10 April 18 The Straits Times by RACHAEL SEOW
Asia's largest cruise vessel, Quantum of the Seas, will call Singapore home for six months next year to tap the growing cruise market here.
It will be Royal Caribbean International's longest deployment to Singapore for a quantum class liner.
To be based here from November next year until April 2020, the liner will undertake 34 sailings - to and from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh - carrying up to 150,000 passengers into or out of Singapore.
The 170,000 ton, 18-deck high ship can carry up to 4,905 passengers, a 30 per cent increase in capacity for Singapore sailings. Basing it here will enable Royal Carribean to tap into 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.
Quantum class vessels feature skydiving simulators, bumper car rides and even robot waiters at a "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, up by 36 per cent from 2010.
Mr Sean Treacy, Asia-Pacific managing director 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 said.
If the percentage of the population that has taken a cruise is used as a marker for a market's maturity, then Asia has plenty of room to grow.
"In Australia, it's 5 per cent, in the United States, 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 today till Thursday for Quantum of the Seas 2019 to 2020 cruises departing from Singapore.