Two international cruise operators said on Tuesday they plan to expand their services to Taiwan this year in light of the lucrative market in the region.
Hong Kong-based Star Cruises (麗星郵輪) said it would open a new route next month between the northern port of Keelung and the outlying island of Matsu, targeting Taiwanese travelers.
Since 2009, the cruise liner has been making at least 60 round trips per year in the region, with an average passenger load of 1,300.
Sunny Chih (支黎明), the liner’s assistant vice president, said 95 percent of the passengers are Taiwanese, showing that people in Taiwan love to take cruises.
This year, Star Cruises is scheduled to make 80 round trips in the region, she said.
Meanwhile, US-based Royal Caribbean Cruises also said on Tuesday it plans to expand its services in the Asia-Pacific region by introducing a 140,000 tonne ship on its Asian routes in August.
The ship will sail between Keelung and Shanghai, as well as to destinations in Japan and South Korea, Royal Caribbean said.
Royal Caribbean’s Taipei Office said the plan for a port call at Keelung signals the liner’s determination to make inroads into the Asian market.
The cruise company is also evaluating the possibility of making Keelung its home port in Asia, the office said.
Keelung Port, which handles the heaviest cruise ship traffic among all the nation’s ports, recorded more than 461,000 visits by cruise ship passengers last year, a 2.6 percent increase on the previous year.