Keelung harbor becoming popular home port for cruise liners

Taipei, Jan. 11 (CNA) International cruise liners have been showing increasing interest in using Keelung Port in northern Taiwan as a base from which to tap into the regional cruise market, which has been growing.Last year, Princess Cruises, a leading liner, unveiled a plan to make Keelung the home port for three of its cruise ships, and this year Star Cruises also made a similar announcement.Those two decisions are expected to fuel the cruise ship boom at the port and help drive up Taiwan's cruise visitor numbers to around 1.24 million this year.Princess Cruises last year began using Keelung as a home port for its Majestic Princess vessel on its turn-around cruises, and will do the same with its Sun Princess and Diamond Princess ships this year.Currently, Keelung is also a home port to Star Cruises' SuperStar Aquarius and SuperStar Virgo, and its SuperStar Gemini will also join the ranks this year.Liu Xiaonin, vice-president of sales at Star Cruises, said the cruise liner began operating from Taiwan in 1997 and it has seen a rapid expansion of the country's cruise travel market over the past 20 years.Star Cruises will continue to launch new routes to meet the demand of Taiwan passengers, he said. In 2017, cruise ship passenger arrivals in Taiwan grew by a whopping 32 percent to a record 1.14 million from about 860,000 the previous year, propelling Taiwan into second place in Asia in terms of cruise tourism, according to data from Taiwan International Ports Corp. (TIPC).