As cruise tourism takes off in Asia, established and emerging cruise port operators are already expanding or upgrading their port capacities to meet the cruise boom.
At the official launch of the Asia Cruise Terminal Association (ACTA) last week, member port Shanghai Wusongkou (WSK) International Cruise Terminal Development Co. announced that they are already building Phase 2 to double the length of their linear berths to 1500m by 2013, enabling four to five cruise ships to berth at the same time.
Their cruise terminal, strategically located at the mouth of the Huangpu River in Shanghai is already one of China’s largest cruise terminals. WSK is forecasting a passenger throughput of 300,000 in 2012, and this is expected to grow to 800,000 by 2016.
Similarly, in Taiwan, ACTA member port, Port of Keelung reported a four-fold increase in passenger throughput over the past five years. In 2006, throughput was 116,334 and by the end of 2011, throughput is expected to come in at 460,000. In addition to its current two berths, the Port of Keelung will be building a new harbour building to serve growing passenger traffic between Taiwan and mainland China.
Numbers at the two Japanese member ports – Kobe and Sakai – have spiked as well over the past five years. Kobe has almost doubled, while Sakai’s throughput has increased more than 10-fold.
Another ACTA member port, Port Klang Cruise Centre recently more than doubled the length of one of their berths. With a total of three berths, the terminal can now berth Oasis-class cruise ships that have gross tonnages of more than 200,000 and carry over 5,000 passengers. They are forecasting a throughput of 500,000 passengers by 2016, two and a half times of what they saw in 2010.
Singapore Cruise Centre (SCC) is also in the midst of a S$14 million upgrade of its cruise terminal facility at HarbourFront which will yield about 25% more space for embarking and disembarking passengers. Passenger throughput at SCC has exceeded one million per annum over the past two years, and is expected to be close to the one million mark at year end.
ACTA was initiated by SCC and WSK about one and half years ago as a regional alliance dedicated to grow and develop the region as a captivating cruise playground. Today in addition to SCC and WSK, ACTA counts among its founding members, Port Klang Cruise Centre (PKCC), Port of Keelung (PKL), Sakai Port (SP), Port of Kobe (PK) and Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Riding on this crest of growth, ACTA participated at the inaugural Cruise Shipping Asia 2011 where member ports networked with executives from cruise lines, shipping associations, travel and hospitality industries, national tourism bodies and other port operators.
Ms Christina Siaw, SCC’s CEO said: "Our vision at ACTA is to promote the region as a preferred cruise playground. We can only do this collectively, as we are inter-dependent on one another in cruising."
"We have to develop and grow at the same pace, subscribing to a common set of standards in design, security and safety, operations and customer service. We would welcome like-minded member ports to come on board with us."
ACTA member ports met in the Philippines two months ago to ratify the constitution and to agree on a work-plan. This work-plan will see member ports undertaking consumer surveys in their respective countries to find out consumer perceptions of cruising, and what they expect during a cruise vacation.
Survey findings will then be shared with cruise liners and will also help ACTA members to more effectively promote cruising in their own countries.
Member ports will also draw from SCC’s experience in setting up a cruise eco-system at each of their terminals to deliver best-in-class services to cruise ships. Cruise 360 was launched recently by SCC, and the partners include best-in-class service providers in food and beverage chandelling, ship repair and maintenance, crewing needs, shore excursions and marine bunkering. Other plans in the pipeline include media familiarisation tours, exchange visits, seminars and workshops. The sharing of best practices has already started. SCC is sharing what it has learnt from its 20 years as a cruise terminal operator with a team of five personnel from WSK in a month-long familiarisation training programme at its cruise terminal.