Tue, Nov 21, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Cruise operators expect an active winter season

By Hsiao Yu-hsin and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The cruise industry is expecting a busy winter off-season after the number of cruises that entered Taiwan from January to last month reached 544 — a nearly 30 percent increase from last year, the Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC) said.

Domestic operators said Taiwan will have welcomed 1 million cruise travelers by the end of the year and is to become a battleground for the industry.

Three major international companies — Star Cruises, Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises — plan to increase the number of ships traveling to Taiwan next year.

Princess Cruises is to feature the Majestic Princess, the Sun Princess and the Diamond Princess, and predicts at least 50 trips next year, an increase from this year.

With its Costa Fortuna and Costa neoRomantica, Costa Cruises said it plans to reach half the amount of this year’s trips in the first season next year.

The nation’s market for cruise tourism has grown quickly over the past two years, but cruise travelers only make up 3 to 4 percent of domestic travelers, TIPC said.

The market for cruise tourism is a figurative “blue ocean” in the eyes of cruise businesses, it added.

Due to northeasterly winds, the winter season is typically slow for the cruise industry, Lion Travel spokesman Andy Yu (游國珍) said.

However, not only is Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess coming this month and next month, but Costa Cruises has also partnered with Lion Travel to launch the Costa neoRomantica during the 228 Memorial Day holiday next year.

The Costa neoRomantica is scheduled to depart for the Japanese islands of Miyakojima and Ishigaki in Okinawa Prefecture from Keelung Port.

Cheaper prices are to be offered during the winter, Yu said, adding that the agency hopes to change the impression that cruise travel is expensive by offering prices that are lower than that of domestic travel at less than NT$20,000 per person.

The Costa neoRomantica is 57,000 tonnes and has a capacity of 1,800 passengers, Yu said, adding that it is considered a mid-sized cruise ship, giving it an advantage over larger ships that require a shuttle boat transfer.

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