It was an iconic Hong Kong ship. The “Jumbo Floating Restaurant”, 76 m long, sank this Saturday in the South China Sea, about 300 km southeast of the Chinese island of Hainan.
The boat encountered “adverse” weather conditions that caused the accident, according to its owner, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises. The restaurant said it was “very saddened by this accident”, adding that no member of the crew was injured. There were no customers on board at the time. “The water depth at the site exceeded 1,000m, making it extremely difficult to undertake salvage operations,” the statement said.
Sunk by the Covid
This ship had left Hong Kong last Tuesday, after desperate attempts to revive this iconic place, without its precise destination being known. According to the owner company, the “Jumbo” had received “all the necessary authorizations” upon its departure.
It needed to be moved to a less designated location, with Jumbo’s maintenance costs running into the millions of dollars each year.
The operators of this once lavish restaurant flagged the Covid-19 pandemic to justify its permanent closure in March 2020, after nearly a decade of financial difficulties. According to the owners, the establishment had not been let since 2013, when the fishing population began to decline in this area of Hong Kong. Cumulative losses had exceeded HK$100 million ($12.7 million).
Designed like a Chinese imperial palace and once considered a must-see, the restaurant has capacities of illustrious visitors, from Queen Elizabeth II to Tom Cruise. He has featured in several films, including Steven Soderbergh’s science thriller “Contagion” about a virus that kills some 26 million people around the world. This ship had also served as the setting for the ninth installment of James Bond, “The Man with the Golden Gun”.
Opened in 1976 by Stanley Ho, Macau’s king of casinos who died in 2020, the Jumbo is the height of luxury.