Celebrity brand cruises into Asia

PREMIUM cruise brand Celebrity Cruises kicked off her inaugural Asian season yesterday following the arrival of the 2,158-guest Celebrity Millennium at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore over the weekend.

From now until April 2013, the ship will call at nine new countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and China. There will be a series of 14-night one-way cruises between Singapore and Hong Kong, with overnight stays in ports like Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay and Hong Kong, as well as two 14-night round-trip sailings from Singapore with overnight stays in Bali.

Operated by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Celebrity joins the company’s two other brands, Royal Caribbean International (RCI) and Azamara Club Cruises, in Asia.

Highlighting their differences, Royal Caribbean Cruises managing director, Singapore, Jennifer Yap, told TTG Asia e-Daily that Celebrity’s and Azamara’s itineraries were longer, with RCI offering voyages of as short as three nights.

Facilities also vary. “Celebrity is for people who love the comforts of life, culinary aspects and retail experiences because we tie up with brands like Bulgari. At the same time, we cater to families with a children’s club,” she explained.

“(RCI) is more all-generation. Anyone from six months to 80 years old can come onboard. We have ice skating rinks, FlowRiders simulating surfing experiences and rock climbing walls for fun-loving and adventurous people…Azamara is more boutique.”

With long cruises, the guest mix tends to be more international, Yap noted.

The top nationalities for Celebrity cruises in Asia are currently the UK, the US and Australia, with Asians at a single-digit percentage. Japan and Hong Kong are among the highest contributors of Asian guests.

“Asians have a natural tendency to prefer short cruises because the market is less mature. Sometimes they just want a sampler…Usually when they try it and they like it and are converted, then they do a fly-cruise,” she said.

Launched in 2000, Celebrity Millennium underwent a major renovation earlier this year and now features Solstice Class features, including spa-inspired AquaClass staterooms; Qsine, which serves up globally-influenced dishes in a unique dining experience; creperie Bistro on Five; and wine bar Cellar Masters. There are nine dining outlets, four of which involve surcharges.

Other highlighted venues include the ice-topped Martini Bar accompanied by a VIP-like area called Crush.

The ship will be returning for a second Asia season in 2013/2014.

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