IT'S romantic, leisurely, sunny, and most importantly, takes place on the open ocean. It’s a cruise vacation, and it’s growing popular among Chinese tourists.
One cruise operator, Royal Caribbean International, the world’s second biggest cruise operator, is among those bringing its onboard travel experience to Chinese travellers.
“Our cruises began to be on sale from last December,” says Royal Caribbean International president Adam M. Goldstein.
“Rhapsody of the Seas, a first-class ship, features the line’s signature rock-climbing wall and indoor glass walls providing exotic views of Asian landscapes, while offering a series of cruises out of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.”
The trip means no checking-in, checking-out, hefting luggage, or being exhausted from catching trains, buses, and airplanes. On the cruise, tour operators say, all you are required to do is sit back and relax.
The ship’s Asia tour continues on from Hong Kong, where it will arrive in time for the Chinese Spring Festival holiday season, including a series of itineraries calling at ports in Japan, south China’s Hainan Province and east China’s Taiwan Province.
In 2008, the cruises will launch from Shanghai, calling on ports in Japan and South Korea.
According to Goldstein, the five-day package tour departing from Shanghai will cost US$630 per person for the inboard cabin, to US$4,300 per person for a sea-view luxury room.
“I think it’s a fair and affordable luxury cruise pricing for Chinese customers,” says Goldstein.
Statistics from Britain-based Ocean Shipping Consultants show that in 2000, there were 10 million cruise travellers; in 2005, the figure rose to 13.6 million. The consulting firm predicts that in 2010, there will be 18 million people taking cruises.
People from the US accounted for about 60% of customers last year. But cruises have been the fastest growing sector in the travel industry, with an annual growth rate of 8% to 9%.
Although travellers choosing cruises from Shanghai port are predicted to be 500,000 in the coming years, “it is estimated that 3 million people in Shanghai will take cruises (in the future),” says Goldstein.
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