Voyager of the Seas in JejuOther ports in the Asia-Pacific region are also working to attract cruise ships.

In Taiwan, Keelung is projecting 152 ship calls and 296,000 passengers for 2012, up from 121 calls and 302,943 passengers last year and 120 calls and 306,532 passengers the year before. A spokesperson said that Keelung can accommodate ships up to the size of the Voyager of the Seas.

Subic Bay in the Philippines is also targeting cruise ships and hosted the Spirit of Adventure earlier this year with 400 passengers. Three calls are expected for the year.

Referring to Subic Bay as an emerging cruise ship playground, the local tourism department said that the area is a popular weekend destination with hotels, restaurants, shopping, theme parks, beaches, dive sites, golf and forests. A spokesperson said the passengers from the Spirit of Adventure had been particularly interested in the Pamulaklakin Forest trails for the jungle experience and hiking.

Now a Freeport Zone, Subic Bay was a major U.S. naval base for some 94 years until it was closed in 1992.

The Alava cruise ship terminal is more than 700 meters long and 18 meters wide with a water depth of 12 meters. Alava is occasionally used by aircraft carriers with more than 8,000 personnel onboard. Covering more than 41 acres, Subic Bay has altogether 15 piers “capable of handling all kinds of sea-going vessels” with a water depth up to 15 meters.

Korea is expecting 202 calls and 250,000 passengers this year, up from 149 calls and 155,200 passengers last year.

The growth is partially driven by 45 calls to Busan, Jeju and Yeosu by start-up Harmony Cruises and bigger ships from Royal Caribbean and Costa calling more often, according to a spokesperson for the Korea Tourism Organization.

Meanwhile, tourism statistics showed that 12.7 million Koreans travelled out of the country and 9.8 million visited as tourists in 2011.

The major cruise ports are Incheon, Busan, Jeju and Yeosu capable of handling ships in the 70,000 to 80,000-ton range, although Busan has announced plans to complete a new pier by 2014 for ships of more than 150,000 tons. Incheon, which serves as the port for Seoul, will also be opening a new pier and terminal in 2014.

See the full Asian market report in Cruise Industry News' special Asia issue for the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference in Singapore Sept. 17 to 18.