Asian ports have stepped up to serve the cruise industry with new facilities to match the bigger ships, especially Singapore, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
In Singapore, Christina Siaw, CEO of the Singapore Cruise Center, told Cruise Industry News that she expects 299 ship calls for the full year (2012), including seven first-time or maiden calls by the Seabourn Quest and the Legend, the Costa Deliziosa and the Victoria, L’Austral and the Aegean Odyssey.
Singapore also has the new Marina Bay Cruise Center slated for its official opening later this year. The terminal saw its first call in May by the Voyager of the Seas. The new facility was built to compensate for the length and height restrictions of the existing cruise port, allowing the largest ships to call in Singapore. However, the Singapore Cruise Ship Center claims 80 percent of the traffic.
“We will have a good mix,” Siaw added. “The Superstar Virgo continues to homeport, and we are welcoming back the Costa Victoria, the Costa neoRomantica and the AIDAdiva during the coming the peak season.” The Virgo sails some 50 cruises from Singapore this year.
While the calls for 2013 were not finalized at press time, the number of calls is expected to be the same or slightly higher compared to 2012.
Siaw said future growth will be driven by major lines like Costa and Royal Caribbean which are deploying more ships and offering more itineraries in Asia, feeding what she called a growing middle-class demand for cruise vacations.
In addition, Singapore benefits from air connections with more than 200 destinations and the expansion of low-fare airlines, like Air Asia and Jetstar. Thus, the port is hoping to see more air-sea cruise passengers coming from source markets like India, the Middle East and China.
Furthermore, she said, as more ports throughout Asia upgrade their terminal facilities, more cruise lines will be encouraged to deploy ships in the region.
“China will definitely be the major source market for Singapore and the surrounding area,” Siaw noted. “We are of the opinion that China can easily sustain a fleet and this will mark just a beginning. The Chinese middle class is growing very fast.”
The Singapore Cruise Center can accommodate two ships up to 270 meters in length each, and 52 meters in height, and process a total of 4,000 passengers at any one time. On a year-round basis the facility can homeport two ships and more ships seasonally.
“For cruise operators, we also offer Cruise 360, a coordinated and cost-effective platform to supply and support ships that berth in Singapore,” Siaw said. “Launched last year, Cruise 360 is an aggregation of best-in-class services that lines can tap into for quick and easy procurement.”
Originally built in 1991, the two berth facility has been continually upgraded since, including a $14 million “rejuvenation” in 2011, which added 25 percent more space in the arrival and departure halls, upgraded amenities and new check-in counters.
Its central location also allows the Singapore Cruise Center to offer passengers an underground train station, as well as public busses and taxis, for easy access to the different parts of the island.
See the full Asian market report in Cruise Industry News' special Asia issue for the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference in Singapore Sept. 17 to 18.