Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships. The
terminal itself is about 300,000 square
feet and can handle 6,800 passengers at a
time. Singapore hopes it will cement the
city’s position as the gateway for cruises
in Southeast Asia.
low bridge between the terminal and
the sea limits the ship size to about
90,000 gross tons.
Other Chinese cities are in what
amounts to a municipal competition to
become cruise hubs. In northern China,
Tianjin has become the summer homeport for both the Voyager of the Seas and
the Costa Victoria.
The industrial city of Xiamen has ambitious plans to enter the cruise market in
But while the homeports are improving, experts say outlying ports that pro-
See ASIA on Page 20
The Sun Princess,
above, will sail a series
of nine- to 12-day
Japan cruises between
April and July next
year, mainly from
cruise from Tianjin to Singapore, before the ship continued south for cruises to the Pacific Islands and to Australia and New Zea- land. VOYAGER Continued from Page 15
Western favorites like pizza. Dining tables were always set with soy sauce and chopsticks, as well as cutlery. A big emphasis on the ship was on the dining. Typically, He- zlewood said, the Chinese passengers eat dinner first in the Windjammer lido buffet, then head to the main dining rooms to eat again, homing in on anything to do with fruit. Hezlewood said even the carved watermelon decorations were eaten. He estimated that about 30% more food is consumed on the Chinese cruises compared to Royal Caribbean’s other sailings. (We actually felt the food was our cruise’s biggest disappoint- ment; more often than not it was bland and uninspired, even in the Italian Portofino specialty restaurant.) On the other hand, the average Chinese mainlander isn’t a big drinker, with the Voyager’s total intake from booze sales a frac- tion of what it is on cruises with a predominantly non-Chinese crowd, according to Hezlewood. In fact, on my cruise, which carried the first shipload of in- ternational passengers after the summer season in China, the Australians, English and Americans drank so much the ship ran out of cans of Foster’s and draft beer for several days. Grumbling drinkers had to wait for supplies to be loaded in Laem Chabang, the port city for Bangkok. See VOYAGER on Page 64
PHO TO B Y HEIDI SARNA
In the stair landings, small signage with pictures pointing up or down for food, swimming pools and entertainment lounges also helps speakers of any language get to where they need to go. While Royal Caribbean seeks to offer an international experi- ence for all passengers no matter where they’re from, the prod- uct is tweaked depending on who is on board. On this summer’s China cruises, for instance, the menu fo- cused on Chinese standards such as double-boiled soups, fish, stir fries, pork dumplings and fruit-based desserts, as well as
the way for
Fruit and double-boiled soup
With its year-round home base now in the diverse and sprawling Asia and Pacific region, the Voyager must be all things to all
The ship’s crew has to quickly transition between its vastly
different markets, from the Chinese-only cruises out of China
to the international mix of passengers sailing on cruises out of
Singapore and Sydney.
“We’re juggling all the time,” Hezlewood told me. “It’s very
The Voyager’s Chinese crew, about one-third of the total, is a
big help. They’re coveted not only for their language skills but for
their help with crowd control. For many mainland Chinese, the
concept of waiting in lines is foreign, so crew had to be positioned
to help direct passengers into the Windjammer buffet restaurant,
dining rooms, theater and the gangway.
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