(Yicai Global) Sept. 27 -- China's first self-operated luxury cruise ship, Gulangyu, set sail today, aiming to ride the wave of an ever-swelling market.
Belonging to Star Travel Ocean Cruise, the liner headed out from its Xiamen base, China News reported. Star Travel is a joint venture between China Tourism Group and China Ocean Shipping Group and is the country's first truly domestically funded international cruise operator.
The 260-meter, 70,000-ton ship, which has 13 decks and 941 guest rooms, can carry 1,880 passengers and boasts theaters, restaurants, bars, gyms, swimming pools and duty-free shops. The cities of Xiamen, Shenzhen and Shanghai will be its home ports from where it will ply routes in southeast and northeast Asia by the end of this year.
China, the world's second-largest cruise market, is an important growth driver for the sector in the Asia-Pacific region. The number of Chinese tourists taking cruises reached about 2.2 million last year, accounting for more than half of the total number of all such travelers in Asia.