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Key considerations to note with Muslim cruise travelling on the rise

Key considerations to note with Muslim cruise travelling on the rise

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With travel continuing to rebound across Asia Pacific, the global cruise market has been a major beneficiary. Of which, the Muslim demographic has been one of the fastest-growing segments.

In fact, for the ASEAN markets of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, the number of Muslim passengers grew by 8%, suggesting a rising interest in cruise holidays among the region's Muslim community.

This is according to Mastercard and CrescentRating's Muslim-Friendly Cruise Report 2024. In 2023, Muslim cruise passengers reached close to 1 million, with projections showing a rapid increase to 2.8 million by 2027. 

The surge, according to the report, is likely a result of more cruise lines offering services that cater to Muslim travellers, such as halal food options and prayer facilities. 

Don't miss: Study: Global Muslim consumers to spend US$2.8 trillion by 2025, marriageable Muslims key 

How are they spending?

Muslim travellers prefer to book their cruise via digital platforms, said the report. Among cruise passengers, 48% of respondents booked directly through the cruise line's website, while 14% used online travel agencies. Only 33% opted to book through travel agents or tour operators.

Prospective passengers, however, would prefer to book directly through cruise operators' websites (79%), compared to 28% who would opt for travel agents. 

In addition, experienced cruisers reportedly spend less than SG$500 per person (32%), while 34% said they allocated between SG$500 and SG$1,000 per person. 

At the same time, shorter cruises are gaining momentum, with 45% of passengers opting for shorter cruisers lasting one to three nights. This suggests a growing interest in enjoying the full cruise experience without the commitment of an extended vacation. 

In tandem, flexible payment methods play a crucial role in cruise passenger's overall experience. 85% of respondents expressed a preference for debit or credit cards while 26% preferred cash. 

e-Wallets (19%), QR code payments (19%) and mobile payments (17%) follow after.

Marketing to Muslim travellers

According to the Muslim-Friendly Cruise Report 2024, the top influencing factor when considering a cruise is the availability of Halal/Muslim-friendly facilities. Of which, 97% of Muslim travellers consider halal dining of paramount importance when selecting cruise vacations. 

On top of that, 67% of Muslim travellers have also stated that prayer facilities and prayer-related amenities are highly valued. Meanwhile, 60% list water-friendly washrooms as one of their 'need to have' services. 

In addition, 72% of respondents have expressed a preference for cruise-operators with sustainable practices. A substantial 74% agree that they are inclined to select a Halal cruise operator that actively promotes and implements sustainable practices.

That said, 49% agree with the statement that they are willing to invest in a premium experience for a Halal cruise that places emphasis on environmentally friendly practices.

These findings are supported by Mastercard and CrescentRating's 2023 study titled "The Next Generation of Travelers" where it was revealed that sustainability is key in decision making for Muslim Gen Z travellers. 

45% of the respondents identified themselves as environmental enthusiasts with 77% of Muslim Gen Z willing to spend more on sustainable practices such as reducing air travel, participating in volunteer tourism and supporting local businesses. 

Around 11% also said they will pay for carbon offsets and 14% will take holidays closer to home to avoid long haul flights.

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