First Cruise Ship Homeported in Hong Kong After Pandemic Starts Trips
Hong Kong marked another milestone in the restoration of its tourism industry and the progressive rebuilding of cruise ships operating from the port. The first cruise ship to homeport in Hong Kong in over a year set off on her maiden voyage today as port officials highlighted the return of international cruise ships and the pending resumption of cruises from Hong Kong to international destinations.
Resorts World Cruises, which was launched last year by Malaysian businessman Lim Kok Thay as a successor to Genting Hong Kong and Dream Cruises, celebrated the first cruise of its ship from Hong Kong on March 10. Replacing the bankrupt former cruise line, the operation is being relaunched with the 75,338 gross ton Resorts World One. The ship had formerly operated for Genting Hong Kong’s Star Cruises and later Dream Cruises as the Explorer Dream. The ship, which entered service in 1999, has accommodations for 1,856 passengers.
Resorts World announced at the beginning of this year plans to charter the ship and based her in Hong Kong. The vessel last operated cruises for Dream Cruises around Taiwan in 2020 and was placed in drydock in Singapore for maintenance before resuming cruising last month. She was temporarily run as a replacement for the company’s cruises from Singapore while the Genting Dream underwent maintenance in February and then repositioned to Hong Kong where she arrived on March 8.
Resorts World One undergoing maintenance before resuming service (RWC)
Hong Kong permitted cruises to nowhere to resume in the fall of 2020 only for residents with both Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean International operating the programs. COVID-related restrictions later caused both cruise lines to abandon the programs. Hong Kong reopened to cruises in January 2023 with the first international ships arriving.
To celebrate the launch of the renewed homeport, a special event was held aboard the Resorts World One attended by over 400 government and port officials and the travel community. The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra made a special appearance on board and performed for the first time on a cruise ship.
Through the end of March, the cruise program consists of three times a week departures for cruises to nowhere. With Taiwan lifting travel restrictions for residents of Hong Kong and Macau, the cruise ship will extend the cruises with a port call in Kaohsiung starting in April. As a further demonstration of the efforts to rebuild tourism, both countries are also permitting passengers to coordinate land stays with their cruises.
“With the efforts of the Government and the HKTB, cruises from various markets are visiting Hong Kong one by one,” said Dane Cheng, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). “This not only marks Hong Kong’s return to the global cruise market, but also plays a significant role in consolidating Hong Kong’s status as a regional cruise hub and international travel destination. The HKTB will continue to drive the relaunch of international cruise itineraries and arrange for more ship calls to Hong Kong.”
Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit became the first international cruise ship back to Hong Kong and since then other ships have followed. Tourist officials highlighted that in addition to the homeporting by Resorts World One, TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 5 and Silverseas’ Silver Muse have made port calls, and they have upcoming visits from Fred. Olsen Cruises’ Borealis, and MSC Cruises’ MSC Poesia. In total, Hong Kong has reservations from 16 cruise lines for more than 150 ship calls.
The opening of Hong Kong is seen as a significant step toward restoring the cruise industry in China. The border with Hong Kong was reopened and as of March 1, Hong Kong ended its mask requirement. The hope is that this is a step toward China restoring its cruise market. Industry executives have said they expect the Chinese market would restart by the fall of this year, making it the last major market to resume cruises after the pandemic.