Dunedin set for gay cruise, pink dollar

Cruise passengers are shown in this Atlantic Cruises promotional photo.
Cruise passengers are shown in this Atlantic Cruises promotional photo.
The first all-gay cruise is coming to Dunedin next year, before it heads to Australia for the Sydney Mardi Gras.

The 11-day charter from Auckland to Sydney is being organised by Atlantis, the world's largest gay cruise operator, and is being billed as a "spectacular history-making adventure".

"We invite you to make history as 1400 gay and lesbian guests from around the world gather for this extraordinary experience," said the company's website.

After leaving Auckland, the 1400-guest Volendam will sail to Wellington and Christchurch before arriving in Dunedin on February 21.

The ship will then go to Melbourne and Sydney, arriving the same day as the Mardi Gras parade, the world's largest gay event.

While Auckland has the largest gay population in New Zealand, Wellington has a burgeoning film industry and Christchurch is the most English of cities, the company's website has this to say of the Edinburgh of the South: "In Dunedin, you'll discover ancient castles along with wildlife and kayaking adventures".

Atlantis reported strong interest in the cruise, with the $US10,000 penthouse suite sold even before public sales had been made available.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said the cruise provided the city with an opportunity "to chase the pink dollar".

"We provide an excellent product and I am sure the people of Dunedin will be most welcoming."

While the city did not differentiate between cruises over the welcome it provided, doing something special for the gay cruise was a possibility, he said.

Cruise New Zealand chairman Craig Harris confirmed it would be the first visit to New Zealand by an all-gay cruise ship.

Dunedin city councillor Michael Guest, who suggested at a council meeting last March Dunedin tourism needed more "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll", said he supported any cruise that would bring paying customers to the city "regardless of their sexual orientation".


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