Businesses rue third cancelled ship

Molly Moller is given a packed lunch from yesterday's cancelled cruise ship trip with the Taieri Gorge Railway. The 87-year-old is flanked by Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital registered nurse Jackie Matheson and Ironic Cafe and Bar owner Steve Wilson. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Molly Moller is given a packed lunch from yesterday's cancelled cruise ship trip with the Taieri Gorge Railway. The 87-year-old is flanked by Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital registered nurse Jackie Matheson and Ironic Cafe and Bar owner Steve Wilson. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A record number of cancellations so early in the cruise ship season has left Dunedin businesses counting the cost.

Strong winds at Taiaroa Head prevented Pacific Dawn and its 2050 passengers and 900 crew from arriving at Port Chalmers from Milford Sound yesterday morning.

The city could expect one or two cancellations in a season, "but to get three is highly unusual", Dunedin City Council business development visitor industry adviser Sophie Barker said.

"We just hope it is the last one."

Ms Barker said those in the visitor industry were emailed about the cancellation, but it was hoped a text alert system would be introduced soon.

Port Otago commercial manager Peter Brown said the wind was strong in the morning and forecast to strengthen later in the day, so the captain made the decision to cancel in conjunction with Port Otago pilots.

"It was the master's final call so we are really in their hands."

Cruise ship captains took into account the size of their vessel and the prevailing weather conditions on the day, and "there was no cut-off level above which or below which things will happen".

Up to 88 cruise ship visits were scheduled for Dunedin this season, but to date three had cancelled, including Sun Princess on November 2, and Sea Princess on October 14.

Passengers for all three vessels totalled 5950, while crew totalled 2750.

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said the latest cancellation was "extremely disappointing, but understandable given the conditions".

The three cancelled vessels had the largest number of paying passengers scheduled to ride on the train , and the impact could be measured in six figures.

"We have lost tens of thousands of dollars, it is impossible to get that back.

"Already a few months into the financial year and it will be a particularly bad year for Taieri Gorge Railway."

Catered meals from the cancelled trip were donated to several local groups, including Montecillo Veterans Home and Hospital.

Larnach Castle marketing manager Deborah Price said the cancellation was "disappointing but that is how it is; safety first and we understand that".

The notice came early enough to contact staff, and make alternative arrangements for catering.


Business & economics

Russ and Bev.

There's a concept you should look into.

It's the concept of Opportunity Cost it's very applicable to this discussion.

Also stop and consider.  Are the extra runs available to people who aren't on the cruise ship?  If they are, do they get cancelled or run anyway?

At the end of the day, these cancellations mean that Taieri Gorge railway's income is under-budget, and has experienced a loss.


Stats and support

So it seems that the Tourism Dept of the Uni might be engaged in some study of these cruise ship visitors - or maybe someone in the Marketing dept of the Division of Commerce.  I will try and find out as I'm sure that this sort of background data would be both helpful and enlightening to those that are interested.

In terms of support for something or someone Stevepf, the list of people or enterprises that fall into that category is huge as far as I'm concerned.  Far smaller a list is what I don't support, and these should be obvious - decisions made by community "leaders" without using commonsense, sound business judgement or reference to the clear wishes of the majority - the stadium being a good example. 

I also don't support any misinformation that impacts on the community, nor do I support regulatory authorities that don't do their job.  Nor do I support anyone that refuses to demand accountability with particular reference to significant losses of community money. 

I'd like to think that most thinking ratepayers also don't support these sorts of people or entitities.  Do you?


Searching answer

Well FYI russandbev, I have just done 'a google' and guess what? As I was typing in 'cruise s' - that's as far as I got before 'cruise ships dunedin' appeared in the drop down suggestion list for me. I clicked on that and guess what again? This was the second result on page two. So delve a little deeper.

Also I believe that the marketing department at the university have been surveying passengers on and off the ships for a while now (multiple seasons) and collating just the sort of data that you mention in your post regarding activities, expectations etc. If you got hold of someone there it may answer your questions, although I imagine that data gets circulated to the entities which may actually make meaningful use of it, but it never hurts to find out. You could enlighten us all!!

There are stats

There are stats on some of that stuff. There is approx a disembarkment rate of around 95% in Dunedin. Don't quote me on that exactly but it's mid 90's and this is studied and monitored by the University of Otago tourism department. Unsure of operator stats but based on forward bookings you could probably obtain taieri gorge based on that. Is there anything or anyone in this city you support russandbev?

Cruise ship figures

Yes, the Port of Otago has a comprehensive website, but if googling something like "NZ Cruise ship visits 2013", the site doesn't appear. Maybe something their web staff can assist with? +
In terms of overheads, all of the ones mentioned apply throughout the year. Three cancelled visits from over 80 is about 4% of the schedule, and again I suggest that if the train doesn't have to run then all of those costs disappear.
Based upon the published figures in the story, the average number of passengers per ship are 1983 and the average crew number would be 916. Extrapolating that out for the 88 ship visits it seems that the total number of visitors from the ships for the season is over 250,000, but let us say 200,000 to be conservative.
Wouldn't it be nice if we had a handle on how many of these 200,000 visitors stayed on the ships, how many went on the rail tour, how many visited the Peninsula, how many just wandered round the town? How many "saw NZ" at one of their other NZ port visits? [Abridged]


Tauranga - pffftt!!

russandbev - if you're thinking Tauranga's is 'excellent' perhaps you should check the Port Otago website and have a look at their cruise ship schedule, more info than Tauranga's and also right out to March 2017, not just into 2013. We do do some things well in Dunedin.


I imagine that the Taieri Gorge have a lot of fixed costs also with their inner city base and staff, insurance, compliance. They would only save on fuel and maintenance if they don't run. Hardly a silver lining.

Think again

Russandbev - actually in fact the Taieri Gorge does lose income, as they have contracts in place to take a considerable number of passengers on an excursion. They will hire staff, prepare packed lunches and possibly turn away bookings during peak season. 

Bookings are not all made by on-board booking agents, which is why there is an iSITE tent based on the wharf and an accreditation programme available for operators to park by the wharf to pick up passengers without plans.   

As for you saying Tauranga has a fabulous website updating on cruise visits. The DCC have this on their website and regularly update with any changes. The iSITE have up-to-date knowledge and send out daily updates to all on the database and Tourism Dunedin, whilst doesn't list the schedule has comprehensive information on Dunedin and what there is for passengers to do.  

I suggest you look into the facts more. 

Losses, or lost income?

The whole business of cruise ship visits should be put into some form of context which currently is not happening.  There are a number of NZ ports that are on the regular schedule of these cruise ships, and the Port of Tauranga for example has an excellent website listing all projected visits.  But Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch all are destinations - along with Dunedin.  Readers should be aware that on-board booking agents work with passengers to organise their excursions as a matter of course.

But what is puzzling is that it was reported that, for example, the Taieri railway was going to lose tens of thousands because a ship could not enter the port.  Surely a cancelled booking cannot lose this amount as there is also an associated drop in costs.


How will the stall holders (who only ever appear when there is a cruise ship docked) in the Octagon survive?  

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