A Majestic welcome
I WAS honoured to have been invited by the New Zealand Cruise Association to attend the welcome ceremony for the Majestic Princess into the Bay of Islands last week. This melding of present and past cultures was significant for the region as it was also the location for the signing of the Waitangi treaty in 1840, between representatives of the British Crown and Maori Chiefs, which recognised the Maori ownership of their lands.
We were humbled by the warmth and generosity of the local Maori people who greeted the cruise passengers and invited them to participate in cultural activities including rowing the waka (traditional canoes) and visiting their markets.
In a private ceremony in their beautiful communal grounds, several of us including senior reps from Princess Cruises, were treated to further entertainment. This great experience reminded me of the importance of providing opportunities for our cruise passengers to engage with local Indigenous communities so they can share their stories and traditions. It also provides important economic benefits. We also saw this in Broome when our conference attendees enjoyed a tour with Bart Pigram, a Yawuru man from the Kimberley region who runs Narlijia tours, a must-do on many cruise itineraries. Soon I will speak at the Australian Indigenous Tourism Conference where I will be humbled to share these experiences which illustrate how cruise travel can forge an important bond and understanding between communities.