Kai Tak cruise arrivals skip Kowloon to head straight for the sights

Passengers of third vessel to dock at new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal largely opt to head directly to attractions on Hong Kong Island

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2013, 4:50am

Despite expectations that business from the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal would revive the Kowloon City neighbourhood, cruise travellers said they would rather go straight to the best-known attractions on Hong Kong Island during their short stay.

Thousands of passengers on Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas rushed to the city centre on free shuttle buses and taxis after the ocean liner docked yesterday afternoon.

It was the third vessel to berth at the new terminal, which opened in June, and the first to make use of its immigration counters - with local immigration officers boarding the ship to check passports.

Transport arrangements for the huge crowd went more smoothly than for previous arrivals, with taxis and shuttle buses ready at the terminal before tourists disembarked. A sign was put next to the taxi stand showing approximate prices to popular destinations in response to previous complaints of overcharging.

Half the passengers joined group tours to The Peak, according to Jeff Bent of Worldwide Flight Services, which operates the terminal.

The most popular Hong Kong highlights tour included stops at Repulse Bay, Stanley Market and Aberdeen, while a small number of people joined a tour to Lantau.

Others who preferred individual travel opted for free shuttle buses to shopping malls Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay, Hollywood Plaza in Diamond Hill and APM in Kwun Tong, all with MTR stations nearby. Mikiki in San Po Kong, where there is no MTR station, did not send shuttle buses.

The malls hoped the passengers would bring more business, but most visitors were not staying long.

Travellers told the Post that The Peak, Stanley or Tsim Sha Tsui were where they wanted to go during their half-day stay in the city.

John Doyle from Scotland was one of them, taking a shuttle bus but aiming for The Peak. "It took me 20 minutes [to pass immigration checks] … it's good given that there are 2,000 people."

Shirley Davidson, a 78-year-old from Australia, wanted to take a ride on the open-top Big Bus, visit Ocean Park and see some open-air markets.

Minor hiccups remained. Some passengers were not sure how to get to their preferred attractions after they got off the buses. Others were put off by the long distances from Kai Tak to destinations such as Stanley. A Californian couple went to the taxi queue thinking it was where they could take free shuttle buses.

There were long queues in the Kowloon Bay MTR station as tourists waited to buy tickets or Octopus cards.

The rooftop park at the cruise terminal will open to the public on Friday. Almost no tourists made use yesterday of a minibus service running from Kowloon Bay to the terminal.