Thu, Jul 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cruise ship tourism on the rise

SHIPS AHOY:More cruise companies are choosing to dock at Taiwan’s ports, prompting the Taiwan International Port Corp to reconsider the Jinlongtou Cruise Terminal project

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The nation’s international seaports saw an increase in tourists arriving on cruise ships in the first half of the year, with nearly a 26 percent increase compared with the same period last year, Taiwan International Port Corp said.

Between January and last month, 484,188 cruise ship visitors accessed ports around the nation, up by 25.7 percent compared with last year, the state-run company’s data showed.

Taiwanese tourists accounted for the majority of the cruise ship passengers with 210,000, with most of them cruising to Ishigaki Island in Japan, and about 128,000 were travelers from overseas, the company said.

The company estimated that the total number of cruise ship passengers could reach 1 million this year, representing 25 percent growth.

The increasing popularity of cruise ship tours in the region, as well as the variety of tours offered by cruise operators are why passenger numbers are increasing, the company said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, and Costa Cruises are using Keelung and Kaohsiung ports as their home ports for some of their cruises, which further bolstered passenger numbers, it said.

The Port of Keelung on June 30 saw a record 15,533 people arrive or board one of five passenger ships in one day, including Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo and SuperStar Aquarius, China Ocean Shipping Co’s Cosco Star and Taiwan-based Taima Star’s Taima Star.

Port of Kaohsiung also saw a boom between April and last month as Star Cruises launched 14 cruises to Hong Kong and Laoag and Manila in the Philippines.

The port company said that it has met with Carnival Cruise Line shore operations vice president Bruce Krumrine to discuss Keelung port.

Keelung can accommodate large cruise ships, so building cruise ship terminals in the outer harbor is being considered, the company said, adding that it would include parking for tour buses and an area to process passengers’ luggage.

The port would have three large wharves to serve cruise ship passengers, the company said.

The Kaohsiung port spent NT$18 million (US$590,357) building a mobile passenger bridge with a 4.5 percent gradient and paved with silicon carbide to serve elderly or disable passengers, as well as people with luggage, the company said.

The company plans to reopen bidding to build Penghu’s Jinlongtou Cruise Terminal after increasing incentives for investors.

The company signed a letter of intent in 2014 with Royal Caribbean Cruises to jointly develop the terminal and the surrounding area. The deal was canceled because the second-largest shareholder in Royal Caribbean wanted to change the terms of the partnership.

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