Number of cruise-ship visits steady

Hamish Saxton
Hamish Saxton
Despite initial fears of widespread cancellations, the number of cruise ships scheduled to visit Dunedin this season - the second most visited cruise ship port in the country - remains steady.

In the wake of the record 2008-09 season, when 64 cruise ships visited Dunedin, industry representatives told the Otago Daily Times they were concerned about the impact the economic crisis would have on bookings.

Earlier this year, Celebrity Cruises cancelled its 2009-10 visits to New Zealand, including 11 visits to Dunedin by the 2000-passenger vessel Millennium.

As a result, scheduled cruise-ship visits for this season stand at 53, the second-highest number of vessels to visit Dunedin, Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said.

"I think things are looking better than people were potentially expecting."

The economic climate had created some uncertainty over bookings, he said.

Although the number of cruise-ship visits was down compared with last season, the size of the vessels was increasing, he said.

Last season, Dunedin, with 88,380 cruise ship visitors, was the second most visited port after Auckland (112,870), but ahead of Tauranga (88,109) and Christchurch (87,853).

Port Otago commercial manager Peter Brown said Dunedin remained an attractive destination for cruise-ship companies, and was an increasingly important part of the port business.

There were unlikely to be further changes to the number of cruise-ship visits this season, and bookings for the 2010-11 season were looking strong, with 58 visits, he said.

The 2009-10 season will begin with the arrival of the Star Princess on October 20 and end when the Crystal Symphony departs Dunedin on April 5.

The most frequent visitor is Dawn Princess (seven visits), followed by the Rhapsody of the Seas, Dawn Princess, and Sun Princess - all with six visits.

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