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Large Cruise Ship to Make Hong Kong Debut
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Royal Caribbean International, the world's largest global cruise brand operating 21 cruise ships, will sail into Hong Kong early next year, Adam Goldstein, president of Royal Caribbean International, announced in Hong Kong Thursday.

In January 2008, Rhapsody of the Seas, the largest ship to cruise Asia, will offer three spectacular 12-night voyages between Singapore and Hong Kong, each featuring two-day calls in Thailand and Vietnam, Goldstein said.

In December 2007, the Asian debut of Rhapsody of the Seas will kick off in Singapore, offering travelers a selection of six short cruises, which will range from two to five nights, calling at ports in Malaysia and Thailand.

After the Singapore to Hong Kong sailings in January 2008, the ship's Asia tour will continue from Hong Kong, where she will arrive in February 2008, in time for the Chinese New Year holiday season, to offer a series of itineraries calling at the ports of Okinawa, Japan; Taipei and Kaohsiung, China's Taiwan; Hanoi and Hue, Vietnam; and Sanya, China's Hainan Province.

After visiting Shanghai in east China in April 2008, Rhapsody will call at ports in Kobe and Fukuoka in Japan and Cheju and Pusan in the Republic of Korea.

"Hong Kong's close proximity to southern parts of Chinese mainland as well as it being a strong source market, makes it a very important market to Royal Caribbean International," said Goldstein.

James Tien, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), welcomed the decisions of Royal Caribbean International to choose Hong Kong as one of its homeports in Asia and a key destination of its ship Rhapsody of the Seas in the Asian itinerary.

"Hong Kong's renowned Victoria Harbor and diverse tourism attractions are particularly appealing to cruise passengers, and our status as China's gateway to the rest of the world will contribute to the development of cruise tourism in the region," he said.

"The HKTB will continue to work closely with different cruise liners around the world in promoting cruise travel, and will introduce to them cruise itineraries with Hong Kong and Chinese mainland cities as major stops," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 6, 2007)

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