SINGAPORE - Asia's largest cruise vessel, Quantum of the Seas, will call Singapore home for six months next year in what will be the shipping line's longest ever deployment here for a Quantum Class liner.
The 170,000-ton, 18-deck high ship can carry up to 4,905 passengers.
It will be based here from November 2019 until April 2020 and undertake 34 sailings - to and from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City - carrying up to 150,000 passengers coming into or out of Singapore.
The move by Royal Caribbean International to base the vessel here will increase its passenger capacity in Singapore by 30 per cent to tap the growing cruise market.
"We see Singapore as key in our strategy on two fronts. One, as a vibrant economy and two, as the destination of choice for international markets as well," said president and chief executive Michael Bayley.
The Quantum class vessels feature skydiving simulators, bumper car rides and even robot waiters at the "Bionic Bar".
Mr Yap Chin Siang, assistant chief executive in the policy and planning group at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: "The Quantum's upcoming deployment is a strong endorsement of Singapore's status as South-east Asia's home port of choice."
The partnership between Royal Caribbean, the STB and Changi Airport announced last year involves placing Singapore at the forefront of the rapidly expanding regional cruise market.
STB data shows that the cruise industry here directly contributed $706 million to the economy in 2016, 36 per cent up on 2010.
Mr Sean Treacy, managing director, Asia-Pacific at Royal Caribbean Cruises, attributed the projected strong growth to surging demand in Indonesia and China, and more recently India, for cruises into Singapore and Malaysia.
"None of these markets are close to maturity," he added.
If the percentage of the population that has taken a cruise is used as a marker for a market's maturity, then the data for Asia suggests it has plenty of room to grow.
"In Australia, it's 5 per cent, in the US, 3.5 per cent and here (the Asia-Pacific), not even close to 1 per cent of the population has taken a cruise," he noted.
Royal Caribbean will be offering a special "2nd Guest at $1" promotion from April 10 to 12 for Quantum of the Seas 2019 to 2020 Singapore cruises.