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Two international cruise lines to expand services to Taiwan

2012/04/10 19:45:23

Taipei, April 10 (CNA) Two international cruise operators said Tuesday they plan to expand their services to Taiwan this year in light of the lucrative market in the region.

Hong Kong-based Star Cruises said it will open a new route in May between the northern Taiwan port of Keelung and the outlying island of Matsu, targeting Taiwanese travelers.

Since 2009, the cruise liner has been making at least 60 round trips per year in the region, with an average passenger load of 1,300.

Chih Li-ming, the liner's assistant vice-president, said 95 percent of the passengers on board are Taiwanese, which indicates that people in Taiwan love to take cruises.

This year, Star Cruises is scheduled to make 80 round trips in the region, she said.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-based Royal Caribbean Cruises also said Tuesday it plans to expand its services in the Asia-Pacific by introducing a 140,000-ton ship on its Asian routes in August.

The massive ship will sail routes between Keelung and Shanghai, as well as to destinations in Japan and South Korea, Royal Caribbean said.

Royal Caribbean's Taipei Office said the plan for a port call at Keelung signals the liner's determination to make inroads into the Asia market.

The cruise company is also evaluating the possibility of making Keelung its home port in the Asia region, the office said.

Keelung Port, which handles the heaviest cruise ship traffic among all ports in Taiwan, recorded over 461,000 visits by cruise ship passengers in 2011, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year.

(By Chen Shun-hsieh and Ann Chen)
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