Genting Dream to sail again on June 15, fitted with first internationally halal-certified kitchen on cruise ship, Latest Travel News - The New Paper

Genting Dream to sail again on June 15, fitted with first internationally halal-certified kitchen on cruise ship

After a change in management, Genting Dream will set sail on its maiden voyage on Wednesday (June 15) night with new features, including the world's first internationally halal-certified kitchen on a cruise liner.

For its first trip, a three-day, two-night cruise to nowhere, the ship will sail at half-capacity to ensure smooth operations. Along with the crew, this means close to 3,000 individuals on board.

"It's important to start the new brand correctly," said Mr Michael Goh, president and head of international sales of Resorts World Cruises, in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times.

"So for the first few cruises, we're not looking at filling up the ship… Instead, we're trying to manage it at 50 per cent to make sure our guests get the full experience."

The first sailing comes after a troubled few months at the start of the year, when Dream Cruises, the ship's then owner, applied to be wound up in February after its parent company, Genting Hong Kong, folded.

It stopped operating its vessel, World Dream, in Singapore, leaving thousands of customers in the lurch and demanding refunds.

Resorts World Cruises - owned by Malaysian tycoon Lim Kok Thay - later stepped in to offer credits to affected customers.

Bookings for cruises aboard Genting Dream kicked off on May 18.

Despite the hiccups, there has already been a strong response from both the domestic and international markets.

"Besides the domestic response, we've been getting a very good response from the overseas market...for example, we got 22,000 cabin bookings from India alone within less than three weeks of announcing (our relaunch)," added Mr Goh.

As part of the relaunch, Genting Dream has introduced some new features on board.

The ship is now the first OIC/SMIIC (Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation/ Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries) standard halal-friendly cruise ship in the world and will serve farm-to-fork halal meals out of a certified kitchen on board.

Halal food items will take up some sections of the buffet spread in one of the ship's biggest restaurants, The Lido, which has more than 500 seats.

"The halal certification was really important for us to get because we want to cater to different segments of the business... It is something that our Muslim passengers consider before they pick the brands (they cruise with) or the destinations," noted Mr Goh.

"We know that this is an important market as in South-east Asia alone. More than 60 per cent of the population is Muslim."

"But more importantly, it's not just Muslims who enjoy halal food... We could introduce this cuisine to a wider audience," he added.

Besides the new dining offerings, entertainment options on board have also been refreshed.

There will be more resort-style offerings throughout the day, from family-friendly games on the pool deck to Latin-themed nights at Tributes bar and sunset or night foam parties at the splash pool at Zouk Beach club.

In the coming months, Genting Dream is going full steam ahead with trips to international destinations.

Last week, it announced that from July 1, its cruises will call at Bintan and Batam from July 1, as well as Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang from July 3.

It also plans to include more popular destinations such as Phuket, Krabi and Bali as early as October.