Season's first cruise ship passengers arrive in Dunedin

Majestic Princess passengers Marilyn and Arno Verboon. PHOTO: CRAIG PAGE
Majestic Princess passengers Marilyn and Arno Verboon. PHOTO: CRAIG PAGE
A city that cares for its visitors extended a welcome to 3560 of them yesterday as the first day of the cruise ship season filled the city with tourists.

The passengers on Majestic Princess were the first from what will be a procession of 121 liners to glide up Otago Harbour bringing 246,000 people between now and April.

That is an increase on last season's 89 ships and 180,000 passengers.

Arno and Marilyn Verboon were the first to walk into Port Chalmers from the ship.

The Perth, Australia, couple described their cruise from Sydney as ``fabulous'', despite bad weather meaning the vessel was unable to enter Milford Sound.

In Dunedin they planned to visit the Botanic Garden and Larnach Castle.

In the Octagon, the experiences of Monica Martin, of Melbourne, left her bubbling with enthusiasm about the locals.

She had needed to go to a doctor, had been helped out by a local woman, and taken to a chemist who rang a series of doctors to get an appointment.

Ms Martin said she could not have been treated in a more friendly and helpful way.

She wondered why New Zealanders went to live in Australia when the country was so beautiful.

``Everything's so lush.''

Her friend Marelyn McDonald, also of Melbourne, said she was in New Zealand for the first time, despite wanting to visit ``for a long time''.

Majestic Princess sails into Port Chalmers yesterday on the first day of the cruise ship season....
Majestic Princess sails into Port Chalmers yesterday on the first day of the cruise ship season. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
She was also impressed with how helpful local people had been.

City streets were busy with the cruise ship passengers who brought a relaxed, ambling gait not seen in Dunedin since the close of last season in April.

Both Port Otago and the Dunedin City Council said day one had gone well.

``It all went very, very well, actually,'' Dunedin i-SITE visitor centre manager Louise van de Vlierd said.

``Considering it was a first visit for a ship, things don't always go smoothly, this one was exceptionally good.

``It was a beautiful morning.

``If you came into a harbour like that you'd think it really did look like paradise.''

There had been no big changes to the system for buses and trains that picked up passengers from the wharf.

However, this season drivers had been told to come only 15 minutes before tours were due.

That was observed, and it helped reduce congestion.

``It really worked incredibly well.''

Port Otago marine and infrastructure general manager Sean Bolt said there had been no issues.

``It all went well.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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