When it comes to cruising, a common misconception is that cruising is for older folk or the retired. But recent trends show that it’s not so anymore. “This is not reality anymore — young guests and families are also enjoying cruise holidays,” says Marco Rosa, vice-president for Sales & Marketing at Pandaw. “Ships today offer all the possible comforts and the excursions are suited for active and younger customers.”
As such, the number of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) travellers in Asia booking cruise holidays are now on the rise. In Singapore alone, Rosa notes there have been a significant increase in cruises booked by guests: “Cruising has become more popular and is attracting more expats and locals in Singapore.”
This, he believes, is because guests today are looking for more experiential holidays and cruises offer that. “People are seeing the positive aspects of booking a cruise holiday. There’s no need to pack and unpack your luggage every time you change location; it is the hotel that’s moving every day. The view from the window and balcony is changing every minute. Meals are included and plenty of activities are part of the expeditions — it’s up to each individual to decide which activities to join,” he explains.
Rosa shares more about the cruising in Asia.
What are the key things that attract UHNW to cruises?
Cruising is offering the chance to visit several locations within the same trip. It is good value for money — the package includes accommodation, meals, drinks (except wines), excursions, tipping and transfers when embarking and disembarking the ship. The excursions take our guests to very special off-the-beaten-track destinations creating some truly unique experiences. UHNW guests are used to luxury and now they are looking for experiences that money cannot buy. In Pandaw, for example, we have the Pandaw Charity organisation does a lot in countries where we operate our cruises and our guests love to be a part of these projects.
Typically, how long do you see the UHNW in Asia go on such cruises?
The typical length of cruises booked is seven nights. The primary destinations are the Mekong River and in Burma, the Irrawaddy River and the Chindwin River. In February 2017, Pandaw will also start sailing in Borneo with a seven-night itinerary that we expect to be very popular, especially for individuals living in Singapore.
What are some things passengers should note to prepare them for a cruise?
We recommend comfortable shoes as some excursions require walking. Depending on the nationality of the client, visas and vaccinations may be required. For Pandaw, we encourage our guests to relax and enjoy every single moment of their cruise experience. Our customers are busy all the year round being professional people dressing formally, so no formal dress code is expected on-board.
What are some places you would recommend?
Every itinerary is extremely special. In particular, I would recommend a cruise on the Chindwin River in Burma taking our guests to places where no tourists will be seen for several days. In February 2017, Pandaw will start sailing in Borneo with a seven-night itinerary we expect to be very popular. Another new itinerary that we have recently launched is taking our guests on an amazing 14-night itinerary going from Laos to Thailand, then in to Burma and ending in China.
What are some of the offerings by Pandaw that sets it apart from other luxury cruises in the industry?
Pandaw offers a true expedition experience. Our on-board staff play a very important role in delivering our quality product. They develop an informal, genuine and spontaneous relationship with our guests. The public areas on our ships are much larger than others [because] we believe our guests enjoy spending time in the outdoor common areas and sharing the experience with fellow passengers.