SINGAPORE – The year 2018 saw a record 4.24 million passengers hopping on to cruise holidays in Asia, a 4.6% year-on-year growth over 2017. These figures from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) are ample proof that the cruise industry in the region is thriving and ready for the big leap into the next decade.
How can cruise professionals, ports and destination representatives, as well as travel agents work together and unlock that next phase of growth? That was what CruiseWorld Asia 2019 set out to unearth at Orchard Hotel on Nov 28.
Organised by Northstar Travel Group’s Travel Weekly Asia, the one-day event attended by close to 400 people brought all stakeholders of the cruise industry together for a day of learning, networking and knowledge exchange.
Addressing the growth potential and challenges of the cruise business, two industry stalwarts – Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Michael Goh, president, Dream Cruises, & head of international sales, Genting Cruise Lines – shared their insights at a panel aptly named “Cruising into the Future”.
“Cruise companies have great confidence in this part of the world. It is encouraging to see the great turnout at this year’s CruiseWorld Asia, to see so many people eager to be part of this growth,” said Ms Stephen.
“At Royal Caribbean, we are committing new ships to this region with the Spectrum of the Seas. And this year we are bringing the largest ship in the world, the Oasis class, to be homeported in Shanghai, China in 2021. With Genting also bringing its Global class ships to Asia, this is a good testament that cruise is here to stay.”
The attendees at CruiseWorld Asia 2019.
Mr Goh said it is key for partners in the cruise industry to understand the potential of cruising. “In this part of the world, not many travel partners are taking it seriously. Genting spent US$2 billion on Global class ships to create over 9,000 capacity per cruise. These are opportunities given to the travel partners to grow the market and we can only sustain such growth if the industry recognises this potential.”
So why are some travel partners not biting? Ms Stephen believed that change and the unknown might be difficult for them to embrace. However, the cruise companies have shown their commitment by bringing their billion-dollar assets to the region. “That’s what we are here for. To help travel agents figure it out,” she added.
Despite the rapid growth of the cruise industry, Mr Goh and Ms Stephen said there is a need to keep a constant eye on the impact cruises can make on the environment.
“The last two to three years we have been helping to expand and build new destinations, and move away from congested ports like Barcelona – this is to give current destinations a period to rest and recover. This is a contribution by cruise lines in looking after the ocean,” said Mr Goh.
And Ms Stephen pointed out the cruise industry actually recycle 60% more waste than land operators. “The industry has also invested US$8 billion on building fuel-efficient ships that run on (the cleaner) Liquid Nitrogen Gas and that’s the fuel for the future. We have the first LNG ship coming in 2022.”
With Genting Dream handling close to 500,000 passengers in 2019 (of which 30% are from the domestic market and 70% international), Mr Goh said travel agents not in the game are in danger of missing out on a rich revenue stream.
“By 2021, when our global class ships arrive, we are looking at 1 million passengers a year. There are exciting developments coming up in terms of shore excursions, tours and activities. Agents must join us and unlock the next phase of growth,” he said.