Riding a crest

Updated: 2015-01-13 08:41

By Yang Feiyue(China Daily)

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Riding a crest

Tourists on board in Yangtze Gold 2 cruise, one of the most luxurious inland river cruises in China. Known as a "floating super five-star hotel", the cruise ship has six decks and can accommodate up to 570 passengers. [Photo by Liu Jinfeng/For China Daily]

The cruise business in China is going full-throttle as more Chinese take to this mode of travel. Yang Feiyue reports.

China's cruise business has been making waves in recent years.

Last year more than 220 cruise ships set sail from Shanghai alone, with approximately 1.2 million passengers, according to the Annual Report on China's Cruise Industry (2014) by Shanghai Center for International Cruise Economic Research, an industry body.

Since 2006, major global cruise companies, including the Italy-based Costa Cruises and the US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, have set up cruise lines starting from China. A total of 21 foreign cruise liners were expected to be running the Shanghai routes by the end of 2014, according to the report.

The average age of cruise line passengers is 30, and most are middle-income earners. They prefer short-distance travel that lasts for four to seven days, the report says.

The growth has also prompted some Chinese travel agencies to launch their own cruise travel businesses. Ctrip, a major online travel agency in China, began its cruise travel business a few years ago and it accounts for more than 10 percent of the Chinese market, according to Yang Lei, CEO of Ctrip's cruise business department.

"We've seen the growth rate of cruise passengers more than double in 2014, as compared with the previous year," says Yang.

Cruise voyages to Japan and South Korea are the most popular among Chinese tourists and usually last four to five days, he says. "They mostly leave from ports in Shanghai and Tianjin. The best time to travel is from June to October, when the climate is generally good," says Yang.

But an increasing number of tourists have also been drawn to long-distance voyages to Europe and the United States, according to the cruise industry report.

"Some long-distance cruise trips have been well received by our customers, such as those to the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean and the Middle East," says Yang.

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