When Hong Kong‘s Kai Tak cruise terminal opens in June, the nearly quarter-mile long facility will be able to handle the biggest cruise ships in the world. Located at the site of the former Kai Tak International airport runway, the $1 billion terminal will source passengers from a pool of 50 million potential middle-class passengers in the Pearl River Delta provinces of China. The numbers are big, and so are expectations.
“Hong Kong is fully geared up to provide cruises of all sizes,” said James Tien, chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board in a Travel Weekly report.
The ability to handle passenger vessels supposedly as large as two, 1,200-foot, Oasis-class cruise ships at a time puts the 985,716 square-foot Kai Tak cruise terminal in a world class of its own. Not even custom-built Terminal 18 at Florida’s Port Everglades (240,000 square feet), home to Royal Caribbean’s Oasis and Allure of the Seas, can do that.
Preparing for 37,000 passengers on 10 ships during the first phase of operation, capacity will double by mid-2014 when the second half of the terminal opens. That’s a huge increase over the old cruise terminal, able to handle just two, 50,000-ton ships at a time.
When complete, Kai Tak will have five passenger bridges, 100 check-in stations and the ability to process 3,000 passengers an hour. Those waiting to board will have no lack of things to do either with close-by local attractions Chi Lin Nunnery and Nan Lian Garden setting the stage for a unique sailing experience.
Think a trip to Hong Kong and maybe a cruise might go well together? Check this video with more details about Hong Kong’s Kai Tak cruise terminal.
World traveler and television personality Richard Bangs has a knack for finding adventure wherever he goes. His award winning program “Adventures with a Purpose“ routinely sends him to the far corners of the planet where he immerses himself in the history and culture of the destination while taking part in a host of unique activities.
In a recent episode entitled “Quest for Harmony,” Bangs visited the Pearl River Delta, a region that includes Hong Kong, Macau and portions of China‘s Guangdong Province. That particular show gave viewers a brief glimpse at all the many travel opportunities that exist throughout the area and, intrigued with what was shown, it left me wanting to know more. With that in mind, I recently sat down with Bill Flora, who was instrumental in getting Bangs to visit the Delta. Bill also happens to be the U.S. Director of Hong Kong Tourism, so as you can imagine, he has a lot to say about the region.
Gadling: The theme of “harmony” crops up often in this episode and it seems to play an important part in life in Hong Kong. How is that concept exhibited in the city? Bill Flora: Finding harmony or balance is a universal theme in Asian culture and that is evident throughout Hong Kong as well. The city has a Yin and Yang to it that blends both high technology and nature surprisingly well. Amidst the towering skyscrapers and bright lights there is a peaceful serenity found in the city’s parks and natural spaces. Life there is a wonderful blend of traditional values and modern sensibilities.
G: Hong Kong and the surrounding Pearl River Delta seem to offer something for just about every kind of traveler. Is that a major part of its appeal? BF: Absolutely! Variety is definitely the key. Hong Kong is the type of city where you’ll find a five-star restaurant on one corner, then walk around the block to discover an ancient temple on another. It is that mix of modern sophistication and traditional culture that makes it such an interesting place. Great shopping, a thriving nightlife, a sophisticated art scene and so much more – it’s all there for visitors to experience for themselves.G: And what about adventure travelers? Is there anything to draw them to the region as well? BF: The term “adventure travel” is such a broad one and the word “adventure” means something different to everyone. But for those looking to explore the Pearl River Delta’s more wild side, they may be surprised to find that 40 percent of Hong Kong’s land volume is dedicated to parks, many of which have great hiking trails. Additionally there are 260 outlying islands to explore and the nearby Danxia Mountain Park, located in Guangdong, offers spelunking, trekking and climbing opportunities as well.
G: In your opinion, what is the best kept secret about the Pearl River Delta? BF: I think visitors will be surprised at how great of an outdoor destination it is. Sure there are plenty of things to do in Hong Kong and Macau, but once you leave the city behind, the Pearl River Delta is a rugged and remote region. Upon my first visit I was surprised at just how lush and green it is there and opportunities for adventure abound.
G: And when they return to the city? BF: They’ll have the opportunity to refuel with some of the excellent local cuisine. Hong Kong has everything from great street stalls with fresh seafood to Michelin-starred restaurants that are ranked among the best in the world. The city is also one of the most sophisticated wine destinations on the planet, which often comes as a surprise for visitors too. One thing is for sure – no one will go hungry!
G: For visitors traveling to Hong Kong for the first time, what is your recommendation for the one “don’t miss” activity? BF: Without a doubt they should take the tram to the top of The Peak [Victoria Peak located in HK Harbor]. The view is spectacular, particularly at night, and I never grow tired of it. It is the signature spot in Hong Kong.
G: What else should first-time visitors to Hong Kong know? BF: Hong Kong is the Gateway to Asia and it makes a great launching pad for visiting other parts of the continent. But everything a traveler could hope for can be found right there in the Pearl River Delta. I think anyone who visits the region will agree; it really is an amazingly diverse destination. With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Peregrine Travel and Cathay Pacific to offer several Pearl River Delta travel packages of varying lengths and itineraries. We really do hope they come visit us.
Many thanks to Bill for sharing his thoughts and insights into Hong Kong with me. Now I want to go to experience it for myself.
[Photo credit: chensiyuan and Doctoroftcm via WikiMedia]