Asia is in the midst of a cruising boom, fuelled by the rise of locals embarking on regional cruises. While the traditional strongholds of the United States, Europe and the Caribbean remain popular the Asia Pacific attracted over two million Asian passengers in 2015, which almost tripled its passenger intake of 775 000 in 2012.
According to the recently released Asian Cruise Trends 2016 report by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in association with CHART Management Consultants, the region’s cruise market continues to grow at double digit rates with China a growing powerhouse.
“The reason for the increase in Chinese cruisers is due to the sheer power of China’s market size, and its growing middle class who have disposable incomes and are interested in discovery”, says Ted Blamey, Former cruise liner CEO and Director of CHART.
Strong growth across the region
This is reflected in the report’s numbers with 47 per cent of total cruise passengers coming from mainland China. Other markets reporting strong growth were Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Interestingly, the number of Vietnamese cruising has grown nearly 400 per cent in two years.
While Australia’s proximity to the region should mean it’s well-placed to capitalise on this Asian cruise boom, Blamey says it’s not having a significant impact on Australia’s cruise industry for the moment.
He suggests that with more time Chinese speaking cruise attendants and appropriate signage onboard will make a difference.”
Interestingly, the report indicated eight out of ten Asian cruisers opted to sail within the region rather than going further afield.
And for those Asian passengers who travelled externally, “just 0.1 per cent of Mainland Chinese, and one per cent of Hong Kong Chinese cruised to Australia in 2015,” Blamey says.
Building capacity is key
According to the CLIA, “The volume of ships deployed in Asia grew nearly 40 per cent, from 2013 to 2016.”
For Blamey the region’s cruising success can be attributed to the rise in regional capacity and we’re now starting to see operators respond in the Australian market as well.
For example, Australia’s cruise industry leader, Carnival Australia, are aware of the knock-on effects of deploying more cruise ships in the region, and have lined-up new additions to its fleet.
Carnival Australia is currently partnered with Italian ship builder, Fincantieri, who will be constructing the first cruise ship built specifically for the Australian market (under the P&O Australia brand) with a launch date scheduled for 2019.
“The first new-build cruise ship is a huge vote of confidence in the Australian cruise market said Carnival Australia’s Executive Chairman, Ann Sherry at the time of the new ship’s announcement.