Sea Princess begins record cruise-ship season

<i>Sea Princess </i>passes Hamilton Bay as it enters Otago Harbour yesterday, heralding the start...
<i>Sea Princess </i>passes Hamilton Bay as it enters Otago Harbour yesterday, heralding the start of the record-breaking 2011-12 season. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Some Dunedin tourism operators are increasing capacity on cruise-ship days to meet the demands of additional tourists to the city.

The 2011-12 cruise-ship season began with the arrival of the Sea Princess in Dunedin yesterday, with Taieri Gorge Railway adding extra train carriages and Monarch Wildlife Tours chartering a boat to cater for demand.

Taieri Gorge Railway chief executive Murray Bond said more than 380 people were picked up at the wharf by the train, with another 140 cruise-ship passengers arriving at Dunedin Railway Station to take the public train.

"As usual, I have had hundreds come into the station saying 'I wish I did the train trip', so it is a case of converting those people into business so the money is spent in Dunedin."

As part of a 10-year plan, the company was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on putting additional carriages into service, and that capacity helped cater for the burgeoning cruise-ship industry and traditional visitors, he said.

Monarch Wildlife Cruise and Tours owner-operator John Milburn said his company chartered another vessel on cruise-ship days to cater for increased demand.

"Cruise ships are a wonderful business for Dunedin, but we also have to bear in mind we have a constant flow of tourists to Dunedin irrespective of cruise ships ... and we have to look after them as well."

Mr Milburn said it was not good business for the company to say it was unavailable on the 67 days cruise ships were expected.

Tourism Dunedin chief executive Hamish Saxton said it was pleasing to see tourism operators increasing capacity on cruise-ship days as "obviously the demand is there".

The city was well regarded as a cruise-ship destination and was either the first or last port of call for passengers and the booming cruise industry "is a major competitive edge for Dunedin".

This season the city would host 195,000 passengers and crew, with a record 84 visits expected.

Cruise-ship visitors were expected to pump an extra $40 million into the Dunedin economy this season.

Sea Princess is expected to return to Dunedin on October 21.



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