Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has described Asia as a “gateway to tomorrow’s cruise marketplace”.
Her comments came while sitting on a distinguished panel discussing the industry at the second annual Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific in Singapore.
In a line-up which included Gianni Onorato, president of Costa Crociere; Kevin Leong, general manager of the Asia Cruise Association; Jan Swartz, executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service for Princess Cruises; Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia; Roberto Giorgi, president of V.Ships; and Dr. Zinan Lio, managing director China and Asia for Royal Caribbean; Duffy spoke about the potential growth the Asian market holds.
She commented that a 1% penetration rate within Asia would lead to 300 million cruise passengers. The US currently has a 3% penetration.
“The major issue here is to explain what cruising is to the customers,” said Onorato, who believes there is still much work to do on port infrastructure. “The second challenge is how to offer destinations and itineraries that can be reached in a competitive way cost-wise. We have a number of major homeports in the region, but they need other ports of call that are able to accommodate ships. Today, this is not the case and one of the major obstacles to growth. The main homeports should assist the other ports.”
Costa, which has invested heavily in Asia, has two ships in operating in the region – making it one of the first major operators to realise how important it was to the global market. However, fuel costs were high due to the long distances between ports.
Carnival Corporation, Costa’s parent company, has also opened offices for Princess, Cunard and Seabourn in Japan and will also be launching a base in Singapore. The Sun Princess, a Princess Cruises vessel, will have a short season operating out of Japan on what is thought to be a series of cruises which will mainly attract a Japanese clientele.
Kevin Leong, general manager of Asia Cruise Association explained the amount of excitement that surrounds the Asian market right now.
“Cruise lines want to bring in ships, but there are not enough ports of call,” he said. “It is ongoing work and it will take some time to make it happen. There is a sense of urgency to create more facilities.”
Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific concluded on 18 September.