Planners, are you onboard with meetings and events at sea?

Destination cruises have resumed in SE Asia, offering refreshing seaborne experiences for meeting planners and incentives organisers.

On deck at Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas: the ultimate corporate retreats are back in play in Southeast Asia, as regional destination cruising resumes.
On deck at Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas: the ultimate corporate retreats are back in play in Southeast Asia, as regional destination cruising resumes. Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean International

The past week marked a milestone that the cruise industry in Southeast Asia had been waiting for: It was the first time in more than two years that cruises are sailing to regional ports of call again.

Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas arrived at Malaysia's Port Klang on 1 July, while in Indonesian waters Resorts World Cruises' Genting Dream called at her first destination at Indonesia's Bintan and Batam Islands on the same day. Both ships departed from their homeports in Singapore.

Naturally, cruise industry executives expressed their excitement to resume regional sailings.

The return of regional ports of call is especially meaningful for the newly launched Resorts World Cruises. President Michael Goh said: "Having launched a few weeks ago, the start of our deployment was timely, and we have the local and regional governments and authorities to thank for the comeback of destination cruises, together with the hard work of our shore and ship team."

For Royal Caribbean International, Angie Stephen, vice president, Asia Pacific said: "The return of cruising to destinations is timely, with countries around the region reopening to welcome visitors, and looking to revitalise their tourism sectors, and embrace the new normal. Coastal and maritime tourism are important economic drivers underpinning our Southeast Asian economies, and we’re excited to breathe new life into the region’s travel and tourism sectors."

The resumption of port calls marks an important milestone for Singapore and the region, according to Keith Tan, chief executive at Singapore Tourism Board.

"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," he was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.

Both cruise lines are opening up more destination cruises in the coming months.

Having launched new destination cruises from 1 July to Bintan and Batam Islands, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, Resorts World Cruises will from October onwards offer more cruises to Phuket, Surabaya and North Bali.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean will start its first ports of call to Thailand in October 2022, with Thailand itineraries already open for sale.

Fly-cruise market takes off again

With borders opened and destination sailings back on cruise itineraries, the second half of 2022 is looking positive for both cruise lines amid swiftly growing international demand.

"The fastest growth is coming from within the region, with India, Malaysia, and Indonesia leading the pack," said Stephen. "We are also pleasantly surprised with the volume coming from long haul markets like the US and Europe."

Similarly, Resorts World Cruises is seeing "very encouraging" demand from both the domestic and regional markets, with an increasing trend for inbound travellers via the Fly-Cruise segment from SEA and South Asia.

Source: Travel Weekly Asia