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Travel & Holiday

Cruises make a splash at Natas fair

CRUISES have emerged as a surprise hit among those who booked holidays at the Natas travel fair over the weekend.
The Straits Times - March 4, 2013
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Cruises make a splash at Natas fair

CRUISES have emerged as a surprise hit among those who booked holidays at the Natas travel fair over the weekend.

They ranked seventh in a list of top destinations, with 130 of slightly more than 3,000 survey respondents opting for a holiday on the high seas.

Mr Robert Khoo, chief executive of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas), attributed the finding to a shift in how travellers are viewing cruise vacations.

"Cruise operators have done an exceptional job in eliminating the misconception that cruises are for the elderly," he said.

"More and more travellers are taking notice of cruises as a very viable and attractive vacation alternative," he added.

Some 53,300 people turned up at the three-day event which featured 156 exhibitors in more than 1,000 booths.

Initial estimates by Natas put the total sales at between $85 million and $90 million.

Last February's event raked in $100 million and drew 62,871 visitors.

Europe retained its position as the number one destination choice, with China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan rounding off the top five.

Mr Khoo said the drop in sales was expected due to economic uncertainty and added that Singaporeans may be more hesitant to spend on big-ticket items early in the year.

"However, Singaporeans as a whole love to travel and I am hopeful that they will be more willing to spend during the second half of the year," he added.

Ms Alicia Seah, senior vice-president of marketing and public relations at CTC Travel, said the demand for cruises at the fair may be due to the country's new international cruise terminal.

"From May, a lot of new cruise ships will be coming to Singapore as the new Marina Bay Cruise Centre can berth bigger and more luxurious ships," she noted.

Insurance broker Freddie Lim, who was at the fair on Sunday, said that cruises are a hassle-free and efficient way to see many countries in one outing.

The 57-year-old booked a cruise to Scandinavia and Russia with Celebrity Cruises, a unit of Royal Caribbean Cruises.

His wife and five-year-old granddaughter will join him.

"We went on a cruise two years ago and loved it because you go on board the ship, unpack and don't need to worry about packing and unpacking again as you reach your destinations," he said.

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