Incheon is South Korea's principal seaport and a Metro City bordering Gyeonggi Province and Seoul Special City (approx 40 km / 25 mi) to the east. By population (around 3 million), the city is ranked Korea’s 3rd largest - following Seoul and Busan. The city's growth is mainly based on the development of the seaport and the proximity to country's capital. Incheon is part of Seoul Capital Area (Seoul and Gyeonggi), forming world's 2nd-largest metro area by population (over 25,5 million, or around 1/2 of Korea's total population).
As international port, Inchon was opened in 1883. In 2003, the city was designated as Korea's first "free economic zone". Since then, global enterprises and large Korean companies have increasingly invested in Incheon Free Economic Zone, including Samsung company which chose Songdo International City as its new investment destination for bio industry.
Port Incheon (locode KRICH) is South Korea's principal/main seaport and the second-largest cargo port (by annual shipping volumes) - after Port Busan.
In 2016, the cruise port handled a total of 62 ship calls and ~165,000 passengers. Of those, 47 (~76%) were ships on itineraries with departures from China. In 2016, South Korea was visited by ~2 million cruise ship tourists 130% increase over 2015). The country was included in a total of 811 cruise itineraries, of which 534 to Jeju, 215 to Busan, 62 to Incheon. Official statistical data (reported by Korea's Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) for 2016 showed that a foreign cruise tourist spends on average nearly USD 890 (on tours / excursions, shopping, food, drinks, services).
In March 2017, Incheon - a major call port of cruises from China to South Korea and Japan, was on alert as China's government officially ordered Chinese travel agencies to halt selling South Korean cruises. The measure was in retaliation for Seoul's push for US military deployment (advanced anti-missile system) on its territory. China harshly criticized South Korea's decision to introduce the advanced THAAD system, posing threats to its security.
In 2017, the Port had 43 scheduled cruise ship visits (later reduced to 21), of which 30 (~70%) were pre-booked as departures from China. Among the 2017's newcomers was the Princess Cruises liner Majestic Princess (China-homeported, maiden call on July 7th).
On December 27, 2017, Port Incheon reported a record year with processed 3,048 million TEU-containers. TEU refers to containerized cargo transported on container ships in 20-ft container boxes. The special occasion was celebrated by the Incheon Port Authority (IPA) in Sheraton Grand Incheon Hotel on December 27, 2017.
- The 3 million TEUs record was preceded by 1 million TEUs (handled in 2005) and 2 million TEUs (in 2013), Port's 2017 record shipping volume ranked it as the world's 47th among the largest container ports.
- The container shipping volume was handled by serving cargo vessels on a total of 49 routes (for comparison - just 26 routes in 2005).
- Besides the TEU volume, the port's impact on the local economy is also significant as it generates 33,8% of the region’s gross national product and provides 6,4 local jobs per 10,000 TEUs (1920 jobs in 2017).
- The port is expected to enter the world's top 30 containerports list by the year 2025, handling over 4 million TEUs.
In 2018, the 3 million TEU mark was once again surpassed. Based on November's cumulative total by country, seaport's shipping trade with China reached 1,691325 million TEUs (1,6% increase over 2017), with Vietnam 288,885 TEUs (17,3% increase) and with Thailand 119,024 TEUs (9,1% increase). Port's trade with these countries changed 60,1% to 59,5% (China), 8,9% to 10,2% (Vietnam) and 3,9% to 4,2% (Thailand). South Korea's largest containerports reported for 2018 TEU volumes 9,342541 million (Busan, 0,3% increase), 2,814141 million (Incheon, 4,1% increase), 1,662500 million (Gwangyang, 3.5% increase). By the end of December, Port Incheon's TEU traffic reached 3,12 million (2,4% increase over 2017).
In April 2019 was officially inaugurated the new ferry terminal (USD 160 million project). In June was opened (officially inaugurated in April) the International Passenger Terminal - South Korea’s largest cruise terminal. The facility can handle even the world's largest cruise liners of Royal Caribbean's Oasis-Class (max passengers 6370 plus 2400 crew).
In mid-September 2019, IPA signed a deal with "ABB Marine and Ports" (Finland-based manufacturer of gearless steerable propulsion systems) to supply and install the seaport’s first shoreside (dock-to-ship) power supply system. The technology allows berthed passenger ships to turn off their diesel engines and use electricity (provided via the city's power grid), thus reducing greatly in-port emissions, soot particles, noise and vibrations. The IPA-ABB deal included delivery and installation of onshore power connection at the new passenger terminal. The system has capacity 2000 kVA and power output 50/60HZ.
Due to the Coronavirus crisis, Port Incheon paused its cruise shipping operations for 2+ years (between February 2020 and May 2022).
Incheon cruise terminal
Via a joint venture company, the South Korean government built a new cruise terminal in Port Incheon (in Songdo Business District). The new "International Passenger Terminal" is a USD 580 million investment. The project was completed in 2019 (the terminal was officially opened on April 25). The new cruise facility has capacity to berth even the world's largest cruise ships of RCI-Royal Caribbean's Oasis-Class (GT 228000 tons, LOA length 362 m, max passengers 6370 plus 2400 crew).
Incheon International Terminal (Golden Harbor, Songdo)
Cruise terminal's size is 0,8 km2 (0,3 ml2). It is located northwest of Songdo City and includes passenger terminal (futuristic building), retail dining venues, outdoor park, Yacht Club, Water Park, large shopping mall, Urban Entertainment Center, resort hotels.
Designed by Cuningham Group, the innovative concept makes the facility itself a leisure destination. The waterfront open-air park is along the shoreline and features yacht club and boat marina. The indoor-outdoor water park is also along the shoreline and features entertainment pier with popular attractions (including Ferris wheel).
The new cruise terminal was part of Incheon Port Authority's plan for developing an international tourism complex (named "Golden Harbor") that targets a market (including passenger shipping) of around 3 million per year. Construction works started on April 29, 2016. The construction of terminal's building (floor space size 7364 m2 / 79,265 ft2) started in October 2016. Works on the terminal started in October 2018. The facility was inaugurated on April 25, 2019.
The Golden Harbor project comprises a new docking wharf, 2-story passenger terminal building (with logistics facilities) and harbor leisure complex. The facility allows numerous culture and leisure activities, plus an exclusive area for international cruise passengers. Project's 1st stage included the construction of transport networks (roads) and facilities for the new harbor.
Phase 2 included the construction of hotels and condos around the cruise harbor (completed in April 2018). Project's budget (Korean Won 28 billion / USD 24 million) was funded by South Korea's Government, Incheon Port Authority and also by private investors.
Terminal's berthing capacity is 2 large liners simultaneously. Pier's length is 430 m (1411 ft). Golden Harbor International Terminal is used as cruise tourism complex by both Korean citizens and international tourists. Terminal's first vessel was Costa Serena (2800-passenger ship) which on April 25 left Incheon on a 6-day itinerary to Fukuoka and Busan.
Port Incheon 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 Incheon, Seoul, 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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