Hong Kong-listed Star Cruises is to launch services between Xiamen and Hong Kong and may expand further along the mainland coast. The service to Xiamen and Hong Kong starts next week. Star Cruises also plans to introduce services to other cities in north-eastern China. That could mean linking Hong Kong with Shanghai or Dalian, in Liaoning province, although the company refused to say which cities it had in mind. Chairman Lim Kok Thay said: 'We will initially target the mass market.' Other routes under consideration would link Hong Kong, China and South Korea, he said. Dalian is a popular resort lying opposite South Korea. The group expects to resume its cruise operations to Taiwan by the end of this year and is studying the Japanese market, Mr Lim said. Meanwhile, the group was working on a proposal for a plan to build a cruise terminal on the site of the former Kai Tak airport. Asked whether the group would consider issuing new shares to finance its expansion into China, Mr Lim said: 'We will seriously consider it if there is serious demand for our shares.' The remarks followed speculation in Singapore that the cruise operator was planning to raise about US$75 million through new shares. Mr Lim said the company needed to build bigger ships for its future expansion plans in China. The expansion would be financed either through bank borrowing or by tapping the equity market, which he believed would be the cheaper alternative. Yesterday, the group signed a seven-year syndicated refinancing facility of US$450 million. Mr Lim said the facility was about 20 basis points lower than the former loan signed last year. The old loan incurred interest expenses of about US$12 million, he said. 'With the completion of this facility arrangement, the group is in a stronger financial position to more aggressively and efficiently extend our lead in Asia-Pacific and tap into new markets in North Asia,' he said, adding that time was crucial to catch the expected rebound in the second half of this year.