The Kai Tak Airport, better known as Hong Kong International, dutifully served the island city for nearly three quarters of a century before shutting down in 1998. But rather than let that prime civic real estate fallow, the Hong Kong government has transformed it into a dazzling new cruise ship port.

After a billion-dollar (US) renovation and conversion, the new Kai Tak cruise terminal opened to passengers yesterday. In total, the 19 acre facility can simultaneously accommodate a pair of 50,000 ton ships—such as Royal Caribbean's Oasis-class vessels—as well as their 5,400 passengers and 1,200 crew members.

Hong Kong's Old Airport Reborn As Hong Kong's New Cruise Ship Terminal

Construction on the terminal began in earnest in 2009—a 1.1 mile road was built from the former runways, and other infrastructure elements were either adapted or installed for the new facility. London-based Foster and Partners designed the terminal itself and built the 230 foot wide interior into a flexible multi-function space equally adept at hosting events and expositions as it is thousands of adventure-seeking tourists. What's more, the terminal is designed with sustainability in mind—that includes sustainable power generation and rainwater recycling technology.

Hong Kong's Old Airport Reborn As Hong Kong's New Cruise Ship Terminal

City officials estimate the added capabilities of the Kai Tak berth will funnel as much as $2.2 billion a year into public coffers by 2020, and provide nearly 11,000 local jobs. [Gadling - Wiki - Image: Kai Tak Cruise Terminal]