The Greater Bay Area collectively has grand ambitions for its cruise industry, with at least three major terminals serving large-scale ocean-going liners, and others being built. The biggest of them all is about to open in Guangzhou’s Nansha.
The Nansha Cruise Terminal, with an immigration area of more than 3,000 sqm, is five times bigger than the current Nansha cruise port. It will open next month and is expected to become a major node in regional cruise itineraries.
Hang on a minute. Nansha? What is there for international tourists to see? Why would a 3,000-room floating hotel want to dock there? These are fairly obvious questions for anyone reading such an announcement.
What Nansha has going for it is three golden words in the tourism industry: Location, location, location.
It’s not just that Nansha is ideally located at the mouth of the Pearl River, with a straight line up to Guangzhou, equidistant from Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau, which makes it easier to park large ships here and arrange side trips to these locations on small, fast ferries. It’s also because Nansha is ideally connected to the Greater Bay Area’s rapidly growing railway transport network.
The Nansha Cruise Terminal can be accessed by various lines, but the most convenient is the subway – Guangzhou’s Metro Line 4 is reached via an underground passage of about 500 meters from the Port Immigration facilities.
A short hop away on the subway is the connecting station for the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway. Two major roads run through here as well – the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macau Expressway, and the Foshan-Dongguan Expressway. Basically, any of the GBA’s major cities can be reached from here within an hour.
It is one thing to have the hardware, but if there are no customers, it won’t help. Local officials know this, and have been in overdrive for years to secure routes for the Nansha Cruise Terminal. Today, it has the highest number of Southeast Asian routes of any port in China, thanks to tie-ups with some of the world’s biggest cruise operators.
On top of most-favored routes to Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, Nansha is looking forward to welcoming tourists on board ships run by Costa Crociere, one of the world’s biggest operators, which has four routes to Japan’s Okinawa, Yaeyama Islands, Miyako Island, and Vietnam’s Da Nang.
Asian heavyweight Genting Cruises, which seems to always have a ship in port at Hong Kong, is also committed to the new Nansha terminal. It is expected to bring in its first 200,000-ton cruise ship in 2021, which will have 2,500 guest rooms.
Nansha will be more than able to accommodate such gigantic ships. The cruise terminal has only developed around half of its 1,600 meters of area along the coastline. The terminal building covers 60,000 sqm, with around and 6,000 sqm for check-in and waiting areas, on two floors. It has other supporting facilities such as offices, hotels, and commercial apartments under construction.
The immigration area is impressive in size and technology. There are 60 entry-exit inspection channels, supplemented by “intelligent inspection methods”. An information system will also be established to provide comprehensive services such as route inquiries, announcements, weather forecasts, and ticket processing.