High hopes as cruise-ship season ends

The last cruise ship to visit Dunedin's shores this season, Crystal Symphony at Port Chalmers...
The last cruise ship to visit Dunedin's shores this season, Crystal Symphony at Port Chalmers yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin's second busiest cruise-ship season came to an end last night with the sailing of Crystal Symphony, leaving tourism, business and retail operators to reflect and anticipate an even bigger season.

Initial indications were it was a very good season, but a comprehensive analysis was yet to be done, Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said.

Numbers were still to be confirmed, but if all the cruise ships were full, 85,000 passengers and 35,000 crew would have visited Dunedin this season, he said.

The mix of cruise-ship passengers had changed, with fewer Americans taking trips and Australians picking up on discounted berths instead.

This had meant pre-purchasing of Dunedin activities was lower than normal.

"The spend on visitor attractions was far broader, not just those purchased off the ship."

Those involved in the industry would meet for a debriefing at the end of the month and look at what went well and what could be improved for next season, he said.

The 2010-11 season "is shaping up to be very good, with more ships, and ships [on average] getting larger in size".

Dunedin Visitor Centre manager Louise van de Vlierd said the season was "quite a mixed bag", with the different passenger mix meaning tourists with less discretionary spending than in other years.

"They wander about and explore [by] themselves."

Port Otago commercial manager Peter Brown said the season, which had 11 fewer ship visits (53) than the previous season (64), had run smoothly.

More than 60 ship visits had been booked for next season, he said.

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said it was one of the biggest cruise-ship passenger seasons for the railway.

Rail passengers were mainly North Americans.

"It's been a good year, with some very happy customers."

The company had been promoting the South Island as a place for passengers to return to for an independent holiday and was starting to see the results of that, he said.

With increased ship numbers indicated for coming seasons, the company was planning ways to accommodate them by investing in additional seating and carriages, Mr Bond said.

Cadbury Confectionery Dunedin event manager Lee-Anne Anderson said the company had not yet analysed cruise-ship passenger numbers for the season but initial impressions were it had been a good season.


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