Cruising around Asia

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By Michelle Anne P. Soliman, Reporter

VOYAGER OF THE SEAS, the 15-deck cruise ship of Royal Caribbean International which can handle 4,269 guests, will sail to over 70 destinations around Asia until June 2019.

“Cruising was known as [an activity] for the old. It’s expensive, and it’s boring. So, it’s our responsibility to make sure that a different message is imparted to the people,” said Joy V. Abrogar, senior vice-president and COO of Arpan Air which is the general sales agent of Royal Caribbean International, who was talking with BusinessWorld during the Manila stop of the ship’s maiden voyage to Manila from Shenzhen and Hong Kong on July 20.

“It’s different from 21 years [ago]… Even years before that, we had challenges in penetrating the markets. We had to educate the people and the travel agents,” she said.

“Royal Caribbean strives to provide every traveler with the vacation experience they deserve,” Marilen Yaptangco, International Representative of Royal Caribbean International in the Philippines, was quoted as saying in a press release. “This quick stop on Philippine shores is an opportunity for us to showcase the world-class offerings of Voyager of the Seas to Filipinos.”

WHAT’S IN STORE
Voyager of the Seas features 1,643 staterooms including new panoramic view staterooms with floor-to-ceiling windows; and “virtual balcony” interior staterooms which show views of the ocean and destinations.

Among its recreational facilities are an ice skating rink, a sports court with a rock climbing wall, a nine-hole miniature golf course, and a FlowRider surf simulator.

It’s the first cruise ship with the Royal Promenade — a boulevard of duty free boutiques — as well as the Café Promenade which offers complimentary food and is open for 24 hours. Dining options include the main dining room and Windjammer Café buffet restaurant which features international cuisine, and Giovanni’s Table Italian restaurant, the ship’s flagship restaurant.

Since its inaugural voyage in 1999, Ms. Abrogar said that they continue to “keep with what is perceived to be the needs of the new market,” mentioning the addition of Wi-Fi onboard and the introduction of new dining options.

Aside from families on vacation, Ms. Abrogar said that their team has observed that cruising has been popular among incentive groups of companies, as well as students taking up hospitality and restaurant management. “For the past five years, it has become a very popular choice for incentive groups, because when you say ‘cruise,’ you would automatically think it’s a reward. It’s a dream for people to go on a cruise.

“We [also] have student programs on board. They are able to interview the restaurant manager, [and] the chefs,” she said.

Over 70 Asian cities
Among Voyager of the Seas’ upcoming cruises are a nine-night cruise from Hong Kong to Kochi which will pass by Okinawa, Kyoto, and Kobe on Aug. 10; and an eight-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore with port calls at Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok on Aug. 29.

The ship will then travel around Southeast Asia from Singapore until June 2019, offering a four-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur and Phuket; a five-night cruise to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Phuket; and a five-night cruise to Bangkok with an overnight stay.

“You don’t have to pack and unpack. That’s your hotel for the whole time. Your hotel moves with you. With the cruise, you experience the destination, at the same time, you experience the ship. You experience your tour while you’re getting there,” Ms. Abrogar said.

“It’s a dream for us that the Filipinos will be able to experience real cruising,” she added. “If you get bored [on the ship], it’s your fault.”

For more information, visit www.royalcaribbean.com/sgp/en?wuc=SGP.