TIANJIN: Tianjin Port in north China will open to international cruise ships for refueling and maintenance in June this year, the port operator said here on Wednesday.
China currently has three so called homeports where refueling and maintenance facilities are available for international cruise liners: Shanghai, Xiamen in Fujian province, and Sanya in Hainan province, which are all in the south.
The port in Tianjin will be the first homeport for international cruise liners in north China.
World's leading cruise companies Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean International Cruises will make Tianjin its homeport for their cruises on the Asia itinerary from this year, said Ou Yonglin, spokesman of the Tianjin Port Group Co Ltd.
"The homeport will have two berths in use for Costa's ship Costa Romantica and Royal Caribbean's ship Legend of the Seas in June," he said.
He said as the homeport, Tianjin will offer comprehensive services for the ships, including loading supply, maintenance and disposing garbages.
Both Costa Romantica and Legend of the Seas will start and finish their cruises in Tianjin on their journeys between China, Japan and Korea in summer. The former will make 10 cruises on the route from June 26 to August 19, and the latter will have 8 trips on the route from July 31 to October 7.
The Tianjin homeport can dock the world's largest cruise liners and has a designed passenger handling capacity of 500,000 persons per year, said Ou.
He said the company would build another four berths in the homeport if the cruise business went well.
According to statistics from the China Communications and Transportation Association, Chinese tourists have shown an increasing interest in cruise sailing. In 2009, more than 200,000 tourists from China's mainland took international cruises from mainland ports, compared with 10,000 recorded in 2005.