Travelers heading to the east coast now have another choice for transportation after the ferry service between Keelung and Hualien is launched next month.
The Maritime and Port Bureau yesterday confirmed that the Natchan Rera (麗娜輪), a high-speed passenger ship owned by the Wagon Group, had completed trial operations between Suao (蘇澳) in Yilan County and Hualien in May.
Several travel agencies have already booked the ship for package tours billed as a trip over the “Blue Highway,” the bureau said.
The Wagon Group said it would invite a group of distinguished guests for the ship’s pilot run on Aug. 7. Regular passengers can start boarding the ship on Aug. 8, the group said, adding that six voyages are available each week.
Natchan Rera can carry 568 passengers in the economy class, 112 in business class and 94 in first class, with the ticket price being NT$700, 1,000 and NT$1,500 respectively.
The ferry, traveling at a speed of 40 nautical miles per hour (74kph), can reduce travel time between Suao and Hualien to approximately 90 minutes.
The advantage of traveling on the “Blue Highway” is people can enjoy the beautiful sea view along the east coast without having to worry about falling rocks or landslides as what happens on the Suhua Highway, the group said.
Aside from passengers, the ship can also carry tour buses, small-passenger vehicles and motorcycles. However, the group said it was still carefully considering when to open the service to passengers.