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Two days in Hong Kong

24/06/2015

Self-confessed cruise addict David George tells us about his recent visit to Hong Kong and a very special evening for Ligurian Tier members

David George on board a Star Ferry between Kowloon and Hong Kong

David George on board a Star Ferry

It’s early morning, and as Arcadia sails towards Kowloon I can see Hong Kong resting on a pillow of white mist. Its skyscrapers peep through to welcome another day, and even at this hour boats are already busily criss-crossing Victoria Harbour.

 

After breakfast on board in The Belvedere, I’m one of the first to disembark. With no immigration formalities, the gangway leads directly into a shopping mall packed to the gunwales with international stores and luxury boutiques – an early taste of Hong Kong’s appeal to shopping aficionados.

 

Once outside the mall, Kowloon’s ferry terminal is just a two-minute walk away. The Star Ferry has been taking people back and forth between Kowloon and Hong Kong since 1888. And even today, with road and rail tunnels connecting the island to mainland China, the Star Ferry boats – some of which are British-built, dating back to the 1940s – carry more than 20 million guests every year. It’s no wonder: the seven-minute crossing is one of the best bargains you’ll find at just HK$2.50 during the week, about 21p. As you step on board, mahogany slatted seats with green and cream ironwork provide a little insight into Hong Kong’s colonial past.

 

Arriving at Hong Kong’s Central Pier, I leave the crowds heading towards IFC (International Finance Centre) Mall and walk instead along Harbour Parade. Here, there are fine views of Kowloon across the water as well as numerous examples of futuristic architecture closer by. The design, colours and textures of these bold creations boast of the island’s continuing status as a global commercial centre – but what makes exploring the frontage special is the discovery of beautiful gardens, street sculptures and galleries dotted along the Parade. In the warm sunshine, I share the cityscape with office workers enjoying a break from their computer screens.

Arcadia’s Captain Aseem Hashmi, Loyalty Programme Manager Amy Harman Hotel Manager Helen Skoins

Arcadia’s Captain Aseem Hashmi, Loyalty Programme Manager Amy Harman and Hotel Manager Helen Skoins

After a fantastic day, the evening proves equally memorable. Those who were on the Full World Cruise and had reached the Peninsular Club Ligurian Tier status are to be treated to a special event at the Aberdeen Marina Club on the south side of Hong Kong. We travel in style, catching the A Symphony of Lights laser show that illuminates the waterfronts every evening, and as we arrive we’re met by our hosts: Arcadia’s Captain Aseem Hashmi and Amy Harman, P&O Cruises Loyalty Programme Manager. The four-course dinner served beneath crystal chandeliers, with entertainment from a live band and a troupe of Chinese dragon dancers, is simply perfect.

 

On our second day, a bus trip across the island to Stanley offers contrasting sights: a quieter, more rural side of the island, with paddy fields and workers who are protected from the sun by coolie hats. Stanley is popular with beach-lovers and its market is busy with bargain-hunters. Everything from clothes and sportswear to oriental and electronic goods is on offer, and negotiating is fun. Silk tie for £1.50 anyone?

 

Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan atmosphere surprises and charms visitors in equal measure, and if you’ve never been it deserves a place on your wish list. Will I be back? You bet!

 

David George
David worked in BBC Radio as a producer before he retired. In his own words, he is now addicted to cruise holidays and enjoys writing independently about his experiences.

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