Tour operator plans domestic cruise trips amid COVID-19 restrictions

(Photo courtesy of Lion Travel/CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A total of five cruise trips have been planned for domestic travelers to explore Taiwan’s outlying islands of Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, tour operator Lion Travel announced Monday.

The four-day, three-night cruise packages, all departing from Keelung, will first call at Penghu, and then take visitors to either Kinmen or Matsu before returning to Taiwan, the tour operator said.

Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said during Lion Travel’s Monday press event that taking domestic cruise to visit Taiwan’s outlying islands instead of traveling in the main island can help travelers avoid road congestions and difficulties booking a hotel, as seen during the just-ended Dragon Boat Festival holiday.

Taiwan currently has a ban on inbound and outbound overseas tours, which the government has extended to July 31 earlier this month due to the continuing severity of the pandemic in other parts of the world.

The government has also imposed a ban on international cruise ships calling at all of Taiwan’s ports since Feb. 6, but the Maritime and Port Bureau under the transportation ministry announced on June 9 that the eight cruise ships registered in Taiwan can apply to dock to replenish supplies.

One of these eight ships, Dream Cruises’ “Explorer Dream,” will be deployed for the five outlying island cruise trips scheduled between Aug. 2 and Sept. 2, the tour operator said.

With a capacity to carry 3,630 passengers, the Explorer Dream will be allowed to take a maximum of 1,815 passengers on each trip and all of them will be able to stay in a cabin with a window, Lion Travel said.

Keelung Mayor Lin Yu-chang (林右昌), meanwhile, said that the cruise ship is expected to dock at the port city on Tuesday, and its 538 onboard staff members will disembark and go through a 14-day quarantine.

After the quarantine period, they will be able to serve the domestic travelers on the outlying island cruise trips, Lin said.