Travel Daily chats with Chananya Phataraprasit, executive director & owner of Asian Oasis, about their cruise offerings in Thailand…
Q) What are Asian Oasis’ most popular cruises in Thailand?
Our most popular cruise is the June Bahtra – a day cruise in Phang Nga Bay. I believe this is because it is close to Phuket and offers the convenience of a day trip. But we also operate three traditional rice barges on the Chao Praya River between Bangkok and Ayutthaya, and a traditional junk around Phi Phi Island.
Q) What onboard products can passengers expect on Asian Oasis’ vessels?
We offer service that is in touch with nature and tradition. We are proud of our service level, which is both attentive and professional, and our programmes give travellers the opportunity to be part their environment. Our boats are all original antique vessels that have been refurbished and fitted for travellers’ comfort. We serve Thai food made from local and chemical-free products, all prepared by our barge master or crew. We also make sure we employ local people and allow guests to visit local communities.
Q) River cruising very popular in Europe; do you believe Thailand can emulate this success?
I believe that Thailand has the right product, like unique-Thai style vessels and also the beauty of different destinations for cruising. However, we do not have market awareness internationally for cruising, therefore do we not get the exposure and very few people are interested to invest in this line of tourism. A destination like Thailand is ideal for a cruising holiday because we have both river and sea, which offer some of the best cruising grounds.
Q) Where do most of your cruise customers come from, and are you seeing any rising demand from Asian customers?
In Phuket, most of our guests are Europeans, while in Bangkok we have a mix of European and regional business. Asian guests love our dinner cruises.
Q) Are you seeing any trends in the Thai cruising sector – for example, rising demand for longer cruise options?
There is a rise in the cruising sector, especially in many of the beach destinations where larger vessels operate daily island excursions. There’s not growth or trend for slow travel or extended overnight programmes for cruises, like Asian Oasis’ products.
Q) What further developments can we expect from Asian Oasis cruises in 2014?
We are looking to developing a two-night version of our Mekhala Cruise, whereby people explore the upper part of the Chao Praya River in Ayutthaya province. This will give people the chance to see the sights and explore the waterways of the province.