Ugly view for luxury super-liner's elite guests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2007, 12:00am

World travellers and cargo containers rubbed shoulders yesterday as Hong Kong rolled out the welcome mat to Queen Mary 2, the world's largest passenger ship at the Kwai Chung cargo terminal.

Temporary immigration facilities and shuttle bus and taxi stands were erected at Modern Terminals to accommodate passengers who boarded shuttle buses to go sightseeing.

Mr Wong, a retiree, and his wife, who paid more than HK$50,000 each to join the transatlantic liner's first world cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai, were disappointed the ship had to dock in Kwai Chung.

'The surroundings are quite ugly and it's very inconvenient here,' Mrs Wong said. 'Were it not for the travel agency arranging transport for us to come to Modern Terminals, it would be quite a hassle.'

Dieter Poleska, a guest from Germany, who also joined the cruise in Hong Kong yesterday, agreed. He said he hoped more accommodating facilities could be ready in the near future. 'This is not a typical terminal for a ship like this. I think you should find a better solution because the first impression is not very good,' Mr Poleska said.

Arriving early yesterday morning, the 23-storey luxury ship towered over the stacks of containers and industrial cranes at the cargo handling facility. The docking arrangement was necessary as the ship is too large to berth at Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui. The ship is 345 metres long and weighs 151,400 tonnes.

Despite the less than favourable environs, almost 400 Hong Kong and mainland passengers joined the cruise yesterday. The ship can serve 2,592 guests and its 14 passenger decks are outfitted with everything imaginable.

There are 10 restaurants catering for just about every palate, including the three-storey Britannia Restaurant, which can seat 1,300 diners at any one time.

The ship has the only floating planetarium, which doubles as a cinema. Passengers can take in workshops and lectures on topics from art appreciation to comedy. The ship is also stocked with works of art that guests can bid for in regular auctions. Brand-name shopping and gambling at the casino is available, although the ship must be in international waters for betting to be legal.