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Royal Caribbean in S$430m fly-cruise tie-up with tourism board, Changi Airport Group

MORE Quantum-class ships, the second-largest class in cruise operator Royal Caribbean's fleet, will be based in Singapore over the next five years under a new partnership that will help bring more visitors to Singapore.

The partnership, involving Royal Caribbean International, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Changi Airport Group (CAG), is expected to bring in 623,000 fly-cruise guests from 2019 to 2024 and looks to generate over S$430 million in tourism dollars.

Such visitors are expected to fly into Singapore from both the region and places such as Australia, Britain and the United States, to go on cruise holidays from here.

"I'm excited by what the future holds for the cruise sector here," said Royal Caribbean's managing director for Asia-Pacific, Ms Angie Stephen, at an event to announce the initiative on Thursday.

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Royal Caribbean did not say how many more of its Quantum-class ships will be based here over the five-year period, but the first such ship kicking off the partnership will be based in Singapore for six months - longer than previous deployments.

Quantum of the Seas, South-east Asia's largest cruise ship, will be based in Singapore from this month until April next year and do 34 sailings to destinations such as Penang, Phuket and Ho Chi Minh city. Previous Quantum-class deployments lasted just one to two months, such as Ovation of the Seas' 2017 season from March to April 2017, which comprised 10 sailings.

The latest initiative is the third such partnership among STB, CAG and Royal Caribbean, and the longest yet.

The first ran from 2015 to 2018 to market Mariner of the Seas, while the second ran from 2017 to 2019 to promote Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.

Quantum of the Seas, which completed a facelift this month, can accommodate 4,905 guests and is expected to add 150,000 cruise passengers to Singapore's cruise industry.

It sports new amenities such as an escape room and glow-in-the-dark laser tag arena, on top of existing attractions such as skydiving and surf simulators, bumper cars and a bionic bar manned by robot bartenders.

Ms Stephen says: "We look forward to introducing more guests, including millennials and Gen Z cruisers, to our world-class and innovative ships."

Meanwhile, CAG will make it more convenient for fly-cruise passengers who can now check their baggage in their home country and receive it at their cruise cabin. The service was launched in May this year and is believed to be the world's first fly-cruise seamless transfer service.

These offerings look set to cement Singapore's status as an Asian cruise hub.

STB figures showed that 1.87 million people cruised either to or from Singapore last year, up from 1.18 million in 2016.

STB CEO Keith Tan said: "We look forward to more continued partnerships in growing the vibrancy of the cruise landscape in South-east Asia and we hope to see larger Royal Caribbean deployments in the years to come."

THE STRAITS TIMES