Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Super luxury liner Queen Elizabeth visit boost Sabah tourism

Kota Kinabalu: The super luxury liner Queen Elizabeth making its maiden call at the wharf, here, at 7am Monday.

Launched on Oct. 10, 2010, the 90,900-tonne state-of-the-art cruise ship brought along 1,899 guests comprising 800 Australians, 899 Britons and 300 Americans, after sailing from Perth, Sabah Tourism Board (STB) officials said.

A STB welcome squad garlanded the visitors, most of whom took day tours around Kota Kinabalu. The ship's actual guest capacity is 2,068 besides a crew capacity of 996. It measures 964.5ft by 106 ft, with a draft of 25.9ft.

In open sea, it has a top speed of 23.7 knots.

The Southhampton-based ship, owned by Cunard, left at 5.30pm for Hong Kong. Queen Elizabeth has been compared to the ill-fated Titanic because of its opulence. But the Titanic weighed only 46,328 gross tonnes and 882ft long.

Queen Elizabeth's Italian builders in Manfalco took less than two years to put it together at a cost of US$634 million. Cruise prices are "not low" by any means.

A short cruise can cost 10,317 British pounds (about RM50,700) while a long cruise can cost a staggering 119,311 pounds (about RM584,624), per person.

The Queen Elizabeth is Cunard's third new ship in six years, reportedly built in response to a boom in cruise holidays. In UK alone, Britons totalled 1.5 million in cruise bookings in 2010 while Queen Elizabeth's debut cruise to the Canary was sold out in 29 minutes.

Meanwhile, the QE's visit brings to mind the important role that an unknown Henry Walker played in KK's importance as a deep water port.

Walker, the North Borneo Commissioner of Lands, found after the turn of the 20th century that Gaya Bay had all the deep water for ocean going ships to site the North Borneo Railway terminus, after trial and error with Weston and Gantisan near Tuaran. All failed to meet expectations!

In fact, it was Walker's verdict in a decisive moment that founded Jesselton town - ancestor of modern KK.

The British North Borneo Chartered Company went first to Pulau Gaya to set up its trading post, complete with 25 shops and trade workshops, etc, but Mat Salleh attacked and razed it to the ground in 1897.

They abandoned Pulau Gaya but they didn't move straight opposite.

Instead, they picked Weston from where Scottish engineer, A.J. West actually built the terminus and completed a 20-mile railway track to Beaufort as part of a grand plan to pull a railway right across to Tawau via Tenom.

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