Spectrum of the Seas docks at Klang in S-E Asia's first cruise port call in over two years, Latest Travel News - The New Paper

Spectrum of the Seas docks at Klang in S-E Asia's first cruise port call in over two years

South-east Asia saw its first cruise port call in more than two years on Friday (July 1), when a vessel sailing from Singapore arrived in Malaysia.

Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas docked at Port Klang in the morning.

On Saturday, Resorts World Cruises' Genting Dream was due to call at Bintan and Batam in Indonesia, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Friday.

Singapore is the home port of both vessels.

Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are the first South-east Asian countries to resume port calls since cruising was halted in March 2020.

STB said it expects the cruise industry in Singapore to return to pre-Covid-19-pandemic levels by 2024, given discussions to resume similar calls in more ports across the region.

STB chief executive Keith Tan said the resumption of port calls is an important milestone for Singapore and the region.

He said: "Cruising is a key tourism driver, and as Asean's lead coordinator for cruise development, Singapore will continue to work with our counterparts to strengthen the region's attractiveness as a cruising destination and source market."

Before the pandemic, the cruise industry here was enjoying robust growth, with more than 1.8 million passengers in 2019.

Cruises from Singapore resumed in November 2020 without any port calls. More than half a million passengers have sailed on these cruises to nowhere.

Cruises have also seen a new wave of interest, especially from first-time passengers who did not consider cruising a leisure option before the pandemic. These new passengers are expected to contribute to a strong rebound for the industry, STB said.

It added that Singapore is working with other cruise lines to expand their customer base, such as to regional markets like Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as mid- and long-haul markets such as India, Australia, Germany, Britain and the United States.

The fly-cruise segment - where international passengers fly to Singapore to take a cruise - is also expected to rebound strongly with the relaxation of border measures. Pre-pandemic, 70 per cent of Singapore's cruise passengers were from this segment.

To prepare for the return of such travellers, STB said it would continue to offer the Cruise Development Fund to encourage cruise lines to home-port in Singapore. Agents can also tap this grant to develop and market cruise packages.