Homeport Cruise Season Kicks Off Early at Port of Keelung with the Launch of Regular Dual Homeport (Keelung - Naha) Cruise Voyages by MSC Bellissima - Asia Pacific’s Largest Cruise Ship
Port of Keelung welcomed the arrival today (January 16th) of MSC Bellissima, the largest (at over 170k GT) cruise ship operating in the Asia-Pacific Region. For the next three months, MSC Bellissima is scheduled to make 13 homeport cruise journeys between Keelung and Naha (Okinawa). Not only is this the MSC Bellissima’s first Taiwan homeport itinerary and an important milestone in MSC Cruises’ developing relationship with the Taiwan market, but it also marks an early start for this year’s homeport cruise operations at Port of Keelung.
Port of Keelung used the pandemic slowdown to fully renovate two 1930s -era warehouses (West Warehouse No. 2 and 3), transforming them into the port’s all-new West Passenger Terminal. The terminal now provides 1,300m2 of floorspace fronted by a 544m-long, -11m-deep wharf. The terminal is a short walk away from the city’s main train station and bus depot, with convenient access to national freeway and highway networks. This season’s MSC Bellissima’s Keelung - Naha dual homeport itinerary represents a relatively new model for Taiwan, with passengers from both Taiwan and Japan able to take full advantage of the homeport-to-homeport experience. Using this first voyage as an example, the over 2,100 passengers boarding in Keelung will enjoy stops in Naha and the Miyakojima Islands before returning home, while the 2,713 passengers boarding in Naha will enjoy stops in Ishigaki and Keelung before returning home. Notably, around 200 non-Japanese passengers will join the cruise in Japan, disembark in Keelung, and then catch flights back home from Taiwan. Similarly, around 250 non-Taiwanese passengers will join the cruise in Keelung. Thus, on this first voyage of the season alone, some 450 passengers are taking advantage of “fly in / fly out” (i.e., fly-cruise) travel packages. The growing popularity of fly-cruise vacations in Taiwan reflects the increasingly international and innovative nature of Taiwan cruise travel products.
To help speed growth in Taiwan’s post-pandemic cruise vacation market, TIPC is continuing to offer dockage fee, passenger service fee, and volume incentives. In 2022, prior to the lifting of pandemic restrictions, a TIPC delegation visited the headquarters of the MSC Group in Genève to promote the idea of adding Taiwan to MSC Cruises’ regular Asia-Pacific routes. An understanding reached with MSC Cruises CEO Gianni Onorato to consider Taiwan for currently open routes led to the decision to open 30 cruise voyages (60 calls) for MSC Bellissima at Port of Keelung this year - a 900% increase over 2023. This three-month homeport route alone is expected to increase passenger handling numbers through Keelung by 237,000. Homeport, port-of-call, and multi-homeport product options are increasingly providing cruise passengers with a diverse and exciting menu of vacation options.
The 135 cruise voyages (270 calls) and 561,000 passenger entries and arrivals expected at Port of Keelung in 2024 will roughly double the 71 voyages (142 calls) and 288,000 passengers handled in the previous year. TIPC is working closely with the national tourism authority to continue the upward momentum in Taiwan’s cruise tourism sector.
Basic data on MSC Bellissima:
Tonnage: 171,598 GT; Length: 315m; Width: 43m; Capacity: 5,655 passengers; Next Port of Call: Naha (Okinawa)
Port of Keelung
TIPC Huai-hsuan Liu