Royal Caribbean International will extend its cruise season in Hong Kong next year, it said yesterday.
The cruise line's Mariner of the Seas, the first vessel to berth at the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal upon its soft opening on Wednesday, left Hong Kong yesterday with its 3,000 passengers after a 20-hour stay.
It will return to Kai Tak to offer four sailings this October and November: a one-way cruise from Shanghai with a call at the South Korean island of Jeju; two round-trip cruises to Taiwan's Kaohsiung and Taipei; and a one-way cruise to Singapore with a call at Ho Chi Minh City.
Next year, its sister ship, Voyager of the Seas, which carries more than 3,000 passengers, is due to make more extensive use of the terminal. To cash in on strong tourism demand during the week-long National Day "golden week" holiday, the ocean liner will offer round trips in the second half of September 2014 from Hong Kong, although itineraries have yet to be set.
Local authorities and tour agencies would like the Voyager to stay as long as half a year, regional sales director of Asia Pacific Kelvin Tan Kheng-ngee said, but that is only likely to happen sometime after next year.
It remains to be seen whether Hong Kong is a big enough market for the mega vessel to tap. "We can explore offering cruises to Japan and South Korea, but adding such stops would lengthen the trip. For the time being, we are unsure whether local consumers are well prepared for longer cruises," he said.
For the time being, more than half of Mariner's 1,500 cabins have already been booked for its two November sailings from Hong Kong. The three-night trip to Taiwan costs a minimum of HK$2,580 per person.