She wants to raise awareness and drive understanding about how the cruise industry’s potential could transform their tourism sectors.
‘Especially in view of the growing size of cruise ships and passenger loads in the region,’ she told Seatrade in an exclusive interview.
‘Seeking closer cooperation on the issues of port and tourism infrastructure improvement and development, is all the more urgent today.’
Stephen, a 20-year RCL veteran was recently appointed md for operations in Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), overseeing commerce and operations for Royal Caribbean International and Azamara Club Cruises.
Stephen, who was until recently avp market development in China, has relocated to Singapore, to take over from Sean Treacy.
During Treacy’s four years or so in Asia, the company experienced dramatic growth in tonnage and sales, especially in the Australia and Singapore markets.
She acknowledges that Treacy(who relocated back to Miami last month as avp strategic planning for international at RCL) has ‘truly paved the way’ for her and has handed over the reins after a uniquely definitive moment in Royal's journey of growth and expansion in the region.
More capacity and longer deployments for Southeast Asia
‘He built a great team and a strong business here, and I am excited to bring Royal Caribbean International to greater heights with newer ships, more capacity and longer deployments for Southeast Asia, as we move into the new decade. We are looking forward to new innovations, experiences and business growth in the next few years.’
She sees Southeast Asia, with its growing markets and busier port development initiatives, as high on Royal Caribbean’s regional expansion plans.
Targetting the growing millennial market
’We continue to build up the demand for cruising especially among the growing millennial market with the newest of our fleet - the upcoming Quantum Ultra ship Spectrum of the Seas for a short season and Quantum of the Seas for six months’ homeporting from next year, on top of a multi-million dollar revitalisation for the latter.
‘Cruising is fast making its way to the list of top vacation choices among travellers here. There is certainly a lot more awareness and attraction for cruising especially among the younger consumers.’
Stephen has also seen first-hand how North Asia’s appetite for cruising is growing ‘at a tremendous rate’.
She added, ‘We see that as an opportunity for our region since their travellers are starting to explore cruise options beyond their region. We are still getting strong demand from our markets in North Asia for our Southeast Asian cruises particularly during this time of the year which coincide with the local holiday season, and they make an attractive tropical getaway from the cold winter season.’
On a personal note Stephen feels being based in Singapore is an incredible opportunity for her and her family.
20 years at Royal Caribbean
‘I’ve never imagined that my Royal Caribbean career would bring me here when I started out as a sales manager in North America 20 years ago. It’s a very friendly place full of different cultures to explore. Plus, I’m a foodie so with the rich variety of cuisine here, the experience is amazing.’
As regards working in this ‘globally connected city’, Stephen adds that the dynamism and drive from the regional cruise hub and surrounding markets make it a very exciting business. ‘Overall, I feel very optimistic about the opportunities for our industry and Royal Caribbean here.’
Stephen was also based in Miami, at RCL’s headquarters, where she has held many leadership positions within the sales and marketing organization, including district sales manager, trade strategy, training & event planning and marketing operations.