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Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Sarawak Economy, Sarawak Tourism

Sarawak tourism gets boost from cruise ships

MV Orion II

DID you know that in 2011, some 2,000 tourists arrived in Sarawak via seven cruise ships? This was actually an increase of around 500, compared to the 1,500 tourists from five cruise ships in 2010.

To start 2012 off nicely, the MV Orion II from Australia’s Orion Expedition Cruises sailed in from Singapore, entering the Sim Kheng Hong Port in Pending on Jan 2 via Bako National Park.

The ship brought with it 100 passengers and 70 crew members.

At first glance this does not seem very impressive. One hundred tourists — mostly from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, New Zealand and United States — what’s the big deal really?

The MV Orion II is actually a private yacht-like expedition cruise ship built by Cantieri Navale Ferrari of Italy.

Accommodation onboard the ship comprises of 50 Suites. Yes all the 5-star guest rooms are suites that offer ocean views and have a sitting area or separate living room, twin or queen-size beds and marble bathrooms. Yes, marble bathrooms.

All rooms offer conveniences such as 24-hour room service, a flat screen TV, DVD/CD player, Internet connectivity, air conditioning, a personal safe, hairdryer and a mini-refrigerator continuously stocked with complimentary bottled water.

On board is a boutique, gym, hair and beauty salon, library, lounge, spa  and other luxurious facilities.

Its current 10-night ‘Borneo – Rajahs, Riches & Rainforests’ cruise covers the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre; Tanjung Datu, Bako and Similajau National Parks; as well as the Sarawak Cultural Village.

The Ocean Suite starts at A$8,150, while the top of the line Penthouse Suite is A$16,400. That’s RM26,243 for the Ocean Suite and RM52,808 for the Penthouse Suite at the current exchange rate.

Passengers onboard this cruise liner are what the tourism industry would call quality high-end tourists. They are more likely to spend more foreign currency than other visitors. If they like what they see the first time, they are also more likely to return for a longer stay and possibly bring along family and friends.

The ship is also scheduled to return for the same cruise in August and again in December.

Hopefully all those involved in hosting them, including the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), will give them a truly wonderful Sarawakian experience.

We look forward to more cruise ships coming to our shores this year.

The report from Bernama:

Cruise Ships Spur Sarawak’s Tourism

KUCHING, Jan 10 (Bernama) — The MV Orion II (Orion Expedition Cruises) from Australia, which is on its 10-night “Borneo-Rajahs, Riches & Rainforests” cruise, heralded the start of the 2012 season for cruise arrivals to Sarawak.

Maurice Balang, Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) regional marketing manager for United Kingdom and Europe, said today that the ship, which sailed from Singapore, brought 100 passengers and 70 crew members to Sarawak, entering the Sim Kheng Hong Port in Pending here on Jan 2, via Bako National Park to Kuching.

“We welcome these cruises and look forward to more of such arrivals this year. This is definitely a very good start to the New Year,” he said, adding that MV Orion II would then later sail to Pontianak in Kalimantan, cruising via Gunung Palung up to Tanjung Puting – Camp Leakey, Benoa in Kalimantan.

The passengers — mostly from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Indonesia, New Zealand and United States — were welcomed on arrival in traditional Sarawak style by 10 members of a cultural troupe courtesy of STB, and took the opportunity to visit the orang utan in Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and tour Kuching city attractions, he said.

He said MV Orion II is among the smallest expedition cruise ships arriving in Sarawak so far, and could berth close to shore due to its small size.

Last year, about 2,000 tourists arrived via seven such cruises into the state, up from 1,500 in five cruises in 2010, Maurice said.

“STB will continue to maintain their support for cruise ships berthing into Sarawak and encourage more cruise arrivals in the future,” he said, adding that these cruise arrivals will be one of the important contributors to tourist arrivals in the state.

— BERNAMA

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