Kelvin Tan, commercial director Asia Pacific of Celebrity Cruises said, ‘we have an unhealthy good problem for the industry: with most cruises ex China of 3-6 nights duration (with 7 nights or longer accounting for no more than 15%) homeports and transit ports are getting too crowded, meaning the ports are happy but the lines are not.’
Tan continued, ‘In the past we have been telling you to add infrastructure beyond the port now you need berths: the structure is in place just need to find port space to add berths.’
Mitsuo Kubo, deputy director-general of Kanazawa Port on Japan’s west coast spoke of his confidence in cruise berth expansion due to the central government’s incentive of granting zero interest loans for port infrastructure development.
Capt Luigi Pastena manager port operations department of MSC Cruises whose first ship sailing full time in the region debuted in Korea this week commented: ‘From what I have seen so far North Asian ports are well organised but he warned pointing at his wrist watch, ‘please ensure all the mechanisms are working together....immigration, visa checking, customs need fine tuning in order not to delay passenger going ashore in a speedy fashion.’
Krumrine praised Busan for its bold initiative in looking to replace face to face passport checking on arrival with electronic information from the manifest send up to 48 hours beforehand to help speed up the process however he said the industry was disappointed that it had not yet been implemented.
Jae-ok Roh, director of port logistics at Busan Metropolitan City said the central govt is putting a lot of effort into improving cruise facilities in Jeju, Incheon and Busan. ‘We will continue to discuss how we can solve the CIQ issue for arriving cruise ships but all security elements have to be considered.’
Speaking from the audience Bob Guy, md Singapore & Malaysia Destination Asia said often immigration people see a problem with every passenger and asked: is there a place it is done best? Pastena gave a nod to Dubai and its success in getting a single entry cruise visa for all the Emirates and in Egypt, ‘to go ashore you just need an ID card’ he said.