Cruise operator Royal Caribbean has reported its highest advance booking numbers since its ships first set sail from Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in 2013. The sales numbers from a total of 30 trips from it’s two cruise liners – one that is now at port in Hong Kong while the other will arrive on October 29 – is 100,000 passengers, meaning each sailing is at least 60 per cent full. The number of passengers from the operator’s 21 sailings last year was 70,000, but Royal Caribbean expects the number this year to hit a new high. Hong Kong set to benefit as global cruise lines eye mainland Chinese market “The cruise industry in Hong Kong is definitely booming. The market from the southern part of mainland China is so big for us to explore and this form of travelling is still a new area to be tried out for many Hongkongers,” Balwin Yeung Pok-hung, the company’s Hong Kong director of sales and marketing said. Yeung’s positive outlook is a reverse trend from the recent gloomy tourism market in Hong Kong, which has seen drops in mainland visitor numbers, but in line with the Tourism Board’s projection of a continuous increase in passengers to be received by the end of 2016 since the HK$8.2 billion terminal came into use three years ago. Royal Caribbean said among their 100,000 passengers this year, 20 per cent are overseas customers while Hong Kong and mainland customers are equally distributed. Hong Kong to be home port to US$1 billion cruise ship, city’s largest yet, tailor-made for Chinese market The best selling trips are on the operator’s 168,666-tonne vessel Ovation of the Seas, the biggest cruise liner in Asia. It is coming to the city for three days in late October and then goes on a nine-day trip that stops at Japan and Korea. “Most of the customers on these trips will be Hongkongers because mainlanders do not like going on trips that are too short or too long,” Yeung said. Yeung said Hong Kong’s cruise market will continue to expand with an increase in visitors brought along by the completion of the third airport runway and connectivity to the mainland through the Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.