Pos­i­tive port of call for lin­ers

Port ser­vices man­ager Bruce Lochhead says the rel­a­tively small Napier Port punches above its weight and is an at­trac­tive stop for cruise lin­ers on many lev­els. He chats to Mark Story.

Hawke's Bay Today - - DIGEST -

1To you, what is it about Napier that brings in this huge vol­ume of cruise lin­ers?

What makes Napier unique is that the tourism in­dus­try all works to­gether, to make sure cruise pas­sen­gers are taken care of from the mo­ment they ar­rive at Napier Port. They’re treated to an Art Deco-style wel­come as soon as they ar­rive, com­plete with themed cars. This is backed up by the great ex­pe­ri­ence that the wider Hawke’s Bay re­gion of­fers, with its ar­chi­tec­ture, fan­tas­tic weather and strong food and wine scene. For Napier Port, it’s also about what our marine team of­fers to cruise lines that call here. The port it­self is smaller than some oth­ers, which makes berthing more chal­leng­ing. But Napier Port has a highly ex­pe­ri­enced team of pi­lots and marine op­er­a­tions staff, who have built up strong work­ing re­la­tion­ships with the cruise lines over the years. Cruise cap­tains know that when they come to Napier Port, they’re sup­ported by a highly ca­pa­ble team that they know and trust.

2Given the hike in num­bers, is there a limit to how many lin­ers the port can han­dle?

We have 72 con­firmed cruise calls for the up­com­ing sea­son, which is an all-time high for Napier Port. We’re well-placed to han­dle this num­ber, but we have reached peak ca­pac­ity. We have to turn away around five to 10 cruise ship re­quests each year, due to lack of space.

Napier Port is also han­dling in­creas­ing vol­umes of ex­port prod­ucts, a trend that’s set to con­tinue. And we need to keep pace with changes in the in­ter­na­tional ship­ping in­dus­try. Ship sizes are grow­ing – the next gen­er­a­tion of cruise ships will be 360 me­tres long. The cruise sec­tor in­jects an es­ti­mated $20 million into the lo­cal econ­omy each year. Ev­ery cruise ship that’s turned away is a loss for the lo­cal econ­omy, which is not some­thing any­one wants to see hap­pen­ing. That’s one of the key rea­sons why Napier Port has pro­posed a new wharf that can ad­dress these chal­lenges, and fu­ture-proof growth for Hawke’s Bay. It’s a cru­cial in­fra­struc­ture project that will not just ben­e­fit the port, but ev­ery­one in the re­gion.

3Either way, are there changes afoot to han­dle the in­creased fre­quency and/or big­ger ships?

Our pro­posed new wharf would ad­dress a num­ber of is­sues. It would be 350 me­tres long and ap­prox­i­mately 34 me­tres wide. The wharf, and its ad­di­tional moor­ing sys­tems, could ac­com­mo­date these next gen­er­a­tion, 360 me­tre-long cruise ships. We’re cur­rently seek­ing re­source con­sent for the pro­posed new wharf, and have been en­gag­ing with in­ter­ested groups and the com­mu­nity for the past cou­ple of years.

4What feed­back have you had from the cruise in­dus­try about the port/Hawke’s Bay?

We re­ceive over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive feed­back from cruise lines and their guests. Napier con­tin­ues to be rated as one of the top port calls in New Zealand. Pas­sen­gers come away with a re­ally mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence, which they share with their friends and fam­ily.

And the feed­back from cruise lines is also ex­tremely pos­i­tive. Cruise lines are ac­tively in­quir­ing about our pro­posed new wharf, and are fol­low­ing de­vel­op­ments closely. Ul­ti­mately, cruise lines want to go where their pas­sen­gers want to go. They want to bring more cruise ships, and more pas­sen­gers, to Napier. It’s our job to try and meet this de­mand.

5What’s the most com­mon myth/ mis­con­cep­tion about the in­dus­try?

Peo­ple of­ten as­sume that cruise hol­i­days are just for those who’ve re­tired. That might have once been true, but it’s cer­tainly not the case to­day. Cruise hol­i­days now ap­peal to a wider range of ages, so the pro­file of cruise pas­sen­gers has def­i­nitely changed. There are ships be­ing built for all types of trav­ellers in­clud­ing fam­i­lies, food and wine con­nois­seurs and ad­ven­ture-seekers. But that’s not a prob­lem for Napier. This city and re­gion proudly has some­thing to of­fer for all these pas­sen­gers.

PHOTO/SUP­PLIED

Port ser­vices man­ager Bruce Lochhead says the port is poised to cater to many more cruise ships.

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