Singapore’s Bid to Become Asia’s Cruise Hub Sails Ahead

The global slowdown and its possible impact on Singapore’s economy may be dampening investor sentiment, but it’s unlikely to dent the city state’s plans to become the cruise hub of Asia. A record one million cruise passengers set foot in the island nation last year, and the numbers are poised to grow 30 percent over the next two years.

“The number of cruise passengers handled by us has increased more than 60 percent in the last five years. And in 2013 Singapore will have approximately 1.3 million cruise passengers,” the Singapore Cruise Centre CEO Christina Siaw told CNBC. She added that in 2010 Singapore received calls from 34 cruise lines.

Singapore’s plans to attract cruise companies to dock here, got a boost this month when international cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises announced it would homeport its largest ship – the Voyager of the Seas – in Singapore. The 138,000-ton, 15-deck ship that can carry 5,000 people will be making its first trip to Asia in May 2012.

The captain of the Voyager, Charles Teige, told CNBC, “We want to explore the area here and we believe in Singapore.”

The tides have been changing in the global cruise market, with operators turning their attention from the traditional playgrounds of the Caribbean, North America and Europe to Asia. Even though Asia is still a nascent market, cruise operators see a huge potential. The Singapore Cruise Centre estimates the potential market from India and China alone to be 74 million passengers.

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