Lion Travel Service is introducing seven two-day to six-day cruises around Taiwan for October and November, with tickets available for preorder from Thursday next week.
With people unable to travel abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local island-hopping cruises have been one of the summer’s best-selling tourism products, with every voyage more than 90 percent full, Lion Travel president and spokesman Andy Yu (游國珍) said on Monday.
The company used to sail the Explorer Dream cruise ship — which has a gross tonnage of 75,338 and holds up to 3,630 passengers — on international voyages, but now uses it for island hopping, taking people to the outlying islands of Kinmen, Penghu and Matsu.
The Explorer Dream cannot dock at most ports on the outlying islands, so it uses tenders, or other boats that ferry people and supplies between the cruise ship and shore, Yu said.
However, the worsening northeastern monsoon could make it difficult to continue using tenders, Yu added.
Taiwan proper has several deep-water ports, so the company came up with the idea of sailing the Explorer Dream around Taiwan, instead of going island hopping, he said.
The voyages could drive up business in the second half of the year, especially as many people have yet to use up all of their annual leave due to the pandemic, he said.
Disease prevention regulations cap the capacity of cruise ships at 50 percent and not all of the tickets are likely to sell, so Lion Travel expects to have about 1,200 to 1,300 passengers onboard the Explorer Dream for each voyage around Taiwan, the Taiwan International Ports Corp (TIPC) said on Monday.
There have been eight local island-hopping cruises so far this year, with a total of 9,032 passengers, or about 1,129 per voyage, TICP statistics showed.
The first cruise around Taiwan sets sail on Oct. 22, and all seven voyages embark and disembark at the Port of Keelung, Yu said.
The two-day package, which starts at NT$2,500 per person, would sail to Turtle Island (Gueishan Island, 龜山島), the Milk Sea (牛奶海) — an ocean area off the coast of Yilan County that has become a tourist hotspot because of the milk-colored water — and Keelung Islet (基隆嶼), Yu said.
The four-day package, which starts at NT$7,900 per person, would dock at ports in Kaohsiung and Hualien County, while the five-day package, which starts at the same price, would dock at ports in Penghu County, Kaohsiung and Hualien, he said.
The four six-day packages, which start at NT$9,900 per person, would dock at ports in Tainan’s Anping District (安平), Penghu, Kaohsiung and Hualien, Yu said.
Lion Travel is offering discounted tickets while it monitors the popularity of local cruises of more than one day, Yu said, adding that the company would raise the prices as it reaches its sales targets of 30 and 50 percent.
Whether to launch another ship for local cruises is being evaluated and likely would not occur before early next year, Yu said.
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