An iconic and well-known Hong Kong attraction, the floating restaurant boat Jumbo Kingdom, capsized on Sunday near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea after being tugged to an unknown location last Tuesday.
The three-storey floating restaurant has been a landmark in Hong Kong since 1971, serving guests in Aberdeen Harbor and ferrying them back and forth from the restaurant boat on smaller vessels. It was decorated in the ancient Chinese imperial-style, which was largely done away with during China’s Cultural Revolution.
Opened by Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho in 1976, the restaurant drew visitors including Queen Elizabeth II and Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise, according to the restaurant’s website. The restaurant attracted tourists from around the world and appeared in several feature films during its lifespan, including “Enter the Dragon” starring Bruce Lee, and “James Bond: The Man with the Golden Gun.”
A tow company began tugging the 260-foot long dining vessel out of the harbor last week, moving it to an unspecified location. The company was planning on moving the restaurant out of the city for maintenance and storage while it looked for new owners and a cheaper berth.
On Sunday, the boat capsized when it reportedly ran into adverse conditions at sea, and, officials say, sank over 3,280 feet below the surface. Salvage would be “extremely difficult” given the water depth.
Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises, which owns the sunken Jumbo Kingdom, released a statement this week saying they were “very saddened by this accident,” but confirmed that no one was injured in the incident. The company says they are working to gather more information from the towing company to piece together what led to the sinking.
The floating restaurant had been shuttered since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and its high overhead costs caused the owners to announce the restaurant would be closed until further notice. The ship’s operating license was set to expire soon, so the ship was being taken to an undisclosed shipyard when it met its fate below the surface.
Other ships in the Aberdeen Restaurant fleet remain in the harbor.
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