Tuesday, June 25

SuperStar Aquarius good for tourism — Bintulu Resident

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ALL EARS: Leong (third right) being briefed by Bintulu Port officials yesterday.

BINTULU: SuperStar Aquarius will be homeported in Kota Kinabalu for the first time from Nov 6, 2013 to March 30, 2014, and would be calling on Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei and here.

Bintulu Resident cum Divisional Tourism Task Force chairman Muhamad Yakup Kari said he was looking forward to the arrival of the 51,309-ton cruise ship.

It is expected to make its maiden stop at Bintulu Port on November 12 at 10am, and retrace to Kota Kinabalu at 6pm on the same day.

Yakup said the presence of the ship, which belongs to Star Cruises, the leading cruise line in Asia-Pacific, would be good for the tourism sector here.

Star Cruises will be the first international cruise line to be homeported in Kota Kinabalu, continuing Star Cruises’ pioneering and leading position in Asia’s cruise industry.

Genting Hong Kong Limited’s East Malaysia Operations vice president Edward Johann Leong said they envisioned their inaugural deployment to Borneo would help build the cruise tourism industry and boost local tourism.

“The route will be Kota Kinabalu-Brunei-Bintulu-Kota Kinabalu. This is the first in Borneo, and we will be exploring other parts of Borneo later.

“Before we look any further, we must introduce the cruises plying in Borneo. We will definitely be expanding our services,” said Leong to reporters after meeting the relevant authorities at Wisma Kontena in Tanjung Kidurong here yesterday.

He said the departure from Kota Kinabalu would be on November 10, and the response was overwhelming.

“We only launched this one and a half month ago, but our bookings have reach 85 per cent occupancy, which is above our average.”

He added most of the bookings were by government agencies for government functions onboard. For example, lots of ministries from Sabah are onboard, and so are corporate firms for their annual get-togethers.

“That is why when we launch this. It is not only for tourism, but for people to come for conferences, meetings and other events.”

Leong said about 60 to 70 per cent of the passengers onboard would be international passengers. They are seasoned cruise goers, and have been cruising in various parts of the world.

On Bintulu, he said, “To us it is an opportunity to come down to Bintulu. This is also a chance for us to show everyone in the world what Bintulu has to offer. It may be small, but very rich in terms of culture. It would generate income for locals in the tourism sector.”

Meanwhile, Bintulu Port Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Dato Mior Ahmad Baiti Mior Lub Ahmad said for the time being they would provide one temporary area for its berth.

“Bintulu Port is not a dedicated terminal for cruises, but our team had made arrangements to give one area of the general cargo wharf on Tuesdays from 10am till 6pm.

“We are not a dedicated passenger terminal as it (cruise ship) travels once a week, which might also need to meet several requirements,” said Mior.

He, however, applauded the efforts in bringing in cruise tourism sector into Bintulu to further promote the tourism industry.

Bintulu Resident Muhamad Yakup Kari, who was also present, appealed to the public to make sure that all places here be kept clean in order to make a good impression on tourists.

“We will develop packages for the tourist. We will work together to ensure Bintulu is worthwhile tourist destination.”

Star Cruises is offering 4-day-three-night cruises from Kota Kinabalu to Brunei and Bintulu Sarawak. It will depart every Sunday, and it is understood that there would be a number of exclusive shore excursions for guests to choose and explore local attractions.

From Wednesdays to Saturdays, passengers can immerse in another dimension of cruise fund and entertainment on SuperStar Aquarious’ daily one-night high sea experience.

Once onboard, guests will be spoilt for choice with nonstop activities and entertainment.

They will be wowed by world class entertainment performed by a cast of European and Asian artistes and acrobats and grand illusion shows by renowned magicians.

Their fun continues in a selection of onboard recreational activities and unique shore excursions that showcase the beauty and wonders of Borneo.

Guests can also shop to their heart’s content onboard the 409-square-metre upscale duty-free shopping gallery featuring China Duty Free, upmarket wristwatch and jewellery boutique and many more.

For food lovers, SuperStar Aquarius’ nine restaurants and bars, led by executive chef Harold Mark, present an appealing array of mouth-watering international, Southeast Asia and Chinese cuisines.

After a full day of non-stop fun, guests can unwind and relax with a choice of over 30 types of well-beng and health treatments at the spa.

SuperStar Aquarius is currently homeported in Keelung, Taiwan. It will depart Kaohsiung on October 29 2013 with stops at Hong Kong, Manila and Boracay before arriving in Kota Kinabalu on Nov 6, 2013.