With a densely populated coast and plenty of exotic destinations Asia could be the next booming cruise market
The new Shanghai cruise terminal is one of
the most futuristic buildings in the world
As the U.S.-based cruise lines continue to grow we see interesting shifts in the regional deployment of cruise ships. While some cruise lines are continuing to bet mostly on America, mostly basing their newest ships in the U.S., other cruise lines are looking to permanently place more ships in distant world regions, not for the benefit of American cruisers, but to attract more of the local population as a new clientele.
You already know about the huge migration of cruise ships to Australia that took place in 2011 and 2012 by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Princess and Holland America. The next region expected to be tapped as a source of new cruise passengers is Asia.
Asia is our favorite cruise destination. Great ports, great sites, great shopping. Arlene wants to go back next year for a Hong Kong to Beijing cruise but I told her that we had been to all the ports so quite expensive; still, it is an option. If you haven't been; you need to take a look. I think Hong Kong to Singapore is the best itinerary; especially if overnights in each port.
I am with Marc. Asia is a wonderful cruise destination. So many of the ports are easily accessible and the cities are wonderful. The new cruise center in Singapore is rapidly expanding and is a great city for those a "first time" visit to Asia. Singapore is clean, safe and interesting. It isn't my favorite city in Asia but it is very tourist friendly.
We did a two week cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong in December with three days pre-cruise in Singapore and three days, post cruise, in Hong Kong. Destinations like Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Long Bay were interesting, beautiful and the people were quite friendly.
The best part for us is the food. The local restaurants and street vendors offer a variety of delicious and interesting foods that you will find nowhere else in the world. The "Hawker Centers" in Singapore will offer you the widest variety of foods in a clean and well managed area. The liver and gizzards I had at the Market Street Center in Singapore will go down as one of the best things I've ever ate. Don't worry there is infinite more and less "ofal" things at the Hawker Centers. BBQ duck, chicken rice, BBQ pork, just to name a few. The meals we ate at the Hawker Stalls were equal or much better than at the "expensive" restaurants. The "ambiance" was better at the restaurants but the food wasn't. Also, Singapore is not a "cheap" city.
You will find that Vietnam is still communist but it has embraced Capitalism in a big way. In Saigon you will see everything from Gucci, Prada and Armani stores to large open air markets. A shop-a-holics dream.
I will be very happy if the U.S. cruise lines base more ships out of Asia. It is truly a unique destination and one that travelers will appreciate.
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Last year, the cruise industry worldwide carried around 20 million passengers.
All of those very expensive consultants we employ tell us that there are an additional 24 million people in North America who are interested in going on a cruise in the next 5 years. But they have 2 challenges:
1. Many of them cannot yet afford to go.
2. There are no beds available for them.
Those same consultants tell us that China alone has over 300 million people in their rapidly expanding middle class who want to go on a cruise. Most of them can afford to go.
But they have 1 challenge:
1. Not enough ships or beds for them to go.
Those same consultants also point out that Japan's Middle Class is nearly as large as America's shrinking Middle Class.
They are just getting into cruising.
These middle class members are the Cruise Lines' target market.
But the Japanese typically pay double what the Americans are paying for the same cruise.
Where do you think the cruise line CEOs are looking?