to Playing ASIA
As American sales level out and Europe fizzles, cruise lines are increasingly
looking to untapped Asia markets as their next logical conquest.
BY TOM STIEGHORST
With its jagged peaks of aluminum and glass, the roof of the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore is meant by its designers to mimic the ocean crashing against the shore.
Three years in the works, the $409 million project
opened officially last month with a fireworks display.
The terminal investment comes as cruise lines push to
develop Asia as the next growth engine.
While North America is mature and Europe sputters,
passenger counts in much of Asia are growing by double
digits. Old ports are expanding, new ports are being developed and China is taking steps to apply its industrial
might to building cruise ships.
But to advance quickly, China and other Asian countries need the skills and processes that Western cruise
lines have spent 40 years perfecting. Those lines bring
expertise in everything from reservations systems to marine wastewater treatment.
The sale of cruises in Asia is part of a globalization of
the cruise passenger base that is spreading from luxury
to mass-market lines, some experts say. Eventually, that
could mean fewer cabins being sold to the North Ameri-
can population and higher prices — and higher commis-
sions for U.S. travel agents.