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APAC cruise leaders gauge speed of bounce back

The speed of cruising’s bounce back is going to be ‘phenomenal,’ Costa CCO Mario Zanetti said at Seatrade Cruise Virtual.

Zanetti was a panellist on the ‘Update: Asia Pacific’ session with Sarina Bratton, chairman Asia Pacific Ponant; Zinan Liu, chairman Royal Caribbean Asia/Royal Caribbean International; and Kent Zhu, president Genting Cruise Lines.

Movers and shakers

Moderator, Australian cruise industry veteran Ted Blamey, principal of CHART Management Consultants, called them ‘the movers and shakers’ of the Asia Pacific region.

Taiwan cruises

Zhu recapped Explorer Dream resumed operations in Keelung on July 26 with short ‘Taiwan Island-Hopping’ itineraries for Taiwanese passengers.

He said the company has carried 25,000 passengers to date with ‘no issues related to COVID-19.’   

The pre-recorded session was aired on the morning it was announced Dream Cruises’ World Dream will pilot sailings to nowhere from Singapore starting November 6, followed by Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas in December.

Ponant’s expeditions

Bratton said Ponant has operated more than 50 successful expeditions over the last two-and-a-half months, in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

‘We are heavily engaged with the Australian and New Zealand governments to restart,’ Bratton said.

Confidence of governments and consumers

All agreed it is imperative to regain the confidence of government authorities and consumers and for the industry to work together.

Bratton said companies need to look at a new style of operations.

‘It’s ‘not was,’ she said, ‘but ‘what is.’

She said once cruise lines are allowed to restart, government authorities will see that ships can operate safely.

China the key

Liu said China is the key to growth in the Asia/Pacific region.

However, he said, China’s central government is still very cautious about the risk of imported COVID-19 and will probably be the last country to open its borders.

He also said the Chinese government supports cabotage to protect domestic product.

He said cruising in China will start with cruises to nowhere and cruises between mainland China and Japan will follow.

Zanetti agreed, saying ‘China is the engine-room of the Asian market and we will be back.’ Costa is planning a three-ship China presence in 2021.

Blamey reminded the panel that China’s incredible growth had peaked in 2017 and had since slowed.

India a rising star

He said 2019 figures from the Cruise Lines International Association show that India is a rising star.

‘India will definitely be the second largest source market in Asia,’ Zhu said.


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