Taipei--Costa Cruises' Costa neoRomantica launched its maiden service in Asia from Keelung City on Wednesday, the second cruise ship in less than a week to show an interest in using the northern Taiwan city as a base from which to tap into the regional market.
With a capacity of 1,800 passengers, the Italian company is offering three trips in April taking passengers from Taiwan to Japanese destinations such as Miyakojima, Okinawa and Ishigakijima, according to Felicia Tang (???), vice president of sales for the China, Japan and North Asia region.
Making Keelung our home port is part of our strategy in 2017," Tang said, explaining that the company sees great potential in cruise tourism in Taiwan.
Orazio D'aita, captain of the Costa neoRomantica, said he has found that western-branded cruise lines like his have become more popular with Taiwanese passengers because even though the destinations are in Asia, they enjoy a totally different atmosphere while on broad.
We are delighted to be part of the Taiwanese cruise market and to provide Italian-oriented experiences for our clients, said D'aita.
On April 6, Trey Hickey, senior vice president of international sales for Princess Cruises, announced in Taipei that its Sapphire Princess will offer 42 trips in Taiwan this year using both Keelung and Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan as home ports.
Cruise ship operators are reporting that 2017 will see the expansion of existing cruise operations and the launch of new Keelung home port lines, TIPC said.
Cruise ships that currently run turn-around cruises using Keelung as a home port include Star Cruises' SuperStar Aquarius and SuperStar Virgo, TIPC said, adding that together, these ships have accumulated a total of 221 Keelung-based trips, accounting for roughly 80 percent of the total number of cruise passengers currently processed at the port.
According to Taiwan International Ports Corp. (TIPC), 843,000 cruise ship passengers are expected to visit the country in 2017, which represents a 27.09 percent increase over 2016 passenger numbers.
Beyond home port operations, international cruise ships scheduled to make transit calls at Keelung this year includes the MS Europa 2, Aida Bella, Ovation of the Seas, L'Austral, and Majestic Princess.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel