Piano Land to Debut from Xiamen This Fall

P&O Oriana

The P&O Oriana will become the Piano Land this fall and debut in her new China Travel Services and COSCO role from the port of Xiamen.

China Travel Group and COSCO have come together to form Well Star Travel Cruise, a joint venture that will operate and market the 1995-built ship.

P&O UK announced last June that the vessel would be leaving its fleet in August 2019, not naming a buyer. It was later revealed the 1,822-guest ship was heading for a new life in China.

The ship will conclude its P&O program with an 18-day sailing roundtrip from Southampton to Norway and Svalbard; ending on August 9. The first cruise from Xiamen could happen as soon as mid-October.

The transfer of the Oriana to a new Chinese brand marks the second phase of home-grown brands in China. Following the demise of SkySea, only two local one-ship brands remain in Bohai Ferry and Diamond Cruise, which each operate a single 838-guest vessel.

The Piano Land will thus be the largest local vessel in the market.

Later this year, China State Shipbuilding Corporation will take delivery of the Costa Atlantica for its joint venture domestic brand aligned with Carnival Corporation.

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Costa Atlantica to Homeport in Shenzhen for 2018

Costa Atlantica

Costa Crociere is making a big deployment move in China and announced earlier this week the Costa Atlantica will now homeport in Shenzhen starting in late January and continuing for the rest of 2018.

The move will help strengthen the company’s position in Southern China, according to a press release.

“The Southern China market is an important part of Costa’s strategic plan in China,” said Mario Zanetti, president of Carnival China. “In recent years, Costa has opened several routes, including sailing from Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Xiamen”

Starting on Jan. 28, the ship will launch its new program, offering a variety of itineraries, with six-day cruises to Japan, six-day cruises to Vietnam and six-day cruises to the Philippines.

Compared to other companies offering cruises in China, this Costa deployment features slightly longer itineraries. Most cruises offered in the Chinese market are four to five days.

Japan itineraries include two port calls, either Okinawa and the Yaeyama Islands or Okinawa and Miyako Island.

Shenzhen opened its new Prince Bay homeport facility last July and has since seen 118 cruise ships and 159,000 passengers, according to a statement.

Tianjin Targeting 800,000 Passengers in 2017

The Ovation of the Seas in Tianjin

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.”