Sunken cruise empire tycoon to launch new Singapore-Thailand line

Sunken cruise empire tycoon to launch new Singapore-Thailand line

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Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay is launching another cruise line in Singapore - with hopes to run cruises to Thailand from September - months after his Hong Kong-based cruise empire imploded.

Resorts World Cruises Pte will initially operate with one ship, Genting Dream, which will provide cruises to nowhere setting off from the city-state in June, Michael Goh, the firm’s President and Head of International Sales, said in a press briefing. Goh was also former president of Dream Cruises, which went into liquidation in February amid the collapse of its parent firm Genting Hong Kong Ltd.

Lim, who is executive chairman of the new venture, resigned in January from his positions as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Genting Hong Kong, after the Covid-19 pandemic crippled his once-sprawling global cruise brand.

Travel demand is rebounding in Asia amid an easing of travel curbs and economic reopenings. While the new cruise line shares the same name as Genting’s Resorts World casino and resort franchise, it will be run as a separate business entity. 

At the same time, Lim continues to own one of the largest gaming and entertainment conglomerates in the world operating casino resorts in countries including Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. 

“Our cruise ventures for the last 30 years have been very profitable and is a core business,” Colin Au, the new liner’s Chief Executive Officer said at the same briefing.

While the world’s largest cruise liners -- including Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd -- have been able to raise enough liquidity to get through the worst of the pandemic, a handful of smaller operators sought bankruptcy. Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, partly owned by Royal Caribbean, shut down in 2020, while Jalesh Cruises became the first operator in Asia to collapse the same year.

Singapore’s move to scrap testing requirements for vaccinated travellers has been a major boost for travel in the region, while other neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia have followed suit. Still, key cruise markets like China still face strict quarantine requirements for travellers.

Au said the new cruise line will remain focused on Asia, although adding future ships will depend on whether locations like Hong Kong and Taiwan open up. The firm will seek to roll out routes to Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia from September.

Bloomberg News previously reported that Lim had indicated interest in acquiring Genting Hong Kong’s mega-liner Global Dream, which is being sold by liquidators. Au declined to comment. 

Genting Dream, which was previously sold after the liquidation of Dream Cruises, is being leased from four Chinese banks including Bank of Communications Co, China Merchants Bank Co, China Construction Bank Corp and China Development Bank.

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