With four berths, Tianjin expects around 800,000 passengers this year, and through the first six months of 2017, traffic was up some 102.4 percent.
Customs and border protection has been further refined, reducing clearance times to 10 seconds in some instances with automated terminals.
Earlier this year, the port signed a MOU with Costa to build a supply and distribution center, with Costa committing to year-round voyages from Tianjin through 2019.
Also of note, the MSC Lirica sailed from Tianjin in February, offering a new “Around China” itinerary with interporting in Zhoushan, Hong Kong and Xiamen, as well as calls to South Korea and Japan, according to Da Wu, vice general manager of Tianjin International Cruise Terminal.
Wu hopes his port will offer more diversified products, including cruises to nowhere, to attract new passengers
Zhengdong Zhang, general manager, added: “Similar to MSC’s model, we are exploring opening domestic routes to Dalian, Yantai, Qingdao, Rongcheng and Weihai, creating a product in which passengers only need their national identification card to travel.”
The new World Dream will arrive to homeport at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal this November as another new ship uses Hong Kong as a turnaround destination.
Next year is looking to be on par with 2017 in terms of traffic, with 190 calls and 550,000 passengers, according to Jeff Bent, managing director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, which oversees Kai Tak.
Around 75 percent of cruise calls at the facility are turnarounds.
“Ships leaving north Asia seasonally are making more transit calls in Hong Kong on their way to other markets, so there is a marginally positive effect for us, and perhaps an opportunity for seasonal homeports,” added Bent.
Source markets are certainly diverse, with Hong Kong locals, mainland Chinese and overseas passengers all playing into the passenger mix.
“The number and percentage of local Hong Kong passengers is increasing with additional homeporting capacity, and Hong Kong will likely be our largest source market this year,” Bent said. “The Chinese market presents its share of challenges, but is still vastly underpenetrated compared to mature markets.”
Hong Kong is the world’s tenth largest outbound travel market by spending. New transportation options will give mainland Chinese more options to board ships leaving Kai Tak in the next few years highlighted by high speed rail, a bridge to Zhuhai and Macao, and a new highway border crossing.
Of note, Kai Tak welcomed its millionth cruise passenger this year when the Majestic Princess called.