Cruising in Asia is expected to become more popular over the coming years, with cruise lines deploying new, larger ships that have been purposely built for this region, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
“The coming generation of ships will replace older ships previously based in Asia, and when coupled with new cruise infrastructure in several Asian destinations are expected to fuel strong interest among travelers,” Joel Katz, Managing Director for CLIA Australasia & Asia, explained.
“The result is likely to be a return to growth for cruising in Asia after a slight decline this year,” he added.
In 2019, 39 cruise brands are active in Asian waters, deploying a total of 79 ships, with mid-sized vessels accounting for most of the fleet. This year will see similar numbers of vessels in Asian waters compared to 2018 with only small changes in numbers by ship size category, CLIA said in its 2019 Asia Cruise Deployment and Capacity Report.
Despite having a similar number of ships in Asia, the total passenger capacity deployed in Asia was expected to fall this year, after several years of rapid growth. The drop of 5.7% is driven by a decrease in the number of operating days and sailings offered, mainly due to the reduction in short cruise itinerary options ex-mainland China.
The planned itineraries of 1,917 sailings will generate capacity for 4.02 million passengers to cruise in Asia in 2019.
“Asia also has a wide diversity of appealing attractions… Ships in Asia will call at 306 different destinations, an increase of 18 destinations from 2018, providing the range of choice for passengers cruising here,” Katz further said.
What is more, port calls to Asia are expected to fall marginally this year with 7,154 calls, with a decrease of 15 calls compared to 2018. Many of the destinations – especially India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea – will see growth. The top three destinations will be Japan, mainland China and Malaysia.
Contrary to the decline in port calls, Asia will see a rise in passenger destination days. The 13 million passenger destination days forecast in 2019 will translate to more potential onshore visits from cruise passengers, creating a stronger tourism impact for the destinations across the region.