A crossing of Victoria Harbour on a Star Ferry has been named by the National Geographic of Traveler as one of the "fifty places of a lifetime". Now, for the first time, you have the opportunity to step back to the days of old and experience an era when third generation Star ferries were the major passenger connection between Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula.
The Star Ferry Company came into existence around 1898 and since then its ferries have been shuttling busily between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The Star Ferry now owns 12 double-deck ferries and each ferry has a cabin on the upper deck that is equipped with air conditioning.
The fleet of twelve ferries operates four routes across the harbour, carrying over 70,000 passengers a day, or 26 million a year. Even though there are now other ways to cross the harbour (by MTR and road tunnels), the Star Ferry continues to provide an efficient, popular and inexpensive mode of crossing the harbour. The company's main route runs between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, which is what most people mean by "the Star Ferry" in common parlance.
This route continues to be popular with tourists, and has become one of the icons of Hong Kong heritage. The ferry itself, and the layout of the Kowloon pier are completely recognizable in the 1961 film The World of Suzie Wong. From the ferry, one can take in the famous view of the harbour and the Hong Kong skyline.
Before the steam ferry was created, people would cross the harbour in sampans. In 1870, a man named Grant Smith had brought a twin-screw wooden-hulled boat from England and started running it across the harbour, at irregular intervals.
The company was originally founded by Parsee merchant Dorabjee Nowrojee as the "Kowloon Ferry Company" in 1888. Nowrojee bought Smith's boat, and later acquired the steam vessels Morning Star and Evening Star from a Mr. Buxoo. It is thought that a regular service to the public was established in the mid-to-late 1870s, after the cession of Kowloon to the British in 1860. The popularity of this means of transport lead to him owning four vessels less than 10 years later, named Morning Star, Evening Star, Rising Star and Guiding Star. Each boat had a capacity of 100 passengers, and the boats averaged 147 crossings each day. He incorporated the business into the "Star Ferry Co Ltd" in 1898, prior to his retirement to India. The company name was inspired by his love of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Crossing the Bar", of which the first line reads "Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me!".
Star Ferry offers a memorable and scenic boat trip across one of the most-photographed harbours in the world.
China tours inclusive of visiting Hong Kong