2018 was a banner year for cruise ship tourism at the Port of Keelung, with passenger numbers for the year breaking a new record at 1.06 million. Of this number, international cruise lines contributed the most, increasing 13% from 2017 and rising from 830,000 passengers during that year to 940,000 in 2018.
Princess Cruises and Star Cruises contributed the most to growth in 2018 in the port’s international cruise segment. In the home-port sub-segment, Princess Cruise’s addition of the all-new Majestic Princess was well received, with most scheduled voyages in 2018 carrying 4,000 passengers or more and reporting occupancy rates of over 90% … sometimes even reaching 100%. Star Cruises assigned the largest ship in its fleet, SuperStar Virgo, to its Keelung-based route to Japan and South Korea. Both providers of cruise vacations had a strong hand in raising Port of Keelung’s passenger numbers this past year. Furthermore, these two companies separately announced new Keelung home-port cruise vacation products in 2018, including SuperStar Virgo’s Keelung – Manila – Ishigaki Island itinerary and Diamond Princess’ Yokohama – Nagoya – Osaka – Okinawa – Keelung itinerary, giving consumers even more options.
In the Cross-Strait ferry segment, Cosco Star’s Keelung – Taizhou / Xiamen route grew in terms of passenger numbers from 29,000 in 2017 to 36,000 in 2018, a one-year rise of 24%. The main trend in passenger numbers shifted from Mainland Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan to an increasing number of Taiwanese tourists traveling to the Mainland. Thus, Cross-Strait ferry traffic changed significantly this past year in terms of both passenger numbers and profile, with a growing number of domestic tourists succumbing to the allure of travel by sea.
2018 saw the Port of Keelung cross a number of important milestones, including the first Keelung-based, round-the-island cruise by MS Caledonian Sky, the first chartered cruise from South Korea to Taiwan by Costa Serena, the first visit to Taiwan by a ship in the Mediterranean-based MSC Cruises fleet, the signing of a trilateral cooperation agreement between Keelung, Okinawa, and Jeju Island, and the first installation in a Taiwan sea or airport of a fully automated international currency exchange machine.
Looking ahead into 2019, prospects continue to look good for the Port of Keelung cruise market, with overall numbers expected to match or slightly exceed 2018 by year’s end. Four cruise ships are already slated to make their maiden visits to Keelung this year. The Port of Keelung will continue to improve port hard and soft infrastructures, will continue to join in cooperative promotional programs with the national Tourism Bureau and local governments, and will strengthen wharf and terminal infrastructures this year in hopes of better business results and of instilling additional vitality into the Taiwan economy.