Last week, I took a dip into the blue ocean of cruising – and it really is a blue ocean: Firstly, according to CLIA (Cruising Lines International Association), Asians are discovering cruising in a big way – for the first time, the number of cruisers in Asia crossed the four million mark (4,052,000), a growth of 20.6% over 2016.
Secondly, capacity is arriving in a big way – ships are moving East and Asia is set to be the fourth largest cruise region in the world.
According to CLIA, the number of cruise ships in Asia went from 43 in 2013 to 78 in 2018, the number of cruises and voyages grew from 861 to 2,041 in the same period and passenger capacity ballooned from 1.51m to 4.26m.
And from what I heard at the second Cruise World Asia, organised by TravelWeekly Asia, this is only the beginning. The biggest cruise company in Asia, Genting Cruise Lines, which has been operating for 25 years, has daily capacity out of Singapore of 16,000 and by 2020/2021, this will grow by an additional 18,000 a day, said Michael Goh, senior vice president – international sales.
The leaders panel at Cruise World Asia addressed the massive opportunity in cruising – only 1% of Indonesians have cruised. From left, Arnie Weissmann, TravelWeekly, Pauline Suharno, ASTINDO National Board, Steven Ler, President, NATAS, Angie Stephen, Royal Caribbean Cruises (Asia), Michael Goh, Genting Cruise Lines, Marlene Dado Jante, President, PTAA and Yeoh Siew Hoon, founder, WiT.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is injecting more capacity into the region as well. Angie Stephen, AVP, managing director Asia Pacific, said Asia was the last frontier in cruising – ships have nowhere to go with Europe, the US and Caribbean pretty much saturated. “You are the future,” she said as she urged the audience of 400 travel agents to become “dream makers not order takers” and “convert land tours to cruise tours”.
The interesting thing about cruising in Asia is that customers are much younger – 4 in 10 are under 40 – and cruises are of shorter duration – 4-6 nights. And penetration is still very low – in Indonesia, only one percent of its population has cruised, said Pauline Suharno, secretary general, ASTINDO National Board.
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