Middle East Cruise News

Costa Cruises says Taiwan plans for Costa Serena unconfirmed, ship remains off Dubai

Costa Serena remains at anchor off Dubai in warm lay-up, and Costa Cruises has said reports that she’ll be deployed to Taiwan are unconfirmed.

The statement by Costa Cruises comes after it was reported by the Taipei Times that the ship would homeport in Taipei for the 2023 cruise season, sailing 25 roundtrip cruises.

A Costa spokesperson, speaking to Seatrade Cruise News, said the report was “not official information”, and that the cruise line is yet to make an official announcement on its Asia plans.

Costa Serena

At the time of writing, Costa Serena, the ship reported to be bound for Taiwan, was still at anchor off Dubai in the Jumeirah Anchorage, where she has been for several weeks in warm lay-up.

Dubai was used as a holding port by several cruise lines during the pandemic, with two other Costa ships, Atlantica and Mediterranea, having spent several months in warm lay-up in Dubai as well.

A warm lay-up refers to a cruise ship having its crew and staff drawn down to a skeleton crew that maintains vital navigation and engineering functions, while the ship waits at anchor or in port to be reactivated.

It’s cheaper than having the ship fully crewed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, but much more expensive than a cold lay-up, where a ship is fully vacated and put into long-term storage.

Costa Serena and several other Costa Cruises ships have yet to be brought back into service following the global shutdown of the cruise industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although much of the industry has returned to near-normal operations, ships that traditionally homeport annually in Asia, such as Costa Serena, have remained idle.

Taipei’s Keelung Port is preparing to welcome back cruise ships for the first time since the pandemic.

China, which is currently facing a new COVID-19 surge after it lifted its ‘Zero-COVID’ strategy, has yet to reopen to cruise lines, and Taiwan only recently announced that it would resuming cruise operations.

Taiwan expects 90 cruise calls in 2023 as ships return with pandemic restrictions now lifted, according to Taiwan International Ports Corp. Chairman Lee Hsien-yi.

Costa Serena was meant to be among them, but she was instead diverted to Dubai and has remained here since, while Costa back in October said that it was cancelling cruises across Asia as it reorganizes its business in the region.

The Tapei Times reported that there are also March voyages by Holland America Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises scheduled.

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