Updated: 2015-04-20 07:50
By Xing Yi/Erik Nilsson(China Daily)
Coconut Princess is now the only cruise liner to reach the Xisha Islands. It has made more than 40 journeys, carrying 6,000 travelers to Xisha since its maiden voyage in April 2013.[Photo provided to China Daily]
The growing interest in the Silk Road is prompting more tourism operators to take people to increasingly far-flung parts of the ancient route and a boom in cruises. Xing Yi and Erik Nilsson report.
The Xisha Islands will soon be offered to more cruise passengers following the popularity of the Coconut Princess cruise liner's new 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road route to the archipelago.
"Demand for Xisha Islands visits generally outstrips supply," Hainan Daily quoted Sansha city Mayor Xiao Jie as saying during the two sessions in March.
Sansha administers the roughly three-dozen islands off Hainan province's coast. "We're planning to launch more routes and options this year."
The cruise has been rerouted and, since Feb 7, re-branded as a Maritime Silk Road excursion, because more cruise companies are hopping aboard the concept of creating modern tours along the ancient sea routes.
The re-branding of the Coconut Princess came two days after the much talked about Feb 5 maiden voyage of the Beibu Gulf Star, which media hailed as China's "first Maritime Silk Road cruise liner".
The Beibu Gulf Star departs from Beihai Port in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region's capital, Nanning.
It spends nine days traveling to Vietnam's Da Nang and Nha Trang; the Gulf of Thailand; and Malaysia's Genting, Redang－known for ancient settlements and modern resorts－and, finally, Kuantan Port.