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Royal Caribbean's return to Malaysian ports brings welcome boost for tourism

PHOTO: Royal Caribbean International CRUISE_Spectrum_ at_Penang_Swettenham_Pier.jpg
Spectrum of the Seas berthed at Penang's Swettenham Pier
With Royal Caribbean International port-of-call sailings having resumed in Southeast Asia since July 1, both cruise line and tourism executives are excited about the prospects.

Royal Caribbean International’s Spectrum of the Seas is sailing twice weekly from Singapore to the Malaysian ports of Port Klang and Penang. From October, she will sail to Phuket as well.

‘The wait is over! We are thrilled to herald the return of ports-of-call cruising within the region, and to connect holidaymakers with Asia’s beautiful destinations once again. The combination of adventures and experiences we’ve curated onboard, as well as the vibrancy and rich heritage of Malaysia’s shores will make Spectrum of the Seas a huge hit for Singapore guests as well as fly-cruisers from around the globe,’ said Angie Stephen, VP and MD, Asia-Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.

In recognition of the return, celebratory events were held onboard Spectrum of the Seas as she called at Port Klang and Penang’s Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal.

Senior dignitaries and state officials witnessed the plaque and key exchanges between Spectrum of the Seas Capt. Flemming and the ports’ senior executives.

Port Klang new owners

‘As the new owner of the passenger cruise terminal in Port Klang, Port Klang Cruise Terminal (PKCT) is indeed excited to see the resumption of cruise ships calling at our terminal,’ noted Dato’ Azman Shah Mohd Yusof, chairman of PKCT.

‘We believe that the arrival of cruise ships carrying local and international passengers to enjoy restaurants, attractions and shopping malls around the state of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur will greatly support Malaysia’s tourism industry and economy.’

Penang back

Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, chairman of Penang Port Commission, added that Penang is primed for a tourism rebound with the arrival of cruise ships.

‘Penang Port welcomed 13 international calls totaling nearly 35,000 passengers just in July, 27,000 of whom were guests from Spectrum of the Seas,’ he said. ‘The port appreciates the economic growth, joy and benefits brings to Penang.’

Dato’ Sasedharan Vasudevan, CEO of Penang Port, also noted how Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal is ‘more advanced than ever,' with upgraded amenities and duty-free shops, as well as an expanded berth that has seen two Oasis class vessels in the terminal.

On August 11, a four-night media familiarisation sailing was held as well, hosting journalists from across Asia and Australia. This included shore excursions at Port Klang and Penang to attractions such as Kuala Lumpur’s Batu Caves, the Petronas Twin Towers and Penang’s historic George Town district.

Shore excursions return

‘Shore excursions are officially back, and we’re excited to be delivering the signature cruise experience,’ said Millie Peng, onboard shore excursions manager.. ‘Our shore excursions are uniquely designed to meet the needs of different travellers with options to embark on private customizable tours or accessible excursions which cater to guests’ special needs.’

On the benefits of company-booked shore excursions, Peng said, ‘Guests are given priority and are the first to disembark the ship, so they can avoid crowds and maximise their adventure time. Health and safety are key priorities, and guests will have a peace of mind knowing that everyone in their group are fully vaccinated, with tour operators doing their due diligence to ensure hygiene standards are met throughout the tour.’