A D V E R T I S M E N T

Take a cruise in North Korea - on a Singaporean's ship

 
CruiseShip_Thumb Owner approached officials after learning that reclusive country had a cruise route

Giant speakers thump out club hits as the DJ bellows: "Everybody get on the dance floor!"
The nightspot is a boarded-up swimming pool on a ship sailing in North Korean waters, and the groovers are mainly middle-aged men and women wearing pins featuring pictures of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Conspicuously missing is the beat of South Korean pop star Psy's Gangnam Style. "We're not allowed to play that one," explains Mr Danny Tay, the 46-year-old Singaporean who owns the ship.

His Royale Star is the only ship permitted to ply North Korea's first commercial cruise route running between north-eastern Rajin port and the scenic south-eastern Mount Kumgang resort. Since getting its licence in February, it has made three trips. Formerly a gaming ship in Singapore waters, the 138m-long vessel is no luxury liner, but a big improvement on the previous ship approved to ply the same route, the Mangyongbyong, with its bare minimum of amenities.

The Royale Star's bathrooms are functional, for starters, and all passenger cabins on its nine decks come with bunks, allowing for up to 250 passengers, with room for 250 crew. There are also a karaoke lounge, a duty-free shop, a small casino, a massage parlour, and a hair and nail salon.

The Pyongyang government representative overseeing operations on board told The Sunday Times: "Customers seem happier with the Royale Star than with the ship before, so our government is pleased with its crew and Singaporean management... This cruise is important to developing our tourism, and we want to give more people a taste of North Korea."

So how did a Singaporean and his modest vessel end up promoting tourism in reclusive North Korea? Mr Tay says he made the first move last year after learning that North Korea had a cruise route.
A primary school dropout who worked his way up the marine industry and who acquired the Royale Star in 2011 under his British Virgin Islands-registered company, Everis Capital Holdings, he approached North Korean officials to pitch his idea and the deal was sealed at the end of last year.
"It's been a dream to venture into North Korea since I was sent to repair a ship's elevators in North Korean waters back in 1996," said Mr Tay. "I don't speak the language but saw an opportunity and the untapped potential in cruises there."

The cruise is being marketed as a way for foreigners to visit one of the world's most secretive countries, and several passengers on board during its latest trip at the end of last month told The Sunday Times that curiosity had indeed prompted their travels.
"This country is very mysterious because it's so closed to the outside world, and I've always wanted to see what it is actually like," said Jalan Besar nasi lemak hawker Ng Chue Hiang, 54, the lone Singaporean passenger. "I heard about the cruise from a friend who said the scenery is fantastic, so I decided to give it a try, as I don't think there will be many chances in life to travel to North Korea."

The five-day, four-night 4,000 yuan (S$828) cruise is targeted mainly at foreigners, and most so far have been from China. Those who want to join the cruise must approach the vessel's management directly, or sign up at the Royale Star booth in Rajin port.

The cruise is still in its trial stage, said Mr Tay, who hopes his floating hotel and casino will be allowed to run two trips a month. "This cruise is a challenge. Whether or not it will take off, we will see, but it's a risk worth taking and it's been a very exciting journey so far."

 

Like This Story?
Let us send you more from us and our partners.
 

WIN

KEEPERS Singapore

Win exclusive designer pieces and vouchers to KEEPERS worth $1,500!

Sponsored

Find the perfect Xmas gifts from the PANDORA Winter 2014 collection

 

Dress to impress with Marks & Spencer’s sparkly and festive collection

 

An Oral-B power brush is an ideal holiday gift. Click to find out why.

 

Discover why beauty experts are raving about the new foundation

 

How to buy a beautiful diamond, no matter its carat size

 

What to buy for coffee-loving friends; these fit all budgets too!

 

Let the latest Canon PowerShot cameras do all the work for you

 

Christmas is not complete without a trip to TANGS. The one-stop destination for all your holiday shopping

 

BECOME A MEMBER

Sign up with herworld PLUS, get our weekly newsletter & you could win heaps of
great prizes!


Facebook

back to the top
 
 

home

beauty

fashion

shopping

Celebs/Men/Sex

lifestyle

Promotions

plus

AWARDS

Awards
Loading...