Malaysia Ramps Up Efforts in Cruise Tourism

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In a move to capture the growing cruise tourism market, Malaysia announced significant strides toward becoming a key player in the global cruising industry, anchored by impressive growth figures and strategic developments.

Malaysia Targets Cruise Tourism

With eyes set on the upcoming Visit Malaysia 2026 campaign, Malaysia is vigorously expanding its horizons in the cruise tourism sector, leveraging a record-breaking performance in 2023 to secure its future growth. 

Tourism officials used SeaTrade Cruise Global in Miami Beach to highlight Malaysian port traffic, which welcomed 1,055 cruise ships and facilitated travel for 1.5 million passengers in 2023. These statistics show a staggering 84.78% increase in arrivals, marking a 62.43% surge in foot traffic compared to the 2019 pre-pandemic era.

As part of its strategic pivot towards boosting global appeal, Malaysia has successfully positioned Port Klang in Kuala Lumpur as the homeport for two major cruise lines. This was highlighted by the inaugural journey of Costa Cruises’ Costa Serena from Port Klang in January 2024.

Boustead Cruise Centre, Port Klang, Malaysia
Boustead Cruise Centre, Port Klang, Malaysia (Photo Credit: Maekfoto)

The venture into homeporting is a cornerstone of Malaysia’s broader ambition to allure a projected 35.6 million foreign tourists by 2026, said Tourism Malaysia – Americas’ vice president, Akbal Setia.

“We are again thrilled to be part of Seatrade Cruise Global,” began Setia. “This event provides an excellent platform to highlight Malaysia’s potential as a homeport and to forge valuable connections with industry insiders.”

He added, “We look forward to engaging with the global cruise community and inviting them to experience the Wonders of Malaysia, especially in developing suitable cruise tourism trips and packages.

Strategic Gateways

Malaysia, nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia, boasts several versatile ports. Among these, Port Klang stands out as the country’s busiest and most prominent cruise port, situated about 31 miles from the vibrant city of Kuala Lumpur. 

This port features Boustead Cruise Centre, a facility specially dedicated to accommodating the influx of major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Aida Cruises, Cunard Lines, Costa Cruises, and Crystal Cruises.

The most recent arrival at Port Klang was Costa’s Costa Deliziosa, which called on the port on its 126-night world voyage on April 9. The vessel is continuing to Penang Port’s Swettenham Pier in Georgetown. Penang Port can take in some of the largest cruise ships, having completed its cruise terminal in 2009. The terminal can accommodate more than 2,000 passengers.

Star Cruises at Penang Port, Georgetown, Malaysia
Star Cruises at Penang Port, Georgetown, Malaysia (Photo Credit: Igor Grochev)

Other cruise lines calling on Port Klang and Penang Port in 2024 include Viking Oceans, Seabourn, Oceania Cruises, P&O Cruises, and Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.

Further enhancing Malaysia’s cruise tourism appeal is Langkawai’s Star Cruise Jetty, nestled within an archipelago of 99 tropical islands, awarded the UNESCO Global Geopark status. This jetty is a gateway to northern Malaysia, Southern Thailand, and the Andaman Islands. 

Read Also: First International Cruise Ship to Homeport at Indonesian Port

Home to China’s Star Cruises, which sails in the Asia-Pacific market, passengers arriving here are five minutes from Underwater World Langkawi, Southeast Asia’s largest marine and freshwater aquariums. Additionally, Star Cruises features Redang Port at Pulau Redang, Terengganu, as a stopover port.

Malaysia’s efforts to attract more cruise tourism include the development of two dedicated international cruise terminals. The first, in Melaka City, a UNESCO World Heritage City, will be the largest marine project in the nation. The mixed development project, met with controversy from environmental groups, will create a cruise terminal that can accommodate three large cruise ships simultaneously and more than 6,000 passengers.

The second development project, at Kota Kinabalu Port, in Sabah’s capital, is currently seeking financing.

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