The cruise industry is once again embracing Hong Kong as a top cruise hub in Asia, following the prolonged suspension of cruising as the pandemic unfolded.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board announced on August 10, 2023 that 18 cruise lines are committed to visiting the destination this year, including Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas, which has already been welcomed.
Cruise Ship Calls to Reach 166 in 2023
Ships from virtually all of the major cruise lines are now scheduled to either homeport or call at the port of Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in 2023, bringing the Asian port closer to normal operations following the pandemic.
Eighteen cruise lines, representing 166 ship calls, will visit Hong Kong, including major brands such as Royal Caribbean, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Windstar Cruises, among others.
The total ship calls this year remains less than in 2019, when 218 ships visited, but is a notable rebound from the pandemic years, when cruising worldwide was either suspended or in slow-recovery mode.
Hong Kong officials signaled in March 2023 that its cruise industry was headed toward full recovery. Silversea Cruises in January 2023 had become the first international cruise line to return to Hong Kong’s waters in almost three years.
In its announcement, the Hong Kong Tourism Board said it would maintain close ties with cruise lines to attract more future port calls and launch promotional events to support the industry.
Port Marks Return of Spectrum of the Seas
The Hong Kong Tourism Board marked a special cruise ship call on August 4, 2023, when Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas visited for the first time since cruising returned to the destination. Royal Caribbean had earlier announced that the ship would homeport in Hong Kong in 2024, another reason for the port to celebrate the ship’s arrival.
Port officials staged an elaborate welcome ceremony for the ship’s guests at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, where a lion dance and drums performance was held. Souvenirs were handed out to guests as well. Spectrum of the Seas is a Quantum-Ultra-class ship that launched in 2019.
The 168,666-gross ton ship has a capacity for 4,900 guests. Among the cruises the ship will sail in 2024 is a 9-night Best of Japan Holiday Cruise, roundtrip from Hong Kong on December 20. Port calls will include the Japanese ports of Kagoshima, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka.
Shorter itineraries also will be offered aboard Spectrum of the Seas roundtrip from Hong Kong in 2024 and early 2025, such as the 5-night Okinawa & Ishigaki Cruise, and a 4-night Chan May Cruise, calling at Hue/Danang (Chan May), Vietnam.
Diamond Princess Will Call at Hong Kong
Other cruise lines not home-porting in Hong Kong but with planned port calls to the destination include Princess Cruises, which will base its Diamond Princess in Tokyo and include Hong Kong in the ship’s itineraries. A December 1, 2023 departure, from Tokyo to Singapore, calls at Hong Kong along with Vietnam and Japan, for instance.
Cruise watchers will recall that it was Diamond Princess that recorded the first major outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020, requiring the ship to be quarantined for weeks at the Japanese port of Yokohama (Tokyo).
Meanwhile, Hong Kong officials in January 2023 indicated that the revival of its cruise industry could open the door to tapping into the Mainland China market, a strategy that had been explored but was sidelined by the pandemic.
In pre-Covid Asia, that market was seeing major growth, and today Hong Kong is well positioned to begin pursuing those opportunities.