A six-star 'hotel at sea' for the high rollers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 July, 2005, 12:00am

The wait is nearly over for punters who have been pining for casino cruises from Hong Kong since the departure of the SuperStar Leo from local waters in April.

A six-star 'hotel at sea' will go into service in September, only this time the vessel will be Hong Kong-owned.

The Asia Star, which arrived for a welcoming ceremony yesterday in Victoria Harbour, would be stationed in the city, said Winnie Kwan, executive director of the vessel, owned by Asia Cruises, which bought it from the Finnish government for nearly $500 million.

The liner will test local waters in late August for two weeks, after which it will start a public service to coincide with the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.

'We are greatly optimistic in the future development of Hong Kong's tourist and cruise industry,' Ms Kwan said.

Asia Star is the world's biggest twin-hull-designed vessel. All 115 guest rooms on board are suites, with more than 70 per cent having outward facing balconies. Some also come with living rooms.

The 12-deck vessel has a guest capacity of 350, which is 2,450 short of that of the SuperStar Leo, but features a two-storey grand dining hall and an eight-metre sea corridor designed to serve as a water world auditorium.

Access will be through tours organised by the ship.

Other features include a platform that can be lowered to sea level for those wanting to sunbathe in the middle of the ocean, as well as a helicopter pad.

Ticket prices will be around $1,500 per person per night during a two-week promotional period, with tours ranging from one to seven nights passing through seven mainland cities: Ningbo, Xiamen, Shanghai, Dalian, Tianjin, Shantou and Dongguan.