Singapore paves the way for strong cruise recovery in region

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Southeast Asia welcomed its first cruise port call in over two years when Royal Caribbean’s (RCI) Spectrum of the Seas arrived at Malaysia’s Port Klang this morning. This will be followed closely by Resorts World Cruises’ Genting Dream, which will call at Indonesia’s Batam and Bintan on 2 July 2022. Both cruise ships are homeported in Singapore.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are the first Southeast Asian countries to resume port calls since cruising was halted in March 2020. Coupled with positive discussions to resume similar calls in more ports and the alignment of health protocols across the region, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) expects the cruise industry in Singapore to return to pre-pandemic levels between 2023 and 2024.

“The resumption of port calls is an important milestone for Singapore and the region,” said Mr Keith Tan, Chief Executive, STB. “It has been made possible by the strong partnership and collective commitment in ASEAN to grow the cruise industry. Cruising is a key tourism driver, and as ASEAN’s lead coordinator for cruise development, Singapore will continue to work with our counterparts to strengthen the region’s attractiveness as a cruising destination and source market.”

Sailing towards a strong recovery

Singapore’s strategic location, world-class air connectivity and port infrastructure make it a thriving cruise hub in Southeast Asia. Prior to COVID-19, Singapore’s cruise industry enjoyed robust growth. Over 400 cruise ships across 30 cruise brands were called at our ports in 2019, with year-on-year growth in passenger throughput of more than 1.8 million that year.

Singapore is now rebuilding its strong pipeline of cruise ship deployments, and working with cruise lines to expand their customer base – from regional markets such as Indonesia and Malaysia to mid and long-haul markets such as India, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Cruise has also captured a new wave of interest, winning over first-time cruisers who did not consider cruising as a leisure option prior to COVID-19. Since Singapore restarted cruising in November 2020, over half a million passengers have sailed on nearly 370 ‘cruise to nowhere’ sailings. As more ships offer varied itineraries for cruising out of Southeast Asia, these new cruisers are expected to support a strong rebound for the industry.

“The return of cruising to destinations is timely, as countries around the region re-open to welcome visitors, revitalise their tourism sectors, and embrace the new normal. Our cruises already have so much to offer with technologically-advanced ships and an ever-expanding range of first-at-sea onboard activities. We look forward to developing more exciting itineraries for our guests in this region,” said Ms Angie Stephen, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.

“We are committed to Singapore’s vision to be a premier cruise hub in Asia. Together with STB, we look forward to growing the cruise sector, including the fly-cruise segment; and to making Singapore and Southeast Asia one of the largest year-round cruise destinations in the world,” said Mr Michael Goh, President of Resorts World Cruises.

A flying start to cruise

The fly-cruise segment is also a key growth area that is expected to rebound strongly, given Singapore’s reopening to all vaccinated travellers and the resumption of port calls. Prior to COVID-19, 70% of Singapore’s cruise passengers were international visitors travelling to Singapore to take a cruise to explore Southeast Asia. The strong demand for fly-cruise will add to Singapore’s appeal as a homeport for cruise lines.

To prepare for the return of fly-cruise travellers, STB will continue to offer the Cruise Development Fund to encourage cruise lines to homeport in Singapore. Cruise agents can also tap on this grant to develop and market cruise packages. Through such partnerships, STB helps cruise agents launch effective marketing campaigns to promote sailings from Singapore and showcase enticing cruise and land experiences, in turn attracting more travellers and cruise converts to our shores.

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