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October 19, 2018

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Cruise control as passengers receive tickets

A TRIAL airline-style ticketing system for passengers on international cruises departing from Shanghai is set to go nationwide.

It was developed by China’s ministry of transport to regulate the city’s cruise industry.

The system has been judged a success after 10 months of trial operation. The ministry said it will be promoted to the whole country next year.

Cruising has thrived in China, especially in Shanghai since it started in 2006.

Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal is the largest homeport in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. More than 1,600 cruises and over 10 million travelers have docked here since 2014.

However, unlike taking flights, buses and trains, passengers boarding a cruise didn’t have to have a validated ticket.

Most people were on tours and had signed a contract with travel agencies.

The absence of individual tickets resulted in many unforeseen problems.

A major one was that authorities managing the cruises didn’t know the precise number of tourists on board.

A cruise often carries thousands of people and when hostile weather or another emergency situation delayed the boat from departing, authorities often found it difficult to coordinate the stranded passengers.

Another problem was that tour guides didn’t explain safety instructions or facilities on board.

“Many tourists didn’t even know the restaurant on the boat is free,” said Liu Zinan, CEO of Royal Caribbean International China.

And in one case a group of more than 300 tourists found their travel agency hadn’t even paid for their cruise after receiving their money, as they had fallen out with the cruise company.

The ticket system started at the end of last year.

Similar to a boarding pass for a flight, the ticket has a barcode and information about the passenger, the route and cabin.

“All the information including safety instructions, timetables and where their cabins are, can be found on the ticket,” said Gao Yanhui, manager of Shanghai Cruise Center.

Gao added that tourists can get their tickets from the public information platform of the center or a web address provided by the travel agency 72 hours before they board the boat.

“The ticket clarifies legal nexus among the tourists, travel agencies and the cruise companies,” said Su Ping, deputy director of Baoshan District where Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal is located.

“Only four disputes left passengers stranded at the dock this year,” Su added.

“The number last year was 17.”

With the tickets, it now only takes three seconds for tourists to pass the customs at the port while it used to take more than 30 seconds, said an officer from the city’s general station of immigration and inspection.

Meanwhile in Shanghai, more features will be added to the system to provide more facilities for passengers.

“We will make it easier for passengers to upload and check their personal information,” said Zhang Lin from the city’s traffic authority.


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