Taiwan 1st in world to resume cruise travel amid coronavirus pandemic

Now docked in Keelung, Explorer Dream will operate ‘island-hopping’ itineraries starting next month

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Explorer Dream docks at Port of Keelung (Maritime and Port Bureau photo)

Explorer Dream docks at Port of Keelung (Maritime and Port Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has become the first country in the world to resume ship travel with the cruise ship Explorer Dream docking at the port of Keelung on Tuesday (June 30) before beginning operations in July.

The service is part of the Dream Cruises brand, which is owned by the Hong Kong-based Genting Cruise Lines. The ship is set to depart from Keelung and will stop at Kinmen, Matsu, and Penghuthe outlying islands of Taiwanstarting July 26, according to the company’s press release.

Amongst many other activities, passengers will be able to take in the spectacles of the Penghu summer fireworks festival, held from July 6 through Sept. 3.

The “island-hopping” itinerary marks the revival of the global cruise industry, which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic with multiple reports of outbreaks on cruise liners and a complete suspension of services worldwide. The Diamond Princess, for example, saw more than 700 crew and passengers test positive for COVID-19.

The company expressed gratitude to the Taiwanese authorities for supporting the resumption of cruises and reinvigorating tourism. While lauding the island country’s status as a travel destination with a plethora of scenic splendors, it also recognized its effective management of the novel virus.

The 588 crew members on the Explorer Dream will undergo a 14-day quarantine and must each receive a negative nucleic acid test result before they carry out operations next month, said the Maritime and Port Bureau. Rigorous hygiene, disinfection, and disease control practices will be implemented onboard to ensure the safety of passengers and the crew.

Explorer Dream weighs 75,338 gt and can host up to 3,630 passengers, but it is expected to serve no more than 1,800 passengers at the early stages of the resumed operations.