MS JESSICA Lim (“Navigating the waters to unlock potential in cruising”; Nov 7) is correct in pointing out that as gaming ships terminated their operations in recent years, the number of ship calls and passengers calling at Singapore has dropped.
However, cruises focused on non-gaming leisure experiences have been increasing steadily.
With the opening of Marina Bay Cruise Centre and the refurbishment of Singapore Cruise Centre last year, the number of maiden calls from this types of ship to Singapore tripled to 11 last year, compared with the figure in 2011.
This year has been another stellar year, with new and larger ships calling at Singapore.
Also, the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corp, opened its regional offices here in May, while Celebrity Cruises recently formed a dedicated sales team in Singapore.
These major cruise lines cite a few important reasons for their decisions: Singapore is a good hub for year-round cruising; general confidence in the potential of more passengers coming here via fly-cruise; excellent air connectivity and strong infrastructure.
This bullish outlook from major cruise lines will address Ms Lim’s questions about Singapore’s ability to attract new cruise business, and its role as a source market.
Business at both cruise terminals has been brisk. In fact, for the cruise season 2014/2015, there are some fifth-ship situations, that is, where five ships are looking to berth in Singapore on the same day, though we have only a total of four berths.
Fortunately, a robust berthing framework is in place. This allows the terminal operator to work with the ships to explore alternate berthing dates or redirect the ship to another terminal within Singapore.
Thus, we reassure readers that all ships visiting Singapore have secured suitable berth spaces so far.
There is no doubt that cruises are a regional product. For this industry to realise its potential, support from neighbouring ports is critical.
Hence, the Singapore Tourism Board has been working with its Asean partners to encourage infrastructure development and generate greater awareness of South-east Asia as a cruising region.
We believe in the long-term potential of cruises, and are confident that Singapore’s recent achievements can inspire tourism stakeholders to support this nascent industry.
Neeta Lachmandas (Ms)
Assistant Chief Executive, Business Development Group
Singapore Tourism Board
Countries: Asia Pacific, Singapore, and South East Asia