Hong Kong Opening Up Bigger Cruise Source Markets

World Dream in Hong Kong

Major development projects will help make it easy for cruise guests to get to their ships at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong.

New rail, bridge and road links will better connect Hong Kong with mainland China.

“The high-speed rail will bring 270 million people within a four-hour ride of Hong Kong, and will also allow pre- and post-tours to major attractions like Guilin,” said Jeff Bent, managing director, Worldwide Cruise Terminals, which runs Kai Tak.

In addition, the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge will open up more opportunities in conjunction with a cruise trip.

In June the port celebrated a major milestone as it marked a passenger record with 15,307 guests in a single day as the World Dream and Ovation of the Seas both docked, coinciding with the modern facility’s fifth year anniversary of being in operation.

That came just after a busy month of March, with six inaugural calls which saw the Viking Sun, Star Legend, Silver Discoverer, Columbus, Norwegian Jewel and Queen Elizabeth tie up at Kai Tak.

Traffic at Kai Tak will be slightly down year-over-year, with headwinds in North Asia, Bent said.

“South China has benefited from both a more diverse and sustainable distribution model, and increased attention to the Philippines’ newly-rediscovered port-of-call destinations for locally-based ships,” he said.

Near the terminal in Hong Kong, more land is set to be developed as road and other infrastructure improvements are expected to be conducted in the next year.

“Hong Kong has already met the government’s goals for passenger throughput in 2023,” Bent said, noting the just under one-million cruise guests the city served in 2017.

“For significant growth to happen, we need to help make the source market pie bigger. China has been the world’s largest outbound travel market for a number of years, but penetration for cruise is still only a fraction of a per cent. The better we grow the Chinese source market, the more the entire world will benefit.”

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Hong Kong: Homeport and Transit Call Opportunity

Ovation of the Seas in Hong Kong

The new World Dream will arrive to homeport at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal this November as another new ship uses Hong Kong as a turnaround destination.

Next year is looking to be on par with 2017 in terms of traffic, with 190 calls and 550,000 passengers, according to Jeff Bent, managing director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, which oversees Kai Tak.

Around 75 percent of cruise calls at the facility are turnarounds.

“Ships leaving north Asia seasonally are making more transit calls in Hong Kong on their way to other markets, so there is a marginally positive effect for us, and perhaps an opportunity for seasonal homeports,” added Bent.

Source markets are certainly diverse, with Hong Kong locals, mainland Chinese and overseas passengers all playing into the passenger mix.

“The number and percentage of local Hong Kong passengers is increasing with additional homeporting capacity, and Hong Kong will likely be our largest source market this year,” Bent said. “The Chinese market presents its share of challenges, but is still vastly underpenetrated compared to mature markets.”

Hong Kong is the world’s tenth largest outbound travel market by spending. New transportation options will give mainland Chinese more options to board ships leaving Kai Tak in the next few years highlighted by high speed rail, a bridge to Zhuhai and Macao, and a new highway border crossing.

Of note, Kai Tak welcomed its millionth cruise passenger this year when the Majestic Princess called.

Royal Caribbean finalizes Taiwan port deal

Royal Caribbean finalizes Taiwan port deal

By Tom Stieghorst
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) has agreed to co-develop a cruise port in Taiwan with the Taiwan International Ports Co.

The port would be the first to be developed in Asia by RCCL, although it also has a stake in the company that operates the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong.

In a statement, Royal Caribbean said its nonbinding memorandum of understanding is for a site that currently serves as a Taiwanese Navy and Coast Guard facility.

“The island, which has good infrastructure but is relatively underdeveloped for tourism, offers beautiful beaches, ancient culture, natural beauty and great local seafood cuisine,” the statement said.

In an article in the Taipei Times, RCCL’s vice president of commercial development, John Tercek, said that one of the main reasons Penghu was chosen is that it is convenient to Hong Kong and Xiamen, two base ports.

Earlier this year, Hong Kong and Taiwan founded a regional cruise development fund that will pay cruise lines that visit two or more participating ports in a single itinerary.

RCCL and Taiwan International Ports Co. plan to spend $33 million to develop a pier for the first phase of the project, scheduled to open in 2016, the Taipei Times said.