Jeju Island (aka Jejudo, and Chejudo) is located in Korea Strait, approx 130 km (80 ml) to the south of mainland South Korea. Jeju is among the country's top island resort destinations and often referred to as "Chinese tourist mecca " due to its huge popularity among tourists from China. The Island covers a total area of approx 1848 km2 (714 ml2) and has population around 0,6 million
The island's largest settlement is Jeju City (population around 400,000) located on the central-northern coast. In 2016, Jeju cruise port handled a total of 534 ship calls. 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.
- The iland has a designated World Heritage Site - "Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes".
- Climate is temperate - even in the winter, temperatures rarely fall below 0 C (32 F). However, in January 2016, a cold whether front affected the island. The snow forced the cancellation of around 1200 flights, stranding around 90,000 passengers..
- The island is served by Jeju International Airport (South Korea's 2nd largest - after Incheon). Rgeularly scheduled domestic flights are operated between Jeju City and Seoul (country's capital city). This air route is the world's busiest, with over 10 million passengers flown between both cities per year.
- Popular tourist attractions and places on Jeju Island include Seongsan Ilchulbong ("Sunrise Peak"), the 8 km (5 ml) long Manjanggul Lava Tube (1-km publicly accessible), Mount Hallasan (highest elevation point - 1950 m / 6400 ft), Teddy Bear Museum, Seongeup Folk Village, Jeju Loveland (sex-themed sculpture park).
Jeju Naval Base (officially "Jeju Civilian-Military Complex Port") was completed and opened in February 2016. Construction works started in 2007. The project's total cost was USD 907 million.
- The base is located near Gangjeong (on the island's southern coast). Its pier capacity is 20 warships, 3 submarines plus 2 passenger cruise liners (GT tonnage up to 150,000 tons).
- Base's construction was halted several times by local protesters concerned about its environmental impact. The protesters also saw the base as an USA-driven military project aimed at China.
On March 11, 2017, the liner Costa Serena docked at Jeju port in the afternoon. However, all passengers (over 3,400) refused to disembark, while at the cruise terminal, customs officers, tour guides and around 80 buses were waiting for them.
- The Chinese cruise tourists remained on the ship for 4 hours before the vessel departed Jeju back to port Tianjin. The ship was privately booked and all passengers received the cruise vacation as a reward organized by a Chinese company. The ship had departed on this exclusive itinerary from port Fukuoka Japan.
- The incident contributed to the Costa Asia company's cancellation of all scheduled port visits to Jeju Island (in the period March-June 2017), which included 26 ship calls and around 120,000 booked Chinese passengers.
- In March 2017, all the world's largest cruise companies (RCCL Royal Caribbean, Carnival Corporation, Costa Asia and Princess Cruises) also canceled ship calls to South Korean cruise ports and replaced them with Japanese ports of call.
- These decisions were due to the rising diplomatic tension between China and South Korea over the installation of the US Army missile defense system THAAD ("Terminal High Altitude Area Defense") on South Korean territory. This is an anti-ballistic missile system designed to intercept and shoot down medium-range and long-range missiles. Beijing's anger was over a joint South Korea-USA plan to set up THAAD missile system in the country. Officially, the missile system is against North Korean nuclear missiles. According to Beijing, this far-reaching radar system targets China.
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).
Jeju Island cruise terminal
Most cruise ships to Jeju Island (Jejudo) dock at Jeju port located on the island's northern coast. The cruise port is located approx 2 km (1,2 ml) from the city. Arriving cruise passengers are greeted with a traditional folklore show by local performers. Close to the pier (20-25 min walking distance) there is a small shopping / dining area.
Since 2016, alternative docking is offered at the new Jeju Naval Base near Gangjeong (on the island's southern coast). The base has 2 piers dedicated for cruise ships.
(NEW) Jeju Port Cruise Terminal
Currently, South Korea has 5 international cruise terminals - two in Jeju, one in Sokcho, one in Incheon, one in Busan. In late-August 2019, country's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced its plan to open a new Jeju Port dedicated to inbound (international) cruise ship tourists. The endorsed budget for this (Jeju's 3rd) cruise terminal was set at KRW 2,8 trillion (USD 2,3 billion).
The new cruise-dedicated harbour port will be built on Jeju Island's northern coast, including areas in Samdo-dong, Geonip-dong, and Yongdam-dong. Project's scheduled completion is by year 2040. When the 3rd terminal is completed, island's total annual passenger capacity will be ~4,7 million tourists. In 2019, in Incheon was inaugurated the Songdo International Cruise Terminal.
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