Lifting a cruise ban that had been in place since 2020, Taiwan welcomes the return of international ships to its ports.
The change was confirmed in late October when the Central Epidemiological Command Center (CECC) officially approved new guidelines for domestic and transit operations of international cruise ships.
According to a press release, the Maritime and Port Bureau of the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MPB) has also informed cruise lines of the new operating guidelines, inviting international vessels to visit the country and “enable the revitalization” of the local industry.
The two operational guidelines used the pandemic prevention measures of European, US, and Australian operations as a reference while considering the suitability of passengers, cruise lines, and travel agencies.
According to MPB, the guidelines also took into account that cruise is a type of travel mode with higher population density, longer journey times, and more vulnerable passengers.
Regarding home port operations, CECC advises passengers to receive the latest dose of the COVID-19 vaccine 14 days prior to boarding the cruise.
Guests must also show a negative result of a disease test taken no later than one day before the time of boarding. If the passenger shows symptoms on the day of boarding, a second test for COVID-19 must be done before boarding.
Cruise lines will also be required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to passengers, who are advised to take a rapid COVID-19 test once every three days during the voyage.
Customers are also asked to delay boarding during the self-quarantine period. If they must board, they must take rapid tests for COVID-19 every two days until the end of the self-quarantine period.
Guests who tested positive during the trip must be quarantined on board if they show mild symptoms or disembark for treatment if they show severe symptoms. The ship’s doctors must also perform rapid tests for COVID-19 on those who have been in close contact with the infected.
For port visits, the vaccination requirements are the same, MPB says, but travelers must also show a negative test result taken no more than one day before the day they arrive in Taiwan. If the traveler shows symptoms on the day of the visit, a second test must be done.
In the event of the spread of the COVID-19 infection or continuous transmission chains, cruise lines will cooperate with the competent authorities to implement adjustments, passenger travel restrictions, and other preventive control measures, the agency added.
According to MPB, relevant cruise lines have given positive feedback on the new guidelines, with the agency working together with the Taiwan International Ports Corporation (TIPC) and the Tourism Bureau on marketing to attract more cruise ships to Taiwan.
The agency also targets repatriation operations to provide travel services to Taiwanese citizens.
MPB also states that cruise ships will now follow the same rules for merchant ships when they stop at ports for refueling, water, and basic provisions, instead of using the special guidelines that were in place earlier during the pandemic.