Carnival plc today celebrated the start of the inaugural season of Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess from its new summer home port of Shanghai. This marks the first China homeport cruising program for the line, and brings an entirely new premium cruise experience called Princess Class to the rapidly-expanding China cruise market.

During the four-month season, which runs through August, the line will carry approximately 70,000 guests on 24 unique cruises with itineraries ranging from three to five days. The voyages will visit famous cities in South Korea and Japan, including Seoul (Incheon), Busan, Jeju Island, Fukuoka (Hakata), Kagoshima, Okinawa and Nagasaki.

“We’re excited to be the first line to offer a genuine premium cruise option to Chinese vacationers,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “We know that they are discerning travelers, and have a great desire to explore and learn through travel and unique experiences. We’re well-positioned to provide this to them aboard Sapphire Princess.”

In preparation for the first season, Princess conducted extensive research into what Chinese travelers value, which include a high priority on food and amenities, an exceptional shopping experience, and service in their own language. As a result the line created an experience called Princess Class.

Delivered by the ship’s dedicated and caring crew, many of whom are Chinese speakers, Princess Class aims to enrich the travel experience for each guest aboard Sapphire Princess by augmenting the international offerings found on Princess ships around the world, with unique cultural, culinary, entertainment, and inspirational programs.

Special features include the World Leaders Dinner, Tai Chi at sea, ballroom dancing, Ocean View Hot Pot dinner option, “Princess Night” stateroom amenities, a large selection of subtitled Hollywood movies, a variety of Chinese satellite TV channels, and an unparalleled shopping experience.  In addition to the only 24-hour buffet at sea in China, a wide variety of traditional Chinese dishes will also be offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Designed to appeal to multigenerational groups, a “Touch of Class” enrichment series includes the Sommelier Wine Excursion featuring a rare collection of Super Tuscan and Bordeaux wines, The Art of International Entertaining, Mixology: The Art of the Cocktail, and Adventures in English, among other topics.

“Princess Cruises has blazed many trails in the cruise industry, continuously evolving to meet the needs of today’s vacationers, and we’re doing so in the China market as well,” said Cherry Wang, Carnival plc country director for China.  “The innovations we’ve developed for our first cruise season here are behind the already promising demand for our Shanghai-based voyages. A place on Sapphire Princess is this summer’s hot travel ticket.”