The late arrival of the Sun Princess to Dunedin yesterday has left a major tourism operator out of pocket and questioning the commitment of cruise ships to the city.
Poor weather across the Tasman resulted in the 1950 passengers and 900 crew on board the Sun Princess cruise ship arriving at Port Chalmers shortly before 4pm- more than eight hours after its expected arrival.
Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said while the tourism operator had received updated reports of a possible late arrival, the late start resulted in the cancellation of the cruise ship service.
"We have lost 400 customers and a considerable amount of money. We lose tens of thousands of dollars every time this happens."
In addition to changing staffing numbers on a statutory holiday, "we also chucked 280 meals into the skip".
"We are not very happy, but the weather has beaten us."
Mr Bond said it was the 13th time in two years where cruise ships into Dunedin had been late or cancelled, and "it is getting to be an epidemic".
"Dunedin has really suffered over the last two seasons with cancellations or late arrivals and has suffered more than any other city in New Zealand."
Mr Bond acknowledged the city was often the first port of call for cruise ships, but questioned why other cities were not dropped off the itinerary if time needed to be made up.
"What should we do in the future? The market used to be reliable but it is not reliable any more."
He had received emails from passengers disappointed that they could not go on the train, but any complaints were referred back to the cruise company.
Larnach Castle operations manager Judith Appleton said "obviously we lost quite a few tours", but hours were extended to capitalise on the late arrival of passengers.
The Sun Princess left at 8pm last night for Christchurch.