TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Norwegian Cruise Line recently announced that it is planning to withdraw from the China market, and though it says it was part of a shift in its overall strategy, a recent passenger suggests it was eaten out of house and home by gluttonous "Chinese damas," middle-aged Chinese women.
Norwegian Cruise Line, one the world's three largest cruise brands, including Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises, in June of last year launched its massive luxury liner Norwegian Joy from its base in Shanghai with a performance by Mandopop crooner Wang Leehom. However, in a little over a year, the winds had shifted and Norwegian in July announced it was pulling its luxury liner from the China market in favor of Alaska, beginning in April of next year.
As recently as February of last year, Norwegian had been talking of running a second cruise ship from China. However, after tensions rose between China and South Korea over the deployment of THAAD missiles and China-based cruise lines had to stop making port calls in South Korea, they scuttled the plan.
Explaining the official rationale behind the shift from China to Alaska, Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Andy Stuart told Skift, "China’s a good market. But it’s not as good as Alaska." Stuart explained that the Norwegian Joy will join its sister ship Norwegian Bliss, which he claimed was highly profitable in Alaska and will help them expand their capacity in Europe and the Australasian region.
However, Chinese media reports cite a passenger who just concluded a cruise on the Shanghai based route as saying that there was delicious food, beverages, and ice cream 24 hours a day, thus a big eater could get back their money's worth in one day. The passenger added that the actual situation with Chinese passengers was "a shocking waste."
According to the passenger, the Chinese obsession with free food was astonishing, Yet once the feeding frenzies had settled after every meal, there was a lot of leftover food sitting on the tables waiting to be thrown away. Despite the fact that signs were posted everywhere clearly asking customers to "take smaller portions, conserve food, dine with civility, and be courteous to others," they were ignored as plates piled high with uneaten shrimp, drumsticks, and steaks could be seen strewn about on dining tables.
Almost all the Chinese diners were in a rush to grab dish after dish of food until they were stuffed. The passenger said that he was stunned at the scene, "especially the damas, I'm amazed by their gastrointestinal function. They're not afraid of digestive problems when they overeat?"
The passenger also pointed out that the cheapest cruise ticket was 1,949 Chinese yuan (US$281). In the passenger's estimation, such a money-losing operation could not go on for very long, "It seems that this giant American ship was eaten up by Chinese."
If the Chinese passengers on Norwegian Joy were anything like the Chinese tourists spotted at a buffet in Thailand a couple years ago, it's no wonder Norwegian is pulling the plug on its China line: