With a vaccination rate that is among the best in the world, Singapore's cruise sector is sailing towards brighter prospects on the horizon.
Restrictions have been eased for dining-in and group gatherings from two to five pax since 10 August, while attractions and cruises can now operate at 50% passenger capacity from 19 August.
We continue to see a rise in first-timers and younger demographics cruising with us... and also expanding segments such as from the Muslim market with our Halal offerings.
These moves are enhancing the confidence in cruising as a safe vacation experience and further drive demand in Singapore bookings for Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International.
Cruise sales have been "robust" with most sailings in August sold out, said Michael Goh, President of Dream Cruises and Head of International Sales, Genting Cruise Lines. "We are observing an influx of enquiries, resulting in healthy bookings in the month of September with sailings during the school holiday period almost sold out."
Genting saw "minimal cancellations" for its World Dream sailings when it had to operate at 25% capacity amid Singapore's tightened restrictions from May to July amid a Covid spike, according to Goh. Most of the guests simply opted to postpone their cruise, he shared.
Similar optimism for brisk months ahead is also reported at Royal Caribbean, which announced the extension of the Singapore season for Quantum of the Seas through February 2022.
"Each time we’ve opened the extended season for bookings, we’ve beaten our last record — that holds true for this third extension," said Angie Stephen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International. "We’ve seen very strong demand for the December holidays and the Chinese New Year period as well as for suites across all sailings.
Both cruise leaders have noted an increased demand for more private and premium spaces on board cruise ships.
We’ve seen very strong demand for the December holidays and the Chinese New Year period as well as for suites across all sailings.
Said Stephen, "The increased demand for the suites is in itself a growing trend that we’ve seen over the past few months – guests appreciate the extra space, privacy and access to specially curated experiences that the suites offer, and as a result the Royal Suite Class tends to sell out across most of the season as soon as we open for sale."
Personal space is clearly an emerging preference for many cruisers post Covid, said Goh. "There is a huge and strong demand for our Palace suite offerings — ‘a-ship-within-a-ship’ enclave with personal 24 hour butler service, as well as private and exclusive amenities."
Having resumed cruises in Singapore since 4Q 2020, both cruise lines' focus on the domestic market in the past nine months have also opened up new segments and opportunities.
With its ever-changing roster of thematic sailing experiences on board, Genting is attracting bookings from a growing number of first-timers and younger demographics, Goh told Travel Weekly Asia.
As a purveyor of Muslim-friendly cruising and Asia's first cruise line with certified Halal cuisine, Genting is also rewarded with "a growing pool of guests from the Muslim community in Singapore".
The cruise industry should not let the crisis go to waste, said Stephen, urging travel agents to tap the unique opportunities especially in the new-to-cruise segment.
"Travel agents should start thinking about how they can convert these first-time cruisers to repeat cruisers to start booking fly-cruise trips to Europe or Alaska once borders are open."