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The company bringing in the biggest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand says ports here have embraced megaships whose passengers can spend $500,000 a day in port. Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas at 169,000 tonnes and stretching the length of more than three rugby fields will start cruising around Christmas and the company has already expanded the length of the season because of strong demand. Royal Caribbean's managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Adam Armstrong, said ports here had approached the company, even before the deployment here had been announced. "They've been proactive even before we'd announced. They asked what they had to do to welcome bigger ships," he said. "It's unique in terms of our experience globally. Generally we're the proactive party in going to talk to ports about bringing in new ships." Because of the size of Ovation it is unable to tie up in Auckland. Instead it will anchor in the harbour and passengers will use its eight tenders to get to shore. "It's not ideal. We always prefer to be alongside but we want to come to Auckland. It would be remiss of us not to and our guests want to come to Auckland so we will make it work." Extra dredging was being done in Picton and Dunedin. The day excursion industry had grown with the size of ships and he was confident it would be able to cope, he said. Ovation can carry nearly 5000 passengers, 1000 more people than the population of Warkworth. It is equal third largest cruise ship in the world - eclipsed only by Royal Caribbean's twin ships Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, which weigh more than 225,000 tonnes. Fares aboard Ovation are the highest of Royal Caribbean's vessels here, ranging from around $150 per person a day to several thousand dollars for staterooms. Between 30 and 40 per cent of those who had booked were coming from overseas, mainly the United States and Europe, said Armstrong. New Zealand was perceived as a safe destination and the cruise industry was booming in this region. Royal Caribbean - which has about 22 per cent of the market here - grew at 27 per cent last season. "New Zealand and Australia are viewed as safe places to go, bucket list destinations." Ports of call for Ovation's NZ summer • A 15-night New Zealand cruise beginning with an overnight in Sydney on 15 December followed by calls at Hobart, the Milford Sounds region, Dunedin, Wellington, Picton, Tauranga and Auckland. • A 10-night New Year cruise around New Zealand departing 30 December, with calls at the Milford Sound region, Dunedin, Wellington, Napier and Picton. • A 14-night cruise during the January school holidays with visits to Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Auckland, Wellington, Picton, Dunedin, and the Milford Sounds region. • A 12-night sailing to New Zealand and the South Pacific departing January 28, including calls to Auckland, Tauranga, Bay of Islands, Noumea in New Caledonia and Mystery Island in Vanuatu.