New cruise centre ready for ships

Marina Bay terminal off to a slow start because of lull season
Jessica Lim Straits Times 23 May 12;

SINGAPORE'S new cruise terminal has only eight visits by ships lined up between now and August, but the man at the helm remains unfazed.

'We are not worried at all, far from it,' said Mr Melvin Vu yesterday.

The 34-year-old - who is chief executive of the firm that operates the new development - pointed out that it is lull season for the industry. He added: 'We expect many more ships to dock at the terminal come October, when peak season starts.'

The $500 million Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore is designed to cater for bigger ships than the existing terminal at HarbourFront.

But although it is finished and raring to go, business has been slow so far. Only three ships have signed up to berth there between now and August, making eight calls between them.

By comparison, the International Passenger Terminal at HarbourFront, which is 21 years old and fully operational, had 394 visits by cruise vessels last year.

Yesterday, a preview of the new development was held by its operator Sats-Creuers Cruise Services, which was awarded the contract in December.

It is more than twice the size of the other terminal, and will double the number of berths in Singapore to four. The aim is to attract ships that are too large to dock at HarbourFront, which cannot take liners over 52m tall because of the cable cars running between Mount Faber and Sentosa. The new terminal will also ease overcrowding, which has meant passengers having to dock at Jurong Port and Pasir Panjang Container Terminal.

Second Minister for Home Affairs and for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran inspected the new 28,000 sq m facility yesterday, and called it 'a key infrastructure piece' in Singapore's tourism jigsaw. He said Asia currently accounts for less than 10 per cent of the global cruise market, which suggests significant scope for growth here. The new terminal will help Singapore to position itself as a gateway for cruise tourism in the region, he added.

Over the past decade, the number of cruise passengers visiting the Republic grew by 3.6 per cent annually - hitting close to one million last year.

Operators in Singapore have been clamouring for a new berth for years. 'With the new terminal, we can now heave a sigh of relief, that our guests will not be thrown to Jurong or Pasir Panjang,' said Mr Melvyn Yap, regional director of Silversea Cruises.

One concern has been the new terminal's location, in a remote area amid construction sites. To counter this, its operator has been working with taxi companies to send more cabs there and will have free shuttle buses on cruise ship days from now until August.

The new terminal is expected to create 3,000 jobs and provide a boost for local businesses.

Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore to create some 3,000 jobs
Vimita Mohandas Channel NewsAsia 22 May 12;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's second cruise terminal, the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore, is expected to generate some 3,000 jobs in the tourism sector when it's fully operational.

The terminal is operated by SATS-Creuers Cruise Services. This addition and the Singapore Cruise Centre at HarbourFront are expected to grow the leisure cruise sector in Singapore.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said that cruise passenger numbers are expected to hit 1.5 million in three to five years.

Passenger numbers reached close to one million last year.

Costing about S$500 million, the 28,000 square metres Marina Bay Cruise Centre can handle about 6,800 passengers at any one time.

The arrival and departure halls will comprise 80 check-in counters and up to 40 immigration counters. Also about six shops are expected to be set up which include food and beverage and convenience stores.

Other facilities include 25 coach bays, 327 carpark lots and convenient road access with provisions made for future walkway linkages to MRT stations, the waterfront promenade and the park.

The cruise centre at Marina South will double Singapore's berthing capacity and will cater to the world's largest cruise ships.

Despite the drop in cruise passenger numbers in the last two years, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is confident of a more buoyant outlook.

Ms Aw Kah Peng, chief executive of the STB, said: "Our numbers in terms of throughput has fallen and it's partly because the industry here is restructuring. After the two IRs opened, many of the gaming ships didn't make sense anymore. So for them, it made sense for them not to continue.

"But I think the structural adjustment is almost at the tail end. Now we are seeing more interest from cruise ships that are not gaming ships."

She also added that more cruise liners are showing interest in Asia mainly because the market is doing well here. For example, Asia accounts for close to 20 per cent of the global outbound travel.

The terminal is also expected to have spillover benefits in the economy.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Home Affairs and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, S Iswaran, said: "All the supporting services for the cruise ships and also the onshore tourism services will be big factors. The hotels also stand to benefit to the extent that we become a turnaround cruise spot. People come to Singapore in order to board their cruise ship or to disembark in Singapore before going home which means the fly cruise component is quite important and for that we're also quite well positioned because of our air connectivity."

The cruise-fly packages is aimed at making it more seamless for passengers to connect to the airport and will be made available from May 26, facilitated by the terminal's access to the airport. Currently it will only service Silkair, Singapore Airlines and Qantas passengers.

The Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas will be the largest ship to make its way here on 26 May, paving the way for larger cruise liners to dock in Singapore and Asia.

The ship has a capacity of 3,840 passengers and 1,176 crew.

Currently, the terminal is only open to cruise liners, passengers and authorised personnel and will only open its doors to the public in the second half of this year.

SATS-Creuers Cruise Services which operates the terminal said that one of the challenges when constructing the facility was to tackle the low tides. As such, cages were built to aid the crew to load or unload baggage more effectively.

- CNA/ck