Cruise lines: Too early to tell when Korea calls might resume

Busan - a popular South Korean destination for cruises from China Busan - a popular South Korean destination for cruises from China

With China and South Korea officially ending their months-long diplomatic dispute this week, cruise lines are hopeful China-based ships will be able to reinstate Korean ports. However, the three major cruise companies indicated it's too early to speculate when this may happen.

Based on their cautious reactions it doesn't appear any policy change has been communicated in regard to travel specifically.

'We wouldn't comment until the change is official,' Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told Seatrade Cruise News. She added: 'We look forward to the day that the issue is resolved and calls to Korea can resume.'

Carnival Corp. & plc's brands operating in China have nothing new to announce, company spokesman Roger Frizzell said, 'but we will certainly look at all our options if anything changes in this regard.'

For Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, 'it's too early to speculate' when ships might be able to chart South Korea, spokeswoman Christina Baez said.

For more than six months China-based cruise ships have had to steer clear of this popular and growing destination for Chinese travelers. Revised itineraries replaced South Korea with calls at Japan or sea days.

In a note this week Wells Fargo Securities said approximately 40% of all China cruises had been impacted, turning net yield growth negative in that market. 

News reports now indicate China and South Korea aim to quickly move beyond their dispute, triggered in 2016 when Beijing took issue with Seoul's plan to deploy a US-manufactured missile defense system to counter threats from North Korea.

In spring this year the Chinese government began to boycott South Korean goods and services and prodded travel agents to stop selling tours to South Korea.

Posted 04 November 2017

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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