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Carnival Ships Join China Surge

MiracleThere was a time, not that long ago, that the only places you could take Carnival ships was from a port city in North America. The one caveat was when the world’s biggest cruise line built a new ship in Europe, and it had to get to North America by crossing the Atlantic.

Then Carnival started dabbling in the Mediterranean. Then in Australia, going so far as to establish a base there. Now, Carnival’s going to China.

There is no choice. Everybody else is, too.

In 2017, the Carnival Miracle (above) will be in China year-round. A year later, the Carnival Splendour (below) will be in China year-round. Cruise ships from Carnival Corporation have been visiting Asian ports for a decade, but not year-round. And the Splendormother line wasn’t there at all. Other cruise lines have gradually been gaining a presence, but nobody really started taking the Chinese market this seriously until Royal Caribbean sent its newest ship — Quantum of the Seas — to establish a home port in Shanghai. 

If that didn’t get the cruise executives’ attention, it surely woke up the media.

Maybe it wasn’t that big a deal to Royal Caribbean, which has since launched Anthem of the Seas and has another Quantum Class ship coming next year, Ovation of the Seas. But this was the flagship of the class and its first cruise season was from New York (Cape Liberty), not exactly a secondary market. As it turned out, that was its ONLY season of sailing from New York to the Caribbean. Almost exactly one year after it arrived, Quantum was gone.

For good.

Since then, the other mainstream cruise lines have been despatching ships to Asian waters. It will likely never rival the Caribbean as a cruise destination, but it’s definitely a player. And in 18 months, the team of ships stationed there will include Carnival.

In the news…

• The Salty Dog Gastropub makes its debut on Crown Princess
• Costa signs three-year partnership agreement with Italian airline Neo

Today at portsandbows.com: Cunard planning them cruises for 2016

Carnival Imagination
3 nights
January 14, 2016
Los Angeles (return): Ensenada
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56

China Cruising Wave of Future

Good friends of ours are going to China in a little over a month. This is not something on our bucket list but if that ever happens, we’d probably do what our friends are doing.

They’re going on a cruise.

It could be our friends are ahead of their time. The way things are going in the cruise industry, when you gaze over the horizon it’s possible there will one day be more cruise ships in Asia than in North America.


Think again.

Unless it’s just a trend that will runs it’s course (unlikely), the mini-exodus of cruise ships to the other side of the world is likely to continue. Consider these few facts…

• Presently five Royal Caribbean ships (yes, five!) are scheduled to have home ports in QuantumChina next year — Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Legend of the Seas and two of the newest ships, Quantum of the Seas (leaving in May) and Ovation of the Seas (2016). The new ships will be permanently based in Shanghai and Tianjin, respectively.

• A new cruise terminal is in the planning stage for Krabi, a little-known city and the fourth most visited place in Thailand.

• South Korea this month passed two laws related to cruising, one of them to allow foreign casinos to operate on ships.

• Japan is now allowing Chinese tourists to visit without a visa, providing they are traveling on specific cruise ships (including three from Costa Cruises and Mariner of the Seas) approved by the Japanese minister of justice.

• According to a recent study, there is the potential for 83 million cruise passengers from China alone. To give this some perspective, last year the number of cruise passengers on ships world-wide — according to another study — was just over 20 million.

It seems people in China are discovering what many of us discovered long ago, that cruising is a great way to vacation, and the growth of the Chinese economy is allowing them to experience it. Since there are millions more Chinese than North Americans, get ready for the shift of ships.

And maybe a new bucket list.

Today at portsandbows.com: Disney jolly over England

Carnival Imagination
4 nights
April 26, 2015
Los Angeles (return): Catalina Island, Ensenada 
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $49

Viking Offer for China a Bucket Lister?

Going to China isn't something that's ever made it onto our Bucket List but if it did, could there be a more appealing way to go than on a river cruise?

There are many choices, and one of them caught our eyes this week because it seems somewhat affordable, which river cruises often aren't for the average traveler, from Viking Cruises.

How does this sound?

A 13-day cruisetour called Imperial Jewels of China at the end of February, from Shanghai to Beijing for $3,000 per person. That's about $230 a day and it includes 11 guided tours to many places a first-time tourist would like to see — The Great Wall, Three Gorges Dam, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square — in addition to all the usual accoutrements like a balcony room, just about all meals, two nights in upscale hotels, two Intra-China flights.

The ship is the Viking Emerald and, yes, of course you also have to fly to China. Viking's got a deal on that, too — $797, a 2-for-1 offer that applies on flights from Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.

Add it all up and you can spend 13 days seeing China for under $3,800 per person. Viking's regular price for all this is $8,595.

Are we going?

Can't make it this time…we have a commitment in Washington DC the day the cruise ends.

But it just might go on the bucket list after all.

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
January 6, 2014
Miami (return): Grand BahamaNassauGreat Stirrup Cay
Inside: $149
Cost per day: $39

Mass Market of a Billion Cruisers?

Undoubtedly, you have heard the joke, or a variation of it. The (full in your favorite football team) made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose on a last-second field goal by…

The punch line is: "And a billion people in China didn't even notice."

Well, until recently a billion people in China didn't care much about going on a cruise, either. That, however, is changing and Princess Cruises — for one — is reacting accordingly.

Five new Princess offices are being opened in China, one of the emerging Asian nations that are starting to get into cruising. As Princess CEO Alan Buckelew put it: 

"The cruise vacation market is in its infancy in China, and…the new offices will support marketing efforts to increase the number of Chinese passengers sourced for our global cruises.”

It's not that Princess (and other lines) haven't been selling cruises before now. The woman appointed "country director" has been the international sales agent for Princess and Cunard for the last eight years. It's just that opening five offices takes a cruise commitment to another level.

And where are the offices?

Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Chengdu.

For people in the cruise industry, mentioning the names of those five cities used to mean as much as the names of the Super Bowl teams did to a billion Chinese people. Hmm, maybe that will change one day, too…

Holland America Ryndam
22 nights
October 26, 2013
RomePalermo, La Goulette, FlorenceMonte CarloMarseilleBarcelonaMalaga, Cadiz, LisbonHalf Moon CayTampa
Inside: $1,299
Cost per day: $59

A Chinese Ship to be Super?

In China, there are plans to build a "super cruise liner." It will likely be accompanied by a new cruise terminal and shipping business center, all of which will cost several billion yuan — or about $3 billion.

What's interesting about this item is the perception.

The 100,000-ton luxury cruise ship, which will take about four years to build, will carry a little over 2,000 passengers.

Is that a super cruise liner?

The company that will operate the ship has a development partnership with Royal Caribbean. That's the same company that built Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Each of those ships weighs about 225,000 gross tons. Each carries somewhere between 5,400 and 6,300 passengers.

Isn't that what a super cruise liner is?

Holland America Prinsendam
15 nights
October 31, 2012
Rome, Alicante, Malaga, Cadiz, Lisbon, Horta, Fort Lauderdale
Inside: $799
Cost per day: $53

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