Cruise ship operator All That Cruise announced Monday that it will begin operating cruise tours from January.
The vessel, tentatively named the Hallyu Star, will be used on routes covering China, Japan and Southeast Asian destinations. Hallyu is a Korean word meaning “Korean wave” that refers to the popularity of Korean pop culture in other countries.
While other Korea-based cruise operators have tried and failed in the business, Lee says that All That Cruise is taking a different approach to make up for shortcomings of past examples.
“Cruise is a form of travel that closely matches the Korean style of taking family trips,” All That Cruise chief executive James Lee said.
“In addition, we offer performances by Hallyu stars as well as performances of traditional culture, which aren’t available on other cruises.”
According to the company, it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a subsidiary of SM Entertainment to arrange performances from major Korean entertainers.
In addition, the company said that the size of the vessel also offers an advantage over previous cruise operators. At nearly 74,000 tons, the Hallyu Star will be the largest cruise ship run by a Korean operator, the company said.
The ship is a secondhand vessel that was operated by an overseas cruise operator, whose identity is protected for legal reasons, Lee said.
Once the ship is delivered to Korea, the vessel will be checked by Samsung Heavy Industries, and renovated.
The vessel will be ready to sail in January, Lee said.
The company has not yet received a license from the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, but Lee said that the matter is in hand.
“The company applied for a conditional license, and talks with the ministry have concluded that the conditional license will be granted before May 20,” Lee said, adding that such licenses are usually granted once vessels are ready for operations.
As for financing the acquisition of the vessel, Lee said that the majority of the funds are raised through Korea Ship Finance, but the company plans to repay the financer in full to take ownership of the vessel in seven years.
“Seventy-five percent of the funds will be raised from Korea Ship Finance, and the remainder will be raised by selling memberships,” Lee said. According to Lee, the price of memberships starts at 350 million won ($328,000) and goes up to 1.1 billion won.
“Memberships for 25 percent of the cabins are being sold similarly to condominium memberships. The memberships do not give ownership of the cabins but are sold as bonds on the vessel.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)