China Merchants-Yidun, the first Chinese-flagged luxury cruise ship, docks at Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal in the North Bund in June. (CHINA DAILY)
As nation's tourism market recovers, more consumers book ocean voyages
Norwegian cruise line operator Viking Cruises said as China's tourism market continues to recover and demand for outbound travel rises, it has seen an upbeat business performance for cruises departing the country and will begin a new route from Shenzhen, Guangdong province, to Vietnam and Hong Kong in December.
On Dec 3, the local unit of Viking Cruises will make its first eight-day voyage departing from Shenzhen with stopovers in Halong Bay and Da Nang of Vietnam and Hong Kong before sailing back to Shenzhen.
"China stands as one of the largest source countries of inbound tourists for Vietnam. With the approaching year-end and the New Year and Spring Festival holidays, we are bullish on China's consumer demand for traveling abroad," said Wee Hoon Tan, senior vice-president of product development and marketing of Viking Cruises.
"Many of our returning guests have booked other voyage itineraries, and new guests have shown great interest in cruise information. China will continue to be one of the most critical markets for the future development of Viking Cruises," she said.
In June, China Merchants Viking Cruises, a joint venture established by Viking Cruises and China Merchants Shekou, became the first international cruise operator to operate a 15-day round-trip cruise from Shanghai to Japan. The last trip departed in late October.
Meanwhile, Viking Cruises will resume existing or launch new global itineraries next year to cater to growing travel demand. It will resume the operation of its 11-day Danube River itinerary and bookings have been high since it opened ticketing sales. The cruise liner will also operate a route to discover some smaller Eastern European cities next year.
Currently, China stands as the second-largest cruise market after the United States. By 2035, some 14 million Chinese consumers are foreseen to take cruise trips annually, with China set to become the largest cruise market globally, according to a forecast by the Cruise Lines International Association.
Additionally, domestic companies have been operating various cruise voyages. Domestic cruise liner Adora Cruises currently operates an itinerary that departs from Tianjin to Japan's Fukuoka and South Korea's Jeju Island.
US cruise line operator Royal Caribbean International will also launch cruise trips from Shanghai to multiple Japanese destinations on four to seven-night trips in April next year.
"The international cruise industry is the last sector to resume operations in China following COVID-19, with China being the final market to restart international cruises," said Liu Zinan, senior vice-president and chairman of Asia at Royal Caribbean Group.