The China Star will sail from Hong Kong on March 8, marking the maiden voyage of the first Chinese mainland-controlled luxury cruise line. Huang hopes to make in-roads into the casino cruise business by customizing onboard amenities to cater to Chinese mainland culture. The company is reportedly talking to gaming operators regarding branding and table leasing opportunities.
Casino cruise ships sail nightly out of Hong Kong, including those operated by Genting Hong Kong – a 50/50 partner with Alliance Global Group in one of the casinos going up in Pagcor’s Entertainment City Manila project. Also sailing out of Hong Kong since last year are junket operators Jimei Group, which, together with fellow junketeers CCUE, acquired a ship from the Neptune Group. There was talk in 2011 that the decommissioned UK aircraft carrier Ark Royal might be purchased by a Hong Kong businessman and transformed into a floating casino, although it never came to fruition.
In Singapore, New Century Cruise Lines operates the M/V Leisure World, but another ship, the Long Jie, was sold in 2011 by Asian Cruises after the opening of the city-state’s two integrated resort casinos in 2010. Even with the $100 entry fee, the IRs proved popular enough with the locals to make the Long Jie’s long-term future a bad bet, proving that the floating casino biz isn’t always smooth sailing.