As the cruise travel market enters its peak season, vessels operating out of domestic ports are decreasing. According to the voyage plans published by major cruise brands, the number of such vessels in operation in China this year is 11, down 38% from 18 last year, China Transportation News Network reported.
"Cruise travel during the summer holiday has always been popular, and to date, we have already seen more than 50% growth in reservations compared with the annual average," said Liu Xiaolyu, head of the cruise division at Ctrip, China's biggest online travel agency.
According to Liu, there is rising demand for tailor-made itineraries, as people are willing to pay more for an enriched experience.
Whilst its counterparts are cutting their China deployment, Costa is doing the opposite with plans to introduce two tailor-made ships in 2019 and 2020 to the China market, according to Mario Zanetti, president of Costa Group Asia. The brand introduced cruising to China in 2006, and it currently takes up 26% of China's cruise market.
Since entering the China market in 2014, Princess Cruises has accommodated nearly 700,000 Chinese passengers and expanded to three ports - Shanghai, Tianjin, and Xiamen in Fujian province - in three years.
Since launching its fly cruise to China in 2016, Cunard has discovered strong demand from high-end cruise passengers, most of whom are aged above 50 and live in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Chengdu in Sichuan province, the luxury cruise line said in an email response.
China's cruise market handled a total of 4.96 million passenger trips last year, and is expected to grow to 5.7 million passenger trips this year, according to the China Cruise & Yacht Industry Association.
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