Royal Caribbean boss: why agents will earn more with us

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Asean Cruise News’ Rebecca Rachel Wong  caught up with RCL’s Managing Director, Asia Pacific, to talk about cruise growth and Quantum and Voyager’s arrival in the region.

Southeast Asia will be welcoming Quantum in November. How is she being received so far?

Quantum has a great reputation in the region, having stayed in China for five years. The Southeast Asia market is responding really well too. She’s the newest ship sailing from Singapore and Singaporeans love trying something different.

So we’re seeing a lot of demand from Singapore and countries around Singapore. That’s why we’ve made the commitment to homeport Quantum in Singapore for her longest season yet.

What does Quantum’s upcoming homeporting season mean for travel partners, cruise passengers and the Asia cruise market?

Travel partners are going to make more money selling Royal Caribbean. Being a new ship, Quantum will command a premium in the market. We want travel agents to have a great product to sell to customers.

For cruise passengers, Quantum will bring more new-to-cruise passengers, which benefits the industry as a whole. The new ships we are bringing into the region debunk myths about what cruising is. Many think of cruising as boring or centered around gaming. In reality, on Royal Caribbean, it’s a fun multi-generational experience. That’s the reason we’ve extended sailing lengths too − three nights is not enough time to experience a cruise.

Voyager has undergoing a major revamp, and Quantum will be undergoing a refreshment. What will the new features offer travellers?

Royal is really about adventure and offering something for every age group within the family. With Voyager, we’re amping up the family fun with water slides, laser tag and a revamped kids’ area. For Quantum, we’ll be bringing in laser tag which has proven to be very popular. We’ll also have Escape Rooms in the activity area.

Which markets are Royal targeting for both Quantum and Voyager?

We’re seeing a lot of interest from outside Singapore, which is why we have partnerships with Singapore Tourism Board and Changi Airport Group to create awareness and bring inbound tourism to Singapore.

With Changi Airport Group now having fly-cruise transfers with the Jewel Changi Lounge, it’s a seamless experience from check-in to boarding the ship. Royal is one of the partners for the fly-cruise transfer and we’ve been testing it out. We’ve had great success with groups coming in, and I believe it’s ready to be officially launched soon.

What kind of experience will the fly-cruise service offer guests with Royal?

It’s perfect for cruisers coming in on earlier flights, where cruise check-in isn’t available yet but there’s no time for a full city tour. So they can check in to the fly-cruise lounge and their luggage will already be taken to the ship.

After they freshen up, they can explore what Jewel has to offer. There will be a coach transfer to take them to the ships as well.

Has Royal also been focused on attracting Asians on longer voyagers?

Yes. Because there’s so much to see and do on Quantum, we’ve moved from 3 and 4 night sailings to 4 and 5 nights. Consumer feedback was that cruisers need more time to explore the ship and destinations. We’ve observed a growth in the length of sailings Asians are taking, by about a day to a day and half.

We’re still at the infant stages of convincing cruisers to do 7 and 9 nights locally. They’ll usually do that with us in Europe or Alaska on long-haul vacations.

Voyager will be sailing in Australia. How has the response been from Australians?

The Australian market has had Voyager before and they love that class of ships. We’ve had Ovation and Radiance in the region as well. Australians are excited to have her back, full of the other new bells and whistles.

What do Australians want in a cruise?

They tend to take a bit longer on their holidays. We just announced that our second perfect-day private island will be in Vanuatu − that will be added to the Australian itinerary. That was driven based on consumer feedback, and we decided to up the game for cruising out of Australia.

Could you tell us more about Royal’s cruise growth and development in places like Indonesia and the Philippines?

We’re still getting started in terms of growth, having less than 1% penetration in most countries around Asia. The growth year-on-year is massive though, and we’re continuing to see double-digit growth from these countries.

In Indonesia, the government is very interested in developing cruise tourism, so we are in ongoing conversations about how we can do that together.

The number one barrier is awareness and misconception. Either people think cruising is unaffordable or there’s not much to do. It’s our marketing and travel partners job to help break these misperceptions.

Is the brand targeting any new groups of travellers?

Our ships are attracting an audience beyond families. We are seeing a growth in young professional and the MICE segment. We’re also seeing a trend of adult children bringing their parents on board.