David Macfarlane, 41, originally from Bearsden, said it was "like a bad dream" as the passenger ferry he was travelling on with wife Ligaya, 39, and sons Kyle, 9, and Ruaridh, 3, collided with another boat, leaving 38 people dead.
Mr Macfarlane said he was horrified as water started pouring into the ferry and people began to scream as they struggled to put on their lifejackets.
He and his wife grabbed their children and tried to reassure them everything was going to be all right, but did not know for sure themselves until they eventually reached the safety of the pier.
Mr Macfarlane said: "I'm thanking my lucky stars I'm still here and my family are okay. I keep giving them big hugs."
The magazine editor, who moved to Hong Kong 11 years ago, said the family had been on a bank holiday weekend camping trip and were making their way home to Lamma Island when the tragedy struck.
They got on the Hong Kong and Kowloon ferry at about 8pm and around 20 minutes later there was a "huge crash" with the pleasure cruiser.
Mr Macfarlane said: "Everyone was thrown from their seats and the people at the front were thrown into the windows and then there was pandemonium.
"We were on the bottom deck and the ceiling started to come in and water started to get through from the floor.
"Everyone was screaming. My youngest son ended up on the floor and my wife had to pick him up and I grabbed the nine-year-old and put my arms around him. He was crying and screaming and, to be honest, I was close to it myself. "
Mr Macfarlane tried to get lifejackets on his children but struggled to get them out from underneath their seats and put them on. He said other passengers also struggled and the crew offered no assistance.
He said: "They didn't give us any help or tell us what to do or where to go and this was making people panic and scream even more."
He said the ferry spun round a few times after the collision and it was only when it finally steadied he realised they were not far from the shore. The vessel continued towards the pier and about five minutes later they had reached safety. However, the emergency services did not turn up until 15 minutes later.
Mr Macfarlane was unaware of the horror unfolding on the other boat and only found out what had happened when he was back on dry land.
The passengers on the MacFarlanes' ferry all survived, with some receiving minor injuries. However, 38 people from the smaller boat, owned by Hong Kong Electric, died after it upended and its 120 passengers were thrown into the water.
Seven crew members – including the captains of both boats – have been arrested following the disaster on suspicion of endangering the safety of others at sea.