New cruise terminal tests the waters
Ocean liner Celebrity Millennium will berth at the new Kai Tak cruise terminal on Saturday in a trial run ahead of its official opening in June.
The 2,100-passenger cruise ship, which set out from Singapore and stopped in Halong Bay, Vietnam, will berth in Hong Kong from Saturday to Monday.
It will use the city as a turnaround point, with some tourists ending their journey here and flying home, while others board the ship to begin their cruise.
It will be a chance for the terminal operator, cruise line and local tour agencies to test their operations, a government source said yesterday.
"They can test the berthing, navigation [from Victoria Harbour to Kai Tak] and replenishing of supplies," the source said.
But the main building and a bridge connecting to vessels are not yet finished. Immigration officers will have to board the ocean liner for passport checks.
And passengers' luggage will be handled in tents in an open area next to the berth, which the source said was not uncommon at overseas ports.
Coaches will be arranged to transfer passengers from the terminal to Kowloon MTR station.
Construction is continuing at the terminal, which is expecting Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas to berth there in three months. Although the first berth and main structures will be ready by June, it is unclear if all the interior fittings, communication facilities and immigration counters will be ready when the 138,279-tonne, 3,114-passenger cruise liner arrives, the source said.
The shops are not obliged to open until December, under their contracts with the operator. There are 16 bookings for the terminal from June to April 2014, but that is not considered enough. No cruise company has yet made Hong Kong its home port.