Star Cruise likely to add 2-3 vessels in three years

Bangalore, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2002, 05:30am hrs
The Singapore-based cruise liner -Star Cruise -plans to increase its fleet by 2-3 vessels during the next two-three years. The new ships are likely to have more than 1,700 cabins and will be around one-third size bigger than the Star Cruise liner SuperStar Virgo.

The latter operates in the Singapore-Thailand-Malaysia route and is popular with Indian tourists. Star Cruise along with its sister concerns Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient has a combined fleet of 21 ships.

Speaking to The Financial Express, Star Cruise’s Ong Kong Hwee, in-charge of the South and West Asia (marketing) said, “The parent company is yet to decide whether the ships will be deployed for the Star Cruise operations in the Asia-Pacific region or with NCL. The new ships will be introduced by 2003-04.”

NCL is a premium top-of the-line cruise with the US and Canada as its destinations. According to Star Cruise (India) Travel Services in-charge of southern and western markets in India Vijay Putharan, NCL hopes to touch 3,000 passengers from India during 2002. “The product still has to pick up in India. It faced around 50 per cent cancellations post September 11,” Mr Putharan said. Eight PSAs (preferred selling agents) including SOTC and Thomas Cook have been hired for promoting NCL in India.

As regards its Asia-Pacific operations, against a target of 28,000 passengers from India, Star Cruise managed only 24,888 passengers from the country during 2001. However, it has set a target of 30,000 passengers for 2002. Mr Hwee said, “For the past 2 years India has been among the top 3 markets for us in the Asia-Pacific region. While we expect a higher traffic from India, the spent per passenger has increased by over 50 per cent in the last one year.’’ Indians are taking longer haul packages and travelling higher value cabins.