ASEAN as a cruise destination took top billing at this month’s Seatrade Cruise Global conference held in Miami.
With the biggest contingent of tourism and cruise officials from Southeast Asia at the conference, they jointly showcased their brand to push cruising in SEAsia.
Thailand’s port of Laem Chabang received 47 cruise ships with 200,000 passengers from the US, UK, Australia and Germany visiting the country last year.
Thailand’s Tourism Authority is now developing a shore excursion which will take cruise passengers to visit a village community along the Chao Praya River. The village headman will personally cook lunch for visitors. At another excursion, an 80-year-old grandma will teach visitors how to make banana and coconut cake.
Cruise passenger volumes in Asia are up 40 per cent since 2012
“With 2017 marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, we have embarked on several initiatives to further drive growth in the cruise industry,’’ Annie Chang, director cruise, Singapore Tourism Board told Seatrade.
As ASEAN’s lead cruise coordinator, STB has been working with regional bodies to promote South East Asian as a cruising region of choice and to explore port infrastructure development.
As a result, Indonesia will push ahead with its infrastructure development to allow bigger cruise ships to berth. Authorities are also reviewing the immigration procedures to facilitate the clearance of arriving passengers.
The Philippines has also introduced the National Cruise Tourism Development Strategy which includes infrastructure upgrades and destination development.
In the meantime, more international cruise lines are sending their new builds to Asia to be homeported in China.
Executive Vice President of Norwegian Cruise Lines Harry Sommer said Norwegian Joy which will debut in China this year will have the first race track at sea and a tai chi garden.
Princess Cruises group president Jan Swartz revealed that its new build Majestic Princess has been customized to suit the Chinese market. The ship will have a wide choice of Eastern and Western cuisine and will be the only ship in China to have a fresh fish market place.
Royal Caribbean’s Captain Herman Zini who spent two years at SkySea Cruises in China, said that food is the most important part of a cruise for Chinese passengers. He said that the Chinese really know how to eat as a way of socialising with family and friends. He recommended that onboard galleys should be equipped with woks, milk warmers and soup boilers.