Royal Caribbean International announced that it would be bringing Asia’s biggest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to homeport in Singapore for a six-month season in 2019 and 2020 on the back of growing confidence in Singapore as a cruising gateway in the region.
President and CEO Michael Bayley said that the homeporting of the 4,905-passenger ship in Singapore would mark the longest Singapore deployment for a Quantum class ship.
The 4,905-passenger Quantum of the Seas will homeport in Singapore from 2019-2020.
During the homeporting period, Quantum of the Seas will be making 34 sailings, adding some 150,000 guests to Singapore cruise market. This is expected to increase cruise capacity by 30%.
Instead of shorter two- to three-night sailings featuring one port of call, the company is exclusively offering four-, five- and seven-night cruises to tempt travellers with multiple ports of call.
Itineraries include four-night cruises to Penang or Phuket, five-night cruises to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket, a seven-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket (with an overnight) and a seven-night cruise to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) (with an overnight) and Ho Chi Minh City.
Specifically, the company is looking to attract repeat cruise passengers on its longer sailings.
Sean Treacy, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd’s managing director for Asia-Pacific, touted a new wave of “guest experience cruising” where travellers are willing to “invest more time on their next cruise”.
“We’ll also see a more diverse and international mix of repeat cruisers from out of Asia and further afield from the US and the UK,” Treacy commented.
With regard to aspects of Quantum that will be upgraded as part of the “multi-million dollar refurbishment” prior to her arrival in Singapore, Treacy revealed that the installation of tender embarkation platforms for quicker on- and off-boarding at Phuket is one aspect they are looking into.
Further details would be revealed in due course.
Complementing hardware with software
Meanwhile, the offering of new and innovative hardware aboard the ship – think iFly, an indoor skydiving experience and North Star, a glass-enclosed observation pod that rises 91.4 metres high above the ocean – will entice cruise visitors who have already cruised on the company’s older ships, he said.
In March, the company also announced a US$900 million investment in the company’s existing fleet, mainly for its Voyager and Freedom class ships. This includes Voyager of the Seas in Asia, for which the company will “probably invest” about US$70- to US$90 million for a “significant modernisation programme” in 2019.
Leveraging on technology is also key to enhancing the passenger experience. Case in point: as part of a multi-year investment on technology, Royal Caribbean Cruises has embarked on Excalibur, a mobile application that offers guests functionalities from pre-trip booking to “frictionless arrival for passengers” and on-trip information.
The company is mindful about making the delicate transition from traditional platforms to digital services in a “quiet way”. Bayley expects that Excalibur will be available to more than half of Royal Caribbean International’s fleet by the end of 2018, with the app’s capability reaching about “40% to 50% of its potential”.
The race for ‘bigger’
With the race to build bigger capacity ships heating up in recent years and the market boom for cruise in Asia Pacific, a question on everyone’s minds is when Asia will receive an Oasis-class ship.
“I think Asia is ready - many of the ports such as Singapore, Hong Kong and many of the Chinese ports are able to accommodate Oasis-class ships. Size, length and depth of seasons for the markets are crucial factors to ascertain if the market can sustain an Oasis-class ship through the year,” said Bayley.
With plenty of larger-capacity ships like the fifth Oasis-class ship joining the fleet in 2021 and the first of the ICON class ships from 2022 onwards, Bayley said that their arrival in Asia is merely a “question of time”.