Bringing cruising back to Asia following Covid-19

As one of the biggest cruise companies in Asia, Genting Cruise Lines is pivotal to the future of the region’s cruise industry. Raymond Lim tells Alex Smith how it restarted sailing in tough times

Bringing cruising back to Asia following Covid-19
World Dream has been sailing themed ‘Super Seacations’ itineraries from Singapore during the pandemic

Representing three cruise brands – Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and Crystal Cruises – Genting Cruise Lines is one of the biggest players in Asia’s cruise landscape. It was the first company to resume cruising in the continent following the outbreak of Covid-19, when Dream Cruises’ Explorer Dream began sailing a series of two- and three-night ‘Taiwan Island-Hopping’ itineraries from Keelung, Taiwan, in July 2020.

Since then, Genting has gradually returned to ports across Asia, though it has yet to resume sailing to destinations outside the region. However, the company remains optimistic for future expansion across the world once the pandemic is fully under control.

“For Genting Cruise Lines, our strategy has predominantly been to deploy our ships in the Asia region,” says Raymond Lim, senior vice president of planning and port management at Genting Cruise Lines. “Prior to Covid-19, we had also deployed our ships to Australia and New Zealand as well.  However, with the impact of Covid-19 on the cruise industry and with the travel restrictions still enforced in the region, our short- and medium-term plans are to look at shorter sailings such as ‘High Seas’ itineraries or, in the case of Taiwan, island-hopping cruises. 

“Once Covid-19 is under control, our long-term goal is to explore farther deployments to destinations in the Mediterranean and Alaska with our fleet.”

When the company is not bound by Covid-19-related restrictions, it chooses ports based on their suitability and appeal, with research carried out by a dedicated team.

“For itinerary planning, under normal circumstances, we will begin by looking at our source market and its infrastructure suitability to act as a homeport,” says Lim. “From there, we would explore destination ports that would be attractive to the market and within reach of the homeport. An itinerary planning team consisting of sales, port operations and marine operations experts will be set up to look at the feasibility of offering such itineraries from a holistic viewpoint for the company. “

The cruise company makes sure its shore excursions deliver the experiences its guests value the most.

“Traditionally, shore excursions that combine city landmarks with cultural attractions and shopping tend to appeal to our guests,” says Lim. “For example, in the past, our passengers have responded well to our ‘Highlights of Naha’ in Okinawa, ‘Grand Tour of Hoi An and Danang’ in Vietnam, and our ‘Historic Manila and Shopping Tour’ in the Philippines.”

As vaccine programmes progress and international travel restrictions begin to be lifted, Genting is preparing to resume some of its most popular itineraries in other Asian destinations.

“With Covid-19 curtailing international travel for the better part of two years, for 2022 and 2023 we are looking forward to returning to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam,” says Lim. “Japan has always been a perennial favourite destination with our guests who are charmed by the food, culture and attractions and, most importantly, its wide variety of shopping opportunities!”

Japan is also a favourite for Lim, though he also highlights Genting’s Taiwan itineraries as an exciting alternative while restrictions are still in place.

“In the past, I have particularly enjoyed our longer seven-night destination cruises to Japan with ports of call to Yokohama and Shimizu, or to Taiwan with stops around the island,” he says. “Presently, our island-hopping itineraries from Taiwan would be the closest that we have to a ‘get-away’ travel experience in the region.”

This article was first published in the 2022 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
20 December 2021