The cruise industry is booming and operators are betting their buck on the Asian market, which witnessed a 24% passenger growth in 2015. We find out what’s driving this growth, and how this change is influencing the overall onboard experience.

When Genting Dream was christened with a giant lotus flower in Guangzhou, China, on 13 November 2016, it symbolized the global cruise market’s shift to Asia and the launch of the continent’s first luxury cruise line - Dream Cruises.

The Asian cruise market is one of the bright spots in the global shipping industry, with capacity in the region doubling to over 3.2 million passengers over the past three years, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). What primarily drives this growth is the fact that Asians are getting wealthier. At last count, China alone had about 387 billionaires and more than 1,000,000 millionaires. Add to that, their love for luxury and travel, and what you have is a new breed of cruisers. According to the Chinese Ministry of Tourism, a total of one million mainlanders hit the high seas last year, and the number is expected to more than quadruple by 2020.

This perhaps explains why a total of 52 cruise ships are operating in Asia, totaling more than 1,000 trips. With home ports in Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Sanya, Genting Dream is designed and built specifically for the Asian market. The focus is shifting to onboard experience and service providers are stepping up their game.

KONE has made its presence felt in the Far East by winning the contract to equip Genting Dream on the back of its long existing relationship with Star Cruise and Meyer Werft.

“It’s a natural move for KONE to increase our footprint in this region,” explains Timo Pakarinen, Managing Director for KONE Marine. “We want to understand how people flow will function and be one step ahead of the customer,” he adds.


Changing life in Nanjing - Men walking

During the design period, experts from KONE’s research and development department were sent to study the behavior of Asian consumers on vessels and in comparable spaces on land, such as shopping malls. They also collaborated with local experts to gain a deeper understanding of Asian behavior and traits.

“Asian people travel mostly in groups. There are a lot of families — not only sisters and brothers, but grandparents, aunts and uncles,” says Jarkko Pekkala, Head of Sales at KONE Marine. “In Caribbean cruises people tend to travel either as a couple or as a family of four, and obviously, this influences the passenger flow.”

Other observations included the fact that Asian passengers tend to prefer quick meals in a food court or buffet over long-drawn-out fine-dining. They also respond to decoration and design differently, helping the company develop better people flow solutions.

The vessel’s first years in operation will give KONE and Genting an opportunity to study passenger behavior and people flow closely, with KONE’s E-link system helping build better passenger flow improvements and preventive maintenance solutions.


Changing life in Nanjing - Group of men

“What we are doing is co-creation with the customer,” Pakarinen says. “We want to be the one who is there at the earliest phase. Early involvement is key in being the preferred partner for intelligent people flow solutions in Asia in the coming years but naturally we look forward to serving our Asian customers throughout the whole lifecycle of the equipment. This means helping our partners get original spare parts from KONE and access to preventive maintenance which improves the lifecycle of the product.”

Pakarinen foresees a fully-fitted digital elevator systems, which can be reconfigured depending on the languages spoken by passengers, the landing arrangements at each port, or the passenger flow on the ship. This helps the cruise operator offer personal solutions for their passengers, with better guidance, decoration and elevator operation modes.

Genting Dream and its sister ship, World Dream is scheduled for delivery in October 2017. KONE will equip the vessel with 31 elevators - including a VIP elevator for the 142-suite Genting Club, - two escalators, four dumbwaiters.

The cruise industry is getting ready for an Asian twist, and KONE will be with them every step of the way.

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