Travel Weekly Asia recently organised CruiseWorld Asia Travel Agent Training Workshop 2020 to offer first-hand updates on cruise resumption and insights from industry leaders during three workshop sessions.
We’ve also assessed the 10 key talking points and what they mean for you as a travel advisor below.
Agents are key to rebuilding consumer trust in cruising.
Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International said while the cruise industry had been stuck at a red traffic light for months, “that red light will turn green, and now you’re closer to it”. “So, stay strong because travel agents across the globe are key to our success.”
Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS) has revealed measures to ensure passengers will be boarding cruise ships in a safe manner.
These include allowing only one vessel to operate in the terminal daily; passengers being required to take a Covid-19 test to mitigate risk; and staggered arrivals of passengers to avoid over-crowding, according to Lionel Wong, CEO, SATS-Creuers Cruise Services, the terminal operator for MBCCS.
Dream Cruises has produced a raft of pre-boarding health and safety measures, including mandatory temperature and health screening, health declarations, contact tracing and passenger Covid-19 tests at the cruise terminal to also include vendors, shore staff and day visitors.
“Staycations don’t need tests, but we want to give guests comfort and enjoyment. Safety remains a top priority for Dream Cruises so that both guests and crew can sail with a peace of mind," said Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales, Genting Cruise Lines.
3. Safe bubbles
Passengers will be safer on a ship than in their own communities and will be going onboard in a safe bubble. “Cruising will probably be the safest way to travel in future," stated Goh, echoing the views that have been put forth by many cruise industry heads in the wake of Covid-19.
4. Onboard safety
Onboard there will be social distancing, extended mealtimes, increased number of theatre shows 100% fresh air ventilation and well-staffed medical centres.
Should a passenger contract Covid-19 during a cruise, Royal Caribbean said the passenger would be isolated and the ship would immediately return to Singapore.
5. The pent-up demand is real
Royal Caribbean International said the response to the Singapore ‘sailcations’ had exceeded expectations. “We’ve done six times more business in one week than we would do in a normal week in October pre-Covid,” Stephen said.
Jiali Wong, regional manager at Cruise Lines International Association, said travel agents’ phones have been “ringing off the hook”.
6. Value for money
The first sailings out of Singapore by Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean will be operating at 50% of capacity.
"It’s a rare opportunity. You’ll have the run of the ship. No more jostling for table space, no more queuing for activities," said Paul Chong, Carnival Asia's vice president, business development and Costa Cruises' vice president of sales and commercial Southeast Asia.
There's no better time to sail than now to enjoy a value-for-money cruise vacation, said Chong. During CruiseWorld Asia, the Costa executive strongly encouraged travellers to take up cruise packages with Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean, as Costa Cruises will only begin sailing in Southeast Asia from November 2021 when its new ship, Costa Firenze, arrives in the region.
7. What's in a name?
Royal Caribbean’s Stephen urged travel advisors to address the "misinterpretation of the cruise restart" as "cruises to nowhere". "We're going somewhere – the wide-open ocean is somewhere!" she remarked.
8. Singapore: A shining beacon of light
Singapore has been a “shining example” for its constructive approach to driving the resumption of sailing, according to Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Dream Cruises' Goh thanked the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore health authorities for their collaborative efforts to get passengers onboard World Dream in a safe and healthy environment.
9. Stress tests
Dream Cruises had a cruise simulation on 3 November for trade partners so they can experience [the journey] from the terminal to the ship to disembarkation. We’ll show them exactly what the cruise life will be like at this point," said Goh.
Royal Caribbean will also be doing a two-night trial cruise for trade members around the same week, "because seeing is believing”, according to Stephen.
10. Proving protocols
The upcoming World Dream and Quantum of the Seas round-trip cruises are vitally important for the future of cruising in Asia and beyond. Every process surrounding the November and December cruises from Singapore will be audited to ensure the ongoing safety of sailings.
Annie Chang, director of cruise development with Singapore Tourism Board, said, “If we can prove ourselves with these cruises, we can make a case later for fly-cruise to restart. But we have to prove ourselves first, to do it right from the start.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
If you missed CruiseWorld Asia travel agent training workshops or would like to watch them again, you can visit the website or click any of the links below.
Session 1 Rebuild: Steering Toward a Safe Cruise Future
Watch it on demand here
Session 2 Reassure: Boosting Confidence in Cruising
Watch it on demand here
Session 3 Renew: Building Sales Strategies for the New Norm
Watch it on demand here
Travel advisors with questions regarding cruise resumption in Singapore may refer to the FAQ, which is designed to be a helpful guide but it is not a complete discussion. View the document here, or download it from the CruiseWorld Asia website.