Busan Port welcomes largest-ever fleet of foreign cruise ships

By Park Sae-jin Posted : April 3, 2024, 16:04 Updated : April 3, 2024, 17:42

SEOUL, April 03 (AJU PRESS) - Amid a surge in foreign travelers to South Korea following the COVID-19 pandemic, Busan Port, the country's largest maritime gateway, witnessed a historic moment with four foreign cruise ships simultaneously docking at its piers for the first time.

With an annual handling capacity of 20 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), Busan Port serves as South Korea's primary hub for both cargo and passenger ships. Typically, passenger ships shuttling between Busan and Japan dominate the passenger terminals, while cargo vessels from around the globe utilize the port as a vital trade hub and service stop.

Data from South Korea's national statistical information agency reveals that in 2023, over 22.7 million foreign tourists visited South Korea, marking a remarkable 79 percent increase from 2019. This surge occurred as countries began reopening their borders following the initial wave of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, the southern port city of Busan reported that four cruise ships—namely, "Serenade of the Seas" (90,000-ton-class, 27,000 passenger capacity), "Silver Moon" (40,000-ton-class, 660 passenger capacity), "Seabourn Sojourn" (32,000-ton-class, 450 passenger capacity), and "Le Soléal" (11,000-ton-class, 264 passenger capacity)—are presently docked at Busan Port.

Due to space constraints at the passenger boat terminal, "Le Soléal" was directed to the international cruise terminal situated south of the main harbor, announced city officials. Notably, a commemorative plaque was bestowed upon the operator of the Serenade of the Seas, marking its distinction as the first vessel among the quartet to berth at Busan Port on Wednesday.

In response to the influx of cruise ship tourists, Busan's tourism board pledged to establish special tourist information centers and deploy shuttle buses, facilitating seamless transportation between the port terminal and Busan Station.
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