Hong Kong’s famous old Kai Tak Airport has reopened as a major cruise terminal.
The new US$1.1 billion Kai Tak Cruise Terminal officially launched yesterday (12 June 2013), when Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas became the first cruise liner to dock at the facility. The ship and its 3,000 passengers were welcomed at the terminal by a major ceremony organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), featuring lion and dragon dances and drum performances.
Attending the ceremony were Philip Yung, Hong Kong’s Commissioner for Tourism, and Daisy Lui, the HKTB’s Deputy Executive Director, who presented souvenirs to the first batch of cruise passengers on their arrival. A traditional plaque and key ceremony was also held with the captain of Mariner of the Seas.
Renowned for its dramatic approaches, with planes swooping in at low altitude above the Hong Kong skyline, Kai Tak Airport served as the city’s main air hub for 73 years, until its closure in 1998. When fully operational next year, the new cruise terminal will be able to berth two large vessels at a time, processing up to 3,000 passengers per hour.
Mariner of the Seas is scheduled to depart Hong Kong today, but will return for future visits in October and November this year, along with another Royal Caribbean vessel, Voyager of the Seas. Other ships scheduled to visit Kai Tak before the end of 2013 include the Diamond Princess and Celebrity Millennium.
The new cruise terminal is owned and operated by Worldwide Cruise Terminals – a consortium comprising Worldwide Flight Services, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Shun Tak Holdings.