Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Cruising to return to North Korea

#expeditioncruising


As reported by Alan Lam in Cruise Business

The dynamic cruise industry in Asia may have just taken a pioneering step towards breaking down a most obstinate barrier of our times. South Korea’s Jeju Cruise Industry Association has just announced plans to launch cruises to North Korea.

Ox Cart in Nampo North Korea
Ox Cart in Nampo North Korea (Raymond Cunningham)


Departing from Jeju Island, the so-called Peace Cruise Line will call at North Korea ports of Nampo, Wonsan, Rajin and Sonbong.

Initially the cruise will be intended for Chinese tourists only, using a Chinese-flagged ship. Cruises on other non-South Korean vessels carrying South Koreans and other nationalities will follow. This will be the first time for a long time South Korean tourists will be able across the maritime border between North and South.

The project will require a substantial investment in North Korea. It is believed that the newly created Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank may be a funding partner in building reception facilities.

Won Hee-ryong, the Governor of Jeju, told the Asia Cruise Forum - which has just been held on the island – that the endeavour was to serve as a “messenger of peace through tourism”.

Contrary to popular belief, cruising in North Korea is nothing new. In August 2011 North Korea launched its first cruise on board an ageing, former cargo vessel named Mangyongbong. It was deemed as the “least luxurious cruise in the world”, as the liner was rusty, the cabins were cramped and the Captain’s Table was a help-yourself buffet.

North Korean port city of Nampo has nine docks for large vessels. It is ideal for excursions to Pyongyang. Wonsan has also limited tourist facilities and has served as receiving point for visitors from Japan.

The project, if successfully launched, will attract enthusiastic clientele from all over the world, as North Korea is truly a new frontier of cruise tourism in every sense of the word.