Ill wind blows city some good as cruise ship delayed

Maasdam (foreground) and Golden Princess at Port Chalmers yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
Maasdam (foreground) and Golden Princess at Port Chalmers yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
A storm forecast to hit the east coast of the South Island overnight prompted the captain  of the Golden Princess cruise ship to stay in Port Chalmers last night.

The MetService warned there would be severe southwest gales and heavy rain for coastal Otago and Banks Peninsula.

Golden Princess was scheduled to depart for Akaroa late yesterday afternoon, but the 109,000 gross ton, 290m-long vessel stayed in port and is now not expected to leave until noon today.

It carries up to 2600 passengers and 1100 crew members.

Dunedin i-Site visitor centre manager Louise van de Vlierd said the delayed departure gave Dunedin retailers and tour operators  an opportunity to catch up on sales lost when previous cruise ship visits were cancelled.

"There’s really, really high winds predicted so it won’t go into Akaroa. It will just leave at noon and go straight to Wellington [today].

"There’s a few more tours [today]. They do all have to be back on board by 11.30am, so that cuts the window down a bit, but there will be more tours [this morning].

"It’s an opportunity for tour operators and retailers to squeeze a few more dollars out of the visitors. If we have good weather [today], we might be able to make up the losses we had when other cruise ships were cancelled. Every little bit certainly helps with making up the loss.

"But I guess you can’t really say you’ve lost what you never had, can you?"

She said "the biggest thing" was the passengers did not have to rush back to the cruise ship last night.

There were shuttles running from the city to port until 8pm.

"Nobody has to feel like they’ve got to rush back to the ship or the ship will sail without them. That’s a nice feeling for visitors."

Despite the weather warnings, the smaller Maasdam cruise ship left for Akaroa about 6pm yesterday, as scheduled.The 220m-long, 55,575 gross ton vessel is capable of carrying 1258 passengers and 580 crew.

A Port Otago spokesman said he did not know why  Golden Princess stayed and  Maasdam left.

"It’s up to the master on the ship. They decide when they will go."

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