Each week, our resident cruise expert will answer your questions.
Terry Tam of Singapore asks “why should I cruise in Asia?”
Right now, nowhere else in the world offers a wider choice of ships, cruises or destinations than Asia. It’s the ideal destination for first time cruisers, families, couples or cruising veterans.
According to the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) there are now 168 cruise destinations across 19 Asian countries and the number of port calls reached 3,909 last year, an increase of 34 per cent since 2013. In 2015, 52 CLIA member ships carrying more than two million passengers sailed around Asia, with a number of other independent vessels also sailing in the region.
Cruising in Asia gives you access to some of the world’s greatest ships. International cruise lines have begun sending some of their best and biggest ships to be homeported in Asia, such as Royal Caribbean’s Ovation and Quantum of the Seas. Princess Cruises’ new Majestic Princess will cruise to Japan and South Korea from its homeport of Shanghai from mid 2017. Norwegian Cruise Line also has a new ship, Norwegian Joy, in the works for 2017, set to sail exclusively in China. Asia is even getting it’s very own premium cruise line later this year, with the launch of Dream Cruises to be sailing out of Hong Kong.
Cruise lines have also learnt that they must cater directly to the local market and have adjusted their food, shopping and entertainment options to meet the unique interests of Asian cruisers. They are offering things like larger spaces for tai-chi exercise, more mahjong tables, more luxurious boutiques for shopping, and more dumplings, noodles, congee, sushi and local beers available for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Asia is also a great place to dip your toes in the waters of cruising. Most cruises operating in the region are short, generally between two and six days. This fits in well with leave and allows passengers to get a taste of life onboard a ship as well as visit one or two interesting ports. Figures show that these short local cruises are most popular with Asian cruisers, with nine out of 10 choosing to cruise in Asia (91 per cent) and only nine per cent flying abroad to take a cruise in Europe, Alaska and the Caribbean.