Cruise-season review as season ends

A lifeboat drill is carried out on Dawn Princess, the last of this season's large cruise ships to visit Dunedin, after it docked at Port Chalmers yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.Cruise ship issues will be addressed at a season debrief in Dunedin today.

The last of this season's large cruise ships, Dawn Princess, visited Dunedin yesterday.

Next month, smaller luxury ship The World is expected in the city, the last cruise visit until the start of the 2014-15 season in October.

Dunedin City Council visitor industry business development adviser Sophie Barker expected up to 60 people to attend the debrief in the Dunedin central library at 12.30pm.

It was organised in conjunction with Port Otago, i-Site and the University of Otago, she said.

''It's for any operator with an interest in the cruise industry,'' Ms Barker said.

A university student will talk about his research on cruise ship passenger and crew behaviour in Dunedin, and i-Site staff will discuss booking trends.

The New Zealand Transport Agency will also be represented, to address any concerns about State Highway 88 between Port Chalmers and Dunedin, and to have input into a traffic management plan.

Private tour operators will also have a chance to share their thoughts about the season.

Concerns have been raised by some private operators since October about how their products have been handled by i-Site staff working at the port.

This season, Port Otago banned private operators from the wharf, and instead a marquee was set up so i-Site staff could inform cruise ship passengers and crew members about tours, activities and attractions in the city.

Claims iSite staff gave preferential treatment to certain operators were rejected by those accused.

Most concerns were raised by private operators who said they received fewer bookings than in previous seasons when they were allowed to promote their own products.

The number of cruise ship cancellations this season may also be discussed.

Seven visits were cancelled out of a scheduled 85. Last season, four visits were cancelled.

All cancellations were weather-related, and each meant thousands of dollars less for the local economy.

The council estimated about 134,000 passengers and 60,000 crew members disembarked this season, down on the 200,000 and 82,000 respectively expected at the start of the season.

Ms Barker said the debrief would allow those involved in the cruise action plan to update the document and make any necessary changes before the next season started.

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