Asia says a lot,” said Lisa Bauer, executive vice president
for global sales and marketing at Royal Caribbean International.
Bauer said the Chinese she met on a recent trip to the
Far East are enamored with Western culture. “They don’t
want to go on Chinese product,” she said. Royal Caribbean is hoping to find special ways to connect with the
So, for example, Royal is using the Western movie
“Kung Fu Panda” as a selling point because it has partnered with Dream Works Animation to feature the studio’s animated characters onboard.
“Kung Fu Panda” is one of the highest-grossing movies
of all time in China, Bauer said. The Dream Works char-
acters, she said, “are core to our brand, but [‘Kung Fu
Panda’] crosses over so nicely in China.”
Royal has also changed its food and restaurant mix on
Voyager, but it has left some of the specialty restaurants,
such as the Italian-themed Portofino, untouched. On her
recent visit, Bauer said, “It was sold out every night.”
The trick, she said, is to tailor the onboard experience
to Chinese tastes but keep Royal’s brand identity intact.
One very clear market differentiator, she said, is demographics. Because per capita income in China is still
only $5,000 a year, cruise lines would do best to direct
their efforts to the luxury elite rather than to the general
population, said Pierre Gervois, CEO of China Elite Focus Ltd., a tourism marketer in Shanghai.
“The affluent Chinese tourists, they want to compare
the cruise experience with what they have in China,” he
Social media sites, such as Weibo, are a tool cruise lines
should use to educate and influence prosperous Chinese
about cruises, he said.
Bauer said the Internet is the most trusted source of
information for Chinese consumers. “It’s not a place
where people transact, but it is where they look for and
talk about cruises.”
When it comes to sales, Royal is selling more than half
of its cruises as whole-ship charters to wholesalers who
then are responsible for filling the ships through their re-
“It’s completely different than anything we’ve seen
elsewhere in the world,” Bauer said.
In Singapore, left inset, the Marina Bay Cruise Center, left, can accommodate
even Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships. The terminal itself is about 300,000
square feet and can handle 6,800 passengers at a time. Tianjin, China, has
become the summer homeport for both the Costa Victoria, top right, and Royal
Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas, bottom right.
I Si l fti t th M i B C i C t l ft d t
infrastructure. The Marina Bay terminal in Singapore is a
good example. Previously, there was a two-ship pier in a
dead-end channel that limited the size of ships that could
call in Singapore.
On Voyager of the Seas, West meets East
The Voyager of the Seas’ pool deck.
By Heidi Sarna The Voyager of the Seas was built in 1999 and her- alded at the time for a slew of groundbreaking fea- tures, and when I cruised on the ship last month be- tween China and Singapore, some of what was once cutting edge now seemed quaint. What is fresh and new for the 3,114-passenger ship is its home in Asia and the Pacific region. The Voyager just concluded its maiden season in the Far East, joining the smaller Legend of the Seas, which is in Asia for its third consecutive year-round eployment (and which will be replaced by Voyager’s sister Mariner of the Seas in the spring). The ship started in May with three- to five-night cruises from Singapore to Malaysia and Thailand. From June through October, the Voyager offered four- to seven-night sailings from Shanghai and Tianjin, China, to Japanese and Korean ports, ca- tering to a mostly Chinese clientele who were typically booked on cruises chartered and sold by Chinese travel agencies and
PHO TO B Y HEIDI SARNA
According to the ship’s hotel director, Anthony Hezlewood,
though a handful of non-Chinese found their way on these sailings, either unintentionally or in order to immerse themselves
in Chinese culture, he added that most non-Chinese passengers
would be uncomfortable on a ship filled with non-English speakers (though the ship’s crew speak both English and Mandarin).
My family and I joined the Voyager’s 14-night transition
See VOYAGER on Page 16
NOVEMBER 5, 2012