Unlocking the sea of opportunities that await in Singapore’s fly-cruise sector was a key theme at CruiseWorld Indonesia 2022, which took place in Jakarta on 4 August.
Organised by Travel Weekly Asia, the event welcomed more than 150 attendees, comprising the region's top cruise leaders and Indonesia’s leading travel agents.
Cruising remains one of the safest modes of vacation types post pandemic, the region's industry leaders stressed during a panel discussion moderated by Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, senior editor at Travel Weekly Asia.
Not only has Singapore eased entry requirements for tourists since reopening the country, safety and health protocols on board a ship also mirror that on land, said Annie Chang, director for travel agents and tourist guides, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
“We only mandate mask-wearing indoors; there’s no social distancing, no cap on group sizes as well. In addition, there is pre-cruise testing still going on, and cruise has proven to be very safe with the fact that all passengers are vaccinated except for those under 12 or with medical exemptions,” added Chang, who was the former director for cruise at STB.
Cruise statistics are bearing that out. Royal Caribbean International, as of the beginning of this year, had welcomed over 1.5 million cruisers around the world since the start of the pandemic, with only 2,500 people testing positive onboard its ships.
“That’s extremely low. That’s way below 1%,” stressed Kenneth Yeo, regional director (sales), Asia Pacific of Royal Caribbean International.
And should any passenger test positive onboard, both Resorts World Cruises and Royal Caribbean International allow passengers in quarantine to continue enjoying the cruise from the comforts of their room.
Word of mouth through multi-gen families, millennials
Multi-generational vacations, which have emerged as a popular vacation type as travel comes back, is a potentially rewarding segment that travel agents can tap onto as the travel industry recovers.
During a live poll asking travel agents which segment is likely to be the first to start cruising again, a significant 56% believed that cruising will be more popular among the multigenerational families in Indonesia, while 21% picked millennials and young couples. Only 18% indicated seniors, and 5% picked the meeting and incentive groups.
The myriad family-friendly offerings on board are a strong magnate for multi-generational travellers, said Chang, who reminisced her own experience of cruising as a child, a family tradition that she now continues with her children now.
“My kids love cruising, and as parents we love cruising because we just put them in the kids’ club all day long, and now that port calls are open, they still stay in the kids’ club and we go down to Penang to shop or do whatever we want,” Chang continued.
“I’m just imagining that these kids will grow up, have families, and they’re going to bring their kids cruising. So when it comes to multi-generational cruising, it’s something that spans many decades.”
Drawing from her own experience, Chang believes that cruising can become a long-drawn family tradition.
Millennials are a segment that should not be ignored, said panel speakers. "Not only are we seeing a lot of the multi-generational families coming on board, we also see a lot of millennials as they are now in the workforce and have more earning power," Yeo stated.
Resorts World Cruises president Michael Goh encouraged agents to reach out to millennial cruisers. This younger segment tend to post photos and videos of their cruise experience on social media with their followers, which helps to “expand the cruising lifestyle to their circle of friends” and indirectly boosts travel agents’ efforts of selling cruises through word-of-mouth.
Tapping the diverse Indonesian market
Goh agreed that Indonesia is one of the biggest potential markets for fly-cruises, referencing the short 1.5-hour flight between Indonesia and Singapore, and the myriad of attractions Singapore has that will be the perfect fit for every traveller from the millennials to multi-generational families.
For the Indonesian market, Goh opined that the Genting Dream with its halal-friendly culinary options will be well received and foresee “a big jump within the Muslim community”.
“And now that we can bring cruisers to Penang, Phuket and other destinations in Southeast Asia, that will provide the perfect holiday marrying sea and land."
Goh added: “With airfares getting so expensive, the prevailing consumer behaviour shows that travellers are staying longer to make the most out of their flight tickets. So cruising is now a perfect combination for them to explore different destinations and in-land attractions.”
Goh and Yeo both hold similar sentiments that Indonesia remains a huge potential market to sell cruises.
“Indonesia has over 270 million people. We don’t have to go far to find out whether Indonesians are able and willing to go cruising, just look at Jakarta, just look at this room here,” Yeo gestured to the 150 and more participants in attendance.
“People can afford and will pay for a cruise and therefore the potential, if you spread from here onwards, outwards to your friends, the families, you will see the amount of potential for the cruise industry.”