Weather cuts back cruise ship revenue

Cruise ship Dawn Princess.
Cruise ship Dawn Princess.

There are mixed feelings among Dunedin retailers about this year's cruise ship season.

With Dawn Princess - the last of this season's ships - due to arrive in Dunedin on Monday, those in the tourism industry are lamenting the lost opportunities of this year's season.

Early estimates suggested cruise ship passengers and crew would bring about $32 million to the city's economy but those hopes are in tatters after seven of 85 expected ships cancelled their visits to Dunedin.

Dunedin City Council visitor industry business development adviser Sophie Barker said the weather's effect on the cruise ship season was ''horrendous''.

The council estimated the city saw about 134,000 passengers and 60,000 crew during the October 2013-April 2014 season, well down on the more than 200,000 passengers and 82,000 crew predicted before the season began.

Despite the cruise ship cancellations, those that did arrive in Dunedin had spent more money, Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said.

Increased confidence among northern hemisphere visitors had underpinned the increased spending, he said.

''Some of the retailers I have spoken to and some of the cafe and bar owners I have spoken to are increasingly positive about the impacts of the cruise sector,'' Mr Saxton said.

Cadbury World manager Kylie Ruwhiu-Karawana said luxury spending had ''definitely'' increased this season.

''It's almost like the last two years we have come out of an economic crunch,'' she said.

''It's been a strong, steady season.''

The Scottish Shop owner Erin Hogan said she felt the opposite was true. Not only were visitor numbers down, but they seemed to be more focused on buying a bargain.

''A lot of the tourists were expecting discounts and asking for discounts,'' she said.

Their thrift combined with the weather led to a ''flat'' season. Port Otago commercial manager Peter Brown said the cancellations were the worst he had seen and ''reflected the very poor summer''.

For the ships that did arrive, it was a ''successful season''. Improved weather next year should bring an improved cruise ship season ''but I think everybody in the South Island will be hoping the summer is never like that ever again''.

- timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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