HANGZHOU, July 4 (Xinhua) -- A new regular direct passenger sea route between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan was officially opened Saturday after a ship safely returned from Taiwan.
The passenger ship, Coscostar, returned to the Damaiyu Port, Taizhou City of eastern Zhejiang Province Saturday, making it the second port on the mainland that has served the regular direct sea route with Taiwan, said He Jinliang, deputy head of the city's Taiwan affairs office.
On June 26, the ship, carrying more than 500 passengers, traveled about 302 km to the Keelung Port of Taiwan, He said.
With a tonnage of 26,800, the ship, owned by the China Ocean Shipping Companies Group, could carry about 600 passengers, 256 containers and 150 automobiles.
The ship is scheduled to shuttle once a week. It will depart from Damaiyu in Yuhuan County on Saturday night and return the following Friday. The single trip would take eight to nine hours, traveling at various speed.
Wang Yihao, deputy head of Yuhuan County, said the standard ticket costs 600 yuan (88.6 U.S.dollars) and the deluxe class ticket costs 1,000 yuan.
"The prices are nearly half that of airline tickets. With this new route, cross-Strait travel will be much easier, more comfortable and will attract more mainland tourists to Taiwan," Wang said.
In August 2009, the first regular direct sea route was launched to link eastern Fujian Province's Xiamen Port and Taiwan's Taichung Port and Keelung Port.