Kai Tak terminal ready to welcome cruise ships in place of airliners

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kai tak.jpgHong Kong’s Ocean Terminal is ideally placed for the shops, restaurants and museums of Tsim Sha Tsui. Cruise passengers can walk straight off the gangway into the malls of Harbour City, and within minutes be boarding a Star Ferry from Kowloon to Wan Chai or Central.
Trouble is, the pier cannot accommodate ships of more than 50,000 tons. When I arrived in Hong Kong last week on board Diamond Princess, the ship berthed at Terminal 4 in the manically hectic Kwai Chung cargo port (below), where the ship was dwarfed by the giant multi-storey lorry park that is the Hutchison Logistics Centre.
HKkwaichung.jpgThe quay provides every facility for the movement of containers but little or nothing for people. A tented gazebo at the foot of the gangway was about the limit as passengers disembarked to join the flotilla of tour coaches or to board a shuttle bus – taxis are not allowed inside the terminal gates.
It was the same story five years ago when I arrived to board Queen Mary 2 at the same location. Check-in was conducted in the open air on the quayside; it’s a good job the weather was fine and dry, not always the case in Hong Kong.
Relief is at hand, as building work gathers pace on a new cruise terminal on the site of Hong Kong’s former airport at Kai Tak. The first of two berths there should be operational by summer 2013, and it will eventually have facilities capable of handling the biggest cruise ships in the world.
Significantly, perhaps, Royal Caribbean – which operates those ships, Oasis and Allure of the Seas – is a 20 per cent partner in the consortium chosen to manage the terminal (top), designed by Foster and Partners.
Anthony Lau, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, told visitors to the Cruise Shipping Miami conference yesterday that new shore excursions are being developed and there are plans to develop the huge potential for cruise passengers from mainland China.
“HKTB is really open to working with the different cruise companies to cultivate the consumer base. Hong Kong has a long way to go to catch up to some of the great cruise cities of the world but people will be very surprised by the growth potential,” he added.
Hong Kong itself expects 44 million visitors this year, and by 2014 the number of Chinese tourists setting out around the world is expected to reach 100 million.
Jeff Bent, director of cruise operations for Worldwide Flight Services, a 60 per cent partner in the terminal consortium, said the potential to grow demand for cruises was enormous.
“It’s now up to us to deliver operational excellence at the terminal and help to develop itineraries within short steaming times while continuing to educate consumers to the tremendous variety of shore excursions within the region itself. The tourism board is well-positioned to help with education and, long-term, we can and will help educate the local and nearby source markets for the cruise lines.”
At least passengers arriving at Kai Tak by cruise ship will have a smoother ride than those who used to land by airliner. Flying in past apartment blocks just yards from the wing-tips, and with 2,000-ft hills looming a couple of miles away could be a laxative experience.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:52+00:00 13 March 2012|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. JonathanN 13 March 2012 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Great read!! Love reading your blog! Keep posting good stuff like this.

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