All-gay cruise a first

The first all-gay cruise to visit Dunedin arrives this Sunday, with several tourism operators especially catering to the shipload of gay tourists, hoping to reap an influx of "pink dollars".

The 1400-guest Volendam is scheduled to arrive in Port Chalmers early on Sunday before sailing at 4.30pm bound for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival - the world's largest gay event.

Cadbury World planned to give out pink hairnets and Pinky bars to visitors, a spokesman said yesterday.

The Royal Albatross Centre, which shot to worldwide fame earlier this year with news an albatross chick was being raised by two females, was planning on capitalising on the interest, Otago Peninsula Trust general manager Robyn McDonald said.

The centre had pictures of an albatross with the rainbow flag, which is adopted by the gay community, and would be selling special souvenir items and producing pink fairy cakes in the cafe to mark the occasion.

The owner of Bodyworks Men, who refused to be named, said the sauna would open earlier than usual on the Sunday and "we are expecting a lot of local interest".

"The whole city will be on show."

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said the railway excursion company spelled out in its brochure, which was supplied to all cruise ships coming to Dunedin, that the excursion was noted as "a gay-friendly attraction".

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the gay market, or "pink dollar", was a highly lucrative market and the passengers would be made most welcome.

While the city had not planned any thing different for Volendam passengers, "Our aim is that every visitor is treated like a special guest".

Dunedin City Council events team leader Marilyn Anderson said when Volendam departs it will be piped farewell by a solitary piper, as was traditional for cruise ships when sailing from Dunedin.

In addition to Volendam visiting, the Royal NZ Pipe Bands Assn Otago Branch Annual Otago/Southland Provincial Contest will be held, which will result in several road closures, including the Octagon.


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