A royal fortnight - for a royal price

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 February, 2007, 12:00am

Hongkongers join inaugural world cruise of Queen Mary 2

Forty Hongkongers have forked over as much as HK$80,000 each for a two-week package tour aboard the Queen Mary 2, the largest passenger liner ever built.

The flagship of cruise line Cunard is embarking on its maiden world cruise, which will bring it to Hong Kong for the first time later this month. The full world cruise lasts 82 days.

'Our bookings are pretty much full,' Wing On Travel deputy general manager Brandon Lau Chin-keung said. 'We're finding more people are more willing to splash out on holiday travel and, increasingly, cruises - probably because of the rebounding economy and stock market.'

Wing On Travel is the first to offer a Queen Mary 2 package in Hong Kong and has booked slightly more people on this package than for individual cruise travel on the liner. Revenue from selling cruises still only accounts for a very small percentage of the travel company's total turnover, which was about HK$1.5 billion in 2005, Mr Lau said.

The Queen Mary 2 is the first liner to boast its own planetarium. It has more 300 original works of art valued at more than US$5 million and features the three-storey Britannia Restaurant and the luxurious Canyon Ranch spa. In a partnership with the University of Oxford, the liner has also developed a programme of seminars and lectures hosted by authors, historians, artists, scientists and celebrities.

Of the 40 tour members, more than 30 have opted for the most expensive package, about HK$80,000. This package includes a stay at the six-star sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai for one night and dinner at its underwater-themed restaurant. 'The hotel stay and restaurant are a big selling point of the package tour. You can't just dine there; you usually have to book a year ahead,' Mr Lau said.

Eight people have signed up for the cheapest package, which costs about HK$37,000.

Despite the apparent success of the package cruise tour, Daniel Chan Kin-pang, deputy general manager of Hong Thai Travel, said he remains sceptical such itineraries would find much appeal in Hong Kong. He doubts the price levels and lengthy itineraries for the Queen Mary 2 would find many takers here, especially when people are used to paying only several thousand dollars for a cruise holiday. The liner also arrives at the end of this month, after the peak Lunar New Year holiday, making it less appealing, Mr Chan said.


What cruise lovers have to pay for the 14-day, 11-night Hong Kong-Dubai leg of the Queen Mary 2's maiden world cruise

Money no object


Seaview room with private balcony

Most food, drink and entertainment on board

One night's accommodation at the Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai

Dinner at the Burj Al Arab's famed Al Mahara restaurant

Emirates business-class flight back to Hong Kong

Budget conscious


Standard inside cabin

Most food, drink and entertainment onboard

Emirates economy flight back to Hong Kong

Vital statistics

Length 345 metres, or 41 double-decker buses

Height (keel to funnel) 80 metres

Gross tonnage 150,000

Top speed 30 knots

Number of passengers 2,620

Number of crew 1,253

Cost US$800 million

Hong Kong

Depart March 1

2 days at sea


March 3

Kuala Lumpur

March 4

2 days


March 7 & 8

2 days

Dubai March 11