PRINCESS Cruises’ Diamond Princess returned to the water yesterday after a US$30 million facelift that saw the addition of new amenities ahead of its 2015 Japanese season.
Designed to appeal to Japanese guests and those keen on experiencing a Japanese-themed voyage, the ship features Japanese-inspired facilities including an 818m2Japanese bath as well as a new restaurant, Kai Sushi Bar.
Guests can also take part in Japanese cultural programmes on board, including traditional storytelling, tea ceremonies and ikebana, which is the Japanese art of flower arrangement.
Princess Cruises’ development of a Japanese-themed ship is a bid to appeal to the growing Asian cruise market, where it has been heavily involved in recent years. The region now makes up seven per cent of the cruise market, said Farriek Tawfik, director of South-east Asia, Princess Cruises.
Touring the ship at its Singapore unveiling yesterday was Alan Lim, director of sales of Apple Tours, who commented that Princess Cruises was “serious” about entering the Asian market, citing the example of the ship’s new Japanese restaurant.
He said to TTG Asia e-Daily: “Previously, it was hard to have Asian food (onboard). Now, they cater to all.”
The Diamond Princess is also luring back old customers. Zhou Wenling, assistant manager of Cruise Arena, said: “My customers are quite interested in experiencing (the ship’s new upgrades)…We have some repeat customers who would like to join the Diamond Princessagain for this year’s sailing.”
Zhou’s repeat customers were impressed by the ship’s services, along with the itineraries, destinations and ports of call. “It is a new way to travel to Japan,” she told TTG Asia e-Daily.
The ship left Singapore yesterday on a 14-day voyage that will call at Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei and Osaka, including a two-day stopover in Hong Kong.
Following this trip, it will homeport in Yokohama from April 29 to September 6 for a season of sailings to destinations in Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, in addition to 14 ports across Japan.
By Jerlene Ng