Ninety cruises are expected to dock in Taiwan this year, including a record 23 ships that are to visit the nation for the first time following the lifting of a ban on international cruises.
The ban was implemented in February 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Taiwan.
Following the lifting of mandatory quarantine for all overseas arrivals on Oct. 13, the Central Epidemic Command Center approved the operational guidelines for international cruise ships on Oct. 24, allowing cruise services to resume.
Photo courtesy of Taiwan International Ports Corp
Taiwan International Ports Corp chairman Lee Hsien-yi (李賢義) said 90 cruises are expected to visit Taiwan this year.
Thirty-two of the cruises would be provided by ships with home ports in Taiwan, 25 of which would be organized by the luxury line Costa Cruises, while 58 would transit through Taiwan, Lee said.
Taiwan is the second-largest cruise market in Asia after China, company general manager Kao Chwan Kai (高傳凱) said, adding that China has yet to resume its international cruise services.
As Carnival Corp’s Princess Cruises stopped using Taiwan as its home port and Hong Kong-based cruise operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd filed for bankruptcy, travel agencies have been seeking other cruise lines to come to Taiwan, he said.
Holland America Line’s MS Westerdam and Regent Seven Sea Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer are to set off on their maiden voyages on March 6, using the Port of Kaohsiung as their home port, the port company said.
The MS Westerdam expects to have 3,000 passengers onboard, it added.
Cruises transiting through Taiwan can help boost the domestic economy, as cruise passengers often go ashore to spend money, while cruise ships that use Taiwan for home ports enable Taiwanese to spend money abroad, Kao said.
Providing tours arranged in the “fly-cruise” model, in which foreign visitors fly to Taiwan before boarding cruise ships, can further stimulate the economy, he added.
The Explorer Dream, operated by Dream Cruises, was the first cruise ship to set sail since the COVID-19 pandemic began, leaving the Port of Keelung on July 26, 2020.
The ship suspended services after Taiwan issued a level 3 nationwide COVID-19 alert in May 2021 and resumed the service after the alert was downgraded in July that year.
However, the ship left Taiwan after Dream Cruises’ parent company, Genting Hong Kong, filed for bankruptcy in March last year.
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