The huge social and economic change that has swept across China in recent decades has created a middle-class that, according to McKinsey & Company, is forecast to reach 550 million by 2022. As well as their consumer spending trends mirroring that of Western countries, this rapid rise has brought with it a demand for new travel experiences. Cruise companies are one of the beneficiaries of this demand, with Western-style cruises becoming ever more popular - in recent years Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong have all built new, multi-billion dollar cruise terminals to cater for this demand.
As well as being a new status symbol in China, cruise holidays are a chance to escape the frenzy of everyday life and the polluted skies of the cities. Cruising also has intergenerational appeal in China, with extended families holidaying together, some elderly members perhaps leaving the country for the very first time. Even during the cooler winter months (went I took this cruise) many cruises remain popular, with passengers taking to the decks and enjoying the various activities.
The images were taken on a cruise from Shanghai to Hong Kong via Okinawa in Japan. I concentrated primarily on the outdoor areas, trying to capture a sense of journey through waters that were no doubt new to many aboard the ship. Wandering around this vast floating island I was drawn to the ever-changing seascapes, views of the ports, and observed how the cruise-goers spent their time relaxing, taking in the sea air, and enjoying the onboard activities.