Celebrity Cruises is looking to expand its operations in Asia, by developing a series of premium cruise options across the region for both Asian and western customers.
Speaking with Travel Daily at the ITB Asia trade show in Singapore today (23 October 2013), the company’s newly-appointed commercial director for Asia Pacific, Kelvin Tan, said that while the Celebrity brand was still not widely known in Asia’s emerging markets, the company is following a “pan-Anglo” strategy that will focus on bringing more visitors to the Asian region from mature cruise markets like the US, UK, Australia and Canada. But Tan said there was also an opportunity to target other English-speaking Asian markets, such as India, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“We are developing our Asian strategy along this key axis of pan-Anglo markets, which are pretty mature and have affluent people able to take cruises as a lifestyle choice,” said Tan. “We see an opportunity in the Asian premium market. This can be people in the forties with a lot of time of their hands, or people in their sixties – ‘empty nesters’. This group of clientele can now take a ship from their own backyard, in Singapore, Hong Kong or Yokohama.”
Next year Celebrity will operate two ships in Asian waters – the 1,814-passenger Celebrity Century and 2,158-passenger Celebrity Millennium. And Tan said the type of cruise would not change from the usual Celebrity formula of offering longer two-week itineraries with land programmes.
“We feel that the North Americans and Europeans who come to Asia want to see as much as possible. We’ll continue develop our land component to offer a two- or three-week vacation, letting our guests see as many destinations as possible. And this formula has proven to be very successful,” said Tan.
“We are also looking at opportunities to develop week-long cruises, which will be able to please our Asian guests and yet also cater to the long-haul guest. But the key is to have a substantial land programme for the long-haul guests,” he added.
In this way, Tan said he hoped Celebrity would be able to strike “a balance” between satisfying the needs of Asian and international passengers.
In terms of China, Tan said the country was becoming an increasingly important outbound market for Celebrity’s cruises in Europe. Within China however, demand is still largely focused on shorter two- and three-night cruises. When asked whether Celebrity would seek to offer a range of shorter premium itineraries specifically for the Chinese market, Tan said the capacity of Celebrity would not currently permit this.
“China is about volume, and we’d need to build the brand there first before committing to a deployment,” he said.
But in terms of building the Asian tourism brand, Celebrity Cruises is certainly helping to bring more international travellers to a wider range of destinations across the region. And with affluence rising across the region, a premium cruise brand like Celebrity is likely to become ever more popular among Asian travellers too.