November 25, 2003
Image Marine dragon boats cruise Hong Kong harbor
The Image Marine unit of Australia's Austal group last month delivered a pair of highly customized 41. 4 m catamarans to Hong Kong's New World First Travel Services.
Suited to both sightseeing and charter roles, First Travel XXXI and First Travel XXXII will cruise the busy Hong Kong Harbor at around 16 knots.
First Travel's new 'Hong Kong Dragon Cruise' service offers four different routes daily including morning, afternoon, sunset and night cruises. These all depart from Victoria Harbor and cover sights such as Tsing Ma Bridge (the world's longest suspension bridge carrying both vehicles and trains), the elegant Island South and the laid-back outlying islands.
Adolf Hsu, Managing Director of First Travel, said "Targeting both tourists and Hong Kong people, Hong Kong Dragon Cruise is positioned as the 'First Cruise in Hong Kong' for tourists and also as the people of Hong Kong's number one recommendation to their visitors."
Hsu said the comfort and luxury provided by the Image Marine vessels contributed to his confidence in the future of the new service.
The vessels themselves are sights worth seeing, combining the New World group's striking orange, purple and green livery with an even more eye-catching Chinese golden dragon on the top deck. Over 16 m long, the dragons are particularly spectacular when spraying water from their mouths and when highlighted in colorful light shows during evening cruises.
In traditional Chinese culture the dragons represent strength and opulence, which is fitting given the high standard of workmanship and fitout evident on "First Travel XXXI" and "First Travel XXXII".
In addition to the open top deck which provides panoramic views, passengers can choose between upper and lower enclosed decks which feature extra large side windows and broad expanses of glass on the forward bulkheads to maximize viewing opportunities.
Dimmable interior lighting enhances the evening and night cruise experiences and a multi-lingual onboard tourist information system provides insights into the city's history, culture and attractions.
The layout of the vessels features lounge and table arrangements throughout, with seats for 172 passengers on the main deck and 182 passengers on the upper deck. Each vessel can also carry passengers in wheelchairs. Other onboard facilities include a kiosk on main deck serving a variety of drinks and light meals, an upper deck bar and cultural booths providing explanations of Hong Kong's unique east-meets-west culture. A variety of performances will be staged onboard, ranging from magic and live music to traditional Chinese acts including acrobatics.
To facilitate this, the vessels are equipped with professional level audio-visual systems and part of the main deck forward converts to a dance floor, complete with lighting. This is achieved by removing the central section of seating, a process that takes only a short time. The incorporation of these features, plus catering facilities on the main deck and in the port hull, contributes to the catamarans' versatility and makes them an attractive charter option for functions, seminars and entertainment performances.
The harbor cruise vessels are the fourth and fifth vessels the Austal group has delivered to NWS Holdings Limited member companies. Last year Austal Ships delivered three 47.5 m 414 passenger, 42 knot catamaran fast ferries to New World First Ferry (Macau) Limited. In September this year a follow-up order for another two vessels in the same class was secured. These are currently under construction at Image Marine and scheduled for delivery in September 2004.
Length Overall:41.4 m
Length Waterline:39.5 m
Beam Molded:11.8 m
Hull Depth Molded:3.5 m
Passengers 354 (plus one wheelchair)
Fuel (maximum):6,800 liters
Engines:2 x MTU 12V 2000 M70; 788 kW at 2100 rpm each
Gearboxes:2 x ZF 2500
Propellers:2 x Stone Marine fixed pitch
Speed (85% MCR):16 knots
Survey Hong Kong Marine Department Harbour Cruise class