With more cruise ships homeporting at Singapore year-round and during northern winters, the number of regional destinations and itineraries has grown accordingly. In 2016, overall passenger numbers rose 16 per cent year-on-year.

MICE packages include accommodation, meals and meeting and entertainment facilities. Groups from India and China are often large, while those from Singapore and the region tend to be smaller.

Custom programmes

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Royal Caribbean International provides turnkey pre- and post-cruise arrangements for corporate groups, mainly incentive participants. Three- to five-night cruises from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi, Penang and Phuket are the most popular. Hosts are often from financial and manufacturing sectors, and multilevel marketing (MLM) firms, with group sizes ranging from 16 to several thousand.

The 3,800-guest Mariner of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas are based in Singapore. They have unique MICE, F&B and entertainment facilities, such as a three-tier main dining room for 1,889 guests per seating, 800-seat ice skating rink, 1,300-seat theatre and full-sized sports court.

Programmes include customised shore excursions and team-building activities with on-board amenities such as rock-climbing and mini-golf.

Star Cruises, a regional leader for more than 20 years, sees cruising as a new travel trend for companies seeking unconventional event venues.

Demand is strong from FMCG and high-end luxury brands, MLM, pharmaceutical and insurance companies. Group sizes range from 30 to 1,000. Events include management retreats, incentives, product launches, award ceremonies, anniversary celebrations and training workshops. Star Cruises customises ‘MICE @ Sea’ events and qualified facilitators conduct team-building activities on board.

The 1,530-passenger SuperStar Gemini, based in Singapore, offers full-cruise and fly-cruise options. Popular itineraries are three-night sailings to Penang-Langkawi, Penang-Kuala Lumpur and Tioman-Redang. Two-night, mid-week departures go to Malacca or KL or simply cruise the high seas.

Asia first

Michael Goh, senior vice-president, sales, Genting Cruise Line, says: “Cruising provides a distraction- free environment, balancing the seriousness of business with pleasure. Event attendees can work, dine, play and spend quality time bonding.”

Genting Dream, debutante of the first Asian luxury cruise line, will homeport in Singapore year-round, starting this December. Five-night cruises through March 2018 feature new ports-of- call Surabaya and north Bali alternating with Kuala Lumpur-Penang-Phuket.

Key attractions are the first-ever Johnnie Walker House and Zouk at sea—including a private party deck. Other interesting venues are Penfolds Wine Vault and champagne and cocktail bars. Open-air thrills include an over-water zip-line, rock-climbing, mini-golf course and basketball.