SINGAPORE - A new cruise line owned by Malaysian tycoon Lim Kok Thay will set sail from its home port Singapore on June 15.
Resorts World Cruises will deploy Genting Dream, a ship once operated by the troubled Genting Hong Kong-owned Dream Cruises, and there are plans to increase the fleet.
The Straits Times broke an exclusive report last month that Resorts World Cruises, a company related to Mr Lim, registered in Singapore on March 9 and is owned by Two Trees Family Holdings.
Speculation had been rife in recent months over whether this could be a new cruise business, as the move came shortly after the collapse of Genting Hong Kong, the cruise industry’s highest-profile casualty since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
Bookings are now open with Genting Dream undertaking cruises to nowhere from June 15, with plans to launch destination trips to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia from Sept 30.
In conjunction with the launch, Resorts World Cruises will offer complimentary cruise credits of the equivalent value for all paid passengers affected by World Dream’s cruise cancellations in Singapore between March 2 and Aug 31 this year.
This is applicable to those who have not received refunds from their original booking source, the company said. For further enquiries, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“For example, if they paid $1,000, we will give them $1,000 of cruise credit, and they can come on board and cruise between June 15 and March 2023. We are giving them a long period of time to decide when they want to come back,” said Mr Michael Goh, president and head of international sales of Resorts World Cruises.
Around 13,000 customers were affected but many have received their refund through their credit card companies, he added.
Mr Colin Au, chief executive of Resorts World Cruises, told a briefing on Wednesday (May 18): “The company will aspire to have many more ships in other parts of Asia. It is a reaffirmation that cruising is good for the region and will be a growth industry.”
He also noted that all cruise payments made will be kept in a separate account that will be drawn down only prior to the cruise commencing.
In response to ST’s queries, he said: “The practice of all cruise companies is to use the cash for working capital purposes.
“But we have changed the practice to make sure whatever funds are paid will be kept in cash, and if the cruise itinerary is not performed, then the money will be refunded to customers.”
The new firm is recruiting about 1,600 employees for its new cruise line, and has rehired 70 of around 100 former staff from the sales and marketing and retail operations of Genting Hong Kong, noted Mr Goh, the former president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales for Genting Cruise Lines.
The rehires include some of the 57 retrenched employees from two companies related to Genting Hong Kong, who had been claiming unpaid notice pay and other compensation via Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management.
Mr Goh told the briefing that planning for the new cruise business began in February.
Dream Cruises began winding up proceedings in January after its parent company, Genting Hong Kong, ran aground financially.
In March, Dream Cruises stopped operating its vessel, World Dream, in Singapore, leaving thousands of customers in the lurch and demanding refunds. A creditors meeting will be held in Hong Kong on May 20.
Resorts World Cruises, whose parent company is Two Trees Family, is a brand of Resorts World, which has 46 properties worldwide with more than 30,000 employees.
Two Trees, an investment holding company incorporated in Singapore on March 19, 2021, listed Mr Lim and his son Lim Keong Hui, along with Mr Gerard Lim Ewe Keng as directors.
Resorts World Cruises is in negotiations to acquire Explorer Dream and World Dream, two other ships that used to be run by Dream Cruises, as well as other liners.
When asked how the new business is being funded, Mr Au said: “We are looking for investors”.
Mr Lim Kok Thay, who is providing most of the funding for the new cruise business, and Mr Au both resigned as chief executive and deputy CEO of Genting Hong Kong respectively in January.
Resorts World Cruises executive chairman Lim Kok Thay said in a statement: “We started our cruise operations 30 years ago in Singapore and we are excited to again launch the first Resorts World Cruises in Singapore, the first country to reopen cruising in the region.
“Resorts World Cruises will have its headquarters in Singapore and is committed to making Singapore the leading cruise hub in Asia”
Mr Lim Kok Thay is also the chairman and board executive of Genting Malaysia and Genting, also known as Genting Group, which owns Resorts World Sentosa among other ventures.