­tive 1.0 consumption period to the more experi­ence-oriented 2.0 period.

During this time, cruise travel should be a regu­lar form of vacation with a high repeat purchase rate, and consumers will put a higher premium on diversity and quality experience of cruise ships and destinations than ever. Based on our deep understanding of the China market, Royal Caribbean has become the industry pioneer who provides a market insight and its trends.

In 2020, Royal Caribbean will offer a diverse range of holiday options with 29 long sailings and approximately 130 onshore sightseeing boutique sailings covering 27 destination ports.

Since January 2019, Royal Caribbean has started to implement an electronic ticket and has upgraded its online check-in procedure, which improved communication efficiency before the trip, simplified the embarkation process, and most importantly, shortened boarding time by nearly 30 minutes, ensuring every procedure is smooth and joyful. Royal Caribbean will continue the deploy­ment in the Chinese market, stimulate the indus­try’s vitality through innovative initiatives, refresh the quality of cruise experience for consumers and look forward to the next glorious decade.

Roger Chen

Chairman of Carnival Corporation in China

As the largest leisure travel company in the world, Carnival has been continuously investing in China’s cruise market. Costa Venezia, a tailor-made cruise ship for the Chinese market by Costa Group, has been homeporting in Shanghai since May 2019. In December 2020, Costa Firenze, an­other tailor-made cruise ship, will also join China’s cruise fleet.

Costa Firenze, sister ship of Costa Venezia and inspired by Florence, a city of art, will bring more diversified cruise experience for guests. Princess Cruises will increase deployment in Shanghai next year, providing premium cruise products to more Chinese guests.

Carnival has been working together with China State Shipbuilding Corporation to accelerate the pace of building China’s first-ever large cruise ships at CSSC’s shipyard in Shanghai. Carni­val and CSSC will also jointly work to build and strengthen Shanghai cruise industry’s ecosystem and drive cruise economic growth. The joint ven­ture between Carnival and CSSC — CSSC Carni­val Cruise Shipping Limited, was also established to build China’s own cruise fleet, provide custom­ized cruise products and cultivate a wonderful experience for Chinese guests.

Carnival believes that Shanghai’s cruise indus­try business environment and services will be further upgraded with the development of Shang­hai as China’s first cruise tourism development demonstration zone. The whole cruise industry chain covering cruise ship design and building, market and cruise terminals will keep developing. Carnival would like to work with different partners of the industry to promote Shanghai cruise indus­try to enter a new era.

Helen Huang

President of MSC Cruises China

Throughout 2019, the Chinese cruise market has experienced an upturn following a two-year period of adjustment, during which it transformed from an era of “high-speed growth” to one of “quality growth.” Adjusting strategies to meet the latest market trends, offering high-quality products and working to ensure the sustainable growth of the Chinese cruise industry will now be the focal points for operating in this market.

MSC Cruises will further consolidate its pres­ence in the Chinese market and remain dedicated to offering Chinese guests the best possible cruise experience, one that has proven highly successful in Europe, yet also customized to meet their personalized needs.

MSC Bellissima, the European flagship of the MSC Cruises fleet, will be deployed to China in June 2020, marking the debut of an international cruise line flagship in the local market and herald­ing the impending dawn of the “Flagship Era.”

MSC Bellissima will serve as the flagship of MSC Cruises’ current 16-ship fleet. With a maximum passenger capacity of 5,686 and a gross tonnage of 172,000 tons, the ship will be the largest cruise ship deployed in Asia by the time she makes her maiden call in Shanghai.

To welcome the arrival of the “Flagship Era,” both public and private sector stakeholders in the cruise industry, including government agencies, ports, cruise terminals, cruise lines and travel agencies, should work together to forge an all-round and win-win cooperative environment.

For example, they should enhance the public’s understanding of cruise holidays and promote the sustainable development of the whole industry based on diversified distribution channels and a stable pricing system. Furthermore, targeted poli­cies and regulations should be promulgated in a timely manner, while cabotage restrictions should be further lifted to make cruise itineraries more diversified and attractive. All of these measures would lay a solid foundation for the upgrade of the entire Chinese cruise industry.

Kent Zhu Fuming

President of Genting Cruise Lines

Shanghai, the first “Cruise Tourism Model City” in China, is the biggest port in Asia as well as one of the world’s most influential cruise econo­mies. In 2018 alone, Shanghai handled over three million cruise passenger throughput, account­ing for 56 percent of the nation’s total passenger throughput number.

With the Asian cruise industry experiencing a major expansion in recent years, cruise termi­nals have been constructed around the region, creating new competition for the Shanghai cruise market. In 2018, the number of homeport cruises in China dropped by 19 percent as compared to 2017. To maintain Shanghai’s leading position in cruise industry, stakeholders in the industry must work together to contribute to the local cruise market.

Genting Cruise Lines has been an integral force for the growth of Shanghai’s cruise market since 2002 when we deployed SuperStar Leo, Star Cruises’ flagship at that time, to Shanghai for her homeport deployment when China’s cruise market was still in its infancy. Since then, Genting Cruise Lines has been supporting the growth of Shanghai’s cruise market over the years with the deployment of several other ships to the city and offering innovative itineraries for passengers.

Cruise operators need to develop new prod­ucts to cater to the next stage of demand and growth in the China market. For example, Dream Cruises recently launched its newest fleet mem­ber, Explorer Dream, in Shanghai for her inaugural homeport deployment.

We also signed a memorandum of understand­ing with the Baoshan government to foster closer cooperation for the future growth of the Shanghai market. As well, Global Dream, the new 208,000 gross tonnage Global Class ship for Dream Cruis­es will set sail from Shanghai starting 2021 and will become the largest cruise ship to homeport in the Asia Pacific.

As the recent period of adjustment begins to recede, the China cruise industry will enter a high-speed growth phase soon and we expect a higher demand for high quality products.

At Genting Cruise Lines, we are also aware that more seasoned Asian cruisers are looking forward to venturing on journeys outside of Asia — but perhaps from the familiar surroundings of a ship designed with the Asian facilities and fea­tures of a home.

To provide a home-away-from-home experi­ence, Genting Cruise Lines will deploy Dream Cruises’ recently launched Explorer Dream to Australia and New Zealand for the winter season, allowing Asian guests to visit “down under” while enjoying the brand’s signature Asian hospital­ity featuring multi-lingual staff, acclaimed East-meets-West cuisine and tailored entertainment programs.

With over 25 years of experience in the Asia Pa­cific, Genting Cruise Lines will continue to support the development of the Shanghai cruise market and contribute to the China cruise industry.

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