Spectrum of the Seas docks in Malaysia in S-E Asia's first cruise port call in over two years

Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas docked at Port Klang in Malaysia on July 1, 2022 after setting off from Singapore. PHOTO: PORT KLANG CRUISE TERMINAL

SINGAPORE - South-east Asia saw its first cruise port call in more than two years on Friday (July 1), after a cruise ship sailing from Singapore arrived in Malaysia.

Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas arrived at Malaysia's Port Klang in the morning.

On Saturday, Resorts World Cruises' Genting Dream will call at Bintan and Batam in Indonesia, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Friday.

Both of these ships are home-ported in Singapore.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are the first South-east Asian countries to resume port calls since cruising was halted in March 2020.

STB said it expects the cruise industry in Singapore to return to pre-Covid-19-pandemic levels between next year and 2024, given discussions to resume similar calls in more ports across the region.

STB chief executive Keith Tan said the resumption of port calls is an important milestone for Singapore and the region.

He said: "Cruising is a key tourism driver, and as Asean's lead coordinator for cruise development, Singapore will continue to work with our counterparts to strengthen the region's attractiveness as a cruising destination and source market."

Before the pandemic, the cruise industry here was enjoying robust growth, with more than 1.8 million passengers in 2019. More than 400 cruise ships across 30 cruise brands also called at Singapore’s ports that year.

The pandemic put an end to that, although cruises resumed in Singapore in November 2020 without any port calls. More than half a million passengers have sailed on these cruises to nowhere.

Cruises have also seen a new wave of interest, especially from first-time passengers who did not consider cruising a leisure option before the pandemic. These new cruisers are expected to contribute to a strong rebound for the industry, STB said.

It added that Singapore is working with other cruise lines to expand their customer base, such as to regional markets like Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as mid- and long-haul markets such as India, Australia, Germany, Britain and the United States.

The fly-cruise segment - where international passengers fly to Singapore to take a cruise - is also expected to rebound strongly with the relaxation of border measures. Pre-pandemic, 70 per cent of Singapore's cruise passengers were from this segment.

To prepare for the return of such travellers, STB said it will continue to offer the Cruise Development Fund to encourage cruise lines to home-port in Singapore. Agents can also tap this grant to develop and market cruise packages.

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