In this third and final part of our day spent in Hong Kong during our October 2018 cruise aboard Diamond Princess I’ll cover returning to the ship after a long day exploring the city mostly on foot and our evening departure through the harbour. The first part describes what we did to get from the cruise terminal to Kowloon Park while the second part covers travelling to and from Hong Kong Island on the Star Ferry and what we did there.
Getting Back To The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal
As we’d left the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal earlier in the day we’d been advised of a couple of differences in what had been described to us before regarding where and when we could get a shuttle bus back to the terminal. The terminal itself is several kilometres away from the main areas of Hong Kong that any first-time visitor might want to see and there was no free, direct way to reach the city. Instead, shuttle buses were provided that would allegedly drop us off and pick us up from one of two MTR stations: Diamond Hill or Kwun Tong. We hadn’t wanted to go to Kwun Tong at all as it was in the wrong direction but our option to choose otherwise had been removed immediately as there were no early shuttles to Diamond Hill. Thus it was that in the morning we’d taken the bus to Kwun Tong then hopped on the MTR to the city. No problem. However, by the time we were thinking about returning from the city in the evening we knew from what had been said to us at the cruise terminal that the Kwun Tong shuttle bus was not running any longer so our only option this time was to make for Diamond Hill. We didn’t think this would be an issue.
With our random exploring and shopping in Hong Kong finished and our feet sending all the right complaining noises to our brains we hopped back on an MTR train at Tsim Sha Tsui station and set off for Diamond Hill. The Hong Kong trains are clean, handy, easy-to-use, but could be slightly more helpful when trying to spend small amounts of money (see the first part for more on that). What we really liked about them, though, was the illuminated station indicator map in each carriage. You can see this in the photo below which shows what line we’re on, which direction we’re travelling, and what the next station is.
We got off at Diamond Hill and decided to take a look around before locating the shuttle bus as we’d been told that there was a shopping mall there. This was true and the mall was called Plaza Hollywood. Having had a fruitless search for just the right type of white jade in Hong Kong we had one more hunt here but ended up drawing a blank again. A quite nice touch, though, was an area set up for cruise passengers on the first floor level; upon production of our cruise card we were handed some vouchers, a map, and a can of a slightly fizzy lemon drink. We gratefully took all of these.
All that remained was for us to get the shuttle bus back to the cruise terminal but here is where we ran into a problem. Beneath the shopping mall was a huge, underground bus terminal area through which anywhere up to a dozen buses could pull in, park up, pick up passengers, and drive off. After 15 or more minutes of exploring this area we couldn’t work out where the shuttle bus might be nor could we see anyone who looked like they might be cruise passengers waiting. The problem, of course, was that we’d not been dropped off at Diamond Hill and so didn’t know where the pick-up point was. It could have been outside so we went wandering there too but, again, saw nothing that looked like another passenger or anything remotely Princess Cruises-related or just cruise-related in general. We popped back to the area set up for cruise passengers in the mall to ask them but only got a shrug and a “It’ll be where the bus dropped you off” reply. Not helpful.
We still had plenty of time to be back onboard so there was no panic and we decided to loop around again in search of anything that looked like a shuttle bus. This time we spotted a couple, one of whom had a Princess tote bag on her. Perfect, we thought. Not so fast. It turned out that they were in exactly the same position as us having been dropped off at one MTR station and having no idea where the bus would be for the other. They’d been surreptitiously following us for a while hoping we knew where we were going. We teamed up for one last hunt before I finally said that we may as well just share a taxi as we’d seen a rank near all the bus stops.
And so it was that on a day in which we’d ridden by bus, train, and ferry we then added to the list of modes of transport with a taxi ride too. An important thing to note here is that even though you’ll find all the signs in English throughout Hong Kong that’s no guarantee that someone you bump into will speak the language. If you think you might need a taxi then ensure you’ve got some way to indicate where you want to go in the native language and some local currency. Fortunately for us, we had both and were able to point out the phrase “Take me to the Kai Tak cruise terminal” on the paperwork provided by Princess Cruises the night before. The taxis in Hong Kong all have detailed information explaining the standing charge and cost per unit of distance in them and it was clear to see that these tallied up precisely with what was showing on the meter as we drove off. Just as with the train and the ferry the cost for our taxi ride was laughingly small and we remarked at the end of the day that we’d managed to take two train journeys, two ferry journeys, and a taxi ride for the pair of us over a far greater distance and for less money than it would cost just one of us to use the bus and visit the in-laws at home.
Sunset In Hong Kong
Back on Diamond Princess we offloaded what we’d bought in the city, freshened up, and enjoyed the sky growing duskier as the sun set through the distant haze.
When we’d visited Hong Kong in 2008 we’d been lucky enough to have a cruise past the city skyline overnight during its famous light show. There was no opportunity to do that this time although as the sky darkened we could see the lights on the skyscrapers going through their motions from a distance. You can see photos and video of our earlier experience here: Hong Kong Harbour Light Show.
When Diamond Princess finally cast off from the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and made her way out to the open sea once more it was a decidedly serene affair.
Food And Drink
Finally, some of the food and drink with which we ended the long day in Hong Kong.
We’ve never not enjoyed ourselves in a port on a cruise and Hong Kong on this occasion was no exception but we learned an important lesson on this trip regarding researching more, picking things to do, and paying attention to map scales and opening times of locations. Some people are probably completely happy to just see what happens when they visit somewhere and we might be as well if that place was very familiar to us or reasonably close to home so that repeat trips wouldn’t be too much trouble; when you’re travelling to the other side of the world, though, then, for us, it’s important to know what you can do and what you really want to do otherwise you end up wasting time you could be spending on things of interest.
Following another day at sea our next stop would be the penultimate one on the cruise, visiting Taiwan. That would be a more organised day even though, like Hong Kong, it was a port we’d visited before.