Originally we were supposed to be in Hong Kong for two days. Due to the corona virus and the fact that many tourist attractions were closed, the Holland America corporate office in Seattle made the decision to only be in port for one day, arriving at 6:00 A.M. and leaving at 5:00. I think the main reason Holland America stopped in Hong Kong was because some passengers were due to get off. They had only booked two weeks of the voyage. We also picked up passengers who were doing the final two weeks of the cruise. Our thirty day cruise was really two contiguous 15 day cruises.
We got up earlier than usual to see the sail in to Hong Kong. The cruise ship terminal is on the mainland area known as Kowloon. Our excursion today is located on Hong Kong Island and is accessed by a tunnel under the harbor.
While some were leaving the ship and new passengers embarking, we took a Holland America excursion in Hong Kong. Wearing our masks, we took the 45 minute bus ride from the pier into Hong Kong. Also included in the cost of the excursion was a ticket on the Hop On Hop Off bus, and transportation back to the ship.
We had heard so many things about Hong Kong and our expectations were high. We expected something similar to Singapore. We were sorely disappointed. We have ridden Hop On Hop Off buses in many places, including Singapore and many large cities throughout the United States. This was the worst Hop On Hop Off bus we have ever taken. Usually you hop on a bus, hop off when you want and then can catch another bus after a short wait. The Hong Kong buses ran a route and then waited 45 minutes before running the route again. We struggled to even find the stops and once we missed a stop we had to ride to the end of the line and wait 45 minutes to ride the route again. And it was miserably cold on the upper deck! In retrospect there were very few people moving around the city so The Hop On buses may have been on a reduced schedule for this reason. The big buses were empty except for cruise passengers.
Right before we arrived in Hong Kong the captain announced that because of the corona virus we would not be ending the cruise in Shanghai mainland China as planned. Instead we would be flying home from Tokyo. Bill spent part of his time in Hong Kong on the phone with American Airlines trying to change our flight. Little did we know it would be the first of many flight changes in the days to come.
We got off and walked to the Hard Rock Cafe so Bill could add to his Hard Rock t-shirt collection. We stopped in several pharmacies looking for more hand sanitizer but every store was out of stock. At one little marketplace a woman was charging over $6 US for one of those tiny purse size bottles. I left in disgust. I had three bottles on the ship, I didn’t need it that bad.
The city was dirty with trash everywhere. I kept thinking how this would never be tolerated in Singapore.
There was a lot of Hong Kong we didn’t get to see. We didn’t have time to ride the Green or the Blue Lines of the Hop On Hop Off buses because we had to meet our bus back to the ship at 3:30. Between hunting for bus stops, waiting for buses, eating lunch, being on hold with American Airlines and looking for hand sanitizer, the day passed quickly and before long it was time to head back to the ship. On the positive side we saw absolutely no protesters even though it was a Saturday. Before leaving the United States we had worried a little about the Hong Kong protests which had been reported constantly on the news. Little did we know it would be a virus and not protests that impacted our visit.
We may visit Hong Kong again but it is not high on our list of places to return.
Next up: A stop in Taiwan and the beginning of the end.