Busan, Incheon popular destinations for cruise ships

Super Star Gemini, a large cruise ship run by the Hong Kong-based Star Cruises, entered Busan’s port on April 8. The 230-meter-long ship weighs 50,000 tons and carries 1,900 passengers and staff. The ship, whose height is equivalent to 13 stories, has a theater, gallery, fitness center, casino, and duty free shop among others. 

This is the first time the cruise ship from Asia’s biggest cruise liner has entered the port city, but it is only one of hundreds of cruise ships to be entering Korea this year. 

Korea’s port cities are becoming popular destinations for large cruise ships, with the number of such ships entering the country’s major ports sharply rising this year. 

According to the Busan Port Authority (BPA), Super Star Gemini will enter Busan ten more times this year. The following week, Busan will receive a visit from Celebrity Millennium, a luxury cruise ship run by Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s biggest cruise line operators. The giant ship, which is 294 meters long and weighs 90,000 tons, has a spa, indoor golf course, and duty free shop.

The BPA said there will be a total of 102 cruise ships entering the port and more than 190,000 tourists visiting Busan on cruise ships this year. This is a huge increase from 75,000 in 2011 and 140,000 in 2012. 

“There is a huge increase in the number of cruise ships coming into Busan’s harbor and sometimes two ships are entering the port on the same day,” said Lim Ki-tack, the CEO of the BPA. 

The BPA said the growing popularity of Busan as a cruise ship destination is a result of its continuous marketing efforts including exemption from port fees. 

A new passenger terminal for cruise ships will be opened in late 2014 as part of the redevelopment of Busan’s north harbor and even more ships are expected to visit the city. 

The number of cruise ships docking at Incheon is even higher. According to the Incheon Port Authority (IPA), there will be at least 118 ships entering the port on the western shore of the Korean Peninsula this year. The figure is much higher than the previous estimate of 67, the number of ships it said to expect just two months ago. The figure is also incomparable to the only eight cruise ships that stopped by Incheon last year. 

Costa Victoria run by Italy-based Costa Cruise dropped anchor in Incheon on March 21. The ship carrying 1,150 tourists departed from Shanghai and stopped in Incheon as well as Jeju. 

Costa Cruise raised the number of cruise ships travelling from Shanghai to Incheon this year from 19 initially scheduled to 60. 

In addition, Voyager of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, both run by Royal Caribbean, plan to stop at Incheon ten times beginning in July. The ships, which weigh 140,000 tons each, can carry a maximum of 3,114 passengers and up to 1,181 staff. 

Voyager of the Seas is 310 meters long and 63 meters high, equivalent to a 15-story building. The luxury ship has a high-ceiling restaurant, casino, theater, library, wedding hall, swimming pool, spa, shopping mall, ice rink, sport climbing wall, rollerblading rlink, mini nine-hole golf course, basketball court, and table tennis room. 

The IPA said the 118 expected cruise ships will bring 160,000 tourists to the port city. 

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