TOURISM

Kai Tak Cruise Terminal's rough and ready take-off

New terminal is functionally ready but not in the best form to welcome first travellers next week

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 7:30am

A week before the HK$8.2 billion Kai Tak Cruise Terminal welcomes its first vessel, it is largely functional but not quite ready to face the world.

The immigration counters, connecting bridges, waiting halls and one of the two planned berths are completed ahead of the arrival of cruise passengers on board the Mariner of the Seas ocean liner on Wednesday.

But a clean-up exercise is in order. Yesterday, scaffolding remained wrapped around dome-shaped roofs on both ends of the building, while streaks of water stained the marble floors after the wet weather of recent weeks.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said the problem of water leakage became known two weeks ago during a black rainstorm - the highest of three storm warnings.

"They were installing water drainage channels near ventilation facilities during the rain," So said. The remedial works were almost finished, he added.

If the stains did not fade, the floor tiles would have to be replaced, he said.

The authorities have yet to announce an exact date to officially throw open the doors to the public. What is confirmed, however, is the shops and restaurants will not open until the fourth quarter.

The cruise terminal can accommodate the world's largest cruise ships, of up to 220,000 gross tonnes.

The biggest draw will be a 23,000 square metre rooftop garden - one of the largest in the city - from which visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, taking in Lion Rock and Kowloon Bay.

Plans are under way to hold public exhibitions in the halls, including one in September showcasing cruise packages. Conventions and banquets can also be held.

Green facilities are ready to roll, including energy-saving lights, photovoltaic systems and a rainwater recycling system for irrigation. The building is also equipped with double layers of heatproof glass panes that reduce the loss of air conditioning.

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean International said when the Mariner approached the harbour next week, it would switch to marine diesel fuel that had less than 0.1 per cent of sulphur content.

Also yesterday, the Hong Kong Tourism Board signed a pact with its Taiwanese counterpart to co-operate closer on the promotion of cruising in Asia.