The first cruise ship designed specifically for the Chinese market has made its maiden visit to Auckland this morning.
At 330 metres – about the length of three-and-a-half rugby fields – Majestic Princess is 18m short of being the biggest cruise ship to visit New Zealand.
Little over a year old and the newest addition to the Princess fleet, the 145,000 tonne, 1780-cabin ship's home port is Shanghai.
Catering to a growing Chinese market, there is a distinctly Oriental flavour to the on-board entertainment, six speciality restaurants and accommodation for 3560 guests.
Cantonese restaurant Harmony's menu comes from Richard Chen – head of the first Chinese restaurant in North America awarded a Michelin star.
Wing Lee in Las Vegas is popular with high-rollers, says Chen: "With high-end ingredients like abalone and birds-nest soup they can add up the bill very quickly. But most travellers are after simple, elegant Chinese food."
Arriving in Shanghai on her maiden voyage last year, Majestic was greeted by Chinese-born NBA star Yao Ming. During her first year of operation suites were offered exclusively through Chinese agents.
"It was the first time we had built a ship with the Chinese market in mind, aesthetically certainly the signage on the ship is both in English and Mandarin," Says Stuart Allison Senior VP of Princess Cruises. "But the bones of the ship have an international feel."
As she arrives in the Antipodes, Majestic's suites have been opened up to Kiwis wanting to see more of the South Pacific.
"The Majestic will carry more Kiwi passengers than we've ever had over a season on a single ship."
She won't be in Auckland long, spending just over 12 hours docked at Princes Wharf before heading to the Bay of Islands.
Majestic Princess facts
• Two swimming pools
• 20 ice sculptures produced each cruise
• 22 knot top speed
• 200 tonnes of marble
• 1000 square metres of shopping
• 4000 pieces of art
• 18,000 bottles of wine and champagne in the cellars
• 250,000 eggs consumed each week