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Why are more Singaporeans taking cruise holidays? Find out.
While many cars in Singapore have cruise control these days, less than 1% of Singaporeans have tried a vacation onboard a cruise ship according to a study conducted by consumer researchers, Value Penguin. But there are signs this may be changing and if you are considering a vacation it is maybe time to look at what a cruise may be able to offer you. With the opening of the new cruise terminal and Royal Caribbean’s recent decision to dock its Quantum of the Seas cruise ship in Singapore for six months making the headlines - the cruise industry is hoping for a bright future for the Southeast Asian market.
So why cruise? One of the big draws is convenience - cruises offer a comfortable and simple way to explore new places without having to worry about logistics, hotel and even food costs. All types of passenger are catered for with onboard activities including spa, sports and childrens’ activities. Many cruise ships stop in Singapore due to its convenient location and the shorter cruises both start and end back in Singapore - reducing the need for add-on flight costs.
So what’s the real cost of a cruise holiday from Singapore?
Regional 1-week Cruises: Stops usually include ports in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam for a 7-day trip. Average prices per person are shown in the table below, with price sampling taken from the three largest cruise ship companies namely Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.
Prices from Norwegian were 20% cheaper on average and included dining and drinks such as select cocktails, wine and beer and soft drinks. Royal Caribbean was the next most competitively-priced option with Princess Cruises the most expensive of the three sampled by Value Penguin.
Regional 2-week Cruises: Stops usually include trips to China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and will usually require a flight to the departure or arrival port, or both, dependent upon itinerary. The price differential between the 3 companies sampled is far less in this category, with only 5% to separate them. Norwegian still comes out the cheapest but perhaps the more important deciding factor should be the dining experience, excursion packages and activity and entertainment options.
An advantage of longer-length cruises is the ability to spend more exploration time in certain ports so it’s wise to check the itineraries carefully and check to see which locations will have these extended stays. It is also good practice to arrive a day before your cruise departure date, building in sufficient time in case of flight delays. The last thing you need on holiday is stress, especially when cruising is usually considered a stress-free way to travel.
International Cruises in Europe: These can be a great option for those people who’ve always wanted to visit Europe but have a limited amount of time to see the main sights. A 7-day European cruise can include stops in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France and the United Kingdom. The average cost for an ocean-view room for a 7-day European cruise is around S$1,670 per person with roundtrip flights from Singapore adding on an additional S$1,333 per person.
If you are interested in spending two-weeks in Europe the cost can be quite high (see below). On a 14-day cruise you may see an additional 3-5 cities but if budget is a consideration a more cost-effective way to visit Europe may be to fly and consider a rental car or train pass. A 5-trip train pass to visit any country within Europe costs around US$1,243. Adding on airbnbs for the same countries at an indicative S$93/night means over a 14-day trip you could save SG$1,000 per person relative to the cost of a cruise. However bear in mind food and excursions are not included; the extra cost for the cruise may just be worth it when the hassle factor of organising everything for yourself is factored in too.
Money-saving tips for Cruises:
- Look at cruise line calendars carefully as a few weeks difference can make a dramaticdifference in cost - for instance dates in early June rather than late June were 30% cheaper for European cruises. Be aware though that some of the cheaper date ranges may be due to unfavourable seasonal weather and it is worth checking this out first.
- Book using a credit card that accrues miles. A good card may shave up to 10% off the cost by earning you points to be redeemed for future trips.
- Check with your cruise liner for onboard credits, free excursions and free wifi packages.
- Evaluate whether you really need some of the packages on offer - for instance the unlimited drink package can cost up to S$60/day. Unless you drink heavily these packages may not be worth the cost and in some instances cruise liners actually include drinks for free.
- Plan ahead and avoid buying necessities like toiletries, suncream or clothing onboard as prices may be significantly higher.
- Ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance as cruise liners are notorious for strict cancellation policies. A good policy will cover you for cancellation or postponement costs as well as helping onboard with emergency assistance for lost or stolen baggage.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good travel cover.
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