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Penang going for growth with Swettenham expansion

Port of Penang
Malaysia’s deepwater port of Penang is located at the northern entry to the Strait of Malacca.
Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal (SPCT), jointly owned by Penang Port and Royal Caribbean, is undergoing expansion.

‘SPCT can currently accommodate one large and one smaller ship at the same time but when the expansion is completed in 2020 we will be able to accommodate multiple Oasis class sized, plus smaller cruise ships at any one time,’ Sasedharan Vasudevan, CEO Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) told SCN.

Penang Port and Royal Caribbean jv

PPSB owns 60% of SPCT while RCL Development Holdings (Penang) Sdn Bhd, wholly owned-subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., owns the remaining 40%.

The two signed a joint venture to redevelop the cruise terminal in September 2017.

The existing 400mtr berth will be extended by 220mtr with an additional 118mtr-long dolphin.

'It is designed with a view for future expansion in line with anticipated demand,' Vasudevan said.

The project envisages SPCT will be able to handle two mega sized cruise ships simultaneously on the outer berths along with one small and one medium sized ship on the inner berths by end of this year.’

Berth and dolphin construction, scheduled to begin by end of 2019, will see Penang being able to manage 12,000 passengers daily from 2020.

Miami-based Bermello Ajamil & Partners are the design team for this project.

Homeporting appeal

Vasudevan expects a significant increase in international transit calls, along with an increase in appeal for homeporting in Penang.

‘With the state government’s full support in managing tourism activities, logistics and transport staging around the terminal, we are confident in strong future growth of the cruise industry in Penang.’

Vasudevan cited a concerted effort to market Penang as a cruise port and destination and PPSB is sending a delegation to Seatrade Cruise Global.

At the entrance to the Strait of Malacca

Malaysia’s historical port of Penang is a deepwater seaport located at the northern entry to the Strait of Malacca.

Penang has five terminals but Swettenham is the only one that handles integrated cruise and ferry services to nearby islands such as Pulau Langkawi and Pulau Payah.

In 2018, it received 176 international cruise transit calls with 33 turnarounds and around 400,000 passengers.

Vasudevan pointed out that Penang’s location is excellent for vessels to sail one night to reach North of Acheh, in Indoensia, Melaka in Malaysia or Singapore.

Fly cruise potential

He also sees fly-cruising to Penang taking off in a big way when Penang Airport (which is currently congested) has been renovated.

Penang is one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations, with a rich tapestry of cultures and considered the country’s culinary capital. Some parts of it are on UNESCO's World Heritage list. There are plans for the entire waterfront, where the cruise terminal is located, to be conserved and transformed to a swanky duty free zone.