Busan (aka Pusan) is a port city located on South Korea's southeastern coast. It's population is around 3,6 million, ranking it Korea's 2nd largest city and the country's largest seaport. Currently, South Korea has 4 cruise ports with all 5 international passenger terminals - Busan, Sokcho, Incheon and Jeju.
The name Busan (meaning "Cauldron Mountain") refers to a ring of peaks, rising to more than 2500 ft (760 m) behind the city. During Yi dynasty, Busan played key role not only in trade with Japan, but in repelling its invasions. Admiral Yi-Sun-Shin defeated Japanese armada with his "turtle ships" in 1592. Trade with the outside world began in 1876, when Yi Dynasty was forced to abandon its isolationist policy and signed a treaty imposed by Japan. Busan served as country's temporary capital during the Korean War.
The metropolitan area is mainly industrial and commercial, but the city is also known for its parks, recreational resorts and ancient temples tucked away in the forested hills. Cruisers exploring the city can visit Pomosa Temple, United Nations Cemetery, or the open-air fish market. To visit the famous Kyongju, you'll need a day-long shore excursion.
The port (aka Busan Harbor) is South Korea's largest cargo port, located in the city of Busan, South Korea.
In 2011, the number of cruise ship tourists visiting Busan was around 50,000 (6 ship calls). In 2012, the number jumped to 113,000, and in 2014 it doubled again - to 245,000. In 2015, the port handled around 163,000 cruisers, the drop being caused by South Korea's MERS outbreak (May-July 2015),
In 2016, Busan cruise port handled a total of 215 ship calls and over 0,5 million passengers. In 2016, South Korea was visited by around 2 million cruise ship tourists - an increase of 130% over 2015. The country was included in a total of 811 cruise itineraries, of which 534 to Jeju, 215 to Busan and 62 to Incheon-Seoul.
Official statistical data (reported by Korea's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) for 2016 showed that a foreign cruise passenger spends on average nearly USD 890 (on tours / excursions, shopping, food, drinks, services). The increasing cruise shipping traffic is mainly due larger-sized vessels (with capacity over 4,000 passengers each) homeported in China. In 2016, in Busan docked the port's ever largest vessels - RCI's Quantum-class ships Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, each with gross tonnage 168,666 GT.
To better accommodate ship tourists, Port Busan made various improvements to its cruise terminal facilities and also to port regulations. Among those was increasing the max vessel height (restricted by Busan Harbor Bridge) from 60 to 64 m (197 to 210 ft). This allows larger vessels to pass under the bridge and use the newly-built "Busan Port International Passenger Terminal" (see below, in the "terminal" section). Another improvement was the construction of an additional immigration center at the new cruise terminal to ease the passenger processing time.
In 2016-2017, International Cruise Terminal (Yeongdo) was renovated to accommodate the world's largest ships of the Oasis-class (gross tonnage up to 220,000).
In 2017, despite China's reaction to the THAAD system deployment in South Korea, the cruise port handled a total of 108 ship calls and around 170,000 passengers (mainly from Japan, Taiwan and Singapore).
For season 2017, the port had originally scheduled a total of 280 ship cals with estimated over 700,000 cruise tourists. However, after USA's THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-ballistic missile system was deployed in South Korea (in April 2017), China banned all Chinese ports based / homeported cruise vessels from visiting South Korean ports of call. This resulted in major itinerary changes made by all Asia-based major cruise line companies. Beside all voyages, also banned were all tours to South Korea leaving from China. For comparison, in 2016 the cruise port reported a record year with 209 ship calls and over 570,000 passengers.
For 2018, the cruise port handled 124 ship calls with around 270,000 passengers. On February 6, 2018, the port was visited by its ever largest container ship so far - the CMA-CGM Saint Exupery vessel (cargo capacity 20,656 TEUs / containers). The boxship was berthed at Busan New Port BNCT.
- The vessel has LOA length The ship was built in Subic Philippines, Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction shipyard and has a length 400 m / 1312 ft, width 59 m / 194 ft, GT tonnage 217,673 tons. It was deployed on the FAL route (Ningbo-Shanghai-Singapore-Algeciras-Rotterdam-Le Havre).
- The port's first large boxship (capacity over 20K TEUs) was Madrid MAERSK (20,568 TEUs) in April 2017.
In 2017, 80% of Port Busan's TEU cargo volume was from the world's 3 largest shipping alliances - 2M (Maersk + MSC), OCEAN (CMA·CGM + COSCO + OOCL + Evergreen) and THE alliance (Hapag-Loyd + Yang-Ming + ONE).
On January 30, 2019, HMM (Hyundai Merchant Marine) signed the sales contract for "PSA-Hyundai Pusan New Port (PHPNT) Pier 4". By this deal, Yuanta-HPNT (private equity fund established by HMM and PSA) acquired stakes of Waska Inc (50% owner of PHPNT). In Yuanta-HPNT, HMM owns 80% (PSA 20%). The total investment (KRW 221,2 billion / USD 198 million / EUR 173 million) which includes Yuanta-HPNT’s investment of KRW 177 billion. As result, HMM and PSA became co-owners of PHPNT (each with 50% equal stakes). With this acquisition, HMM secured berths for fleet's 23,000-TEU boxships (scheduled deliveries 2020-Q2).
Busan cruise terminal
Cruise ships used to dock at the Mipo Ferry Terminal, where passengers were greeted with traditional Korean folklore performaces. Since December 2014, they dock at the new International Passenger Terminal.
The cruise port provides free of charge bus shuttles from the cruise terminal to the city center (Gudeok Ro / PIFF Square, Nampodong), at approx 30-min drive distance. The bus stop is very close to one of the Nampodong metro entrances.
Busan Port International Passenger Terminal
Construction works on the new cruise terminal started on October 26, 2012, and were completed in December 2014. Currently, Busan's cruise ship terminal is Asia's second largest ferry and cruise passenger terminal - following only the one located in Shanghai, China.
The International Passenger Terminal building project cost around USD 195 million (KRW 236,3 billion / South Korean Won). The facility consists of all five 5-story buildings on a total area of 92945 m2 (over 1 million ft2). The terminal complex is located between Pier 3 and Pier 4.
The new terminal has annual cruise passenger capacity of 2,78 million. It has dedicated facilities for immigration, customs, quarantine, 1 duty-free shop, 1 conference hall (multi-purpose room), waiting hall, cruise companies offices, convenience facilities, freight warehouse, gangways, employees rest area.
Terminal's buildings and docking area are among the main facilities part of the North Port's "Redevelopment Project" (see below).
Busan Port Waterfront Park
In 2012, Busan Port Authority announced that SYNWHA Consortium wins the international competition for South Korea's "North Port Redevelopment Project". The proposed "Interactive Pier" design combines the cruise port's existing infrastructure (original quay) with a cultural center to commemorate Pusan city's history.
- The ship docking pier is re-designed as a landscape with outdoor promenades. The terminal area includes a cafe, various marketplaces, gangway, "Nomad Park" (with sandy beaches), "North Port Story Memorial" (exhibition area with large-scale sculptures of ships).
- The whole complex runs along the waterfront and features a shallow (square-shaped) pond, beach, mini gardens, urban plaza, dock, and an open space for live performances and social events. The buildings house cafes, shops, pop-up market stalls, exhibitions, observatory, outdoor arts and crafts marketplaces.
- "Busan North Port Redevelopment Waterfront Park" construction started in 2016. The building project includes a total area of nearly 0,28 km2 (0,11 ml2).
International Cruise Terminal (Yeongdo Pier)
In August 2016, Busan Port Authority started a project to reconfigure one of the North Port's container shipping terminals into a dedicated cruise ship handling facility. The decision was prompted by a drop in cargo shipping in that port area, while cruise ship calls were increased.
Yeongdo's former "Gamman Container Terminal" was transformed into a cruise terminal, integrating 4 of the port’s former container shipping facilities. The end of reconstruction works was scheduled for August 2017.
- The 4 former container terminals (Gamman, New Gamman, Jaseongdae, Shinsundae) were consolidated. The New Gamman terminal was reconstructed and converted to a cruise terminal.
- After the makeover, the new terminal facility can accommodate 2 large-sized ships (up of 200,000 GT tons each) at the same time. It also has enough parking lots for tourist buses.
- The Yeongdo Cruise Pier terminal is loctaed on the Diamond Bridge's ocean side, where large-sized vessels can be berthed.
Busan tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Yongdusan Park (where the Busan Tower is located) park entrance is free, Busan Tower has entry fee
- Jagalchi Fish Market (outdoor market selling fresh seafood)
- PIFF Square (where is also held the annual film festival in Busan) - restaurants, shops, food markets
- Beomeosa Temple (via the metro), hiking tour to Geumjeongsanseong Fortress
- Haeundae beach
- Haedong Yonggung Temple
- Gyeongju (the ancient capital of Korea) has numerous museums and temples
Port Busan cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Busan, South Korea. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
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