Malaysia is next in line in Asia to resume cruises, after Taiwan and Singapore.
Genting Cruise Lines and Penang Port have today announced plans to restart cruises in Penang with Star Cruises, a move that comes just days after the the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents revealed that the tourism sector is pushing hard for cruise revival.
The sailings will begin with Langkawi itineraries on 13 May 2021 at the start of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays on the 40,053-tonnage Star Pisces cruise ship, which can accommodate up to 1,600 passengers.
Star Pisces’ new itineraries will highlight the natural beauty of Langkawi, which is known as the Jewel of Kedah with its karst-studded landscape and cultural heritage.
The 2N Langkawi Escape Cruise departs Penang every Friday and Sunday and passengers can have 10 hours of port time to explore Langkawi.
The 1N Straits of Malacca Cruise will depart every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and passengers will be able to see all types of marine vessels in Straits of Malacca, which is the busiest straits in the world.
Initially operating at a reduced capacity, all activities on board will be organised in accordance with permitted group sizes – specific to each activity – in line with the prevailing national policy in Malaysia. Measures will be in place to discourage close contact between groups.
Star Cruises will have in place a comprehensive set of health and safety protocols for the sailings, including having 100% external fresh air filtered and supplied to each passenger cabin as well as on board public spaces to provide a safer environment than most hotels and office buildings.
Wider positive impacts on tourism
Star Pisces' resumption of cruises in Malaysia is set to contribute to the growth of tourism in Penang and Pulau Langkawi.
These domestic sailings are expected to revitalise the ailing travel agent sector which has been adversely affected by the pandemic and provide employment opportunities for more citizens.
“The new Langkawi itineraries will provide Malaysians the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of cruising again and will bring much-needed benefits to the local workforce, airlines, restaurants, retailers and hotels for pre- and post-cruise stays in Penang and Langkawi," said Cynthia Lee, vice president for Genting Cruise Lines in Malaysia.
“The cruise services have always been the cornerstone in Penang, and what gave Penang its distinctiveness. With the persistent issue of the Covid-19 pandemic that has curbed domestic tourism, supporting the Genting Cruise Lines on ensuring safe and comfortable cruise trips is important to jumpstart the local cruise sector," said Sasedharan Vasudevan, CEO of Penang Port. “We hope with this synergy we can witness higher standards of quality for the cruise services sector and revitalise the domestic tourism industry.”
Penang will be the fifth homeport for Genting Cruise Line’s fleet, after Taiwan and Singapore with Dream Cruises, and Nassau and Bimini with Crystal Cruises in the Bahamas.
Dream Cruises has successfully completed about nine months of incident-free operations in Taiwan with Dream Cruises’ Explorer Dream, and about five months in Singapore with World Dream, welcoming more than 150,000 guests on board so far.