New ships, more ports as cruise lines sail into Asia in force

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The world’s leading cruise lines continue to be bullish about the growth in the region, with three in just two weeks announcing they will not only be opening offices in Asia, but homeporting new ships.

Major cruise companies like Carnival Corp. & plc are homeporting more of its brands in China – a major boost for the ASEAN tourism industry as itineraries will include calls to countries like Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and more.

And earlier this week, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises also announced that they both will be building new ships, specifically for the Asian market.

Carnival Cruise Line and AIDA Cruises will join Costa Cruises and Princess Cruises by 2017 – meaning that four of Carnival’s 10 brands will be based China.

Carnival Cruise Lines COO Alan Buckelew told a packed agents conference in Shanghai this week China was “a gold  mine”.

CEO Arnold Donald added: “As more and more Chinese are discovering why cruising is the best vacation experience, they are having a great time on our Costa and Princess brands, and we look forward to even more.”

Norwegian’s CEO Frank Del Rio announced the line was entering the Chinese market with a new ship for 2017.

Princess Cruises’ also announced late in September that it too, would also be releasing the new Majestic Princess, specifically for the Chinese market.

The new Norwegian Bliss is due for delivery from the Meyer Werft shipyard by spring 2017. The company has already opened three offices in China – one in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

“Our new purpose-built ship for China will have characteristics that are authentic to Norwegian Cruise Line and yet distinctively Chinese in all of its sensibility. It will perfectly suit what modern Chinese travellers value from an upscale cruise experience,” said Mr Del Rio.

The ship is designed specifically for Chinese travellers with accommodations, cuisine and on-board experiences that cater to their preferences.

It will have Norwegian’s characteristic Freestyle Cruising, world-class entertainment as well as fine Mandarin, Cantonese and Continental dining as well as duty-free shopping.

The new Majestic Princess will be launched in the summer of 2017 and will accommodate up to 3,560 guests for cruises to Japan and Korea.

She will be homeported in Shanghai and offer a range of different cuisines from Italy, France, North and South America, Southeast Asia, Japan and China as well as international entertainers, a Las Vegas-style production and the SeaWalk – a glass floor walkway extending more than eight metres beyond the edge of the ship.

President of Princess Cruises Jan Swartz said the Majestic Princess, “We’re excited that Shanghai will be welcoming this newest, most advanced addition to the Princess fleet, as it represents our brand’s long-term commitment to the continuing growth of the China market.”

The ship will also be given a Chinese name, 盛世公主号 which has the suggestive meaning of ‘Grand World’ or ‘Grand Spirit’.