The Family Connection

Cruise companies are channeling their efforts to chase after one of the most in-demand passenger segments, the family traveller, today with branded entertainment, enriching experiences and tailored accommodation for
the whole clan.

The Family Vacation The Family Vacation

Seamless; hassle-free; all-inclusive; wide variety – these are some reasons why cruises are increasingly popular holiday choices for families.

Just ask 29-year-old university lecturer May Khoo, whom cruising has been a way of life since she was a child. “When I was in primary school up till junior college, we used to cruise at least four times a year! At one point, it got so frequent I was doing homework onboard before I could play at the ship’s arcade. It’s my second home away from home,” she shared.

While they did it less often after she moved to Perth for 10 years, she and her family still try to cruise once a year. Their last cruise was in October 2017 onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas to Kumamoto and Miyazaki, Japan.
“Cruising is relaxing and a chance for us to not worry about much because meals are always provided for and it is safe. Nobody can get lost! Adults and kids are also always entertained,” she said.

Concurred Toh Ling Hui, a 30-year-old senior manager who last cruised with her husband and in-laws, and is planning another once her infant son turns one.
“There’s plenty to do for everyone – we can go off on our own before coming together during meal times. It’s also easy to navigate and offers a peace of mind as we don’t have to worry about our elderly parents getting lost or over-exerting themselves,” she said.

Among the cruise lines, multi-generational family travel is a trend that they are now seeing more of. “Asians generally prefer to travel in multi-gen groups, and they have always been a key market segment for Royal Caribbean International, representing around 40% of our guests in this region,” said Sean Treacy, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

This is especially evident during the school holidays, summer breaks and festive seasons, according to Kent Zhu, president of Genting Cruise Lines. He said, “Cruise vacations are appealing for families, allowing them to spend more quality time together, bonding and doing various activities suitable for all ages, not only at the destinations, but while onboard at sea.”

Singapore-based New Shan Travel is among the travel agencies benefiting from such traction. According to general manager Chris Tay, family travellers make up around 60% of their cruise bookings. Typical group sizes range from six up to 45.
While cruises already offer a host of amenities for families, she believes they can be more attractive with more family-friendly activities during major school holidays, and promotions for multi-gen groups who book multiple cabins.But it’s certainly not passé.

Having been performed for close to 100 years, it is a testament to engineering, stage-craft and storytelling that the illusion of a floating woman still manages to amaze audiences. The history of illusion befits the spectacle itself: involving roving performers from Russia to Brazil, bankruptcy, fortune, brazen theft, defamation and the Otis Elevator Company.

Sea of Fun

Our top picks on the best family-friendly itineraries and ships, so you’ll know what to recommend your clients.

Best for… sparking curiosity and creativity:
Genting Cruise Lines

With two ships – Genting Dream and World Dream – sailing in Asia Pacific, Dream Cruises will win over the hearts of families with curious tots. The cruise line encourages life-long learning through its ‘Dreamscapes’ enrichment programme, featuring interesting sessions such as a ‘space camp’ for families led by former NASA astronaut Dr. Leroy Chiao. Little ones can participate in poolside games, bazaars and stargazing activities as part of the ‘Little Dreamers’ programme, or even learn to move gracefully in the water at the Mermaid Academy. Families can also choose from the over-200 interconnecting rooms available onboard.

Alternatively, guests can go with the pioneering Star Cruises, which has responded to the popularity of thematic cruises among families with a string of interesting concepts such as cycle-cruise expeditions, Sanrio Hello Kitty At Sea, Nickelodean@Sea, and Doraemon themed cruise across its fleet in China and Taiwan, which runs from May to November, 2018.

Look out for..

‘Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation’ themed cruises, held in collaboration with Sony Pictures, from May 25 to 31 August (Genting Dream) and June 29 to August 31 (World Dream) respectively. Activities include character meet-and-greet sessions, mascot parade, movie screenings, bedtime stories and a monster-themed costume party.

DreamWorks Parade at The Royal Promenade

DreamWorks Parade at The Royal Promenade

Best for…Instagrammable adventures:
Royal Caribbean International

RCI has a reputation for knowing just what families want – and it’s no wonder. Its latest ship, Symphony of the Seas, now sailing in Europe, offers innovative experiences such as Battle for Planet Z, a glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure boasting special effects. Teenagers will be thrilled to find plenty of Instagrammable attractions such as the Ultimate Abyss – the tallest slide at sea with a dramatic 100-foot plunge; the Perfect Storm water slides, which swirl guests around in a champagne-shaped bowl; and the Ultimate Family Suite – a 1,346 square-foot two-storey space that can cater up to eight guests across two bedrooms and a living room, with features such as an in-suite slide, interactive three-dimensional vertical maze and private cinema.

To help guests capture these memorable holiday moments on the go, RCL has launched VOOM, the fastest Wi-Fi at sea, fleetwide – there is a multiple-device sharing package that can be shared among family members.

Look out for...

Bionic Bar, which will captivate grown-ups and older children alike with high-tech robots that double up as bartenders; and North Star, an elevated glass capsule that takes guests over 300 feet above the ocean for spectacular 360-degree views. These features are available onboard Quantum of the Seas, which will homeboard in Singapore from November 2019.

Best for… wholesome fun with an Italian twist:
Costa Cruises

The cruise line recently embarked on its 2018 annual campaign, “The Best Time at Sea”, which explores how cruising can be a great way to bring families together. Combining its dedication to the family segment with its promise to offer unforgettable Italian moments, Costa Cruises launched Golden Night Party and Carnival of Venice last December, comprising a dance production, opportunities for all ages to pick up a new dance as well as a vibrant Golden Parade showcase. Families with aspiring footballers will enjoy the Juventus Training Programme, a partnership with Italian football club Juventus, which lets children aged five to 14 hone their skills with the help of professionally trained coaches this summer. Parents-children can also team up for a game at the football court and stand to win prizes.

Look out for...
Costa Cruises’ first Vista-class ship dedicated to the Chinese market, which will be providing guests with unique cruise holidays with an authentic Italian twist throughout east Asia in 2019.

The Secret Silk musical production.

The Secret Silk musical production.

Best for… inquisitive explorers: Princess Cruises

Since September 2017, Princess Cruises has partnered Discovery Communications – the company that operates Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC – to offer an enriching programme featuring Discovery hit shows, Science Channel activities and immersive Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions on many of its ships, including Sapphire Princess which will homeport in Singapore from this November. Young ones can take part in ‘MythBusters’ challenges, build rockets and go on scavenger hunts , available at The Treehouse (for ages three to seven) and The Lodge (for ages eight to 12). Teenagers can hang out at The Beach House, compete in video game tournaments or even pick up ballroom dancing.

Look out for...
New family-friendly production shows onboard Sapphire Princess such as ‘Bravo’, featuring an eclectic mix of pop, opera and musical theatre elements such as Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ from Carmen, one of the greatest operas of all time. There is also ‘The Secret Silk’, which weaves a spellbinding tale of a beautiful, selfless young man who possesses the magical gift of creating brilliant silk fabrics with the use of original life-sized puppets by The Muppets creator, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Norwegian Bliss’ go-kart track.

Norwegian Bliss’ go-kart track.

Best for… thrills and spills:
Norwegian Cruise Line

NCL’s blockbuster launch for 2018, Norwegian Bliss, is a massive playground at sea. For a start, there is the Family Fun Water Park with two multi-storey slides – one tandem and another that will have guests squealing in delight as they hover over the edge of the ship. But perhaps the most exciting feature is the giant two-deck go-kart track, which will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns on electric cars with four speed settings that go up to 30 miles per hour.

Look out for...
Great amenities including a hot tub for adults, the Splash Academy for kids with spaces for active games and a crafts area, as well as a video arcade and basket, volleyball and tennis courts onboard Norwegian Jewel, which arrives in Southeast Asian waters in Q4 this year. Guests can also enjoy enjoy a promotion when they book with NCL: For every 14 passengers and seven cabins, either two persons cruise free, or one cruises free with the choice of two free add-on packages.