Hong Kong officials are looking for a cruise ship to restart the programme of short “cruises to nowhere” from the Chinese special administrative zone, in order to provide residents brief vacations as they work to restore more normalcy after extended Covid-19 restrictions in the city.
Reports indicated that Hong Kong wanted to bring to Hong Kong the Piano Land (IMO 9050137), a former P&O cruise ship owned and operated by the Chinese since 2019, to function as a replacement for the international ships that had been operating the cruises, until they were ordered to suspend operations early in 2022.
Hong Kong tourism officials were reported to be in discussions with Astro Ocean Cruise, a brand set up by COSCO Shipping and China National Travel Service as one of the first operators of a large cruise ship dedicated to the Chinese domestic market. The company acquired a single cruise ship, the P&O Oriana, in 2019 and renamed it Piano Land for short cruises from China.
The Hong Kong plan calls for the Piano Land to begin offering the short cruises to nowhere from Hong Kong, possibly launching as early as July 1st.
It would be of a similar pattern of short cruises to those operated in 2021 from the city by Royal Caribbean International and Dream Cruises.
At the beginning of this year Hong Kong officials ordered both cruise lines to suspend operations, amid an increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 Omicron variant began to increase. Dream Cruises suspended all of its operations shortly after, because of to the financial collapse of its parent company Genting Hong Kong.
In late January Royal Caribbean repositioned the Spectrum of the Seas to Singapore six months earlier than planned and said that it would keep the ship based out of Singapore for the next year. Royal Caribbean was reported to have become frustrated with China’s zero-Covid policy.
1995-built, Bermuda-flagged, 69,840 gt Piano Land is owned by Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd care of manager V Ships Leisure Sam of Monaco-Ville, Monaco. It is entered with Steamship Mutual (Eastern Syndicate) on behalf of Oriental Fleet Cruise 01 Ltd. As of May 29th the vessel was moored at the Chinese port of Xiamen.