Bay set for record cruise-ship sea­son

Warm Deco wel­come promised as port staff train in sim­u­la­tor in Nether­lands to cope with in­flux of vis­i­tors

Hawke's Bay Today - - FRONT PAGE - An­drew Ash­ton an­drew.ash­ton@hbto­day.co.nz

Hawke’s Bay’s pop­u­la­tion is set to tem­po­rar­ily dou­ble with a record num­ber of cruise lin­ers booked to visit the re­gion — bring­ing in as many as 175,000 vis­i­tors.

Napier Port con­firms that it will han­dle 72 cruise ships this sum­mer.

Napier Port’s port ser­vices man­ager, Bruce Lock­head, said not only was that a record num­ber of ships but it also meant a record num­ber of pas­sen­gers.

“The next cruise sea­son opens at Labour Week­end and it’s set to break records. We have 72 con­firmed book­ings from cruise lin­ers, which is an all-time high and a 26 per cent in­crease on the num­ber of cruise calls last sea­son.

“De­pend­ing on pas­sen­ger book­ings, we could see up to 125,000 pas­sen­gers and an­other 50,000 crew visit Hawke’s Bay over the sea­son.”

That was “great news” for the re­gion’s tourism in­dus­try and for lo­cal busi­nesses.

Royal Caribbean’s large liner Ova­tion of the Seas, which can carry nearly 5000 pas­sen­gers at a time, is booked in for half a dozen vis­its to Napier.

In ad­di­tion, the Ma­jes­tic Princess is booked for a maiden call as the first ship of the sea­son over the Labour Day week­end. At 330 me­tres long it is just shorter than the Ova­tion of the Seas. Port staff have been train­ing in a sim­u­la­tor in the Nether­lands as part of prepa­ra­tions for the first of five vis­its. “The Ma­jes­tic Princess can host up to 3560 pas­sen­gers and 1346 crew. It’s booked in for five calls this sea­son, which means it could bring more than 24,000 peo­ple into Hawke’s Bay,” Lock­head said.

“We’re ex­cited to wel­come an­other big liner, the Ma­jes­tic Princess, to Napier Port for the first time this sea­son.

“Hawke’s Bay is re­ally ce­ment­ing it­self as a des­ti­na­tion, and cruise lines are see­ing grow­ing pas­sen­ger de­mand for a stop in Napier.

“It’s a strong re­flec­tion on what we of­fer as a re­gion, the work be­ing done be­hind the scenes in our tourism sec­tor, and the ef­forts of our lo­cal tourism busi­nesses,” Lock­head said.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism gen­eral man­ager An­nie Dundas said the record vis­its showed how the re­gion’s stand­ing as a tourist des­ti­na­tion con­tin­ued to grow.

“Hawke’s Bay has been work­ing with cruise lines and their New Zealand-based in-bound op­er­a­tors for well over 10 years.

“Napier and the whole re­gion de­liv­ers some of the high­est scores from vis­i­tor sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys con­ducted by the cruise lines — that’s re­ally why they keep com­ing back — the pas­sen­gers tell them they love it,” she said.

“Napier Port does an amaz­ing job, along­side the Art Deco Trust to wel­come pas­sen­gers port­side, and we have the i-Site set up to show­case a num­ber of tourism ex­pe­ri­ences as well.”

Tourism Hawke’s Bay works to keep in­bound tour com­pa­nies up­dated on new prod­ucts for cruise pas­sen­gers, adding that reps of­ten vis­ited well in ad­vance of the sea­son to meet po­ten­tial busi­nesses.

“The cruise in­dus­try is worth around $20m to Hawke’s Bay and is an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar way for peo­ple to see a des­ti­na­tion — it’s of­ten the first look, then many pas­sen­gers re­turn for a longer hol­i­day be­cause they like what they saw.”

Dundas added that plans were still be­ing fi­nalised on what would wel­come cruise ship vis­i­tors but a “warm Deco wel­come” would likely be pre­pared once again.

“There will be trans­port to suit the num­bers so all will be catered for.”

Any­one who’s old enough should still cringe on re­call­ing ABC TV’s kitsch com­edy se­ries The Love Boat.

Among the show’s (mid-70s to mid80s) al­lures was the cast­ing of well­known ac­tors in guest-star­ring roles, with cameos from many of yes­ter­year’s movie stars.

The one-hour, now wince-wor­thy sit­com was based on quasi-hu­mor­ous and quasi-ro­man­tic so­journs aboard the cruise ship Pa­cific Princess.

Ev­ery time I’m atop Bluff Hill look­out at the same time a cruise ship berths in Napier Port I can’t help but churn out the theme tune — much to the dis­tress of my kids.

It’s pos­si­bly why I still see the in­dus­try as kitsch — The Love Boat has left an in­deli­ble mark on my TV gen­er­a­tion.

But mov­ing to Napier two years ago there’s been an­other in­deli­ble mark — the re­al­i­sa­tion of the sheer

Come cruise ship sea­son (which starts at Labour Week­end) Art Deco City moves from sleepy to sleep­less.

vol­ume of tourists who de­scend on the city and sur­round­ing tourist spots as a re­sult of these mas­sive ves­sels.

Napier’s CBD con­se­quently feels much smaller come sum­mer.

Come cruise ship sea­son (which starts at Labour Week­end) Art Deco City moves from sleepy to sleep­less.

It may sound like an in­va­sion but it’s more like a wind­fall — and a mas­sive one.

To­day’s story (page 5) shows that Hawke’s Bay’s pop­u­la­tion is poised to mo­men­tar­ily dou­ble with a record num­ber of cruise lin­ers booked to visit — a surge of about 175,000 vis­i­tors.

The port con­firmed it’s gear­ing up to han­dle 72 cruise ships this sea­son.

Napier Port’s port ser­vices man­ager Bruce Lochhead said the rise was “great news” for the re­gion’s tourism in­dus­try and for lo­cal busi­nesses. There’s no doubt­ing that. The pend­ing ma­rine mi­gra­tion is a sea­sonal utopia for any­one in the tourist trade who’s both pre­pared and able.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism gen­eral man­ager An­nie Dundas said the record vis­its showed how the re­gion’s stand­ing as a tourist des­ti­na­tion whereby Napier and the en­tire re­gion “de­liv­ers some of the high­est scores from vis­i­tor sat­is­fac­tion sur­veys con­ducted by the cruise lines”.

As she said, that’s why they keep com­ing back. That’s pos­si­bly the key take-home mes­sage. That is, we’re not just a nom­i­nal stop on the cruise ship itinerary — we’re a de­sired stop.

Photo / File

The Ova­tion of the Seas cruise liner is due to visit six times next sum­mer.

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