All aboard for Cosplay on the high seas
Top-class cosplayers from eight countries in the region will be competing at the Asia Cosplay Meet Championship this weekend aboard Royal Caribbean's 15-deck Mariner of the Seas cruise ship.
Back for its second edition, Cosfest Sea: Beyond The Great Horizons will feature US guest cosplayers for the first time, a cosplay parade along the ship's 136m-long Royal Promenade, and a superheroes costume museum for passengers to try on outfits.
All guests aboard - cosplayers and non-cosplayers alike - are welcome to watch the competitors from Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong and China vie for the top prize.
The champions from Thailand won $2,000 in cash last year.
At the championship, teams of three will dress up as characters from any movie, TV series or anime, and perform acts of sword fighting, dancing or singing before a panel of judges.
It is not all fun and games for the cosplayers, some of whom learn new dance routines or make their costumes from scratch.
Event co-organiser Stephanie Loh, president of The Singapore Cosplay Club, said: "Some contestants even undergo martial arts training to play their role."
Ms Loh, 34, who also cosplays as comic book character Wonder Woman and Elsa from the movie Frozen, said tickets for this year's Cosfest Sea sold out last December.
This is earlier than for last year, a testament to the growing popularity of cosplay here.
Ms Loh said: "It takes courage to express what you like in costume, but more people are plucking up the courage to do so.
"That's why cosplay is so refreshing to Singaporeans."
Royal Caribbean's corporate communications manager Chin Ying Duan said last year's cruise saw full capacity, exceeding 3,500 passengers, and this year will be the same.
The ship also has an ice-skating rink, full-sized sports court, DreamWorks Entertainment theatre, six whirlpools, boutiques and cafes.
The cruise ship will leave Singapore this afternoon and make a stop in Penang before returning on Monday morning.
Tickets cost $495 a person.
Co-organiser Takahan Tan, 42, who also cosplays as Batman, is glad about the rising popularity of Cosfest Sea.
He said: "We want to make it better each year so the cosplay culture can continue spreading".