An entire ship “centered” on a casino? It’s not unheard of, but it’s one of the things that could set the Crusino apart from other cruise ships sailing today.
The Kuala Lumpur-based company Podiumspot Capital Group is weeks away from launching Crusino, which it claims will be the world’s largest casino cruise ship. Crusino, which will measure 295 meters in length and 36 meters in width, will be launched in Malaysia on April 3 and is expected to take three years to complete. Once completed, the ship will feature the largest casino on sea with two special decks with a combined floor size of more than 190,000 square feet.
We caught up with Podiumspot Capital Group’s CEO, Tim Leonard, who gave CalvinAyre.com an exclusive look at the soon-to-be-built ship that’s bound “to be a class by itself.”
1. Can you give us a brief overview about Podiumspot Capital Group? What does the company do?
Podiumspot Capital Group was founded in Kuala Lumpur in 2013. It is primarily involved in providing corporate finance solutions, particularly to the casino and gambling industry. Our subsidiary company, Crusino Cruise Services Limited will operate the casino cruise ship named Crusino.
2. How was this casino cruise project conceived? And how much work has gone into it—planning or otherwise—at this stage?
Crusino is a name coined from the words ‘cruise’ and ‘casino’. It was conceived to provide a distinctive casino experience on the seas. Planning is in advanced stages and we will unveil the design and special features onboard Crusino in an official launch ceremony in Kuala Lumpur this coming April 3. We hope to have the first steel cutting by year-end.
3. Reports mentioned that the construction would cost around RM2.5 billion (USD560 million). If you don’t mind us asking, how do you plan to finance an undertaking this big—no pun intended?
Construction will cost a minimum of USD$560 million. Estimates are in the region of US$600-650 million. We have a group of investors backing this project and a syndicated bank loan available to cover construction costs. And compared to a few other cruise ships in the world today, our cost is quite palatable.
4. Podiumspot is looking to build the ship in either China or Vietnam. Have you already chosen between the two or have you found a different, more suitable location? Also, can you tell us what made you decide to build the cruise ship there and why not in Malaysia?
We are in the final stages of discussion with shipyards in China and Vietnam. We also held discussions with shipyards from other countries as well. But we will reveal further details on this at the official launch. Basically, we are going to adopt a modular construction method for the construction of Crusino. This gives us the option of working from two separate locations and with greater flexibility. And since we are a Malaysian company, we will certainly give some portion of the job, such as the outfitting, to Malaysian companies.
5. Reports mentioned that Crusino would feature “the largest casino on sea.” Can you describe the ship’s casino features?
Crusino will feature the largest casino on sea because it will have two special decks with a combined floor size of more than 190,000 sq. ft. This will cater for a wide variety of slot games, live games, table games, sports betting and other gaming activities. And there is going to be dedicated plasma TVs in each room to allow for live participation in dealer games. So to do this from the comfort of their rooms is going to be a one-of-its kind experience for seasoned as well as recreational gamblers. We hope to set a benchmark for the casino industry with a lot of unique features that also incorporates fair gaming practices. For instance, our roulette tables will feature transparent roulette wheels. There are many more features of the ship’s casino and we will be glad to reveal it on April 3.
6. What makes Crusino different from other cruise liners—operating in Asia and beyond—today?
Most cruise liners have casinos on board but it is usually just a small component on their ships. For us, the entire ship is ‘centered’ on a casino. Other cruise liners are selling a ‘holiday.’ We are selling a ‘casino’ plus the amenities that comes with a cruise ship such as a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping outlets, a theater, library, spa, sauna, massage and fitness centre. We will have our own features that will distinguish us from other cruise liners. We are selling the concept of a unique casino experience and indulgence. Crusino is going to be a class by itself.
7. Crusino is expected to embark on its maiden voyage in 2020. Who will be the target market of Crusino and are you planning to have it registered in an offshore jurisdiction?
Crusino is scheduled to sail on its maiden voyage in the second quarter of 2020. We want to serve the sizeable market of Asian gamblers from countries such as China, India, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. And we will serve other markets as well depending on the demand. Similar to most cruise liners, we will certainly be registered in an offshore jurisdiction to take advantage of tax savings.
8. It’s still a long way before Crusino sets sail, but do you have plans to add to the fleet in the future?
Yes, we are definitely looking at the prospect of a Crusino fleet in the future but it will also depend on various external factors. But for now, our focus is going to be on creating a strong, reputable brand with this kind of a unique offering.
9. We have several weeks left before Podiumspot reveals the design features of the ship and casino. Tell us, how is the morale right now with your team?
Team morale is absolutely fantastic right now. We are very optimistic and excited, and everyone is working really hard to make this a world-class project.