Agents need to ensure their clients are aware of the cultural differences they might encounter on ocean cruises in Asia, warns Clia Australasia’s training chief.

Speaking at Clia UK’s Asia river cruise and destination forum in Ho Chi Minh City this week, head of international training and development Peter Kollar said customers could find themselves on a ship with 99% Chinese, so language and different attitudes to personal space could be an issue.

Although the forum was focused on river cruising, Kollar said agents needed to be aware of the sales opportunities in Asia’s burgeoning ocean cruise market.

He said the growth has been ‘unbelievable’, with some 66 ships sailing in the region this year, accounting for about 11% of global capacity, compared with ‘fewer than in Alaska’ as recently as 2014.

A lot of the new tonnage was designed and built for the Chinese market, but as that has not performed as expected vessels are being relocated to South-East Asia and opened to passengers from around the world.

Kollar said it is good news for agents as it gives them more itineraries to sell but they must manage clients’ expectations. “I’m not saying it is a negative to sail with other cultures but it is different and clients need to be aware of it.”