Penang’s cruise sector has received a major boost after Royal Caribbean agreed to help upgrade the island’s port.
The company will form a joint venture with Penang Port (PPSB) to improve and expand the facilities at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal in Georgetown, enabling the Malaysian port to accommodate larger cruise ships and more passengers. The 60/40 joint venture will be jointly managed by both parties, with the majority stake held by PPSB.
Plans for the project include the extension of the existing cruise ship berths by more than 70%, from 400 metres to 688 metres. This will enable the terminal to handle two mega cruise liners carrying over 4,900 passengers each at any one time.
In addition, the redevelopment will include more space for tour buses, to ease the flow of traffic around Swettenham port, as well as improving accessibility for cruise passengers with limited mobility.
In total, the upgrade project is expected to cost US$35 million, to be funded by the joint venture.
The expansion of Penang’s port forms part of the Malaysian government’s plan to enhance the country’s cruise tourism industry. It follows a recent agreement with Princess Cruises to include Penang in its Southeast Asian itineraries for at least the next two seasons, with 16 calls scheduled. Royal Caribbean is due to make 38 calls in Penang in 2017.