Nearly 250,000 passengers and crew will bring a $51 million windfall to the Bay of Plenty this coming cruise ship season.
The burgeoning cruise ship industry shows no signs of slowing down and the Port of Tauranga is reaping the benefits with anticipated arrivals up 21,000 on the 2012/2013 season.
This represents a 9.6 per cent increase year on year. The expected income from these visitors has risen by $7 million from $44 million - a 16 per cent increase.
"Maximum passenger and crew numbers, which is what we work to, for the cruise ships this year are 240,000," Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.
"That's a significant increase on the 219,000 from last season and is great news for the region as a whole. It continues to grow.
"As far as the number of ships coming into Tauranga each year, we are likely to be in single digit growth for the near future but those ships are simply getting bigger and bigger, meaning more passengers and crew."
Mr Arrowsmith says on an average cruise ship arrival, 10 per cent of passengers stay on board; 30 per cent go on pre-arranged tours; and 60 per cent come through the i-port and organise their own tours, or spend time in the immediate Mount Maunganui area.
A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said the number of ships expected this year currently stood at 83 but some liners were still to confirm. The 2012/2013 cruise ship season saw 84 ships visit Tauranga.
"We would anticipate the numbers of ships will end up being fairly similar to last year," she said.
The New Zealand, Australia and South Pacific region is the world's fastest-growing cruise market and facilities available to passengers is similarly expanding. A number of ships visiting Tauranga feature new attractions.
P&O; Cruises Pacific Pearl has a racing car simulator where guests can take on some famous courses, including Bathurst's Mount Panorama circuit. Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn is taking Hollywood to the high seas with its new Broad Shorts programme, which allows children to create their own stop motion animated videos. Carnival Spirit boasts the Green Thunder Waterslide, part of an innovative aqua park. It features a near vertical drop to kick off your plunge on the slide.
Princess Cruises ships have top deck big screens set up for movies under the stars; and Cunard Line's grand Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth are renowned for their luxury high teas.
Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Sojourn feature drop-down marinas at the stern which cater for water activities, including kayaking and paddle boats.
Among the notable maiden calls into Tauranga this season are Cunard's Queen Elizabeth (February 24) and Queen Victoria (March 12). The Queen Elizabeth is the second largest ship to be constructed for Cunard, exceeded only by the Queen Mary 2. She is capable of carrying up to 2092 passengers. The ultra-luxury Seabourn Sojourn will also call at the port for the first time on February 1 as part of its world cruise.
Nichola Edgecumbe, manager at Tauranga's cruising specialists Cruiseabout, said there was something for everyone.
"You have ships like the Voyager, which has an ice-skating rink, but you also have others like the Seabourn Odyssey which concentrates on five-star luxury, and then there's the Caledonian Sky, an expedition vessel, which puts on really interesting itineraries like birdwatching and Antarctic trips. They're all different.
"Some of it can seem quite gimmicky to people but all of these ships cater to a different clientele."
Cruiseabout opened its Spring St store three years ago and has doubled its business in that time.
"We have seen massive growth," said Mrs Edgecumbe.
"The cruise lines are building more and more ships and every year we're seeing more of them coming down to Tauranga. Tauranga can also accommodate the biggest ships so I can only see that increasing."
The cruise ship season starts on October 12 with the arrival of the Sea Princess. It finishes, seven months later, with the departure of the Dawn Princess on May 13, 2014.
Cruise ship arrivals to the Port of Tauranga increased from 16 to 84 in six years to the 2012/2013 season.
Cruise line companies that visit Tauranga include: Seabourn, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, P&O; Cruises, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Silver Seas, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Cunard.