Hong Kong welcomes back first cruise ship since Covid-19 pandemic began

View Gallery 8 Photos

Hong Kong on Wednesday welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the coronavirus pandemic began, signaling a long-sought return to normalcy for the city’s tourism industry.

Cruise ships have not visited the city since the pandemic began, except ones operating at a reduced capacity under the government’s “cruises to nowhere” scheme since July 2021.

Ships under the scheme were required to halt operations if crew members or passengers were found to be infected with Covid-19, but the scheme was eventually dropped in January 2022 in the wake of a new Covid wave.

Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit docked at the Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui at about 8am this morning, with more than 300 passengers from over 20 countries onboard. The vessel set sail from Singapore on January 5 and saw stops in Thailand and Vietnam before arriving in the city for one night.

Commenting on Hong Kong receiving the first cruise ship carrying foreign travelers in three years, culture secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said it is a very important milestone for Hong Kong along the road to recovery.

“We will work hard with the Tourism Board to do a lot of promotional work to attract more tourists coming to Hong Kong,” he said.

The Tourism Board said it had arranged for passengers to visit tourist spots including the West Kowloon Cultural District and to ride the Peak Tram. 

Its chairman, Pang Yiu-kai, said Hong Kong was expecting 16 cruise ships to make a total of 82 port calls in the year ahead.

"Hong Kong is a very attractive cruise ship destination," he said. "The sense of arrival when you coming into Victoria Harbour is really second to none in Asia."

He said Hong Kong and its neighboring cities were also a strong source of cruise passengers, as well as being a great destination, and he was confident more cruise operators would want to operate from the SAR.