Exclusive: outgoing Royal Caribbean boss sees march of the cruising millennials

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Sean Treacy has played a pivotal role in the region’s cruise industry growth for over four years, working in Australia and lately as managing director, Asia Pacific in Singapore.

On the eve of his departure back to Miami, the popular boss of Royal Caribbean spoke to ASEAN Cruise News about the amazing growth he has witnessed – and the rise of the millennial Asian cruiser.

Q After your stint in Asia, what do you see as the successes and challenges to cruise growth in the SE Asian region.

More ships of international cruise lines being deployed to Southeast Asia in the recent years, for homeporting for longer seasons, that are translating into more cruising options to travellers. These ships are also becoming larger and newer, a sign of these cruise lines’ growing confidence in the region.

The image and concept of cruising are successfully changing in the eyes of the consumers in Asia, as more innovative, family-friendly ships with more entertainment and activities for guests of all ages are entering the market, targeting especially the younger crowd.

There is greater consumer and trade awareness of the cruise product across many markets, with cruising rising in popularity and increasingly seen as a top vacation choice.

I am also encouraged by more receptiveness from local authorities to the needs of the cruise industry and bigger cooperation from them on cruise port and tourism development matters in the recent years. We are seeing more progress than in the past although a lot still needs to be done to continue addressing the inadequate infrastructure across the region.

Q The recent CLIA figures show amazing growth in the market, including port visitation. What do you put this growth down to?

More and longer deployment from cruise lines in the region and the entry of more and larger ships that can carry more guests, that reach as many as 4,900 on each of the two Quantum Class ships for instance.

Q During your time at the head of Royal Caribbean’s SE Asian push, what do you feel has been your greatest achievement?

I am really happy to help grow the Southeast Asian deployment with more sailings and larger ships namely the Quantum Class, and achieve a healthy double digit growth year-on-year for the regional market.

Q CLIA is mounting a campaign to increase the spread of cruise training among SE Asian agents. Do you feel enough is being done, and how important is agent training to the growth of cruise in the region?

We applaud CLIA’s drive in promoting cruise training among the trade which complements our efforts in this area. We hope that their campaigns will reach out to more agents especially those who are not selling cruises yet.

Educating the trade on the cruise product is key to growing our business especially in the emerging markets in our region.

Q Have you noticed a change in the demographics of cruisers in SE Asia? And why do you think this is happening?

We are seeing more and more millennials on our cruises from some of our markets such as Singapore and Malaysia in the recent years.

More homeported cruises from Singapore nearby, coupled with the arrival of the newer ships with next generation amenities like the Quantum Class ships, are creating a new wave of attraction for cruising among the younger consumers.

Stronger marketing and PR efforts especially through online and social media have also played a big part in driving more market awareness.

Q Gazing into your crystal ball, what do you see happening in the next five years to the SE Asian cruise market?

The Southeast Asia cruise market should continue to reach new growth with the opening up of new consumer markets such as Myanmar and Cambodia and of more destination ports-of-call to add more variety to the itineraries in the region, hopefully.