Carnival plc has celebrated the start of the inaugural season of Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess from its new summer home port of Shanghai. This marks the first China homeport cruising program for the line, and brings an entirely new premium cruise experience called Princess Class to the rapidly-expanding China cruise market.
During the four-month season, which runs until August, the line will carry approximately 70,000 guests on 24 unique cruises with itineraries ranging from three to five days. The voyages will visit famous cities in South Korea and Japan, including Seoul (Incheon), Busan, Jeju Island, Fukuoka (Hakata), Kagoshima, Okinawa and Nagasaki.
“We’re excited to be the first line to offer a genuine premium cruise option to Chinese vacationers,” Princess Cruises President Jan Swartz said. “We know that they are discerning travellers, and have a great desire to explore and learn through travel and unique experiences. We’re well-positioned to provide this to them aboard Sapphire Princess.”
In preparation for the first season, Princess conducted extensive research into what Chinese travellers value, which include a high priority on food and amenities, an exceptional shopping experience, and service in their own language. As a result the line created an experience called Princess Class. Delivered by the ship’s dedicated and caring crew, many of whom are Chinese speakers, Princess Class aims to enrich the travel experience for each guest aboard Sapphire Princess by augmenting the international offerings found on Princess ships around the world, with unique cultural, culinary, entertainment, and inspirational programs.
Special features include the World Leaders Dinner, Tai Chi at sea, ballroom dancing, Ocean View Hot Pot dinner option, “Princess Night” stateroom amenities, a large selection of subtitled Hollywood movies, a variety of Chinese satellite TV channels, and an unparallelled shopping experience. In addition to the only 24-hour buffet at sea in China, a wide variety of traditional Chinese dishes will also be offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Designed to appeal to multigenerational groups, a “Touch of Class” enrichment series includes the Sommelier Wine Excursion featuring a rare collection of Super Tuscan and Bordeaux wines, The Art of International Entertaining, Mixology: The Art of the Cocktail, and Adventures in English, among other topics.
“Princess Cruises has blazed many trails in the cruise industry, continuously evolving to meet the needs of today’s vacationers, and we’re doing so in the China market as well,” Carnival plc country director for China Cherry Wang said. “The innovations we’ve developed for our first cruise season here are behind the already promising demand for our Shanghai-based voyages. A place on Sapphire Princess is this summer’s hot travel ticket.”
The 116,000-tonne Sapphire Princess carries 2670 guests and has 18 decks and 28 premium suites, with over half of the ship’s staterooms featuring private balconies. The ship also includes five pools, a casino, duty-free shops, fitness centre and spa, sports deck, children’s and teen’s centres, library, internet café, art gallery and a golf putting course, among other features.