Asians continued their love affair with holidays at sea with a record 4.05 million taking an ocean cruise last year – up 20.6 per cent on the previous year.
While China led the pack with more than 2.4 million cruisers, 1.7 million were from the rest of Asia including 267,000 Singaporeans and 188,000 Malaysians.
Asian cruise passengers were also youthful with an average age of 45.6 years. Indian cruisers were the youngest with an average age of 37 years, followed by Mainland China at 45 years, Singapore at 46 years and Japanese at 57 years, according to the 2018 Asia Cruise Trends report compiled by Cruise Lines International Association.
The majority of Asian cruisers holidayed within the region, predominantly on short itineraries of between four and six nights. Europe especially the Mediterranean, was the leading destination for long-haul cruisers who sailed outside of Asia. The Caribbean and Alaska were also popular destinations.
Most Singaporeans tend to cruise for three days in local waters rather than to fly-cruise to long-haul destinations. Malaysians also preferred to go on three-night cruises in Asia.
The Philippines, on the other hand, preferred to go on slightly longer cruise holidays of about 5 days.
Similarly, Indonesians increased their cruise holidays to more than 4 days and Vietnamese also cruised longer in local waters, preferring to go on 6-day itineraries.
Thai cruise passengers ventured out of cruising in Asian waters with more 14 per cent heading to the Mediterranean.
More international lines sent their ships to cruise in Asian waters with 78 ships deployed this year including 27 mid-sized ships, 19 large ships, 21 small ships and 6 mega ships.
Southeast Asia ports will experience significant growth with a 20 per cent increase in the number of port calls this year.
There will be a total of 7169 port calls in Asia this year – 27 less than last year.
The top ports in the region are Shanghai (416), Singapore (374), Taipei (322) and Hong Kong (249).
Thailand will host 581 port calls with Bangkok/Laem Chabang and Phuket the two most popular ports.
Malaysia will have 458 port calls this year, down 2 per cent on last year with Kuala Lumpur/Port Klang, Penang and Langkawi the three most popular ports.
Singapore will host 374 port calls this year, down 5 per cent on last year.
Despite the decline, Singapore is still the second most visited cruise port in the region.
Indonesia will have 354 port calls with most ships calling at Bali, followed by Gili Islands and Komodo.
Vietnam will host 500 port calls this year with Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City the two post popular ports.
The Philippines will have 248 port calls. Manila is the most popular port, hosting 125 ship calls, followed by Boracay, Coron, Puerto Princesa and Hundred Islands.