Wallem Ship Agency sets course for growth in Asia

Dickson Chin tells Rebecca Gibson how Wallem is working with cruise lines and government agencies to develop itineraries and overcome operational challenges in the region

Wallem Ship Agency sets course for growth in Asia

By Rebecca Gibson |

Wallem Ship Agency (Wallem) continually refines the tailor-made services it provides to support individual cruise brands with the full scope of their operations when sailing in Asia. 

“Each line is looking for something slightly different, and we are able to attract cruise brands to come to each country’s respective ports,” says Dickson Chin, Wallem Ship Agency’s group division managing director. “We have unrivalled working relationships with officials and governments in the region, and this gives us a competitive edge when cruise lines are looking for a trusted and reliable partner.” 

When it first entered the market in 2008, Wallem handled up to 30 cruise calls per year, but that number has now increased to 600. The firm can manage everything from pre-arrival permit applications to quayside processes, back-office administration and more. 

“We not only attend to the ships, but also work with cruise lines to help them find that differentiated experience or itinerary,” says Chin, noting this applies for luxury yachts, expedition vessels and mass-market vessels. 

 Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

Adobe Stock/Melinda Nagy

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam is a popular destination with cruise tourists

According to Chin, mass-market cruise ships are now returning to China following the pandemic, and there has been an influx of luxury cruise vessels. Wallem is reserving berths for brands planning their 2025-2026 and 2027 itineraries. Chin attributes this resurgence to Asia’s diversity as a cruise destination. 

“Asia has everything to offer because we’ve got so many different islands and there are many places to be discovered,” he explains, noting that the Philippines has 7,000 islands while Thailand has 2,000.  

Many of the destinations are closely located too, making it easy for cruise lines to sail between them and offer guests opportunities to experience different cultures, history, cuisine and attractions. There are also ports capable of handling the biggest vessels, as well as remote beaches that can accommodate small yachts taking travellers off the beaten track. 

Despite the cruise market rebounding, Wallem is facing many post-pandemic challenges, including local partners withdrawing from the tourism business. This has reduced support personnel, such as bus operators, drivers, porters and tour guides, in some places. 

“We are showing our partners the forward bookings and encouraging them to invest in the people to make sure they can deliver services,” says Chin, adding that Wallem is also collaborating with tourism boards to source new tour guides to accommodate current and future cruise growth. 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of  Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe  for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.  

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