One of the best ways to experience Victoria Harbour is cruising. My recent experience of cruising was with the red junk boat called AquaLuna. Red Junk boats are considered one of the icons in Hong Kong besides the tall skyscrapers and neon lights.
The Aqualuna was created using old designs and traditional materials by an 80 years old local craftsman. AquaLuna is also known in Cantonese as the Cheung Po Tsai 張保仔. Cheung Po Tsai was an infamous Chinese pirate during the 19th century.
The red junk boat operating in Victoria Harbour. It has two decks, an upper deck cabin with big lying sofa and a lower deck with chairs.
The boat looks super cute with the red sails which represent Hong Kong. It has a very romantic atmosphere and nice music. We choose to sit at the front deck so we could enjoy the breeze and the colorful neon lights of Hong Kong skyline.
The ship looks old but in fact, it is relatively new ship, it was built in this old fashion way. The red sails are purely decorative and the barge is motorized. The boats are based on nostalgia rather than practicality. It is also great for photos opportunity.
Why red sail?
According to the ancient Chinese legend, the color appeases the dragon which lives in the clouds and brings bad weather.
The junk boats made me think of Chinese admiral Zheng He (1405-1433), he is thought to have built the largest junks in history. He had a fleet of about 300 ships with 30,000 crew during the 15th century. On contrary the fleet of Columbus (1492-1499) was so much smaller, with a fleet of 17 ships, carrying only 1200 men. Columbus only has 5% of Zheng He’s fleet. Also, Zheng He’s fleet was built almost 1 century ago or to be exact 87 years earlier than Columbus’s ship and yet a lot bigger.
Which Pier to board?
There are few timings for departure and we choose 6.30pm from Tsim Sha Tsui Public Pier 1. There is another boarding area at Central Pier 9 at 6.45 pm. My advice is to choose Tsim Sha Tsui Public Pier 1 as you get to board the boat when it is all vacant and choose the best seat. If you choose Central Pier to board the boat, then expect all the prime seating are taken because the boat starting from Tsim Sha Tsui Public Pier 1 then move over to Central Pier 9 to pick up other guests.
Central Pier 9
Below is Central Pier 9 which near Hong Kong Ferris Wheel.
A Complimentary Drink
The boat can accommodate 80 passengers in addition to the crews. Once you are seated, the crew will ask what kind of drink you want to have. Yes, the cruise ticket comes with a complimentary drink. You can have wine, beer or soft drinks.
Sunset is always the best timing so choose 6.30pm timing if possible. This time frame is the magic hour and a special time for photography. The light before sunset is simply unique.
I highly anyone who wishes to do cruising to book the ticket in advance (online with Klook) to enjoy the discount and confirmation of seats. Print out your ticket or a mobile voucher to show to the staff before boarding Aqua Luna.
When it is completely dark
When it is completely dark (see below). Which is better? I am sure you prefer the golden hour that is in the evening, slightly before sunset. (above picture)
Aqua Luna II
This is the upgrade version of Aqua Luna, introduced in April 2017. It is slightly bigger and the sails are in blue and white which is decorated with Chinese dragons.
This is highly recommended and you get to see both sides of the harbor when you are on the boat for an hour cruise. Book online to secure the perfect timing at 6.30 pm and board on Tsim Sha Tsui Pier 1, that way you get to choose the best seat.