As Dream Cruises launches the inaugural itinerary of its second ship World Dream – with sails covering Hong Kong, Manila and Boracay until March next year – the cruise line is casting its sights on the Philippines’ growing luxury segment and market of potential cruisegoers.
Thatcher Brown, president of Asia’s only cruise line Dream Cruises, said they are offering travel flexibility so that tourists can embark in Manila or fly first to Hong Kong before returning to Manila via World Dream.
There are also efforts to localise the cruise product by adapting their offerings in terms of language, food, guest needs, and daily interaction with guests.
Stressing that Manila is a “strong destination partner”, Brown said World Dream offers “inspirational luxury” which would appeal to the country’s burgeoning FITs, first time cruisers, families and multi-generational guests, and MICE.
He said parent company Star Cruises’ pioneering spirit that led to Superstar Virgo being homeported in Manila for three months this year is a “pathfinder” for large ships while in previous years, Superstar Gemini sailed to Manila and Superstar Aquarius included Philippine itineraries.
World Dream currently has eight wholesalers in the Philippines although other travel agencies can sell the cruises and travellers can book direct with the cruise line. About 80 per cent of the bookings are still done through travel agents, according to Star Cruises’ assistant vice president for sales, Andrea Solis Manzano.
Brown said their cruise company has a history of a network of relationship with the travel agency community in Asia and greater Asia and that “we stand by those relationships”. Cruises are complex products that need “professionals to match the right product with guest needs”.
“Travel agents are the ones who understand the product,” he said.