PRINCESS Cruises will debut a free online training programme in Singapore next month ahead of the company's first homeport season in the city-state in 2014.
At a media conference today, Alan Buckelew, Princess Cruises president and CEO said the cruise operator wants to tap the growing regional cruise market and is targeting 40,000 passengers roundtrip from Singapore on the Sapphire Princess.
Sapphire Princess will homeport in Singapore for a four-month season between November 2014 and February 2015. Sales begins tomorrow, with the ship offering trips to seven countries (including Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand) on sailings between three and 11 days long.
The 2,670-pax Sapphire Princess features staterooms with private balconies, a spa, steakhouse, wine bar, boutiques and pizzeria, among other amenities.
Explaining why Singapore was chosen, Jan Swartz, executive vice president for sales, marketing & customer service, Princess Cruises, said: “We see the growing awareness of cruise tourism in Singapore, which gives us an opportunity to grow.” She added that the cruises from Singapore were also expected to draw strong interest from neighbouring countries like Malaysia, India and Indonesia.
Princess Cruises also announced today that it would bring its Princess Academy to Singapore. Currently available in several countries, the programme comprises 20 courses and awards travel experts with a “diploma” upon their completion.
Swartz said the cruise operator is aiming to have at least 90 per cent of all Singapore-based cruise travel consultants certified over the next two to three years.
World Express managing director, Darren Tan, applauded the move. He said: “Although cruising is becoming popular, it still forms a small proportion in the travel market and more can be done to educate the industry. It is important especially for travel consultants to have good knowledge because they are the ones that are selling and promoting the products.”
Although renowned for longhaul cruises, Princess is introducing short roundtrip cruises in Asia, with the first to debut in Japan later this month on the 2,022-pax Sun Princess.
Said Swartz: “We want to bring in new customers by introducing shorthaul, and letting them have a taste to see what we can offer, so they may choose to take even longer trips with us in future."