SINGAPORE – Carnival Corporation & plc today announced that its Princess Cruises brand is capitalizing on the growing popularity of cruise travel in this region by bringing premium cruise experiences to travelers from Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei through its homeporting seasons.
Sapphire Princess, one of 18 ships in the fleet, is currently based in the region for its second homeporting season from November 2015 to March 2016, making roundtrips from Singapore to Southeast Asia destinations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. This is one of the largest deployments by a premium cruise line in the region, covering seven countries and 12 ports, over a wide range of cruise lengths ranging from three to 11 days.
Sapphire Princess visited Muara, Brunei for a day and travel agents as well as members of the media were invited onboard to experience for themselves the line’s luxurious facilities. Guests on board the Sapphire Princess will enjoy the classic Princess Cruises experience which includes a wide range of world-class dining, duty-free shopping and entertainment, in addition to signature innovations such as the popular Movies Under the Stars, a top-deck poolside theatre, and The Sanctuary, a top-deck retreat exclusively for adults.
“Cruising is becoming a popular travel option for tourists from Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei due to the increasing desire to explore the region in a unique way,” said Farriek Tawfik, Director of Southeast Asia, Princess Cruises. “Our Southeast Asia homeporting seasons and world-class cruise trips will provide guests with the unforgettable travel experience that they seek.”
Buoyed by the high customer satisfaction from the previous season, Princess Cruises announced that Diamond Princess will begin her first season in the region in 2016, featuring a similar extensive array of itineraries with 16 cruise trips ranging from three to ten days and 14 long voyages of nine to 21 days, which is a combination of short sailings.
This is aligned with the Malaysia and Brunei governments’ goals to leverage cruise tourism to increase visitor traffic and spending. Malaysia’s vision of a Straits Riveria Cruise Playground targets to bring in RM$1.75 billion in gross national income and create 10,000 jobs by 2020 from cruise tourism.
Emerging trends in cruising
Princess Cruises is also witnessing emerging cruise traveler profiles in Southeast Asia such as first-timers, young adults and families, as more Asians look to explore their own region by cruise ship. This is a stark contrast to other markets in Europe and North America, where cruise travel is dominated by the elderly and the retired.
“The surge in interest for cruise vacations from different consumer groups – first-timers, honeymooners and couples, families, is overwhelming and we expect a double-digit growth in Malaysian and Brunei travellers opting for cruise vacations in the years ahead”, said Mr Tawfik.
Princess Cruises has a full-fledged on-going travel agent outreach program in the region of which the highlight is an online training program called Princess Academy that enables travel agents to become experts on the Princess fleet, destinations and programs. Princess Academy has just been launched in Brunei and East Malaysia, and the response has been encouraging, with many travel agents signing up to start the online courses.
To tap further into the potential of Malaysia and Brunei’s cruise markets, Princess Cruises will continue its marketing programs and initiatives in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei, working closely with travel agents to promote cruising as a vacation of choice.
To better serve Singapore and Southeast Asia guests, both Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess will have multi-lingual crew members in key guest-facing positions during her homeport season from Singapore. Dining room menus include local dishes, such as Nasi Goreng, Laksa and Chicken Rice, along with the line’s international offerings. Specially designed enrichment programs and other amenities such as the shopping selection and spa treatments have also been tailored to local preferences.
Princess Cruises offers travelers meaningful vacation experiences by connecting them with each other, nature, different cultures and new foods. Guests can look forward to Discovery at Sea, a special on board program created in partnership with Discovery Communications. The program and activities are inspired by top-rated Discovery network properties from Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Science Channel.
The 116,000-ton Sapphire Princess carries 2,678 passengers and features a high number of staterooms with private balconies, the award-winning Lotus Spa, steakhouse, wine bar, patisserie, pizzeria, boutiques, and Internet café among other amenities.
For 2016, the experience on board Diamond Princess in Singapore will substantially be the same as that offered by Princess Cruises around the world, providing an impressive array of dining and entertainment options. However, some changes and enhancements have been made to appeal to the Asian market, such as the Izumi Japanese bath – the largest of its kind at sea – as well as Kai Sushi restaurant.