Earlier this week I shared that Hong Kong’s historic and iconic Jumbo floating restaurant sank on June 18 in the South China Sea while being towed to an undisclosed location (Cambodia sssh). Well, it seems my Godfather reference may have been premature, or to paraphrase a statement attributed to Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), “the reports of its death are greatly exaggerated.”

Jumbo being towed from its mooring in Hong Kong. Photo credit: Peter PARKS AFP/File

The Plot Thickens

A few days after the reports of the sinking, Jumbo’s owner, Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises (ARE) announced that while it had stated that Jumbo had capsized near the Paracell Islands (Xisha Islands) and that salvage would be extremely difficult due to the depth of water (over 1,000 meters), it never explicitly said Jumbo sank. Some think this strange, belated reversal/clarification might be due to the fact that the owner could be fined for failing to report a sinking in a timely manner. The fine, about $1,250, seems too small for that. Instead of issuing statements, ARE could provide real evidence of Jumbo’s status by releasing photos and videos.

The huge restaurant could accommodate over 2,000 customers and was designed to resemble a Ming Dynasty imperial palace. Serving millions of guests, including Queen Elizabeth II and other celebrities, it had been a fixture in Hong Kong since 1976 when it opened under the ownership of Macau gambling magnate Stanley Ho.

Jumbo had been anchored in calm waters of Hong Kong’s Aberdeen Harbor. The harbor teams with with fishing vessels and luxury yachts and is a popular spot for sightseeing tours. I’ve seen Jumbo on a tour but now regret that I never dined there.


If Jumbo still floats and can be returned to operation, this saga will only enhance its status and appeal. I wouldn’t pass any future opportunity to dine there. A slight name change would be appropriate: The Unsinkable Jumbo Floating Restaurant. A three-story restaurant that capsized in the ocean and remained floating for days could also be the basis for a movie similar to the prototypical disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972). 😊

What do you think Jumbo’s fate will be?