Provided Covid-19 cases remain under control, China could allow local companies to operate within its borders.
China.- Cruise lines could begin domestic operations in December provided that there is no spike in the number of Covid-19 cases. The measure would be for local operators only.
For now, trips would be “cruises to nowhere” that start and end on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, with no stops in between. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chinese government has awarded the first permit to Astro Ocean International Cruise, a joint venture between two state-owned firms.
The first sailing from the Chinese city of Sanya will be carried out by Piano Land, the country’s first domestically operated luxury cruise ship and the only one operated by Astro Ocean.
Borders with Japan or Vietnam remain closed, ruling out those traditional cruise routes.
Zinan Liu, chairman of Royal Caribbean Asia, said he expects mainland Chinese ports to be among the last in Asia to reopen to foreign-flagged cruise ships, which have already been allowed to sail in Singapore, Japan and Taiwan.
European cruise sailings resumed in the summer with testing facilities and medical staff on board, but operators cancelled or cut voyages short as cases climbed in autumn.
Mario Zanetti, chief commercial officer of Carnival unit Costa Cruises said the company is aiming to restart operations in China.
He said: “We are currently in dialogue with local and central authorities to make sure we are ready to resume operations as soon as they will consider it is safe to do so, working on the basis of our safety protocols.”
According to Chart Management Consultants, China is the world’s second-largest cruise market after North America.