Cruise ship passengers avoiding what they say are overpriced
shuttles to Dunedin city visited Port Chalmers instead
yesterday, despite suggestions from cruise ship staff to
bypass the town.
Cruise ship passenger Sue Hansen, of Queensland, said she had
visited ''quaint'' Port Chalmers 20 times - many of them as a
cruise ship staff member but yesterday as a passenger on
Celebrity Solstice with six other Australians.
The group decided to spend the day in Port Chalmers yesterday
because the shuttle bus to Dunedin, which the ship had
contracted, cost $18.40 return.
''They charge too much.''
She wanted the group to go on a private tour but as no-one
was waiting on the wharf, they stayed in Port Chalmers.
Tour operators were banned from the wharf at Port Chalmers
this cruise season because of the behaviour of some operators
Private tours were preferable because passengers could see
more attractions and they were cheaper than a tour organised
from the ship, she said.
''It's ridiculous the prices they charge. Passengers are
getting ripped off.''
Tall Poppy Cafe waiter Marcus Adams (26) said many passengers
visited the Port Chalmers cafe because of the ''ridiculous''
shuttle costs to Dunedin.
Magpies owner Christine Robinson said some Australian
passengers shopping in her retro secondhand store in Port
Chalmers had been told by cruise ship staff there was
''nothing worth seeing'' in Port Chalmers, just a grocery
shop and a few houses.
The staff recommended they board a bus to Dunedin and miss
Port Chalmers completely.
''I don't think we should be dismissed or bypassed.''
Cruise ship passengers Mike Daly (66), of Ireland, Joy
Sinclair (62), of England, and Dorothy (70) and Alfons van
Bakel (75), of Tauranga, said they would have got a minivan
taxi or a private tour of Dunedin if there were vans waiting
in Port Chalmers.
Mrs van Bakel said overpriced buses for passengers was not
peculiar to Dunedin.
Cruise ship staff told passengers in Mount Maunganui to board
a bus to Rotorua because there was nothing to see in the
''They do it in every port.''
Ritchies Bus and Coach Otago regional manager Malcolm Budd
said Ritchies had the contract from the cruise ship to
shuttle passengers from Port Chalmers to Dunedin yesterday.
Ritchies charged the cruise ships a lump sum to transport
passengers between 9am and 6pm on 10 buses, he said.
''We are averaging between 245km to 300km a day per bus.''
The Dunedin City Council had no involvement except being paid
by Ritchies for traffic management costs, such as road
closures, he said.
''We have to wear that ourselves and we charge the ship.''
Ideally, the council should pay the shuttle costs and the
passengers would not be charged, to ensure greater economic
benefit to Dunedin, he said.
''It should come out of the ratepayers' pocket and that would
get people into town to spend their money.''
Each ship charged its passengers a different fare for the
shuttle to Dunedin.
He was surprised some passengers were left wanting private
tours because they could have organised a tour at the i-SITE
marquee on the wharf.
Banning tour operators from the wharf was ''working
However, he was aware cruise ship staff were advising
passengers to not bother visiting Port Chalmers and giving
them outdated information.
''They are even telling people the shops aren't open in
Dunedin on a Sunday.''