DREAM­ING AT SEA

MICE on Gent­ing Dream

Business Traveller (India) - - CONTENTS -

Ac­cord­ing to CLIA (Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion) and CHART Man­age­ment Consultant’s analysis of 2016, pas­sen­ger cruise trends in Asia have seen mon­u­men­tal changes. An an­nual in­crease of 29.3 per cent has been ob­served in pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity of com­mer­cial ships. While there were 43 lin­ers in Asia in 2013, last year this num­ber rose to 60. The re­port also claimed that eight out of ten Asian pas­sen­gers pre­ferred to travel within Asia it­self.

In terms of emerg­ing out­bound mar­kets in Asia, China, In­dia and Hong Kong are es­ti­mated to be the top play­ers. In 2014, In­dia had around 18 mil­lion cruis­ing tourists. This num­ber is pre­dicted to reach 50 mil­lion pas­sen­gers by 2020, im­ply­ing an up­ward trend in In­dia’s cruis­ing in­ter­ests.“Asians en­joy hol­i­days that bring them to sev­eral des­ti­na­tions, al­low­ing them to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent food and cul­tures all in one go,”says Michael Goh, se­nior vice president of sales at Star Cruises.“Cruis­ing of­fers them the most con­ve­nient way of ex­plor­ing mul­ti­ple ex­otic des­ti­na­tions in a sin­gle hol­i­day.”

EM­BARKA­TION

The open­ing of Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Ter­mi­nal in 2013 has been in­stru­men­tal in catalysing Asia’s cruis­ing in­dus­try. For­merly Kai Tak In­ter­na­tional Air­port, it was pulled to the ground in 1998. The stretch of land re­mained un­used un­til it was refurbished by Fos­ter and Part­ners into a state-of-the-art ter­mi­nal man­aged by World Cruise Terminals. The three­storey colos­sal ter­mi­nal can ac­com­mo­date two cruise ships of up to 2,00,000 tonnes each. Since its open­ing, Kai Tak has wel­comed 18 cruises, car­ry­ing 7,30,000 trav­ellers.

It is from here that I em­barked upon the Gent­ing Dream, my des­ig­nated home for the week­end. Gent­ing Dream, along with World Dream are two cruise lin­ers launched by Gent­ing Hong Kong un­der Dream Cruises (dream­cruise­line.com) in Novem­ber last year. Be­gin­ning with Star Cruises, Gent­ing Hong Kong ven­tured into the cruis­ing world in 1993. The com­pany has played a big role in

de­vel­op­ing the cruise in­dus­try in Asia. It ac­quired Crys­tal Cruises in 2015 and with the de­but of Dream Cruises, it launched its “first lux­ury cruise line”.

Built keep­ing in mind the Asian mar­ket, Gent­ing Dream and World Dream are de­signed with Ori­en­tal el­e­ments. They fea­ture a week­end sail­ing itin­er­ary that sets sail into the South China Sea from Hong Kong, which I had the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence. For two nights, we cruised in Chinese wa­ters, watch­ing ex­cep­tional sun­sets and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the fa­cil­i­ties on-board.

I was ap­pointed a Bal­cony State­room, the thirdlevel ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tion of Gent­ing Dream. Cat­e­gories be­gin at In­side State­room (no win­dow and bal­cony) and Ocean­view State­room (with win­dow). There are sev­eral op­tions for those look­ing to in­dulge in a bit of lux­ury in­clud­ing Gar­den Pent­house and types of suites. An al­ter­na­tive op­tion is Dream Palace, a sort of bou­tique ho­tel within the cruise. It features its own list of ex­clu­sive F&B and ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions that as­sure pri­vacy, which for some is the ul­ti­mate lux­ury.

MICE AT SEA

Cor­po­rate events in the cruis­ing in­dus­try is an­other in­ter­est­ing as­pect I dis­cov­ered while sail­ing the Gent­ing Dream. Event man­agers see im­mense util­ity in plan­ning gath­er­ings on cruises. Firstly, it helps to have the en­tire group in one lo­ca­tion at all times, es­pe­cially if one of the goals of cor­po­rate events is team build­ing. Cruise ships are the ideal en­vi­ron­ment for of­fi­cial hap­pen­ings in con­fined spa­ces that of­fer a host of fa­cil­i­ties and venues. Sec­ondly, it helps main­tain bud­gets. Con­sid­er­ing cruise pack­ages are “all-in­clu­sive” trips, this leaves out the pos­si­bil­ity of ad­di­tional ex­pen­di­ture. All ac­com­mo­da­tion, din­ing, en­ter­tain­ment and fa­cil­i­ties are in­cluded in the price, mak­ing it sim­pler for man­agers to plan and ex­e­cute the event.

We ex­plored a num­ber of spa­ces on the Gent­ing Dream for all scales of MICE. Its grand Zo­diac The­atre (that holds live per­for­mances) works well for stag­ing con­fer­ences, award shows and 3D cin­ema. This 1,585 sqm the­atre can ac­com­mo­date 999 del­e­gates and of­fers 395 head­sets for multi-lin­gual in­ter­pre­ta­tion. For func­tions, sem­i­nars, meet­ings and other events, Trib­utes (244 sqm) can ac­com­mo­date around 170 peo­ple. There are also two meet­ing rooms (41 sqm) that can fit eight pro­fes­sion­als each. More pri­vate events for about 100 del­e­gates can be held at Palm Court (495 sqm) that features an ob­ser­va­tory, bar and af­ter­noon high-tea menu. Zouk Beach Club, and

Gent­ing Club Pool and Sun Deck are the out­door venues for in­for­mal hap­pen­ings.

If run-of-the-mill MICE venues are not of in­ter­est, Gent­ing Dream has an ar­ray of out­door ac­tiv­ity op­tions to con­sider for team build­ing. This in­cludes Sport­sPlex — bas­ket­ball court and multi-func­tion out­door space, ropes course, rock climb­ing wall and five rooms for karaoke.

AC­TIV­ITY HUB

If you’re won­der­ing how Gent­ing Hong Kong plans to keep you oc­cu­pied on a cruise that has no shore stops, the fol­low­ing will an­swer your doubts. There are 35 restau­rants on-board in­clud­ing Hot Pot for Asian, Umi Uma for Ja­panese and the much sought after Bistro by Mark Best — in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed Aus­tralian chef Mark Best’s first out­let at sea. There is also Bar City, a des­ti­na­tion on Gent­ing Dream that features five snazzy lounges. Whisky at John­nie Walker House, cock­tails at Mixt or cham­pagne at Bub­bles Cham­pagne Bar — there’s some­thing for all kinds of palates. Sin­ga­pore’s iconic night­club Zouk is an­other venue for a fun night out at sea.

For wellness seek­ers, Crys­tal Life Asian Spa or Vi­tal­ity Pool with Jacuzzis are re­ju­ve­nat­ing spa­ces. There is also a fit­ness cen­tre, sa­lon and well-be­ing cen­tre that of­fers ex­clu­sive beauty treat­ments. The mas­sive liner features a shop­ping venue sprawled across 1,100 sqm. Within it are la­bels such as Cartier, Folli Fol­lie, Gucci and Omega to name a few, for some high-end re­tail ther­apy.

Those look­ing for some­thing more low-key can en­joy live pro­duc­tion shows at the 999-seater Zo­diac The­atre or walk through the dis­played art on-board. Ad­ven­ture lovers can even dive into the sea in a sub­mersible that’s de­signed to carry one pi­lot and four pas­sen­gers. There is also a spa, wa­ter­slides and other ad­ven­ture sports on-board.

Time flew by on-board the Gent­ing Dream. Be­ing a na­ture lover, I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed by the views from my Bal­cony State­room, where I en­joyed com­ing back to after a hec­tic day full of ac­tiv­i­ties. While the cruise is packed with adrenalin pump­ing live­li­ness, it is here that I felt one with the lim­it­less high-seas and en­joyed the most.

Clock­wise from far left: art dis­played on-board; view from Bal­cony State­room; Dream Deluxe suite; F&B at Bistro by Mark Best, and Blue La­goon; Zouk Beach club; the Dream Palace sun deck and pool; main pool deck; and Bub­bles Cham­pange Bar

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