Royal Caribbean has made a bold statement by bringing one of its newest ships, Spectrum of the Seas, a full six months ahead of schedule due to the increase in demand.
And the line is hoping to attract Australians on their popular cruises to nowhere.
Initially due to homeport in Australia in October 2022 and sail around Southeast Asia, Spectrum will be arriving in April 2022.
The Quantum-Ultra-class ship was first deployed in China after its 2019 delivery, and features several first-at-sea features such as Asia’s first Sky Pad with a VR bungee trampoline experience.
Whilst sail dates and itineraries have yet to be announced by the line, Angie Stephen, RCI’s Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, tells Cruise Passenger that cruisers, including fly-cruisers from Australia, have plenty to be excited about when the ship arrives. She also delves into the line’s plans to grow cruising in Asia.
What can you tell us about Spectrum’s arrival in Singapore? Will the ship be doing cruises-to-nowhere or port sailings?
Ms Stephen: One of the biggest things we’re looking forward to in 2022 is welcoming Spectrum of the Seas to Singapore, a ship that was purpose-built for Asia. It has a lot of Asian-inspired restaurants and entertainment on board, while still offering the international experience that our guests have come to love and associate with Royal Caribbean.
In recognition of the huge support we’ve received from the Singapore market, as well as recognising the growing demand for cruising within the region, we are in the midst of planning some very exciting itineraries. Stay tuned!
Wonder of the Seas, which was due to arrive in Asia, has now been relocated to Florida. Are there plans to bring any Oasis-class ship to Asia or Singapore?
Ms Stephen: At the moment, our focus is on looking ahead to the arrival of Spectrum of the Seas. We can’t wait to have a ship designed specifically for the Asian market in Singapore!
With international travellers now allowed on Singapore cruises, what has the demand been like?
Ms Stephen: The Singapore government’s move to allow international visitors to Singapore to cruise is a tremendous vote of confidence in Royal Caribbean’s commitment and ability to deliver a safe holiday experience. The overall move to a vaccination-differentiated mode in Singapore to manage COVID-19 as endemic has also been a huge step forward in returning our city-state to its stature as the gateway cruise hub for Southeast Asia.
Our sailings for Q1 2022 on Quantum of the Seas are completely booked out, and so we look forward to welcoming international guests on board later this year!
How is the line looking to attract more fly-cruisers from Australia and around the world?
Ms Stephen: We have been eagerly anticipating the return of overseas guests on our cruises – this includes Australians, who have always comprised a significant portion of our fly-cruisers.
To ensure international guests will be able to cruise safely with us, Royal Caribbean will continue with its existing bedrock of meticulous planning with clearly defined health and testing protocols – all of which have been executed flawlessly in the last year. These include pre-departure wellness screenings and testing, contactless embarkation and debarkation and enhanced ventilation and sanitisation aboard.
At present, cruising is at 50% capacity. With the continued social distancing requirements, how does the line hope to accommodate passengers during peak/holiday periods?
Ms Stephen: In order to ensure social distancing protocols are adhered to and the guest experience is not compromised, most of the activities can be booked via the Royal Caribbean app, and guests are able to do this as soon as they check in online.
For guests who prefer to go with the flow whilst on vacation, there are also numerous daily activities happening onboard, from art auctions and trivia quizzes to Latin dance classes and scavenger hunts, for guests to enjoy.
What are some trends you predict for cruising in 2022?
Ms Stephen: We can expect the cruising industry to increasingly adapt technology onboard cruises, both to increase efficiency and also provide enhanced cruise experiences. Many of our recent digital advancements, particularly with our Royal Caribbean app, were designed to enhance the guest experience by removing lines, crowds and paperwork.
Technology underpins today’s health and safety measures such as Muster 2.0 that will add to the guest experience and encourage healthy and safe practices. We’re also able to provide our guests with a seamless process to board and disembark the ship, as well as an avenue to enhance the experience on board through technology.
What is the outlook for cruising in 2022 in Asia?
Ms Stephen: The Asia-Pacific region holds tremendous opportunity for the growth of the cruise industry. In fact, it is an untapped cruise market with the fastest growing middle-class market – 3 billion by 2030 and 2 billion in China – and cruising has less than 1% penetration.
In Singapore, limited travel options due to Covid restrictions encouraged guests to cruise, which really gave us the opportunity to showcase what the cruising experience is like, while also introducing our product to a new, wider range of consumers who have come to enjoy and repeatedly book cruises with us.
As we navigate through Covid as an endemic, we are confident that holidaymakers around the region will see cruising as one of the safest holiday options given the contained environment and effective health and safety protocols onboard.
What are the line’s other plans to grow cruising in 2022?
Ms Stephen: We’ve always been known as a leader in travel innovations, being the first to bring breath-taking activities such as skydiving, surfing and ice skating onto our ships. Royal Caribbean will continue to push the envelope even further, with plans to create yet another exclusive recreational haven for our guests. This will be a new carbon neutral island – Lelepa Island in Vanuatu, South Pacific.
The first of these was Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas, a US$250 million investment featuring a superlative-laden itinerary of activities. As cruise ships start visiting more and more of the same destinations, these private islands as our ports of call are what will keep Royal Caribbean delivering world-class experiences for guests.