SINGAPORE - Princess Cruises will be cruising to Malaysian shores for its new season. It will also be offering a wide array of itineraries that include Southeast Asia.
The cruise line brand under leisure travel company Carnival Corporation & Plc will be bringing the Sapphire Princess to Southeast Asia for a four-month season from November 2014 to February 2015.
This is the largest deployment ever by a premium cruise line in the region, Princess Cruises said.
"The total economic impact to Malaysia that Princess Cruises' new season of cruise trips is expected to bring is considerable, based on passenger and crew spending in each port, port and other local costs as well as travel agent commissions and marketing costs," said Farriek Tawfik, Director for Southeast Asia, Princess Cruises.
"We are excited to launch Princess Cruises' new itineraries to Malaysia. With its fascinating architectural landscapes and rich melting pot of cultures, Malaysia is definitely an exciting destination for our passengers. Its cultural and natural attractions are bound to appeal to international and regional cruise vacationers alike", Mr Tawfik added.
According to Tourism Malaysia, the Asian and international cruise passenger market is growing at an average rate of 14 per cent annually over the past 10 years.
Likewise, Malaysia's cruise industry is also set to grow, with the number of cruise passengers estimated to exceed half a million in 2013, the tourism body said.
Southeast Asia boasts a whopping number of 25,000 islands, compared to Caribbean's 7,000. This means it has much more potential for cruise destinations, said Princess Cruises.
This is combined with the rise of affluence which increases awareness and the demand for cruising in the region, the cruise line brand added.
In 2012, Penang handled a total of 211,554 cruise ship passengers with 139 ship calls, followed by Port Klang at 141,266 passengers with 98 ship calls. Langkawi is expected to claim third spot this year with 59,600 passengers and 52 calls, reported TTG Asia.
According to the Malaysia Cruise Council, Port Klang is expecting 195,000 passengers this year, an increase of 38 per cent from last year.
Princess Cruises' Southeast Asian season will call at seven countries and 16 ports in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei.
Its itineraries will run from three to 11 days and will include a three-day Straits of Malacca trip calling at Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang) and a four-day Malaysia trip calling at Penang, Langkawi and Port Klang in Kuala Lumpur.
Others include a five-day Thailand and Malaysia trip and a 10-day Malaysian Peninsula and Indonesia trip.
Princess Cruises estimates about 40,000 passengers during the first season of cruising which will sail from Singapore.
Passengers will be able to enjoy an array of dining, shopping and entertainment options that include "Movies Under the Stars" pool-side theatre and exclusive top-deck retreat The Sanctuary.
The 116,000-ton Sapphire Princess carries 2,670 passengers and features more than 200 suites and mini-suites with private balconies, Lotus Spa, Sterling Steakhouse, Sabatini's trattoria, wine bar, patisserie, pizzeria, boutiques, and Internet cafe among other amenities.
Guests of Princess Cruises will also get to enjoy onboard shopping with boutiques specialising in logo apparel, souvenirs, fashion, fine jewelry, fragrances and watches.
Princess Cruises has also launched a version of the on-demand, online training programme called Princess Academy, which will enable travel agents in Malaysia and the region to become experts on cruise sales, the Princess fleet, destinations and programs.
"We definitely look forward to a good working relationship with our partners in Malaysia such as the travel agents, Tourism Malaysia and other government agencies as well as Malaysian Cruise Council and the state tourism agencies to bring international passengers to Malaysian shores," said Mr Tawfik.
The 2014/2015 programme features the following cruises sailing roundtrip from Singapore:
- 11-day Southeast Asia: Departs November 27 and December 18, 2014 with calls at Bandar Seri Begawan (Muara), Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My), Sihanoukville, Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Ko Samui.
- 10-day Malaysian Peninsula & Indonesia: Departs December 8 and 29, 2014, and February 28, 2015, visiting Bali (Benoa), Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket.
- 5-day Thailand & Malaysia: Departs February 23, 2015 with calls at Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang), Penang and Phuket.
- 5-day Thailand: Departs January 8, 2015 with visits to Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Ko Samui.
- 10-day Indonesia: Departs January 13, 2015 calling at Jakarta, Bali (Benoa, with an overnight), Komodo Island and Lombok.
- 3-day Straits of Malacca: Departs January 23, February 6 and 13, 2015 with calls to Penang and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang).
- 4-day Malaysia: Departs January 26 and February 9, 2015 calling at Penang, Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur (Port Klang).
- 7-day Vietnam & Thailand: Departs January 30 and February 16, 2015 visiting Ko Samui, Bangkok (Laem Chabang) and Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My).