Ovation of the Seas in Kai Tak

“So far, so good,” said Jeff Bent, managing director, Worldwide Cruise Terminals, which is the manager of the Kai Tak complex, describing the quickly growing cruise call portfolio in Hong Kong.

Calls are set to be up some 50 percent in 2017, and while it’s too early to predict 2018, Bent said indications were encouraging.

Interporting operations are growing at Kai Tak, with 70 percent of all calls either full homeports or partial turn arounds.

“Going forward we will see more transit visits by Chinese passengers, this is a new trend,” Bent added. “We hope to see continued growth in long-haul markets, whose visitors should enjoy the added convenience of the new bridge for excursions to Macao, Asia’s first and last European colony. We would also like to see more visitors from other nearby source markets, such as our neighbors in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and ASEAN.”

Among infrastructure projects that will play right into his cruise business is the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge, which will provide a land connection from Hong Kong to Zhuhai, Macao and other locations by the end of 2017. There is also a new high-speed train being built which will connect Hong Kong with 16 major cities in mainland China, with daily service by the third quarter of 2018.

“We try to work closely with all the cruise lines,” Bent said. “The Holland America Group changed its ground handler this year, so we met more frequently with them to ensure service continuity. We also worked quite closely with Royal Caribbean for the Ovation of the Seas’ inaugural call, which included a large media event.”

He had three words to describe Kai Tak: location, connectivity and convenience.              

“The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is particularly good for turnaround operations because of its ample space for logistics,” Bent said. “We meet with the Chinese Ports and Harbors Association several times annually to discuss areas of common concern, and have an open dialogue with port operators in Taiwan and other Asian cities.”