Taiwan Approves the Return of International Cruise Ships

Ending a cruise ban that had been in place since 2020, Taiwan is welcoming the return of international ships to its ports.

The change was confirmed in late October when the country’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) officially approved new guidelines for homeporting and transit operations of international cruise vessels.

According to a press release, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Maritime and Port Bureau (MPB) also informed cruise lines about the new operating guidelines, inviting international vessels to visit the country and “facilitate the revitalization” of the local industry.

The two operating guidelines used the pandemic prevention measures of European, American, and Australian operations as references, while considering the eligibility of passengers, cruise lines, and travel agencies.

According to the MPB, the guidelines also took into consideration that a cruise is a type of traveling method with higher population density, longer voyage duration and more vulnerable passengers.

Regarding homeport operations, the CECC advises passengers to get the latest dose of COVID-19 vaccines 14 days before boarding a cruise.

Guests must also present a negative test result for the disease taken at most one day before the time of boarding. If a passenger shows symptoms on the boarding day, a second COVID-19 test must be done before embarkation.

The cruise lines will also need to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to passengers, who are advised to take a COVID-19 rapid test once every three days during their voyages.

Customers are also asked to postpone their boarding during self-quarantine periods. If they have to board, they must take COVID-19 rapid tests every two days until the end of the self-quarantine periods.

Guests who test positive during their voyages, must be quarantined on the ship if showing mild symptoms or disembark for medical treatment if showing severe symptoms. The ship doctors must also perform COVID-19 rapid tests on those who had close contact with the infected.

For port visits, the vaccination requirements are the same, the MPB said, but passengers also need present a negative test result taken at most one day before the day they arrive in Taiwan. If a passenger shows symptoms on the visit day, a second test must be carried out.

In case of large-scale COVID-19 infection or continuous chains of transmission, the cruise lines shall cooperate with the competent authorities on the enforcement of adjustment, passenger traveling limitations, and other preventive control measures, the agency added.

According to the MPB, relevant cruise lines gave positive feedback on the new guidelines, with the agency working together with Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) and the Tourism Bureau on marketing to attract more cruise ships to Taiwan.

The agency is also targeting homeporting operations, in order to provide travel services to the citizens of Taiwan.

The MPB also states that now cruises will follow the same rules for merchant ships when stopping by ports for fuel, water, and staples refill, instead of using specific guidelines that were in place earlier in the pandemic.

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