Did you know that you don’t even have to leave Tianjin to take a cruise all the way to Japan? You have Tianjin’s new International Cruise Port to thank for that! Since opening last year, Tianjin’s International Cruise Port has already received 55 ships and 133,000 travellers, and another 44 ships and 100,000 travellers are forecasted for 2012. The main destinations for cruises leaving Tianjin are Jeju Island and Pusan in Korea, and Fukuoka, Kagoshima and Nagasaki in Japan. So if you’re tired of Chinese group tours and overcrowded tour buses, and you want to get out of the country for a few days, perhaps you should book a trip on one of Tianjin’s luxury cruise ships.
A plethora of activities onboard
Worried about the limited amenities of cruise ships? Don’t be! Take the Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas (which docks in Tianjin five times next year) for example of what to expect during your cruise. Voyager of the Seas is the largest and most luxurious ship currently in Asia, and has a variety of restaurants, a two-storey theatre, an adventure ocean youth centre, a Royal Promenade, a fitness center, in and outdoors swimming pools, rock climbing walls, golf practice courser and more on board. It comes as no surprise that such ample offerings onboard are both quite surprising, as well as causing a surge in popularity among the locals. After returning to Tianjin, one local first time cruise-goer commented: “Originally I thought cruise travel might get boring, so I brought a lot of books. However, I never even opened them.”
1) Fitness, concerts and dancing
During the cruise, fitness-fanatics can sweat it out in the fitness room, while music fans can spend their time at the bar and enjoy a wide variety of live shows. And if you are looking for an evening of culture, dance shows are on tap every night in the ship’s theatre. If you are travelling alone, you can team up with other travelers for a pickup game of basketball or a quick game of mini golf. Or if you are looking for some R&R, just take your book and iPod to the top deck and enjoy the ocean views.
For shopaholics, the ship’s tax-free shops provide plenty of opportunities to undergo some “retail therapy”. Despite being a little on the small side and crowded, these shops are definitely worth a visit—tobacco, imported wines, make-up and various luxury items are all available for the sea-borne shopper.
Eating is a major part of any trip, and while on the cruise ship, they’ve got you pretty well covered: most of the restaurants are free during the voyage. The buffet, restaurant and pizza bar are open daily 06:00-02:00. If you are feeling lazy, inexpensive room service is another good option.
4) Visiting different places
On a cruise, the travel itself is the destination, so to speak. Getting off at ports to wander around different places is simply a welcomed bonus to the fun activities onboard. Compared to the squeezing past the throngs of matching-cap-clad-guided-tours that occupying most Chinese tourist sites, leisurely wandering around new places while on a cruise is simply wonderful. One cruise-goer commented: “To those of us used to rushing between scenic spots on the mainland, this way of spending the holidays actually takes some getting used to.”
Planning your Cruise
1) When and where to go
For cruises departing from Tianjin, Jeju Island and Pusan in Korea and Fukuoka, Kagoshima in Japan are the main destinations right now. Because of Tianjin’s relatively cold winters, the best time to go is between spring and autumn. If you are a Tianjin-er hungry for a wintertime cruise, you’d be better off flying down to Shanghai or Sanya and taking a cruise from there. Those ports also cover destinations like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Vietnam.
2) Ticket prices
Tickets prices at Tianjin’s International Cruise Port can be snatched up for as little as 3,000 RMB per ticket during the off-season (see above), and can cost as much as 20,000 RMB per ticket for the more luxurious trips during the peak season. Cruises last 5-10 days. Tickets can be purchased at tuniu (Chinese, Tel: 4007 9999 9999) or at the Royal Caribbean website (English). The port’s website, which includes transport information can be found here (English).
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Keywords: Tianjin Cruises Tianjin Korea Japan Cruises Tianjin International Cruise Port
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