The Nippon Maru leaving Tokyo.Regarded as a major emerging market, Cruise Industry News talked to some of the leading Asia and Pacific cruise operators to get their take on the cruise business, the economy, itineraries and more.

Japanese Market

At NYK Cruises, Shinji Imasaki, president, said that the Asuka II, the line’s sole ship and ex-Crystal Harmony, is dedicated to Japanese passengers, making it a very niche product.

 “We do everything from one-night cruises to 100-day world cruises,” said Imasaki.

And while the economic conditions in Japan are “not so favorable”, Imasaki said it wasn’t as bad for NYK as it was for the rest of the travel industry. NYK’s normal capacity of 40,000 passengers a year will be down in 2010, he said, but in 2011 a 5 to 6 percent recovery is expected.

Japan Cruise Line/Venus Cruises operates one ship, the the Pacific Venus, homeporting out of Osaka, Japan.

“We’re in the planning stages for 2011,” said Noriko Nishioka, a spokesperson for the line. “However, the market is ‘dull’ so we are making a bigger effort with our marketing.”

Mitsui O.S.K Passenger Line sails with the Nippon Maru, which underwent a major refurbishment earlier this year, according to Jun Uoyama, director.

The line homeports out of Yokohama in the east and Kobe in the west. Uoyama, who said that passenger capacity was expected to remain about the same in 2011, added: “Our guests are 99.9 percent Japanese for the time being because of the nature of our product.

“The traditional problem in the Japanese market is its size,” he continued. “Considering population and economic indexes, we believe there is room to potentially increase the number of cruise passengers.”

NYK’s Imasaki had similar thoughts: “We are in a very unique position as the Japanese cruise market is very small, so the most important thing is trying to educate the population on the product.

“In the last 10 years we’ve seen all this potential for growth, but we haven’t seen actual growth.”

 Pacific Operators

Star Cruises has some deployment changes on the agenda.

“Firstly, our SuperStar Libra, currently homeported in Taiwan, will be deployed to Singapore from November 2010 to January 2011 due to market demand,” said Michael Goh, senior vice president of sales at Star Cruises.  

The SuperStar Libra will be doing a four-night itinerary from Singapore featuring calls in Port Klang and Phuket, and a three-night itinerary visiting in Port Klang and Penang, and an additional three-night itinerary with calls in Port Klang and Langkawi.  

"SuperStar Aquarius is homeporting in Hong Kong and will be sent to Penang in January to begin a four-day/three-night itinerary to Krabi and Phuket. And lastly, Star Pisces will return from Penang to homeport Hong Kong, offering a two-day/one-night itinerary in January 2011,” he added.

“If the economy remains healthy, it should be a good year,” Goh continued.

“We’re the only operator in this region with a mission to establish the Asia Pacific as an international cruise destination. We understand the wants and needs of our Asian guests and showcase the best of Asia to the international traveler through our cuisine, hospitality and entertainment programs.”

 Paul Gauguin is adding more hosted themed cruises for 2011, along with more seven-night voyages, according to Oscar Abello, vice president of product planning and revenue management.

Passenger capacity for 2011 is estimated at 13,500.

Orion Expeditions is set to welcome their second ship into the fleet next May. The Orion II, currently the Clelia II for Travel Dynamics and one of the eight original ships in the Renaissance class, will join the Orion I.

Blue Lagoon Cruises operates both the Fiji Princess and the Mystique

Captain Cook also operates in the Fiji region.

Managing Director Jackie Charlton commented that for 2011, the company is replacing the 116-passsenger Reef Escape with the 156-passenger Reef Endeavor for Fiji sailings.

The company also operates Great Barrier Reef and Murray River cruises.

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2010