17 November 17 The Business Times by JOSE HONG
The biggest luxury ship to be based in Singapore embarked on its maiden cruise on Thursday night, in a boost for Singapore's ambitions of becoming a cruise hub in Asia.
Genting Hong Kong's cruise liner Genting Dream, which has 18 decks and can host 3,352 passengers, will be sailing from Singapore to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar from Thursday.
To promote Genting Dream to these markets, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), Changi Airport Group (CAG), and Genting Cruise Lines have signed a tripartite partnership worth S$28 million.
This partnership will continue till 2020, and is estimated to bring in 600,000 visitors and more than S$250 million in tourism receipts.
On Thursday, at a press conference on the ship, which was docked at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, president of Genting Cruise Lines Kent Zhu said the company will be promoting Singapore as a fly-cruise destination in more than 20 countries.
President of Dream Cruises Thatcher Brown added that Singapore could collaborate with Qantas in the Australian market, now that the airline is returning to Singapore.
This is the first time Singapore is serving as the home port of a luxury cruise ship of such a scale. The 150,695-tonne ship, which has a length of 335m, has nine restaurants and attractions such as an outdoor party venue, rock climbing wall and what it calls the largest reflexology spa at sea.
Said CAG chief executive Lee Seow Hiang: "The Asia-Pacific is currently the largest aviation market in the world, and will be the fastest growing region in the next 20 years.
"With Changi Airport's strong air connectivity to more than 380 cities worldwide, Singapore is well positioned to capitalise on this growth opportunity and bring more fly-cruise traffic here, serving as a cruise hub for the region."
STB chief executive Lionel Yeo said: "This tripartite partnership underscores Singapore's drive to become South-east Asia's leading cruise hub and is an integral part of our continual efforts in promoting fly-cruise from Singapore."
The cruise ship will be based at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, and offer two-night, three-night and five-night cruise itineraries.
The ship left on a one-night tour on the high seas and returns on Friday, before going to a special three-night opening party cruise to Phuket. It starts normal operations after that.